Sunday, February 23, 2014

Truest statement of the week

On February 21st, al- Maliki, in Wild West (or rather Wild East) mode, announced bounties of up to $25,000 (30 million Iraqi Dinars) to any one who kills or captures a “foreign terrorist.”   So much for “… the development of a modern, accountable, and professional Iraqi military capable of defending Iraq and its borders.” Extrajudicial punishment, of course, is a feature of politically repressive regimes, resorted to without the permission of a Court or legal authority.

-- Felicity Arbuthnot, "Iraq Puppet Government Offers Financial Bounty to Extrajudicial Killers" (Global Research).

Truest statement of the week II

Coincidentally surely, he has stated, as voting cards are handed out for the April elections, that due to the situation in Anbar, distributing cards there will be problematical if not impossible. What a fix — voters unlikely to cast their tick in al-Maliki’s direction denied voting access at all.

-- Felicity Arbuthnot, "Iraq Puppet Government Offers Financial Bounty to Extrajudicial Killers" (Global Research).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another 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:

Felicity gets this one. 
And in what may be a record, she gets this one as well, grabbing both truests in one week.
Abeer got very little attention when her rapists and her killer stood trial.  Sadly, last week she got even less attention when the man who killed her sister, mother and father and, after he wrapped up the gang-rape of Abeer, killed Abeer as well -- that man, Steven D. Green, he killed himself in prison.  But why write about that when you can attack Woody Allen and, like Maureen Orth, lie and distort.  We should have been done a long time ago.  But one two hour delay arose when Rebecca, in passing, noted Orth's so-called 10 facts.  Ava and especially C.I. hit the roof.  Maureen's facts aren't facts.  But how the gullible like Natalie Russell will lap them up while ignoring a man who plotted the gang-rape of a 14-year-old.

This was the only piece Ava and C.I. planned to write.  It's a strong piece.  It covers Star-Crossed, The Originals, The Following and Almost Human.  It's strong writing and their longterm fans will love it, no question.
Liz Sly gets Tweet of the Week for the second week in a row.
MoveOn really needs to learn to chill.
What we listened to.  And I (Jim) said, "That's not the full list, we listened to three more albums."  Oh, no, I was told, we're going with the first 10 only.  And I was told that's how it's going to be from now on because this is a list piece, it's a quick piece and we're not expanding it beyond ten.  Alirght.
I asked Ava and C.I. to write something on the topic of Piers Morgan losing his show.  They didn't want to but they were tired of a writing edition that never ended.  I had no idea what they'd write, nor did they.  They made a few phone calls and then wrote this.  I'd argue it's great for the Johnny Carson section alone -- especially when they quote him banning Barbra Streisand. 
The writing of this is where Rebecca mentioned the 'facts' Orth had written.  Ava and C.I. hadn't seen that.  They didn't believe it and once they saw it, gloves are coming off.  Next week, there will be one piece, maybe two, addressing the Farrow scandal.  The piece Ava and C.I. have planned will address Mia lies that most people aren't even aware of and that go to just how many lies have been told on this scandal.
To finish out the edition -- and shut it down -- I begged C.I. to let us repost part of one of her Iraq snapshots.  She agreed.
Oliver Stone lets loose about Barack.

Repost from Workers World.

Repost from Britain's Socialist Worker.
Repost from an EU member.
Repost from Etan.

And Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: If Abeer's killer and rapist was a movie star, the press might pay some attention

The laughable and sad Natalie Russell (The Pitt News) will get served next week.

Russell pretends to care about violence.

She doesn't.

She's just another whore for celebrity.

She twists and turns facts and 'facts' to decry Woody Allen as a criminal when he's never been convicted of anything.

And she did so last week, last Thursday.

But if she really cared about issues like rape and molestation, why was she writing about Woody to begin with?

If she really cared about these issues, why wasn't she writing about this man?

Steven D. Green

He's passed away, the news emerged on Tuesday.

Our long term readers know who he is -- even if Natalie Russell doesn't.

That's Steven D. Green, convicted War Criminal.

He apparently took his own life in prison.

He was convicted May 7, 2009   for his crimes in the  March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21, 2009, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty.

Abeer was a 14-year-old girl.

Green found her attractive.

There was a checkpoint by her home.

He touched her as she passed through after leering at her for weeks.

She complained to her parents who shared her concern.  They contacted a relative.

The most in depth report on Abeer in US media was done in 2006 by  Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post):

As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.
Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.

Good news, Abeer was going to be able to leave and stay with a relative.

She'd leave the next morning.

But she didn't make it to the next morning.

Green's conspiracy was already in effect as he and other soldiers snuck off the base

CNN reported Captain Alex Pickands' closing remarks in an Article 32 hearing held for Green's co-conspirators: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

And she was ignored in death.

It took years and years of complaining before The New York Times would finally even print her name.  Prior to that, in one report after another she was just a "14-year-old girl."

Faceless and without a name because then she's not real and we don't have to face what was done to her.

What was done to her by US soldiers.

What was done to her with US tax dollars.

What was done to her in the name of the United States.

Green killed Abeer, he killed her sister, he killed her mother and he killed her father.

And when he got convicted in the civilian court in Kentucky, all he wanted to do was whine about how unfair it was that he was getting a life sentence when the others weren't.

These were War Crimes.

All involved committed War Crimes.

However, Steven D. Green murdered four people in cold blood which was four more than his co-conspirators murdered.

He murdered four people in cold blood -- two of them children.

Of course he was going to be locked away for life.

But Natalie Russell's too busy trying to play In Style magazine to write about Abeer.

We covered Abeer here.

We tried everything we could to amplify her story.

When a wire agency demanded that an Iraqi government photo of her was their copyrighted photo (what a load of crap*), we did our paintings.

We did everything we could think of.

Natalie Russell doesn't appear to think very much at all.

Which should mean she'll have a great career in journalism.

She won't help anyone, she won't inform anyone of anything that matters, but gossip?  That she'll deliver.


*The photo of Steven D. Green?

AP darkened the above photo and slapped copyright on it.  Their darkened photo may be copyrighted -- may not be -- but the photo above is public domain.  It's his mug shot.  C.I. got it from the Mecklenburg Sherriff's Dept and made her copy of the government photo public domain May 6, 2009 hoping that having a photo they could use might mean other websites and blogs would cover the verdit (which came down the next day).

TV: What The Water Cooler Couldn't See

The Water Cooler Set rarely gets it.


Reading some e-mails Ty passed us, that was oh so obvious.  They don't get Star-Crossed, they don't get Almost Human, they don't get The Following.

And we're talking about always useless critics who should be a little more on their game since the Winter Olympics has meant very little new content from the networks.

The big winner may end up being The Originals which The CW aired repeatedly last week as it cycled up to the return on Tuesday night with fresh episodes.  The CW actually benefited from the Olympics.  There was a small group of new viewers sampling their programming in the last weeks (they also lost some core viewers who'd already seen the originally airing of their favorite CW shows and were watching the Olympics).  It'll be interesting to see how that works out come March.  10,000 new viewers, for example, would mean less to CBS but to The CW it's more than just building blocks as the netlette still struggles for viewers.

They aired one new show during the Olympics -- Star-Crossed debuted last week.

The series is about an alien race seeking asylum on earth only to discover hostility and suspicion. Instead of welcoming the new comers, they treat the Atrians like they're David Gest trying to crash an A-list party.

The aliens are attacked and one is sent on the run by his father.  Roman, the young boy, ends up at a home where young Emery is attempting to speak to her parents who are more interested in the events on the TV about the aliens.  She, and only she, senses something is up and goes out to a shed or detached garage where she finds young Roman shivering and scared.  She steps away and then returns minutes later with a blanket.  The next morning, she brings him pasta which he begins eating moments before US authorities storm in and shoot Roman.

That's the prologue and a jump cut takes us to ten years later.  Emery (Aimee Teegarden) is now a teenager.  She's leaving the hospital where her best friend Julia (Malese Jow) remains.  Emery's suffered some health disorder and spent four years in the hospital.  With it in remission or cured, she's now released but Jules isn't so lucky and remains hospitalized.

Emery's first day finds Lukas (Titus Makin Jr.) showing her around.  Lukas is a friend and, strangely, the only African-American in the school and only the second one in the cast.  For a show that's addressing issues of race and racism via the aliens and the way earthlings treat them, the cast is shockingly White bread.  Even the aliens with speaking roles appear to be all White -- though one woman playing what can only be a galactic stereotype of a Romanian gypsy may pass for 'ethnic.'

Lukas is probably meant to come off as some sort of Willow and Xander (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) but the difference there is that they were given funny and unique lines.  With Lukas end noting and foot noting who is who and the layout of the school, he's much less interesting and more like The Love Boat's Julie McCory showing passengers the Lido Deck or, that early forerunner of Google Glass, the Terminator's eyes in Terminator II.  Since Makin can grab your attention, it would be really great if the writers could turn Lukas into an actual character and not just an exposition device.

As Lukas shows Emery around, her first day of high school is also the first day for the Atrians.

Or at least seven of them.

The Atrians have been tossed into a fenced in concentration camp that is patrolled regularly (one of the guards is Emery's father).

But now a small number of them are going to leave the camp to attend high school as what is billed as an attempt to improve relations.  Gloria Garcia is over the program and an earthling who is billed as Director of the Atrian Relations Committee.

Gloria is played by the other cast member of color, Victoria Gabrielle Platt.

She's no-nonsense and makes it clear to Roman that if he screws up her program -- intentionally or not -- he will be cut adrift and she won't give him a second thought.

That's right, Roman is here  The young boy that Emery hid and fed.

Roman (Matt Lanter) immediately recognizes Emery.  She doesn't recognize him until later when she and Julia sneak into the Atrian camp because Julia's not getting better and she's heard of a plant the Atrians have that supposedly has miracle healing powers.

In the camp, they encounter the stereotypical gypsy and a con artist ready to rip them off but Roman saves them and takes them to a rooftop garden he and his father have.  There Julia finds the plant, it's saffron, Roman explains.  Dejected momentarily, Julia goes off to marvel at the view of the city the rooftop garden has while Roman and Emery speak and she realizes who he is and explains that she thought he died ten years ago when he was shot.

He didn't die.  And that might or might not have been to the healing powers of the plant.  Julia is not getting well.  She tells Emery that she was happy to have the adventure.  But when Emery and Lukas attend a party a group of Atrians crash with Roman on their heels trying to prevent any altercation, Emery gets the news that Julia is dying.

She rushes to the hospital and doesn't know Roman's followed her.  He waits outside and when Emery steps out for a moment, he steps in and uses his own blood and the saffron flower to save Julia.  Emery will realize he's done that when she sees the flower on the floor by Julia's bed.

To get to the party, Roman has to get out of the compound.  How?  They wear devices and there's a curfew.  Roman, the son of the Atrian's leader, is not as savvy to the Atrian underground as the ones attending the party but he figures out enough to get what's basically a three hour pass.

The Atrians went to the party because they were sick of Roman's sister and others being picked on by the earthlings.

With the exception of Lukas and Julia, Emery encounters no teenager that's even slightly likable (for example, her date dumps her when the cops are raiding the party). The earth male teens all appear to have been cloned from Anthony Michael Hall's Edward Scissorhands character and have the animosity towards Atrians that Hall's character had towards Edward.

The point being, it would be nice if Emery was falling in love with Roman because of how amazing he is but, instead, a strong argument can be made that she falls for him just because teen earth males are so disgusting.

There's a lot that doesn't work in the pilot and we've noted some of it above.

None of that matters.

When Roman looks at Emery, you believe.

They're the star-crossed lovers.  You have to believe their passion for one another.

That's the most important ingredient of the show and if it's not there there is no show.

Lanter and Teegarden have chemistry.

If the show can fine tune the surrounding details, it will become a big hit for The CW.

The Following airs on Fox.

Last season, it worked.

This season it's a mess.

Short of a miracle, it's an unfixable mess.

The ratings are down.

But worse, the show is just disgusting.

It always verged on that because horror and glorifying a serial killer at the same time are a dangerous mix.

Kevin Bacon's performance is thinner this season.  It's as though he's going through the motions.  The bad scripts are partly responsible.

His character Ryan is haunted by the killings of Joe Carroll.

Which might seem interesting or intriguing except for the fact that last season opened with Ryan being  . . . haunted by the killings of Joe Carroll.

He doesn't seem more haunted, just dull.  And he's delivering his worst acting since Quicksilver or possibly Guiding Light.

It's not Bacon's fault, the scripts are embarrassments.

But even were the scripts better, the show still wouldn't work.

In many ways, The Following last season was always like staring at a dirty toilet but that's only more the case now that Joe Carroll's ex-wife Claire is dead.  Natalie Zea was the element that redeemed the show.

The actress' beauty and her ability to deliver bereavement transcended the show.  Tears almost spilling from her hypnotic eyes added layers the script didn't and came the closest to art  the Fox schedule ever saw.

Claire wasn't just Joe Carroll's terrorized ex-wife, she was also in love with Ryan and her presence gave Ryan meaning.

With her gone, Ryan's a nothing, going through the motions we saw last season but with less purpose and less feeling.

An e-mail noted The Water Cooler Set 'critic' who, last week, explained that The Following was a sure thing for renewal but Almost Human was going to get the axe.

Who does or doesn't get the axe is based on many things and we wouldn't make a prediction with regards to Fox because none of its moves ever make sense.  King of the Hill was a hilarious show, for example, which still delivered ratings.  They gave it the axe to do three shows from Seth MacFarlane.  Seth is talented.  But three shows with the same jokes, the same points of view, all on the same night?

Of course it was going to bomb.  The Cleveland Show (cancelled) was the weakest of the bunch.  But American Dad wasn't any better.  The only time that show worked was when it emphasized Hayley and Roger.  Otherwise, it was the exact same show as Family Guy and The Cleveland Show and why watch the same show three times in one night -- especially when Seth's shows don't reflect life as much as they rip off movies everyone's seen?

Fox ran off viewers with that comedy block.  Not only is The Cleveland Show thankfully gone but American Dad moves to basic cable at the end of this season.  Family Guy will return on Fox next season along with Seth's attempt to do a Latino animated show.  Since Seth is not Latino and the only Latino character of note his shows have ever offered is the maid Consuela, Fox is nervous.

As they should be.  Consuela isn't just an insulting stereotype from an all Anglo White team of writers, she's also voiced by a White Anglo male.

This could be the career death of Seth.  He flirted with that moment already when he killed off Brian earlier this season to the dismay of Family Guy viewers only to bring Brian back after he'd f**ked with them for a few weeks.

Now his Anglo White self thinks he can 'speak' for or to the Latino community?

If this is done poorly or comes off insulting, the backlash could send Seth off network television for good.

A network that was stupid enough to take their only successful night that didn't depend on a talent show and turn it over to Seth, a man that even they had censored (for example, they refused to air the abortion episode)?  A network like that is pretty much impossible to predict.

But the 'critic' a reader e-mailed about declared Almost Human would get the axe because it wasn't delivering ratings the way, the 'critic' insisted, The Following was.

The 'critic' is right that last week's episode of Almost Human was viewed by 5.35 viewers.  But that was still more people that watched the next hour on Fox: The Following.

Every week since The Following returned on Monday nights, Almost Human has had more viewers.  And 5.35 has been its lowest rating thus far while The Following has already had a week this season where it delivered 4.76 million viewers.

The first episode of the season, the only one with Claire (she died), delivered 11 million viewers.  To go from 11 million at the start of your second season to less than five million?

That's the sort of thing that gets you cancelled on a real network.

Maybe not on Fox.

Almost Human is actually a great show and it's doing very well in the ratings -- especially when you add in that the episodes are being aired out of order.

Season two wouldn't allow for that, the network would have to air in order.

That's because this Bad Robot production is like others such as Fringe and Alias, it's a continuing show.

People didn't get that with the bulk of Fringe's first season.  And they're not getting it for the most part with this first season.  That's partly because JJ Abrams and company are doing their usual bit of lulling you in.  You think you're watching a show with no long term elements.  That's not the case.

Already, viewers are becoming aware that over the wall, outside of where the show is set, there's a very interesting land.  It's off the grid and where guest-star John Larroquette vanished to.  They're also realizing he did something with Dorian when he created him.

Dorian (Michael Ealy) is the robot who assists Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban).  Lili Taylor's Captain Sandra Maldonado supervises everyone.  Larroquette is Dr. Nigel Vaughn who created the androids and who was removed from his position by law enforcement when a series of his drones ended up being killer ones.

Dorian is special.  There's something Vaughn did with Dorian that makes him special.  He most likely gave Dorian his dead son's soul or memories or both.  But even more than that, he's likely made Dorian a Trojan horse.

Ealy and Urban have a nice chemistry.  That's important because John could come off a total dickhead if it weren't for Dorian.  In the pilot, John shoots 'dead' an android that gets on his nerves.  By contrast, he's genuinely grown fond of Dorian and is seriously worried when something goes wrong.  John's haunted by a love betrayed and he lost his leg as a result of the betrayal.  He started off loathing his artificial leg but, as with his acceptance of Dorian, he's become accustomed to the change.

Lili Taylor is Lili Taylor.  We mean that as a compliment.  Taylor's bringing so much to a role that could otherwise be only slightly more memorable than Captain Harold C. Dobey on Starsky and Hutch.  Taylor's agent should market her as Script Helper, add Lili and stand back.

Almost Human is a tight drama whose long running elements have yet to be recognized.  It's delivered ratings and they're about a million lower than Sleepy Hollow as it wound down season one.  So if Sleepy Hollow's a hit (it will have a second season), it's pretty hard to argue Almost Human is a ratings flop.

It's less difficult to argue that The Following is a flop.  It's season low of 4.76 million this month was also its series low.  Season two has seen the show fail to deliver its season one audience.

Again, with Fox, who knows what they'll do.

But if you're going to scream 'bad ratings!' at Almost Human, you can't pretend that the lower rated The Following is a hit.  And, on most networks, a second season of a show that does this poorly would mean the second season was the last season.

Next fall may be a time of rebuilding for Fox or just an endless struggle.  By contrast, The CW seems to be finally finding its footing.  You didn't read that elsewhere because The Water Cooler Set rarely sees what's right before it.

Tweet of the Week

The Washington Post's Liz Sly again earns the honor:

The USAF is contracting to build a base at Balad for Iraq's F-16s

It's time to panic! Run around like a chicken with your head cut off!

barack the starlet

Dear MoveOn member, 
We've just reviewed the latest polling on the U.S. Senate races, and it's not good—not at all. 
 Republicans need 6 seats to take control, and the latest polls show they're easily within striking distance of pulling it off.
 If that happens, you can kiss the rest of Obama's second term goodbye. Every vote on the budget or debt ceiling will be a hostage-taking. And forget about getting anyone decent confirmed for the Supreme Court. To stop the GOP takeover, we need to do two things. First, we need to focus our resources on helping Democrats who will actually stand up for progressive values. Second, we need to raise a huge ruckus and draw attention to the Republicans who are blocking overwhelmingly popular bills like raising the minimum wage.

On and on it goes.  And because it's from MoveOn (sent out Sunday), it goes on to beg for money.

Poor Barry!

If the Republicans take over the Senate, "you can kiss the rest of Obama's second term goodbye."

He's such a dainty little flower, such a weak sister.

You know there were elections in 1998 too.

When there was a sitting Democratic president.

The Republicans won control of both houses of Congress.

And yet . . .

Bill Clinton was not removed from office.  That vote came in January 1999 and Bill stared down a Republican-controlled Congress and won.

Because real leaders get things done.

Baby Barack had both houses of Congress but couldn't get anything done.

He's just a little weak sister.

What did director Oliver Stone say about Barack?

Oh, that's right:

Stone, a left swinging Demo of long standing and auteur behind “JFK “and “W.” films, is NO fan of the incumbent Prez.
Stone accused Obama of breaking all of his pre-election promises during a panel discussion at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C.,.
“Something happened because none of the things he promised . . . transparency, a government that would reconsider the war on terror and these programs . . . none of that happened, none of it,” said Stone.
“The man stunned us with a lack of spine,” the director added. “He is a weak man.”

MoveOn's still trying to whore for Barack.

The bulk of the left has long since moved on.

This edition's playlist

roberta flack

1) Roberta Flack's Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles

2) Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals' Lifeline

3) The Mamas & The Papas' The Papas & the Mamas

4) Sippie Wallace's Women Be Wise

5) Cloud Nohtings' Attack on Memory

6) Jon Butcher Axis' Wishes 

7) Judy Henske and Jerry Yester's Farewell Alderbaran

8) Phil Ochs' All The News That's Fit To Sing

9) Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk

10) Lone Justice's Shelter

2 Less Brits in Basic Cable's Court (Ava and C.I.)

The show Piers Morgan Live is soon to be no more.  In January 2011, the show began broadcasting.  It was the replacement for The Larry King Show which had aired on CNN since June 1985.

Larry King now hosts Larry King Now (on Hulu and RT) and, on his CNN talk show, he offered celebrity interviews, gossip and topical topics.  Topical means the OJ Simpson case.  It does not mean what's happening today in the Ukraine.  Yes, you might hear a topic like overpopulation   discussed but it would be during his celebrity interview with Jane Fonda (then Mrs. Ted Turner, wife of then-CNN owner Ted, Jane was the United Nations Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador at the time).

This is not to insult King who still knows how to do a lively talk show (and his interview with Penny Marshall last year was probably the best celebrity interview of the year).  It is noting what CNN viewers had expected from the time slot since 1985.

Piers Morgan didn't give them that.

The tabloid editor fancied himself a real reporter and acted as if he was slumming by appearing on CNN.

He felt the need to lead -- and even kick-start -- 'cultural wars.'  His ignorance was on full display whenever he attempted to go historical or legal about the United States because he just didn't have the knowledge base.

That shouldn't be surprising since he was British and had spent the bulk of his life in England.

Tina Brown's British as well.  When she came to the US, she remade an ailing Vanity Fair and turned it into a must-read.  Since she left, it's failed to alter the formula or even tweek it, it's still the magazine Tina made.  She had less success with The New Yorker which, in retrospect, had more to do with the stuffy ways of the staff and the alarmism of NYC media.  Talk was a failure but it failed at a time when every magazine was. Who knows, in a better economy, what it might have done?

Tina's now over The Daily Beast -- a website that came along when the country was already saturated with websites.  Everyone was expecting a Huffington Post knock-off, but Tina created something unique and original and, most important in terms of finance, popular.

Why has Tina succeeded when others from her country have failed?

Because she's taken the attitude of, "Oh, look what they do!"

It's not said in a judgmental way, it's expressed out of fascination.

Tina is embraced by America because she seems amused and fascinated by America.

Piers Morgan?

England may, for example, have its own gun laws.  That's well and good.  And you might work that in a time or two.

A time or two.

Instead, any shooting crime in America resulting in major press coverage led to Morgan lecturing Americans on guns.


Rosie O'Donnell, an American citizen, got into trouble hectoring on that topic.  This was when she was supposed to be "The Queen of Nice" and hosted her own successful  talk show (the syndicated daytime talk show The Rosie O'Donnell Show).  She invited on pro-gun actor Tom Selleck and proceeded to explode at him.

That was an approach that she would later recreate (successfully) on The View.

But as the sole host and the sole voice?

Viewers felt she'd crossed a line and she issued an on air statement about the incident.

When it happened, Rosie was beloved.

And the bulk of her viewers happened to agree with Rosie's position.  The ones objecting were objecting less about her position and more about her tone.

Piers Morgan did not have the goodwill Rosie had earned from an audience.

He came to America with a list of scandals trailing him across the Atlantic -- including the photo scandal that got him fired from The Daily Mirror and the phone hacking scandal that is still being explored and investigated in England.

While Rosie banked good will with star turns in films like Sleepless In Seattle, A League Of Their Own, Beautiful Girls,  Harriet The Spy, The Flintstones and Now and Then, Piers was no one to most Americans.

So when he started hectoring, they had no reason to see him as anything but a judgmental foreign scold sneering at their country.

Who the hell is this guy?

That's a thought those following his Twitter feed had as the talk show host was forever Tweeting to announce he had banned another person from ever appearing on his talk show.  Among the most famous of the banned were Madonna, Hugh Grant  and Kelsey Grammer. Some of the bannings were announced before the show even started airing.  The day his show was set to begin airing, Kimberly Nordyke (Hollywood Reporter) noted  that, along with Madonna, the host had also banned Howie Mandel, Heather Mills (ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney), Keith Olbermann, attorney Cherie Blair (wife of War Criminal Tony Blair).

To be clear, Piers didn't invent banning.

Johnny Carson banned a number of people from The Tonight Show.  Well, not "people."  He tended to mainly just ban certain women.  In the sixties, his biggest ban was on the author Jacqueline Susann.  She used Bette Davis (who was hoping to play Helen Lawson in the film of Susann's Valley of the Dolls) to get her best seller mentioned on the show since her ban meant Susann couldn't plug the book herself.  (He would drop the ban only when Susann threatened to sue NBC over Truman Capote saying she looked like "a truck driver in drag" on The Tonight Show. To make peace, the network strongly encouraged him to have Susann on as a guest.)

Most know Joan Rivers was banned in the 80s by Carson.  (And finally invited back to The Tonight Show by Jimmy Fallon last week.)  But Joan wasn't his biggest ban.

While the bulk of his bans were done relatively quietly, Carson announced his biggest ban on air: Barbra Streisand.  On the July 8, 1975 broadcast of The Tonight Show, Carson declared;

I was informed prior to going on the air that we'll have a cancellation tomorrow night.  Barbra Streisand will not be with us.  We don't know why.  Nobody has been able to reach her.  [. . .] Although she doesn't owe the show anything in particular, we thought it only fair to tell you, so when you tune in, you don't get mad at us.  I would rather you get mad at her.  Streisand will not be here Wednesday night -- nor will she be here in the future. 

Of all his bans -- and there are a lot more women Johnny Carson banned from The Tonight Show -- the only one he ever publicly announced was Barbra.  He started hosting the talk show in 1962 and didn't announce a ban until 15 years later.

Contrast that with Piers and all of his banning that took place -- and that he announced publicly -- before his show ever even aired.

Piers image was also harmed by Martin Bashir.

That British talk show host began hosting his own MSNBC talk show a month after Morgan's had started airing.  Being an MSNBC host means you talk more than your guests, you talk louder than your guests, you give commentaries that go over the top and then over that new top and then . . .

Piers Morgan never should have touched on his political opinions.  No one cared, for starters.  Second, he should have realized he was a guest in the country and conducted himself accordingly.

Because he was a Brit doing an American talk show at the same time as Bashir, the two were going to be linked and the two were going to be confused.  The best way to avoid that would have been for Morgan to have acted like a host.  CNN didn't demand a circus, that wasn't their approach.

MSNBC did demand that and Bashir's departure is sad (he left the network in December).

He made some uncalled for and disgusting remarks about Sarah Palin.  They might have gone over in England (they might not have) and certainly he was using British history as he attacked her.

But he was in America.

And it was really the last straw.

To his credit, he did apologize.  And it's really sad that he lost his show because he was doing what the network wanted.  MSNBC's recent problems are the fault of MSNBC.  They're encouraging -- requiring? -- their hosts to be attack dogs.  Then, when someone's gets bitten, MSNBC's answer is to put the host down.

The hosts are probably not the problem.

If the network didn't encourage them to whip the audience into a frenzy each night and day, the hosts would probably offer some valuable programming.  Chris Hayes offered some early on before the network made clear that facts weren't important to them but Chris being an entertainer was.

Bashir's attack on Sarah Palin was only his latest attack on air.

And your average cable TV viewer couldn't tell you the difference between Piers Morgan and Martin Bashir.
That's too bad.

And it's too bad that Morgan waited until CNN was very nervous about the program (he had become their most disliked host among viewers) to start attempting to book guests with a different ideological bent than his own.

We honestly believe (as CNN does now, but we felt that way all along) that the talk show to replace Larry King was going to have to be a fair one and an inclusive one.  We honestly didn't think the host should be going into politics.  He could have guests who did but, to be the every person host for CNN, viewers didn't need to know his political opinions.

But he never kept them to himself.

And some at CNN were wrongly convinced that this would prove ratings gold.

We talked about Rosie earlier.

We like Roise.

We like political Rosie.

We were damn happy that Rosie was there on The View to cut through all the media garbage.

Though never given credit for it by the likes of The Nation magazine, Rosie was a strong voice for the left when she was a co-host on The View.

The Nation was happy to plaster smutty and sexist Howard Stern on their cover and present him as the hope of the left.  But they ignored Rosie who took The View to higher ratings and who offered a left critique.

And let's be clear on that.  Whoopi Goldberg is a co-host of The View today.  She's not very informed politically and when she's political she's just repeating Democratic Party talking points.  Her political opinions are knee jerk and not well thought out.

Rosie put plenty of thought and time into her opinions.  And she could and can back them up.

Even with all of that and her huge popularity, she suffered negatives as a result of her time on The View. Let's be clear that she delivered viewers and that's all ABC, Barbra Walters and Bill Geddie should have cared about.  But in terms of her own image, expressing her opinions did hurt her popularity.

And she was fine with that because she was addressing important issues (like the Iraq War).

And the beauty of The View is that, with multiple hosts, you can usually find someone to agree with.  If Rosie ticked you off, maybe you agreed with Elizabeth Hasselbeck?  Or with Joy Behar?  Or with Barbara?

But when you watched Piers Morgan, you were left with just Piers.

And way too much of him.

Too much of his opinions, too much of his talk, too much of his sneering, just too damn much.

And even if he'd been an American it would have been a challenge.

We'll be kind and not name her but everyone knows a daytime talk show that debuted last September continues to flounder because the host tried to make it about her and viewers just didn't care about her or the made over her or the rebranded her or the . . .

Like Piers, most Americans had never heard of this woman until she tried to be a talk show host.

It's not easy being a talk show host.

Arsenio Hall is a good one.  He did a great interview with Diahann Carroll recently and Arsenio's smart enough to realize he needs to offer something more than other shows which is why he's doing seven nights a week of shows on The CW.  Ellen DeGeneres is a talk show smash and she's become that by listening to her guests and having fun.  Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show last week and his ratings defied even the highest expectations.  Jimmy's approach is like Arensio's or Ellen's or Tavis Smiley's or Rachael Ray's -- they all treat the viewer like the most important guest on the program.

Tavis hosted a program recently featuring three guests (including US House Rep Maxine Waters) as they reflected on the life and meaning of the late activist Nelson Mandela.  Was there a better TV discussion of that topic?

We don't think so.

Moving to a less important topic, Christmas cookies.  No, they're not life shattering but weren't Rachael Ray, Bill Bellamy and Trisha Yearwood like excellent guests to have in your home on that episode of Ray's show back in December?

Good hosts deliver.

These are talk shows.

People doing them?  A lot of the hosts confuse themselves with news anchors.  We don't mean they give you headlines or do any reporting, but they refuse to admit they're talk show hosts on TV and nothing more.

Lying to themselves probably helps the MSNBC crew lie to you.

Keith Olbermann.  "You praised him?  I can't believe you!"  That's an e-mail Ty told us about when we knew we were going to have to write about talk shows again.

Earlier this month, we wrote "TV: Big Ed of the Little Mind" and observed:

MSNBC has demonstrated other things over the years as well -- such as it's not TV.
Don Imus, Michael Savage, Rachel Maddow, John Hockenberry, Mike Barnicle, Ron Reagan Jr., Monica Crowley and Alan Keyes were among the on airs who came from radio.
And they did their programs as if they were still on radio.
In fact, the only MSNBC host who ever developed strong visuals for their show and explored the visual format was Keith Olbermann.
The history of MSNBC has pretty much been one radio program after another recorded by video cameras.
Occasionally, viewers might endure some cheap graphics with all the originality of clip art.
But mainly, MSNBC is radio for those too lazy to create their own mental images.

We didn't realize the sentence containing Olbermann's name was going to be controversial when we wrote it. If we had, we might have gone into even more detail.

Olbermann was deeply sexist on his program.  We've noted that many times in many other pieces.

But our focus in the section quoted above was on the cheap look of MSNBC.  The only exception to that was Keith Olbermann's show.

We didn't write that sentence because we love -- or even like -- Olbermann.  We wrote it because we believed it was true.

And on the topic of Olbermann, we'll also argue he served a purpose in 2005 and 2006.  A real purpose.  We didn't promote him.  But we were aware he served a purpose.

During that same time, Rosie did more on The View, in our opinion.

But Keith was a lone voice on cable.

And that's why some of his theatrics worked.

But by January 2011, they didn't.

They'd stopped working years before.

And that's why these vile talk show hosts -- like Piers, like Ed Schultz, etc -- don't work.

Rosie could transform from The Queen of Nice to a firebrand political voice and have it work when it did because she was the voice for those not in power.

Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, for example.

These talk show hosts who think they're being brave by attacking various people on Barack's behalf aren't brave.  They come off like classroom kiss ups, little kiss asses trying to curry favor with teacher.

Rosie was never that.  And wouldn't be that.  Again, she forms her own opinions.  She's not repeating talking points faxed over from the DNC.

When Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, many of us on the left looked askance at Fox News.  We could stomach a lot of it and laugh but, at the root, the disgust wasn't that they lie (most of the networks lie) but that they would whore themselves out for any one, let alone Bully Boy Bush.

We were so proud, back then, to think we'd never do that.

We could think that because, throughout the 90s, the left had no trouble calling out the Democrat in the White House, President Bill Clinton.

So, on the left, we didn't have these stupid little crushes or this hero worship better left to Stalinists or Maoists.

Or so we thought.

Along came Barry and how he did bury the independence of so much of the left.

We bring that up because it's important.

MSNBC is a low ranked network that's not going anywhere.

And Piers Morgan aped them and only ended destroying CNN's ratings.

The right is about conservatism, conformity, structure, et al.  So it is in keeping with their nature to have hero worship.  If they want, Fox News can start slobbering over George P. Bush (who's launching his political career in Texas currently -- and the news coverage includes that he may not be conservative enough for some conservatives).  And the right will embrace that, they'll see it as the Bush heritage carrying on.

But on the left, we're not inclined to conformity.  So when a Democrat's in the White House and Rachel Maddow and others spend all their time attacking governors or faded rock stars or some other minor target, it doesn't please the left.  There's no reason to watch that crap.

And the main reason is, pay attention, their talk show is no longer a talk show, it's a propaganda piece.

Tavis, Rachael, Ellen, Rosie, Arsenio, Jimmy, all the good hosts make you the most important piece of the show.

MSNBC doesn't want guests, they want converts they can program.  They're far closer to being a cult than they are to being something resembling a talk show.

The most important element for good television?  It's not turning Chris Hayes into an 'entertainer.'  A trained monkey can be entertaining -- probably more entertaining than the bulk of MSNBC's hosts.  But, for talk shows, good television is serving the viewer first and always.

When you fail at that, you end up off the air.

Ask Piers Morgan.

Dylan whines to Maureen Orth who passes it on to Janet Maslin

And the press plays dumb.

Or Gawker and Vulture do.

They've taken some mild comments by New York Times book reviewer Janet Maslin and hyped them into 'blame the victim' and they really don't want you to know that not only was Maslin not blaming the victim, she was relaying what Vanity Fair's Maureen Orth told her.

Yes, we're back to the Tawdry Life of Mia Farrow, forgotten star of yesteryear who was real popular on the TV show Peyton Place about fifty years ago.  She followed that up with Rosemary's Baby and then never had another blockbuster.  She had a lot of flops.

In an attempt to appear relevant and to distract from her smear campaign against Naomi Campbell (why does Mia hate people of color?), Mia upstaged her daughter in Vanity Fair article.

Mia's war on ex-boyfriend Woody Allen has never ended for Mia.

So she decided to reveal that her son with Woody, now known as Ronan Farrow, could be her son with Frank Sinatra because even though she was divorced from Frank in the sixties, she kept sleeping with him -- through marriage, through relationships, you name it.

This little bit of gossip upstaged Dylan Farrow talking about her alleged assault in 1993 by Woody Allen.  Mia had begged Dylan to be part of the article.  Mia could get a cover, she insisted, if Dylan would talk to Maureen Orth for the Vanity Fair article.

A cover!!!!

Mia hadn't been on a cover since People magazine's 20th anniversary issue in 1994.

That was nearly 20 years ago and since then all she had really was playing a scowl on Third Watch and do the sort of trash-yourself-cinema that Joan Crawford did -- only Joan at least played the lead role in the bad horror films while Mia was a bit played who died early in the 2006 remake of The Omen.

So Dylan spoke in a vague manner and the article gets published but all anyone cares about is the revelation that Mia's claiming Ronan could be Frank Sinatra's son.

It makes for good gossip for many.

It's just Mia being tawdry and overplaying her hand.

In 1992, Mia and Woody Allen had already drifted apart and were basically going through the motions. They were set to make Manhattan Murder Mystery.  Mia went to Woody's place (they always had separate residences) and, while waiting for him, snooped around and discovered photos of her 19-year-old daughter Soon-Yi Previn.

Soon-Yi Previn.  The daughter of Mia Farrow and Andre Previn.

Mia exploded and raged.

At her own home, she'd confront Soon-Yi and physically attack her.

Then she'd ask her other children to tell Soon-Yi that Mommy Who Hits With Firsts still loves her, just can't stand to see her.  And cuts her out of a photo and replaces her face with newly adopted Tam's face.

That's rather extreme behavior -- especially when you consider that, as Mia's revealed, she was sleeping with Frank Sinatra before Woody was sleeping with Soon-Yi.

Mia had to move on.  The one million Woody gave her as a gift (which she fails to note in her book) wouldn't last forever and even though she was willing to make Manhattan Murder Mystery with him, he was done with her.

(In all her outrage, Mia wasn't about to give up a leading role in a film.)

Then came the custody battle followed by the allegation that he'd molested Dylan.

And the nation had to endure the tawdry spectacle.

That was 1992 and should have stayed there.

But Mia's got to kick start that failed career.  You can't look fifty at 69 without a little professional help and that costs money.

So here comes Vanity Fair -- both gullible and willing to shade the truth (Ava and C.I. say, "Honey, we'll go into that next week.  Oh, is there a story there.")

But Mia's stunt means no one cares about Dylan.

And that upsets Dylan.

Janet Maslin explained last week in a panel on film discussion (at the organization she funds and heads):

One odd thing about that Vanity Fair piece, that one that ran a few months ago, was that the big news in the piece was supposed to be ‘Dylan Farrow Speaks Out’ and what happened, just purely by chance, was that the news became, 'Ronan Farrow May Be Frank Sinatra’s Son.’ And Dylan Farrow, I happen to know this through a friend very close to the story, was very unhappy that this suddenly wasn’t about her. And I think that’s that part of why she decided to start calling attention to herself. 

Through a friend?

Maureen Orth.

Who'd heard from Mia and Dylan how disappointed Dylan was with the story.

Dylan was upset that she wasn't the takeaway.

That's why she then tried to get papers to run a letter from her.

They said no.  They included The New York Times.

Then Nicholas Kristof (Iraq War cheerleader, don't forget) took the letter and used his position as a columnist to publish it.

And the nation had to go through more tawdry drama from Mia.

Is there anyone trashier in the United States than Mia Farrow?

Probably not.

The whole thing's backfired on Mia.  Whereas in 1992, the nation embraced her, they're now wary of her because she's lied about the paternity of Ronan and because she's just so trashy.

It hasn't been good for Dylan either.  Be sure to check out Pathological Doubter's analysis of Dylan Farrow's 'open letter:'

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Dylan has demanded that the reader,, be the judge and jury in her case, so here it goes.
Dylan’s statements to the press have made me reassess the possibility of Allen’s innocence. The language Dylan uses, in my opinion, is the language of liars and manipulators. Her statements are teeming with disingenuous, inconsistent and hypocritical assertions. I will go through her statements to demonstrate. In other words, i did not find the witness to be credible.

And things are actually going to get worse.

Next week, we'll explain the lies and we'll also address how, if the molestation is true, you can pin the blame on Mia -- you can pin the blame for the abuse, you can pin the blame for it not being prosecuted.

Mia's not a great actress.  She needs a strong and sturdy script.

In the last months, she's forgotten that and chose to wing it.  As a result she, and her supporters, have made one false claim after another.

To be clear, we don't know what happened.

But we know Mia's lied repeatedly.  Over and over.

She's defrauded the court and the state of New York.

And she's told so many different lies in the last twenty years that she's not to be believed.

Does that mean the alleged assault didn't happen?

It means there's no proof of it and in this country you are innocent until proven guilty.

We think there's a very good chance Dylan's been led to believe something happened.

Whether it did or not.

With Mia, we just know she's a liar and we'll be taking that up next weekend.


Headline corrected from Janet Malcolm to Janet Maslin on 3/3/21.  Thank you to JM for catching this error and e-mailing us about it.

Nouri's Vigilante Jobs Program

I see Ba'athists


As Al-Monitor's Amal Sakr pointed out earlier this month, over 9.5 million Iraqis -- out of 34.7 million -- "are living below the poverty line." Iraq's chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's on year eight, the end of his second term, and he's done so very little to help improve the Iraqi economy or create jobs.

That's all changing, however.

This week, Nouri introduced a new jobs program.

And if he can get people to carry around video camera or use their cell phones to film, he can create even more jobs by turning the whole thing into a television program.

He could make a programming bloc of it, pairing it with the forced confessions which already air on Iraqi TV.

The program could be called Who Wants To Be A Vigilante?

In a country marked by poverty, Nouri's grand idea?

Vigilante justice -- which is more justice than the country currently has, granted.

Al-Shorfa reports Nouri's attempting to turn the country into bounty hunters.  Kill a 'terrorist' and you'll get 20 million dinars (that sounds better in Iraqi currency, in US dollars it's $17,172.53) and 30 million dinars ($25,758.80) if they capture the 'terrorist' alive.

Anyone else bothered by this?

Apparently not.

White House hasn't said a word.

So if you are an Iraqi in Iraq and you have someone you dislike, grab your gun, find them and shoot.

All you have to do is claim the person was a 'terrorist.'

You might get a reward.

But certainly you won't get prison because Nouri's not doing 'Most Wanted.'  No, he's not providing a list of ten people for you to hunt down.

He's leaving it up to you to determine who is and who isn't a 'terrorist.'

And, hey, mistakes get made.

So you kill an innocent person or two.

Again, is anyone else bothered by this?

Vigilante justice in Iraq.

There are thousands of people on death row in Iraq right now -- at least 50 are foreign nationals from other countries.  There have been repeated cries for a moratorium.  These are ignored.

And Iraqis are encouraged to embrace and cheer on executions.

Into this environment, you want to turn the country into vigilantes?

These days puppets pull the strings

At what point is the US government going to assist the Iraqi government with supporting rule of law?

Those of us who had to sit through those awful 2011 Congressional hearings where the State Dept offered one tight-lipped official after another -- who could never explain what the billions they were getting for Iraq were going to be spent on -- well know, the State Dept was going to work on so many issues.  Rule of law was one.  Women's rights was another.

They boasted loudly -- in generalities.

Well, as  Human Rights Watch recent report entitled (PDF format warning) "'NO ONE IS SAFE: Abuses of Women in Iraq's Criminal Justice System" proves, the State Dept clearly failed at attempts to improve the lives of women or the rule of law.

Fiscal Year 2012 is the most recent year USAID has posted numbers for.  In FY2012, USAID spent $13.5 million of US tax payer dollars -- spent them in Iraq on strenghtening what?

The rule of law and human rights.

The big ticket item for that year?  $148.4 million -- US tax payer money -- was spent in Iraq on "Democracy and Governance."

Talk about money wasted.  Sadly, it's not refundable.

The State Dept never gets asked about any of those problems.

It's hard to tell if the US press is just an enabler or a co-conspirator.

The Plan for Day 101

At any rate, it was just weeks ago that Nouri made the same appeal but without cash.

There was no embrace of it so now Nouri's tossing money and hoping that will put over the plan.

The plan, please note, that reveals what a total failure Nouri al-Maliki is.

With all the weapons provided by the US and other foreign governments, with all the 'intelligence' the US military is currently providing Nouri, with command of the Iraqi forces, the unconstitutional Tigris Operation Command, SWAT, the federal police and so much more, he still can't defeat the people he's defined as the 'enemy' (the ones others call Iraqis).

Text is C.I. from the Feb. 21st "Iraq snapshot."   Illustrations are Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists,"  "These days, puppets pull the strings" and  "The Plan For Day 101."

Video of the week

Too many truths above for the White House.

U.S., EU, out of Ukraine! (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

U.S., EU, out of Ukraine!

By on February 21, 2014

The following is a Workers World Party statement on the crisis in Ukraine.

U.S. and European Union imperialism have initiated an offensive against the Ukrainian government. It is part of their attempt to reconquer parts of the former Soviet Union and surround, weaken and destroy Russia.

The corporate media falsely present this conflict as one between the “democratic” West and a popular movement in Ukraine, on one side, and “autocratic” Russia and its supporters in the Ukrainian government on the other. This picture has no relation to the truth.

To overthrow and replace Ukraine’s current government, the Western imperialists are arming and relying on pro-fascist elements that are anti-Russian, xenophobic and anti-Semitic. The U.S./EU-provoked conflict threatens a civil war in Ukraine, or worse.

The corporate media are deceptively comparing the occupation of Maidan in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, to the Occupy Wall Street movement here. This can confuse some people about the character of the conflict in Ukraine. Far from fighting against the 1%, the Kiev occupiers are fighting for Wall Street and welcome the investment of Western capital in Ukraine.

The pro-Western Ukrainian nationalists are led by racist parties, like Svoboda and the Right Bloc, that are political allies of the National Front in France, the neo-Nazis in Germany and the most reactionary elements on the continent.

The people in the U.S. — especially the youth, workers and those facing oppression here — have nothing to gain from a Western victory over Ukraine and Russia. Regardless of the character of the Putin regime that now heads capitalist Russia, the worst outcome for the workers and the oppressed everywhere regarding the Ukraine struggle would be a victory for U.S. and/or European imperialism.

U.S. and European imperialist banks and corporate power aim to make Ukraine an open market for exports of goods and capital investments. The bosses want access to more low-wage labor so they can bring down wages even further and eliminate workers worldwide.

The EU had made an offer of inadequate loans to Ukraine with the following strings attached: that the EU gain open entry into the Ukrainian market; that the government impose austerity on the Ukrainian workers; and that Ukraine be incorporated into the NATO imperialist military alliance. It is the kind of offer that has brought misery to Portugal, Spain and Greece, without giving Ukraine real EU membership. Its rejection by the Yanukovich government in November opened the ongoing conflict.

Ever since world imperialism succeeded in overturning the socialist society in the former Soviet Union, the U.S. ruling class’s long-term goal has been to reduce all the Soviet republics, including Russia, to mere colonies. This goal leads Washington to try to surround Russia and brings it in conflict with strategic and economic Russian interests in Syria, Ukraine, Georgia, Iran and elsewhere.

In the infamous “F—- the EU!” intercepted phone call between U.S. diplomats — available all over the Internet — Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland spoke openly of how Washington was manipulating Ukrainian opposition politicians. Last December, after a visit to hand out pastries to the demonstrators in Maidan, Nuland bragged to a reactionary Ukrainian group in Washington that Washington had invested $5 billion in taking over Ukraine. The money was undoubtedly used for the 40,000 nongovernmental organizations the U.S. set up in that country before the 2004 “Orange Revolution.”

Should the U.S. and German maneuvers fail to capture all of Ukraine, the imperialists may, as they did in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, attempt to break it up and ignite civil war, a course far easier to start than to stop.
This Western assault on Ukraine is part of Washington’s campaign to reconquer all that was liberated from imperialism during the Soviet era, and is a continuation of the wars over Iraq, Libya, Syria and the ongoing offensive against the Bolivarian government in Venezuela.

“U.S. and EU imperialists, out of Ukraine!”

“Stop the U.S./EU-backed right-wing takeover!”

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

How authorities swept away wartime sexual freedoms (Noel Halifax)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

How authorities swept away wartime sexual freedoms

After a period of sexual liberalism during the Second World War, the establishment cracked down, writes Noel Halifax

Scientist Alan Turing was granted a posthumous royal pardon on 24 December last year. He had been convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after an affair with a 19 year old man.

Instead of going to prison he had agreed to be “chemically castrated” to “cure” him. He committed suicide in 1954.

This attack was part of a wider homophobic tide not only in Britain but in the US and across much of the West.

In Britain the charge was led by Sir Maxwell Fyfe, Tory home secretary from 1951 to 1953, and then by Sir John Nott-Bower, Metropolitan Police commissioner from 1953 to 1958. 

Fyfe stood out as a homophobe even by the standards of the time. His reaction to the Wolfenden Committee’s report in 1957 recommending limited legalisation of homosexuality was to say, “I am not going down in history as the man who made sodomy legal”.

Nott-Bower was even worse. He had come from policing the British Empire in India and swore with the help of the newly formed Special Branch to “rip the cover off all London’s filth spots”.

He was determined to “sweep all homosexuals out of government office”. So began “the great purge”. The state prosecuted more than 50,000 men during the 1950s and many more lost their jobs.

No open homosexual could hope to hold any public post or any respectable private one either. These were the days when gays who could afford it fled from the oppression to the more liberal and tolerant North Africa or Middle East.

This persecution was not unique to Britain.


Maxwell Fyfe had also been one of the leading judges setting up the new West Germany. Through the 1950s the ruling Christian Democrats prosecuted and persecuted gays using the same law, words, and in many cases the same judges as the Nazis had.

The experience in the US was even more extreme.

This was the age of senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. McCarthyism was a right wing attack on “pinkos” and “deviants” as well. It has been estimated that more people lost their jobs for being homosexuals than did for being Communists. 

The civil service was purged and everyone was expected to weed out “perverts”. The FBI organised special entrapment teams for the police.

The FBI also trained the British police on the techniques it used. Officers then raided clubs with a general attack on anyone deemed deviant or strange.

But why did the backlash happen?

Wartime diaries suggest it was a time of relative sexual freedom. In Britain and the US the gay scene blossomed as never before.

The authorities turned a blind eye. There were no moral panics about goings on in the blackout or the sexual experiments of conscripts tasting life outside of family and social control.

It was also a time when masses of women were drafted into industry, public canteens set up, nurseries established and many of the roles of the family were supplemented by the state.

After the war it was all put in reverse. The welfare state at its birth was never about people having the freedom of choice in their personal lives.

There was a conscious effort to reconstruct the nuclear family. The norm of a mother at home and a father at work was enforced in law and custom.

It was a dark time for Alan Turing and for many, many others who have never been given any pardon.


Press Release by office of Struan Stevenson,
President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq,
19th February 2014

For Immediate Release - 19th February 2014
A high-level conference involving some of the most prominent political and religious leaders in Iraq, was held in the European Parliament, Brussels, on Wednesday 19th February. Organised and chaired by Struan Stevenson, MEP, President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq, the conference focused on human rights in Iraq and featured speeches from Sheik Dr Rafe Al Refaei - Grand Mufti of Iraq, Saleem Abdullah Al-Jabori - Chair of the HR Committee in the Council of Representatives, Haidar Mulla - Member of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir - KRG Head of Department of Foreign Relations, Yonadam Kanna - Chair of the Labour and Social Affairs Committee in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Kamel Zozo - Syriac Assyrian Chaldean Movement,  Elisabetta Zamparutti - 'Hands Off Cain' NGO,  Btrus Sliwa - Head of the KRG's Independent Human Rights Board, Dr Abdul- Razzaq Rahim al- Shemmeri- Spokesman for the Herak Delegation from Al Anbar Governorate, Dr Sabah Al-Mukhtar - President of the Arab Lawyers Union, UK, Dr Mohammad Taha Hamdoon, Spokesman of the Popular Movement in Iraq, Dr Moneir Hashm Al-Aobyde, Spokesman for the Movement of Baghdad and many others. The eminent speakers were welcomed by Dr. Charles Tannock MEP, Foreign Affairs Spokesman for the ECR Group.

Many Iraqi guests had travelled to Brussels to participate in the conference, which follows the publication of a highly critical report on Iraq by the European Parliament's Directorate-General for External Policies - entitled "Iraq's deadly spiral towards a civil war". A resolution condemning the on-going violence and abuse of human rights in Iraq is also under preparation in the European Parliament and will be debated in Strasbourg next Wednesday, 26th February. The draft resolution refers repeatedly to the damning report on the abuse of women in Iraq published recently by Human Rights Watch.

Speaking after the Conference, Struan Stevenson MEP said:     

"Last November, I was in Iraq. I met with many leading politicians, religious leaders and with courageous men and women who had led popular uprisings and protests in Al Anbar and 6 provinces of Iraq and in many Iraqi cities. The message from all of them was identical. They told me that lawlessness, terrorism, corruption and the systematic abuse of human rights are each a daily feature of life in Iraq. They told me that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is rapidly becoming another Saddam Hussein and that modern Iraq is a dust bowl of violence and bloodshed. More than 9,500 people died last year in bomb attacks and assassinations in an increasingly ugly insurgency that threatens to take the country back to the civil war that erupted from 2006-2008. Over 1000 have died already this year.

"It was these same people, people from different ethnic backgrounds, from different faiths and creeds, but who share a desire to see freedom, democracy, justice and peace restored to their country, who urged me to organise today’s conference, so that they could come to the European Parliament and reveal the truth about Iraq to the West. I am deeply grateful to them and thank them for the expense, effort and courage they have expended to come here today.

"They told us in graphic detail how Maliki is using the Iraqi military in a genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Sunni population of Ramadi and Fallujah, aided and abetted by a generous supply of missiles, rockets, drones and other weaponry from the US, which he uses to slaughter his own people, on the pretext that they are terrorists. The US has even decided to sell and rent Maliki Apache helicopters which he will use to massacre men, women and children in Al Anbar. It is an outrage.

"I am also appalled at the treatment of the 3000 refugees in Camp Liberty who are incarcerated in prison-like conditions and where the Iraqis are even restricting supplies of food and preventing emptying of sewage tanks, causing the camp to flood with polluted sewerage water and risking health. These defenceless people have been repeatedly attacked by Maliki's forces, including the horrific massacre of 52 of their colleagues in Camp Ashraf last September, when 7 hostages were seized, 6 of whom are women and nothing has been heard from them since. The limp-wristed response from the west has simply encouraged further atrocities of this kind.

"It is time the West woke up to the tragedy of Iraq. It was the US and the UK - George W. Bush and Tony Blair - who invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam, declaring: "Mission accomplished". They boasted that they had left behind "a functioning democracy", when in fact they left behind a basket case. It was the US who colluded with Iran to return Maliki to power after the last election, even although he had lost that election by 2 seats. Now, in breach of the Erbil Agreement, Maliki has retained control over the Defence, Intelligence and Interior Ministries in his own office and he has even created new, independent security 6 intelligence organisation that is answerable only to him, giving him despotic powers.

"There is still time for the West to reassert its authority and make amends for its disastrous intervention in Iraq. The UN, US and EU must tell Maliki that his whirlwind of bloodshed, violence, corruption and abuse will no longer be tolerated. Unless there are free and fair elections on 30th April that can restore a semblance of democracy to Iraq and provide the beleaguered people of that country with a non-sectarian, secular government, committed to the restoration of the rule of law and respect for human rights, then the economic umbilical cord to the West must be severed."

In his address to the conference Dr Rafe Al Refaei - the Grand Mufti of Iraq, said: "Maliki is following a heinous policy of indiscriminate bombings of innocent people. The people of Al-Anbar did not start the war. We did everything to reach a peaceful settlement. Maliki forces attacked the peaceful rallies. They have bombarded the houses of innocent people. My own brother was killed last week in the bombardment and was not from al Qaeda or from Daesh.   When Maliki launched his so-called war against terrorists in the desert in Anbar province not a single combatant of al Qaeda was killed. The only people killed were innocent shepherds.  What is happening in Fallujah is genocide. 1000 civilians have been injured. Events in Iraq have taken a very dangerous turn. It could lead to a civil war in which all Iraqi people will lose. The European Parliament should deal with this matter. We've been handed on a golden platter to the Iranian govt."

Saleem Abdullah Al-Jabori - Chair of the HR Committee in the Council of Representatives said: "We called on the international community to come to our rescue, but we were faced with just talk and no action. Now Iraqi women's tears have dried up. We're sick of unfulfilled promises. But all of this has not put an end to bloodshed in Iraq. All of the violations are serious, all are important. They are issues of international governance and international law. We Iraqis are the ones who suffer. Investigators use torture to obtain confessions. We need to adopt legislation that will put a stop to violations of prisoners. A person can be detained for years on false accusations. But HR violations will not lead to the eradication of terrorism. Our committee has managed to get many women released from prison. Iraq is rich in diversity, but the killing still goes on. There are around 10 car bombs every day. The Iraqi media should be given more freedom to report the truth. Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced in al Anbar Province. A generation has lost all of its rights."

Haidar Mulla - Member of the Iraqi Council of Representatives said: "Mr Stevenson has increased the influence of the EU in Iraq and in particular, he has increased the importance of HR. We had hoped that Iraq would become a democracy after the fall of the previous regime. But our HR record is not something we should be proud of. Our task is difficult and complex. We have to pave the way for a culture that respects HR. Until now GoI did not implement article 19 on HR. This is not a gift to the people. It is their right.  Currently there is a ratio of one military personnel to 27 civilians and even so we cannot live peacefully. We have a political crisis and we have to deal with it politically."

Btrus Sliwa - Head of the Independent KRG Human Rights Board said: "The Ministry of HR was abolished in 2009 because it was being politically influenced. The government set up an independent board not linked to any political body. There is a high rate of domestic violence against women in parts of Kurdistan which we have legislated to stop. There are also now an estimated 200,000 IDPs in Kurdistan as well as over 200,000 refugees from Syria."

Dr Abdul-Razzaq Rahim Al Shemmeri - speaker for the Herak Delegation from the al-Anbar Governorate said: "This is my first time in the EU and I have come to bring the true voice of Anbar to the European Parliament. Why do you turn a blind eye to the Shia militias who slaughter our people? The Sunni movement entered the conflict through the demonstrations and sit-ins which started in 2012. But it was clear from the start that there was no political will to deal with the demonstrators in a peaceful way. Maliki's army invaded the places where the demonstrators were gathering. The crimes being committed there are similar to Bosnia, Herzegovina. Anti-terrorist forces were sent by the GoI in 2013 to arrest leaders of the so-called terrorist movement in Anbar under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Maliki resorted to threatening us, stating it was a rebellion under influence of foreign forces. He told his forces to finish us off before we finished him off!"

Dr Sabah al-Mukhtar - UN Permanent Representative, Arab lawyers Union, said: "Sending foreign troops to spread democracy turns the concept upside down. HR abuses occur in every country, but Iraq has a unique situation. Maliki abuses all of the human rights of all of the people, all of the time. Iraq is also bottom of the transparency international list of corrupt states, behind even Somalia and Sudan. Why did the Americans liberate Iraq and then hand it over to the mullahs in Iran?

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir - KRG Head of Department of Foreign Relations, said: "HR is not a privilege. It is a basic right. We care about HR because as Kurds we have a long experience of suffering. Our democracy is in its infancy. No-one can claim they are perfect. Respect for HR is what we care about in Kurdistan. We have a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. This has led to prosperity for the people and an economic boom. Diversity is the source of our strength. We have also provided shelter for IDPs and refugees. The KRG also focused on women and children to address issues that empower and protect them. Women must be part of society and properly protected in all walks of life. Unlike  the federal government in Baghdad, we have always welcomed UN HR reports. As Kurds we will not accept the status of 2nd class citizens. We'd like to see all of Iraq become like Kurdistan."

Kamel Zozo, representing the Syriac Assyrian Chaldean Movement said: "Iraq is a country for all of us. As Christians we've been there since the creation of Iraq. Now we are filled with bitterness and sadness when we see what has happened to the ethnic minorities. The system of government in Iraq is now a despotic one. Christians are doomed to extinction. This is the land of our fathers and forefathers and yet we are being driven from it. We must enact necessary laws to give us protection. Plans to change the demography of Nineveh and other regions are directly targeting the Christian community. We are being pushed into an unknown future.  Can I request that EP pays attention to the minorities in Iraq."

Elisabetta Zamparutti - Italian politician in the Radical Movement and Treasurer of "Hands off Cain" NGO, said:  "Executions began again after a suspension in August 2005.  Over 600 people have been executed since then, 117 last year alone. Iraq is now 3rd behind China and Iran for the number of executions it carries out. There are wooden gallows working overtime in the old intelligence HQ building in Baghdad, where Saddam was hanged. No records of these executions are kept. The justice system in Iraq is broken. Those executed are not represented properly. Evidence taken from secret informants cannot be challenged in court. We need to reflect on the situation in Iraq today."

Struan Stevenson MEP
President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq

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