Thursday, October 23, 2014

American Horror Story

Of the horror TV shows, my favorite would be FX's American Horror Story.

Now in its fourth season, this show has been something to marvel over.

I would rank the third season as the finest but I did love it from the start and will always be partial to season one.

Jessica Lange has been a part of the show throughout and she's done amazing work as she's played one character one season and another a different season.

The witches coven, season three, was my favorite.

But I would argue Lange's work in season one as the mother who is deadly was rather amazing work all on its own.

Season three included Kathy Bates and even a Stevie Nicks cameo.

The fourth season has just gotten underway so I can't really speak to it but I loved the pacing of season three.

Everything came together perfectly in season three.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, Blackwater employees get convicted, Iraqi Christians remain targeted, 'trend stories' continue, Iraqi Christians remain targeted, and more.

Blackwater is in the news again today and it's due to the infamous September 16, 2007 attack in September 16, 2007.  From the September 17, 2010 snapshot:

Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory."  
Blackwater was a US-based company run by Erik Prince which employed people as mercenaries.  They were sent around the world and within the United States.  But their actions in Iraq garnered the most attention.
The fallout from the September 2007 assault was so bad that Blackwater began a series of name changes. 
Today, the four Blackwater employees were convicted in a federal court.  Michael Winter (USA Today) reports, "Nicholas Slatten, who fired the first shots in crowded Nisoor Square, was found guilty of first-degree murder. The three other guards -- Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard -- were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations."  Eliott C. McLaughlin (CNN) notes, "Among those killed were a doctor, a used car salesman, a truck driver, a businessman, an Iraqi soldier, a gardener, a taxi driver and an aspiring doctor taking his mother to an appointment, according to prosecutors."
Dow Jones explains, "Mr. Slatten faces a life sentence for the murder charge while the three defendants convicted on manslaughter charges could face at least three decades in prison. The four defendants were largely motionless as the charges were read. Lawyers for Messrs. Heard and Liberty said they plan to appeal." AP adds, "One of the government witnesses in the case, Blackwater guard Jeremy Ridgeway, had pleaded guilty to killing the driver's mother, who died in the passenger seat of the white Kia next to her son."
The verdict came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and the last war? Four former workers for Blackwater were --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- convicted today, three of manslaughter, one of murder. What message does this send to those in Iraq, those across the greater Middle East, about the U.S. being able to hold people accountable for their bad behavior overseas?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly respect the court’s decision in this case. And as you all probably know, but following the tragedy there, the Department took a number of steps to strengthen oversight of private security contractors, such as moving quickly to improve investigative policies and strengthening procedures for use of force and less-than-lethal force by security contractors. So again, aren’t going to have more comment on the court’s decision other than we respect it.

QUESTION: But in terms of the U.S.’s reputation, obviously, Nisour Square was a huge hit for the U.S.’s reputation. Is this verdict something that this building can point to when engaging with other countries on – look, if people do something wrong, they can and will be held accountable?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think the verdict per se, but the process and the judicial process we have in this country that we believe gives everyone access to a fair trial; they are innocent until proven guilty. And without speaking to the specific outcome in this trial, I do think that that is a very important tenet of what we do here.

QUESTION: Has anyone from this building spoken to anyone in the Iraqi Government about the verdict?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: In the aftermath of that attack, the Iraqi parliament passed laws that limited the number of foreign PSDs that were allowed in Iraq and limited their weapons access, permits, all of that. Now that this verdict has come back, do you envision a scenario where the State Department could ask the Government of Iraq to loosen some of those restrictions?

MS. HARF: I can check, but obviously, it’s a very, very different situation today.

QUESTION: It is, but I mean, there are still all sorts of NGOs, journalists who need PSDs and weapons --

MS. HARF: Let me check.
 There was enough to convict without using questionable evidence.  Questionable evidence leads to rulings.  On appeal, any charge could be struck down.  Hopefully, the prosecution didn't cut corners or else the justice many feel was handed out today could be at risk of being pulled away.
It should also be noted that the four weren't rogue.
They were acting in a manner Blackwater encouraged, in a matter the US government encouraged.  
This is not to say the four are innocent or that they should have walked.
This is to note that the guilt didn't stop with the four convicted today.
Mark Ruffalo Tweeted:
  • It should also be pointed out that the government official being 'protected' in the attack remains a mystery.  
    His or her name or names should have been revealed long ago.
    And trend stories should have died long ago.  
    The media loves them -- loves them enough to create them.  
    Susan Faludi documents this very well in the journalistic classic Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.  
    One of the most famous examples in the book is Faludi taking on Newseek's 'trend story' about how women of a certain age were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married. The 'support' for that story? It was a comment a reporter made and that was enough to kick off a trend story -- a lie spread around the world.
    Faludi notes:

    The trend story, which may go down as late-20th-century journalism's prime contribution to the craft, professes to offer "news" of changing mores, yet prescribes more than it observes.  Claiming to mirror public sentiment, its reflections of the human landscapes are strangely depopulated.  Pretending to take the public's pulse, it monitors only its own heartbeat -- and its advertisers'. 
    Trend journalism attains authority not through actual reporting but through the power of repetition.  Said enough times, anything can be made to seem true.  A trend declared in one publication sets off a chain reaction, as the rest of the media scramble to get the story, too.  The lightning speed at which these messages spread has less to do with the accuracy of the trend than with journalists' propensity to repeat one another.  And repetition became especially hard to avoid in the '80s, as the "independent" press feel into a very few corporate hands.
    Husna Haq is the latest unable to resist the bait of 'ISIS recruits!'  To Haq's credit, there is no nonsense of trying to turn this into a 'young girls are joining IS!' nonsense we've already seen.
    But this paragraph in the Christian Science Monitor article gets at all that is wrong with these 'trend stories:'

    According to CIA estimates, about 2,000 Westerners have traveled to Iraq and Syria (many via Turkey) to join ISIS. Of these, more than 100 have come from the US, at least 500 from the UK, and more than 700 from France, according to estimates from authorities in those countries.
    Oh my goodness!
    100 Americans!
    That's like a tenth of the country!
    Because we only have 1,000 people in the whole country, right?
    No, there are 316.1 million people in the United States.  
    So that's 316,100,000 people and of that huge number 100 have joined the Islamic State.
    Are you getting how useless these stories have been?
    There is no trend story here.
    And with the numbers so small you really could profile everyone in a report.
    But it might not carry the alarm and create the frenzy trend stories live to do.
    Even worse, she and her dopey guests pretended that the Islamic State thickens its media as a result of a social media.
    They may get a message out via media but what has thickened their membership is attacks on the Sunni population -- in Iraq, where they are the minority, and in Syria, where they are the majority.
    Stop the persecution of the Sunnis and you end the need for anyone to get behind a group that argues it can protect the Sunni population.
    It's an obvious point so many miss.  Take the State Dept's Brett McGurk.
    That's not addressing anything.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth points out:
  • More US military advisers won't help defeat ISIS until Baghdad reins in Shia militia still killing Sunnis.
  • Meanwhile, religious minorities remain under attack in Iraq.
    Crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $1 million for Iraqi Christians
    24 retweets 17 favorites
    The crowdfunding campaign will run from Oct. 14-Nov. 24, and can be found on Indiegogo, which is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world. Almost $5,000 of the $1 million goal has been raised so far.

    “We invite all of our brothers and sisters in Christ to join us and contribute, from as little as $10, to the crowdfunding campaign that we have initiated,” stated Eduardo Paz, co-founder of La Filotea Productions.
    How bad are things?  Ghassan Rifi (Al-Monitor) speaks with Ghattas Hazim, the Greek Orthodox Bishop for Bahgdad:

    Hazim revealed shocking figures to As-Safir about the Orthodox presence in Iraq. He said only 30 families out of 600 remain in Baghdad; the rest were displaced following the invasion of Kuwait, and there are fewer than 10 families left in Mosul.
    In Iraq’s Basra, all the Orthodox families have been displaced after members of the families were killed or threatened. Indeed, over 90% of the Orthodox Christians in Iraq have been displaced due to the security chaos which has prevailed over the country for the past generation. Hazim hopes that Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, would be a haven for Christians since it looked like a promising region due to the size of the economic and trade investment, and since it “welcomes our sons who move there from all over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” Hazim said.
    “The Orthodox confession is recognized in the Iraqi law and constitution,” Hazim said. “Our situation there is similar to our situation in Lebanon and Syria. We have two churches, a school, which is considered one of the most prominent schools in Baghdad, in addition to a retirement home and an orphanage, a center for sports, cultural and educational activities.”
    Iraq's Christians are targeted from all over -- including from within their own ranks.  Roxana Popescu (San Diego Union Tribune) reports:

    San Diego Chaldeans are pushing back against the suspension of a local priest by Chaldean patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako in Baghdad. The priest, Noel Gorgis, was reprimanded for not returning to Iraq as commanded by the patriarch, months after the majority of Iraq’s Christians fled because of the brutal religious persecution they faced by terror group Islamic State.
    The patriarch reminded the priests and monks in his decree of their vow of “obedience to the superiors” without reservations.
    And it's not just one priest.  Megan Burks (KPBS) reports:

    Just 14 priests serve the tens of thousands of Chaldean Catholics who have emigrated from Iraq to the Western United States. A church leader in Iraq has suspended seven of those priests, including the Rev. Noel Gorgis in El Cajon.
    Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the church, wants the Iraqi-American priests who fled violence in Iraq to return home or leave the church.
    San Diego County Chaldeans oppose that and say they will appeal to the Vatican to stop it..
    Finally, the Ashraf community in Iraq remains targeted.  The Iranian dissidents take their name from Camp Ashraf which was their home for many years.  They were forced to resettle at Camp Liberty.  Today, US Senator John McCain's office issued the following:

    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to raise concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty, whose lives are increasingly at risk as the security situation in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate.

    “I am writing you to follow-up on the response I received in August to my previous letter concerning the ongoing refugee resettlement process and to discuss my continuing concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty,” writes Senator John McCain. “As you are aware, due to the increasingly dangerous threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the resettlement process has stalled, and many fear that the people at Camp Liberty could be at grave risk if the security situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate. For this reason, the Administration must move more quickly to find safe, permanent, and secure locations for Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq. I was encouraged to hear about Albania’s willingness to temporarily host some Camp Liberty residents for purposes of identifying individuals for relocation to the United States. But, I fear that this effort is insufficient to adequately safeguard the security of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty. … Again, I urge you to continue to push for the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty and to expedite the refugee resettlement process. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.”

    The signed letter is here and the text of the letter is below.

    October 22, 2014
    The Honorable John Kerry
    Secretary of State
    United States Department of State
    2201 C Street N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    Dear Secretary Kerry,
    I am writing you to follow-up on the response I received in August to my previous letter concerning the ongoing refugee resettlement process and to discuss my continuing concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty.
    As you are aware, due to the increasingly dangerous threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the resettlement process has stalled, and many fear that the people at Camp Liberty could be at grave risk if the security situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate. For this reason, the Administration must move more quickly to find safe, permanent, and secure locations for Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq. I was encouraged to hear about Albania’s willingness to temporarily host some Camp Liberty residents for purposes of identifying individuals for relocation to the United States.  But, I fear that this effort is insufficient to adequately safeguard the security of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty.
    Given deteriorating conditions in Iraq, I believe our current efforts should focus on the 2,700 residents whose lives are at stake in Camp Liberty. Some recent events call into question the Iraqi government’s commitment to uphold its agreements to ensure the safety and well-being of these residents. In August 2014, the National Council of the Resistance of Iran accused the Iraqi government of blocking deliveries of food, fuel, and water to the Camp and making it difficult for residents to seek medical assistance.  And according to statement made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Iraqi Minister of Justice stated that if Iran asked for the extradition of the residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq would deliver them.  As you know, transfer to Iran could amount to a death sentence for these committed opponents of the tyrannical regime in Tehran, which has repeatedly attacked and murdered them inside of Iraq, as recently as last year. This is especially troubling in light of the appointment of Interior Minister Mohamed al-Ghabban, who has ties with Shiite militia groups that are openly hostile to residents of Camp Liberty and loyal to Iran.
    Clearly, actions need to be taken to ensure the continued safety of the residents of Camp Liberty. With this in mind, I appreciate your responding promptly to the following questions:
    1.         The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and U.S. Embassy Baghdad staff have resumed their visits to Camp Liberty. Since they have resumed their visits, has there been any concern about the living conditions at Camp Liberty?  Please explain your answer.
    2.         Has the Administration investigated allegations that the Iraqi government has placed harmful restrictions on Camp Liberty and is denying its residents food, water, and medical aid?  If so, please explain the Administration’s findings.  If not, why not?
    3.         If the violence in Iraq continues to escalate, what further actions will be taken to ensure the safety of the residents?
    4.         What actions are being taken to ensure that the residents will continue to have access to food, water, and the basic necessities?
    5.         What is the current status of the refugee resettlement process for the residents of Camp Liberty and when will it be completed?
    6.         Does the Administration require renunciation of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) as a pre-condition before an individual may be considered for resettlement in the United States?
    7.         What is the status of U.S. efforts to settle some of the Camp Liberty residents in the United States?
    Again, I urge you to continue to push for the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty and to expedite the refugee resettlement process. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.
    John McCain
    United States Senator


    the newshour
    margaret warner


    Wednesday, October 22, 2014


    This really isn't a post on decorating.

    I wouldn't begin to tell you how to decorate your place.

    But Gillian e-mailed and wanted to know if I had anything special in my home?

    Since college, yes.

    The Beatles Abby Road is my favorite Beatles album and probably my favorite album period.

    I had a poster of the album cover in college.

    Every home since, I've had it.

    In one move, it got lost.  So I replaced it.

    In another move, it broke (the frame) and tore (the poster).

    So I replaced it.

    Currently, it's in our bedroom and the first thing I see when I wake up.

    Which is fine because it gives me a sense of stability and has throughout my many moves over the years.

    I wish I were a wonderful decorator.

    I'm not.

    Many times, I've hired someone to come in and decorate my home.

    A few have tried to remove the poster.

    Which is when I say bye-bye.

    But I've had some really good ones over the years.

    I can arrange flowers in a vase beautifully but in terms of having any decorating talent?  Honestly, I have none.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, October 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US 'precision' drops from the air results in the Islamic State getting a cache of weapons, the Yazidis may be facing genocide (didn't Susan Rice claim they were a success story?), new scare tactics regarding the US mid-terms should be rejected, doomsday scenarios actually contain some possible seeds of change, and much more.

    Jordain Carney (National Journal) explains, "The U.S. military is trying to determine if an air-dropped bundle of weapons intended for Kurdish fighters in Syria is now in the hands of ISIS militants.A video posted Tuesday to a YouTube account affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria appears to show militants with the weapons bundle, which included grenades and mortars."  Diaa Hadid (AP) adds, "The cache of weapons included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to a video uploaded by a media group loyal to the Islamic State group."

    At today's Defense Dept press briefing, Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby was asked about the video.

    Q: On Kobani, as well, there was a video that was released earlier today on YouTube that showed -- seemed to show some ISIS fighters and they -- with one of these bundles. Have you been able to in any way verify, has the U.S. military verified that? Was that the one that went astray and then was later blown up? Do you have any details?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: The short answer is, Courtney, we don't know. The analysts in Tampa and here in the Pentagon are examining that video right now, as a matter of fact, and we're still -- we're still taking a look at it and assessing the validity of it. So I honestly don't know if that was one of the ones dropped and whether it is, in fact, or the contents of it are, in fact, in the hands of ISIL. We just -- we don't know. We're still looking at it.

    Q: Can you even say whether -- like, it shows some mortars, some grenades, like some RPG parts. Were those the kinds of things that were even dropped?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: They are -- they are certainly of the -- of the kinds of material that was dropped, was small-arms ammunition and weaponry. So it's not out of the realm of the possible in that regard. But, again, we're taking a look at this, and, you know, we just don't know. And when we have something definitive that we can provide in terms of an assessment on that, we'll do that.

      I do want to add, though, that we are very confident that the vast majority of the bundles did end up in the right hands. In fact, we're only aware of one bundle that did not. Again, we'll -- if we can confirm that this one is or isn't, we'll certainly do that and let you know.

    The issue was also raised at the State Dept briefing presided over by spokesperson Marie Harf:

    QUESTION: Can we go back to the air drops?

    MS. HARF: Yeah, and then I’ll go to you. Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Yeah. Yesterday the Pentagon said that it had tried to deliver 28 bundles of weapons from the Iraqi Kurds to the fighters in Kobani. Twenty-seven made it; the twenty-eighth went off course. They destroyed it so that it wouldn’t fall into people’s hands.

    MS. HARF: And – yeah, mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: Now there’s YouTube video of ISIL fighters claiming that they, in fact, did recover that wayward bundle, and they have grenades and RPGs and other small weapons. Given that the Pentagon says no, we took that out because we did not want that to happen, how prepared is the U.S. and its allies to deal with the propaganda value of whatever it is ISIL will do to try to change what the coalition says are the facts?

    MS. HARF: Well, a few points: The first is we’ve seen that video, and we can’t confirm that what is in it is actually accurate. There’s obviously a lot of false information, particularly propaganda on the internet, and this may fall into that category. We’re seeking more information at this point, though. So can’t confirm it; seeking more information.

    We know that part of ISIL’s strategy here is to wage a propaganda campaign. And that’s why one of our lines of efforts has been delegitimizing ISIL’s propaganda. And so that is something other countries can do; it’s something religious leaders can do. But that’s why, if you look at our five lines of effort, that’s one of them, which I think is pretty extraordinary.

    One of the things, the most obvious points, no reporter appears able to make?

    An operation that can misdrop weapons?

    They also have a struggle hitting targets.

    An operation that can't even get weapons into the hands of the side they're supporting?  They really can't be trusted to drop bombs on populated areas.

    As the US government tries to spin the wrongly dropped weapons, Al-Shorfa reports the Islamic State has seized more than an air drop and quotes Anbar Provincial Council spokesperson stating, "The terrorist group seized nine trucks loaded with humanitarian and food aid for about 40,000 citizens in Anah, Rawah and al-Qaim, attacking the accompanying relief workers."

    While the radical group appropriates various items in Iraq, Daily Sabah and Anadolu Agency report the Islamic State is awash in cash:

    According to the US based energy consultancy firm IHS's report, annual revenues of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) militant group from oil production reached up to 800 million USD.
    The report states that the illegal production and sales of crude oil and petroleum products by the terrorist group brings a 2 million USD daily income.
    Around 50-60 thousand barrels of oil is being produced per day in the areas controlled by the ISIS in Iraq and Syria out of a 350 thousand barrel potential cannot be used due to technical capabilities.

    Turning to some of today's reported violence, Iraq Times reports that the Islamic State hit the Green Zone in Baghdad with mortars.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports that Hijaj Village bombing has left 6 people dead and two more injured and 2 east Baghdad car bombings have left 3 people dead and nine more injured.  Iraqi Spring MC updates the Baghdad toll to 9 dead and thirty-two injured while noting reports that a third car bombing has gone off in the same eastern area of Baghdad.

    Yesterday, Karbala saw five car bombings.  Today, Alsumaria reports, Karbala Provincial Council member Mohammed Hamid al-Moussawi has announced he is resigning to protest the weak security situation in the province.  Al Mada reports more is going on than just a resignation.  The paper reports that the council is planning to present a motion that the governor of the province be fired.  And there are charges and counter-charges flying back and forth amid the council.  The strongest charge comes from a group that is berating a number of members from failing to show for council meetings.  Today's attempted council meeting, for example, did not take place because so few attended that the council wasn't able to form a quorum.

    In other news, AP quotes United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic stating the targeting of the Yazidis may be "an attempt to commit genocide."  AFP adds, "In the case of the Yazidis, he said the killings could be qualified as an attempted genocide because there was evidence of an intent to exterminate them if they refuse to convert."

    What?  What?

    Earlier this month, the White House's official liar Susan Rice took to NBC's Meet The Press to specifically cite Mount Sinjar as one of the "very important successes" in Barack Obama's 'plan' to confront the Islamic State.   Yet just yesterday, Alsumaria reported that Yazidi MP Haji Kndorjsmo is calling for the government to rescue 700 families who are still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

    The Yazidis were raised in the Pentagon press briefing.

    Q: Admiral Kirby, staying in Iraq, could you confirm that ISIS have taken three villages, Yazidis' villages in the Mount Sinjar in the last few hours? Also, if you could give us a broad picture in Iraq, how successful were the airstrikes since they have begun in August 8, I think, until now? Can we talk about success? And I have a follow-up question.

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't have any detail on the towns you're talking about. That said, we certainly have been tracking ISIL's interest in and around Mount Sinjar. And you've seen of late -- there's been a couple of airstrikes done in and around there, so we're watching that. I don't have anything today to confirm whether this village or that town has been retaken, but we do know ISIL continues to operate in that area and continues to want to grab ground and territory. They want to ground -- they want to grab ground and territory elsewhere in Iraq, too.
    So I appreciate the question. And I'll try not to get too longwinded here, but it's a good one. If you looked at the press release that CENTCOM put out earlier today, you'll notice that virtually half the airstrikes that were conducted over the last 24 hours were in Iraq. Now, it wasn't a great number. It was -- you know, I think, seven and five or seven and six, something like that, but -- but just about half of them were conducted inside Iraq.
    And if you take a look at the ones that were done in Iraq and look at where they were, you had one near Fallujah, you had -- you had one up by Mosul Dam, you had another near Baiji. And what that tells us -- a couple of things. One, the weather is starting to get better, so we're getting -- we're getting ISR platforms, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms are able to fly a little bit more now. The weather's gotten better. So we get more eyes on, which is permitting more freedom from the air, and so that's some -- one indication you're seeing.
    The other thing that I want to point out about that is that if you look at where we're hitting, that's where ISF is, too, right? The ISF is -- and the -- Kurdish forces specifically are still in control of the Mosul Dam complex. ISIL wants it back. And they still threaten it. They don't have it, but they still threaten it. And the one strike was up there.
    Fallujah, we've talked all about Anbar and Fallujah and Ramadi and all that, so one of the strikes was in Fallujah in direct support of ISF that are on the move inside Fallujah. And then the other one near Baiji, the -- General Austin talked about this last week, Iraqi security forces are advancing to try to help reconnect to Iraqi forces that are in control of the oil refinery there.
    Their advances over the last few days have been slowed by the weather, which is clearing, and so they're moving again, but it also has been slowed by IEDs, almost 30 IEDs that they found and cleared, which has slowed their advance.
    So they are moving. They are taking the fight to the enemy, and those strikes last night are indications that we're trying to support them, too. So the whole narrative out there that we've just turned our back on Anbar is completely false. There have been real challenges in terms of what we can do there largely because of the weather, but also because of some of the defensive mechanisms that ISIL has thrown up in the way.

      So, you know, things are starting to -- things are starting to move. And I think you're going to continue to see that momentum there inside Iraq.

    Yes, all those words that followed his admission of 'I don't know' were an attempt to distract from the plight of the Yazidis.

    On the topic of distractions, did you catch Kathleen Miles (Huffington Post) serving up sop yesterday?  The queen of the pig sty wanted you to know that if the GOP wins control of the Senate in the November mid-term elections, Senator John McCain will call for ground troops in Iraq.

    Oh, good heavens!

    Where are the pearls?

    We must clutch the pearls!

    And fan ourselves!

    Oh the shock . . .

    It's so unsettling.

    And what a surprising plot twist!

    John McCain, who has been calling for ground troops in Iraq will, after November, continue to call for ground troops in Iraq.

    Yes, that's right.

    He's already calling for troops in combat in Iraq.

    (And, yes, ground troops -- US ground troops -- are already in Iraq and US troops flying missions where they drop bombs in Iraq are already taking part in combat missions.  Don't say it too loudly, though, it might lead Kathleen Miles to piss her panties in public.)

    No one's expecting or predicting a huge swing in the Senate.

    It's thought that two seats may be in seriously play and could go to the Republicans giving them control of the Senate.

    47 or 48 Democrats (we'll count Bernie Sanders in that number) can't stand up to the GOP?

    Can't or won't?

    If Miles wants to panic, she should panic over the fact that Democrats in the Senate are most likely poised to sell out the American people yet again on Iraq.

    And, shocker, that's probably true regardless of who controls the Senate after the mid-term elections.

    Shame on anyone who believes the crap Miles is churning out.

    Shame on anyone who believes the Democratic Party when it comes to Iraq.

    It was, after all, the 2006 mid-term elections that proved the Democratic Party is a craven whore who will say anything -- while doing nothing.

    Ahead of the election, Nancy Pelosi (and others) declared that if the voters gave the Democrats control of even one house of Congress, the Democrats would end the Iraq War.

    The voters gave them control of both houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    January 2007 saw that Congress sworn in and, November 2007, all US forces left Iraq and the war was declared over and . . .

    What's that?

    Oh, right.

    The Democrats did nothing.

    The war ground on.

    The Democrats did nothing.

    Nancy likes to blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    I was present when she insisted to the San Francisco Chronicle that she did everything she was supposed to do but Harry Reid refused to rally support in the Senate and, in fact, quashed any efforts to end the war.

    I wasn't the only one present.  And audio exists of her remarks.

    But somehow we're the only site that's ever managed to report what Nancy said, to acknowledge her accusations.

    Miles appears to want to use the Iraq War to scare up votes for the Democratic Party.

    I believe America bought that game in 2006.  I don't think anyone's still wanting to play it today.

    The GOP Senate would be a great thing.

    It would allow whores like Medea Benjamin and CodeStink and Robert Parry and all the others to rail against power.

    They don't now.

    They haven't in years.

    They are War Hawks in their own silence and in their own refusal to call out Barack Obama who is the President of the United States but for whom they've made excuses for six years now.

    It was Hillary's fault and then it was this person's fault or that person's fault (or the conspiracy cabal that loony Robert Parry is seeing yet again -- when he plays like the contra story got him drummed out of the real press, he forgets to talk about his wild eyed, nutty conspiracy tales he presented as fact at Sarah McClendon's home over and over and over and over . . . .  I have over twenty letters from Sarah stapled in journal volumes from those years where she documents Parry's 'creative' thinking.).

    A GOP-controlled Senate could let these lazy ass whores pretend they're taking on the power again as they railed against the legislative body (while still failing to hold Barack accountable for his own actions).

    A GOP-controlled Senate could also expose the whorish nature of the Democratic Party.

    The power of "no."

    We wrote about it before Barack came into power.

    As I noted years ago, in the entertainment industry, the "no" is the only power you may ever have.

    If a project doesn't feel right at the start, you say "no."

    Bad things don't tend to get better, they just get worse.

    And, industry truism, it wants what it can't have.  Your "no" not only speaks of power -- the power to walk away no matter how much money is on the table -- it also attracts a fascination (if not respect).

    Now Tom Hayden mocks the power of no.

    Of course, he would.

    Speak to any woman Mr. Grabby Hands has gotten too 'friendly' with and you'll understand just how much he disrespects the power of no.

    But it's not to be disrespected.

    It is true power and it is real power.

    Just as we can affirm, we can also negate.

    And instead of whining that the GOP has been 'obstructive,' real leaders (obviously not Tom Hayden) of the left would be asking the very obvious question: Where were the Democrats when the Iraq War was being started?

    They could have used the power of no.

    Instead, they whined that they were out of power, they didn't control either house of Congress, they didn't this and they didn't that and . . .

    It's all lies.

    They could have buried the war before it started in so many ways.

    Former US Senator Mike Gravel, in 2007 and 2008, repeatedly listed ways the Democrats in Congress, if they wanted to end the war, could.

    They didn't follow his suggestions.

    But then, he wasn't saying anything they didn't already know.

    They knew they had the power but they chose to do nothing.

    So if the GOP takes control of the Senate and John McCain gets his way, the reality is that this will be further proof of how corrupted the Democratic Party has become.  It will be further proof that letting money grubbers like Nancy Pelosi rise to power because she could haul in large amounts of money was a huge mistake.

    A good pimp's 
    Gonna rob you blind
    Money money money
    I feel like a pawn
    In my own world
    I found the system
    And I lost the pearl
    -- "Money," written by Laura Nyro, first appears on her album Smile.

    The Democratic Party deosn't stand for the safety net today.  It doesn't stand for the workers.  It doesn't stand for the environment.  It doesn't stand for peace.

    And if the Republicans win control of the US Senate by one or two members and the Democrats can't stop more US troops from being sent to Iraq?

    It will only reveal just how hollow the party has become.

    It's time for someone to emerge with something more than platitudes (ocean's rising and other garbage should be scoffed at).  The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee should be someone who does in the Democratic Party what Jesus is said to have done in the money changer tent.

    From the Book of Matthew:

    Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

    From the Book of John:

    So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

    It's amazing how, for example, Hillary Clinton will self-present as pious and a follower of the Bible yet she feels no need to emulate the hero of that book even though I believe that was the whole point of the book?

    (I'll be honest, I never read the last chapter.)

    Hillary's not going to change the party.

    She'll continue the corruption of the party.  She won't take it on, she won't try to root it out.

    And each year, there will be less and less reason for the Democratic Party to exist as it moves further and further from the core beliefs that were supposed to be the heart of the party.

    Yesterday's snapshot contained me calling out the idiot Brit 'of the cloth' who'd come over to the US to tell Americans how to vote.

    Some thought I was offended that he (or anyone) would campaign for Republicans.

    I have no problem with people advocating on behalf of the Republican Party -- or the Democratic Party or the Green Party or the Socialist Party or . . .

    I have real problem with foreigners who can't vote in the US election thinking their voices are needed or wanted.

    Take your nose out of everyone else business.

    Surely there's some other problem in the world that you can focus on instead of attempting to tell people how to vote in an election you can't vote in.

    It reminds me of all the whiners around the world focusing on Bully Boy Bush.  The Australian blogger -- you know who I mean if you've been around long enough -- who blogged venom at BBB daily . . . while staying silent on his own prime minister John Howard who sent Australian troops into Iraq.

    It sure is easy to hold the leaders of other countries accountable, isn't it?

    Easy and safe.

    It's far more difficult to hold your own leaders accountable.  But thing is, doing that is at the heart of democracy.

    Then there were the self-impressed members of a US bordering country.

    Remember them throughout the BBB years, especially the contingent that moved there from the US?

    They couldn't stop bragging.

    Even though they had a conservative leader.

    Bully Boy Bush is gone.  But somehow that nation still has a conservative leader -- the same one.

    And they've sent troops to Iraq.

    And I don't hear the boasting from the north these days.  Do you?


    But maybe if, instead of obsessing over the leader of another country, they'd gotten to work in their own country, they might not have a conservative leader (still).

    In "On voting," Mike shared his thoughts last night and I agree with him 100%.

    But I would add that those who can't vote in an election shouldn't be sticking their nose in.

    We could also apply that to Gary Younge -- the closet Socialist who calls Barack out in (some) Socialist publications while fawning over him in The Nation and other rags.  The same Gary who is not an American citizen and really needs to find something to obsess over.

    Tend to your own gardens.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    A show worth watching

    I really enjoyed  Kat's "Kat's Korner: Lenny chooses to strut" and "Kat's Korner: Prince, you wonder if you take him h..." and, like her, am torn over which of Prince's two new albums I like best.

    I'm not torn over a sitcom.

    "TV: Lorne sinks as Casey rises" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):

    Maybe the world just belongs to Casey Wilson anyway?

    If so, what a great moment of karma since Wilson was never appreciated by Lorne Michaels when she was on Saturday Night Live -- but few women have been.

    Wilson went on to greater fame playing Penny on the only hilarious sitcom ABC's offered in the last twenty or so years.  Happy Endings was bust a gut funny with jokes whizzing by at a dizzying rate.  Modern Family, by contrast, has always treated its middle aged audience as though they were at a bus stop and a funny moment was arriving every 11 or so minutes.

    Wilson was one of six actors in the ensemble cast which also included Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert and Zachary Kingston.  By season three, the show delivered a giddy high on whatever night ABC was airing it that week (they truly were determined to kill off the show) and it was the best thing on TV.

    Since then, Pally's landed a gig as Peter on The Mindy Project where he delivers laughs consistently while the rest of the cast has been far less fortunate.  Take Coupe who was so delicious as the determined and in control Jane but now is stuck playing the unfunny ex-wife on the very sad CBS 'comedy' The Millers.

    Wilson's working with Happy Endings producer David Caspe on Marry Me and her character Annie is tailor made for Wilson.  The series opened with Annie and Jake returning from a Mexican getaway and Jake lying that he wanted to take a nap which, after six years of dating, sent Annie into a verbal nose dive as she stormed around the kitchen and living room letting loose on all she had endured -- including painting her toe nails in a unisex bathroom -- and still no proposal.

    It was comedy gold and that's setting aside the fact that Jake was trying to propose and that their family and friends were hearing Annie's entire rant from the bedroom where they were hiding.

    It was comedy gold and that's setting aside Ken Marino.

    But let's not set him aside because we love the big guy.

    Marino's a good looking man.

    How telling that NBC only comes calling when he's good looking.

    The movie studios may have known how to turn a gorgeous Cary Grant into a star but the TV networks forever need an average looking man to get behind.

    Ken's still not average but the years let NBC overlook that.

    (If you're not getting how good looks opposed the network is, Jake is saddled with an overweight male best friend who also has a beard that would make ZZ Top do a double take.)

    And as they overlook his good looks, he finally gets a chance to really strut his comedy chops in a way that only Yahoo (Burning Love) has allowed him to do before.

    Marry Me is a winner.  Clearly the best sitcom of the fall season.

    Marry Me really is something.

    With the show Happy Endings, I didn't get it at first.

    It took me time to warm up.

    Maybe because I did, I am able to enjoy Marry Me from the start?


    But this is a laugh out loud funny show and you'd do yourself a favor to catch the second episode this Tuesday night on NBC.

    It really is the best new sitcom of the season.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Monday, October 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept blows it again, Susan Rice is caught in another Sunday morning lie, for the second day in a row a suicide bomber detonates inside a Baghdad mosque, and much more.

    There's a lot of embarrassment to cover today so let's open with something strong.  US Senator Patty Murray's office issued the following today:

    FOR PLANNING PURPOSES            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Monday October 20, 2014                                            (202) 224-2834
    JBLM: Murray to Deliver Remarks at Washington State Service Member for Life Transition Summit
    Murray will commend JBLM for leading the charge in helping servicemembers transition successfully to civilian life
    Will lay out steps to build on progress, ensure all veterans are connected with care, professional opportunity
    (Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 21st, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will deliver remarks at the Washington State Service Member for Life Transition Summit, a three-day conference focused on connecting veterans, transitioning servicemembers, and their families to meaningful professional opportunities.
    In her remarks, Murray will reflect on the progress made so far toward helping servicemembers in Washington state and across the country transition successfully to civilian life, lay out specific steps to build on this progress going forward, and call for continued commitment to uphold our responsibility to those who have bravely served our nation.
    WHO:             Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
    WHAT:          Senator Murray will deliver remarks at the Washington State Service
    Member for Life Transition Summit.
    WHEN:         Tuesday, Oct. 21st
                           12:00 PM PST
    WHERE:       Joint Base Lewis-McChord
                            American Lakes Conference Center (Access directed once on base)


    So that's tomorrow and that's the strong.

    Let's turn now to the weak and embarrassing.

    Andrew White.

    We ignore the British creep.

    We don't take known liar's seriously.

    In 2006, the repugnant White testifed that there were no Jews present in Iraq.  It was a lie and when he learned reporters had been present, he had a hissy fit.

    Not that he lied under oath, no.

    He had a hissy fit that reporters might report he lied under oath.

    (Only one outlet did.)

    White's the White Bwana of Baghdad.  He presents himself as Lady Bountiful, ministering to the Iraqis.  But he's also cooperated with the regime, passed on information, ratted out people.

    All of which is why he's not wanted in Baghdad currently.

    We usually ignore all of that and ignore him.

    But Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) chose to report on White or 'report.'

    White's in the US.

    Campaigning, apparently, for Republicans in the 2014 mid-terms.

    Doing so at US churches.

    Oh, if only Lois Lerner were still around, no doubt she'd be on the phone to immigration seeing how to toss White out of the country.

    From Ashton's report or 'report':

    His blamed the latest plight of Iraqi Christians on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in December 2011.
    “The reason we had this tragedy now is because you came in and you left us too soon. We weren’t ready to be left,” he said, in encouraging the Life Center congregation to vote for politicians who would not have left Iraq.

    Read more here:

    For those who don't know the fake ass, White cheered on the Iraq War.  When it grew very unpopular, he tried to publicly pretend otherwise.

    For a so-called man of the cloth, he sure lies frequently.

    I wasn't aware that was now allowed and encouraged in the Anglican Church.

    He supported the Iraq War, cheering it on.  And now he's come to the United States to spread the 'good' word that Iraq needs more war and that Americans should vote for politicians who want more US troops in Iraq.

    Is it really true that the fake ass couldn't pass an audit if his books were looked at?  There have been lots of improvements to his British home in recent years that have neighbors scratching their heads in wonder over the ability of a 'simple man of the cloth' to repeatedly foot the bills for.

    Moving from one fake ass to another, Susan Rice. In the October 15, 2014 snapshot, we were taking on her many lies uttered on NBC's Meet The Press.  Let's zoom in:

    Offical Benghazi Liar Dirty Rice: Our air campaign is off to a strong start and we've seen very important successes in places like Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, where we were able to rescue many tens of thousands of civilians at risk. And this is going to take time. So it can't be judged by merely what happens in one particular town or in one particular region. This is going to take time and the American people need to understand that our aim here is long-term degradation and building the capacity of our partners.         

    The success of Mount Sinjar!

    Kind of like the 'success' of Benghazi, eh, Susan?

    Rice has a habit of spinning people left behind and forgotten as a mission accomplished.

    Alsumaria reports today that Yezidi MP Haji Kndorjsmo is calling for the government to rescue 700 families who are still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

    700 families?

    If we pretend all are limited to three people, we've got 2100 Yazidis still trapped on Mount Sinjar all these months later and only one week after Dirty Rice went on national TV and lied.


    Ahmed al-Hamadani (Al Arabiya) reports, "Local Sinjar Protection Forces holding back ISIS militants are quickly running out of supplies and ammunition and have sent out emergency appeals to U.S.-led coalition forces for help, the source said."  The Washington Post's Loveday Morris Tweeted:

  • Last night, BBC News noted a suicide bomber detonated in a Baghdad mosque taking his own life and the lives of 18 other people.  Xinhua added the toll rose to 22 dead (with twenty-five more injured).  Sunday's violence also included 12 people killed in Falluja.  Iraqi Spring MC reports that the Iraqi forces continue to shell residential neighborhoods in Falluja and these bombings killed 12 civilians with ten more left injured.

    Violence continues in Iraq.  And it's not just the hundreds the US and others kill via dropping bombs -- all of whom the US insists were 'terrorists.'  Violence also includes other incidents.  Such as, National Iraqi News Agency notes that Karbala has been slammed with car bombings repeatedly today.  Al Jazeera counts five bombings in all with at least 15 people killed and their correspondent Imran Khan states, "The month of Muharram has seen a spike in violence, particularly sectarian violence in the past. But since ISIL took over huge swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, we are expecting this to be much more bloodier than we've seen in previous years."  Alsumaria reports that two men were strangled and their bodies dumped in Kirkuk.

    AFP notes that for the second day in a row a suicide bomber has targeted a Baghdad mosque and today's bombing left 11 dead (plus the bomber).

    All Iraq News notes a Mosul suicide bomber who took his own life and the lives of 7 Peshmerga with twenty-six more Peshmerga injured.  National Iraq News Agency notes a Mosul roadside bombing left 2 people dead. and an al-Jubouri home invasion left Nimrod Police Chief Mohammed Hassan al-Jubouri and his son dead.

    In addition, they note that 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad and "A police source said that a suicide bomber, wearing an explosive belt, blew himself up inside the Kayrat Husseiniah in the Syed Sultan Ali area in central Baghdad, killing four and wounding 12 others."

    Press Association reports:

    Prime minister Haider Abadi, who took office last month, met on Monday with top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in the southern city of Najaf. He said after their talks that Mr Sistani welcomed the recent formation of the government that Mr Abadi now leads.
    The spiritual leader wields considerable influence among Iraq's Shia majority, and the meeting carried symbolic significance because Mr Sistani has shunned politicians in recent years to protest at how they run the country.

    All Iraq News quotes al-Abadi stating, "Ayatollah Sistani hailed the formation of the Iraqi government and agreed with it over rejecting the deployment of the international troops in Iraq."

    al-Sistani was applauding Saturday's news: the Iraqi Parliament voted in a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior -- the first time since spring 2010 that the positions have been filled.  Mohammed Ghaban is the new Minister of Interior (over the federal police and prisons) and Khaled al-Obeidi is the new Minister of Defense.

    Saturday, in Boston, US Secretary of State John Kerry noted the accomplishment, "And on another note, I might just report we had a very positive step forward in Iraq today with the selection of a minister of the interior and a minister of defense. These were critical positions to be filled in order to assist with the organizing effort with respect to ISIL. So we’re very pleased. We congratulate Prime Minister Abadi and we look forward to working with them as we continue to grow the coalition and move forward."  Vice President Joe Biden's office issued the following:

    Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

    Vice President Biden spoke this morning with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.  The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Abadi on the selection and approval of seven new cabinet ministers, including new Ministers of Defense, Finance, and Interior.  For the first time since 2010, Iraq now has a full slate of national security ministers approved by the Council of Representatives.  The Prime Minister and Vice President discussed the work ahead, including steps to rebuild Iraq’s security forces and enlist all of Iraq’s communities in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
    France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement Saturday:
    France congratulates the Iraqi prime minister on the appointment of the ministers of defense and interior, thereby completing the government that was formed on September 8, and on the swearing in of the Kurdish ministers. When he spoke to the press yesterday in Beijing, Mr. Laurent Fabius welcomed the formation of this inclusive government, which will guarantee unity and effectiveness in Iraq’s fight against Daesh.
    The conditions are now right for the government to start working toward resolving, in a spirit of unity, the numerous challenges facing the country. The fight against Daesh requires resolute action with respect to security. In order to build trust, gestures must be made toward the various components of Iraqi society.
    In these difficult circumstances, France continues to stand alongside Iraq. 

    Also weighing in was cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    The cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr said nomination the ministers of defense and interior is an important step towards improving the political and security situation and service, calling what he described as "jihadist forces" to hand liberated territories to the army and police.
    He said in a statement that "the government's success in the inauguration of the security ministries is another important step towards improving the political and security situation and the service, after the failure of the previous government."

    Of Khaled al-Obeidi, Al Jazeera notes, "Obeidi belongs to the party of Vice President Usama al-Nujaifi and is a confidant of his brother Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province that was overrun by Sunni ISIL forces." They quote their reporter Imran Khan declaring the two appointments "will be relieving to the international community, especially countries involved in the coalition fighting the ISIL."

    On the topic of Mohammed Ghaban, Loveday Morris (Washington Post) offers:

    Iraq’s parliament voted Saturday to put an affiliate of an Iranian-backed paramilitary group in charge of a key security ministry, a move that could strike a serious blow to efforts to unite Sunnis and Shiites to wrest back their country from Islamist extremists.
     The new interior minister is Mohammed Ghabban, a little-known Shiite politician with the Badr Organization. But there is little doubt that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the party and its military wing, will wield the real power in the ministry.

     At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Marie Harf failed yet again at her job.  This was the first press briefing since last Friday.  This is when she should have announced movement on the political front as evidenced by the completion of the Cabinet.  Instead, she completely ignored the topic while noting two US officials were going to gallivant around the globe working (yet again) on the military aspect.

    Did US President Barack Obama insist that the only solution for Iraq was a political solution or didn't he?

    You'd never know by the constant screw ups of the State Dept but, yes, Barack did say that it required a political solution.

    When they finally have something to trumpet, the State Dept yet again misses the point and confuses themselves with the Defense Dept.

    Lelia Fadel has a strong report for All Things Considered (NPR -- link is audio and transcript) and we may note it tomorrow but we'll link to it tonight regardless.  All Iraq News notes Parliament is in session today and only 205 MPs attended.  Alsumaria adds that Parliament is supposed to receive a budget by Wednesday.

    For those who missed it, the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, never managed to present a 2014 budget.

    Yesterday,  UNAMI noted:

    A report published Sunday by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documents the alarming rise in executions carried out by Iraq since the restoration of the death penalty in 2005.

    The report documents that the number of executions carried out in Iraq rose substantially between 2005 and 2009. In 2009, 124 people were executed. Despite a drop in the implementation rate in 2010, the number of executions significantly increased between 2011 and 2013, culminating in the hanging of 177 individuals in 2013. Between 1 January and 30 September 2014 at least 60 people have been executed. Executions are often carried out in batches in Iraq – on one occasion in 2013, up to 34 individuals were executed in a single day.
    As of August 2014, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice, some 1,724 prisoners are awaiting execution. This number includes those sentenced to death at first instance, those on appeal, and those awaiting implementation of their sentences.
    “UNAMI and OHCHR have repeatedly voiced concerns about observed weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system,” the report states. “Criminal investigations and judicial proceedings in death penalty cases frequently fail to adhere to international and constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trial standards.”
    In over half of the trials involving the death penalty monitored by UNAMI, judges systematically ignored claims by defendants that they were subjected to torture to induce confessions, and in the remainder of cases they took little or no action. In nearly all cases, judges proceeded to convict the defendants and sentence them to death based solely, or substantially, on the weight of disputed confession evidence or the testimony of secret informants. Most defendants appeared in court unrepresented, and where the court appointed an attorney, no time was granted to the defendant to prepare adequately a defence.

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Beacon Press). We'll close with this from Bacon's "LETTER FROM MEXICO #2, A Hero of Tlatelolco" (NACLA Reports):

    MEXICO CITY (10/10/14) -- Every year on October 2 thousands of Mexican students pour into the streets of Mexico City, marching from Tlatelolco (the Plaza of Three Cultures) through the historic city center downtown, to the main plaza, the Zocalo.  They're remembering the hundreds of students who were gunned down by their own government in 1968, an event that shaped the lives of almost every politically aware young person in Mexico during that time.

    This year, just days before the march, the municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero, shot students from the local teachers' training college at Ayotzinapa.  More demonstrations and marches are taking place all over Mexico, demanding that the government find 43 students still missing.  Many speculate that graves found in Iguala contain their bodies - murdered by the same police, acting as agents of the local drug cartel.  Students marching on October 2 were in the streets for them as well, aware that the bloody events of 1968 were not so far away in some distant past. 

    leila fadel