Saturday, February 01, 2014

Are We Ever Going To Watch 27 Dresses

I'm tired so I'm going to do a talking post.

I was rearranging things to do including some shelves and came across many unopened DVDs.

Some of that is C.I. who's always passing on a DVD.  I will usually get to them within six months. I do make a point to do that.

However, I am no longer able to get to all of them because we are also getting them onto our shelves via a secondary route: Mike.

He can't fill up the car without darting inside for a Coke or Dr. Pepper or jerkey and coming back out with a DVD.

That can be good.  He finds a lot of things we probably wouldn't otherwise.  For example, I love Gilda Radner and we'd probably only have one of her films on DVD.

But then there are the multiple copies.  We have three of the same disc -- all unopened.  I told Mike that, he looked and corrected me.  We have one unopened copy of The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked up.  We have two unopened copies of The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  We had moved to Hawaii -- he says -- and had not finished unpacking when he came across at least one of them and, thinking we had lost our (unopened) copy in the move, he bought it again.

We have an unopened copy of Terms of Endearment which is good because I am a huge fan of Shirley MacLaine's.  It is only unopened because I know the film by heart and really need someone to say, "Let's watch Terms."

We had two copies of the excellent film Heartbreakers starring Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft, Carrie Fisher, Jason Lee, Ray Liotta and Gene Hackman.  I love that film.  If you've never seen it, Sigourney and Jennifer are a pair of con artists, mother and daughter con artists.  Their con at the start of the film is for Sigourney to marry Ray but not sleep with him, catch him in a compromising position with his assistant (Jennifer), divorce him and take him for all he's worth.  It's a very funny film.  Nora Dunne has a small but key role.  I love the whole film.  If Jason Lee has ever given a better film performance it would have to be in Chasing Amy but I don't think he's ever given a better performance.

So I was putting the DVDs in order and see we have our copy and unopened copy.  That was good because I opened our open copy and found the disc missing.

We have films I have never watched and, in some cases, never heard of.

Plan B?  Mike says it's a low key Diane Keaton comedy where she's in with the mob.

Then there is 27 Dresses.

What is this?

Mike says it's supposed to be a funny movie.


"I don't know, I guess she buys 27 dresses or something.  But Katherine Heigl's usually funny."


We're back to Knocked Up.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 31, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, the White House tries to charm the KRG into giving Nouri his way, Nouri's forces appear to have a Sunni man on fire today, Secretary of State John Kerry's friend -- now being paid by taxpayers -- really wasn't suited for the job Kerry gave him, and much more.

Tweet of the Day:

There’s a lot of killing in Darfur. On the other hand, it isn't a fraction of the dead in Iraq, let's say, and it isn't even a tiny fraction

On a day when even Iraq's ministries have to admit over 1,000 violent deaths this month of January, let's start with thoughts and opinions.  Dave Johnson (Seeing The Forrest) notes there's still no publicly provided answer from the US government to the question: "So why DID we invade iraq, anyway"?

No answer given, just silence, and the hope that, at some point, everyone will just forget.

Thursday on All Things Considered (NPR -- link is audio and text). host Robert Siegel spoke with professor Imad Shaheen and NPR's  Michele Kelemen and Deborah Amos about the Middle East.  Siegel used the segment to work in comments from an interview he did with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.  And presumably, we're supposed to overlook the fact that an interview was conducted and a segment not provided to showcase the interview -- and overlook that this week, the 'news' program, made time for segments on how to fix "beefy butternut squash chili," luge stories, Superbowl stories, Superbowl related stories, "funny video" stories, "a new look at George Eliot," movie reviews, book reviews, music reviews and a woman who spays animals.  Due to all of that and so much more, All Things Considered didn't have time to air an interview with Saleh al-Mutlaq who met with US President Barack Obama this month.  Below we'll excerpt the opinions of al-Mutlaq that made the broadcast segment.

SIEGEL: And some players in the region see something else receding: American power and American influence. For example, in Iraq, the deputy prime minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni Muslim, says the U.S. should've done more to create a government that Sunnis could trust. He told me Washington should have and could have.

SALEH AL-MUTLAQ: America is America. America is the biggest and most important country in the world. If they are really serious in trying to enforce reconstruction(ph) of the country, they will be able to do that.

[. . .]

SIEGEL: Now, you mentioned the Iraqis. I want to play something that Saleh al-Mutlaq, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, told me. He is a Sunni Muslim from Anbar Province and I put it to him that President Obama's harshest critics say that the U.S. is not just leaving behind a void that Iran might be filling, but that the U.S. is about to tilt to Tehran, become friendly with Iran.
And here's what the Iraqi deputy prime minister said.

AL-MUTLAQ: Well, I mean this is the question of everybody in the region, that something is happening which is strange, that from all that conflict between Iran and America and after America has given the region, especially Iraq, to the Iranian, now they are getting on in dialogue in order to improve their relation. And this is not only my concern. It's the concern of everybody in the region. And it's the worry of everybody in the region, because if you strengthen Iran to that extent, then Iran is going to be the policeman of the region.

SIEGEL: You feel that Iraq has been handed over to Iran.

SALEH EL-MUTLAQ: Definitely.

Tuesday, January14th,  Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq spoke in DC at the US Institute of Peace.  We noted it in that day's snapshot. MP Nada al-Juburi was part of the delegation from Iraq and we noted some of her remarks at the Institute of Peace in the January 16th snapshot.  Joel Wing (Musings On Iraq) has posted the video of her discussion with MP Ezzat al-Shebander that the Institute of Peace's  Sarhanq Hamasaeed moderated.

Senator Joe Biden, in the years before becoming US Vice President, advocated that Iraq be a federation.  James Kitfeld (National Journal) argues today

Biden, then a senator, championed a more federal system explicitly allowed by the Iraqi constitution (at the insistence of the Kurds), devolving power from the central government in Baghdad to the provinces. Although Biden denied it at the time, his proposal would almost certainly have led to the de facto soft partition of Iraq into three autonomous regions dominated by Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. A similar approach in the 1990s patched together Bosnia out of the detritus of the Balkans civil war between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. In a 2007 op-ed, Biden warned, "If the United States can't put this federalism idea on track, we will have no chance for a political settlement in Iraq and, without that, no chance for leaving Iraq without leaving chaos behind."

He was ahead of his time. "Biden got it dead right, and I still think transitioning to a federal power-sharing arrangement is the only way to stop the killing and hold Iraq together," says Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who wrote the op-ed with Biden.

No, Joe Biden didn't get it right -- dead right or otherwise -- because Joe Biden is an American citizen.  It is not for him, or any other American, to determine what sort of nation-state or country Iraq should be.   Self-determination is not a passing fancy, it's a cornerstone of democracy.

He was more than welcome to float the idea to the Iraqi people but he had no right to impose it.  The Senate agreed with that which is why his proposal never found traction there but was instead repeatedly rejected.  Had the US split Iraq into three regions, the issue would have been "The US destroyed our country further by breaking us apart in a Balkanization scheme."  Though Biden did popularize the idea, he can't claim credit for it nor even just credit for applying it to Iraq.  War Hawk Edward P. Joseph teamed with Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon to promote the idea in 2007.  But they were basing it on the proposal of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Which would bring us back to Leslie Gelb, wouldn't it?  Gelb backed the Iraq War -- and did so, he said, "to retain political and professional credibility."  I don't know how much "professional credibility" there is in applauding someone for promoting your idea when you refuse to acknowledge that it was your idea.  But I do know it's unethical.  

I also know that if the Iraqi people had decided to split their country into a federation, it might have worked and it might not have.  In other words, I know that Geld lacks the gift of premonition.

He supports the split so he thinks it would work.  That doesn't mean it would work.

Since he's not an Iraqi, his continued obsession with a concept that Iraq refused to entertain is a bit of waste of time.
There's been a lot of deceit, stupidity and silence since media attention in the west returned to Iraq.  Not a lot of bravery, however.  Few have stepped up to the plate to offer anything of real value -- especially as Nouri al-Maliki's assault on Anbar is one War Crime after another.  What happened to all the voices that spoke out when Bully Boy Bush was in offie?  One of them speaks loudly today.   Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark shares (at Pravda):

However, the US and UK are seemingly remarkably selective when it comes to tyrants who "kill their own people", and not only have failed to censure their tyrannical Iraqi puppet, Nuri al-Maliki, but are arming him to the teeth with the same weapons which are linked to the horrific birth defects, and cancers throughout Iraq, which he is now using on "his own people." Moreover, if allegations from very well informed sources that he holds an Iranian passport are correct, to say that US-UK's despot of choice appears in a whole new political light would be to massively understate.To facilitate Al-Maliki's assault on Iraq's citizens, the US "rushed" seventy five Hellfire missiles to Baghdad in mid-December. On 23rd January Iraq requested a further five hundred Hellfires, costing $82 million - small change compared to the $14 Billion in weapons provided by America since 2005.The AGM-114R Hellfire II, nauseatingly named "Romeo", clocked in at: $94,000 each - in 2012. Such spending on weaponry in a country where electricity, clean water, education and health services have all but collapsed since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Last week an "American cargo jet loaded with weapons" including 2,400 rockets to arm Iraqi attack helicopters also arrived in Baghdad.(iii)
This week a contract was agreed to sell a further twenty four AH-64E attack helicopters to Iraq "along with spare parts and maintenance, in a massive $6.2 Billion deal." With them comes the reinvasion of Iraq, with: "hundreds of Americans" to be shipped out "to oversee the training and fielding of equipment", some are "US government employees", read military, plus a plethora of "contractors", read mercenaries. (iv)
According to Jane's Defence Weekly, on November 15th 2013 Iraq also took delivery of: " its first shipment of highly advanced Mi-35 attack helicopters as part of a $4.3 Billion arms purchase from Russia", of an order of: "about 40 Mi-35 and 40 Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopters." 
The all to "attack his own people" in the guise of defeating "Al Qaida" in Anbar province and elsewhere where the people have been peacefully protesting a near one man regime of torture, sectarianism, kangaroo courts which sentence victims who have also had confessions extracted under torture.

Along with being a former US Attorney General (and the son of a Supreme Court justice), Clark founded the International Action Center.  Ramsey Clark used his voice to call out the Iraq War, even before it started.  It's a shame so many others can't find their voices. CORRECTION: My apologies to Felicity Aruthnot.  She wrote the article I wrongly credited to Ramsey Clark.  Pravada's byline isn't clear (use the link), I was reading her piece at Dissident Voice this morning -- 2-1-2014 -- and the byline is very clear.  My apologies to her and we'll note this in Monday's Iraq snapshot. 

The State Dept has continued to ignore Iraq.  Which really just makes people wonder where Jonathan Winer is?  Remember last September when State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf declared, "The State Department has appointed a Senior Advisor for MEK Resettlement, Jonathan Winer, to oversee our efforts to help resettle the residents of Camp Hurriya to safe, permanent, and secure locations outside of Iraq, in addition to those countries, such as Albania, that have admirably assisted the United Nations in this important humanitarian mission."

The US taxpayers are paying Winer's salary.  At what point does he start giving reports on his progress or lack of it?

Maybe at the same time that the press starts why a lobbyist got this post to begin with?

Does he have special language skills?


Does Winer have a history of working on problems like these?

In recent years, he's been a lobbyist for APCO Worldwide and Alston & Bird.

During the Clinton administration, he was in the State Dept.  From 1994 to 2000, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement.  While that is State Dept experience, it's really not experience that's going to help resettle the Ashraf community.  

And it's not just me who notices that he lacks the skills for this posting, he apparently does at well.

Expert field of competence:
AML/CFT policy, legal regimes, regulation, design, assessment, compliance, remediation.

(AML/CFT is Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism.)

Anyone see anything there about refugees or resettling?


Because he has no experience.  

So why was he picked?

Oh, that's right -- because of who he knows.  From 1985 to 1994, he was Senator John Kerry's chief legal counsel.  Well it's good that John's able to find employment for his friends but at what point does the American people see results for the salary they're paying Jonathan Winer?

But what's Winer's salary -- even if he's unable to produce results -- when you compare it to all the other US tax dollars the US government can't account for?

  • $6.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money earmarked for Iraq reconstruction has been lost, stolen or 'misplaced'.

  • Dropping back to  Tuesday's snapshot:

    Turning to the topic of the Ashraf community,  Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following today:

     The Cabinet approved today January 28, 2014 on Iraq's contribution with the amount of half a million dollars to a trust fund proposed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on October 23, 2014 to cover costs related to transporting the residents of Camp Liberty (formerly known as Ashraf) to a third country.
    Iraq fulfilled its international and humanitarian obligations to transport Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty, waiting for the implementation of international commitments to resettle the Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq.
    The government's decision reaffirms its position on the need to resettle the residents of Camp Liberty in third countries outside Iraq according to the commitments and understandings between Iraq and the United Nations.

    Why has the State Dept had nothing to say about this?  Since the western press hasn't reported on it, it's possible the State Dept doesn't know about it.  But when you've appointed someone to be over this issue for the State Dept and they're taking taxpayer dollars for this job, there's need to be a little more visibility.

    Especially when nasty rumors are swirling that Jonathan Winer's not doing any work but is using the post to enrich his pockets outside the government.

    While the State Dept is silent on all things Iraq, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following yesterday:

    U.S. Embassy Baghdad
    Office of the Spokesman
    For Immediate Release
    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad strongly condemns the January 30 terrorist attack in Baghdad on Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation.  We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured.
    The United States stands with the Iraqi people and will continue its robust support of the Government of Iraq in its fight against terrorism.

    AFP reports that the Iraqi ministries released their figure for January death tolls today (apparently before the day was over) and they found 1,013 people had died in violence.  The move resulted in this Tweet from Jon Williams.

  • endures bloodiest month since April 2008. Ministries of health, interior & defence say 1013 dead in January, including 795 civilians.

  • Press TV offers this breakdown, "According to the figures, compiled by the ministries of health, interior and defense and released on Friday, 1,013 people were killed in January, including 795 civilians, 122 soldiers and 96 policemen."

    Historically, the ministries -- two of which remain headless and controlled by Nouri (Ministry of Defnese and Ministry of Interior) -- have provided an undercount.  Iraq Body Count hasn't yet posted their toll for January.  Jason Ditz notes's count is 1,840.  Ditz also notes that Iraq's toll is 1,202.

    B-b-but, it says 1,013 above!!!!!  AFP says so!!!!  Press TV says so!!!!

    They lie, they whore.  What are we supposed to say here but the obvious?

    Jason Ditz reveals that 1,013 is one number but the Iraqi government also noted 189 "militants" were killed for a total of 1,202.

    Prashant Rao is really acting like Piss Ant Rao -- Mike's name for him.

    How many violent deaths?


    When Nouri's forces announce they've killed "terrorists" -- usually in the midst of mass arrests -- we don't call them "terrorists."  We call them "suspects" because that's what they are.  There was no judicial finding.  How dare AFP leave out the group the Iraqi government calls "militants."

    I hope we all get that Nelson Mandela was a "militant" and a "terrorist" in the eyes of the now disgraced South African government.

    AFP acts like a tool of the Iraqi government and not like a news outlet.

    1,202 deaths from violence is what the Iraqi government announced -- but AFP couldn't report that, could they.

    Good for Jason Ditz for catching that.  We'll return to the death toll for January in Monday's snapshot when we'll have two other outlets to note.

    Despite the huge death toll and the increased violence,  Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place today in Samarra, Tikrit, RawaAnbar and, below, in Baiji.

    الجمعة الموحدة في قضاء بيجي بمحافظة صلاح الدين .

    Since December 21, 2012, protests have been ongoing in Iraq. Nouri's earlier efforts to stop the protests haven't stopped them.  His threats, his attacks, none of it has worked.  Now if he'd actually listened to the grievances and addressed those?  Things might be a lot different right now.

    This week, the Center for Strategic & International Studies published a report by Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazi entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq in Crisis."

    It's a lenghthy report with a lot of important passages.  But let's focus on the protests.  The report notes:

    Maliki's increasing repression and centralization of power over the course of 2010 - 2013 fueled the growth of Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist movements in spite of what appeared to be Al Qaida's defeat in fighting from 2005 to 2008. The US military reported in July 2010 there were only approximately 200 "hard core" fighters left. 


    At the same time, AQI/ISIS increased its presence in Anbar in Western Iraq, and made use o f its new facilities in Syria. It evidently did reach out to Sunni tribal leaders in the West, and fighters in the Sons of Iraq. It also formed cadres of trained fighters that had trucks with heavy machine guns and mortars, gaining a level of armed mobility it not demonstrated in combat even during the peak fighting in 2005 -- 2008. 
    It was these shifts that allowed it to invade Fallujah and Ramadi in late December 2013, and exploit the power vacuum Maliki left when he removed the army as a result of popular anger against is use against Sunni protest camps. Maliki effectively empowered AQI/ISIS by arresting Ahmed al-Alwani and killing his brother on December 28, 2013, and by using a large-scale military operation to shut down the large anti- government protest camp near Ramadi two days later. Many of the Sunni tribes then mobilized their fighters, and the resulting fighting that persuaded Maliki to withdraw the army from Anbar’s cities and to try to rely on a weak and corrupt Iraqi police force. As a result, Al Qaeda was able to occupy key parts of Fallujah and Ramadi a force of some 75 to 100 armed trucks and less than 1000 fighters

    At some point, the White House is going to have to start seriously confronting Nouri al-Maliki.

    For the record, acting as Nouri tough-guy to get Nouri's way on the oil?  That's not standing up to Nouri.  That's cowering before the tyrant.

    And the White House did that again today.

    The White House
    Office of the Vice President

    Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani

    Vice President Biden spoke today with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani. The Vice President emphasized the importance of the relationship between the United States and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and stressed the United States’ commitment to strengthening its partnership with Iraq. The Vice President and President Barzani both confirmed the need for close cooperation between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi government to reach agreement on a way forward on the matter of energy exports and revenue sharing. The Vice President and President Barzani are committed to supporting efforts to confront the ongoing challenge of terrorism in Iraq.

    It's a shame that they have more concern over pleasing Nouri than they do over the safety of the Iraqi citizens.  Sunnis took to the streets to protest over a year ago for serious reasons.  The issues are numerous.  Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) has summed up the primary issues motivating the protesters as follows:

    - End of Sectarian Shia rule
    - the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
    - the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
    - the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
    - the provision of government services to all
    - the end of corruption
    - no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

    Iraqi prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki's assault on Anbar Province continues and is, in part, his effort to stop the ongoing protests -- the Constitutionally protected ongoing protests.

    His assault has been a 'success' -- he's lost parts of Baghdad, he's lost Falluja and Ramadi, he's seen two government ministries attacked in Baghdad, over 1062 people killed this month, Nouri's forces arrested police elements in Ramadi who refused to take arms against the rebels,  Euronews notes "reports from rebel media sources in Fallujah claim that an army barracks south of the city was captured and razed to the ground earlier this week." and now an attack on Baghdad International.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports three rockets attacked the airport today.   Arab News points out, "Air traffic was not disrupted, but the ability of militants to strike such a site is likely to heighten concerns about the vulnerability of Iraq’s vital infrastructure as security deteriorates across the country."

    Nouri's assault on Anbar has only demonstrated (a) how weak security actually is and (b) how inept Nouri is.

     Al Arabiya News reports the Iraqi military announced they'd killed 40 suspects in Falluja this week.  In some of the other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports 3 corpses were discovered "dumped in a river near Alsabtiya bridge northeast of Baquba today," a Mosul armed attack left 1 Iraqi soldier dead, and a home invasion in Badush left 1 woman dead.

    Nouri's assault is a long string of War Crimes.  From Geneva International Centre for Justice's "Stop al-Maliki brutality against civilians" (BRussells Tribunal):

    On behalf of a coalition of NGOs Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) has sent an urgent appeal to the International community and UN bodies following its appeal from 13 January 2014 in view of the horribly deteriorating human rights situation and the continuous brutal attacks against civilians in the province of al-Anbar/ Iraq.
    Since 22 December 2013, an operation led by Iraqi government forces is under way in the al-Anbar province, which, although initially under the pretext to combat terrorists hiding in the desert, quickly turned into a full scale military attack against residential areas with  heavy artillery, tanks and air force. Residential neighbourhoods came under shelling; hospitals and schools were damaged, over hundred civilians killed so far and even injured fired upon.

    Symbolic for the atrocities committed by the army was a video published on several Iraqi satellite TVs on 22 January 2014, showing how al-Maliki forces drag the dead body of a young Tribesman by tying his leg to a military vehicle. 
    Until this day government forces are surrounding the cities in the province of al-Anbar, the biggest of them Ramadi, Fallujah, Karma and Khalidiya, cutting of all vital supplies. This happens under the pretext that these cities have been infiltrated by Al-Qaeda, although the citizens themselves have repeatedly and clearly refuted such claims. Countless people have already fled in fear of the government forces, who are known for their indiscriminate brutality against civilians. The international community must immediately call for a halt of this highly disproportionate use of force.

    On YouTube video has surfaced of Nouri's forces today . . . next to a man being burned alive.  Did they set the Sunni male on fire?  It appears they're not concerned with putting out the fire so it's fair to conclude they started it.   It's the sort of government cruelty that's led Iraqis to protest in the first place.

    jason ditz


    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    Ventura would pardon Manning and Snowden

    Sister Megan Rice was not sentenced today, FYI.  I will continue to check for updates.

    Barack could have prevented all of this.

    As usual, he's nowhere to be found.

    Whose skirts does he hide behind today?

    While a nun who committed an act of civil disobedience could spend the rest of her life behind bars, Barack's no where to be found.

    As usual.

    The Global Dispatch reports:

    During the latest episode of Off the Grid, former Governor Jesse Ventura discusses one of his first actions if he were to run for President in 2016 and win.

    “Within the first week I would pardon Edward Snowden and I would pardon Bradley Manning. Both of them” Ventura says.
    “My belief is this: a whistleblower is indeed a hero,” he says as the Bill of Rights graphic rolls on the screen of his Ora.TV show.

    I'm neither pro nor anti-Ventura.  All I really know about him is based on my friend Phil who thinks Ventura was a great governor. Phil's also a devoted Timberwolves fan.

    I didn't know he had a show anymore.  I was aware he was too 'controversial' for MSNBC.  But you can find his show here.

    Good for Ventura.  Manning and Snowden have done things that improved the world.  They both deserve presidential pardons.

    Where's Barack on this?

    Hiding behind someone's skirt again.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, January 29, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, at least 99 reported dead or wounded from Iraqi violence, the weapons sales Barack wants to make to tyrant Nouri al-Maliki mean US boots on the ground in Iraq, Barack's State of the Union lies get called out, Nouri rebukes Barack, NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, KBR's in trouble again, and more.

    Starting with good news, Norwegian politicians Bard Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen (Socialist Left Party) have nominated NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Ed Snowden is an American citizen and whistle-blower who had been employed by the CIA and by the NSA before leaving government employment for the more lucrative world of contracting.  At the time he blew the whistle, he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton doing NSA work.  Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) had the first scoop (and many that followed) on Snowden's revelations that the US government was spying on American citizens, keeping the data on every phone call made in the United States (and in Europe as well) while also spying on internet use via PRISM and Tempora.  US Senator Bernie Sanders decried the fact that a "secret court order" had been used to collect information on American citizens "whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."  Sanders went on to say, "That is not what democracy is about.  That is not what freedom is about. [. . .] While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans."  The immediate response of the White House, as Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported,  was to insist that there was nothing unusual and to get creaky and compromised Senator Dianne Feinstein to insist, in her best Third Reich voice, "People want to keep the homeland safe."  The spin included statements from Barack himself.   Anita Kumar (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Obama described the uproar this week over the programs as “hype” and sought to ensure Americans that Big Brother is not watching their every move."  Josh Richman (San Jose Mercury News) quoted Barack insisting that "we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about."  Apparently not feeling the gratitude, the New York Times editorial board weighed in on the White House efforts at spin, noting that "the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights."  Former US President Jimmy Carter told CNN, "I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial."  Since August, he has temporary asylum status in Russia.  Sunday, January 26th Ed gave a rare interview to German TV.  Bill Van Auken (WSWS) notes Ed declared there were "significant threats" against him and that American "officials want to kill me."  Ed declared, "These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower."  Yet, Van Auken also noted that the revelations and the interview itself were "largely blacked out by the US media."

    Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.  For approximately one month and one week as US president.  In the time since, he has become commander of The Drone War.  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that The Drone War has killed as many as 3,646 people in Pakistan (200 of those children) and 423 people in Yemen (6 of those children).

    The interview, broadcast by the German television network ARD, was largely blacked out by the US media. The New York Times carried not a word of what Snowden said, while the cable and broadcast news programs treated the interview with near total silence.

    The Nobel Peace Prize Committee gave an award to a War Hawk who is over illegal spying on the entire world.  They can right that wrong this year by giving the award to Ed.  On the illegal spying, Senator Ron Wyden's office noted these remarks Wyden made today during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing:

    The men and women of America’s intelligence agencies are overwhelmingly dedicated professionals and they deserve to have leadership that is trusted by the American people. Unfortunately, that trust has been seriously undermined by senior officials’ reckless reliance on secret interpretations of the law and battered by years of misleading and deceptive statements that senior officials made to the American people. These statements did not protect sources and methods that were useful in fighting terror. Instead they hid bad policy choices and violations of the liberties of the American people.
    For example, the director of the NSA said publicly that the NSA doesn’t hold data on U.S. citizens. That was obviously untrue.  Justice Department officials testified that section 215 of the Patriot Act is analogous to grand jury subpoena authority. And that deceptive statement was made on multiple occasions. Officials also suggested that the NSA doesn’t have the authority to read Americans’ emails without a warrant but the FISA court opinions declassified last August showed that wasn’t true either. 

    Barack made his own remarks, of course, and did so last night in his State of the Union Address.  In yesterday's snapshot we noted his Iraq lies.  Tonight, we'll note four other voices on his speech.  First up,  Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) observes:

    Barack Obama, who has presided over the sharpest increases in economic inequality in U.S. history, adopts the persona of public advocate, reciting wrongs inflicted by unseen and unknown forces that have “deepened” the gap between the rich and the rest of us and “stalled” upward mobility. Having spent half a decade stuffing tens of trillions of dollars into the accounts of an ever shrinking gaggle of financial capitalists, Obama declares this to be “a year of action” in the opposite direction. “Believe it.” And if you do believe it, then crown him the Most Effective Liar of the young century.
    Lies of omission are even more despicable than the overt variety, because they hide. The potentially most devastating Obama contribution to economic inequality is being crafted in secret by hundreds of corporate lobbyists and lawyers and their revolving-door counterparts in government. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, described as “NAFTA on steroids,” would accelerate the global Race to the Bottom that has made a wasteland of American manufacturing, plunging the working class into levels of poverty and insecurity without parallel in most people’s lifetimes, and totally eviscerating the meager gains of three generations of African Americans.

    Also providing realities about Barack's economy, Joseph Kishore (WSWS) offered:

    Obama made as brief a reference as possible to the fact that at the end of last year, due to the actions of Democrats and Republicans, 1.6 million people were cut off of extended unemployment benefits. At the same time, he called for “reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy,” which could only mean introducing greater restrictions on eligibility.
    The president was also silent on the Democrats and Republicans having just agreed to slash $8.7 billion from food stamps, only the second cut in the program since it was founded (the first coming just a few months ago). He touted a right-wing immigration reform and his health care overhaul, an opening shot against all the social programs introduced in the 1930s and 1960s.
    The headline proposal from Obama, intended as a sop to the trade unions and the administration’s liberal and pseudo-left supporters, was an executive order to require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10. This requirement will only apply to new or renewed contracts, not existing ones.
    In the run-up to the speech, there was a concerted effort in the media to paint a picture of partisan gridlock, which Obama was proposing to overcome through executive actions. Given that Obama’s actual proposals amount to nothing, and that the parties are agreed on fundamentals, Obama’s repeated insistence that “I’m going to do” what is required has the distinct and ominous odor of a presidential dictatorship.
    It is notable that even though it is an election year, Obama made no call for voters to elect individuals pledged to implement his proposals. Rather the speech was an assertion, from an individual who more than any other has presided over the shredding of large sections of the Constitution, that the president has the power to act regardless of opposition. The target of these actions is the working class.
    There was almost no mention of the vast police-state spying apparatus that has been revealed over the past year. The president sits on top of a military-intelligence complex that monitors the communications of virtually the entire planet. The day before Obama’s remarks, the latest information from Edward Snowden revealed that the US and its UK partners collect data from cell phone applications in order to determine the “political alignments” of millions of users worldwide.

    Barack spoke for 80 minutes, so you'd think he'd be able to offer some basic facts; however, basic facts repeatedly escaped Barack.  Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) offers these facts that didn't make Barack's speech:

    Overall health care outcomes are no better, with the United States ranking at only 37 out of 191 countries. Cuba, which few Americans regard in any positive way, ranks just two steps behind at 39. Costa Ricans, Moroccans, Colombians, and Saudis all have access to better medical care. Most of the members of Congress sitting through the State of the Union address often brag that their constituents have the best health care in the world when those words are obvious lies.
    If America doesn’t take care of its children and can’t provide the best health care for anyone, does it lead in anything? It does in fact but none of these benchmarks are good for human beings. The United States still has the shameful distinction of incarcerating both a greater percentage of its population and the largest number of people than any other country on earth. The dictators we are taught to disdain and the leaders who are seen as enemies all keep fewer people in jail.
    Consider that the Obama administration boasted when the president commuted the sentences of eight people who languished in prison under the old draconian crack cocaine laws. That is good news for those eight persons, but the Obama Justice Department also went to court to oppose efforts to remedy the sentences of 5,000 other people, formally making the case against giving them the chance to be re-sentenced.

    The only other trend by which the United States bests every other nation is the amount spent on the military. The combined defense expenditures of the rest of the world total less than our military budget. Violence is the only arena in which America leads the way.

    Bruce A. Dixon (Black Agenda Report) also provides some facts Barack left out:

    Barack Obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 saying he would pass legislation raising the minimum wage and making it easier to organize unions so people could stand up for their own rights in the workplace. The president apparently lied. Once in office with a thumping majority in both houses of Congress the president promptly froze the wages of federal workers, and made no move to protect union organizing or to raise the minimum wage. Four and five years later, with the House of Representatives safely under Republican control, the president has begun to make noises about how “America deserves a raise” and has finally declared that federal contract workers will soon have to be paid a minimum of $10.10 per hour.
    Although Barack Obama's career, and those of the entire black political class are founded on the notion that they and the Democratic party somehow “represent” the aspirations and political power of African Americans, the policy concerns of black America were nowhere to be found in last night's state of the union. The speech contained no mention of the persistent gap between black and white unemployment, or the widening gaps between black and white wealth, and reaffirmed his commitment to “Race To The Top” an initiative to privatize public education in poorer communities across the country.
    And of course, no cluster of issues impact black America more savagely and disproportionately than police practices, the drug war and the prison state. African Americans are one eighth the US population, but more than 40% of its prisons and jails. Together with Latinos, who are another eighth and make up nearly 30% of US prisoners, people of color are a quarter of the US population and more than 70% of the locked down. No cluster of issues would benefit more from a few presidential initiatives and well placed strokes of the pen than police practices, the drug war and the prison state.

    But possibly the strongest rebuke to Barack today came from outside the US.  Xinhua reports that the chief thug in and prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, declared today, "The international community must take the responsibility of supporting us and helping all those who stand against terrorism. Allowing weapons to reach terrorist organizations and extremists in Syria means supporting terrorism in Iraq."  For those who need a translation, he's saying Barack's arming of the Syrian 'rebels' is providing weapons to rebels in Iraq.  He's calling out Barack's support of the Syrian 'rebels.'  And yet Barack would do anything -- and does do anything -- for Nouri.

    Staying in the US, more bad news for war profiteer KBR, Douglas Ernst (Washington Times) reports:

    U.S. soldiers deployed to Iraq between 2003 and 2004 were fed ice that was shipped in unsanitized containers used as temporary morgues, if allegations by the Justice Department turn out to be true.
    The Justice Department is going after military contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root, as well as Kuwaiti companies La Nouvelle General Trading & Contracting Co. (La Nouvelle) and First Kuwaiti Trading Co., for defrauding the U.S. Army, the Military Times reported. The stomach-churning details of food containers is included in the suit.
     No doubt Stephanie Mencimer is working on an 'expose' to again prove KBR's innocence which, of course,  cheap Amanda Marcotte will rush to prop up.  (The two pieces of trash attacked rape victim Jamie Leigh Jones.  She was gang-raped -- like many women, she couldn't convince a court.  That's not uncommon in rape cases.  Nor is it uncommon for attacks on female victims to come from women who wish they were men and court the patriarchy like John Edwards 'booster' Marcotte and like trash Stephie Mencimer.) 

    From the vile to the simply stupid American.  John W. Thomas had a column at the Coloradoan which includes this passage many will agree with:

    Not having learned from Vietnam, along came Sept. 11 and Iraq. The Bush-Cheney administration either knew or should have known there were no weapons of mass destruction -- that was the false premise for sending troops to Iraq. We were told that we had to eliminate al-Qaida in Iraq. We then found out that until we invaded Iraq, al-Qaida was not in Iraq, at which point they came to Iraq in droves and are now there. Al-Qaida -- the ones who perpetrated 9/11 -- were definitely based in Afghanistan, and if we had not taken our eye off the ball there (e.g., killing bin Laden) by invading Iraq, we might have gotten out of Afghanistan a whole lot sooner.

    And most Americans would probably also agree with him that US forces should not be in Iraq (even those which currently are).  But if that's your opinion -- and it is mine -- it's very stupid of you not to object to the US government -- to Barack -- arming Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, with more weapons to use against the Iraqi people.  In fact, if you can't object to that army then I guess you are what is ridiculed as a non-interventionist -- an extreme non-interventionist -- because you'll even support the arming of a despot, a tyrant, in order to avoid more US troops going into Iraq.

    It doesn't have to be either or.  But those calling for no (more) US troops being sent to Iraq (that would include me) should also be calling for no arms for Nouri.  Otherwise, they express no real concerns about the Iraq people.

    The Apache helicopter deal went through, despite the Leahy Amendment, why?  Your-Story argues, "One important aspect to consider is the intricate oil infrastructure that should definitely be protected, due to massive energy potential it carries."  Yet again, it's all about oil.

    And so we move back to the topic of vile Americans: Michael O'Hanlon.  The Brookings Institution guy is very sensitive and doesn't like being called names.  But what do call someone -- at a worksafe site -- who feels civilian deaths are okay?  I think calling O'Hanlon merely "vile" is showing remarkable restraint on my part.  The Voice of Russia speaks with O'Hanlon about the 24 Apache helicopters Barack is supplying Iraq with:

    [Voice of Russia:] How high is the risk of American weapons and technology causing civilian deaths among Iraqis? Especially considering the fact that it would be inexperienced newly trained Iraqi pilots flying the helicopters.

    [Michael O'Hanlon:]  Well, I certainly think that risk is valid, but I also don’t want to overstate my concern. I mean Iraq is pretty violent even without Apache helicopters being part of the problem and I am not sure they would make it any worse. There is a chance they could make it better. A combination of the Apache helicopters and maybe a better strategy by Prime Minister Malaki could perhaps turn things around. I am not predicting a big success, but it could have partial improvement. And even if an Apache or two made an arial shot and tragically killed civilians, it still might have an overall net effect that was positive for the conflict. So I am not really against the Apache sale, I am just lowering the expectation on how much a difference it will make.

    He's lowering his expectations.

    Because he couldn't lower his ethics -- he's already gone as low as he can there.

    He has no ethical standing and should be rejected by all rational players.  He has just stated that the "risk is valid" for civilian deaths by supplying Nouri with Apache helicopters but he's okay with "tragically killed civilians" because it "might have an overall net effect."  Might.

    Civilian deaths will be War Crimes.

    He disgraces himself and everyone else at Brookings with those comments.

    Mad Maddie Albright, asked by CBS News' Lesley Stahl in 1996 on 60 Minutes about how the sanctions against Iraq had killed a half million Iraqi children, replied,  "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

    She cannot live that down.  Seventeen years later and she can't live it down.  Confronted on it in July 2004 at the Democratic Party's convention in Boston, she declared:

    I have said 5,000 times that I regret it. It was a stupid statement. I never should have made it and if everybody else that has ever made a statement they regret, would stand up, there would be a lot of people standing. I have many, many times said it and I wish that people would report that I have said it. I wrote it in my book that it was a stupid statement.

    She cannot live it down.

    If that's just due to her gender will quickly see.  If Michael O'Hanlon's remarks are not strung around his ankle like a ball and chain for the next seventeen years, then the attacks on Mad Maddie were based on gender.  Mad Maddie voiced support for sanctions that led to deaths, Mad Mikey voiced support for civilians being killed instantly by attack helicopters.

    UK's The Platform notes:

    In the past few weeks, the U.S. administration has stepped up its delivery of surveillance drones and missiles to Iraq in response to the Fallujah stand-off, and is one rebellious senator short of selling Iraq dozens of Apache helicopters.
    U.S. foreign policy is at risk of propping up a bad leader and irresponsible government because of an irrational fear that al-Qaeda could take over Iraq.

    Al-Maliki’s administration is continuously emboldened by U.S. funding as Saddam Hussein once was.

    That "rebellious senator" was Senator Robert Menendez who joined with the rest to supply tyrant Nouri with weapons to use against the Iraqi people.  World Tribune reports, "Congress has until Feb. 10 to try to block the proposed sale, which included intensive lobbying by Boeing. Officials said the program would return hundreds of U.S. military personnel for a training program in Iraq."  The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency posted two notices this week.  First:

    Media/Public Contact: 
    Lorna Jons (703) 604-6618
    Transmittal No: 
    WASHINGTON, Jan 27, 2014-The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for support for APACHE lease and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.37 billion.
    The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of 8 AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System, 3 T-700-GE-701D engines, 3 AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight (MTADS), 3 AN/AAQ-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (PNVS), 152 AGM-114 K-A HELLFIRE Missiles, 14 HELLFIRE M299 Launchers, 6 AN/APR-39A(V)4 Radar Warning Systems with training Universal Data Modems (UDM), 2 Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System (EGI), 6 AN/AVR-2A/B Laser Warning Detectors, 12 M261 2.75 inch Rocket Launchers, M206 Infrared Countermeasure flares, M211 and M212 Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munitions (AIRCM) flares, Internal Auxiliary Fuel Systems (IAFS), Aviator’s Night Vision Goggles, Aviation Mission Planning System, training ammunition, helmets, transportation, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, site surveys, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of program and logistics support.  The estimated cost is $1.37 billion.
    The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner.  This proposed sale directly supports the Iraq government and serves the interests of the Iraqi people and the United States.
    The proposed sale supports the strategic interests of the United States by providing Iraq with a critical capability to protect itself from terrorist and conventional threats. This will allow Iraqi Security Forces to begin training on the operation and maintenance of six leased U.S. APACHE helicopters in preparation of their receipt of new-build aircraft.           
    This proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
    The principal contractors will be The Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona, Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida, General Electric Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Robertson Fuel Systems, LLC, Tempe, Arizona.  There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
    Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 1 U.S. Government and 67 contractor representatives to travel to Iraq on an as-needed basis provide support and technical reviews.
    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.


    Media/Public Contact: 
    Lorna Jons (703) 604-6618
    Transmittal No: 
    WASHINGTON, Jan 27, 2014-The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for AH-64E APACHE LONGBOW Attack Helicopters  and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $4.8 billion.
    The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of 24 AH-64E APACHE LONGBOW Attack Helicopters, 56 T700-GE-701D Engines, 27 AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight, 27 AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors, 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars with Radar Electronics Unit (LONGBOW component),  28 AN/AAR-57(V)7 Common Missile Warning Systems, 28 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, 28 AN/APR-39A(V)4 or APR-39C(V)2 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, 28 AN/ALQ-136A(V)5 Radar Jammers, 52 AN/AVS-6, 90 Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets, 60 HELLFIRE Missile Launchers, and 480 AGM-114R HELLFIRE Missiles. Also included are AN/APR-48 Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers,  AN/APX-117 Identification Friend-or-Foe Transponders, Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation with Multi Mode Receiver, MXF-4027 UHF/VHF Radios, 30mm Automatic Chain Guns, Aircraft Ground Power Units, 2.75 in Hydra Rockets, 30mm rounds, M211 and M212 Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munitions flares, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, site surveys, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, design and construction, and other related elements of logistics support.  The estimated cost is $4.8 billion.
    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner.  This proposed sale directly supports the Iraq government and serves the interests of the Iraqi people and the United States.  
    This proposed sale supports the strategic interests of the United States by providing Iraq with a critical capability to protect itself from terrorist and conventional threats, to enhance the protection of key oil infrastructure and platforms, and to reinforce Iraqi sovereignty.  This proposed sale of AH-64E APACHE helicopters will support Iraq’s efforts to establish a fleet of multi-mission attack helicopters capable of meeting its requirements for close air support, armed reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare missions.
    The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
    The prime contractors will be The Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona; Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida; General Electric Company in Cincinnati, Ohio; Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, New York; Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, Florida; and Raytheon Corporation in Tucson, Arizona.  There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
    Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of three U.S. Government and two hundred contractor representatives to Iraq to support delivery of the Apache helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarization.  In addition, Iraq has expressed an interest in a Technical Assistance Fielding Team for in-country pilot and maintenance training.  To support the requirement a team of 12 personnel (one military team leader and 11 contractors) would be deployed to Iraq for approximately three years. Also, this program will require multiple trips involving U.S. Government and contractor personnel to participate in program and technical reviews, training and installation.
    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
    This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

    Did you catch it?  From the first statement:  "Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 1 U.S. Government and 67 contractor representatives to travel to Iraq on an as-needed basis provide support and technical reviews."  From the second statement:  "Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of three U.S. Government and two hundred contractor representatives to Iraq to support delivery of the Apache helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarization.  In addition, Iraq has expressed an interest in a Technical Assistance Fielding Team for in-country pilot and maintenance training.  To support the requirement a team of 12 personnel (one military team leader and 11 contractors) would be deployed to Iraq for approximately three years. Also, this program will require multiple trips involving U.S. Government and contractor personnel to participate in program and technical reviews, training and installation."

    Again -- as we said earlier when talking about John W. Thomas' column -- you can't draw a line between the two.  If you don't want more US troops sent into Iraq then you don't favor sending attack helicopters to Nouri al-Maliki.

    Violence continues in Iraq.  Continues?  It thrives.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 998 violent deaths in the month of January so far.  That's 2008 levels of violence, early 2008.  Nouri al-Maliki's managed to increase violence in the last years.   US Navy Captain Bradley Russell (Oregonian) offers this take:

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ultimately bears responsibility for the situation at hand, namely because of his failure to ensure that his government was inclusive for all Iraqi citizens.
    The day after the last U.S. soldier left Iraq, al-Maliki, a Shia, sent his security forces to arrest one of his vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, accusing him of running a death squad and assassinating police officers and public officials. Al-Hashemi escaped but was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death. Al-Maliki then used the very institutions that the U.S. spent millions of dollars to develop, the courts, police, and Iraqi army, to persecute his political rivals and oppress the Sunnis in Anbar.  The government of Iraq’s heavy-handed persecution of their political rivals and two year oppression of Sunnis have given al-Qaeda in Iraq an opportunity to gain a foothold, make a comeback, and provided potent propaganda in their quest to set up a new Islamic state in the territory of Anbar and eastern Syria.

    It is truly a travesty that al-Maliki gave away the opportunity presented him by the U.S.  At the aforementioned cost to the U.S., by 2011 violence had fallen to a point where it was possible for the government of Iraq to expand on hard-fought gains and build another rule-of-law based democracy in the Middle East.  But al-Maliki squandered that option by governing using the criteria of “what’s best for me“ rather than “what’s best for Iraq.”

    How did he squander it?  In part by ignoring the Constitution which required a full Cabinet to be formed in by December 2010 after he was named prime minister-designate in November 2010.  Per the Constitution, the prime minister-designate does not become prime minister until he names a Cabinet.  Because Nouri's State of Law lost the 2010 parliamentary elections to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya, the White House brokered a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) to give Nouri a second term and that contract that circumvented the Iraqi Constitution apparently circumvented the Constitutional issue of forming the Cabinet.  Back in July, 2012,  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."

    That was true then and it's still true.

    You think maybe those three security posts being left vacant for years might also explain the increase in violence?

    More to the point, Nouri wants a third term.  Can you think of any leader who is more of a failure than one who goes their entire term without having people to head the security ministries?  And this as violence increases?

    Today, there were at least 41 reported deaths and 58 reported injured.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul attack left 1 police member and 1 civilian dead,  an attack on a Mosul checkpoint left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing (Nairiyah area) left 1 person dead and five injured, a Tikrit car bombing left 4 police members dead and five civilians injured, an Arab Jabour Village roadside bombing left 1 Sahwa dead and two of his companions injured,  1 "civil servant working Muqdadiyah General Hospital" was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, 2 people were shot dead and four left injured in a Baghdad shooting (area of Camp Sara), and attack on the home of the "Imman and Preacher of Ali Ibn Abi Taleb mosque" left the Imman injured, a Baghdad car bombing (al-Talibiya area) left 2 people dead and eight more injured, another Baghdad car bombing (al-Jawadain area) left 1 person dead and six more injured, another Baghdad car bombing (al-Jadeeda area) claimed 1 life and left four other people injured, a battle north of Ramadi between security forces and rebels left 10 rebels dead, the military shot dead 3 suspects in Abu Ghraib, and 2 al-Shi'la car bombings left 4 people dead and fifteen injured.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) updates the death toll of the al-Talbea bombing by 1 to three dead and the injured by two to ten injured and updates the al-Shi'la car bombings: 4 more deaths (total of eight) and five more injured (total of fifteen).   All Iraq News adds, "An employee of the General Vehicles Company was assassinated to the north of Babel province."  And they note 1 Christian was shot dead in Mosul, and 1 "employee of the General Vehicles Company was assassinate to the north ov Babel province."

    AFP offers, "Security forces have been locked in deadly battles in Ramadi, where militants hold several neighborhoods, and have carried out operations in rural areas of Anbar province.  Anti-government fighters also hold all of Fallujah, right on Baghdad’s doorstep."  Reuters quotes Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi stating, "I'm not optimistic about the future . . .. I think this spark in Anbar will spread to other provinces.  Al-Maliki is targeting Arab Sunnis (in Iraq) in different provinces, with the use of army forces, or handing them death sentences in a way that has never been seen before in Iraq's modern history, and therefore it’s the right of these individuals to defend themselves in every way possible."  Al Mada adds that Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi spoke with US CENTCOM commander General Lloyd Austin today and that Austin agreed there was no military solution to the Anbar Crisis.  So when will Barack, rebuked by Nouri on the world stage today, take the time to tell Nouri his assault on Anbar Province needs to stop?

    the voice of russia

    mohammed tawfeeq