Sunday, January 26, 2014

Truest statement of the week

The death toll for government abandonment of people in West Virginia isn't nearly as high as that in Katrina, partly because pollutants and carcinogens kill and cripple slowly, but the principle is the same. Like New Orleans residents left to get out of town the best way they could, West Virginians were left to their own devices to do what their government was supposed to do for them – to figure out where, when, whether and how badly corporations were poisoning them. Nobody in government on any level lifted a finger to protect those people till hundreds of households simultaneously complained to local officials that their tap water stank of hydrocarbons. When government officials finally swung into action, they still held back full accounts of which chemicals they detected, in an apparent effort to safeguard the rights of “customers” as EPA likes to call the corporations it supposedly regulates.

The problem is that Democrats run West Virginia from top to bottom. Like Katrina, the evil forces on display in West Virginia implicate the core system of capitalism itself, not just the table manners of one out of the two capitalist parties. That makes the mass poisoning of West Virginia barely newsworthy, whether the carrier is Fox News, or CNN or MSNBC. All the news and cable networks, just like both the capitalist parties have to drink from that trough.

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "MSNBC_ Cherry Picking News & Issue to Make Toxic Democrats Look Good" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

The renewed witch-hunt of Snowden, encouraged by Obama’s speech, began in earnest last Sunday when leading Democratic and Republican congressmen charged that Snowden was acting as a spy for the Russian government. Appearing on “Meet the Press,” Republican Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described Snowden as “a thief, who, we believe, had some help; who stole information, the vast majority [having] nothing to do with privacy,” but rather “had to do with how we operate overseas to collect information to keep Americans safe.”
Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, lent credence to Rogers’ totally unsubstantiated accusations, saying that “he may well have” been working as a spy for the Russians.

The fact that Snowden is in Russia as the result of an international campaign led by the United States to deny him entry into any other country was simply ignored. In their effort to prevent Snowden from leaving Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport last summer, the US and its allies went so far as to force down the plane of the Bolivian president on suspicions that the NSA contractor-turned whistle-blower might be on board.

-- Thomas Gaist and Joseph Kishore, "Democratic rights and the defense of Edward Snowden" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

One more Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with:

Bruce Dixon gets another truest. 

And Thomas Gaist and Joseph Kishore share one.
Nouri al-Maliki.  That's who's killing the people of Iraq.  He's a tryant and a despot.  He needs to go.  Instead, the US is providing him with weapons.
Ava and C.I. take on habit TV. 
The Golden Globes has handed out a ton of acting awards, over 400 in fact.  Yet only 14 have gone to African-American performerss.  
We note the Speaker's visit to DC.

There's not much progressive about The Progressive.  
The protests continue despite Nouri's terror.
We review them in light of an e-mail to Ruth.

Gryaon's running for re-election. 
Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker. 
Press release from Senator Wyden.
Repost from Workers World.

Mike and the gang wrote this.

And this is what we ended up with.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Who's killing the people of Iraq?

The western media and Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki insists terrorists are killing the people of Iraq.


A child from Sunni people Iraqi army hit her four bullets in her body today -Maliki crimes

As MoonNor27 notes, that child was killed by Nouri.

Nouri's forces killed people in Baquba  and then left the dead on the street.


قوات المالكي تقوم باعدام مواطن في بعقوبة وتمثل بجثته. .

Nouri and his forces are killing a lot of people in Iraq.

They regularly boast of killing 'terrorists.'

But they're killing a lot more than terrorists.

Friday, National Iraqi News Agency reported that the Iraqi military's mortar shelling last night left 4 people dead and 32 more injured "including women and children" and today's military shelling of Falluja left 5 people dead and 14 more injured -- "most of them women and children."  Saturday, NINA reported that the military's shelling left three people injured in Ramadi in one incident, another incident of the Iraqi military shelling Ramadi with mortars left 3 civilians dead and five more injured,  the military's shelling on Falluja left 3 civilians dead and eleven more injured and a second military shelling on Fallua left 3 civilians dead and six more injured.

They're also shooting.  And they're really sensitive about false charges.  For example, Friday, All Iraq News noted that the Ministry of Interior is very upset about reports that their forces accidentally shot and killed a woman in Baghdad.  They did not.  They accidentally wounded her.

And, Friday, Iraqi Spring MC noted that Nouri's army shelled Falluja General Hospital.

Last week, UNAMI issued their [PDF format warning] latest human rights report on Iraq which included, "The deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of civilians constitutes a gross violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and of Iraqi law."  That's what's taking place in Iraq.   Daoud Kuttab (Crimes Of War) explains:

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishments are a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Convention states: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed,” and “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” Israel, however, does not accept that the Fourth Geneva Convention or the Additional Protocols apply to the West Bank de jure, but says it abides by the humanitarian provisions without specifying what the humanitarian provisions are.
By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and II. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that took place there. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resxort to “intimidatory measures to terrorize the population” in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices “strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.”
The law of armed conflict applies similar protections to an internal conflict. Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 requires fair trials for all individuals before punishments; and Additional Protocol II of 1977 explicitly forbids collective punishment.

These are War Crimes.

And they're terrorizing the people of Anbar Province.

Last week,  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported it is thought 75% of the residents of Falluja have fled.  The United Nations Refugee Agency issued the following:

GENEVA, January 24 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday reported that more than 65,000 people had over the past week fled the conflict in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in central Iraq's Anbar province. Since fighting broke out at the end of last year, more than 140,000 people have been made homeless by fighting according to Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration.
This is the largest displacement Iraq has witnessed since the sectarian violence of 2006-2008. This number comes on top of the 1.13 million people already internally displaced in Iraq and who are mostly residing in Baghdad, Diyala and Ninewa provinces.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that people in Anbar, including UNHCR staff, had reported that many civilians were unable to leave conflict-affected areas where food and fuel were now in short supply.
"Most of the recently displaced remain outside Fallujah city, accommodated by relatives or staying in schools, mosques and hospitals where resources are running low. Host families are having difficulties sustaining the burden of caring for the displaced," he said.
The spokesman added that UNHCR and its humanitarian aid partners had managed to distribute tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, food, and hygiene supplies. On Thursday, UNHCR delivered 2,400 core relief kits. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration and the Iraqi parliament have also sent aid.
"Many of the displaced, nonetheless, are still in desperate need of food, medical care, and other aid. As the insecurity has spread, many families who fled several weeks ago have been displaced again," Edwards said.
The UN in Iraq has asked the government to facilitate the opening of a humanitarian corridor to reach displaced and stranded families in Anbar province. In recent weeks, several bridges leading into the conflict area and communities hosting displaced people have been destroyed, making access difficult. Currently, it is impossible to reach the area from Baghdad and relief agencies are using roads coming from northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, other areas of Iraq including Baghdad, Erbil, Kerbala, Salah-al-Din and Ninewa have witnessed the arrival of thousands of displaced people. People are reportedly without money for food and lack suitable clothing for the rainy conditions. Children are not in school and sanitary conditions, particularly for women, are inadequate.
"Establishing camps for the newly displaced is not our preferred option and may prolong displacement. But, if the government of Iraq opts to establish sites, UNHCR is ready to provide tents and core relief items as well as provide support to camp management," Edwards said in Geneva,
In northern Iraq, at the request of the Erbil government, UNHCR has refurbished the Baharka temporary site to host people arriving from Anbar. Tents, electricity and sanitation facilities have been installed and the facility is ready to accommodate up to 300 families should the government decide to open the site. In Suleymaniya, some sections of Arbat camp, originally built for Syrian refugees, have been made available to accommodate internally displaced Iraqis. There are some 300 displaced families in Suleymaniya.

Planning is under way to field additional mobile teams to strengthen capacity in Anbar and teams could also be dispatched to other provinces hosting the displaced.

 The Geneva International Centre for Justice notes the continued assault on Anbar Province:

In the wake of the 1st of January 2014, the 600.000 residents of Fallujah, one of the main cities in al-Anbar, found themselves encircled by the government forces. The residential areas were under the military attack. This time it was claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) had taken over the city. Indeed some fighters wearing such signs were seen to have set police stations and government buildings on fire; however these people encountered strong resistance from the local residents.
Furthermore, the witnesses mentioned that these acclaimed terrorist fighters appeared as soon as the government’s army arrived and took positions in the surroundings of the city. Many of the contacts of GICJ in Fallujah and Baghdad therefore believe that disguised militia groups affiliated with the al-Maliki’s party were channelled into the city in order to provide the necessary pretext for an attack and gain the military support from the Western countries.
As of January 6, the main eastern, northern and southern checkpoints were closed and the army refuses to allow people, medicine or food items to enter or leave the city.  Even the Iraqi Red Crescent could not enter anymore. Families who wanted to flee could only leave under extreme difficulties. These sanctions were imposed even though the residents of Fallujah publicly affirmed numerous times that the city had not been taken over by any terrorist.
Al Maliki’s official portrayal of terrorists brought him the immediate support from the USA as well as from Iran. Also, Russia announced its support. Other voices however, such as the senior EU lawmaker Struan Stevenson, a member of the European parliament, warned in an open letter published on 7 January 2014 that “Iraq is plummeting rapidly towards civil war and genocide”. In a second letter published on 20 Januaray 2014 Stevenson’s further warned that claims by al-Maliki were “utter nonsense”. Still, he had “convinced his American allies that he is fighting a war on terror and they are pouring in rockets, drones and other military hardware which Maliki is using to bomb and kill civilian targets”.

It's is time for the people of the world to collectively call out the War Crimes against the Iraqi people.

TV: The Habit Is Old

So this week, we get a lot of empty emotions lip synched badly.

No, we're not outing anyone for mouthing to pre-recorded vocals on tonight's Grammys.


We're talking about the upcoming State of the Union address.  It'll be carried on all networks and it is the only Constitutionally mandated speech a president has to give.

Our problem isn't the carriage, it is news.  Our problem is that it's not treated as such.  Instead, it's treated as holy gospel, as pearls tossed to swine.

It will be broadcast live, which is fine.  But it will then be parroted immediately after by various talking heads and this parroting will then move to written text while also continuing on the airwaves.

There will be no examination.

Imagine if the networks did actual news and responded to public speeches with an immediate analysis of What Lies Were Told This Time?

Some gasp and say that would be so unfair to Barack?

A few others, smarter on how to project maturity, will insist that would be disrespectful to the office itself.

We can't imagine anything more disrespectful than fawning and silencing critical thought.

Yes, journalistic legend I.F. Stone noted "all governments lie."  But he also noted, "The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising."

And if you doubt that, check out the 'analysis' that each network will carry follow the State of the Union address and the Republican response.

Or just focus on the third sentence in the Stone quote: Their main concern is advertising."

Focus on that and look anywhere at TV.

Or look at the thousands fleeing TV watching.

The main concern of the networks is advertising.  This is how they make money.

But they don't make a lot of money these days because they don't deliver a lot of viewers.

A movie like Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas leaves you with a rush at the end, a delirious high.  In the aftermath, you glow from the power of genuine film making. TV's never going to match that but it's had its golden moments.

These include I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Happy Endings, All In The Family, Will & Grace, Soap, The Golden Girls, Friends, The New Adventures Of Old Christine, Good Times, Laverne & Shirley, Murphy Brown, The Nanny, Police Squad, News Radio, Martin, Roseanne, Three's Company (Suzanne Somers era only), Just Shoot Me, Newhart, Bosom Buddies, What's Happening!!Designing Women, Gimmie A Break, Square Pegs, Duck Factory, Throb . . .

The common theme of the shows is energy and life.  Three's Company, for instance, was never going to match the layers in Murphy Brown, but what carried the shows was the energy.  When Nell Carter and Telma Hopkins worked their magic, little else mattered.

TV can do more than sitcoms.  But the sitcoms hold up.  The zip of Dynasty seems to have faded away by the time the series traveled to syndication.  The same with Kojack and assorted other hourly programs. Curiously, Remington Steele, MacMillan & Wife, The Rockford Files and Columbo managed to hold on to their spark in syndication.

When those shows and more were in production and airing, there were many other shows on the air -- the bulk of them now forgotten.  And, more and more, it seems the now forgotten includes the bulk of what the networks now air.

The Winter Olympics will soon be upon us and, with them, the grumbling heard every four years.

'Why do they have to be on network TV?'

While it's true that the sports in the Winter Olympics can be dubbed 'softer' than the summer events, the real reason there are more objections to the airing of the Winter Olympics is that the Summer Olympics only interrupt reruns.

Any show with life will be missing during those February weeks.

Revenge, Scandal, The Mindy Project, The Big Bang Theory, The Crazy Ones, etc. will all vanish or air repeats.

The only real winner here is NBC which has nothing except Sean Will Save The World that qualifies as worth watching.

And while NBC has only one show, it's not like the others have much to point to.

Nowhere is that more true than at CBS.  And while CBS is a ratings winner, it's also true that their programs are more habit and far less event TV.

NCIS will air new episodes opposite the Winter Olympics because . . .  Well because it always airs.  Always airing made it a hit.

It's not a good show or even an okay one, but viewers know, like a genital wart, NCIS will always be there.

And more and more, that's what the networks have settled for -- habit programming for habit viewers.

The habit is old
You don't need it anymore
Go on and kiss it goodbye
-- "Love You By Heart," lyrics by Carly Simon, Libby Titus and Jacob Brackman and music by Carly, first appears on Carly's Spy album

They watch -- the smaller and smaller number -- simply because it's on.

TV offers fewer and fewer reasons to rush in front of a TV to turn it on, less and less things worth recording to watch later.  Instead it offers NCIS and its offsprings.

From 'news' to entertainment, more and more TV is dead on delivery.

71 Years A Racist?

Lee Daniels and Forest Whitaker are two of the African-Americans shut out of this year's Academy Awards.  As Stan and Betty pointed out, the Golden Globes shut The Butler out completely.

Did the Globe nominations effect the Academy Awards?


Many see the Globes as an indicator or a spotlight.

So when they ignore African-Americans, it is appalling.

Some will rush to insist African-Americans were not ignored, look at 12 Years A Slave.

No, they were shut out at the Golden Globes and they're shut out at the Academy Awards.

Like the director of 12 Years A Slave who is British, none of the nominated Black actors from the film are African-American.  Best Supporting Actress nominee Lupita Amondi Nyong'o is from Kenya (but born in Mexico) and Best Actor nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor.  The other Golden Globe nominee also nominated for an Academy Award is Barkhad Abdi who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Captain Phillips.  When he was 14, his family moved to the US.  He identifies as Somali-American.

There was one more Black performer.  Idris Elba was nominated for a Best Actor Drama Golden Globe for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom but he was not nominated for an Academy Award.  Like the other Black people the Globes chose to honor, he's not American, he's British.  The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, FYI.

Does the Foreign Press have a problem with African-Americans?

We're not joking.

And in the numbers, we find strong backing for the charges of racism.

The Academy Awards have only given out an acting award 14 times to Black performers.  The Golden Globe, even worse, has only awarded it 14 times to Black performers.

Why do we say "even worse"?  For good reason.  We'll get to it in a moment.

First up: Academy Award only winners:

Halle Berry
Cuba Gooding Jr.  
Hattie McDaniel

Golden Globe only winners:

Angela Bassett.
Eddie Murphy.

Academy Award and Golden Globe winners:

Whoopi Goldberg,
Jennifer Hudson
Morgan Freeman
Louis Gossett Jr.
Octavia Spencer
Sidney Poitier
Jamie Foxx
Forest Whitaker
Morgan Freeman
Denzel Washington

Note that Whoopi Goldberg won two Golden Globes (The Color Purple and Ghost) but only one Academy Award (Ghost).  Also note that Academy Award and Golden Globe winners Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Octavia Spencer (The Help) were both shut out of the nominations for the Academy Awards and Golden Globes this year.

Hattie McDaniel, the first Black performer to win an Academy Award (Gone With The Wind) did so in 1940.  The Golden Globes started in 1943.

For the sake of fairness, our next figures will span 1944 to today only for the Golden Globes and 1944 to 2013 for the Academy Awards because the 2014 awards won't be presented until March 2nd.

From 2014 to the present, 416 Golden Globes have been presented for acting.

So 416 acting awards have been handed out in the same time for the Academy Awards, right?


And not just because we can only go up to last year's winners.

Since 1944, 281 Academy Awards have been presented for acting.



Well the one is because one year Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tied.  In 1969, two Best Actress awards were handed out-- Streisand for Funny Girl, Hepburn for The Lion In The Winter.

One reason the Globes have more awards handed out because they've had ties several times.  In 1978, Diane Keaton and Marsha Mason.  In 1979, Ellen Burstyn and Maggie Smith both won.  In 1976, George Burns and Walter Matthau tied.  In 1980, Melvyn Douglas and Robert Duvall tied.  In 1984, Robert Duvall tied with Tom Courtenay.

And, most infamously, 1989 was, as Michael Douglas noted in presenting the award (with Anne Archer), "a three-way tie" with the winners for the category being Shirley MacLaine, Sigourney Weaver and Jodie Foster.

We hear you saying, "Okay, they had a lot of ties at the Golden Globes but there's no way that alone resulted in the Golden Globes handing out that many more awards."

You're right.  That's not the only reason.

Every year, ties or no ties, the Academy Awards award in four acting categories: Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor and Best Actress.

But the Golden Globes has six categories each year. Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor are two.  But they get four by taking Best Actor and splitting it up into Best Actor in a dramatic films and Best Actor in a musical or comedy.  They do the same with Best Actress.

If there are no ties, each year the Academy Awards present 4 acting awards and the Golden Globes present 6 acting awards.

Repeating, the Golden Globes has handed out 416 competitive acting awards while the Academy has handed out only 281.

That's why 14 Academy Awards for Black actors isn't good but 14 Golden Globes is outright awful.

145 more Golden Globes have been handed out for acting.

And yet the addition 145 trophies handed out hasn't resulted in more Black performers winning a Golden Globe.

Notable 'losers' in the Golden Globes film category?  Halle Berry won an Academy Award for Monster's Ball but has no Golden Globe for film work.

Or let's look at two of the times when a Black Actress was clearly robbed of the Golden Globe.

In 1973, neither Diana Ross or Ciecly Tyson won a Golden Globe.  They both wrongly lost to Liv Ullman.

To Liv Ullman.



Bland Liv should never have won.

She certainly shouldn't have won for that film which was released in 1971.  In 1973, when the award was handed out, all the other nominees were nominated for 1972 films.  Liv Ullman didn't deserve it and she honestly didn't qualify by the rules.  But isn't it telling that with two strong Black actresses, the Foreign Press went not with one of the Americans but instead with a Norwegian?

In 1975, Diahann Carroll lost out for Best Actress in Motion Picture or Comedy to . . . Raquel Welch for The Three Musketeers.  Raquel is not bad in her small, window dressing part.  But Diahann Carroll carried Claudine.

Lee Daniels' The Butler and Fruitvale Station were locked out of the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.  That denied many African-American actors a chance at a nomination this year.

A list of those actors would include Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Cubs Gooding Jr. (for Lee Daniels' The Butler), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station), Halle Berry (The Call), Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker (Black Nativity),  Jennifer Hudson (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete),  and Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me).  Also worthy of acclaim but ignored were Chadwick Boseman and Andre Holland (42),  Terrence Howard and Orpah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Dorian Missick (Big Words), Lance Reddick (White House Down), Tashiana Washington (Gimme The Loot), Anthony Mackie (Pain and Gain), Anthony Mackie (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Tequan Richmond (Blue Caprice), Alfre Woodard (12 Years A Slave), Taye Diggs (Baggage Claim), Will Smith (After Earth), Angela Bassett (Olympus Has Fallen),  Denzel Washington (2 Guns), Leroy McClain (The Happy Sad), Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel), Samuel L. Jackson (Old Boy), and Lonette McKee, Danny Glover and Charles S. Dutton (LUV).

Osama al-Nujaifi visits DC

Last week, Iraq's Speaker of Parliament visited DC.

The Sunni lawmaker met wit US President Barack Obama (pictured above).   He met with Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.  The White House noted he met with Vice President Joe Biden:

This afternoon, President Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and a delegation of Iraqi parliamentarians. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.   The President encouraged Iraq’s leaders to continue dialogue to address the legitimate grievances of all communities through the political process. Both sides agreed on the need for both security and political measures to combat terrorism, and discussed efforts to formally integrate local and tribal forces into the state security structures consistent with the Government of Iraq’s public commitments in recent days.  President Obama and Vice President Biden also expressed the United States’ strong support for continued cooperation between local and tribal leaders and the Iraqi Government against al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)/the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  The President and Vice President underscored that the United States stands with Iraq and its people in the fight against AQI/ISIL and other extremist groups.

He declared in an interview, "We don't object to the war against terrorism but the Prime Minister acted alone in this case while he was supposed to ask for the approval of the Parliament."

It was a very busy week.

Friday, he met with US General Ray Odierno.

Thursday, he spoke at he spoke at the Brookings Institution.

Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi:  We first got rid of an oppressive regime and it was followed by a military occupation then a Constitution that was written in unfavorable conditions and circumstances.  There was also a road map that was set.  The Iraqis were not able to contribute to this road map because we were in a rush.  And we wanted Iraq to be an exemplary democracy.  
The Constitution in Iraq was written under very difficult circumstances and in a very sensitive period in the country  and on the hand of politicians who suffered a lot in the past -- arrested or condemned to execution, exiled or in prison.  So the psychological environment was very hard and there were mutual fears between the Iraqi components.  This was the reason why the Constitution has some problems.  And some Articles in the Constitution can be interpreted in different ways. 
We also set up mechanisms to build institutions.  But the orientation of the Constitution was not as it should have been because of the political tension and divisions.  And the institution stipulated in the Constitution was not built as it should because of the problems.  
For instance, the Federal Supreme Court which is the highest judicial body and it rules on the conflicts between different parts of the country.  
So far, we were not able to implement it because this law needs two-thirds of the votes in the Parliament and all the political parties do not agree.  So far it is tribunal.  
Now we have courts that do exist so it is not does not have the Constitutional prerogatives to be able to rule on interpreting the Constitution or deciding if the laws are Constitutional.  That's why there are Constitutional differences between the provinces, between the provinces and Baghdad or between the legislative and the executive powers. 
All this made political life more complicated in Iraq.  And our path towards being the democratic process that we seek was not smooth. There are bad implementation of the law and selective implementation. Parliament adopted some 215 laws.  Some are very important for the stability of Iraq and for providing services to the people and for building the state as it should be built.  But some of these laws were not implemented.  They were adopted, published in the journal -- official journal -- and theoretically should have been implemented but so far they are not because there are unilateral political decisions not to implement them.  
For instance, the law on the provinces that give important prerogatives to the provinces and enough funds and means to implement the essentialization of the state.  But this law was not implemented because some in the country believe that it should not be.  
Also the law about customs, it was adopted two years ago but it is paralyzed on purpose.  
So we are facing many obstacles when it comes to building institutions and building the state of Iraq.  There is selectivity in implementing the laws.  Sometimes the law is implemented on some Iraqi parties and not on some other Iraqi parties. Hence a lack of confidence by the citizens in the political process, in the state institutions and also in the participation in the political process.  
Iraq is now facing a terrorist threat as we've seen since the beginning of the year when the change has started.  And now we need to know how to defeat terrorism at the security and at the ideological level.  
We do know that in 2007 with the surge of the American forces sectarian violence ended in the country.  And we set a plan to fight al Qaeda and the terrorist groups with the support of the Sunni clans -- most especially in Anbar -- they were armed, financed and promises that they will be part of the armed forces.  And the clans were able to defeat al Qaeda and security was restored in Anbar that represents 31% of the surface of Iraq.  So we were able to bring security back and the world is witness.  
But after this victory, there was no follow up on the promises that were given to them and they did not get their rights as, for instance, to integrate into the armed forces, to get the salaries that they need to protect them from being targeted by the terrorists.  Very few of them got salaries, those who did get salaries got salaries that were very, very low, many of them were arrested because of systematic targeting by sectarian politicians or even by al Qaeda because they wanted to undermine the rule of the tribes.  
From 2009 until a few months ago, these forces were almost completely destroyed and then al Qaeda came back stronger than before.  al Qaeda was able to paralyze the tribes and the central state did not follow up on its moral and verbal promises. 
So al Qaeda is back and it is exploiting political differences and the general feeling of frustration among the Iraqi people.  It also is exploiting the systematic corruption at the political and economic level, finding the support, finances and means in some provinces in Iraq.  And in 2013, more than 9,000 Iraqis were killed and more than 25,000 were wounded and this is the highest figure in recent years. 
So the political components in Iraq were not able to build the Iraqi political system or to implement the Constitution and to reach a genuine partnership and a genuine reconciliation.  They were not able to implement the laws as it should be and get rid of corruption and abuses and they did not respect all the Iraqi components as to represent them  in a fair manner in the armed forces.  According to the Constitution, they did not provide the provinces with enough funds. Also we did not adopt the law on hydrocarbons oil and gas which is very important to set a balanced relation between the provinces and the center for the production and exportation of oil.  
So some parties are implementing the Constitution based on their own perspective and this is hindering the building of the state, the national cohesion and is leading to more division.  And more and more people are being disappointed and do not trust the political process at this point as we have seen by the very low turnout in the last general elections [2013 provincial elections] and the ones before [2010 parliamentary elections]. We believe that Iraq is, at this point, at a crossroad.  The key to situation is clear and we can find a solution.  What we need though is a strong determination and the political will for everyone to agree on the Constitution and to forget the past, to move beyond the fears and to stop punishing the Iraqi people and move to reconciliation and prevent Iraq from sliding into even greater troubles.  
In the Kurdish provinces [Kurdistan Regional Government, three semi-autonomous provinces in northern Iraq] there was a law adopted to amnesty every one who committed a crime against the Kurdish people and worked with the previous regime.  Some of them were accused of violent crimes but they decided to amnesty everyone.  And the situation in the Kurdish provinces is stable and everyone is part of the political process.  The Kurdish provinces are now an example of security and successful investment and  wise politics.  
But in central Iraq, we are still arresting people and we are also still implementing the law on the Justice and Accountability in a partial sectarian way.  We are still banishing some of the Iraqi people who were not part of the previous regime and doing so for political reasons.  That is unfair. 
So we have failed in implementing this law.  
The political process is now in jeopardy.  
We need to act clearly and swiftly.  
The next elections are very important and could solve many problems. 
The situation should be stable and calm.  
We should put an end to the violence and the  killings and we should avoid any political measures that are provocative and the day before yesterday a decision to [create three new provinces] which led to lots of reactions.  
Also the issue of what is happening in Anbar Province. Of course, al Qaeda is there and we should fight al Qaeda and we believe so.  The tribes are fighting terrorism at this point.  But not everyone in Al Anbar Province is a terrorist.  [Some residents have been taking part in protests.] There are political demands and rights and problems that need political solutions and not military answers.  
So I am ready to answer your questions now but let me state again that Iraq is at a crossroad -- either it will move towards success and democracy and provide a successful example of a democratic country in a difficult region or, God forbid, we will move into something similar to what's taking place in Syria today.  The second option is to be expected if we do not confront the existing problems in the correct manner. 
Today, Iraq needs national reconciliation and partnership instead of the marginalization 

The Progressive?

The Progressive is a magazine that likes to pretend it turned 100 in 2009.  It really didn't.

But it pretends a great deal.

They've  hired the Raw Story refugee Stephen C. Webster.

Raw Story is a scummy little sewer.  They pretended, for example, to care about 2004 voter fraud but then ignored a hearing on it and dismissed it as Republican-controlled to justify their ignoring it. And that about says it all.  They were selling out at the start of 2005, beating other left outlets by several years.

They were also a weak form of left which may be why Stephen C. Webster tries so hard these days to come off lefter-than-thou.

Strike a pose, as Madonna would say, strike a pose.

And a pose is all it is.

And it's not even a successful pose at that.

Which is why Marcia observed of the magazine last September, "In other words, it is completely useless.  Just like Webster."

Friday, in a blog post so bad it comes off like camp, Webster proved just how right Marcia was.

Recycling from The Guardian newspaper because he can't do a critique unless someone else lays out the framework for him, Webster lamented what had happened on MSNBC.

An interview was interrupted to go to live coverage of the breaking news that teen idol Justin Bieber had been arrested.

His horror, and The Guardian's, was honestly a bit much.

Andrea Mitchell was not reporting.  No news was stopped to switch over to the Bieber arrest.

Andrea had been doing an interview with a member of Congress about the NSA spying -- a former member of Congress.

It wasn't insightful and it didn't even qualify as good talk show.

And, to be really clear, in 2005, The Progressive would have applauded any breaking news that cut off Jane Harman who is a hawk and who is pro-spying.

Grasp that The Progressive today thinks it is a major offense to cut off centrist Democrat Jane Harman who never met a war she didn't hug like a body pillow.

But it gets even worse.

Webster writes:

The agency’s mass surveillance program was deemed “illegal” this week by a federal oversight panel, which recommended it be scrapped for violating Americans’ civil liberties and failing to provide useful intelligence about terrorist threats.

The link in that piece goes to AFP's report which notes:

A watchdog panel concluded Thursday that bulk data collection by the United States is illegal and should be stopped, prompting praise from intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Here's how David Kravets (Wired) reported it:

A once-neglected and overlooked executive branch oversight board declared today that the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata snooping is illegal, does little to combat terrorism, and should be ended.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s 3-2 conclusion that the program “implicates constitutional concerns” is not binding on the government and comes a week after President Barack Obama announced major changes to the snooping program based on recommendations from a different review board.

Here's how BBC News reported it:

The bulk collection of phone call data by US intelligence agencies is illegal and has had only "minimal" benefits in preventing terrorism, an independent US privacy watchdog has ruled.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board advised by a 3-2 majority that the programme should end.

Charlie Savage (New York Times) went with:

An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.

Kevin Johnson (USA Today) offered:

In yet another challenge to the legitimacy of the National Security Agency program, the report released Thursday by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board also concluded that the bulk collection of so-called metadata is illegal.

Rich McCormick (The Verge) went with:

The National Security Agency's collection of bulk phone records is illegal and should be stopped, according to a report by an independent federal privacy watchdog. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board — made independent by Congress in 2007 — said the NSA's phone record collection program provided "minimal" benefits in counter-terrorism operations. The board's findings run counter to President Obama's, who said last week although the program would "end as it currently exists," its capabilities should be maintained.

Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) offered:

An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency’s long-running program to collect billions of Americans’ phone records is illegal and should end.

Are you getting the point yet?

All these outlets reported the program was found illegal.  None felt the need to condition the term by putting quotes around it.

None but Stephen C. Webster.

The Progressive made a huge mistake hiring Webster.

But, hey, it's close to going under and the new idiot in charge (Ruth Conniff) thinks the answer is focusing on print.  She's apparently lost her brain in a gated community.

He Can't Stop The Protests


Since December 21, 2012, protests have been ongoing throughout Iraq over Nouri's corruption and criminality.  He's now assaulting Anbar Province.  But guess what?

He can't stop the protests.

 Iraqi Spring MC noted Friday that protests continued in Anbar, Samarra, Rawa, Jalawla and Tikrit (pictured below) and also protests continued in Falluja, Baiji, and Baquba.

  1. الجمعة الموحدة في قضاء عنه بمحافظة الانبار: .
  2. الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة سامراء بمحافظة صلاح الدين: .
  3. الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة تكريت بمحافظة صلاح الدين: .

Though Nouri has repeatedly attempted to end the protests, they continue.

Thug Nouri has threatened the protesters, he's labeled them terrorists, his forces have attacked them, have followed them from the protests to their homes, his forces have killed them, and so much more.  But of a year and a month, they're still protesting.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }