Friday, November 17, 2017

Yes, it would have been better if Bill Clinton had resigned


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after having a relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, the most prominent liberal to weigh in as the issue has moved from conservative media to a wider chorus of voices in recent days.
Gillibrand said she thought it would have been “the appropriate response,” when asked if Clinton should have stepped down by a reporter. The comments were published Thursday by the New York Times.  
Looking back, it would have been.
Al Gore would have been the sitting president going into the 2000 election which might have tamped down on some of the crazy.
To be fair, I think some of the nonsense was blatantly unfair.
To be fair, some of the nonsense Al brought on himself.
But as a sitting president, I doubt half the nonsense would have been pulled and I’m pretty sure he would have won the 2000 election.  That’s my gut, not fact.
So that’s one reason Bill Clinton should have resigned.
Another reason is he looks like a creep.
There was hope that his post-presidency life would let him be distinguished.  Instead, The Clinton Foundation has been a huge mess and his legacy has been further lowered.
The Supreme Court gave him a slap on the wrist.
It really looks like he skated.
From what?
Juanita Broaddrick says rape.
Set her aside (because her public interview was not aired until after the Senate censured Bill), Paula Jones (whom he settled with) said harassment. That’s a crime.
Monica Lewinsky was a stain on his presidency.  Was it criminal?
Was it presidential?
It’s tawdry and filthy.
He’s done nothing to make up for Monica.
The crimes against Juanita cannot be made up for but he will not even mention her name.  He has never said it publicly.  No one has ever asked him about it.
Grasp that because C.I. is the only one who has shared outrage over this – Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016 married to Bill who was accused by a woman of rape and she was never asked by any journalist about this nor was her husband.
She ran for president married to an accused rapist and no one in the press felt this should be asked of?
Think of all the nonsense the press said about Donald Trump’s wife (I don’t know how to spell her name and I’m not invested enough to Google).

"Iraq snapshot"(THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, November 17, 2017.

"Love Hangover" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on (and it's the theme to her hist film MAHOGANY).   November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th (today!)  to note this monumental achievement.  That's this Sunday and her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH, GIRLFRIENDS) will be hosting the broadcast.

Turning to Iraq . . .

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE this coming Sunday will feature a cover story by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal "The Uncounted:"

   Around midnight, Basim heard a thump from the second floor. He peeked out of his office and saw a sliver of light under the door to the bedroom of his daughter, Tuqa. He called out for her to go to bed. At 21, Tuqa would often stay up late, and though Basim knew that he wasn’t a good example himself and that the current conditions afforded little reason to be up early, he believed in the calming power of an early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine. He waited at the foot of the stairs, called out again, and the sliver went dark.
It was 1 a.m. when Basim finally shut down the computer and headed upstairs to bed. He settled in next to Mayada, who was fast asleep.
Some time later, he snapped awake. His shirt was drenched, and there was a strange taste — blood? — on his tongue. The air was thick and acrid. He looked up. He was in the bedroom, but the roof was nearly gone. He could see the night sky, the stars over Mosul. Basim reached out and found his legs pressed just inches from his face by what remained of his bed. He began to panic. He turned to his left, and there was a heap of rubble. “Mayada!” he screamed. “Mayada!” It was then that he noticed the silence. “Mayada!” he shouted. “Tuqa!” The bedroom walls were missing, leaving only the bare supports. He could see the dark outlines of treetops. He began to hear the faraway, unmistakable sound of a woman’s voice. He cried out, and the voice shouted back, “Where are you?” It was Azza, his sister-in-law, somewhere outside.
“Mayada’s gone!” he shouted.
“No, no, I’ll find her!”

“No, no, no, she’s gone,” he cried back. “They’re all gone!” 

Not only did the strike target his house and his brother's house, the US military posted a video of the strike insisting it was targeting an ISIS facility.

There are no precision strikes.  It's as big a lie as smart bombs.

But where has the left been since the fall of 2014 when Barack Obama began ordering daily strikes?  Strikes that have continued under Donald Trump?

Is the only true sign of a 'woke' person really just bad morning breath?

We certainly haven't seen one damn effort to stop the Iraq War and our 'Social Justice Warriors' can't be bothered with Iraq.

Nor can THE NATION or THE PROGRESSIVE or any of our so-called 'independent' outlets.

They've had nothing to say or do for over three years now as Iraq has endured daily bombings -- not by terrorists but by a US-led coalition.

Kahn and Gopal note:

Our own reporting, conducted over 18 months, shows that the air war has been significantly less precise than the coalition claims. Between April 2016 and June 2017, we visited the sites of nearly 150 airstrikes across northern Iraq, not long after ISIS was evicted from them. We toured the wreckage; we interviewed hundreds of witnesses, survivors, family members, intelligence informants and local officials; we photographed bomb fragments, scoured local news sources, identified ISIS targets in the vicinity and mapped the destruction through satellite imagery. We also visited the American air base in Qatar where the coalition directs the air campaign. There, we were given access to the main operations floor and interviewed senior commanders, intelligence officials, legal advisers and civilian-casualty assessment experts. We provided their analysts with the coordinates and date ranges of every airstrike — 103 in all — in three ISIS-controlled areas and examined their responses. The result is the first systematic, ground-based sample of airstrikes in Iraq since this latest military action began in 2014.

We found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition. It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history. Our reporting, moreover, revealed a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all. While some of the civilian deaths we documented were a result of proximity to a legitimate ISIS target, many others appear to be the result simply of flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants. In this system, Iraqis are considered guilty until proved innocent. Those who survive the strikes, people like Basim Razzo, remain marked as possible ISIS sympathizers, with no discernible path to clear their names. 

This is Rawa, the lone survivor of an airstrike that killed her parents and siblings in Qaiyara, Iraq last year. The U.S. told us the coalition carried out an airstrike "10 meters away against a known ISIS weapons cache."

Murray Brewster (CBC) reports on one aspect of the US-led coalition:

Canada is sending 20 combat engineers to train Iraqi troops to dismantle roadside bombs and booby traps left behind by retreating ISIS fighters, the Canadian military announced Friday.

The undertaking unfolded this week even as the overall advise and assist mission involving 200 elite Canadian special forces troops, remains on hold because of tensions between the central government in Baghdad and the independence-minded Kurdish region.

The tensions are long standing.  ISIS provided a common enemy that briefly set various problems aside.  These problems include the lack of funding from the Baghdad-based government to the KRG.
They also include issues of oil and issues of territory.

September 25th a non-binding referendum was held in the KRG and over 92% of those voting expressed the wish for the semi-independent Kurdistan to become fully independent.

Today's Nervous Nancies and Terrified Terrances of the press trembled at the thought and did not report what was taking place but instead presented spin from the Baghdad-based government.

The notion of splitting Iraq into three areas under a system of federalism is not a new one.

And when Senator Joe Biden proposed it, it was treated as normal and rational.

In fact, we were among the few to oppose that.

Our reason for opposing it?

If the Iraqi people want to do it, let them do it.  But it should not be imposed upon them by a foreign government.

We got a lot of flack for that position.

And yet a few years later, when a section of the Iraqi people want to explore it, the press treats it as how-dare-they! and acts as if the notion is something that has never been raised before and certainly not by any right-thinking-person.

It was a non-binding referendum.

The press and various foreign leaders treated it as though the KRG had announced they were building nukes.

This allowed Iraq's latest prime minister and thug Hayder al-Abadi to start persecuting the Kurds.

The latest move?

RUDAW reports:

Kurdish members of the Iraqi parliament left Thursday’s session, causing the legislature to postpone a vote on punishing Kurdish MPs for participating in the independence referendum.

Parliament has sought to have Kurdish MPs stripped of their parliamentary immunity and put on trial in retaliation for voting for Kurdistan independence in the September 25 referendum.

The Iraqi parliament was to discuss the matter on Thursday, but most of the Kurdish MP’s left the legislature when the subject came up. Their absence meant quorum for the session was not met and the meeting had to be delayed.

An MP with the State of Law Coalition condemned the Kurdish lawmakers’ action.

“The parliament brought yet another failure on the people of Iraq. It was meant to punish wrongdoers. Voting on a parliamentary committee formed to punish separatist MPs was on the parliament agenda. These MPs were part of a big plot to undermine the security and stability of Iraq,” said Kazim Sayadi.

Again, this is awful for the Kurds at present but it will ensure that they are resolved in leaving Baghdad behind.   Hayder doesn't know how to foster unity.

The following community sites -- plus THE GUARDIAN, DISSIDENT VOICE, LATINO USA, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and GORILLA RADIO -- updated:

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Abu Ghraib Al Franken

    So everyone's talking about Al Franken today.

    Not for a good reason.  He's accused of assault.


    It's really the picture that does it. Even by the standards of the sexual harassment stories we've heard in recent months, there is something particularly revolting about the sight of Al Franken, now a Democratic senator from Minnesota, reaching for the breasts of a sleeping woman, a naughty grin on his face as he turns toward the photographer.
    For Leeann Tweeden, the woman in the picture, the picture punctuated a bad 2006 USO trip. Tweeden says that though she was only supposed to present and act as a master of ceremonies for the show, Franken wrote a skit that gave him an opportunity to kiss her, and then pressured her to rehearse the scene and the kiss with him and harassed her afterward. Franken, in a statement addressing Tweeden's allegations, said, "While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences."

    It really is the picture and what it reminds me of is the Abu Ghraib photos.  Al Franken looks like Linndie England.

    Remember in the Abu Ghraib photos?

    That's what he looks like.

    Starts to make me wonder he could relate to those photos.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, November 16, 2017.

    "Do You Know Where You're Going To" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on (and it's the theme to her hist film MAHOGANY).   November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th to note this monumental achievement.  That's this Sunday and her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH, GIRLFRIENDS) will be hosting the broadcast.

    Moving to Iraq, it's been a slow process but the renewed attempt to lower the age of marriage for girls to 9-years-old is finally get press attention.

    Nine-year-old girls in Iraq could be forced to marry under new Muslim laws The bill includes provisions that would legalise marital rape and child marriage and ban Muslims from marrying non-Muslims.

    IBT's Isabelle Garratsen notes:

    Human rights activists are warning that a new Iraqi law could legalise marriage for children as young as nine and set women's rights back 50 years. 
    They are calling on Iraqi ministers to withdraw a draft of the Jafaari Personal Status Law which would allow Muslim clerics to have control over marriage contracts.

    For the earlier attempt, please refer to the April 17, 2014 snapshot.

    We first noted the new push for the measure in the  November 3rd  snapshot.  Last week,  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reported on it, Chris Harris (EURONEWS) has reported on the issue and Karen McVeigh (GUARDIAN) has covered it.

    Middle East media has covered this issue throughout the month.  One example being Rosie Alfatlawi's report for AL-BAWABA:

    Child marriage may soon be legal in Iraq.
    Troops have only just liberated the final major ISIS stronghold, but now Iraq’s parliament is voting on changes opponents say are reminiscent of the extremist group.
    Baghdad’s House of Representatives voted “in principle” on Wednesday to approve amendments to the Personal Status Law that could allow girls as young as 9 marry.
    Currently 18 is the official marriage age, although a judge can allow individuals as young as 15 to wed.
    In addition, the amended law would facilitate polygamy, with men no longer needing a judge’s permission to marry multiple wives.

    Yet while Middle East outlets have covered the issue, western media has been largely silent.  This despite the fact that the US State Dept commented on this issue last week. As KURDISTAN 24 noted:

    State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert strongly criticized the Iraqi parliament’s approval, in principle, of a draft law that would allow the marriage of girls as young as nine-years old and restore the authority of religious courts in matters of personal status.
    “We are completely against and oppose the idea of children marrying adults,” Nauert said on Thursday, replying to a question from Kurdistan 24 at a Department press briefing.
    Nauert likened the pending Iraqi legislation to the practices of the Islamic State (IS.)
    “It was not that long ago,” she said, that we condemned “the depravity of [IS] for taking children as brides.
    “We remain firmly opposed to the idea that any adult would attempt to marry a child in that fashion.”

    Iraq’s current personal status law goes back to 1959. It was approved in the wake of the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy in a military coup led by Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim in July 1958.

    If you're in the west, especially if you're in the US, grasp this: Day after day, for weeks now, you are part of the daily outrage -- good, healthy outrage -- over the abusive behaviors of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, etc.  What is being proposed in Iraq right now is abuse.  And women and men in the west have benefited from global solidarity.

    To avoid looking self-involved and hypocritical, it would be good for numerous 'social justice warriors' in the US to try to take a moment or two to recognize proposed abuse even if doesn't involve a famous performer.

    Late yesterday, Bethan McKernan (INDEPENDENT) noted:

    [T]he UN and various women’s rights groups in the region have condemned the proposed legislation.
    “I call upon the Council of Representatives to seize this opportunity of the process to amend the Personal Status Law,“ the UN Secretary General’s special representative to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said in a statement. 

    The Council of Representatives must “conduct a wider consultation on the draft amendments in a participatory manner to recommit to and ensure the full respect, protection and fulfilment of women and girls’ rights in Iraq in relation to matrimonial and other matters,” he added.

    Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) explains:

    Iraq’s current personal status law, introduced in 1959, is considered to be one of the most protective of women’s rights in the region. It is applied to all Iraqis regardless of their religious beliefs and sets the legal age of marriage at 18. In "urgent" cases, however, a judge is allowed to permit girls as young as 15 to marry.
    The current personal status law bans forced marriages and restricts polygamy.
    Under the new amendments, however, Shiite girls would be allowed to marry from the age of nine in line with the teachings of the Jaafari school of Shiite religious jurisprudence. The school was established by the sixth Shiite imam, Jaafar Al Sadiq.
    Belikis Wille, Iraq and Qatar researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that the mooted changes — which were first proposed in an earlier, more extreme bill introduced in 2014 — were "catastrophic".
    “The fact that this is not the first time the proposal was introduced is deeply disturbing,” Ms Wille added.

    “It’s a step backwards for Iraq, a country where there are many initiatives to improve women’s rights. Now [after ISIL’s defeat] is the time to assert more clearly that everyone in Iraq has equal rights.”

    In 2014, the bill was approved by Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet of Ministers.  Yesterday,voting was halted on the measure by a committee in Parliament.  Mohamed Mostafa (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

    SNG website quoted Lama al-Halfi, chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s women affairs committee, saying in a press statement on Wednesday that the “personal status” law had been withdrawn from voting and returned to the committee for further deliberation with the endowments committee.
    “This (draft) law permits girls between eight and nine to get married, while the Iraqi law 199/1959 sets a girl’s maturity age between 15 and 16,” Halfi said, asking to adopt that age range in the new amendments.

    In other disturbing news, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

    An investigative report by the BBC titled “Raqqa's dirty secret” has confirmed earlier charges by Iran, Russia and the Syrian government that the Pentagon has colluded with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the evacuation of ISIS fighters from cities and towns under US military siege.
    The BBC story, based on interviews with some of those who organized the evacuation along with truck drivers who were brought in to transport the fighters and others who observed it, describes a four-mile-long convoy that included “50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 of the Islamic State group’s own vehicles. IS fighters, their faces covered, sat defiantly on top of some of the vehicles.”
    In total, the convoy, which set out on October 12, transported some 4,000 people—ISIS fighters and their families—along with tons of arms, ammunition and explosives. The US military and its proxy ground force, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, assured that reporters and cameramen were kept out of Raqqa to prevent images of the long column of trucks, with armed ISIS fighters on top of them from being broadcast around the world.

    The story has been largely ignored by the US media. It flies in the face of repeated statements by leading US officials vowing to “annihilate” ISIS to the last man in Iraq and Syria and debunks the greatest “fake news” story of the 21st century—the so-called US war on terror.

    ISIS was bussed.  Poor thug Hayder al-Abadi.  He's been taking victory laps as fast as his tiny legs could carry his portly body while screaming that he'd defeated ISIS.  Poor Hayder, always a fool on the western stage.

    This false claim has led to the mistaken assumption that the Iraqi forces have vastly improved when that is not the case.  The official desertion rate among the Iraqi forces remains as high today as it was in 2014.  They are still unable to move into a town unless they have at least 10 soldiers for every 1 suspected terrorist.  They have been trained and retrained.

    It's probably always going to be difficult to get them to fight for a government propped up by the United States as opposed to a true Iraqi government.

    That is only shocking to those who haven't paid attention to what has taken place repeatedly.  Of, for that matter, the 2011 brush off of the offer for more US training.  (Iraq's 'acting' Foreign Minister -- speaking on behalf of Nouri al-Maliki -- suggested that the US find a better way to spend their money.)

    The bussing was also outrageous when you grasp that the US is supposedly fighting ISIS.  For many in the Middle East who have long argued that the US created ISIS and did so intentionally, this latest news will only confirm their beliefs.

    The following community sites updated:

  • iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq Iraq

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

    Thanks, Hillary Clinton!

    'Feminist' Hillary Clinton has done so much for the world -- far too much in fact.

    Welcome to Hillary Clinton’s “liberated” Libya, where human beings are being sold as slaves and slaughtered based on the color of their skin by jihadist “rebels” that she and Obama helped bring to power.

    What a proud moment for her.

    That anyone considered this destructive and mindless person presidential material is beyond belief.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Wednesday, November 15, 2017.  The Iraq War continues, where's THE NATION magazine?  Iraqi girls are yet again under attack from the politicians who are supposed to be representing them.  And much more.

    "Touch Me In The Morning" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on.  November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th to note this monumental achievement.

    And Diana's daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH) will be hosting this year's American Music Awards.

    I couldn't miss the honoring my mom this Sunday... so I'm hosting the show! Don't miss it this Sunday at 8/7c on ABC!

    Switching topics, let's note things that don't make sense if you are capable of thought.

    If you want to know how Hypocritical the GOP is, consider the fact that there were more investigations into Benghazi than the false intelligence which rationalized the Iraq war, killing 300,000+ People.

    This nonsense has been going on forever.

    I have no idea why .

    This does not reflect poorly on House Republicans (where the bulk of the inquiries took place).

    House Republicans -- like Senate Republicans -- voted for the Iraq War and supported it.

    In the 2006 mid-terms, promising to end the Iraq War, the Democrats won back both houses of Congress.

    From January 2007 through January 2011, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

    Brian Krassenstein thinks he's saying something amazing.

    He's not.

    The Iraq War is the biggest blunder/crime/mistake/error/take your pick of the 21st century.

    And Democrats campaigned on ending it.

    But when in charge of both houses, they didn't do what the promised and they didn't investigate the lies of the Iraq War -- lies that started before the illegal war began and lies that continued after the war started.

    So the GOP's not the one looking bad there, it's the craven Democratic leadership in Congress that refused to do (a) what they promised and (b) what the Constitution required them to do.

    The ongoing Iraq War will hit the 15 year mark in March.

    Has it achieved anything of note?

    Is Iraq any safer?

    Countries that suffered the greatest impact from terrorism in the 2017 Global Terrorism Index: 1. Iraq 2. Afghanistan 3. Nigeria 4. Syria 5. Pakistan 6. Yemen 7. Somalia 8. India 9. Turkey 10. Libya Read more in the full report:

    14 years and counting and nothing to show for it.

    Every so-called "turned corner" leads right back to where they stood before.

    Hayder al-Abadi's 'big' difference between thug Nouri al-Maliki?

    His personal favorite to persecute is the Kurds and not the Sunnis.

    Otherwise, it's the same situation all over again.

    He's imprisoning reporters, he's attacking political opponents, he's committing War Crimes.

    In fact, he might soon be judged worse than Nouri al-Maliki because it was Hayder who brought the militias into the armed forces despite the Constitutional ban on the militias.

    In spite of that ban.

    The damage these War Criminals have already done is immense but the effects will be felt for years to come.

    That's why Hayder stands a good chance of surpassing Nouri when it comes to thuggish War Criminals.

    At the start of 2005, the magazine offered "Iraq's Lost Election" -- an editorial which included:

    As long as the occupation continues, any Iraqi government or constitution will be tainted and incapable of producing the compromises necessary for a stable and unified Iraq. Therefore, for the sake of Iraq's future and the safety of our young men and women, the United States must begin an orderly withdrawal, coordinated with stepped-up US and international economic assistance. We recognize that further violence and internal fighting among Iraqis may follow, but to believe that a continuing US military presence can prevent this is naïve or disingenuous; it will, rather, contribute to the instability. The best long-term outcome is for Iraqis to regain control of their own country and sort out their own future. 

    As we asked at THIRD this week, "What's changed?"

    Well, about the only change I'm seeing is that THE NATION no longer makes this argument and lost interest in Iraq in 2009.

    Thought I was over the bridge now
    Over the bridge now
    I'm already in
    Circles and circles and circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles, got to stop spinning
    Circles and circles and circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles and circles again, well
    Circles and circles, circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles, got to stop spinning
    Circles and circles and circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles and circles again, well

    -- "Cloud On My Tongue," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her album UNDER THE PINK (live version from her album TO VENUS AND BACK).

    Circles and circles and circles again . . .

    The US keeps imposing prime ministers on Iraq and then keeping US troops in the country to prop up their puppet.

    Nothing's changed.

    Elections are supposed to take place in May.


    In 2010, the Iraqi people voted Nouri out but Barack Obama overruled them and nullified their votes via the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.

    C. Alexander Ohlers (THE HILL) offers:

    Another positive development was the emergence of a non-sectarian Sunni-Shiite coalition, the Iraqi National Movement (al Iraqiya), which would win a narrow majority in the 2010 election against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Collation.
    Although the victors normally have the first opportunity to form a collation government, Maliki influenced the Iraq courts to sanction his party with a prevenient opportunity to form a government. A nine-month standoff ensued as a result, during which time Maliki retained power while Iran pressured wayward Shiite groups to join Maliki’s coalition.
    The U.S. Administration was faced with a decision: to reinforce Iraq’s democratic process; or, to support the Maliki government. As reported by Ned Parker in Foreign Affairs and Politico, Vice President Biden and then Ambassador Hill chose to back the politically stronger Maliki as prime minister through a compromise power sharing arrangement, or the Erbil Agreement.
    The outcome was dire. After U.S. troops departed from Iraq at the end of 2011, Maliki reneged on the terms of the Erbil Agreement. Instead, he moved to centralized power, exiled several Sunni leaders, and marginalized Sunni groups in what many analysts believe set fertile soil for the rise of ISIS.

    Then, tired of Nouri in the summer of 2014, Barack installed Hayder -- a loser no one had heard of before.

    Circles and circles?  Yet again, there's a bill in Iraq that, if passed, would lower the age of marriage for girls (not boys) to nine-years.  If you missed this a few years back, you can refer to the April 17, 2014 snapshot.

    This month, the bill was again proposed -- see the November 3rd  snapshot.  Last week,  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reported:

    “There are serious constitutional and legal violations in this desire of the Islamic parties to amend the law,” one Iraqi MP, Shuruq al-Abaji, told NIQASH.
    She points out that Article 41 of the Iraqi Constitution guarantees that Iraqis are free to choose personal status according to their religious beliefs, sects or other choices. Before the amendments can be made to the personal status law, this article would need to be changed, al-Abaji insists.
    And there is another legal issue, the politician notes. The proposed new personal status law would refer issues of marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance to the religious endowment authorities – these are the bodies tasked with running and maintaining Shiite or Sunni mosques and shrines and they are very important institutions within their own sectarian communities. But, as al-Abaji argues, that violates not just the principle of the separation of powers but also human rights and international laws around women’s rights.
    “The organization of these issues should be the responsibility of the courts and not the executive branch of Sunni or Shiite religious orders,” al-Abaji concludes.
    Iraq’s original personal status law and the proposed amendments could not be more different. The first one grants mothers the right to custody and gives wives the right to inherit their husband’s estate. Meanwhile religious jurisprudence tends to say the custody of children is a matter for the father and that women do not have the right to inherit real estate or land.
    However these were not even the issues that really riled Iraqis up. The change that most angered locals was the one related to legal marriageable age. Civil law says a couple should be aged at least 18 in order to marry. Meanwhile religious law says puberty means a female is of marriageable age. In some cases, this is considered to be nine years old, in others 12 years old. 
    “The newly proposed law encourages the marriage of minors and reminds us most of the way that the [extremist group] Islamic State behaved with young girls, how the organisation forced them to marry group members when they were in control in Mosul and Raqqa,” says MP Rizan al-Sheik Daleer.
    Once again, civil society and women’s rights organisations rallied around to protests the changes in the law. Many Iraqis on social media used the hashtag #NoToUnderageMarriages and a number of Facebook pages were created to organize the protests and garner support.

    Chris Harris (EURONEWS) has reported on the issue:

    Iraq has moved a step closer to allowing girls as young as nine to marry, human rights campaigners have claimed.
    The proposal is part of a draft law recently approved by 40 MPs that would see the restoration of religious courts, says Equality Now (EN).
    Government courts have, since 1959, ruled on such matters, setting the official age of marriage to 18, although a judge can allow it at 15.
    But the proposed legislation – which will have to be approved by a full parliament to go ahead – would instead see religious courts decide.
    “The nine-year-old thing comes from the different interpretations of the wife of the Prophet Muhammad,” said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, EN’s Middle East consultant.
    “Some interpretations say she was married at the age of nine. That is why some religious sects in Iraq are following that.”
    UNICEF says one-in-five girls are married as children in Iraq and that the practice often sees them abandon education and fall pregnant. If the mother is under 18 when she gives birth her infant’s risk of dying in the first year is 60% higher. Underage marriage also puts the girl at greater vulnerability to domestic violence, the NGO says.
    “Iraqi women are outraged,” Abu-Dayyeh told Euronews. “We’re very concerned and it will affect all women’s issues in their daily lives.
    “I think we will see an explosion of child marriage in Iraq if it’s passed. It’s not logical, we’re in 2017 and we’re still going backwards in terms of women’s rights.” 

    Karen McVeigh (GUARDIAN) noted yesterday:

    Public demonstrations were held last weekend by civil society and women’s rights groups against the amendment. The United Nations in Iraq (Unami) called for wider consultations and for women’s rights to be fully recognised and protected. 
    An earlier, more extreme version of the bill, provoked an international outcry when it was proposed, ahead of the elections in 2014. The earlier version also restricted women’s rights in terms of divorce, parenting and inheritance.
    Opposition to the current proposals, which were approved this month, has so far concentrated on their impact on child marriage.
    Suad Abu-Dayyeh, of Equality Now, based in Jordan, told the Guardian: “This bill contradicts international conventions and the national law in Iraq. If it is approved, in effect, each and every religious sect will follow their clerics. It will be catastrophic for women’s rights.

    “We are outraged, and we will be supporting women in Iraq by issuing alerts about the bill. We are also writing letters to the speaker of [parliament] and the president.”

    Circles and circles . . .

    Meanwhile, Sunday's earthquake on the Iraq-Iran border continues to receive attention -- it is the deadliest earthquake of this year so far.

    The Iraqi constitution refers to the region hit by the as "Kurdistan Region". The Iranian constitution refers to it as "Kordestan", "Kermanshah" and "Ilam". Using non-official terms such as "Northern Iraq" and "Western Iran" is politicizing a humanitarian catastrophe.

    Among those offering sympathy?  Enrique Iglesias.

    Everyone please send your love, thoughts and prayers to those suffering from the earthquake in Iran & Iraq….

    Among those still failing to offer leadership?  Hayder al-Abadi.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated: