Friday, October 26, 2012

Our modern day Nostradamus

I've never had a great deal of respect for Nate Silver, a 'writer' that I have avoided as much as possible. 

I really have never enjoyed statisticians who fancy themselves oracles.  So I am really hoping that his results -- and I do not know who he's calling other than in the presidential election -- predictions are off this cycle so we don't have to hear more about him.

Every time journalists reference Nate Silver, that's another excuse for them to avoid actually reporting on the election and real issues.

Nate Silver's a joke and part of the dumbed down culture in America.  He serves no purpose and there are bookies in Las Vegas who do what he does and do it better without ever proclaiming themselves media stars or geniuses.

Equally dangerous is the way that Silver's 'work' impacts perceptions. 

Again, he is not a friend to democracy, he is a foe.

His work does not inform you as to stands or positions. 

40 years ago, his crap wouldn't have passed even for good gossip.

For those who can't handle real democracy, Nate Silver is a quick fix.  He gives you the impression that you are participating.  He lets you yell and cheer from the nosebleed section and kid yourself that somehow you're engaging in civic participation.

It is one more case of our lives being reduced to a sporting event, or serious topics being reduced to 'who's up and who's down.'

We need to demand more for ourselves and expect more from our media.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, October 26, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's supporters call for a majority government, Nouri targets the press, Senator John McCain calls out Colin Powell while some in the 'press' pile on McCain, and more.
Trash of the day?  New York 'magazine.'  If you've ever flipped through the magazine (fewer and fewer bother to), you know it's little more than ads with the text equivalent of light blogging.  They don't do journalism and, more and more, that's because they're not able to -- their writers lack the skills.  And intelligence.  As Dan Amira demonstrates today.
When you don't like the message, what do you do?  Attack the messenger.
Yesterday, War Criminal Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama.  Senator John McCain -- a War Hawk -- called out Powell's endorsement today.  A magazine could explore that at length in a way that a newspaper can't but New York isn't a real magazine and Dan Amira isn't a real journalist.  So instead we get "Increasing Crotchetiness" from Amira.
And what that reminds me of is the November 15, 2011 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Gernal Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) appeared and the senators -- of both parties -- established that negotiations were on-going for a treaty to allow US troops to remain in Iraq, that regardless of whether that was successful or not, all troops would not leave Iraq (Panetta noted the number would not go to zero), that US troops were being moved from Iraq to Kuwait where they would remain, the numbers the generals wanted to stay in Iraq, and many other important issues (including the Committee's opinion that the residents of Camp Ashraf must be removed from the US terrorist list -- an opinion held by every member of the Committee, Democrat or Republican).  These were serious isse and we covered them in this community,  see  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot."  Ava reported on it with "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava), Wally reported on it with "The costs (Wally)" and Kat reported on it with "Who wanted what?". 
We did.  But others: Reuters, AP, the LA Times, on and on, turned it into "McCain snaps at Panetta."  I'm not a John McCain fan.  (I do know Cindy McCain, I like her, she works very hard on a number of children's issues.)  We've called him out repeatedly here.  When he's made an idiotic and/or offensive remark in a hearing we attended, you'll find him called out hear (especially true when he made homophobic remarks).  But his personality isn't the story.  It wasn't the story of the Senate hearing (which also found Panetta and McCain laughing later in the hearing -- Leon considers him a friend which apparently the idiotic, face-pressed-against-the-glass press doesn't know but I know Leon and have for years and he wasn't upset by McCain and has long consider John McCain to be his friend).  But by making it the story of the Senate hearing (and all outlets -- print and television -- made that the sole story except Elisabeth Bumiller and the New York Times), they got to play catty and bitchy and Americans weren't informed.
Do you think just once, all you bitchy little spinners, you could bother to inform the American people of the issues first? 
Equally true, 'righteous' Colin Powell and 'maverick' John McCain were media creations.  Neither man was what the media made them out to be.  McCain was long ago tossed to the press wolves but Collie gets to repeatedly try a make over.  He's a War Criminal who belongs behind bars and shame on any thinking person who rushes to rescue Powell.  Powell's a cheap tacky liar, human trash that cultivated the press early on in his career.  And the press responded by shaping an image that's never been true.
He's a liar who lied before the United Nations.  With the whole world watching, Colin Powell lied. And it reveals how hollow and trashy the American press is that this man thinks he can make a political endorsement of anyone today.
Find a cell for the like of Mark Kleiman (so-called Reality Based Community) as well who sees the whole thing as a 'scrimmage' and rushes to defend his lover Barack.  You stupid idiot, Iraqis are dead, babies are born with defects.  This is not a game, it was never a game.  Your political whoring is not surprising, your inability to grasp that this is not a sports event or a video game is appalling.  That you can write such a thing and post it goes to just how sad and depraved you are.
These people are beyond evil.  There's no excuse for them at this late hour in the day.  When I saw this blind devotion to Bully Boy Bush, this lack of even compassion for the Iraqi people, I could tell myself, 'They don't know any better.  They've been sold a bunch of lies.  As events unfold, they will be better informed and stop making excuses.'  That's the right-wingers.  How do you excuse those on my side who knew the illegal war was wrong and called it out under Bully Boy Bush but now rush to embrace Case-Closed Colin Powell and miminize his crimes just because he endorsed their political hero?  You can't excuse it, you can't excuse whoring, not when people's lives are at stake.
Gather is a website, it doesn't claim to be a magazine.  Brian Gabriel shows more awareness of the basics invovled than the overpaid, supposed journalist Dan Amira.  Gabriel's first paragraph:
Colin Powell, the Secretary of State under Bush, has endorsed Barack Obama for President just like he did in 2008. Says former Republican presidential nominee John McCain: "Colin Powell, interestingly enough, said that Obama got us out of Iraq. But it was Colin Powell, with his testimony before the U.N. Security Council, that got us into Iraq." McCain makes a good point: it was Powell's famous speech to the U.N. Security Council in 2003 that got many people on board with the invasion. But wasn't McCain one of the biggest supporters of the war in Iraq even before it started? The candidate Obama ran a much more peace-oriented campaign than did McCain --the candidate who spoke like the biggest war-hawk of the 2008 political season.

Iran's Press TV also manages to address issues and not resort to 'look at the cranky old guy' nonsense.  Colin Powell lied and help sell the war.  That's reality.  He did a tiny pivot as the press turned on the illegal war.  The summer of 2005, Cindy Sheehan's actions (Camp Casey at Crawford) forced questions to be asked.  Colin could see the writing on the wall and did a tiny pivot.  Which is who in September 2005, he goes on air with Barbara Walters pretending that he was misled.  There were lies spoken, but he didn't know they were lies!  And it was a "blot," he declared, on his image.  As Ava and I noted, he was still for the war, he wasn't calling out the war and he was lying about not knowing -- State Dept staff had repeatedly told him that the claims were lies.  He knew they were lies before he said them. Colin Powell is a cheap liar and his lies resulted in the deaths of nearly two million Iraqis.
A few months after that interview with Barbara Walters, Collie's Girl Friday Lawrence Wilkerson started making the media rounds, acting a surrogate for a truth-barren Powell, creating fancy lies for the AP and MSNBC and so many more but, as Norman Solomon (Cold Type) pointed out in November 2005, it wasn't believable:
Rest assured that if the war had gone well by Washington's lights, we'd be hearing none of this from Powell's surrogate. The war has gone bad, from elite vantage points, not because of the official lies and the unrelenting carnage but because military victory has eluded the U.S. government in Iraq. And with President Bush's poll numbers tanking, and Dick Cheney's even worse, it's time for some "moderate" sharks to carefully circle for some score-settling and preening.
In his speech to the American Legion -- a group that is interested in the Iraq War (even if New York 'magazine' isn't) -- McCain noted that Colin Powell is going ga-ga in public about how Barack ended the Iraq War (someone forgot to tell Iraq -- and Al Mada notes today Moqtada al-Sadr is calling out the continued US efforts to occupy Iraq).  That's not surprising.
McCain is right, this is duplicity. 
And it's so sad to see supposed lefties rush in to defend Colin Powell.  Before Bully Boy Bush physically occupied the Oval Office, Robert Parry and Norman Solomon were writing a series about the reality of Colin Powell (start with "Behind Colin Powell's Legend").  And Powell's lies did not start in 2003.  September 5, 2002, Norman Solomon (FAIR) was warning about the reality of Colin:
Media coverage is portraying Powell as a steady impediment to a huge assault on Iraq. But closer scrutiny would lead us to different conclusions.
Instead of undermining prospects for a military conflagration, Powell's outsized prestige is a very useful asset for the war planners. The retired general "is seen by many of Washington's friends and allies abroad as essential to the credibility of Bush's foreign policy," the French news agency AFP noted as September began.
Avid participation in deplorable actions has been integral to Powell's career. A few examples:
Serving as a top deputy to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Powell supervised the Army's transfer of 4,508 TOW missiles to the CIA in January 1986. Nearly half of those missiles became part of the Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages swap with Iran. Powell helped to hide that transaction from Congress and the public. As President Reagan's national security adviser, Powell became a key operator in U.S. efforts to overthrow the elected government of Nicaragua. When he traveled to Central America in January 1988, Powell threatened a cutoff of U.S. aid to any country in the region that refused to go along with continued warfare by the contra guerrillas, who were in the midst of killing thousands of Nicaraguan civilians. Powell worked to prevent the success of a peace process initiated by Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias. When U.S. troops invaded Panama on Dec. 20, 1989, Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had "emerged as the crucial figure in the decision to invade," according to British newspaper reporter Martin Walker. Hundreds of civilians died in the first hours of the invasion. Powell declared on that day: "We have to put a shingle outside our door saying, 'Superpower lives here.'" In late 2000, while Bush operatives went all-out during the Florida recount to grab the electoral votes of a state where many thousands of legally qualified African Americans had been prevented from voting due to Republican efforts, Powell went to George W. Bush's ranch in Texas to pose for a photo-op and show support for his presidential quest.
Colin Powell was for the illegal war.  Ann Wright was at the State Department.  The former military colonel resigned the day before the start of the illegal war and did so publicly.  From her resignation letter:
I wrote this letter five weeks ago and held it hoping that the Administration would not go to war against Iraq at this time without United Nations Security Council agreement. I strongly believe that going to war now will make the world more dangerous, not safer.
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a despicable dictator and has done incredible damage to the Iraqi people and others of the region. I totally support the international community's demand that Saddam's regime destroy weapons of mass destruction.
However, I believe we should not use US military force without UNSC agreement to ensure compliance. In our press for military action now, we have created deep chasms in the international community and in important international organizations. Our policies have alienated many of our allies and created ill will in much of the world.
Countries of the world supported America's action in Afghanistan as a response to the September 11 Al Qaida attacks on America. Since then, America has lost the incredible sympathy of most of the world because of our policy toward Iraq. Much of the world considers our statements about Iraq as arrogant, untruthful and masking a hidden agenda. Leaders of moderate Moslem/Arab countries warn us about predicable outrage and anger of the youth of their countries if America enters an Arab country with the purpose of attacking Moslems/Arabs, not defending them. Attacking the Saddam regime in Iraq now is very different than expelling the same regime from Kuwait, as we did ten years ago.
I strongly believe the probable response of many Arabs of the region and Moslems of the world if the US enters Iraq without UNSC agreement will result in actions extraordinarily dangerous to America and Americans. Military action now without UNSC agreement is much more dangerous for America and the world than allowing the UN weapons inspections to proceed and subsequently taking UNSC authorized action if warranted.
I firmly believe the probability of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction is low, as he knows that using those weapons will trigger an immediate, strong and justified international response. There will be no question of action against Saddam in that case. I strongly disagree with the use of a "preemptive attack" against Iraq and believe that this preemptive attack policy will be used against us and provide justification for individuals and groups to "preemptively attack" America and American citizens.
The international military build-up is providing pressure on the regime that is resulting in a slow, but steady disclosure of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). We should give the weapons inspectors time to do their job. We should not give extremist Moslems/ Arabs a further cause to hate America, or give moderate Moslems a reason to join the extremists. Additionally, we must reevaluate keeping our military forces in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Their presence on the Islamic "holy soil" of Saudi Arabia will be an anti-American rally cry for Moslems as long as the US military remains and a strong reason, in their opinion, for actions against the US government and American citizens.
Ann Wright was able to do the right thing but Colin Powell's entire life has been about doing the wrong thing, about lying to advance his own personal interests and doing so at the expense of many innocent civilians.  That has been Colin Powell's chosen path for decades and to pretend that he is qualified for anything other than an arraignment hearing for War Crimes, is to be less than honest.  The whoring has to stop.  Even prostitutes -- real ones, not press whores -- will draw the line and say there are some tricks they will not turn.  Sadly our sex workers have stronger ethics than those who compose what passes for a modern day press. 
And Colin Powell sure is a happy little talker.  When he has a book to promote, he runs ot the media, when he's being paid six figures, he rushes off to the convention.  But Powell does nothing that doesn't enrich his own pockets. 
Where's the 'good' general's concern for those who served?  What has he ever done, for example, to assist those whose health was destroyed by exposure to various chemicals due to military burn pits?  Erin Jordan (Cedar Rapids Gazette) reports on Joshua Casteel's recent death and how his family believes that burn pit exposure while serving in Iraq is what caused the cancer.  Joshua Casteel is only the most recent tragedy.  August 10th came news that Iraq War veteran Russell Keith had died.  November 6, 2009, at the Democratic Policy Committee hearing Russell Keith testified,  "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units."  May 17th, it was Iraq War veteran Dominick J. Ligouri.  If Colin Powell gave a damn about anyone other than himself -- even only in recent years -- he would be doing something to speak out and raise awareness on an issue that mattered.  But as he churns out one co (ghost) - written book after another, it's all about enriching his own pockets.
Even now, in the face of what his lies have caused, he can only think about enriching his own pockets.  Last night, Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi (Guardian) observed:
Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives no attention in the United States.
Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, Fallujans have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city. Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".
In the years since the 2004 sieges, Fallujah was the most heavily guarded city in all of Iraq. All movement in and out of Fallujah was monitored by the occupying forces. The security situation made it nearly impossible to get word out about Fallujans' nascent health crisis. One of the first attempts to report on the crisis was at the seventh session of the UN Human Rights Council in the form of the report, Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The Effects of Pollution on the Public Health in Fallujah by Dr Muhamad Al-Darraji. This report was largely ignored. It wasn't until the first major study on the health crisis was published in 2010 that the issue received mainstream media attention in the UK and Europe.
To this day, though, there has yet to be an article published in a major US newspaper, or a moment on a mainstream American TV news network, devoted to the health crisis in Fallujah. The US government has made no statements on the issue, and the American public remains largely uninformed about the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused.
All the dead, all the wounded, all the blood on the hands of liars like Colin Powell but because he rushed to endorse Barack Obama, some media whores want to pretend like he's someone to listen to and not someone to be tossed behind bars?
As Collie The Blot Powell tries to saunter away from the illegal war he caused, people continue dying in Iraq.  AP notes an attack on a Buhriz checkpoint has left 2 police officers dead and they reported "Shortly after sunset, a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque in Mahaweel, killing two Shiite worshippers as they were leaving the mosque compound, police officials said. Six worshippers were wounded in the attack."  In addition, Alsumaria reports a Babil Province car bombing claimed the life of 1 person with three more injured, a Khalis car bombing left six people injured and the government announced 36 corpses (killed from 'terrorism') were discovered in a mass grave to the south of Baghdad.
During the Eid holiday, Wasit Province is banning motorcycles, Alsumaria notes.  The ban follows Thursday's bombing in Mosul that used a motorcycle and a Wednesday bombing in Kirkuk said to have also used a motorcycle.  By contrast, All Iraq News reports, Sulaymaniyah is seeing a crackdown on beggars with 40 arrested in the last two days.  In addition, they are also using helicopters in Sulaymaniyah to monitor traffic.  In Basra, Al Mada reports, the focus is on preventing Iraq's latest cholera outbreak from spreading in the province.
Al Mada reports that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy to Iraq is calling for Iraq to resolve their political differences. Martin Kobler is quoted stating that he repeats his call for the parties to redouble their efforts to resolve the political crisis. Thursday, July 19th, the United Nations Security Council held a hearing on Iraq and Kobeler noted his concerns "that the ongoing political stalemate" was harming Iraq.

All Iraq News reports that National Alliance MP Wael Abdul Latif is calling for the political crisis to be resolved by  a majority government.  Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the head of the National Alliance. 
Al Rafidayn reports that al-Jaafari met with US Ambassador Robert Beecroft yesterday and that the two addressed the political stalemate but al-Jaafari spoke of continued dialogue, not a majority goverment.  But that was when speaking to the US government's representative.  As Kitabat notes, al-Jaafari favors a majority government and says it is the Constitutional right of Nouri to form one.  Alsumaria notes that KRG President Massoud Barzani is calling for dialogue (not a majority government) and the return to the Erbil Agreement.

The Erbil Agreement ended the eight month political stalemate that followed the March 2010 parliamentary elections.  Even before then, Nouri al-Maliki has long wanted a majority government.  US General Ray Odierno saw that desire and warned the US government about it but US Ambassador Chris The Nit Wit Hill said Odierno was wrong.  Hill then got the White House to refuse to allow Odierno to speak to the media.  Because they are so incompetent, the White House not only nominated the idiot Hill to be ambassador but they failed to grasp that Hill had no clue what was going on in Iraq.  It would be months before they realized what was going on.  During those months, they ignored Odierno and shut him out of the process.  Had Odierno been listened to, the  will of the Iraqis and the Iraqi Constitution might have been followed.

Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki is calling for the spirit of Eid al-Adha to lead the political blocs to create a better atmosphere for a national conference.  Nouri's long opposed such a conference.  When he supports it, he's usually working to destroy it.  History would indicate that's what's happening behind the scenes right now.  He also wants people to "discard their differences."  Like their differences over the Erbil Agreement?

When Nouri failed to win a second term as prime minister as a result of State of Law coming in second in the March 2010 elections, the White House negotiated a contract -- the Erbil Agreement -- during the 8 months that Nouri dug in his heels and refused to allow a new prime minister to be named.  The contract gave Nouri a second term in exchange for Nouri agreeing to implement Article 140, agreeing to create an independent national security commission and more.

Nouri signed the contract, agreed to it, gladly took his second term as prime minister and then trashed the agreement, refused to honor the contract.

That's what caused the current stalemate.
Nouri's power-grab knows no bounds and, to be successful, it will depend upon silencing the Iraqi press.  That need may in fact explain the murder this week of an Iraqi journalist.  Dropping back to Wednesday's snapshot:
In addition, Kitabat reports that journalist Zia Mehdi was stabbed to death in Baghdad while she was doing an investigation into the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community.
Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes the investigative journalist was in Baghdad's Tahrir Square at ten a.m. Monday morning conducting meetings and interviews and she was also working on a story about prostitution and brothels in Iraq.  She went to a police station to interview some of the 180 women arrested but a police officer prevented her from entering and he denied that there were any prostitutes among the arrested.  He left and then moments later re-appeared telling her she could enter but without her colleagues.  Zia Mehdi didn't feel comfortable with that offer and instead returned to Tahrir Square to continue her LGBT interviews.  Later she was discovered dead, stabbed to death, still in her jacket that noted she was a journalist.
Today Al Mada reports that the military protection for the Union of Writers headquareters in  Baghdad's Andalus Square that has been in place since 2004 has just been withdrawn with no reasons given and that the writers are stating this leaves them an easy target for terrorist attacks.  Over the summer, a bombing in Andalus Square left at least 12 dead.  When not removing physical security, Nouri's government is attempting to remove rights.  Kitabat notes Iraqi journalists are protesting Nouri's efforts to restrict the media and stating that this is the first stage of authoritarian rule in Iraq.
International labor journalist, David Bacon, author most recently of the book  Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award, is known for text and for photographs.  He has two photo exhibits currently.  In Mexico City, he has the following exhibit (first the Spanish announcement, then in English):
Facultad de Economia
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
El Area de Conocimiento de Economia Internacional de Posgrado
Academia de Economia Politica y el proyecto PAPIIT IN304312

Invitan a la Muestra Fotografica
"Migracion de Jovenes Mexicanos en Estados Unidos"
de David Bacon
"Que tiene como objectivo visibilizar a traves de imagenes, las condiciones de vida que tiene los jovenes mexicanos que trabajan en los campos agricolas de California."

Desde 3 de octubre hasta 1 de noviembre
En la sala de la Facultad de Economia, UNAM
Mexico, DF
The Economics School
National Autonomous University of Mexico
The Postgraduate Study Area for the International Economy
The Academy of Political Economy and the Project PAPIIT IN304312

Invite you to the Photographic Exhibition
"The Migration of Mexican Youth to the United States"
By David Bacon
"Making visible through images the living conditions of young Mexicans who work in the fields of California."

From October 3 to November 1
In the entrance hall of the Economics Faculty, UNAM
Mexico City, DF
And he has an exhibit taking place in Oaxaca as well:
El Instituto Oaxaqueño de Atención al Migrante (IOAM)

Les invita a la exposición de fotografias
"Sobreviviendo: la vida de los jornaleros agrícolas y sus familias en EU"
del fotoperiodista David Bacon

Palacio Municipal de la Ciudad de Oaxaca de Juarez
Plaza de Danza, Centro Historico
8 de octubre hasta 8 de noviembre

"La mayoría de las personas tiene la idea de que ir a EU es como ir a barrer los dólares y todo es fácil de conseguir, cuando realmente las personas tienen que vivir bajo los árboles, en casas hechas de cartón o a la intemperie para mandar el dinero a sus familias" -- el titular del IOAM, Rufino Domínguez Santos.

Esta exposición consta de un total de 18 fotografías a gran formato y a color, es itinerante y por ello recorre los municipios identificados en tener el mayor índice de expulsión de migrantes hacia Estados Unidos, con el fin de sensibilizar y hacer conciencia en la población sobre las condiciones de vida de los migrantes.
The Oaxaca Institute for Attention to Migrants

Invites you to the photographic exhibition
"Surviving: the life of farmworkers and their families in the U.S."
By photojournalist David Bacon

City Hall of Oaxaca de Juarez
Plaza de Danza, Centro Historico
October 8 to November 8

"The majority of people have the idea that by going to the U.S. you rake in the dollars and everything is easy to get, when in reality people have to live under trees, in houses of cardboard, or outdoors, in order to send money to their families" -- Rufino Dominguez Santos, director of IOAM

This exhibition contains 18 large color photographs, and is a traveling show, going especially to those towns identified as ones sending the majority of people to the United States. Its purpose is to make people aware of the living conditions of migrants.
Entrevista de David Bacon con activistas de #yosoy132 en UNAM
Interview of David Bacon by activists of #yosoy132 at UNAM (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Afifa Iskandar

Monday came news that Afifa Iskandar passed away.

One of our Iraqi community members e-mailed and Sunny printed it up for me.

She wrote to express her gratitude that C.I. took the death seriously.  She noted that outside of the Iraqi press, people didn't even note the death.

C.I. basically had two paragraphs about Afifa Iskandar, legendary Iraqi singer, Monday morning and a music video and a photo.  By Monday evening, she had a full scale obituary.    I'm pulling the photo and Monday evening words.

Afifa Iskandar

Afifa Iskandar passed away Sunday. The singer  was not just an Iraqi institution, she was acclaimed throughout the region.  She was also an actress, knew pretty much everyone, reportedly was the mistress of one prime minister, retired to avoid another prime minister, a very interesting life.   All Iraq News reports she was 91-years-old, born in 1912 to an Iraqi father and a Greek Christian mother. The paper explains she began singing at the age of five and gave her first concert when she she was 8-years-old (gave the concert in Erbil).
Alsumaria notes that she married at the age of 12 and that she began singing in Baghdad clubs in 1935. She'd go on to sing at all the leading clubs including Cabaret Abdullah and the Paradise. In 1938, she'd travel to Egypt where she wowed Cario. The History News Network shares a story of a social get together where Afifa Iskander performed:

To compare any singer to Um Kulthoum was the biggest compliment a singer could receive, especially in the fifties (this is before Arab rock had been invented). Afifa Iskander deserved it, not because of her overpowering voice nor her magnetic presence (factors which had made Um Kulthoum a star) but because of the warmth of her personality and the astonishing way she sang Iraqi ballads and made them her own. She was Iraq's Um Kulthoum because she sang Iraqi songs that spoke to Iraqis everywhere in the same way that Um Kulthoum, despite her great Arab following, sang primarily to Egyptians; and she became a national icon precisely because she was able to sing songs that did not imitate the style of Egyptian or Lebanese chanteuses, but were profoundly, natively Iraqi.
Al Rafidayn notes that she will be buried in a Baghdad cemetery near her mother. Her mother was a strong influence and played four instruments. Last month, Warvin reports, she was admitted to Baghdad Medical City Hospital, suffering from intestinal bleeding. Afifa was celebrated for her singing and her beauty.  Jabra Ibrahim Jabra shared a recollection in his posthumous Princesses' Street: Baghdad Memories:
Some of the writers were not happy at the Brazilian Cafe unless they sat on the front line chairs facing the street, which was always noisy and busy with its ever-changing scenes, people, colors, carriages, cars, and lottery ticket sellers shouting, "Five thousand dinars! Five thousand dinars!"  The din did not ceasue until about midnight, especially because next to the cafe was a famous nightclub, in which Afifa Iskandar sang.
Desmond Stewart introduced me to Afifa Iskandar at her request, for he used to give her private English lessons.  To my surprise, I found her to be young, bright, and thirsty for knowledge and culture.  Desmond and I used to boast that we were the only two men in Baghdad, on going to the nightclub, whom the "artiste" would offer a drink and pay for it, not the contrary. 
Another memory is shared in the book Outside In Marginality in the Modern Middle East (Eugene Rogan, editor):
[Amin] Al-Mumayyiz's wedding party in 1940 was a different affair.  By then he was a diplomat, and had moved house to al-Salihiya, a leafy suburb.  The musical entertainmnet started with the chalghi accompanied by singing of maqams and pastas by professionals and amateurs.  At midnight, the then renowned singer Afifa Iskandar arrived with her takht (band) headed by Salih al-Kuwaiti.  They came from the Otel al-Jawahiri (which belonged to the Kuwaiti brothers) after the end of their peformance there.  Afifa danced and sang and charmed all present with her smiles and jokes. 
Skies explains that last year, during Ramadan, the series Baghdad Beauty aired -- a series tracing "the life of Affifa Iskandar, one of the first Iraqi singers which started to gain her fame in the 50s of the last century. [. . .] She sang in the same cabaret in which her father, Iskancer, plays the violin. Known personalities attend to the cabaret to listen to her. Among them, Naseem, the British, who reprsent what the UK wants from Iraq, Bakir Sidqi, an Iraqi Army leader, and lately a Nazi German, who offers his country as a new ally to Iraq."
In 2010, Hadani Ditmars (CounterCurrents) remembered a trip he took to Iraq and seeking out a Catholic doctor who as very popular in Baghdad, "Young and old, rich and poor, Kurds and Arabs, even Afifa Iskander -- the former star of Baghdad's old cabaret scene and mistress of Abdul Karim Qassim (the Iraqi leader who flirted with Russian Communists and was overthrown in the 1963 CIA-backed Baathist coup) -- came in for a visit. She was in her eighties then and being treated for dysentery, in a neighourhood that, less than a decade earlier, had been middle class."
General Abdul Karim Qassim overthrew the (British installed) Iraqi monarchy in a 1958 coup and was Prime Minister of Iraq until 1963. For demanding that the British and American venture Iraq Petroleum Company share ownership and profits with the Iraqi government, Qassim was targeted for overthrow by the CIA during the Kennedy administration. When Saddam Hussein came to power, Afifa Iskandar declared her retirment in order to avoid performing for him. As one of Iraq's legendary and most popular singers, she'd performed before the previous prime ministers and the royal family.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia notes that, in the thirties, the "best-known" were "Muhammad Kubbanshi, Salima Murad, Afifa Iskandar, and Sabiha Ibrahim." She would perform in the film Layla in Iraq (1949) directed by Ahmed Kamal Morsy and an Iraqi film classic, the second film from the Stuiod of Baghdad. From 1930 to 1950, Susannah Tarbush (Saudi Gazette) notes, "Saleh Al-Kuwaity was the pre-eminent song writer in Iraq, writing songs for stars such as Zakiya George, Munira Al-Hawazwaz, Afifa Iskander and Zohour Hussein." In June 2008, Akhbaar notes, Afifa Iskandar was one of the artists honored during a cultural salute in Baghdad.
Among her influences was the Iraqi Jewish singer Salima Murad who was famous for the song "On The Banks of the Tigris." In the documentary about Iraqi music, On The Banks of the Tigris, Afifa Iskandar shared, "Salima Murad was my teacher. She was a real Iraqi!" And many feel that way about Afifa Iskandar. At Alsumaria's Facebook page, already 151 comments have been left at the story on Afifa's passing.
Earlier this year, Kurd Net noted a concert that was "reviving the Iraqi folklore song festival performed by a group of Iraqi artists in Sweden" and that among the famous and beloved Iraqi songs being performed were ones originally presented by Afifa Iskandar. Rotanata Radio notes that one of the songs she made famous was "It Burned My Soul."
It burned my soul when we parted
I cried and drowned them in my tears
What did my heart say when we parted
It burned my sould when we parted
As I bid farewell I say how can I forget them
My heart, for God's sake, go with them
I would rather die than us be apart
I want those who left me to come back the journey
I want to give them part of my soul as a keepsake
I've experienced every kind of affliction

She was a major figure in Iraq.  A friend who's a scholar on the region and has been visiting it since the 70s told me Afifa's closest equivalent would be Edith Piaf (noted French chanteuse).

They did a TV series on her last year, that's how important and well known she was.

I was so glad Monday morning when I saw the photo and saw C.I. noting the death.  We spoke that afternoon and she was worried because only the Iraqi press was covering it.  She was hoping there would be English language coverage and she'd be able to use that as well.

There never was. So she pulled together what she could and I think she did a great job.

Afifa really had an incredible life, didn't she?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, October 24, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, an Iraqi journalist is stabbed to death, Barack gets busted for lying about Iraq, Nouri gets accused of assassinating a political rival, Robert Gibbs justifies the killing of a 16-year-old American, new e-mails reveal the White House should have known what was going on during the Benghazi attack, and more.
Reporting for the Pentagon's American Forces Press Service, Jim Garamone notes Lt Gen Mark P. Hertling expressed doubt on Tuesday as to what Iraq might become -- democracy or something else, "They are still struggling and it pains me to watch it."  He also stated, "There was a lot of blood and sweat and tears and hard work put into that country by American soldiers."  Joel Gehrke (Washington Examiner) ties "the general's misgivings about the insurgency and Iraqi security forces" to comments made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the debate Monday as well as to those of Senator John McCain who has stated, "Iraq is going to hell in a hand-basket.  Al Qaida has doubled there presence there.  There are al Qaida training camps in Western Iraq. . . . I've got to hand it to the president to [be able] to say things [in the debate] that in my view defy reality."
Let's stay with the debate for a moment.  The increasingly dishonest Stephen M. Walt is aghast at Foreign Policy over the 'neocons' advising Mitt Romney.   Here's an example of the dishonesty:
To be fair, an awful lot of supposedly sensible Democrats supported the war too, including a lot of senior officials in the Obama administration. But they didn't dream up the war or work overtime to sell it from 1998 onward. They just went along with the idea because they thought it was politically expedient, they couldn't imagine how it might go south, or they were convinced that Saddam was a Very Bad Man and that it was our duty to "liberate" the Iraqi people from him. They were right about Saddam's character, of course, but occupying the entire country turned out to be a pretty stupid way of dealing with him.
You have to be a huge liar to say "to be fair" and then proceed not to be fair.  Barack's had necons throughout his administration.  We regularly call out Victoria Nuland who is better known as Mrs. Robert Kagan and who is even better known as Dick Cheney's National Security Adivsor (2003 to 2005).   In February 2011, whistle blower Sibel Edmonds (Boiling Frogs) noted some of the many neocons serving in Barack's administration: Marc Grossman, Dennis Ross and Frederick Kagan (that would be Victoria Nuland's brother-in-law).  In 2010,  Kristine Frazao (Russia Today -- link is video and text) thought Kagan's addition was so important, she did a report on just that, opening with, "They're ba-a-a-ck!  The US government may be done with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld but another neoconservative is returning to the government payroll.  That same year, Allen McDuffee (ThinkTanked) observed, "Because we overinflated the impact of neoconservatives during the Bush administration and paid little attention to them before that, we're missing the fact that neocons are having the same influence in the Obama administration they've always had, according to a report issued by the Brookings Institution." And if we drop back another year, we can land on Jacob Heilbrunn's Huffington Post report from May of 2009 which opened:
This morning leading neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan held a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel -- in support of President Obama's Afghanistan policy. Kristol and Kagan, as Foreign Policy's Laura Rozen has reported, have formed a successor organization to the Project for the New American Century, which came into disrepute for its advocacy of the Iraq War. The new one is called the Foreign Policy Initiative. Its contention is that America remains, in the words of Madeleine Albright, the "indispensable nation"and, furthermore, that neocons can play a valuable role in coming years in ensuring that it remains one.
So Walt's sudden concern about the neocons return to power is rather disingenuous.  Return to power?  When Barack brought them into his administration?  His insincerity and lack of scruples go a long way towards explaining why many of the people who applauded him just five years ago wouldn't cross the street to greet him today. 
On Monday night, we heard President Obama and Governor Romney each profess their love of militarism.
The president boasted, "We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined; China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it." Then his opponent called for increasing the military budget even more! It was the president who called the United States the "one indispensible nation," but both candidates showed their love of U.S. exceptionalism and exhibited paternalistic worldviews.
That is not the way I see our relationship with our sisters and brothers across the globe.
Mark Johnson is posting from Basra, he's back in Iraq.  Barack's taken a distortion (lie) he made in the debate and turned it into a new ad which Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) gives  three Pinocchios.  Among other things, the ad proclaims, "Mitt Romney would have left thirty thousand troops there [Iraq]."  Kessler reviews how the Status Of Force Agreement (negotiated under the Bush administration) was coming to an end and the Barack administration attempted to negotiate another agreement.  The deal faltered on the issue of immunity.  But even after it was seen as faltering, negotiations continued (and still continue -- but we will get to that).

This was established by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs) appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee November 15, 2011 (for reporting on that hearing,  see  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot."  Ava reported on it with "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava), Wally reported on it with "The costs (Wally)" and Kat reported on it with "Who wanted what?").  By November 15th, the press had been telling you for weeks that negotiations were over.  But that's not what Senator Joe Lieberman and Panetta were saying at the hearing.  Excerpt.

Senator Joe Lieberman:  Let me, Secretary Panetta, pick up from that point. I've heard from friends in Iraq -- Iraqis -- that Prime Minister Maliki said at one point that he needed to stop the negotiations -- leave aside for one moment the reasons -- but he was prepared to begin negotiations again between two sovereign nations -- the US and Iraq -- about some troops being in Iraq after January 1st.  So that's what I've heard from there. But I want to ask you from the administration point of view. I know that Prime Minister Maliki is coming here in a few weeks to Washington. Is the administration planning to pursue further discussions with the Iraqi government about deploying at least some US forces in Iraq after the end of this year?
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Senator, as I pointed out in my testimony, what we seek with Iraq is a normal relationship now and that does involve continuing negotiations with them as to what their needs are.  Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotations.  We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero troops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there.  But I think that once we've completed the implementation of the security agreement that there will begin a series of negotiations about what exactly are additional areas where we can be of assistance? What level of trainers do they need? What can we do with regards to CT [Counter-Terrorism] operations? What will we do on exercises -- joint-exercises -- that work together?

As Kessler points out, the administration attempted to negotiate a variation of a SOFA and failed.  Failed.  But the administration wants to spin.  Kessler:

In other words, Obama has spun a diplomatic failure -- an inability to reach a deal with Iraq -- into a "mission accomplished" talking point. In fact, Obama made a dubious claim in the debate that having any troops in Iraq "would not help us in the Middle East."
Since the departure of U.S. troops, the United States has lost leverage in Iraq. For instance, Iran uses Iraqi airspace and convoys on the ground to ferry arms and military equipment to the beleaguered regime in Syria -- a government that Obama says must fall.
And, of course,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:

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.
Back in December 2011, Nouri accused Vice President Tareq al-Hasehmi of being a terrorist.  While Tareq was in the KRG, Nouri ordered his arrest.  The KRG refused to hand him over.  After killing one of Tareq's bodyguards -- he was tortured by Nouri's forces who tried to pretend kidney failure had nothing to do with torture -- they then staged their kangaroo court and convicted Tareq who now resides in Turkey.    Josh Rogan (Foreign Policy) picks up the story there:

But Hashimi is still technically the vice president and he is fighting for what he calls a "fair trial." He argues that Maliki has hijacked the Iraqi political system and become beholden to Iranian interests, which include supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hashimi said he has evidence and reports from politicians, from officers in the Interior Ministry, and from Iraqi intelligence officials, all pointing to a growing and active ground transport route from Iran to Syria. The route crosses through the Zarbatia checkpoint on the Iran-Iraq border, west of the Iranian town of Mehran, flows through the city of Karbala, and crosses over to Syria via the al-Qaim border crossing, he said.
"The transit is not only aerial using Iraqi airspace, but the ground transit is becoming a phenomenon. Munitions, heavy arms, and even militias are passing checkpoints without any sort of obstruction," Hashimi said in a telephone interview. "I am very afraid the U.S. and the international community is only focused on the aerial transit and leaving behind the ground transit. Everything should be checked now."
Noting Hashemi's remarks, Paul Mulshine (New Jersey Star Ledger) observes, "Got that? Not only is the nation we liberated helping the Iranians to ferry arms to Syris, but its elected vice-president is under a death sentence and is living in exile.
Ain't democracy wonderful?"
Last Friday, Al Arabiya aired an interview with Vice President al-Hashemi:
Tareq al-Hashemi:   I am with the Syrian people against the unprecedented repression and killing.  I am with the Syrians and champion them in finding an opportunity to live in freedom.  What is happening in Syria will also inspire a generation of true change in Iraq.
Al Arabiya:  Hashemi scoffed at the statements made by the Iraqi government about searching Iranian planes crossing  into Syria via Iraq.
Tareq al-Hashemi:  We have proof on this matter and so does the US administration.  And in truth, this random inspection is considered fabrication. 
Al Arabiya:  He urged the international community to see Iraq's double standard regarding its policy towards Syria.  He said there is an Iraqi-Iranian agreement to down planes that medical and humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians and at the same time turn a blind eye to the planes that carry weapons and artillery to the Syrian regime.
Tareq al-Hashemi:  This is an issue that the international community must pay attention to.
Al Arabiya:  He accused Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki of persecuting Sunni Iraqis.
Tareq al-Hashemi:  The sectarian issue is another matter.  Today, when you go to prisons, you will find that over 90% of inmates are Sunnis.  This is something that cannot be ignored.  Today, the Arab Sunnis are targeted by Nouri al-Maliki's government exclusively.  Today, the torture that is carried out, the random apprehensions, turning our provinces into regions have occured for sectarian purposes.
That's far from the only serious accusation Nouri's currently facing.  He now stands accused of the assassination of a political figure.  From the September 27th snapshot:  "Alsumaria reports that the former governor of Basra, Mohammed Misbah Waili, was assassinated today (the firearm had a silencer)."  And from the October 2nd snapshot: "On fear, Alsumaria reports that in Basara accusations are being tossed around following the assassination last Thursday of former Governor (2005 to 2009) Mohammed Misbah Waili with some accusing a clan within the province and the clan accusing unnamed foreign powers."  Despite a so-called investigation, nothing has been turned up regarding the who or why of the assassination.  However, Kitabat reports that the family of the late governor is stating that Nouri and others in Dawa (Nouri's political party -- State of Law is his political slate) wanted him dead and they are accusing Nouri of ordering the assassination.  Family members state that when they arrived at the scene they found security officers in offficial Iraqi military uniforms, these officers surrounded the scene and prevented the family from going to the car where they could hear the governor, still alive, screaming.  They are arguing that had he been immediately moved to a hospital, he would be alive today.  The family says that the refusal to move the injured governor to a hospital resulted from orders from higher up.  They are going to file a lawsuit against Nouri and others (Abdullah Auaz al-Jubouri and Issam al-Asadi) in a Basra court.  A member of the family tells Kitabat that although they know Nouri acts as if he is above the Constitution and the judiciary, the family is stronger than Nouri and the Dawa Party because they have the truth on their side.
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 146 killed in violence so far this month.  Today? 
All Iraq News reports a Baghdad roadside bombing has injured three police officers and an armed Baghdad attack has left 2 Iraqi soldiers deadAP says the Baghdad roadside bombing followed the armed attack and note that 1 of the three injured police officers have died.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "Gunmen attacked a minibus [in Baghdad] with small arms fire and killed seven government employees who work for al-Nasra State Industry Company," and a Falluja suicide bomber attacked the home of the father of Rafei al-Essawi (Minister of Finance) leaving 1 woman dead and five more injured (and the suicide bomber dead), and an attack on a Mousl checkpoint left 1 person dead. Alsumaria reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing left one 1 student dead and 2 more injured and a Kirkuk bicycle bombing has left three police officers injuredAdam Schreck (AP) says it was a motorcycle bombing and notes 9-year-old Ahmed al-Obeidi was killed in the explosion.  In addition, Kitabat reports that journalist Zia Mehdi was stabbed to death in Baghdad while she was doing an investigation into the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community.
Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes the investigative journalist was in Baghdad's Tahrir Square at ten a.m. Monday morning conducting meetings and interviews and she was also working on a story about prostitution and brothels in Iraq.  She went to a police station to interview some of the 180 women arrested but a police officer prevented her from entering and he denied that there were any prostitutes among the arrested.  He left and then moments later re-appeared telling her she could enter but without her colleagues.  Zia Mehdi didn't feel comfortable with that offer and instead returned to Tahrir Square to continue her LGBT interviews.  Later she was discovered dead, stabbed to death, still in her jacket that noted she was a journalist.

Dropping back to the October 15th snapshot:

So far this year, Iraq is known to have executed 119 people. It has ignored calls from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. Despite the fact that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani insists he is against the death penalty and regularly basks in applause for that stance, he has not blocked one execution. (His 'opposition' is refusing to sign the death warrants, leaving it for a vice president to sign it. As president, he could object to any or all executions and stop them immediately. He refuses to use that power.)
These executions are beginning to cause more problems for Iraq. Kitabat reports that Alegeria has summed the Iraqi ambassador to express their alarm that an Alegerian, Abdullah Ahmad Belhadi, has been executed and Saudi Arabia is objecting to plans to execute their citizens -- though Faleh al-Fayad, Iraqi national security adviser, declares the Saudi executions will go forward.

Today, Meshal al-Otaibi (Saudi Gazette) reports that the execution of Abdullah al-Qahtani, Saudi citizen in Iraq, has been postponed "according to his lawyer Abdulrahman Al-Jurais."
Turning to the topic of Libya, e-mails wonder why Bob Somerby calls Elise Labott "CNN's tremendously awful 'foreign affairs reporter'" and "a genuine nightmare"?  Because she's a woman.  He knows nothing about her reporting and has never critiqued before today.  He probably doesn't know she's a CNN producer and that she covers the State Dept.  Bob's not real smart sometimes but he never passes a chance to demonize a woman.  If a man had reported what Elise did, Bob would treat them with kid gloves.  He only beats up on women -- see CiCi Connelly, Katharine Seelye, Maureen Dowd, Anne Gearan and on and on and on.  He'll go after State Dept reporters Labott and Gearan but you'll never see him take on AP's Matthew Lee.  Bob only beats up on women.  We noted this a long time ago, over 7 years ago, in fact.  In the Howler world a woman is demonized but a man guilty of the same 'crime' is treated as savable and redeemable but the witch, you understand, must be drowned -- even if she floats.  Especially if she floats.
Elise Labott has the same problems any other person does and she can be wrong and she can be right.  As a journalist, she's one of the strongest working today.  And unlike Bob Somerby, we've noted Elisa Labott many times here.  What are we talking about when we're talking about Libya?  US House Rep Darrell Issa outlined it very clearly at a hearing earlier this month:
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
See those names: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods.  Guess where you didn't see them?  At The Daily Howler.  Bob Somerby thinks he can trash Elise Labott.  But Elise has noted the dead, she's done the work for over a month now.  Not true of Bob Somerby, not true at all.
Last night Ruth noted Sharyl Attkisson (CBS News) reports on e-mails sent from the Benghazi consulate on September 11, 2012 during the attack and immediately after including one sent at 6:07 pm where it is noted "the embassy in Trpoli reported the Islamic military group 'Ansar al-SHaria Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack'."  This is what Elise is covering as well: "Two hours after first being notified of an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, a government e-mail to the White House, the State Department and the FBI said an Islamist group had claimed credit, according to a copy obtained by CNN." (Elise maintains Barack used the term "terror" on September 12th.  That's her take and her opinion.  As noted in the October 17th snapshot, we disagree.  Others disagreeing that there's a clear-cut assessment include The Washington Post and CBS News (text report by Brian Montopoli, video report by Jan Crawford.)  Anne Gearan (Washington Post) adds, "The reference to Ansar al-Sharia may fuel Republican efforts to show that the White House had evidence of terrorism almost immediately but sat on it. Five days after the attack, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice said the attack appeared to have grown out of a 'spontaneous' protest over an anti-Muslim video." Mark Hosenball (Reuters) explains, "While some information identifying recipients of this message was redacted from copies of the messages obtained by Reuters, a government source said that one of the addresses to which the message was sent was the White House Situation Room, the president's secure command post. Other addressees included intelligence and military units as well as one used by the FBI command center, the source said."   John Parkinson, Dana Hughes and Sunlen Miller (ABC News) pick up there:
In light of the emails, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire teamed up today to write a letter to question President Obama why his administration "consistently described the attack for days afterward as a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam video."
"These emails make clear that your administration knew within two hours of the attack that it was a terrorist act and that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group with links to al Qaeda, had claimed responsibility for it," the trio wrote. "This latest revelation only adds to the confusion surrounding what you and your administration knew about the attacks in Benghazi, when you knew it, and why you responded to those tragic events in the ways that you did."
John Hudson (The Atlantic) notes that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared, "Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence."  No, it wouldn't necessarily hold as evidence in a court of law; however, it is used as evidence by the State Dept and the US intelligence community all the time. Equally true, someone's who has claimed to have taken responsibility needs to stop minimizing and justifying information's that's coming out.  Part of taking responsiblity is shutting your mouth when you're exposed to have misled.  Hillary misled.  She was very clear in her accountability that State didn't make the false claims the White House did.  She's been silent as to why that is.  Now she wants to dismiss new findings.  That's not accountability, that's excuses.  She needs to either explain why the White House told people the attack was something that it wasn't or she needs to bow out of the matter. 
Meanwhile, the Drone War has also brought out the worst in Team Obama.  Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic -- link is text and video) reports on what happened when former White House plus-size spokesmodel Robert Gibbs started justifying the killing of an American teenager.
How does Team Obama justify killing him?
The answer Gibbs gave is chilling:
ADAMSON: ...It's an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial. And, he's underage. He's a minor.

GIBBS: I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.
Again, note that this kid wasn't killed in the same drone strike as his father. He was hit by a drone strike elsewhere, and by the time he was killed, his father had already been dead for two weeks. Gibbs nevertheless defends the strike, not by arguing that the kid was a threat, or that killing him was an accident, but by saying that his late father irresponsibly joined al Qaeda terrorists. Killing an American citizen without due process on that logic ought to be grounds for impeachment. Is that the real answer? Or would the Obama Administration like to clarify its reasoning? Any Congress that respected its oversight responsibilities would get to the bottom of this.
Conor's correct, Congressional oversight is sorely needed.