Friday, January 04, 2013

Barney Frank is right, Hagel is wrong for the job

I'm sorry, I refuse to live in a world where I look the other way when racists, sexists and homophobes inflict their hate on society.  Chuck Hagel is a homophobe.  He has always been a homophobe and always will be.

James Kirchick (New York Daily News) explains the former Senator's actions and words:

“They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards,” he told the Omaha World Herald in 1998. “And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel — to do an effective job.”
This “openly aggressive” aspect of Hormel’s homosexuality was his decision not to hide it, as legions of gay men in public serve had done before him. Hagel faulted Hormel for doing precisely the things that we celebrate members of any other ethnic or religious group for doing: taking pride in their identity as a positive affirmation of America’s unparalleled diversity. Yet Hormel’s self-assurance was an aggravation of an already disqualifying aspect; according to Hagel, the mere fact of being gay “inhibited” government service.
Hagel's attitudes are newly relevant in light of the fact that he has reportedly emerged as President Obama’s favored choice for secretary of defense. While controversy has raged over Hagel’s views on Israel, Iran and the “Jewish lobby,” his views on gay people — and, particularly, their fitness for service in the military — are just as relevant. And they are disturbingly retrograde.
Over the course of a 12-year career in the Senate, Hagel racked up a virtually 0% voting record from the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights organization (his only positive vote being for AIDS funding to Africa, not necessarily even a gay issue).

Hagel is not fit to represent the Defense Dept.  No.  This is a slap in the face to gays and lesbians who only just got to serve openly.  With his attitude, on the record attitude, he's not going to go out of his way to address issues.  If his remarks were racist, he wouldn't even be considered.  But there's this attitude that it's 'just gay people.'

You see the real colors of people right now.  Like the little piece of trash Phyllis Bennis.  She wants the homophobe as Secretary of Defense.  She and IPS are willing to spit on gays and lesbians.  I'm not. I'm not willing to turn my back on people who have been so wronged for so long.

The Huffington Post quotes outgoing US House Rep. Barney Frank stating:

Then-Senator Hagel’s aggressively bigoted opposition to President Clinton’s naming the first openly gay Ambassador in U.S. history was not, as Sen. Hagel now claims, an aberration. He voted consistently against fairness for LGBT people and there does not seem to be any evidence prior to his effort to become Secretary of Defense of any apology or retraction of his attack on James Hormel. And to those of us who admire and respect Mr. Hormel, Sen. Hagel’s description of him as aggressive can only mean that the Senator strongly objected to Hormel’s reasoned, civil advocacy for LGBT people.
I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major Presidential appointment.

The same article quotes Barack stating, "With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it."

It's not a remark.  It's an entire career of spitting on gays and lesbians.  Barack just doesn't get it.

Phyllis Bennis doesn't want to.

Gays and lesbians should not contribute any money to IPS or any other organization connected to Phyllis Bennis in any way shape or form.

Know who your enemies are.  Our enemies are those who try to ignore discrimination.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 4, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, calls ring out for the government to be dissolved, Victoria Nuland is again forced to address Iraq in a press briefing, Parliament calls a special meeting for Sunday, and more.
Weeks ago, Nouri threatened to call early elections.  Today someone called his bluff.  Alsumaria notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has joined Nouri's call for early elections -- this is parliamentary elections, not provincial elections which are scheduled to take place in a few months.   KUNA quotes Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stating, "The incumbent government has to step down."  Like Allawi,  al-Mutlaq is a member of Iraqiya.  Though Nouri's had no response as of yet.  Alsumaria reveals that MP Jabbar Kanani with Nouri's State of Law states that the answer to the current problems is to dissolve the Parliament and hold early elections.  Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) states they have been told by a source (unnamed) that "the fledgling Baghdad government may be on the brink of dissolving parliament within days" and that this may happen "as soon as 48 hours."
Allawi's not just calling for early elections, he's calling for an interim government to be set up.
In 2010, there was a push for just such a thing.  The United Nations and France were on board with the idea but the US government killed that proposal.  As reported in Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor's The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, had concerns that if Nouri's State of Law did not come in first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections, Nouri would refuse to stand down.  France, the UN and Odierno were right to be concerned.
Nouri's State of Law was supposed to run in a landslide -- that's what he said would happen.  But the voters had a different plan.  There was no landslide for Nouri and, in fact, State of Law didn't win.  Iraqiya came in first.  State of Law came in second.  Having won the elections, per the Constitution, it would be Iraqiya's job to form the government.  Someone from the slate would be named prime minister-designate.  That person would then have 30 days to create a Cabinet (that's a full Cabinet, the Iraqi Constitution does not recognize a partial Cabinet).  If the person can't form a Cabinet within 30 days, it's up to the President of Iraq to name another person prime minister-designate. 
None of that happened.  Nouri had the White House on his side.  And he refused to stop being prime minister.  He refused to let a new government be formed.  He basically threw a temper tantrum for over eight months holding Iraq hostage.   It was a political stalemate. 
Instead of reasoning with the loser (Nouri), the White House told the other political blocs that Nouri could continues this for months and, for the good of the country, to allow Iraq to move forward, it was time for the leaders of the political blocs to be the bigger person and let go of their objections to the loser remaining prime minister. 
The White House basically said to what they had termed a "democracy," 'Forget what the Iraqi people voted for, forget what the Constitution says, let Nouri have a second term as prime minister.  Now, for that to happen, what do you need in return?"
The extra-Constitutional contract that the US brokered is known as the Erbil Agreement.  Had an interim government been set up, Nouri would have had no edge, no place from which to toss a tantrum and bring the country to a standstill.
There were consequences for what the US did.  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) notes:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
There were other consequences as well.
What some called a 'democracy' would have been an 'emerging democracy' at best.  Barack Obama decided the lesson to teach Iraqis was (a) your vote doesn't matter and (b) your Constitution doesn't matter.  This does not make for building blocks to a strong democracy.  This was hugely damaging.  You puff out your chest and lie that you've brought people democracy -- when all you've really brough them was death and destruction -- and then the ones who were willing to hope that was true, the ones who were willing to believe in the process are given the message that your vote doesn't matter and it can be overturned in a backroom bargain, your Constitution doesn't matter and the US government can circumvent it on a whim. 
The White House, in an honest moment, would argue that they were comfortable with (US puppet) Nouri and felt he was a 'stabilizing' force.  In a really honest moment, which they are incapable of, they'd admit that Nouri swore now, finally, he could push through the oil and gas law the US has long wanted.  Now this is the same law that Nouri promised to push through years ago.  In fact, these are part of the Bush White House's benchmarks which Nouri agreed to in 2007.  He didn't accomplish it then or in all the years since.
A smart person looks at the record and says, "Uh, Nouri can't accomplish this.  If he could have, he would have done it yesterday."  However, an idiot says, "He just screwed Bush.  Nouri would never screw me over.  It will be different this time, Nouri will keep his word."  That's what an idiot said and that's why the US insisted Nouri get a second term.
Allawi wants a caretaker government because that's the only thing that can curb Nouri.  A temporary government can prevent him from hanging on to an office if he hasn't earned it.  Zaid Sabah and Khalid al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) has State of Law's MP Khalid al-Aadi stating, "The State of Law didn't ask to dissolve the parliament.  But when any party asks for dissolving the parliament and dissolve the government and call for early election, we will not stand against it."  They also say that the request is for Nouri to continue -- after the Parliament is dissolved -- "to govern as a caretaker."  That is completely false and it is not what Ayad Allawi stated.
As protests continued to spread in Iraq today, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, had a message.  KUNA quotes him stating, "The recent calls by extremists to turn the protests into civil disobedience only serve external agendas and could undermine the entire political process in Iraq."  By Nouri's 'standards,' Martin Luther King Jr., Hendry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and other proponents of civil disobedience would be branded 'terrorists' as would the Muslim women in Pakistan in 1947.  Not only is that global tradition ignored, Sun Yunlong (Xinhua) reported March 25, 2008, "Iraq's radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Tuesday called on Iraqis to hold sit-ins across Iraq if attacks by U.S. and Iraqi troops continue against his follwers, a Sadr statement said." 
Despite Nouri's attempts to demonize protests, Pakistan Today reports, "Thousands of Sunni Iraqis have continued to protest in Fallujah and other Iraq cities" and that they continue to insist upon "the release of prisoners and the end to allegedly sectarian policies."  And Nouri continues to refuse to allow Iraqis to exercise their rights freely.  AFP reports, "Demonstrators gathered at the Abu Hanifa mosque in the mostly-Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiyah, but were barred by security forces from leaving the compound to rally on the street, an AFP correspondent said." The Voice of Russia adds, "The protests, which were attended by hundreds of thousands of people took place in other cities across the country as part of a declared 'Resistance Friday'."  SAPA Asian News Agency spoke with two protesters, one male, one female.  Abu Adbullah wondered, "How much longer will our children stay in prisons for no other reason than being Sunni."  Umm Mohammed states, "My three children were arrested four years ago for no reason and I ask Maliki -- release them."  Ahlul Bayt News Agency notes that "anit-government protests took place in several Iraqi cities, including Salahuddin, Diyala, Kirkuk, and Nineveh provinces, while demonstrators in western Anbar province continued to block off a highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 12th succssive day."

All Iraq News notes that, following today's morning prayers, Arabs in Kirkuk took to the streets to protest and demand the release of the prisoners and the abolition of Article 4 which is seen as being used for political purposes against Sunnis.  October 31, 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was assaulted.  Today, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr visited the Church to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians and underscore that the dream is one Iraq that is welcoming and home to all Iraqis regardless of faith.  Alsumaria notes he spoke of sending delegates to speak to the protesters in Anbar Province for that reason.  He repeated his statements from earlier this week noting that the protesters had a legitimate right to express their grievances.   All Iraq News notes that he stressed the importance of the Christian community to Iraq.  Alsumaria adds that Moqtada then went to Kilani Mosque in central Baghdad for morning prayers.  Emily Alpert (Los Angeles Times) offers, "Sadr is believed to be making gestures to the Sunni protesters and religious minorities in order to style himself as a unifying figure ahead of the provincial vote."  Adam Schreck (AP) echoes Alpert, "Al-Sadr [appears] to be trying to capitalize on the political turmoil by attempting to portray himself as a unifying figure ahead of provincial elections in the spring."
Maybe so.  But what is known is that Nouri's held onto the arrest warrant for Moqtada.  It's part of the reason Moqtada stayed out of Iraq (especially after Nouri's 2008 attacks on Basra and Baghdad's Sadr City).  Moqtada is taking a real chance going into Baghdad today.  Whether that's to see himself up as "a unifying figure," I have no idea.  Since 2010, we've talked about how he believes he will be Iraq's next prime minister.  But ambitions or no ambitions today, with that still outstanding arrest warrant (which dates back to the US occupation), Moqtada took a real chance going into Baghdad, speaking of the need for unity and decrying what is taking place.
While Moqtada was talking inclusion and one Iraq, Nouri continues his attempts to divide the country.  Al Mada reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has called out Nouri's attack on him (saying al-Nujaifi was unfit because he supported the protesters).  al-Nujaifi has responded that the right of protest is guaranteed in the Constitution and that the citizens have the right to exercise their freedoms and to reject tyranny and injustice.  Kitabat states that there was supposed to be a meeting of various political leaders today but the head of the National Alliance, Ibrahim Jafaari, postponed the meeting.  Nouri was busy today too.  Kitabat reports that he sent out forms to the local governments asking the identify the people leading the protests and to arrest them.
That's a fact US State Dept spokesperson Victorial Nuland worked hard to avoid at today's State Dept press briefing.
QUESTION: Just on Iraq.
QUESTION: More protests today. Have you guys had contacts with the Iraqi government about how they're going to respond to this, how they're going to reduce tensions?
MS. NULAND: We have had contacts with the Iraqi government. We've had contacts with all of the stakeholders in Iraq along the lines of the comments that I made yesterday calling for peaceful protesters to be allowed to protest peacefully, but that also for restraint on all sides, including on the part of protesters and on the part of security forces. Our understanding is that they were relatively big protests today but that they were somewhat more peaceful than they had been in previous days, which is a good thing.
QUESTION: Victoria, are you involved directly in mediating, like at the Embassy level or perhaps at the "someone from the building level" between the different parties in Iraq? Because Allawi, the Iraqiya – the head of the Iraqiya – today called on Maliki to resign. Are you mediating any kind of talks between the two?
MS. NULAND: Well, Said, I wouldn't use that word. We've talked about this before here. You know that on a weekly basis, sometimes on a daily basis, our Ambassador in Iraq has meetings with all of the key leaders, encouraging them to work with each other to settle issues that they have through dialogue, to protect and preserve the basic tenets of the Iraqi constitution. He regularly sees the Prime Minister, the deputy prime ministers, the Vice President, cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentarians. So we try to use our good offices with all of the groups to encourage them to participate actively in dialogue with each other.
QUESTION: Okay. And Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Shia leader who heads Jaish al-Mahdi – the Mahdi Army is also is threatening to sort of break away with Malaki. Do you see this as a good sign as breaking away from Iran's hold?
MS. NULAND: Again, what we want to see is the major stakeholders in Iraq, political leaders, work through their issues through dialogue in consultation with each other. I'm obviously not going to comment on specific political moves by one player or another, except to say that when there are grievances, we don't want them settled through violence. We don't want to see them settled through moves that will hurt innocents. We want to see conversation, we want to see dialogue, we want to see protection of the constitution.
Still on Iraq? No?
MS. NULAND: Yes on Iraq?
QUESTION: Yeah. One of the issues that the protesters are angry about is the prisoners. They say that up to 50,000 people are being imprisoned in Iraq just because of their – this sectarian reasons. And the government is denying that number, and they're saying there are 900 women, and they didn't provide the number of male prisoners. Between those numbers of the government and the protesters' numbers, from your people on the ground during those meetings, do they have an idea? I mean, can they – do they have anything solid regarding the number of prisoners? Because this is one of the main issues that the people are protesting against in Iraq.
MS. NULAND: I'm not prepared to address here our assessment of what the accurate numbers may or may not be. I will say that this is one of the issues that we have encouraged dialogue and transparency on. It's important in any democracy for the justice system to be transparent, for there to be fairness and a level playing field, and that's something that needs to be addressed, obviously.
It's cute how Nuland ignores topics that matter and how she continues to attack the Iraqi protesters.   Professor Gareth Stansfeld (Royal United Services Institute) provides a more concrete take on what's going on:
Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul - all saw demonstrations against the Maliki government, with some, including Mosul, calling for the withdrawal of the Iraqi government and police forces. Never one to shirk from a challenge to his power, Maliki has responded with ominous language - including calling up protesters to 'end their strike before the state intervenes to end it'.
While Maliki has faced threats from the Sunni areas before, he has never faced them in isolation. This time, however, the Kurds are no longer his allies and instead have increasingly common cause with their Sunni neighbours. Following years of poor relations between Erbil and Baghdad, caused over disputes over oil and gas policy, budgetary allocations, the status of the disputed territories (including Kirkuk), and an overall disenchantment within Erbil towards the Maliki government, the relationship between the two capitals has, by the start of 2013, become appalling.
Following a military stand-off in the disputed territories at the end of 2012, the scene is set for 2013 to be one of the Kurds moving ahead with securing their autonomy by strengthening their relationship with Turkey and the Arab Gulf states, and by exporting oil and gas directly to their northern neighbour. In order to protect their region, it would make sense for them to do so from the disputed territories themselves, and so raise the spectre of increased military confrontation with Maliki in such volatile flashpoints as Kirkuk, Diyala, and Ninevah. This is a confrontation that the Kurds, with at least tacit Sunni support, may feel capable of winning. The Kurdistan War of 2013 may not be too unlikely, looking at the current pieces on the board.
Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq have called a special session of Parliament for Sunday.  Alsumaria notes that MP Ali al-Tamimi, member of the Sadr bloc, states that they will be attending the Sunday special session.

A bombing yesterday in Musayyib targeted pilgrims taking part in the Arbaeen rituals.  Today Yasir Ghazi and Christine Hauser (New York Times) report the death toll rose to at least 32 (injured is at twenty-eight).  They also note a Thursday Baghdad roadside bombing which left 4 dead and fifteen injured.   The UN News Center notes that United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has strongly condemned the bombing and  "The Mission expresses its profound sympathy to the families of the victims, to whom it extends sincere condolences, and wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded."  The month has just begun, is not even a week old, and already Iraq Body Count counts 55 people killed by violence in Iraq so far in January.  Today,
Alsumaria reports that a grenade attack on a Mosul checkpoint left two police officers injured.
Yesterday's snapshot included this:
 Fars News Agency notes, "Turkish Fighter jets bombed over 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Northern Iraq late Monday."  Trend News Agency points out, "The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has lasted over 25 years."   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  Today the World Tribune reports the government of Turkey is in talks with the PKK on a disarmament treaty, "Officials said Turkey's intelligence community was examining the prospect of a long-term ceasefire with the PKK. They said the intelligence community offered the PKK a range of options after Ankara determined that Kurdish insurgents could not be defeated militarily."  This follows their report from yesterday that Turkey was speaking to Abdullah Ocalan (imprisoned PKK leader) about a ceasefire.  Hurriyet Daily News adds, "Peace and Democracy Party Deputy Ayla Akat Ata, lawyer Meral Danış and independent deputy Ahmet Türk traveled to İmralı Island on Jan.3 to meet with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, according to daily Radikal."
Citing Turkish Minister of the Interior Naim Sahin, AP states that the Turkish military will continue its operations even as talks are pursuded.  Sahin states, "Operations are continuing.  They will continue until members of the group who bear enmity against our people are no longer in a position to attack or shed blood."  Hurriyet Daily News informs, "Imprisoned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan said during a meeting on Imrali island on Jan. 3 that he should be considered the 'only authority' in the process of  of PKK disarmament."
al-Qa'im is in Anbar Province -- where so many protests have taken place in the last days.  al-Qa'im is where one of the non-KRG refugee camps for Syrian refugees has been set up.  Amy Mina is with Save The Children and she wrote a piece for CNN about the needs of the refugees in that camp:
The baby is crying. Her cheeks are swollen and yellowish as are those of many of the older children. "Al Sfar" (jaundice), confirms Um Ahmed. She says the clinic offers no help. One mother hugs her 3-year-old daughter. "I'm just watching my child get sicker every day and there is nothing I can do."
Another woman, Intisar, wordlessly pulls the base of the tent out to show me how damp the gravel is under the tent. "It seeps into those sponge mattresses, into our bones, into our skin. There is no way of staying warm or dry." Her husband shows me the deep crevice dug by their resident rats. "All night they crawl under us, trying to get warmth. The children scream, and I spend all night beating the rats out."
As I walk out, the tears rise in me. It hurts to look into the despair on the children's faces, to see a toddler barefoot on the gravel. There is so much that needs to be done. Without support these children truly suffer. As winter tightens its grip on Syria's neighboring countries, stories like those I heard in Al Qaem are far from unique.
[.  . .]
As with all other organizations responding to the humanitarian needs of the Syrian refugees in the region, our greatest challenge is funding. We are on the ground. We have established operations in Al Qaem, which is no small feat. We are ready to deliver aid immediately but we need the funds to make it happen.
That night, I cannot get warm, despite the blankets and thick walls. I cannot stop thinking of the children, out in the desert cold.
To donate to Save the Children's Syria Children in Crisis Fund, which provides relief and support for Syrian children seeking refuge in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, please click here.
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a US group that works on issues effecting the basic rights.  It is a national group that first came on my radar when I was going campus to campus speaking about the then-just started Iraq War.  When Congress was unwilling or unable to stop the Patriot Act, BRDC organized city by city to get local governments to pass resolutions against the Patriot Act.  Usually, people appeared before the municipal body to speak about why such a measure was necessary.  Often they would be color coordinated (such as all wearing blue shirts).  When the Patriot Act needed resistance it came down to librarians and the BRDC fighting for the rights we too often take for granted.   Barack Obama has a Drone War in the rest of the world.  He's bringing the drones closer in 2013.  Many US cities and towns will discover the surveilance drones.  From surveilance, what comes next?  The Congress doesn't care.  The weapons lobby has, as usual, bought off the Congress which is how drones are now about to operate freely just above US soil.  The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is hoping to repeat their earlier efforts and get cities and towns to stand up.  This year, they made the list of Great Nonprofits.  If you're not familiar with their work, you can check out the website and you can also refer to the following news articles:

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A loser named Medea Benjamin

I hope you caught the year in pieces.  We're all swiping from C.I.'s snapshot (and probably all adding "C.I.'s" in front of her year end article):

  Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2012 In MusicRuth's "Ruth's Radio Report 2012,"  "2012 in Books (Martha & Shirley)" and Ann's  "2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan)" and Stan's "2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan)" which we reposted "2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan),"  Third's "TV: The New Conformity," "2012 Killer of the Year," "2012 TV Person of the Year," "2012 Movie of the Year," "2012 Person of the Year," "Kennedy Trait of 2012: Racism," "2012 Book of the Year," and "2012 Trend: Bad attempts at make overs," and  C.I.'s"2012: The Year of Avoidance."

I'll add the 2012 piece to the links.  I really love it.  C.I. had no idea what she was going to write, what the topic was, what the theme was.  After midnight, she took drinks to her laptop, continued drinking and started writing.  She finished around four in the morning her time and then posted it. 

By contrast, did you read the bulls**t Medea Benjamin offered on 2012?  I'm glad she was able to find 'joyful things' about 2012.  I don't think the people in Pakistan find 'joy' from the Drone War.  Of course, Medea doesn't bother to mention the deaths.  Might bum someone, steal their joy.  So she happy talks it into, more people are now opposed to the Drone War.  Damn, she's stupid.

Nor does she mention Iraq which has gone further to hell because of the US invasion.  Guess she couldn't find 'joy' in that either.

But she can write a b.s., jerk-off piece. 

I have no idea how much C.I. drank New Year's Eve.  I'll assume she stuck to vodka (straight and Bloody Marys) during the party and probably switched to margaritas or beers (or both) while writing her year-in-review.  I would suggest that if Medea is tempted next year to churn out the kind of Pollyana crap she has to summarize 2012, she needs to stop, go get some alcohol and drink a little because her sterile, deathly prose helps no one.

I also really don't see the 'joy' she does.

I see joy in my friends.

I see joy in my family.

I see joy in music.

I don't see joy in a world where the Patriot Act is now the norm, where Barack doesn't get called out for his crimes or for being a killer.

I don't see any joy in Medea's cowardice.

Remember her lie that she was going to protest both the RNC and the DNC?

What did she do?

Loud and angry at the RNC but pattycakes at the DNC.

Medea, fix your blouse, your falsehoods are showing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, January 3, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, revisionary tactics never go away, Nouri kind of says 700 women will be released from Iraqi prisons -- kind of says that but not really, protests continue,  Iraq Body Count finds more people died from violence in Iraq in 2012 than the year before, and more.
At the right-wing National Review, Victor Davis Hanson notes that Bully Boy Bush left office at the start of 2009 with an approval rating of 34% but it's now up to 46%.  He calls out the way Bush was demonized and notes how Barack Obama can do the same thing or more and get away with it.  That is correct.  But he wants to 'explain' how people were wrong about Bush on the Iraq War.  He backs up his opinions with facts and makes a solid argument from the right.  That's what he's supposed to do.  He hasn't done anything 'wrong.'  And this is how the right hopes to win the argument and has had some success in the past.
There are a ton of reasons to continue focusing on Iraq here in the US.  But if people only care about themselves then maybe now some on the left who've argued it doesn't matter (including two friends with The Nation magazine) will wake up?  We've gone over what could happen repeatedly in the last years.  We did so at length August 20, 2010 in "The war continues (and watch for the revisionary tactics."
If you're old enough, you saw it with Vietnam.  That illegal war ended with the government called out for its actions.  And some people -- a lot in fact -- just moved on.  The weakest of the left moved on because it wasn't 'polite' to talk about it or it wasn't 'nice' or 'can't we all just get along' and other nonsense.  Others talked about things because they didn't care about Vietnam, the Vietnamese or the US service members.  And, after all, they had a peanut farmer from Georgia to elect, right?  And bit by bit, year by year, all these lies about Vietnam took root.  The press turned the people against it!  The US could have won if the military's hands hadn't been tied!  All this nonsense that, back when the public was paying attention in the early to mid-seventies, would have been rejected outright by the majority of Americans.
Jane Fonda explains in the amazing documentary Sir! No Sir!, "You know, people say, 'Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?' We keep going back to Vietnam because, I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was."
And if you silence yourself while your opponent digs in on the topic, a large number of Americans -- including people too young to remember what actually happened -- here nothing but the revisionary arguments.  Jane's correct, the right-wing always went back to Vietnam. They're at fork in the road probably because, do they continue to emphasize Vietnam as much as they have, or do they move on to Iraq.  Victor Davis Hanson's ready to move on to Iraq.  He's not the only one on the right.
And on the left we have silence. 
And that is why revisionary tactics work.  It's not because revisions are stronger than facts.  It's because one side gives up.  And the left -- check The ProgressiveThe Nation, etc.* -- has long ago given up on even pretending to care about Iraq -- about the Iraq War, about the Iraqis, about the US service members.  [*But not In These Times -- they've continued to feature Iraq about every six months.  Give them credit for that.]
I'm sure they'll work really hard at electing some center-right Democrats to Congress in the 2014 elections.  I'm sure that will be the focus of their efforts.  But if they'd focus on things that really matter, it would force the candidates to be stronger.  We'd have a better informed and educated electorate and the candidates would have to rise to that to get votes.  These periodicals (and toss in the Pacifica Radio shows as well) love to whine about how Democrats used to stand for something and how they've been watered down and watered down.  Yet these same outlets do an awful job of informing about real issues because they instead focus on electing Democrats and the occassional cause celebre.   When that's what you do, you automatically cede ground to the other side. 
Another reason to pay attention is because Iraq was a defining moment.  And a number of people have exposed themselves as utter frauds.  For example, many years ago a number of us who are feminists applauded Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer for their work that culminated with the book Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas.  But maybe we were too kind in our praise.  In America, we are likely to treat someone simply doing the job they're supposed to be doing as if they're a hero.  Time has proven that Jane Mayer is an attack dog for the Democratic Party and not actually a journalist.  (A journalist doesn't stop doing expose pieces because a Democrat is in the White House.)  And Jill?   The current Executive Editor of the New York Times appeared at the Commonwealth Club December 6th and, wouldn't you know it, she wanted to talk Iraq.
Jill Abramson:  If there's any one thing I could change it would be, as Washington bureau chief, not all of the reporters who were covering the WMD issues and Iraq were part of the Washington bureau.  And I just wish -- You know -- I  -- many of those stories didn't come through me but certainly I was aware of them.  And, you know, I wish that I had been paying more attention because the Times really did brandish on the front page some very questionable stories that were based on, you know, Iraqi defectors who had an interest in promoting the toppling of Saddam Hussein, who were going around to various reporters including reporters at the Times, peddling the story of this ramped up WMD program which, of course, didn't exist.  That is number one.  I wish I had paid more attention.  And journalism isn't a game that you play with 20/20 hindsight vision unfortunately. I'm sure that many people at the BBC wish -- you know -- 'Gee I wish, you know, I had been paying more attention to the documentary and what not.'  So, number one, I wish I was paying more attention to the totality of the coverage and some of the stories that were faulty including the one about the tubes that suggested -- When the Times published that story on the front page and was kind of a welcome sign for Dick Cheney and Condi Rice to go on the Sunday show -- shows -- to talk about mushroom clouds that, of course, were a fantasy.  And there, I think -- and I've done a lot of thinking about this -- I wish that I had been more tuned in to the reporters in Washington, a few in the Times bureau, but especially Knight-Ridder which had -- at the time -- a very, very good Washington bureau and their major sources on this were skeptics within the CIA -- CIA analysts who were like, 'Be careful with this WMD evidence.' They were very skeptical about it.
What a load of crap.  Let me start first by saying, Jill, I don't think you can be a witness in a perjury trial and then perjure yourself.  Jill was Scooter Libby's witness against Judith Miller, for those who don't know.  Judith Miller wrote some very bad articles for the New York Times (and co-wrote some as well) in the lead up to the war.  We've called her out repeatedly.  We've also noted it was bad reporting and not lying as evidenced by her actions after the start of the war when she basically took over a US military squad and had them looking for WMD that she desparately wanted to find.  She based her career on that WMD.  There was none. 
Judith Miller stayed in jail until her source on Valerie Plame (she never wrote about Plame) gave her permission to name him.  Plame-Gate was when the Bush administration outed a CIA agent to get back at former Ambassdor Joe Wilson for his column in the New York Times about how there was no yellow cake in Niger (in response to Bully Boy Bush's claim that Saddam Hussein had recently sought uranium there).  Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent and she was married to Joe Wilson.  She was outed by Scooter Libby (Dick Cheney's chief of staff) as the administration sought to get back at Joe Wilson.
Once Judith Miller came forward about her source, that's when Jill enters the picture and Jill presented herself on the witness stand as completely involved and an expert on 'bad' Judith Miller.  Because of Miller's lousy reporting on Iraq, some will cheer that.  But let's grasp that what Jill was doing was providing cover for Scooter Libby.   That's what she did in her testimony.
Yet after the courtroom performance on Scooter Libby's behalf, where Jill was an expert on what was taking place and who was writing what and who was talking to whom, Jill now wants to play like she wasn't involved?
She also wants to ignore that James Risen took stories, skeptical stories, to her and she shot them down repeatedly.  Risen's even spoken publicly about some of this.  Jill knows he has and she wants to lie to everyone all these years later?  For example, from Joe Hagan's "The United States of America vs. Bill Keller" (New York magazine, September 10, 2006):
In addition, Risen harbored lingering resentment of Abramson over the paper's WMD coverage.  When she was Washington bureau chief under [Howell] Raines, Risen has claimed to at least two people, he offered her reporting that cast doubt on the Bush administration's evidence about Iraq's WMD program.  At the time, Miller's reporting was how the Times, as an extension of Raines, saw the subject.  And Abramson felt powerless to fight Raines over this and other things.  When Risen press his case, she finally told him to "get with the program," these people say.
It only gets worse.
She wishes she had followed the other coverage, she says, because if she'd followed Knight-Ridder, she might have been skeptical too.  First, it's rather pissy of her not to have named the reporters or noted that it's now McClatchy.  The three primary reporters on Iraq in the lead up to the war were Warren P. Strobel, Jonathan S. Landay and Margaret Talev.   Second, she needed to see other people being skeptical of government officials?  Journalists are supposed to be skeptical.  It's a basic of journalism. 
And when you have a source with an aim (let alone grudge), you are supposed to be very skeptical of their claims.  That's why, for example, when a whistleblower comes forward, an employer will always try to make it seem like a case of sour grapes because if they can make the employee look like they've got an axe to grind, it will make the press take the employee less seriously. 
What I'm talking about here, Jill Abramson knows all that.  She's not stupid.  She gave a for-show performance.  She never mentioned the Iraqis that died or the Americans that died.  She gave a little performance taking as little accountability as she thought she could get away with.
She makes a lot of excuses for herself but she doesn't appear to have learned a damn thing.  In September 2008, she got praise for 'taking responsibility' on Iraq.  She didn't.  It was an aside in a book review.  She's still not taking accountability.  People are dead, people are wounded and her, "I wish I had been more skeptical"?  It just doesn't cut it.
You should pay attention if only to see who, like Jill, changes their story.  Again, it's not just her fault.  It's the fault of people like me, my fault absolutely, for treating her work in the 90s as something wonderful.  She did her job.  Nothing more, nothing less.  She didn't earn the praise.  And then people rushed to praise her in 2008 for her aside in the book review (I didn't praise her for that -- at least I had enough sense then to know better).  So now she thinks she can offer this simplistic revisionary nonsense and get more praise.  And she's probably right because most people don't pay attention.
ICYMI - Attacks are down, but #Iraq is still in a 'low-level war':  @AFP
That's Prashant Rao with AFP.  "Low-level war" is another reason you'd think the world would be paying attention to what's going on in Iraq.
Iraq Body Count reports 272 people were killed from violence in Iraq for the month of December and they count 4,557 deaths from violence in Iraq for 2012.  In a report entitled "Iraqi  deaths from violence in 2012," Iraq Body Count explains:

2012 marks the first year since 2009 where the death toll for the year has increased (up from 4,136 in 2011), but 2012 itself has been marked by contrasts. While it seems December will be the least violent month in the last two years, June was the most violent in three years, so the improvements in the second half of the year are from that higher level of violence. It is premature to predict whether the record low levels of violence in the last quarter of the year will be sustained. Overall, 2012 has been more consistent with an entrenched conflict than with any transformation in the security situation for Iraqis in the first year since the formal withdrawal of US troops.
In sum the latest evidence suggests that the country remains in a state of low-level war little changed since early 2009, with a "background" level of everyday armed violence punctuated by occasional larger-scale attacks designed to kill many people at once.

Iraq Body Count also notes that March 2013 will mark ten years since the start of the Iraq War and that they "will provide an overview of the known death toll covering the invasion and the first full decade of its aftermath."
Violence continued today.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports 3 people were shot dead in a Tarmiyah orchard (police officer, "his brother and a third person"), an al-Tahriyah car bombing claimed the lives of 2 Shi'ite pilgrims and left eight more injured, a Falluja car bombing injured three bodyguards of a police officer and four by-standers, and the son of Abdul-Rahman Khalid al-Nujaifi was shot repeatedly while driving in Mosul.  The father is a colonel in the Iraqi military and he is the cousin of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds that a Karbala car bombing claimed 2 lives.   Alsumaria reports a a Tikrit roadside bombing injured one person and a Babil car bombing that has left a number of people injuredLindsay Brown (ITN -- link is video) reports, "One person has been killed and ten others wounded after three bombs exploded in Tuz Khormato town south of Kirkuk.  The blast caused serious damage to nearby houses and a fuel station."  A male resident states, "The officials of government are busy with disputes while the people are the victims.  There are poor people who are living in this neighborhood.  Not one of them is a member of a political party and there's no headquarters of a political party here.  Does God accept such  a work?  The people were in their houses at night when the four explosions took place.  Why has it happened because we are a simple neighborhood?"
Turning to the topic of the ongoing protests, Alsumaria reports that residents of Kirkuk took to the streets yesterday to show their solidarity with protesters in Anbar Province, Nineveh Province and Salahuddin Province and to echo the demands of the need for an amnesty law and for the Justice and Accountability Commission and law to be abolished along with Article IV.  One of the things fueling this round of protests has been the issue of what's happening to Iraqi women and girls in prisons and detention centers.  From Monday's snapshot:
In October, allegations of torture and rape of women held in Iraqi prisons and detention centers began to make the rounds.  In November, the allegations became a bit more and a fistfight broke out in Parliament with an angry State of Law storming out.  By December, Members of Parliament on certain security committees were speaking publicly about the abuses.  Then Nouri declared that anyone talking about this topic was breaking the law. He continued on this tangent for weeks claiming this past week that he would strip MPs of their immunity.  (The Constitution doesn't allow for that.)  Also this past week, it was learned that at least four females were raped in a Baghdad prison.
The outrage here is part of what has fueled the protests. 
Alsumaria notes the Ministry of Justice's latest spin Saturday: Only women guards are at these prisons!  Whether that's true or not (most likely it is not) world history demonstrates that when women are imprisoned it's very common for someone to get the 'bright idea' to sell access to these women.  Greed is a strong motivator.  Again, the very claim is doubtful but if there are no men on staff, that doesn't mean men have not been present in the prisons.  It wasn't enough to silence objections or stop the protests.  Sunday,  Al Arabiya noted, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered on Sunday the release of female prisoners, who were arrested for terrorism charges without judicial warrants or because of terror crimes committed by their relatives, to appease to protesters who want to see the scrapping of anti-terrorism measures in the country, a local website reported."
Raheem Salman, Ahmed Rasheed, Isabel Coles and Kevin Liffey (Reuters) report that Sunni cleric Khaled al-Mullah is representing the protesters in talks with Nouri and that Nouri states he will declare a special pardon which would allow approximately 700 female prisoners to be released out of 920.  That may or may not address one of the issues.  May or may not?  Nouri's not real good about following up on verbal promises or written ones. And if that doesn't sound fair, you're not only missing his past record, you're missing the rest of the story.  Ammar Karim (AFP) reports the women aren't going anywhere just yet.  What's being reported isn't what Nouri's promised.  What Nouri promised?  That he would "write to the president to issue a special amnesty to release them." That would be President Jalal Talabani.  Nouri's not releasing anyone.  And he's writing to Jalal who left Iraq for Germany in a medical transport from an illness/condition that no one with his office or his family has identified.  (Nouri's office stated Jalal had a stroke.)  What is Jalal's condition?
No one officially knows.  But here's Abdulghani Ali Yahya (Asharq-e) offering an opinion:
When Jalal Talabani fell into a coma as a result of a blood clot in his brain and returned to Germany for treatment, rumours spread about his health and even his death, before it was reported that his condition had stabilized. There were also rumours of certain Arab figures being nominated for his position if he were to die or become unable to perform his duties. As a result, the Kurds sought to reserve Talabani's presidential post for themselves, and began naming candidates such as Dr. Ibrahim Saleh, an experienced politician, and Iraq's first lady Hiro Ibrahim Ahmed, a prominent Kurdish activist. On the international scene, two prominent American researchers urged Washington to push for the nomination of another Kurdish president for Iraq. Amidst all this it was if Iran is absent from what was happening, even though it is the key player in the Iraqi arena.
Does it sound like Jalal's in a position to issue an amnesty?  Maybe he is.  Maybe he's much better off than the above portrayal.  But he still is in Germany.  He's been in Germany for weeks now.  If he was doing well, they'd probably be transitioning home or to the home he stays in when he's in Germany.  But he remains at the hospital.  As a general rule, when someone's in the hospital for weeks, they're not really up for official duties.
Another issue in this round of protests besides female prisoners?  Jason Ditz ( explains, "The protests began after the mass arrest of office workers and security for Finance Minister Rafie Issawi, who officials have since insisted are all 'terrorists.' Sunni protesters see Iraq's loose 'terrorism' laws as being exploited to keep Sunni politicians marginalized, even though the Iraqiya Party has the largest plurality in the government they have only a handful of government posts, including Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is sentenced to death in exile as a 'terrorist'."  As he attempted to spin last month after anger mounted, Nouri offered (among other excuses) that it wasn't him ordering the arrest and that the Americans had been suspicious of al-Issawi (yes, he said both things in December 2011 about Tareq al-Hashemi as well).  However, Max Boot (Commentary) reported Monday evening that he has a letter Gen Ray Odierno wrote in 2010 (when Odierno was the top US commander in Iraq) and it "says that U.S. intelligence agencies have thorougly investigated the charges against Issawi and found them to be uncorroborated." 
The mass arrests of 150 bodyguards and staff of the Minister of Finance took place late on the evening of December 20th (see the December 21st Iraqi snapshot).  There were actually protests in Iraq -- massive -- beginning on December 11th (click here for screen snaps of those protests), a day after Nouri had publicly insulted cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.  In Baghdad and Basra people took to the street to protests Nouri's attack on Moqtada.
 Alsumaria reports that yesterday, in Najaf, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr voiced support for the protesters at a press conference and noted that Nouri is responsible for what is taking place.  He called on Nouri to respond to the calls of the protesters.  He also warned that the Iraqi spring is coming.  He may be remembering (if so, he's the only leader so far that does) that Iraqi youth had called weeks ago for protests to start up in January.  Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel) adds, "[. . .] Sadr accused Maliki of turning Iraq into a laughingstock and called on him to resign rather than call for early elections, as he recently considered doing."  Last month, Nouri floated the threat of early elections.   Yasir Ghazi and Christine Hauser (New York Times) refer to him as "a populist Shiite leader" (noted because the western press usually just calls him "radical cleric" or "anti-American cleric") and notes:

Several times during the gathering, Mr. Sadr directed his remarks at Mr. Maliki, who has taken recent steps that suggested he was asserting greater control over many aspects of the government and that prompted fears he was cracking down on his political opponents.  Mr. Sadr's remarks could indicate that he is trying to test the political waters or possible support from the street before Iraq's provincial elections, which are scheduled for the spring.

Provincial elections are supposed to take place this April.  Jason Ditz ( observes, "Sadr's support is key because he is not only a political rival of Maliki, but also a very influential Shi'ite cleric, and his support will make a crackdown against the protesters more difficult."  All Iraq News notes that Iraqiya (the political slate led by Ayad Allawi which came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections) issued a statement praising Moqtada's remarks and position and calling for all to follow the example and show solidarity with the demonstrators.  All Iraq News also notes that Parliament's Human Rights Commission is calling for support of the demonstrators in a statement issued by the Chair of the Committee Salim al-Jubouri.  Alsumaria notes that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are calling for a response to the legitimate demands of the protesters.  Both men are members of Iraqiya and Sunni but the main reason al-Mutlaq is side-by-side with Osama is because Sunday's incident demonstrated to him how far from other Sunnis he seemed.  In past years, he'd rush to Tareq al-Hashemi.  But the Vice President now resides in Turkey because Nouri and Nouri's kangaroo court declared Tareq a 'terrorist.'  And interesting point is being made in Iraqi social media today.  A lot of the anger at Nouri is fueled by what's happened to women and girls in Iraq prisons and detention centers (torture and rape).  And it's being pointed out that Nouri and his thugs might have felt like they could get away with it more this year because they ran Tareq out of the country.  For those who've forgotten, the treatment and conditions in Iraqi prisons was something Tareq repeatedly highlighted, often taking the press into a particularly bad prison so that conditions could be exposed.  With Tareq out of the country, no one's been able to.  Parliament has objected all year long to the fact that Nouri has suspended their visitation rightts.
MP Sami al-Askari is with Nouri's State of Law and he tells All Iraq News that "we" (State of Law) do not believe that this is a serious crisis.  That tells you how out of touch State of Law remains.    Mary Elizabeth King (In These Times) points out:
Prime Minister Maliki has denied all of the protesters' allegations. Just as many other politicians have in the face of the Arab Awakening, he charges that the protests have a hidden agenda, that foreign countries are involved. He also condemns any demands to end the regime.
Maliki, however, might be wise to take the protests seriously. Thousands of Iraqi Sunnis who feel wronged appear to be turning to nonviolent resistance, fighting with nonviolent methods rather than the IEDs and suicide bombings that have prevailed in the recent past -- especially in media representations. Anbar province was the hub of the deadly Sunni insurgency that broke out after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. After Saddam Hussein came down, internecine violence in Iraq resulted in more than 100,000 deaths in what nearly became civil war.
If he decides to send in his thugs to attack the protesters (as he did in 2011), they're well trained and well armed.  Robert Tollast (National Interest) notes of the Iraqi Speical Operations Forces:
Today there are almost 30 U.S. Special Forces troops advising the Iraqis on counterterrorism, and if recent rumours are correct, more have visited Iraq in a similar capacity since the withdrawal.
As Maliki continues to attack Iraq's state institutions and trample human rights, Washington should ask what helping the ISOF is going to achieve. Tactical success for Iraqi soldiers can stop terrorists, but what if those same soldiers also arrest the innocent? As Iraq investigates apparent corruption in the recent $4.2 billion arms deal with Russia, Maliki will want to keep his options open regarding arms suppliers. Should the United States let him know that further arms deals could be tied to his human rights record?

Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.  In his latest article "The Only Job I Can Do A Young Mother's Farm Work Story" (New American Media) he lets Lorena Hernandez tell her story:
To go pick blueberries I have to get up at four in the morning. First I make my lunch to take with me, and then I get dressed for work. For lunch I eat whatever there is in the house, mostly bean tacos. Then the ritero, the person who gives me a ride to work, picks me up at 20 minutes to five.
I work as long as my body can take it, usually until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then the ritero gives me a ride home, and I get there by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. By then I'm really tired.
I pay $8 each way to get to work and back home. Right now they're paying $6 for each bucket of blueberries you pick, so I have to fill almost three buckets just to cover my daily ride. The contractor I work for, Elias Hernandez, hooks us up with the riteros. He's the contractor for 50 of us farm workers picking blueberries, and I met him when a friend of my aunt gave me his number.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Little Saddam

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Princess and President" went up last night.

the princess and the president

Well it appears that finally there may be movement to pressure the White House -- or at least call it out -- on Nouri al-Maliki -- see this article by John Glaser.

Hats off to C.I. who has called Nouri out repeatedly for years.  It's great that popular opinion is finally coming around to reality but let's not forget that C.I. was calling the tyrant out and calling him out loudly and vocally.  While everyone wanted to pretend like it was okay to target Iraq's LGBT community, she didn't play that game. 

I had a lot of e-mails about Friday's post and all I can say is that it's nothing that C.I. hasn't said a million times over the last years. 

It's really important that Nouri be called out by the White House.  He's got his heart set on a third term as prime minister and who knows, when 2014 rolls around, what he won't do to hold on to the post of prime minister.

C.I. was the first to dub him Little Saddam.  How accurate that title now seems.

"TV: The New Conformity" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
In fact, maybe Whitney should be called "Whore"?

Season one ended with Whitney and Alex unable to get married due to a series of mishaps.  Season two opened with them in bed, thrilled with the tatoos they had gottten instead of getting married.  Fine, we don't believe marriage is the end-all, be-all for everyone.  By episode two, Whitney's getting a joint-checking account with Alex and his money and her 'money' suddenly becomes "their money."  And Alex tells her she should work on her photography.  Yet in all the episodes that follow, we see Whitney spending money, we just don't see her doing anything with her photography. We also see her fighting with Alex in every episode and, when she's in the wrong (more often than when she's in the right), she's offering sex as the make up.

Again, maybe it should be called Whore this season.

What happened to the independent woman of season one?

Ava and C.I. really wrote something.  They looked at the trends from fall 2012 and addressed what it meant for women, for people of color and for LGBTs.  It's a really powerful article.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Monday, December 31, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue, corruption continues, questions are asked as to why the US supports Thug Nouri, events of the year in Iraq get reviewed, and more.
Then came the official end of the war. On December 31, 2011, the country celebrated "Iraq Day" and the departure of U.S. troops. As Iraq prepares to mark the anniversary, also known as the "Day of Sovereignty," last year's celebratory tone has been replaced by a more somber one.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's political bloc, the Islamic Dawa Party, called on Iraqis not to become divided along sectarian or ethnic lines by "malicious schemes." The country has struggled to define itself, as its government stumbles from one political crisis to another.
Just as the last U.S. troops withdrew, al-Maliki, a Shiite, moved to arrest Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, who al-Maliki accused of using his security detail as a hit squad.
More recently, a few days before the first Iraq Day anniversary, thousands of Sunnis took to the streets in Anbar province, a major trade thoroughfare to Jordan and Syria, to protest al-Maliki's order to arrest the bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafaie Esawi, a Sunni. The arrest of Esawi's bodyguards came just hours after President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who is widely viewed as a stabilizing political force in Iraq, left the country to undergo treatment for cancer in Germany.
2012 saw another cholera outbreak in Iraq thanks to Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to spend any of the billions made off of oil on the Iraqi people.  They lack potable water in most areas.  If you don't have potable water -- safe water -- to drink, you have to boil it before using it (or add purification tablets) and you better hope you didn't rush the boil and that the tablets still work.  This wouldn't be a problem if Nouri would fix the public services.  He's been prime minister since 2006, that's six years so the resposibility and the failure is all on him.
In addition to a lack of potable water, Nouri's also failed to provide dependable electricity.  All this time later, it's still apparently too much to expect to have electricity for more than a few hours.  Strange because, before the start of the Iraq War, these electricity shortages weren't so common.  Even something as basic as santiation is beyond Nouri's capabilities so children -- risking infection and disease -- can be found playing in the piled up sewage so common on many Iraqi streets.  Nouri's also refused to spend money on the crumbling infrastructure.  This winter, Iraqis saw what Nouri's cheapness has resulted in: Flooding throughout Iraq, homes falling down from the flooding, people dying in the homes, people dying from drowning, people dying from electrocution, people trudging through parts of Baghdad in knee-high water.  When you let the infrastructure fall apart, drainage becomes problematic.  The Iraqi Red Crescent Society had to evacuate at least one village this month as a result of homes collapsing from the flooding
Surely Nouri's done better somewhere, right?  Nope.  Iraq is still among the most corrupt countries as ranked by Transparency International. 176 countries were ranked this year on transparency and Iraq came in as the 169th most transparent country.  Only seven countries were ranked as less transparent.  Nouri's long been accused of skimming off Iraq's funds and his family lives high on the hog.  He also employs his son who is said to be as much of a terror as Uday Hussein was said to be.  Nouri's son is part of current corruption scandal.

October 9th, with much fanfare, Nouri signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  He strutted and preened and was so proud of himself.  Yet shortly after taking his bows on the world stage and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.  The scandal, however, refuses to go away. The Iraq Times stated Nouri was offering up his former spokesperson  Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt -- the truly corrupt -- according to members of Parliament -- including Nouri's son who got a nice little slice off the deal.  These charges came from Shi'ite MPs as well as Sunnis and Kurds.  Even the Shi'ite National Alliance has spoken out.  All Iraq News noted National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif is calling for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.  (The arms deal is now treated by the Iraqi press as corrupt and not allegedly corrupt, FYI.)   Latif remains a major player in the National Alliance and the National Alliance has backed Nouri during his second term.  With his current hold on power reportedly tenous and having already lost the support of Moqtada al-Sadr, Nouri really can't afford to tick off the National Alliance as well.  Kitabat reported MP Maha al-Douri, of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament, is saying Nouri's on a list of officials bribed by Russia for the deal. 
Then there's the other big news this year, bomb sniffing dogs and explosive detectors.  Iraq's finally getting them.  This might be seen as 'good news' except for one thing: They've needed them for years and Nouri's pride prevented that.
The magic wands.  It's a story so old even David Petraeus weighed in at one point.  Nouri's government spent a small fortune purchasing these magic wands from a British company that apparently didn't also sell magic beans.  You held the magic wand by a car and you 'jogged' in place, pumping your legs up and down and the magic wand, activated by your movement, would then detect a bomb if one was present.  If you're not believing it, October, 9, 2009,  an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy was exploring the subject at Inside Iraq:

Before starting telling you what happens in most of the checkpoints you should know about the "explosives detectors". The device is carried by security man who stops your car and walk beside it carrying the device. The device's pointer changes its direction when passed by a car that supposedly carries explosives.
In November of 2009, Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported:

The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works "on the same principle as a Ouija board" -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining rod.
Still, the Iraqi government has purchased more than 1,500 of the devices, known as the ADE 651, at costs from $16,500 to $60,000 each. Nearly every police checkpoint, and many Iraqi military checkpoints, have one of the devices, which are now normally used in place of physical inspections of vehicles.
With violence dropping in the past two years, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken down blast walls along dozens of streets, and he contends that Iraqis will safeguard the nation as American troops leave.
It wasn't just that US generals laughed at the magic wands, by 2010 even the British government was disturbed, demanding the devices no longer be manufactured and suing the company.  But Nouri refused to join in the lawsuit (he apparently only likes to sue the press and politicians) and insisted that the magic wands continued to be used.  Instead of admitting that he had wasted over one million dollars on magic wands that didn't work, Nouri put his vanity ahead of the safety of the Iraqi people.  Last November, years after the problem was first discovered, it was quietly announced that Iraq would finally be getting bomb sniffing dogs and explosive sensors.
Did he not sue because he got a kickback on the deal?  Who knows?
Iraqis continue to live in poverty and it is a nation of widows and orphans -- over a million orphans we learned as the year wound down.  Nouri's 'answer' to that?  End the food-ration card system.  This system was put in place in the 90s and provided the Iraqi people with basic staples.  After the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the US government targeted the food-ration card system.  Paul Bremer was only the first US official to attempt to end it.  Ending it would not be easy so they instead worked on cutting it each year so that it offered less and less.  In 2006, when Nouri became prime minister, he continued the cuts.
This fall, he decided, with record poverty and unemployment close to 40% in Iraq, that now was the time to end this program.  Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr was the first to call him out and insist this wasn't happening.  Iraqiya and others quickly backed Moqtada and Nouri was forced to back down (and even tried to claim that it wasn't his idea -- his Cabinet had planned it out without him).  Iraq takes in billions on oil sales each year.  Yet Nouri claimed there was no profit to share with the Iraqi people.  Moqtada also pushed back on that and has been meeting regularly with the ministries to find out where the money is going.
It's not going to the Iraqi people.  Well what about justice?  Is Nouri providing justice?  Early 2012 saw the Ministry of the Interior visit schools and tell Iraqi students that Emo and LGBT youth were devil worshippers, were vampires, were perverts and that they must die.  That's appallling and that's Nouri.  Nouri is the Minister of the Interior.  How can he be the Minister of the Interior and the Prime Minister.  Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."   See, according to the Iraqi Constitution, if you can't appoint a full Cabinet, you can't become prime minister (someone else is named prime minister designate and given 30 days to build a Cabinet).  But US President Barack Obama wanted Nouri to have a second term so no rules applied then (or apply now).
So Nouri had his Ministry go into schools and egg on violence against Emo and LGBT Iraqis -- and Iraqis who might be mistaken for Emo or LGBT.  There was worldwide outrage.  The story got covered by outlets that normally didn't even cover Iraq -- such as England's NME and the US' Rolling Stone magazine.  Nouri called off his dogs and tried to lie that the Ministry of Interior was not involved; however, the Iraqi press quickly printed the handout the Ministry of the Interior had circulated on its school visits.  Nouri's such a damn liar.
Dropping back to the November 12th snapshot:
Staying with violence, as noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012.  Time to add more to that total.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported last night that 10 more people were executed on Sunday ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian").  Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council."  And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb.  A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed.  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."
Amnesty International was among those condemning the mass executions.  Though all the executions for 2012 have yet to be tabulated, Iraq is expected to be at the top of the list of most people put to death. 
Nouri's also targeted the press.  5 journalists were killed in 2012 (we'll have more on that near the end of the snapshot). Outlets that report realities Nouri doesn't like are repeatedly attacked.  Both Al Mada and Kitabat were hacked in 2012 following their hard hitting reporting on corruption.  Dropping back to Saturday, December 15th:

The Iraq Times reports that cable channel Baghdadi was surrounded by the Iraqi military on Friday and they forced everyone out and then shut the station down.  They also note that Nouri ordered the closure.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damalouji declared today that Nouri is attempting to rebuild the Republic of Fear (a reference to the days of Saddam Hussein) and decried the closing of Baghdadiya TV.
The satellite channel's crime?  Reporting on the corruption in the Russian oil deal. This month, he also began targeting Fakhri Karim who is the editor and chair of Al Mada newspaper -- he's had Karim's home surrounded by the US military.  Isn't it strange how in 'free' Iraq, Nouri's always sending in the military to attack the press.  And isn't it strange how the US government -- even most of the US media -- refuse to call that out?  (Friday, he used the military to keep reporters away from the protests in an attempt to ensure that they did not get coverage.)
The White House backs thug Nouri.  Elaine pointed out Friday:

Nouri is a threat and danger to the Iraqi people.
They voted for change and Barack went around their votes, the democracy, the Constitution to devise a contract (Erbil Agreement) to give Nouri a second term.
Again, gays are targeted, Sunnis are targeted, Nouri refused to even have one woman in his Cabinet until there was international outcry -- and this is who the US government backs.
Remember that the next time Barack wants to pretend to give a damn about human rights.
Nouri is in his second term as prime minister.  Why?  Barack Obama.  In March 2010, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.  Nouri's State of Law was expected to win by a wide margin.  The Iraqi people had other ideas.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to the Ayad Allawi headed Iraqiya slate.  Per the Constitution, per democracy, per vote counting, that made Iraqiya the winner and, as such, they were supposed to be immediately named prime minister-designate (one person from their slate, most likely Allawi) and then given 30 days to form a Cabinet.  Failure to do so would result in someone else being named prime minister-designate.  This is clearly outlined in the Constitution.  But Nouri didn't want to lose his post.  So he threw a public tantrum for eight months basically refusing to vacate the palace.  And he was able to get away with that because he had the support of Barack Obama.  During this time, the US government didn't argue for fairness or democracy or rule of law or the Constitution.  They went to the political blocs and told them that they were in the wrong.  They told them they needed to be mature and give.  They need to give to the loser.  Grasp that, the US government started a propaganda campaign at political leaders to get them to give up what they'd won to the loser Nouri.  A few asked questions.  Supposedly Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (currently in Germany receiving medical treatment) got very short with US Vice President Joe Biden in one phone call (no, not the one where Joe asked him to let Allawi be president).  Talbani finally, supposedly, had the brains to ask, "What's in it for us?"
Like a lightening bolt, the US government decided they could give Nouri a second term by going around the Constitution, by drawing a contract between the political blocs.  This 'inspiration' resulted in the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.  Leaders of political blocs agreed to give Nouri a second term (and end the eight-month plus stalemate) in exchange for Nouri agreeing to give them certain things.  The primary demand by the Kurds was that Article 140 of the Constitution be implemented (finally).  Iraqiya's primary demand was that an independent national security council be created and headed by a member of Iraqiya.  Nouri used this contract to get his second term.  Then he trashed the contract.  The White House had given their word that not only was the contract legally binding but that they would stand by it.  They did nothing.
In the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya began publicly calling for Nouri to honor the contract.  He blew them off creating the current stalemate on which numerous political crises have been stacked.  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
What was in it for the White House?  Well they were allowed to leave behind US forces in Iraq after the drawdown (wrongly billed as "withdrawal") of December 2011.  They were able to leave "trainers," CIA, FBI, Special-Ops and more.  And the White House is able to add more.  Back in September, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.
More troops sent in.  This month, Press TV and The Voice of Russia both reported that the US military was deploying more US troops into Iraq from Kuwait.  Then there's the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America which was signed December 6th.  As we noted in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots, this allows US troops in Iraq for joint-patrols and counter-terrorism missions.  Maybe that's why Barack Obama has backed thug Nouri?  John Glaser ( reports today:
The Obama administration has kept largely quiet about Maliki's behavior, aside from about $2 billion in annual aid and tens of billions in military assistance. While this keeps the halls of power in Washington and the oil corporations happy, even the best case scenarios are damning, for Iraqi citizens as well as the geopolitics of the region.
"Maliki is heading towards an incredibly destructive dictatorship, and it looks to me as though the Obama administration is waving him across the finishing line," Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at the London School of Economics said earlier this year. "Meanwhile, the most likely outcomes, which are either dictatorship or civil war, would be catastrophic because Iraq sits between Iran and Syria."
In 2010, Nouri was su
Violence slams Iraq today as both the month and the year wind down.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) notes Iraq witnessed "a wave of bombings and shootings."  EFE counts 23 dead and seventy-five injured.
Specific incidents of violence?   All Iraq News notes a Baghdad mortar attack which left "multiple" people injured, an undisclosed number of people were injured in a Tuz Khurmatu car bombing, a Mosul polling stationg was attacked leaving 2 guards dead,  there was an attack on a Sahwa leader's home in Diyala Province today that left 1 of his bodyguards dead, 3 Musayyib bombings have left 4 people dead and another seven injureda Khalis car bombing has left fiften people injured and 2 Balad Ruz bombings left 4 members of one family dead and a child injured. Alsumaria notes that Ammar Youssef survived an attempted assassination by bombing today in Tikrit -- two civilians were injured in the bomb targeting the President of the Salahuddin Province Council.  Alsumaria reports a Baghdad car bombing has claimed 3 lives and left sixteen injured.  All Iraq News adds that the victims were largely part of a convoy planning a pilgrimage to pay respects to Imam Hussein. AP explains Imam Hussein is the grandson "of the Prophet Muhammad" who died in the 7th century.   Press TV notes that the death toll in the Baghdad bombing has risen to 4 and 1 in Latifyah and 1 in Tuz Khurmatu. There was also a bombing in Hilla and  Reuters quotes hospital worker Mohammed Ahmed who states, "We heard the sound of a big explosion and the windows of our office shattered.  We immediately lay on the ground.  After a few minutes I stood up and went to the windows to see what happened.  I saw flames and people lying on the ground."   On Hilla, Nehal el-Sherif (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) reports, "Seven people were killed and four wounded when gunmen blew up three houses, security sources told the German news agency dpa. The attack followed a car bombing that killed one person and wounded 17 near a Shiite mosque in the city."  All Iraq News also notes that visitors to a Shi'ite shrine in Babylon were targeted with a car bombing, leaving 1 dead and three injured.  And Alsumaria notes a Kirkuk rocket attack that left 5 police officers dead and six other people injured.  RTE offers, "No group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, which targeted government officials, police patrols and members of both the Sunni and Shia sects."
The latest attacks also came amid continuing anti-government demonstrations in several Sunni-dominated cities protesting against marginalization by the Shiite-led government as well as the alleged arrest of hundreds of Sunnis.
The demonstrators also accused the Shiite-dominated security forces of arresting women instead of the wanted male of their family members.
The protests were first sparked last week after the Iraqi security forces arrested chief of the Sunni Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi's protection force and nine bodyguards over charges of terrorism.
The Middle East Monitor offers this take, "The demonstrators are demanding to an end to what they allege is the Iraqi government's 'marginalisation and exclusion policy'; they're also asking for the release of prisoners as well as an end to inhumane treatment in the country's prison."
Protests continued over the weekend.  Al Bawaba News noted, "Pressure is mounting on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down, after the largest scale protests so far saw tens of thousands of Iraqis gather on Friday to call for his removal."  All Iraq News reported that Minister of Defense Saadoun al-Dulaimi received a list of demands from members of the council of Anbar Province whose citizens passed on the demands: They want the detention of women stopped, they want detainees released and Article 4 of the Constitution reviewed.  The Defense Minister was visiting Anbar Province one day after Friday's massive demonstration took place in Falluja (with a conservative estimate of the protesters being 60,000). Al Mada noted that Nouri pronounced Friday's protests in Mosul and Ramadi "uncivilized"; however, rock throwing wouldn't emerge until Sunday.

Mosul is the capital of Nineveh Province.  All Iraq News reported that Council Members have informed the central government in Baghdad that their citizens demand the release of prisoners an end to Article 4 and an end to the Justice and Accountability Commission.  Article 4 is how Nouri dubs various Iraqi rivals 'terrorists.'  And the Justice and Accountability Commission is what Nouri uses to prevent people from running in elections.  They have no job, they have no real role.  Any Saddam Hussein loyalists would have long ago been captured.  But Nouri uses this Article 4 to destroy his political rivals.  Alsumaria added that Nineveh Provincial Council announced Saturday a general strike in solidarity with the protesters. It's a 72-hour strike (medical facilities will not be on strike). Today Alsumaria reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has declared that Parliament will abolsih Article 4.  He compares Article 4 to the Sword of Damocles hanging over the neck of Iraqis.

Atheel (or Ethel) al-Nujaifi is the governor of the province.  He's also the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  Alsumaria notes that the governor declared Saturday that Nouri al-Maliki can end the current crisis within 24 hours just be returning the arrested to their provinces.  Al Mada explains that Nouri has repeatedly targeted Atheel al-Nujaifi.

In October, allegations of torture and rape of women held in Iraqi prisons and detention centers began to make the rounds.  In November, the allegations became a bit more and a fistfight broke out in Parliament with an angry State of Law storming out.  By December, Members of Parliament on certain security committees were speaking publicly about the abuses.  Then Nouri declared that anyone talking about this topic was breaking the law. He continued on this tangent for weeks claiming this past week that he would strip MPs of their immunity.  (The Constitution doesn't allow for that.)  Also this past week, it was learned that at least four females were raped in a Baghdad prison.

The outrage here is part of what has fueled the protests.  Alsumaria notes the Ministry of Justice's latest spin Saturday: Only women guards are at these prisons!  Whether that's true or not (most likely it is not) world history demonstrates that when women are imprisoned it's very common for someone to get the 'bright idea' to sell access to these women.  Greed is a strong motivator.  Again, the very claim is doubtful but if there are no men on staff, that doesn't mean men have not been present in the prisons.  It wasn't enough to silence objections or stop the protests.  Sunday,  Al Arabiya noted, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered on Sunday the release of female prisoners, who were arrested for terrorism charges without judicial warrants or because of terror crimes committed by their relatives, to appease to protesters who want to see the scrapping of anti-terrorism measures in the country, a local website reported."
Protests continued on Sunday with most of the press attention going to Ramadi where  Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq was involved in an incident.   Chen Zhi (Xinhua) reports that al-Mutlaq's office issued a statement claiming there was an assassination attempt on him while he was by the protesters and, following the assassination attempt, his bodyguards fired on the protesters.  His office also claims that his bodyguards were injured.   Citing witnesses and video, AP states that the bodygaurds fired on protesters who were making demands and throwing "rocks and bottles." AP notes that two protesters were injured by the gunshots.  Reuters speaks with local witnesses and ends up with the same sequence of events AP has.  Salma Abdelaziz, Yousuf Basil and Mohammed Lazim (CNN) report:

Some demonstrators Sunday called for al-Multaq, who is Sunni, to submit his resignation to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government. Protesters chanted, "Leave! Leave!" and threw stones at him, witnesses told CNN.
The deputy prime minister's bodyguards opened fire in an attempt to disperse the crowd as protesters hurled stones at the stage, Anbar provincial council member Suhaib al-Rawi told CNN. A protester with a gunshot wound was among five people injured, al-Rawi said. Details about the other injuries were not immediately clear.

All Iraq News counts 1 protester dead and four injured.  Samantha Stainburn (Global Post) observes, "It is not known if the injured protests were shot intentionally or accidentally."  The statement al-Mutlaq's office issued can be seen as an attempt by the politician to cover what happened.  Why he was stupid enough to go to a protest is beyond me.  Yes, he is Sunni and, yes, he is in the Iraqiya slate.  But Saleh al-Mutlaq is not popular.  He and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (also Sunni and Iraqiya) were both targeted by Nouri in December of 2011.  While Tareq ended up having to leave the country and being convicted of 'terrorism,' Saleh sailed right through.  In May, Nouri dropped his efforts to strip Saleh of his office.

By that point, there had been months of speculation in the Iraqi press that Saleh al-Mutlaq had cut a deal to save his own ass, that he was now in partnership with Nouri al-Maliki.  This seemed to be even more true when Saleh was seen as undermining efforts to get a no-confidence vote against Nouri as spring was winding down.

Saleh al-Mutlaq is seen -- rightly or wrongly -- by Sunni Iraqis as someone who protects himself and does nothing for other Sunnis (whether they're politicians or average citizens).  His actions on Sunday did nothing to alter that opinion.  Today Dar Addustour observes that Mutlaq was seen as attempting to distract protesters from their legitimate demands for and that his words were seen as throwing shoes at the protesters.  (Remember, throwing shoes is a major insult in Iraq.)  Kitabat adds that al-Mutlaq further insulted the protesters by refusing to get on the platform to address them.
Al Mada notes the Mosul sit-in continued today.  They also report that, according to a police source, six people taking part in a sit-in in Salahuddin Province were arrested yesterday and that the Salahuddin Provincial Council is warning Baghdad against ignoring the demands of the protesters.  Alsumaria reports that Speaker of Parliament al-Nujaifi declared today that the government must offer real solutions and not fall back on procrastination.
On death and violence, Mark Sweney (Guardian) notes that of the 121 journalists killed worldwide in 2012, the International Federation of Journalists points out five were in Iraq.  IFJ notes these are the top countries:
1) Syria: 35 journalists killed
2) Somolia: 18 journalists killed
3) Pakistan: 10 journalists killed
  (tie) Mexico: 10 journalists killed
5) Philippines: 5 journalists killed
   (tie) Iraq: 5 journalists killed
The five Iraqi journalists killed were Salahaddin TV's Kamiran Salaheddin, Al Adwa's Farqad Husseini, Dyali TV's Ziad Tareq, Al Gamaheer's Samir Shikh Ali and Sama Al-Mossoul TV's Ghazwan Anas. This list does not include Safir editor-in-chief Safi Qasis who has been missing since December 9th and is hopefully still alive.  Yesterday, the Iraq Journalists Syndicate released their report.  There were five Iraqi journalists killed in 2012.    Aswat al-Iraq noted, "The Iraqi press Syndicate said on Saturday that five journalists have been killed in Iraq in 2012 by armed group raising the number of media men who have been killed since 2003 to 373.Xinhua also noted it, "Five journalists were killed in Iraq's violence during 2012, bringing the number of the journalists killed in the country to 373 since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, an Iraqi journalists' body said on Saturday." It's a shame that the so-called Committee to Protect Journalist couldn't get it right.  According to their report released earlier this month, no journalists were killed in Iraq.  It doesn't make their top 20 because no one died.  How shameful.