Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Missing Picture

I did not see Omar yet.  I will see it but I can't weigh in on it right now.

The other four films nominated for Best Foreign Film I did see.  (Two because C.I. sent me the screeners she got.)

The Missing Picture is a Cambodian film (L'image manquante), it's a documentary.

It's about the despot Pol Pot and the Kumer Rouge and how they destroyed Cambodia.

The story is told with reel footage.  But most of what survives today is propaganda.  So they utilize clay figures.

This is a visual documentary in the way few documentaries ever are.

It will haunt you and it will captivate you.

The other three are very strong (again, I have not yet seen Omar) but this one is so poetic and so important -- especially today when the US government goes around destroying countries.  This film is about destruction and after.

The Oscars are Sunday on ABC.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, February 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, MSNBC preps another faux 'documentary' which they pretend is about Iraq but features no Iraqis, Jane Arraf takes to the airwaves to back her man (Nouri al-Maliki), if children are terrorists than Anbar may actually be the hotbed Nouri claims it is, gamesmanship and nonsense stalls a US Senate bill for veterans, and much more.

MSNBC  and microphone jockey Rachel Maddow attempted to fool people into believing they were attempting to do 'news' with a hideous 'special' in 2013 entitled Hubris: Selling The Iraq War.  If the title sounded familiar, it was because it was from David Corn and Michael Isikoff's book of the same title, their September 2006 book of the same title.  Seven years later, MSNBC pretended to be timely.

The special was nothing but crap.  That's all it was ever going to be.

Rachel Maddow is a carny barker and a War Hawk.  She spent her days at Air America Radio refusing to interview veterans against the war, glorifying the war and insisting the US military could not leave.

Those beliefs did not make her a star on Air America Radio.

They were, however, what MSNBC was looking for and because she continues to whore her awful ratings don't matter to the network.  They put a lipstick on their monkey and yell "Dance!" and Rachel does.

You have to feel sorry for her.  She's got no long range career.  She gets more rough looking each year and no woman's ever found a successful TV market for that.  Her stupidity gets worse and worse -- including but not limited to last week's smackdown on HBO where she was called out for yet again wasting air time with faux scandals meant to inflame.

We mention this for several reasons including that MSNBC is attempting another faux documentary.

(Christopher Guest should sue them -- or better yet, parody them, we all know Scott Baio could play Maddow in a minute.)

This one's called Why We Did It.


Toady's like Rachel Maddow always identify up.

Rachel (and MSNBC-GE-ComCast-Corporations-United) won't be offering anything of value.  You should grasp that.

Whores may warm the beds but they never feed the minds.

So Rachel will have professional liar Lawrence Wilkerson on again but this time she'll have him on with his true love -- his true love -- he'll always be his true love: Colin Powell.

Maybe Larry and Collie can make out.

Colin The Blot Powell will again get spit shined because that's what corporate stooges like Rachel end up doing.

She'll have the usual ridiculous guests from the CIA and Big Oil but don't look for Dahr Jamail or anyone who actually mattered on Iraq to show up.  Norman Solomon won't be a surprise guest.

Nor Janeane Garofalo.

Think about it, Janeane, before Air America even existed, was publicly against the war.  Unlike Rachel's low rated program Unfiltered (the highest of all the programs Maddow hosted or co-hosted), The Majority Report actually delivered ratings when Janeane was a co-host.  (Without her, the show sunk like a stone.)

And Janeane is camera ready, smart and attractive.  But MSNBC gave the cloying Rachel Maddow her own show.  Where she vouches for her own goodness with one lie after another but fails to bring in viewers or actual information.

Rachel Maddow is a War Marketeer.

That's all she'll ever be.

She's out to out-butch every other man and woman and she's been that way her whole life.  That's why she supports wars -- all wars -- and why she's so off-putting.

I don't have a major problem, for example, with Dana Milbank.  But I also don't mistake him for a reporter or anyone important on the topic of Iraq.  He's a columnist -- most noted for his sexism -- especially via the "Mad Bitch" 'joke' he did in 2009.

This is the sewer MSNBC wades though to find guests.

A columnist like Dana Milbank who can point to one (so-so) piece of pre-Iraq War reporting on Iraq?  (Remember when his feelings were hurt by Michael Massing over this issue back in 2004?)   His work was nothing.  Contrast that with Robert Scheer's work and the fact that the Los Angeles Times got rid of Scheer to be part of the drumbeat for war.  But Scheer won't be part of the special.

Again, Janeane won't be on it.  Norman Solomon won't be on.  Dahr Jamail won't be on.  Laura Flanders who did some solid radio on Iraq before and during the early years of the illegal war will not be on the program.

We'll hear what wouldn't pass for DC cocktail chatter 8 years ago presented as  'information.'

The Iraqi people will yet again be ignored as though they don't even matter.

Grasp that.

MSNBC is about to do another Iraq "documentary" which ignores the Iraqi people.

To further ensure that sweeping generalities and broad abstractions are the only thing presented, they won't book Cindy Sheehan either.  Don't ever get close to grief or truth on these specials, just step back and watch MSBNC's Brave Little Lesbian go down to the hairy root on Colin Powell.

Maddow will be cheered by some for being such a wonderful whore.

We're not cheering her here.

Ray McGovern is a bit of a joke -- to put it mildly.  But he believes he's educated on 'the blot' and wants to run defense for Collie Powell.  (He did that last year at Consortium when he wondered if 'good soldier' Collie might have just been conned himself.  If you never get what a craven whore Robert Parry has become, go into Consortium's archives looking up Ron Kovic and you'll find out that Colin Powell was disgusting and a liar long before the Iraq War.)

Only War Marketeers like Rachel Maddow allow history to be rewritten to benefit the scoundrels.

They strip everything of meaning and context so that all that's left is factoids and 'based on a true story.'

And it's meaningless and unimportant.

To tell the story, you need the Iraqi people.

There was a ridiculous piece by the New York Times this week where they let a veteran pontificate on how no one could understand unless they were there.  No, no, no.  You were a guest -- an uninvited one -- in another country.  Do not for one moment think you speak for the Iraqi people

Only the Iraqi people can speak for themselves and your brief experience in their country is neither historic or unbiased.  You are the warrior that entered their country to attack.  You can take pride in that, you can disown that, you can atone for it, whatever, but never pretend you can speak for the Iraqi people.

And MSNBC needs to stop pretending that their studio interviews with generic American talking heads makes for a documentary.

Or that they care about Iraq.

If they gave a damn about Iraq, they'd be covering what's going on now.

If they gave a damn about veterans, they would have been covering the veterans bill that hit the roadblock yesterday.  Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports, "U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget."  Josh Hicks (Washington Post) notes, "On Tuesday, GOP lawmakers tried to trim the VA bill and add sanctions on Iran for that nation’s nuclear program. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blocked those attempts."  Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News) explains:

While the bill technically failed to clear a procedural hurdle relating to spending measures, the real fight was over amendments. Republicans wanted free reign to offer alterations to the bill that could reduce its costs and change how it was paid for, but also to impose new sanctions on Iran relating to its nuclear program. The president has repeatedly asked both Republicans and members of his own party not to impose additional sanctions while the U.S. and six other world powers negotiate a long-term agreement to wind down the country's nuclear program, but some lawmakers want to put into place conditional penalties that would take effect if Iran's government fails to comply with the interim agreement in place.

Senator Bernie Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  He and Senator Patty Murray held a news conference late Thursday after the legislation did not pass.  (These quotes are notes from a friend covering the conference for their news outlet.  I was not present.)

Senator Bernie Sanders:   I'm very pleased to be joined by Senator Murray who, among other things, is the previous chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Let me just say that, I am disappointed that despite the significant effort to make this legislation -- legislation which protects the interests and the needs of millions of veterans into a bi-partisan effort that we could only get two Republicans to vote to overcome the budget concern.  This bill to a very significant degree is bipartisan.  Two of the major provisions in it -- to the Omnibus bills -- were passed with unanimous support.  A number of other provisions had strong majority support.  And the few provisions that were not discussed in Committee have passed the Republican [controlled] House with overwhelming bipartisan support.  So I'm not going to tell you this is a 100% bipartisan bill.  It wasn't.  But it was a significant bill.  My hope had been that maybe, just maybe, when you deal with the needs of people who have sacrificed so much for this country -- and I think, Senator Murray and I, as Chairs of this Committee, understand what war has done to tens and hundreds of thousands of young men and women in this country, I thought that maybe, maybe just on this issue, this Senate could come together and do the right thing for our veterans.  But at the end of the day -- at this point, at least -- we've only secured two Republican votes.  The needs of our veterans are significant.  Senator Murray will go into one of important components of this bill which I take very seriously and that is the helping wounded veterans be able to have families.  There is another provision which is also enormously important.  We have tens of thousands of families out there taking care of vets.  We did the right thing in 2010 passing a care givers bill for the post-9/11 veterans, we should do it for all veterans. This legislation opens the door for some new veterans to access VA health care, to begin to get dental care.  We built 27 new medical facilities that have long been in need.  We do away with the cuts in COLAs [Cost Of Living Adjustment] completely for military retirees  -- including those who entered into the service after January 2014.  At a time when the economy is in rough shape and we want the young men and women coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to be able to go out and to get jobs, get their lives together, we do that.  We deal with the issue of sexual assault.  This according to the veterans organizations is the most comprehensive piece of veterans legislation introduced in many, many decades.  And I want to take this opportunity to thank the American Legion, the VFW, the DAV, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Gold Star Families, all of the veterans, dozens of veterans organizations who supported this legislation.  I am going to keep going on this.  We are not going to give up on our veterans.  And at some point or another, we are going to pass this legislation.  Now let me just conclude by saying, I honestly -- and I mean this not from a political point -- I really do have a hard time understanding how folks here in the Senate, some of our Republican colleagues, do not have the slightest hesitancy about voting for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country, for billionaires, are not concerned that 1 out of 4 corporations in this country does not pay a nickle in taxes -- federal income taxes -- including some of the largest corporations in America.  And that's apparently okay. But when we need, over a ten year period, $21 billion for our veterans?  Apparently that's just too much.  Well I urge them to go out and talk to the veterans and their families and see if that is too much.  So, we're going to keep up the fight and I want to thank all of those people who have supported this effort.  Thank you.

Senator Patty Murray:   Thank you so much, Senator Sanders, for your leadership on this.  And, you know, really given what we've seen recently on some bills that, by the way, an overwhelming majority of Americans support, I guess we shouldn't be surprised by what the Republicans did today.  But I, like Senator Sanders, truly did think that this would be a different story.  And that's because, as he outlined, it contains ideas from both Democrats and Republicans.  This has historically been an issue that unites us.  And because everyone of us has pledged to do whatever it takes on behalf of our veterans.  But once again, as we just saw, our colleagues have decided to use unrelated issues to block progress.  This time, on a bill that would have greatly benefited our veterans and their families.  And I want to just talk about one example on how veterans stood to benefit if this bill could have moved forward.  Currently today, the VA is specifically barred from providing coverage for reproductive services like in vitro fertilization to severely wounded veterans or their partners.  This is an old, antiquated and absurd ban but it is nonetheless the law today.   And because of that law, veterans who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with catastrophic reproductive urinary and pelvic wounds have seen their dream to have a family dashed because of the tremendous cost of IVF services in the private sector.  We believe that's really unacceptable.  We believe that IVF is a cost of war to these men and women and the VA should absolutely cover it.  So this comprehensive veterans package would have overturned that ban on providing IVF services in this part of VA medical care.  But because of political games today with this legislation, our colleagues are just saying to these heroes, 'Sorry.  Despite the fact that you have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation, we can't provide you with the medical services you so desperately need to start a family.'  Every American can see how wrong that is.  And even with the VSOs and the leaders who have stood up and said issues like Iran sanctions have no place in this conversation, they [Republican senators] did it.  So it's really quite sad that politicians who claim, out on the campaign trail, that we should do anything and everything to help our veterans, here, in Washington, DC, they killed bills like this one with procedural votes.  And there was no excuse for bringing in an important but completely separate issue like Iran sanctions into a debate which is about veterans -- their health and their well being. Because one issue we should never be divided on is our duty to keep the promise that we've made to provide not only care but opportunity to all of those who've honorably served in our nation's armed forces.  And I will continue to work with the Chair of our Senate Veterans Committee, Senator Sanders, to get this bill passed as we move forward. 

We're going to weigh in here.

First, Senator Richard Burr is against the measure, voted against it.  He's the Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His thinking is that this will open up new claims and new needs at a time when the VA still struggles with a huge backlog.  I disagree with him but I do understand his argument, he's made it before with other VA issues and it is consistent on his part.

If every Senate Republican opposed to the bill had been opposed for these reasons, then it would be an issue of getting the veterans and veterans family communities to speak up even louder about what they feel is needed.

But as Senator Murray notes, there was also the issue of sanctions on Iran.

I'm not going to attack anyone for their belief on this issue.

Let's pretend for a moment that is appeared US President Barack Obama knew what he was doing regarding Iran.  (It does not appear that way and not just because of the weapons contract between Iraq and Iran but also because there are legal obligations for the US government with regards to the Ashraf community in Iraq.  Those obligations are not being met and it's unethical and possibly illegal for the US government to be getting in bed with the Iranian government while the Ashraf issues are still in play.)

But let's pretend Barack knows what he's doing.

Even in such a scenario, that really doesn't mean much.

The US and Iran may be about to enter a new phase.  That could be great.  That could be awful.  That could be nothing.

But these are issues for the people to address and then for their government to represent them on.  There has been no serious discussion on Iran -- in part because cable talk shows passed off as news programs focus on the stupidest of topics but also because Barack presented this as not a discussion to have but 'here's what I'm going to do.'

I can understand Republican Senator X being fearful that a huge mistake is being made and, having that belief, needing to fight for national security by all means possible.

But all means possible does not include the veterans.  As I've noted repeatedly here for about 8 years now, the Veterans Affairs Committees work -- in the House and the Senate.

And they work because the people serving on those Committees agree to work together for the benefit of the veterans.

Attach the Iran issues to a DoD bill and I don't care and I don't think most Americans do.  Fears over Iran are national security issues so block a DoD bill.  Most Americans also wouldn't care if it blocked a farm bill or a trade bill.

But as the federal government has spent about 13 years now being dysfunctional and the only thing you can point to with pride is the Veterans Affairs Committees -- which are also the only thing that both Bully Boy Bush and Barack both respected -- you really don't risk destroying the only hope the Congress has provided.

I praise the people who serve on the two Committees.  There are times in the hearings that I'll duck my head because my tears well up when you see two members who dislike each other's policies put that to the side to work on what needs to be done.

You've got a disagreement, that's fine.  And I won't call you crazy for a national security concern -- even though it's not one that I share.  (At the current rate, my guess would be this administration will bungle this opportunity as well.)

But Americans don't have a lot of faith in a decaying system.  Just this week, CBS News has reported on their poll where 59% of Americans express disappointment in Barack.  The Supreme Court approving ObamaCare did damage because of (a) the grounds on which they approved it and (b) Roberts' vote is still inexplicable.  Prior to that the Court's decision to grant personhood to corporations had made it questionable and the one-time-only-ruling-this-isn't-a-precedent in Bush v. Gore remains a stain.

So what's left or the federal government?  Congress.

And they argue every week and it doesn't really seem to most people -- get out and go around the country, leave your bubble -- that they're arguing because they're each trying to do the best for the American people.

The one area where it was felt that the Congress focused and worked was on veterans issues.

When you destroy that, you destroy the last hope many Americans had for a government that sees people leave their positions rich and rushing off to get richer -- these positions that are supposed to make them public servants.

But if that was all fakery and pretense, then it's good that the bill went down so that Americans can see that no part of the federal government currently functions.

I used to think I was intrinsically better than some people in this country because I was a Democrat.  I deluded myself for decades.  But the corporatist policies of Barack Obama stripped those illusions away forever.  There is nothing intrinsically better about being a Democrat. And that realization led me to stop feeling it was my duty to parrot DNC talking points or to defend hideous policies and programs that are inherently wrong and unneeded.

ObamaCare is worthless unless you are the insurance industry.  If you're them, it's great that a law was passed forcing Americans to buy health care.

If you're not the insurance industry, you should be appalled for various reasons including Congress refusing to do their job (my own House Rep Nancy Pelosi ridiculously insisting the legislation had to be passed first before they could figure out what was in it), including a member of Congress being strong armed into supporting it (Dennis Kuccinich who needs to take that private conversation with Barack public and stop just offering it to those of us who encounter him) but most of all for being a betrayal of what FDR and so many envisioned: an America where everyone could get medical care and treatment.

That's what universal health care.

The reality is that ObamaCare will never be that and can never be that.  It forced everyone to buy a policy.  The policies aren't all equal.  And many individuals and families don't have the money so they get the worst possible ones which means if they're really, really sick, they'll go to the doctor.  Otherwise, they're going to try to tough it out and self-prescribe at their local drug stores.

The Democrats had control of both houses of Congress and the White House.  They could have easily provided universal health care.  All they to do was expand Medicare.

But it wasn't about health care.

And that's why ObamaCare takes what was your option to buy insurance and turns it into a legal requirement that you do.  This was about ensuring the health of the insurance industry, not the health of the American people.

The populace is becoming more jaded and more awakened.  If the Congress can't pull it together for even the veterans, it will just confirm a growing belief across the country that our elected officials are concerned about everything except We The People.

The Iraqi people live in dire conditions -- lack of jobs, poverty widespread, lack of public services, the violence, the corruption and so much more.

Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I'm about to say
Could mean the world's disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain
It's that 
Love's in need of love today 
-- "Love's In Need Of Love Today," written by Stevie Wonder, first appears on his Songs In The Key Of Life (click here for George Michael doing a strong cover version -- and March 17th, George's Symphonica is released).

A group of Iraqis, Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports feel that Iraq is suffering from a shortage of love:

On Feb. 14, 2011, in Liberation Square in Baghdad, a campaign titled “Love Iraq” started. It was attended by hundreds of young people carrying red hearts and dressed in black to express their grief for the homeland and the will to change. The demonstration has taken place every year since.
Ahmad al-Baghdadi, one of the founders of the Love Iraq campaign, told Al-Monitor that the campaign’s goal has two parts. First, to spread a culture of love in the face of violence, terrorism and sectarianism, in a peaceful and civilized way and by means of change, which depend on a culture of peaceful protest. And second, to try to involve the civil current, intellectuals and democracy advocates in the process to reform the system.
When asked if anyone has harassed them, Baghdadi said that they had faced many obstacles in obtaining official permission for the Feb. 14 demonstration, and they were surprised by the fact that the security forces deployed in the parks where the demonstration was supposed to take place.
Al-Monitor spoke with many young people participating in the demonstration, and they expressed various demands regarding civilian life, including reforming and developing the educational system; fighting corruption in the government and state institutions; and improving services. They all said that all what’s happening in their country — the escalating violence and mismanagement — are the result of a lack of love for the homeland.

Love may be in need of love today but there's also a huge shortage of common sense.  If you ever doubt that, close your eyes, wait ten seconds and Jane Arraf will appear.  The one whose role at CNN was to obscure the brutality of Saddam Hussein's leadership still sees that as her role today only now she covers and obscures for thug and prime minister (for life?) Nouri al-Maliki.

Jane took her tired show and questionable ethics to PRI's The World:

"We sort of took our eyes off the ball," said Baghdad-based reporter Jane Arraf. "In the meantime, all of those fighters who US troops were fighting as well as a whole range of other influences, particularly the Syrian conflict next door, have gathered and now there is a war in Fallujah."

Did 'we' take our eyes off the ball?

You mean reporters, Jane?  Because that's what you're supposed to be.

Second, you don't know what's in Falluja.

Jane has a lousy reputation among Iraqi journalists because, even the young ones, have noticed what qualifies as news to Arraf and what doesn't.

Here are photos of two 'terrorists' that Jane Arraf apparently feels were appropriately targeted by Nouri.

  1. نموذج آخر لأهداف جيش المالكي الارهابي في حربه على الشعب: .
  2. نموذج لأهداف جيش المالكي الارهابي في حربه على الشعب: .

Those are children.

They aren't 'terrorists' and Nouri's used that term so much it should have no meaning.

He's been calling protesters that since 2011.

And Arraf should know that but apparently she 'reports' at the pleasure of Nouri.

That is what made her stay silent about so much in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, right?

Who's the real terrorist?  Those two young children or the thug that's using weapons to attack the people of Iraq, to go to war on them as if Anbar were a foreign country.

John Catalinotto (Workers World) reports:

United States weapons are still killing Iraqis as the government that the U.S. 10-year-long occupation installed bombs the rebellious cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. According to supporters of Iraqi sovereignty around the world, the regime of Nouri al-Maliki has exaggerated the presence of al-Qaida-like groups to justify its assault on the population.
Workers World received a release from the Iraq Solidarity Association in Sweden, dated Feb. 18, summarizing the atrocities caused in Fallujah and announcing a solidarity contribution to the city. The ISAS is one of many groups supporting an initiative for a meeting in mid-April in Brussels, Belgium, to look into ways of filing legal claims for reparations for the Iraqi people from U.S. and British imperialism, the countries that led the 2003 invasion and occupation that is still bringing harm to Iraqis.
Fallujah was one of Iraq’s small cities hit particularly hard by a relentless U.S. military assault in 2004. Thousands of residents were killed and much of the city destroyed at that time.
Fallujah – the city that never surrenders
“According to direct reports from inside Fallujah,” says the Feb. 18 statement, “the General Hospital has received at least 92 dead and 542 wounded since the government attack began. The city is surrounded by government troops that have to-date attacked the hospital eight times. Doctors and nurses have been killed or wounded in the attacks.
“The hospitals in Anbar Province suffer greatly from a lack of medicine and medical equipment. Some of the staff have been evacuated. The U.N. reports that 62,679 families or more than 370,000 people have been forced to flee the attacks in Anbar.
“In Fallujah itself, there is no food, and the inhabitants are reduced to drinking unsanitary river water. The people who remain to defend the city refuse to give up their homes and neighborhoods to government troops or to the handful of terrorists who seek to control the town. Fallujah has been in the foreground during the last year of widespread popular, national, nonsectarian protests against the regime that is the result of the U.S. occupation.

Again, who is the real terrorist because it's looking like it's Nouri al-Maliki -- the puppet Bully Boy Bush installed in 2006 and that Barack demanded a second term for in 2010 (after Iraqi voters said otherwise).

BRussells Tribunal carries "Iraq - Genocide in Fallujah" by the European Parliament's Struan Stevenson:

The unfolding tragedy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah seems to have slipped off the international radar screen, as the focus of the global community drifts from Syria to Kiev and back again. The humanitarian situation in Fallujah is dire. The sectarian prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki has surrounded the city with thousands of troops, effectively sealing it off. The Iraqi air force has mounted daily bomb attacks, cutting off electricity and water supplies and destroying several bridges in an effort to prevent food and water from reaching the besieged inhabitants. Last week, they bombed Fallujah General Hospital, killing nearly all of the doctors and nurses and many of the patients and forcing its closure. More than 300,000 people have been made homeless.
Ban Ki Moon and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) continue to plead with Maliki to provide humanitarian aid to the city and to enter into negotiations that can bring an end to violence in the predominantly Sunni, Al Anbar Province. The sharp response from the aggressively pro-Shia prime minister was there would be "no negotiation with terrorists." In a single sentence he has labeled all of the residents of Iraq's largest province as "terrorists" in order to justify his genocidal campaign.

The assault on Anbar Province continues.  NINA notes Nouri's forces have walled off Falluja with dirt and one of their mortar attacks today -- during the supposed 'truce' and 'cease-fire' -- left two children and two adults injured when the mortars hit their home.  NINA also reports:

Sheikh Ali Hatim Al-Suleiman said :, "The tribal Council is ready to accept any initiative to end the crisis in Anbar , stipulating army withdrawal from cities and civilian locals as well as stop the indiscriminate shelling of Ramadi and Fallujah cities.
He said in a statement to the National Iraqi News agency / Nina / : "The allegations by some about / Daash / in Anbar are almost exaggerated , unfortunately used by some politicians and tribal leaders in Anbar who present unreal image to the government about the situation in Anbar to serve their personal interests. emphasizing his personnel readiness to combat it and expelled any of Daash elements."

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 913 violent deaths for the month so far.

Today, the last day of the month, did not see violence disappear.  National Iraqi News Agency reports security sources are stating they killed 15 Da'ash in Ramadi, an armed attack on a Mosul police station left 3 police members dead and eight more injured, a Mosul car bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, a Baquba attack on a family "working in an orchard" left 3 people dead and one woman injured, a Heet suicide bomber took his own life and left 12 security forces dead or injured, a Peshmerga was left injured in an Alfakkah Village shooting, 1 suicide bomber targeted the home of a local council member Saiid Flayih leaving 6 of Flavih's relatives and bodyguards dead with twelve more people left injured, and, late last night, a Hibhib home invasion left 3 family members dead and one injuredAll Iraq News adds that 1 medical doctor, Dr. Sadiq Juma Abbas, was shot dead in Basra "while he was going out of his clinic."


Thursday, February 27, 2014


Jason Ditz ( reports:

Publicly, President Obama and other officials have lamented the lack of an obvious military solution to the civil war in Syria. Privately, and sometimes not so privately, they’ve continued pushing forward with plans for direct military intervention in Syria.
[. . .]
President Obama intended a full-scale invasion of Syria last year, but was foiled by overwhelming public opposition to the war. The plan now seems to be to pretend a war is not in the offing while advancing it every chance they get, hoping that they can get the war more or less under way before anyone has a chance to object.

Barack thinks he's smarter than the people.  That's the key to the first term and to the current one.

He thinks he can trick the country into war on Syria.

He doesn't realize his reputation is in tatters.

The attacks on Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden.  The attacks on journalism.

The illegal spying on the whole world.

The never-ending lying.

His reputation is in tatters because he's been caught lying.

Partisan whores will continue to cover for him but that's a small number.  The people have awoken.

He wants war on Syria and he may even start it but We The People will not be fooled.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 26, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, Osama al-Nujaifi says Anbar requires a political solution, new rumor is Moqtada al-Sadr has left Iraq, American business is going into Iraq -- northern Iraq -- specifically the KRG, Nouri continues to attempt to blackmail the Kurds with the national budget, and much more.

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014                                                                           202-224-2834
Senator Murray Strongly Denounces Republican Efforts to Continue Ban on In Vitro Fertilization for Veterans

Republican bill would leave in place “absurd and antiquated” ban that prevents catastrophically wounded veterans from starting their own families using VA services

Young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with reproductive injuries from combat wounds would continue to be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket cost under Republican bill

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and author of legislation to overturn a ban on providing in-vitro fertilization services as part of VA medical care, denounced Senate Republicans for leaving that provision out of their own veterans’ legislation that they are introducing on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Murray’s provision to overturn the ban is included in The Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 which was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and is currently being considered on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Senator Murray told the personal story of one family forced to pay thousands out-of-pocket because of the ban on the Senate floor yesterday.
“I’m stunned that Senate Republicans are indicating that they will not join us in overturning this absurd and antiquated ban,” said Senator Murray. “The catastrophic wounds we have seen from injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant that our veterans’ dreams to start a family have been put on hold because of the tremendous cost of IVF services. We believe that’s a cost of war that the VA absolutely should cover and that it’s unacceptable to let politics stand in the way. I truly hope that Republicans will reconsider opposing this common-sense step that will give those who have sacrificed everything the reproductive treatments they need to start a family.”
Meghan Roh
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Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
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Why are we opening with that?

Since we opened with a hearing on veterans yesterday, I planned to include the above statement at the end of the snapshot.  But a writer whose work does not get noted here because he is attack, attack Republicans objected.

I need to make this point clear (I think Shirley did in an e-mail reply six weeks ago to this same writer).  I'm not interested in your partisan b.s. to win elections.  I'm not interested in demonizing one half of the country. When Republicans were in power, I called them out.  By contrast, a lot of writers have spent the last years zooming in on Republicans to avoid holding Barack Obama accountable. So they, as the writer in question does, churn out 'scandals' to try to whip up a frenzy.  I don't have time for that nonsense or that distraction.

Senator Murray is a Democrat, I think she has a strong voting record with much to applaud.  I also know that she reaches across the aisle repeatedly.

When she issues a statement calling out obstruction -- by anyone -- we will note it.

In terms of the topic itself?

We've covered that topic repeatedly here.  Time permitting, we'll go into this topic again this week.  It's one that seriously matters.

The Kurds.  The peaceful area, the non-squeaky wheel.  I'm as guilty as anyone else of putting the KRG off to another day due to more dramatic events in central Iraq.  So let's move over to Iraq and start with the Kurds.

February 15th, in DC, Peter Galbraith did a presentation the Kurds.  Mutlu Civiroglu (Rudaw) reported on it last week noting:

Speaking about the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, and contrasting it with the rest of Iraq, Galbraith noted that American citizens needed a visa to travel to Iraq, but not to the Kurdistan Region. 
He noted that many international airlines do not fly to Baghdad, but they do to Erbil. 
Talking about his most recent visit to Kurdistan, Galbraith said each time he goes to Erbil he cannot recognize the city because of the rapid development.

The success of the KRG -- especially when compared to other parts of Iraq -- really inflame Iraq's chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Eight years, Nouri's had to bring peace to Iraq but he's failed.  He's failed so poorly that his actions only encourage more violence.  And yet, in the north, it's a completely different story for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Monday, the US Consulate in Erbil issued the following:

Deputy Principal Officer Stephen Gee and Consulate General Erbil staff joined businesspeople, members of the diplomatic community and friends from around the Iraqi Kurdistan Region to attend the opening of well-known U.S. franchise Pizza Hut on February 18 in Erbil.
Kuwait-based Kout Food Group  plans to open a second Pizza Hut restaurant in Erbil, provide a pizza delivery service and expand to Dahuk and Sulaimaniyah.

And this week, more business news for the KRG, not for Nouri.  First off, let's note Joseph Pennington:

Joseph Pennington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Counselor, assumed his duties as Consul General in Erbil in July 2013.  Prior to his arrival in Erbil, Mr. Pennington served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic (2010-13) and held the same position in Yerevan, Armenia (2007-10).

Here's a photo of Pennihgton:

On February 15, Consul General Joseph Pennington attended the grand opening of U.S. franchise Cinnabon/Carvel Ice Cream's first shop in Iraq, in Erbil. Storeowners plan to expand to Dahuk, Sulaimaniyah, Baghdad, Basra, and Najaf. 

Judit Neurink (Rudaw) reports Ace Hardware, Marriot and Hyatt Hotels are among those "setting up shop in Kurdistan" and a reception Pennington attended to note continued interest on the part of American businesses.  Neurick reports:

American companies in Kurdistan are mainly active in oil and gas, security and building. Pennington expects these activities to broaden in the future. “There is a lot of interest in the States for doing business here. But as it is Iraq, security plays a role and companies are cautious. Of course, here are fewer attacks than elsewhere in Iraq, but there still are threats.”
The reception was held at a moment of diplomatic tension between the US and Kurdistan, with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani cancelling a visit to the White House over the fact that Kurdistan’s two main political parties – the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- still feature on a terrorism blacklist from the days they resisted Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Kurdish politicians have shown frustration over the lack of support from Washington in their conflict with Baghdad over oil revenues, which has recently led to Baghdad withholding Kurdistan’s constitutional part of the national budget.
Although none of the diplomats at the reception wanted to comment on this hot issue, Qubad Talabani, the KRG Minister for Coordination and Follow Up, voiced some frustration. Until a year-and-a-half ago he was the KRG representative in Washington, where he set up the business council.
“I’d like the United States to see us as an asset, but they still see us through the Iraqi lens,” he said when asked for his dearest wish for the relations with the US. “What we do here has implications in Turkey, in Syria and on the oil markets. Our relationship should reflect that.”

Qubad Talabani's words matter.  Not just due to his position, but especially due to his family.  Those are stronger words than his father's ever managed.  He is the second son of Iraq's First Lady Hero Ibrahim Ahmed  and Iraq's President Jalal Talabani.  In recent weeks, Hero has spent her time in dialogue with the Iranian government (primarily reassuring them that a government would be formed in the KRG following last fall's elections).  Jalal?  December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

Qubad is correct, there are regional implications and the US government needs to see the KRG through its own lens, not as it seen by Baghdad.

As the business continues to pour into the KRG, it must be very humiliating for Nouri.  The security levels in the KRG, contrasted with the non-stop violence in the rest of Iraq, must leave Nouri feeling small and impotent.  And that must mix with his own greed leading him to rage against the KRG and attempt to destroy its efforts to transport oil to Turkey via a pipeline.  Nouri's government repeatedly insisted last week that Turkey had agreed not to provide Turkey with oil via a KRG and Turkey pipeline but would instead provide crude oil only via Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation.  Business Day Online notes that KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee disagrees and states, "Absolutely we have not reached any agreement to export oil via SOMO. The dialogue and discussions are still underway."
Nidal al-Leithi (Al-Monitor) reports:

Former Iraqi Oil Minister Issam al-Chalabi revealed that a latent crisis is brewing between Iraq’s Oil Ministry and the largest oil companies in Iraq.
In a statement to Azzaman, Chalabi, who is now serving as an international adviser for energy affairs, held the Ministry of Oil responsible for this crisis, saying that it will affect oil production in the long run.
Chalabi criticized the role Turkey played in the oil crisis between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). He told Azzaman that Turkey would have to terminate its contract with the KRG and go back to its previous policy, which is contracting with the federal government in terms of oil investments and pipeline extensions.

I'm not really sure why his opinion is worth quoting.  He was an Oil Minister.  Decades ago.  March 1987 to October 1990.  (He then fled Iraq.)  And he's been making this argument for years.  Not really sure why anyone cares.  There is no oil law.  Nouri  swore to the US government in 2007 that he'd get the oil and gas law passed, he never did. Chalabi insists this means Saddam's oil law is in place.

That's really not how it works.  And the KRG has more rights -- and has since 2003 -- than it did under Sadam Hussein's presidency.  Kirkuk Now notes, "On Sunday, Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the KRG, held talks in Baghdad with the Kurdish ministers and the members of the Iraqi Parliament concerning the continuing disagreements between the two governments."  On that Sunday meeting, the Kurdistan Regional Government notes:

Several viewpoints were exchanged regarding recent developments throughout the course of the meeting. A four-point declaration was unanimously adopted outlining the Kurdistan Region’s position:

  1.    Iraqi Kurdistan is part of Iraq according to the Constitution and is therefore entitled to all rights and authorities granted to it as stipulated by the Constitution. This includes its share of the budget derived from the national income. The central government cannot cut salaries under any pretext to use as leverage against the KRG.
  2. Although the KRG has other options at its disposal to provide salaries and meet other needs of its people, negotiations should continue between the Iraqi Federal Government and the KRG based on the fulfillment of the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional rights.
  3. We call upon the Iraqi Prime Minister to rescind this illegal and unconstitutional policy. The Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget and salaries is a constitutional right and should be disbursed. Pending issues with the KRG should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.
  4. We call upon respected religious authorities, the United Nations, governments of countries with relations with Iraq, member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and member states of the Arab League to take responsibility by using their influence to end the policy of economic sanctions levied against the people and the government of the Kurdistan Region. This policy is unjustified in its entirety, blatantly violates constitutional law, and stands against international accords and the basic principles of human rights.  

NINA reports that the Patriotic Unionf of Kurdistan's Deputy Chair, Barham Salih, met with representatives from Turkey to discuss developments:

The Web site of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that Saleh received the new Turkish Ambassador Farouk Qamakja , and the Turkish Consul in the Kurdistan region Mohammed Akef, and discussed with them the latest developments of the situation in Iraq and the region , in addition to the problems between the province and the federal government .

Over the weekend,  Press TV reported:

Baghdad is withholding wages for hundreds of thousands of Kurdish employees in an attempt to apparently punish the semi-autonomous Kurdish region over its controversial oil exports.
“There is this mindset and now a continuation of this mindset whereby the central government does not believe in the existence of Kurdistan region. If we look back their opposition was contained to the parliament and the government but now we see that their opposition is directly towards the income of the people, which is the wages,” said Kurdish MP Umed Khoshnaw from the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Last week, Iraq's Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister Roj Nuri Shawais called on Kurdish ministers in the Iraqi cabinet to resign if Baghdad refused to solve the problem.

Aswat al-Iraq notes the KRG is calling for the international community and religious clerics within Iraq to call on "Baghdad to end the economic blockade and negligence policies against the Kurdish people and government."  NINA adds that MP Ashwaq Aljaf of the Kurdistan Alliance joined that call today:

She said in a statement today : "The logic of humanitarian , legal, constitutional and religious criteria do not give the right to Baghdad to fight the sons of the region using of employees' salaries as a lever to force the region to succumb to the policies of Baghdad , adding that the region is seeking by Constitutional and Legal means to resolve the outstanding problems with Baghdad , but did not think one day that central government of Baghdad use the employees' salaries as leverage to impose the will of political conflicts as doing Baghdad government.

At Rudaw, Yerevan Saeed weighs in with his opinion:

When it comes to oil, for me it’s a matter of survival or death. It’s about whether KRG has to give the sharpest ever sword to Baghdad to slaughter us or keep it and leverage it to ensure its political and economic survival.
Indeed, it’s just unthinkable that the KRG should grant Baghdad authority over its oil to fund the central government’s multi-billion dollar arm deals. These could potentially be used against Kurdistan once more, even as Baghdad refuses to compensate thousands of Kurdish victims due from the genocidal campaigns in Kurdistan.
How can the KRG trust Baghdad? What guarantee that, if KRG gives up its right to export oil, Iraq will not come up with more excuses? Oil is the biggest card KRG currently holds. If it loses, the next thing to expect could be the dispatching of the Iraqi army to Kurdistan under different pretexts.

The US government has verbally insisted they are staying out of the matter but if they were staying out of the matter, they'd stop backing Nouri and quit pressuring the Kurds to agree to what Nouri wants.

Cleric and movement Moqtada al-Sadr announced his political retirement February 15th.  February 18th, he delivered a speech --  CounterPunch posted the speech in full  -- emphasizing his decision.  NINA notes the rumors that Moqtada left Iraq today, "The sources noted in a press statement that Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr left today's afternoon the city of Najaf heading to the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to complete his religious studies and stay away from the political scene as he officially announced for all Iraqis."

MondayAhmed Rasheed (Reuters) reported, "Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters - a move that would break a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran."  The Tower points out, "The Obama administration, which has been criticized for allowing Iraq to slip into Iran’s orbit even as the U.S. continued supplying Baghdad with Hellfire missiles and small arms, assured journalists that American officials were pressing for answers at the highest levels." Reuters adds, "Some in Washington worry about providing sensitive U.S. military equipment to a country they worry is becoming too close to Iran."

There are humanitarian issues and concerns to the US government arming Nouri.  Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers has a column at Huffington Post detailing the many abuses of Nouri al-Maliki's government and concluding:

The government failed to protect its citizens, instead further entrenching abuses and giving further momentum to Iraq's cruel cycle of instability. The United States government should be taking every possible step to ensure that its weapons are not going to be used for further abuses.
In contrast, the administration's concern about the possibility of Iran's arms sale to Iraq seems disappointingly misplaced in light of the overwhelming evidence of abusive and illegal techniques by SWAT, the federal police, and the army -- strong evidence that the weapons being supplied would be used for further abuse. With Congress too having missed the boat on its responsibility to make decisions in line with the US's human rights obligations, the inevitable result is that the US becomes complicit in the rapidly devolving situation in Iraq. 

At least someone remembers the Iraqi people when having this discussion. Monday,  The Hill published a column by retired General Ron Griffith and retired Lt Gen Jay Garner who argue:

The latest rise in violence and increasing crackdowns on al-Maliki’s political opponents should raise concerns about the Iraqi government’s use of U.S.-provided weapons, and the conditions under which the United States should allow more weapons to Iraq.   
Iraq’s recent budget, which passed with no Kurds represented, combined with al-Maliki’s threat to cancel the KRG budget predicts the length to which he may go to inflict his political will. This has heightened Kurdish and Sunni concerns about al-Maliki's ability to buy advanced weapons to punish political disagreement with Baghdad.  
The January 15, 2014 U.S. Presidential Policy Directive unequivocally mandates that U.S. arms transfers not violate human rights or any international humanitarian law.  Thus, it is imperative that if the United States is to continue providing arms to Iraq, then, at a minimum, conditions and monitoring mechanisms should be imposed to prevent either deliberate or unwitting misuse of those weapons (for example, against Iraqis who oppose the government).   

Harvey Morris (Rudaw) notes the column and offers:

The territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government has been spared the turmoil that has engulfed other regions of Iraq. But General Griffith and General Garner said the KRG was being short-changed by Baghdad when it came to assisting its own measures to combat al-Qaeda infiltration.
They cited Mr. Maliki’s threat to cancel the KRG budget as indicative of the lengths he might go to impose his political will.
“The Kurdistan region also faces an al-Qaeda threat on its western border with Syria - the same threat facing the rest of Iraq,” they wrote.  “But, as the U.S. provides Baghdad with weapons to combat al-Qaeda, the Iraqi government refuses arms for the Kurdish Peshmarga to protect against the very same threat.”That amounted to Mr. Mailiki putting political considerations above national security requirements. “U.S. policy in this violence-plagued region should be that of an honest broker rather than an arms broker to an unstable government,” the retired generals concluded.Critics of the Obama administration’s policy towards the Maliki government include not only retired military men but also politicians concerned about Baghdad’s close ties with Iran.

Aref Youssef (Turkish Press) notes a statement from the Ministry of Defense insisting there is no deal and "MP Hassan al-Saneed, who is also head of the Iraqi parliament's security and defense committee, said Tuesday that Iraq had signed a deal to import light weapons from Iran."


In December of 2011, Michael Kamber (New York Times) described Hassan al-Saneed as "a close ally of the prime minister's" and, in July 2010, Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) described him as "a senior advisor to al-Maliki."

Danielle Wiener-Bronner (The Wire) hypothesizes about the alleged weapons deal, "Still, the Iranian arms contribution would be negligible compared to America's, suggesting that the deal is a political move for Maliki -- who would need Iranian support to win a third term in office."

Through Tuesday, Iraq Body Count counts 822 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

At least 35 are dead and forty-five injured in today's violence.

National Iraqi News Agency reports an east Kirkuk bombing left one police member injured, an armed battle in Albu Fashgah Village left 3 rebels dead, an al-Habbaniyah roadside bombing left 3 Iraqi soldiers dead, a Mosul grenade attack left four Department of Health employees injured, a second Mosul grenade attack (this one near the Kurdistan Democratic Party's headquarters) left six people injuredNouri's forces say they killed 8 militants in Ramadi, Nouri's forces say they killed 3 members of Da'ash, a Hermat car bombing left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and five more injured, a Bani Saad car bombing left three people injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left two "protection team" members injured (the bomb apparently targeted an "office manager of fight against crime"), a Kanaan sticky bombing left 2 people dead and three more injured,  a Ramadi roadside bombing left 3 Iraqi soldiers dead and two more injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing ("near the cotton gin") left 1 person dead, a western Baghdad sticky bombing (al-Ghazaliya district) left 1st Lieutenant Mohammed Abdul-Hussein dead, a western Baghdad roadside bombing left six people injured, 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad's Amil district, 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad's Shaab district, 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad's Zafaraniyah area, a southern Baghdad bombing (Abu Dshir) left two people injured, a Mosul suicide bomber took his own life and the lives of 2 other people while leaving six more injured, Nouri's military shelling of Falluja left five family members ("including two children") injured,
and late last night a bombing "between Amiriyat al-Fallujah and Jurf al-Sakar" left 1 military officer and 3 police members dead.

Nouri's assault on Anbar continues.  Aswat al-Iraq notes Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi again this week pointed out Anbar requires a political solution, not a military one.  Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) adds, "Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi echoed calls for a ceasefire in Fallujah earlier this week. Nujaifi, who heads the Sunni Arab Mutahidoun bloc, called for a suspension of military operations across Anbar during a press conference in Baghdad on Monday."

As Speaker al-Nujaifi pointed out, there is no military solution.  Not only is Nouri not going to find a solution via assaulting Anbar, he's inept even at the attack on Anbar.  Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reports on strategic problems with Nouri's assault on Anbar Province:

“There were no maps, there were no details,” he [Lt. Col. Ihab Hashem] said in an interview last month while on leave, recovering from an injury. The convoy lost eight Humvees after coming under fire and hitting a roadside bomb, he said, and at least one soldier was killed.
“We reached the bridge but it was a disaster,” he said, describing the purpose of the mission as “just to be there.”