Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Party

First up, thank you to Martha and Shirley for giving me a tip off.  A book I covered here made the community's top 10.  That will go up shortly.  C.I.'s letting the Iraq snapshot stay up a bit and then, every hour, you'll see some year-in-review stuff.

Please read Mike's "Gay cutie Aaron Rodgers" -- I love that post.

I don't know that I have any year in review in me.

What I do have is: I need help!

My party's still going on and appears to be good.

People are having fun.  But, honestly, I could not pull it together.

I spent two hours in the grocery store yesterday and a litte more than that today.

I just couldn't figure out snack food.

I think it's because I usually do a dinner and the snacks are in addition to that.

But I usually have family and ten friends and that's about it.

This year I ended up with family and 40 guests and the party, thankfully, didn't start until nine -- meaning everyone should have eaten dinner.

So I was looking at various things.

Chicken wings?  And popcorn chicken?


Egg rolls?  Or spring rolls?

Or both.

Pizza rolls?  What flavor?






And it was so much more than just that.

Here's what I ended up serving.

1) three large vegetable platter (I bought it prepared).

2) a ton of chicken wings.  I prefer the drummets but I made sure we had both kinds.

3) and along with the boned in number two, also 52 ounces of boneless honey bbq wings and 52 ounces of boneless hot wings

4) popcorn shrimp

5) shrimp poppers

6) buffalo shrimp

7) chicken fingers

8) Wheat Thins and spinach dip

9) 3 KFC buckets

10) a large fruit platter (I made it -- pineapple, granny smith apples, grapes and tangerine slices)

11) tortilla chips and salsa

12) crackers and cheese balls

13) two meat and cheese trays

14) deviled eggs (my grandmother is at the party and she has to have them)

15) mini-egg rolls

16) brownies

17) Swedish meatballs

18) cheese sticks

19) tater tots (those weren't planned, my niece asked about potatoes and I didn't have any planned but she found some tater tots in the freezer and cooked those up and . . .)

20) 2 boxes of corny dogs (which she also cooked up)

21) Ruffles and French Onion dip

22) Cheetos puffs

23) 72 cupcakes that my girlfriend baked

24) pretzels

And of course sodas, beer, margaritas, wine, bloody marys, etc.

I hope I did okay.

I don't want to do this next year.  Instead, I'll drop back to a dinner kick off and then light snacks.  I just didn't know how to do a New Year's Eve party with just snacks.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, December 31, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another journalist is killed in Iraq, Nouri's attacks continue, we take a look at how little he's accomplished in over 7 years as prime minister, and more.

NINA reports Omar al-Dulaimi was shot dead in Ramadi today while he was covering the clashes between Nouri's forces and militants or rebels.  NINA notes he was "a graduate of the Department of Information in the faculty of Arts, University of Anbar, and worked as a reporter for one of the local agencies in Ramadi."

Yesterday, The Committee to Protect Journalists published a report by Elana Beiser on the deaths of journalists in 2013 which noted 70 journalists were killed around the world in 2013:

At least 10 journalists were killed for their work in Iraq­, nine of them murdered, and all during the final quarter of the year. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on cameraman Mohammed Ghanem and correspondent Mohammed Karim al-Badrani of the independent TV channel Al-Sharqiya as they filmed a report on Eid al-Adha holiday preparations in Mosul in October. It is unclear why they were targeted; the station has attracted ire from both Iraqi authorities and anti-government militants.

As the year ends, the number of journalists killed in Iraq this year stands at eleven -- at least eleven.

The year winds down and so does Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister.  What has he accomplished?

Not a damn thing.

Every October, the heavy rains come to Iraq.

Every year.

It's the raining season.  It's not a surprise.

And if you're on your second term as prime minister, it's especially not a surprise.

When heavy rains fall in most wealthy countries, the water moves along via the public sewage systems.

If you don't have them, the water doesn't move along.  Instead the water pools.

A home that comes down in the midst of storms?

That's probably not Nouri's fault.  That's the effect of the rain (most likely).

But when, for example, rain water -- after the raining stops -- is knee high in Baghdad?

That's on Nouri al-Maliki.

Top photo on this Al Mada page of photos is of the flooding in Baghdad.

al mada

Iraq brings in billions of dollars from oil each month and yet Nouri can't address public services. The crumbling infrastructure has not really been updated since the 70s.

Iraq has another water problem.  Having any.

This is going to become a very pressing issue for Iraq in the 21st century if it's not addressed.

An intelligent leader aware of the rainy season would have been prepared to work the heavy rains to his or her advantage.  That would require constructing water towers.  The basin issue?  That's what the whole region's going to be fighting over.  If I were in charge of Iraq, every major city would have a water tower.

In a largely useless interview on Morning Edition (NPR -- link is text and audio), this exchange took place between host Steve Inskeep and AFP's WG Dunlop:

INSKEEP: We understand that as we were arranging this call, there were power outages in Baghdad. How regular are city services at this point?

DUNLOP: It really varies by area and time. But ultimately, there's not 24-hour power. Many Iraqis have to supplement government-provided power with private generators - either buying generators themselves, or buying lines from local neighborhood generators.

Nouri's first term started in 2006.  And it's 2013.  Yet he's failed to fix the electricity.

Unemployment remains at record highs in Iraq, it's one of the reasons people have protested for over a year. Nouri's failed to provide jobs.

As we've repeatedly noted, every few months Iraq's importing nurses from other countries.  The way you create jobs?  Fast track medical training.  You provide an education for those in need of jobs to become nurses and doctors -- both are heavily needed in Iraq.

But Nouri didn't do that. He didn't do that in 2006 or any time since.  We've noted that he needs to do this since at least 2009.

In November, in search of a campaign issue, he brought it up once and then dropped it.

Also in November, All Iraq News reported, "Iraq has occupied the (130) position globally in terms of economic development indicator in accordance with the general prosperity and welfare world annual pointer of 2013. The report, which was issued by the British Institute (Legatom) in London including (142) countries, is considering many pointers such as the happiness and satisfaction of the people of the country and their ability to plan for better future as well as the financial fortune."

He has been prime minister for over seven years now and he has nothing to show for it, nothing to point to with pride.

He has no accomplishments.

In 2007, he agreed with the White House to a set of benchmarks.

He failed at them.

He failed at them while Bully Boy Bush was in the White House and he's still not accomplished them.

One of them we still hear the foolishness of reporters on.  That would be the oil and gas law.

How long would it take to count up all the 'reports' from news outlets over the years that have told us that Iraq was about to pass an oil and gas law?

Vivienne Walt (Time magazine) noted:

Among the key "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq set by President George W. Bush in January of 2007 was the passage of a new Iraqi oil law. But almost three years on, the controversial legislation setting terms for foreign investment in the country's oil sector, and for distributing its revenues, remains stalled in the legislature. And Iraqi politicians admit it's unlikely to pass before the current parliament is replaced following Iraq's general elections next January.
And she noted that in October 2009.  It's still true.
The January "general elections" she's referring to did take place . . . in  March of 2010.  
Which is why we try to say "scheduled for April 30th" about the supposed upcoming elections. 

Iraq did have elections this year.

This was more failure for Nouri.

The press runs with the poor showing of his State of Law as evidence that his popularity is on the wane.  I don't make that argument.  I do think he's far less popular but these were provincial elections and they're more local elections.

So what do I mean it was a failure for Nouri?

The Kurdistan Regional Government is (currently) three provinces in northern Iraq.  They held their elections in September.  That's fine, the KRG is semi-autonomous.

But Iraq has 18 provinces and that still left fifteen.

One did not vote.  That left fourteen.

April 20th was the day of elections . . . for twelve provinces.

Nouri is deeply unpopular in Anbar and Nineveh Province.

Guess which two weren't allowed to vote in April?

You got it.

In Novmeber, the State Dept's Brett McGurk told Congress, "In the Sunni majority provinces of Ninewa and Anbar, provincial elections had been delayed due to security concerns. We were clear from the outset that this decision was unwise, and pushed to ensure the elections took place, which they did on June 20."

Clear from the outset?

On that -- at least on that -- McGurk told the truth.

In March of this year, Al Jazeera reported the following

Kerry's visit also addressed democratic reforms and upcoming elections which are threatened by sectarian tensions.
The secretary of state has told Iraq's parliamentary speaker the US believes Iraq is facing a serious crisis and is in danger of going backwards, according to an official at the talks.
Iraq's parliamentary speaker told Kerry that a decision earlier this month by the Iraqi government to postpone provincial elections next month in two Sunni-majority provinces due to security concerns is unconstitutional.
The statement said the speaker pointed out to Kerry that security during the last elections four years ago was much worse, and described the delay as a "political decision".

Following this discussion, Kerry says that Maliki agreed to revisit a cabinet decision to delay elections in two Sunni majority provinces next month.

Al Jazeera goes on to tell you that the elections were delayed in the two provinces for security reasons.


That's a lie and part of the continued lying that outlet does for Nouri.

The most violent province was Baghdad -- as cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr pointed out.

It wasn't about violence at all.

Pressed on that, Nouri suddenly announced the delay was because they couldn't prevent voter fraud in those two provinces.

Okay, we noted 17 provinces finally voted -- not 18 -- and that the KRG currently is three provinces.  What are we talking about?

The province of Kirkuk -- both the KRG and Nouri's Baghdad based government insist that Kirkuk belongs to them.

If only there was a way to resolve the dispute.

Oh, wait, there is.

Article 140 of the Constitution.  It demands that a census and referendum be held to determine the status of Kirkuk.

Nouri took an oath to the Constitution at the start of both of his terms of prime minister.

But he's never implemented Article 140.

The Constitution demands it be implemented.  It was supposed to, per the wording of Article 140, have been resolved by the end of 2007.

Nouri blew the Constitution off.

In 2010's parlimentary elections, Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Allawi should be prime minister today.

If Nouri didn't have the votes of the people how did he get around it and get a second term?

Because Nouri refused to step down.

An election took place in March of 2010.

For over eight months, Nouri refused to step down.  He lost to Iraqiya and he refused to step down.

Instead of urging him to honor the will of the Iraqi people, the White House backed him and brokered a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement.

The pitch the White House used with the leaders of Iraq's various political blocs was, "Nouri's prepared to drag this on for eight more months.  Nothing is happening.  Parliament can't meet.  There are no sessions, there is no Cabinet.  Iraq cannot survive 8 more months of this.  The country needs your leadership and your maturity.  Be the bigger person and let Nouri have a second term.  If you agree, we can draw up the contract, a legally binding contract with the full backing of the US government, and make sure that, in exchange for Nouri getting a second term, you get something your constituents want."

For the Kurds, what they wanted was Kirkuk determined.

Nouri was so desperate for a second term -- and he's such a liar -- that the Kurds could have probably asked for Kirkuk in that negotiation and he would have agreed to it.

But they asked for Article 140 to be implemented.

That was stupid.

If the Constitution requires Nouri to implement it and he's refusing to do so, why would you think a United States brokered contract would make him implement it?

He never intended to.

He used The Erbil Agreement to grab a second term and, once he had that, he refused to honor the legally binding promises he made in that contract.  And the White House pretended that they'd never heard of The Erbil Agreement -- so much for the contract having the full backing of the US government.

KRG President Massoud Barzani spoke in DC April 5, 2012 (covered in that day's snapshot and the April 6, 2012 one).  Among the statements he made?  This:

As far as the second part of your question, the Erbil Agreement.  In fact, the agreement was not only for the sake of forming the government and forming the three presidencies -- the presidency, the Speakership of Parliament and premier.  In fact, it was a package -- a package that included a number of essential items.  First, to put in place a general partnership in the country.  Second, commitment to the Constitution and its implementation, the issue of fedarlism, the return of balance of power and especially in all the state institutions,the establishment in [. . .] mainly in the armed forces and the security forces, the hydrocarbons law, the Article 140 of the Constitution, the status of the pesh merga.  These were all part of the package that had been there.  Had this Erbil Agreement been implemented, we would not have faced the situation that we are in today.  Therefore, if we do not implement the Erbil Agreement then there would certainly be problems in Iraq.

Nouri created the ongoing political crisis by refusing to honor The Erbil Agreement.

In fact, the White House -- Barack Obama -- created the ongoing political crisis by refusing to honor the will of the Iraqi people and brokering an extra-constitutional contract to give Nouri a second term.

The administration's inept and clueless on Iraq.

They've never understood it.  Vice President Joe Biden does have an understanding.

But he's repeatedly overridden by the likes of Samantha Power. (She and Susan Rice were the ones insisting to Barack that Nouri had to have a second term.)

Barack's clueless on Iraq.  That's why his first US Ambassador to Iraq was the idiot Chris Hill.

We covered Hill's Senate confirmation hearing in the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th one.

In his opening remarks, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry pointed out the importance of Kirkuk:

First, resolving the status of Kirkuk and other disputed territories. Arab - Kurdish tensions run high in Kirkuk, which remains a potential flashpoint for violence, and meaningful efforts to reach agreement on Kirkuk's final status cannot be put off indefinitely. In Mosul, a strong showing in recent provincial elections by an anti-Kurdish coalition illustrated rising tensions there, as did a tense military standoff in Diyala province last summer between the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga . If progress is not made in defusing Arab-Kurdish tensions while American forces remain in Iraq, the window for a peaceful resolution of Kirkuk and other disputed territories may close.         

However, the never-should-have-been-confirmed Hill insisted in that hearing that Kirkuk was"just an old fashioned land dispute."

Isaiah's  The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador" from April 5, 2009 would mock that comment.

The Pig-Pen Ambassador

People ask two questions about that coverage. Did John Kerry really yawn while Hill was speaking?  Yes, he did.  I noted he was tired.  Even so, he openly yawned as Hill yammered away, wide mouth yawn and no attempt to hide it or cover his mouth was his hand.  Second, was Isaiah's comic fair?


Chris Hill may have cowlicks or he may just be messy but his hair was sticking up and out and his shirt had a food stain on it, a prominent food stain.

This is how the lazy slob presented himself to the Senate Committee in what was a job interview.

That goes to his stupidity as well.

If you're blowing Kerry on the importance of Kirkuk, you're making a mistake.  If you're blowing off the importance because I'm the one saying it, let's drop back to the July 26, 2011 snapshot for more on this issue:

Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's  report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops."  The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer.  If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.  CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor.  (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.)  Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years.  And had outside actors.  The authors acknowledge:
Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops.  While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.
As you read over the report, you may be struck by its failure to state the obvious: If the US government really wanted the issue solved, it would have been solved in the early years of the illegal war.  They don't want it solved.  The Kurds have been the most loyal ally the US has had in the country and, due to that, they don't want to upset them.  However, they're not going to pay back the loyalty with actual support, not when there's so much oil at stake.  So the Kurds were and will continue to be told their interests matter but the US will continue to blow the Kurdish issues off over and over.  Greed trumps loyalty is the message.  (If you doubt it, the Constitution guaranteed a census and referendum on Kirkuk by December 31, 2007.  Not only did the US government install Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in 2006, they continued to back him for a second term in 2010 despite his failure to follow the Constitution.)
Along with avoiding that reality, the report seems rather small-minded or, at least, "niche driven."  Again, the authors acknowledge that as well noting that they're not presenting a solution to the problems or ways to reach a solution, just ways to kick the can further down the road and, hopefully, there won't be an explosion that forces the issue any time soon. ("Regional and local CBMs have the potential to keep a lid on inter-communal tensions that will, without question, boil beneath the surface for a long time.  They cannot, however, resolve what is, at its heart, a strategic political dispute that must be resolved at the national level.") Hopefully? Page nine of the report notes that the consensus of US military, officials, analysts, etc. who have worked on the issue is that -- "given enough time -- Arab and Kurdish participants will eventually have a dispute that leads to violence, which will cause the mechanism to degrade or collapse."
The report notes that, in late 2009, Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq at that point) had declared the tensions between Arabs and Kurds to be "the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq."  It doesn't note how the US Ambassador to Iraq when Odierno made those remarks was Chris Hill who dismissed talk of tensions as well as the issue of the oil rich and disputed Kirkuk.

This can't continue.  Kirkuk needs to be resolved.

To the Kurds credit, when they had leverage in 2010, they only asked for Article 140 to be implemented.  All they asked for with regards to Kirkuk was for the country's Constitution to be followed.

That's not going to continue.

People can only be ignored and blown off for so long.  The issue needs to be resolved.

If the current violence diminished or even disappeared tomorrow, the issue of Kirkuk would continue to jeopardize the future of Iraq.  It has to be addressed.


Let's go today's violence.

National Iraqi News Agency reports that a Baghdad shooting left a police member injured, a Baghdad car bombing left one person injured, another Baghdad car bombing left 1 person dead and five more injured, two more Baghdad car bombings left 4 people dead and ten injured, yet another Baghdad car bombing left eleven people injured, a clash in Ramadi left three Iraqi soldiers injured and one police member injured as well, Jurf al-Sakar home bombings claimed the lives of 7 Iraqi soldiers and 2 military officers, two people were injured in Falluja by sniper fire, a Mosul home invasion left a wife and husband dead, Baghdad Operations command announced/boasted they shot dead 2 suspects4 people were shot dead in Ramadi by a sniper, and in another Ramadi shooting 1 person was dead and two more injured

Staying with violence, Nouri attacked peaceful protesters yesterday.  He was able to do so because he has the backing of the White House.  That backing includes the White House decision to supply Nouri with weapons.

Last week, Erin Evers (Human Rights Watch) weighed in on the latest arming Barack has elected to do:
These issues are all at play.  Further irritating Nouri may be Ayad Allawi's visit.  KUNA reports that he is in Anakara meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

So the United States has delivered 75 Hellfire missiles to Iraq, The New York Times reported, to help Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki fight Al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The US has already sent Iraq reconnaissance helicopters, and plans to deliver more aerial drones and F-16 fighter planes in 2014, the article said. The Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and reconnaissance drones, along with US intelligence, are meant to “augment limited Iraqi ability”to locate and strike Al-Qaeda militants, the article said.
The US focus on new weapons seems to be missing the point about the security problems facing Iraq. There’s little evidence that Iraq’s failure to improve security in the country stems from a lack of weapons, but rather from its short-sighted approach to corruption and sectarian politics, and a counterterrorism strategy that targets Sunni Iraqis amounting to collective punishment.
Corruption is deeply entrenched in the security forces, and Maliki has at best turned a blind eye and at worst encouraged the graft to his own advantage. Many people in Baghdad  – including military officers, and advisers in the Prime Minister’s Office – have told me that there is a system for buying positions in the army and police, with set prices for each rank.
 Shia militias interested in escalating sectarian warfare ahead of elections have infiltrated the security forces, which are filled with men whose only loyalty is to the officers they’ve paid for their positions. In the last six months there have been at least four prison breakouts and numerous  attacks on government buildings and security installations that would have been impossible without help from within the security forces.
 Maliki has also blatantly encouraged sectarian policies, visually apparent in the Shia flags and slogans that cover virtually every SWAT and army vehicle in Iraq.
 Al-Qaeda effectively exploits Iraq’s main problem, the gulf between the Shiite-led government and the minority Sunni population. The Iraqi army and police are just as likely to turn any new weapons and capabilities against the Sunni population at large, rather than against those posing  imminent threats to human life.

US President Barack Obama should be doing more to address the human rights issues underlying Iraq’s security problems. He needs to take the Iraqi leader to task for his abusive and sectarian policies and his failure to curb corruption.These failures have helped strengthen Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and won’t disappear without ending the discrimination and abuses.

Violence continues today as Nouri's forces continue their Anbar attacks.  While the press reports this, they do not report numbers.  Presumably, in a few days a toll will be given.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, 44 Sunni MPs resigned Monday over Nouri's attacks on Anbar and Nouri's Saturday dawn raid on the home of MP Ahmed al-Alwani who was illegally arrested while  5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.  Al Jazeera reports today:

Tariq Hashemi, Iraq's exiled Sunni vice president, has also resigned in protest, and called on the government of Saudi Arabia for help.
"Enough is enough," Hashemi told Al Jazeera. "Everyone has a cause, but we face two main problems. We lack a unifying project and a country that supports our cause."

Kim Sengupta (Independent) adds of the violence and the MPs who have resigned:

The MPs also demanded the release of Ahmed al-Alwani, a colleague who was arrested in Ramadi at the weekend amid violence in which his brother and five guards were killed. The government stated that he was wanted on charges of terrorism without specifying what they were.
Support for the Sunni stance had come from some Shia public figures, including Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric who was a vehement opponent of the presence of American and British forces in his country. Sheikh Abdul Malik al-Saadi, an influential Sunni cleric, has asked the Shia tribes in the south of the country not to send their sons to participate “in this blatant aggression on their brothers”.

World Bulletin reports that the resignations were in response to a Sunday call from Ayad Allawi that MPs resign over Nouri's targeting of Sunnis.  (Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya, is a Shi'ite.)

State Dept friends have repeatedly called to tell me Iraq came up in the briefing yesterday.

Thank you.

I knew that yesterday.   We didn't have room.  We don't have room today.  In the January 2nd snapshot it will be noted.  We never had room to note the death threat on Ayad Allawii  in Jordan last week.  There's a ton of things I'd love to note -- including ripping apart an 'analysis' that can't seem to support itself with facts.
We don't have room.  That's how it goes sometimes.  I wanted to note Nouri and the Constitution today -- how he refuses to follow the Constitution -- not just Article 140.

No room.  No time.

 The coverage of Iraq is minimal today.  And yet events in Iraq are so numerous that an overly long snapshot can't even cover it all.  When this started, the snapshots, in 2006, the term 'snapshot' was used because there was so much Iraq news that we couldn't cover it all.  There is so much less coverage in English language media of Iraq today -- however, the news making events out of Iraq have -- like the violence -- soared.

All that we have not had time to cover this year?  That goes to just how much is taking place in Iraq, a thought to end the last 2013 Iraq snapshot on.

Melissa Harris-Perry's latest disgrace

Lie Face has stepped in it again.

Mediaite  reports that she turned her trashy MSNBC show into an event to allow her guests to laugh at and mock a Black baby.

Why?  The baby is Kieren Romney.

An adopted child.  A child of color.  He is now Mitt Romney's grandson.

How is that funny?

And can they explain to Ronan Farrow when his MSNBC show starts next year?

Last time I checked, Mia was Anglo White -- and Irish-American. Yet Mia Farrow's family includes many adopted children who are people of color.

I didn't know that was a bad thing or something to mock.

But that's what took place on MSNBC.

Life Face is such a dirty whore that not only did she mock a child but she continues to hider her own life story.

Cue Diana Ross & the Supremes . .  .

I must have been insane!
I lied and said Mama died on a weekend trip to Spain
She never got out of the house never even boarded a train
I'm living in shame
Mama I miss you

Lie Face lives Imitation of Life, remember?

All you have to do is look at her hair when she's not wearing a wig or a bad weave.

She has White girl hair.

Because her mother's White.

And she's mocking a Black child in a White family?


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, December 30, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri attacks Ramadi, the AP lies and it's lie can be refuted with a photograph (and we do so in the snapshot), Nouri's going after Sunni politicians again, and much more.

Friday, December 21, 2012, protests against the government corruption, the lack of public services, the 'disappeared' in Iraq's 'legal' system, the rape and torture of girls and women in prisons and detention centers kicked off.  Friday, December 20, 2013, the protests reached the one year mark -- one year of continuous protests despite Nouri and his forces efforts at intimidation, their attacks and so much more.  One year of  continuous protests.  Remember Egypt and how the western press fawned over the protests and the protesters?  How entire divisions of US news networks foreign coverage reporters descended upon Egypt?

Yeah, nothing like that happened with Iraq.

The western press ignored the one year mark.  When Nouri made it clear that he didn't want the press to cover the protests, what happened?

The big brave western press went into hiding and it was left to Iraqi reporters -- for Al Mada, National Iraqi News Agency, Kitabat, Iraq Times, Dar Addustour and others -- to do the coverage the western outlets were too scared or too craven to do.

The scared little reporters for AFP and AP and the rest just played dumb, looked for the blankys while sucking their thumbs and whimpering.

Again, it was so far from the big bad western press that stormed Egypt to cover what was happening there.

Sunday, December 22nd, Nouri yet again called peaceful protesters 'terrorists' and announced he would stop the protests.

He wanted to attack last Tuesday but a last minute flurry of meetings by various officials and political blocs caused Nouri to withdraw the forces he had encircling the Ramadi protest square.  Then came Friday.  From that day's snapshot:

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today.  He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down.  He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition.  Sedition?  Nouri as William Bligh?  I can see it.  Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview.  Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.  

We still can't get to today yet.

That's Falluja on Saturday as tons poured into the street to protest Nouri's latest stunt.

They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP.  MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested.  But there's more.  Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.

By now, we all know the drill.

What is al-Alwani?

Yes, he's Sunni.

And he's also, we all know this, a member of Iraqiya.

If you're targeted by Nouri, then you are both things.

Or, as conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it today, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."

The people of Anbar did not respond well to Nouri breaking the law and arresting an MP.

We'll come back to the arrest but we need to get to today.

Nouri's latest stunt has resulted in a response from many members of Parliament.  Al Mada reports 44 MPs with the Motahidon Alliance have submitted their resignations to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi because of today's attacks on the protesters in Anbar.  Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq is stating all MPs from the Iraqiya bloc should resign right now to trigger an immediate election.
Yes, today he ordered his forces to attack peaceful protesters.
As you look at the western coverage, you should see it as an education.
Today, a lot of people wrongly think the press told the truth during the Civil Rights Era.  That if, for example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was staging a sit-in and the peaceful activists were attacked, the press reported reality: "Dr. King and other protesters were exercising their Constitutional rights and behaving in a legal manner when blood thirsty thugs . . ."
That didn't happen.
In the lie of 'objectivity,' the press pretended that laws didn't exist and that it was perfectly normal -- or at least not worth questioning -- when police officers violated people's legal rights.
We didn't, for example, get the truth from the New York Times then and we don't get it now.  Instead we get Yasir Ghazi reporting or 'reporting' for the paper, "Heavy fighting erupted on Monday between government security forces and tribal gunmen when the police moved to dismantle a Sunni protesters’ camp in Ramadi, west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, police and local officials said.  At least 17 people died in the clashes, according to a security official."
Oh, is that what they did?
They just moved to dismantle.
With tanks, helicopters and mortar rounds.  Al Mada cites an Anabar police source explaining Nour had the army storm Falluja following tank shellings and mortars being shot at the protesters.  The source states an unknown number of people are wounded and dead.
All of that's just 'dismantling.'
And of course, let's not bring up the ugly reality that the protesters were within their legal rights to be at the square.
Or that their Constitutional rights were violated.
But, hey, at least Nouri caught his 'terrorists,' right?
Oops.  AFP reports

Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's spokesman Ali Mussawi said military sources confirmed tents at the protest site had been removed and the highway reopened.  This was done "without any losses, after Al-Qaeda and its members escaped from the camp to the city and they are being pursued now,' Mussawi told AFP.  He was repeating an assertion made on December 22 by Maliki, who said, "the sit-in site in Anbar has turned into a headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda".
Wow.  The Anbar sit-ins were overrun with 'terrorists' but Nouri shut them down today and, strangest thing, not a single terrorist.  
Here are three plain speaking outlets -- two western and Rudaw. Kamal Namaa, Ahmed Rasheed, Alexander Dziadosz and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) report, "Fighting broke out when Iraqi police moved to dismantle a Sunni Muslim protest camp in the western Anbar province on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said."  Rudaw explains, "As Iraqi forces launched a reportedly deadly crackdown on a months-long protest in the city of Ramadi in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, Sunni MPs reacted by announcing mass resignations as other leaders called on protesters to resist and soldiers to disobey."  Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observes, "Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki underscored how little he’s learned, responding to a sit-in protest in Ramadi with heavy-handed police action that killed at least 17 people, 12 of them unarmed civilians."

These murders brought to you by the largess of US President Barack Obama.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explains:

Rashid Fleih, a leader of the Anbar operations, told Al-Monitor that the Iraqi army had received US equipment and supplies to be used in the battle against groups affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The New York Times revealed Dec. 25 that Washington will supply Iraq with a map showing the locations and origins of al-Qaeda in Iraq, besides 75 Hellfire air-to-land missiles and 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones. This information was confirmed by the prime minister's spokesperson, Ali al-Moussawi, in a statement released Dec. 27.
Barack arming Nouri with weapons to use against the Iraqi people is in violation human rights agreements as well as the Leahy Amendment.  In a bit of synchronicity, the editorial board of the Toledo Blade pointed out this morning:

Nearly two years after the United States supposedly ended its military involvement in Iraq, President Obama apparently has decided to provide extensive military aid to the country. It shouldn't happen.
The aid is intended to strengthen Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's predominantly Shiite government against Sunni opponents who are bitter at having been excluded from his post-American occupation regime.
Yes, that's exactly what the weapons were wanted for and what they were used for today -- in violation of the Leahy Amendment.
The Associated Press is in violation of journalism.  The outlet 'informs,' "There have also been other Sunni sit-ins, in cities such as Kirkuk, Mosul and Samarra, but rallying there has died down over the past months and it was not immediately clear if the camp sites there would be dismantled as well."
I'm sorry, you're lazy ass reporters were at the Samarra protest when?
You're  cowardly correspondents saw what?
Died down, have they?
That's Samarra.  I pulled that from Friday, December 27th snapshot. Click on the "7h" above (for 7 hours) and you'll be taken to the photo at the Iraqi Spring MC Twitter feed and see that it's December 27th.
Died down, have they?
It's bad enough that you were too cowardly to go to the protest out of fear upsetting Nouri but now you think you can lie?
You think you can declare that Samarra has died down?
And you think you can get away with it?
No, the protests have not died down and anyone following Arabic social media is damn well aware of that but I guess that's too much for  AP as well.
Rudaw notes that the Association of Muslim Scholars have called out Nouri's assault,  "We hold the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki responsible for what happens in Anbar between the people of the same nation.  We prohibit anyone from participating in military operations against the citizens."

Rudaw also notes, "The scholars also demanded that all Sunnis involved in the political process withdraw from the so-called Document of Honor, because 'Maliki has proved that he does not respect treaties or covenants'."  Let's get back to the resignations noted earlier in the snapshot.  Al Mada reports 44 MPs with the Motahidon Alliance have submitted their resignations to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi because of today's attacks on the protesters in Anbar.  All Iraq News notes the spokesperson for the Motahidon Alliance held a press conference and stated that the resignations are taking place and "that the war in Anbar is unconstitutional and violate all patriotic terms."  KUNA covers it here. Liu Dan (Xinhua) reports, "The MPs from the Sunni Motahidoon (United) Alliance also demanded the withdrawal of the army from cities in the Anbar province and the release of Ahmad al-Alwani, a Sunni lawmaker who was arrested on Saturday, the bloc's spokesman Dhafer al-Ani said at a televised press conference."  Matt Bradley (Wall St. Journal) points out, "Mr. Awlani was an early supporter of the year-old Sunni protest movement against Mr. Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government."

UNAMI issued the following today:

Baghdad, 30 December 2013 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, today expressed his concern about the situation in Anbar Province and called for restraint and political engagement.

“I am concerned about the current developments in Anbar and call on all to remain calm and to abide by the agreements reached in in the course of the last two days. Political disputes must be resolved through dialogue and through an inclusive political process that allows all components to feel engaged in building the democratic future of the country”.
“The government has a Constitutional responsibility to protect all citizens from terrorism, while observing the rights of ordinary Iraqi citizens, providing for their humanitarian needs, and showing maximum restraint in the use of force”.
“I call on all political leaders to abide by their commitments, including the ‘The National Honour Code’, and to immediately come together to discuss the serious challenges facing the country. As Iraq prepares for elections next year, all parties and coalitions should put forward their platforms for the future and remain fully engaged in the democratic political process”.
“The United Nations will continue to work with the Government and the people of Iraq to support democratic developments and stands ready to assist in facilitating dialogue,” Mladenov said.

Borzou Daragahi and Amina Ashraf (Financial Times of London) explain, "Ayad Allawi, opposition leader and former prime minister, presented Mr Maliki on Sunday with a list of demands, including the removal of military forces from the protest camps, negotiation with the demonstrators and the release of Mr Alwani from prison on the grounds of parliamentary immunity."

Where to go next?

Let's go back to Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.

Al Mada reports al-Mutleq revealed that the government has cut off all internet and telephone communication for and among Anbar residents.

That's a detail not being reported in the western press.  Communications are being jammed.  Considering Nouri repeatedly whines -- and lies -- that he can't stop Iranian flights to Syria because he doesn't have fighter jets, it is interesting that Nouri has the power to do that.

(Lie?  Yeah, he's been lying forever. He can block any flights he want.  Even Michael Knights made that point to Congress this month by noting that Nouri prevented Turkey from flying to the KRG so when Nouri wants to stop flights he does.)

Okay, Saleh.   Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq is stating all MPs from the Iraqiya bloc should resign right now to trigger an immediate election.

Saleh came into Parliament (and to his Deputy Prime Minister post) because Iraqiya won the 2010 elections.  He's now estranged from Iraqiya which will most likely not be a major grouping in the planned April 30, 2014 elections. (Barring a decision on the part of al-Nujaifi -- among others -- to run on the Iraqiya ticket, Iraqiya will not be a major entity in the elections.)   He is correct that resignations could trigger an immediate (say within 30 days) election per the Constitution but when in Nouri al-Maliki's two terms as prime minister has the government followed the Constitution?

But the Constitution isn't followed.

Were it to be?

Right now?

The UN and the Independent High Electoral Commission would both say the it would be difficult to get the ballots printed, the poll workers trained, etc.

They would say that.

But if they wanted to, they could pull it off in 30 days.

The danger here would be that they moved for immediate elections and Nouri used powers he didn't have to delay the elections.

This would mean Iraq was without not only a president (Jalal Talabani has now been out of the country for over a year) but also without a Parliament.

Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) argues today's attack was part of Nouri's campaigning:

Fourth, Maliki, who's seeking a third term, cannot go into the parliamentary elections at the end of April without a real achievement on the ground. The fact is that Maliki’s greatest achievement during his reign was to re-impose the rule of law by military force after the 2006-2008 civil war. A security achievement would greatly help his election chances. His breaking up the Sunni sit-ins may also serve this purpose.

Nouri's violence in Anbar didn't end the other violence in Iraq today.

National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 Mosul bombing targeted MP Jassim Mohammed Hussein and left at least two of his bodyguards injured,  two children were kidnapped in Kirkuk, an armed attack in Balad left Lt Col Nouri al-Azzawi injured, a Qayyarah sticky bombing left army Colonel Raad Yassin Amash killed, 1 Baijia suicide  car bomber took his own life and that of 1 police officer and the police officer's son, a Mosul car bombing left 4 people dead and four people injured, a Kirkuk car bombing left six people injured, an armed clash in Falluja left 8 people dead and forty injured, Sheikh Qais al-Jubouri was shot dead in Muqdadiya, a Baquba bombing left two police members injured, an al-Hamdania attack left 1 Kurdish force and 1 woman dead, an attack on a Mosul federal police checkpoint left 1 police member dead, a Mosul garage bombing left three people injured, a Tikrit car bombing targeting the Vice Chair of Salahuddin Province  left four of his bodyguards injured , and a Tuz Khormato car bombing claimed the lives of 2 police members and left four more injured.  All Iraq News adds a Kirkuk motorcyle bombing left four children injured, 3 corpses of Iraqi soldiers were discovered dumped in the streets of Beiji, an armed attack in Shurqat left 5 Iraqi soldiers dead, and a mayor and 1 teacher walking in Mosul were shot dead,

That's a ton of violence.

And the thing is, when Nouri targets one area, historically, violence increases elsewhere.  This was true in his first term and it's been true in his second.

So it's not likely that Nouri's attack on Anbar is going to reduce violence.  Kirkuk?  Not in Anbar.  Tikrit?  Not in Anbar.

All Nouri's doing with these uncalled for assaults is making it easier for the resistance, the militants, the insurgents and any terrorists that might be in Iraq to hide out.

As we've noted here for years, the success of those groupings -- and the success of prison breaks -- results from the fact that people are sympathetic and they're sympathetic because they see Nouri targeting Sunnis and it creates a bond.

It also exposes Nouri as a liar.  The Erbil Agreement is the only reason he has a term.

The US government brokered that contract and offered bribes to get political leaders to sign the contract.

Nouri didn't win a second term.

His State of Law lost to Iraqiya.  Ayad Allawi should be the prime minister if the Constitution were followed and the votes of the Iraqi people honored.

But Barack wanted Nouri to have a second term so they went around the votes, they went around the constitution and democracy and created a legal contract that gave Nouri a second term.

Why did people sign on to the contact?

Because they were given things in the contract in exchange for giving Nouri a second term.

The western press, especially the US press, doesn't want to discuss this.

Even when it's discussed in the US.

President Massoud Barzani: As far as the second part of your question, the Erbil Agreement.  In fact, the agreement was not only for the sake of forming the government and forming the three presidencies -- the presidency, the Speakership of Parliament and premier.  In fact, it was a package -- a package that included a number of essential items.  First, to put in place a general partnership in the country.  Second, commitment to the Constitution and its implementation, the issue of fedarlism, the return of balance of power and especially in all the state institutions,the establishment in [. . .] mainly in the armed forces and the security forces, the hydrocarbons law, the Article 140 of the Constitution, the status of the pesh merga.  These were all part of the package that had been there.  Had this Erbil Agreement been implemented, we would not have faced the situation that we are in today.  Therefore, if we do not implement the Erbil Agreement then there would certainly be problems in Iraq.

That's KRG President Massoud Barzani speaking in DC April 5, 2012 (covered in that day's snapshot and the April 6, 2012 one).

What does he mean that it wasn't implemented?

He means Nouri used it to get a second term, told everyone in November 2010 that he needed some time to implement the other aspects (the promises he made in the contract) and then he never did.

That's Nouri's pattern.

He's a known liar.

He makes promises he has no intentions of ever keeping.  Over and over he does that.

The contract was supposed to guarantee a power sharing government.

This was important why?

Because Nouri lost.

He shouldn't be in charge.

But by refusing to honor The Erbil Agreement, he has 'won' an election he lost.

It's outrageous and it goes to the outrage so many -- Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurds -- feel against him.

I doubt his stunts are going to help him.

Nouri's not a new face.

He's a known factor.

And he's got four months to try to remake himself.

That's not enough time even if he avoided stunts like his murderous attacks Saturday or today.

All his attacks do is remind Iraqis of how badly he's harmed the country in his second term.

From the April 6, 2012 snapshot:

Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is currently on a diplomatic tour of the surrounding region having already visited Qatar and currently Saudia Arabia.  Raman Brosk (AKnews) reports that State of Law is arguing that al-Hashemi should not be allowed to re-enter Iraq and Iraqiya's spokesperson Maisoun al-Damlouji is responding, "This is not acceptable at all.  Hashemi is the vice president of the Republic and he will return to the region." In December, after most US troops left, Nouri al-Maliki upped the political crisis by insisting that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on charges of 'terrorism.'  Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya (both are also Sunni) which is the political slate that won the most votes in the March 7, 2010 elections.  Nouri's State of Law slate came in second to Iraqiya.  The two slates are political rivals.  As an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers observed at Inside Iraq this week:

In a press conference Maliki said that he had a criminal file on Hashimi that he had been sitting on for three years, and was now ready to prosecute him.  For the objective observer, the timing of this announcement was telling. [. . .] Confessions of Hashimi's security personnel were aired on state television and an arrest warrent for Hashim himself was issued and also made public on state TV -- All this publicity on Maliki's side in order to burn the bridges and make any political deal impossible in this country where government is glued together with political deals.

He sat on a file for three years?

That's not encouraging and it makes it all the more obvious that his attacks on Tareq al-Hashemi weren't about the law but about the conflict between political rivals.

Saturday, Nouri's thugs went into MP Ahmed al-Alwani's home, killing people, wounding people (including children) and arresting the MP despite the legal immunity from arrest that he enjoys as a Member of Parliament.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi was calling for an investigation into the arrest..

Sunday, Tamim al-Jubouri (Al Mada) reported today that the Parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the arrest was unable to do so.  Nouri's SWAT forces refuse to allow these Members of Parliament to leave Baghdad to travel to Anbar and speak to witnesses.

The deaths are on Nouri's hands.  There's no excuse for the deaths, there's no excuse for wounding children.  Thug Nouri unleashed his thugs and murder happened.

jason ditz

Friday, December 27, 2013

Public domain victory

Good news from The Hollywood Reporter:

The lawsuit was brought by Leslie Klinger, an author, editor and Sherlock Holmes expert who has written The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and contributed to an anthology entitled In the Company of Sherlock Holmes. Klinger reported being threatened by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and sought a judicial declaration that most of the stories and characters in the Holmes canon were old enough that they belonged in the public domain. In response, attorneys for the Doyle estate raised the compelling argument that because Holmes' character was developed over time, it was impossible to dismantle the detective's personality into both in- and out-of-copyright parts.

The judge ruled that Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain.

About damn time.

I am so sick of these greedy artists and their families.  Mickey Mouse?

Should've been public domain decades ago.

I feel that everything should become public domain after 40 years.

No renewals.

This is insanity.

It's stifling creativity.

It's harmful and it's copyright abuse.

You should get 40 years for your song, film, poem whatever.  And that's really it.

Then it should enter the public domain.

End of story.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 27, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the protests continue, Nouri threatens this was the last Friday of protests, 9300 Iraqis have died in violent deaths so far this year, we look at the press mythology around Barack, and more.

So before the year ends is anyone going to call the press on their b.s.?

Poor Rupert Cornwell.  All that time in his talented half-brother's large shadow left Cornwell with a soggy brain incapable of analytical thought, incapable of anything but parrot-like repetition. British Cornwell wants to turn US President Barack Obama into a visionary and he's not about to let something like facts get in the way.  The elderly fop chatters, "The last US troops left Iraq in 2011, and only a handful are likely to remain in Afghanistan after December 2014."  Poor little piss ant -- so many years of writing and he has not one damn thing to show for it.  Don't wake him from his early senility but all US forces never left Iraq and, in fact, another special-ops unit was sent in back in fall 2012.  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported at the end of September 2012, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

Let's emphasize one more time for the very slow and very stupid:

At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

So Rupert apparently thinks he's prefect again in the midst of his first boy-on-boy crush.  And he can't stop salivating over Barack's alleged miracle powers of leadership.

But wait . . .

There's the other narrative.  The one where al Qaeda in Iraq is running all over Iraq and all over Syria.  Sarah Birke published a post on that today at The New York Review of Books.  Excerpt:

Talk to any Syrian you meet on the Syrian-Turkish border these days, and in less than five minutes the conversation is likely to turn to Da’ash—the Arabic acronym for the rebel organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS. Linked to al-Qaeda, the fearsome group has swept across northern Syria, imposing sharia law, detaining and even beheading Syrians who don’t conform to its purist vision of Islam, and waging war on rival militias. In early December, the group killed a foreign journalist, Iraqi cameraman Yasser Faisal al-Joumali, who was reporting in northern Syria. Even using the word Da’ash—seen as derogatory by the group’s members—is punishable by eighty lashes, a twenty-three-year-old wounded fighter from a rival Islamist group told me from his bed in a Syrian-run makeshift clinic in Turkey.  
[. . .]
ISIS originated as an Iraq-based al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Qaeda in Iraq. The organization is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an ambitious Iraqi extremist who has overseen relentless attacks in Iraq, causing civilian casualties, and who was designated a Global Terrorist by the US State Department in October 2011, with a $10 million bounty on his head. As the war in Syria progressed, al-Baghdadi saw an opportunity for al-Qaeda, and in January 2012, sent some footmen to found Jabhat al-Nusra with the aim of creating a new transnational state ruled by sharia law and a belief in using violence to get there. 

Now I don't personally believe the Sky Is Falling narrative that so many preach on 'al Qaeda in Iraq.'  I think it's an imprecise term that is misapplied to breed fear and to justify violence and excuse it.  As long as, for example, Nouri can scream "al Qaeda! al Qaeda!" he's under no obligation to own up to what he's done.

So not taking the press narrative seriously means I've yet to write a piece about, "Barack Obama blew Iraq!  He should have . . ."

But what's the press' excuse?

They keep pimping this great threat from al Qaeda in Iraq.

I don't believe it.  But they pimp it so they must believe it.

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) has a report today which opens:

The Sunni Muslim extremist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has made it clear that it wants to annex Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq. One of the biggest Iraqi military operations in recent history has now been launched against them. But it doesn’t seem to having any impact on the group.  
The last few weeks in Iraq have been good to the extremist organisation, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Al-Qaeda affiliated group managed to attack and assassinate a number of high ranking Iraqi army officers and policemen in a number of provinces, including Ninawa, Diyala, Baghdad and Anbar. All of these are known as places where the organisation, also called ISIS or Daash, keeps bases. They are also areas where a large proportion of the population is Sunni Muslim. Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim extremist organisation and it often targets Shiite Muslims – although recently it has also attacked Sunni Muslims it considers to be cooperating with the Iraqi government.

A few weeks previously, at the beginning of December, ISIS clearly stated that its ambition was to annex the Anbar province, which shares a border with Syria. The extremist group already has control over various areas in Syria and it seems it wants to add this part of Iraq too. 

Habib's not the first to write about that claim.  We've ignored it before.  I don't take it seriously.

What I see -- and I could be wrong -- or a variety of groups making attacks but they are at cross purposes with one another and should they try to build within Iraq they would have huge squabbles, huge fights.  They are not a group -- they are groups that are linked loosely.  Syria provides them another mutual target.   Even so, if you've paid attention, you've noticed that they can't even really get along as they conduct attacks in Syria.

But that's where I stand.

Where the press stands is that al Qaeda in Iraq is a nightmare group which has increased its power in Iraq and gone on to Syria (and Libya -- for the few who bother to note the horror that is Libya today).

Guess what boys and girls, if you want to run with that allegation, then you have to blame Barack.

You can't have it both ways.  If al Qaeda is on the rise in Iraq after the (bulk) of US troops withdrew, then this is, in fact, on Barack.

He clearly made a huge error.

I'm not saying he did.  But I don't buy into the mythical al Qaeda in Iraq.

He can't have been brilliant on the Middle East if al Qaeda in Iraq is truly on the rise.

You're going to have to reconcile your two assertions are in conflict, they're at cross purposes.

If al Qaeda in Iraq is on the rise, Barack's to blame for that.

And he's to blame for arming Nouri.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Fortunately, not all outlets have correspondents from the kiddie table.  Elise Labott and Tom Cohen (CNN) get it right regarding who is providing arms, "Two years after bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq, the Obama administration is sending Hellfire rockets and ScanEagle surveillance drones to help government forces fight al Qaeda affiliates growing in influence, a State Department official confirmed to CNN on Thursday."  Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) also gets it right, "The Obama administration has begun sending Hellfire missiles and surveillance drone aircraft to Iraq to help the government battle an expanding threat from local Al Qaeda-affiliated militants, U.S. officials said, the first such assistance since the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011."

Congress wasn't notified of these arms.  The Arms Export Control Act's Section 36(b) requires that the President of the United States informs Congress in writing of all defense articles sold to foreign governments before the sale goes through.  That's the law.
So was these sold or was this another 'gift' that the US taxpayer is paying for?
[. . .]
UPI notes the 75 Hellfire Missiles arrived in Iraq last week and that "more are expected." Rethink Afghanistan puts the cost of a single Hellfire Missile at $58,000.  75 of them?  Check my math, but that comes to $3,750,000.  A nearly four million dollar 'gift' has been purchased with the American taxpayer dollars.  And that's not counting the drones.  There aren't specific numbers being reported regarding the drones, so we'll just note the US Air Force put the price of one system (4 drones and the reporting device) at $3.2 million in 2006.  We're now at the price tag of $7 million dollars.

Noel Brinkerhoof (AllGov.com) explains today:

The Iraqi military will receive 75 Hellfire missiles from Washington. Costing nearly $70,000 a piece, the delivery represents an early Christmas gift for arms maker Lockheed Martin. The company also made out with the order to manufacture Aerostat surveillance balloons, three of which were provided to the Iraqi government by the Obama administration.
Other U.S. arms merchants stand to benefit as well from President Barack Obama’s efforts to support al-Maliki.
The administration intends to ship 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones in March to Iraq. This shipment will mean more revenue for Boeing.

Nicole Fray (GovConWire) adds, "William Hartung, director of research organization Center for International Policy, said in the report that the U.S. has provided Iraq with about $35 billion worth of weapons and services since 2005."

Gordon Lubold was an idiot writing for the Christian Science Monitor and he's an idiot writing today for Foreign Policy about the missiles and drones.  He's standing on quicksand -- pimping al Qaeda in Iraq as a huge threat but trying to also pretend no mistakes were made by Barack.  It doesn't work that way.  In his article, James Jeffrey strokes his like War Hawk.  The only one who makes even a moment's sense is neocon Kimberly Kagan:

Other analysts were not that impressed by the arms sale to remedy Iraq's worsening security situation. . Kim Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, a longtime advocate of an aggressive security policy in Iraq, said she thinks the administration is continuing to confuse materiel assistance for bona fide military cooperation.  "The U.S. does not seem to be imposing pressure on Prime Minister Maliki to refrain from using his security forces for political ends, such as suppressing the Sunni protest movements, the camps of which the [Iraq Security Forces] have surrounded over the past several days," she told Foreign Policy via e-mail.

Also sharing today?  Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) offers this take on Iraq:

In March 2003 the majority of Iraqis from all sects and ethnic groups wanted to see the end of Saddam’s disastrous rule even if they didn’t necessarily support the US invasion. But the government now in power in Baghdad is as sectarian, corrupt and dysfunctional as Saddam’s ever was. There may be less state violence, but only because the state is weaker. Its methods are equally brutal: Iraqi prisons are full of people who have made false confessions under torture or the threat of it. An Iraqi intellectual who had planned to open a museum in Abu Ghraib prison so that Iraqis would never forget the barbarities of Saddam’s regime found that there was no space available because the cells were full of new inmates. Iraq is still an extraordinarily dangerous place. ‘I never imagined that ten years after the fall of Saddam you would still be able to get a man killed in Baghdad by paying $100,’ an Iraqi who’d been involved in the abortive museum project told me.

It's a shame that appears buried inside a Patrick Cockburn report as opposed to opening a report or even being the sole focus of a report.

It's Friday in Iraq.  Last week, the ongoing protests hit the one year mark.  They've been ongoing since December 12, 2012.

Nouri responded by (again) declaring them terrorists and announcing his planned assault on Ramadi's sit-in. Sunday,  W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reported Nouri has declared the sit-in in Ramadi is a 'terrorist' cell:

The protest site is located in the Anbar city of Ramadi, but is nowhere near where the clashes took place.
"I say clearly and honestly that the sit-in site in Anbar has turned into a headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda," Maliki, a Shiite, said in remarks broadcast Sunday on Iraqiya state TV.

Tuesday, December 24th, Nouri had his forces cut off roads leading out of Ramadi and to surround the protest yard.  All Iraq News reports that Nouri's forces withdrew from the protest yard but  Iraq Times noted that this was followed by an air drop of leaflets and that Nouri's forces were receiving support from the US military.  Leaflet droppings advising to protesters to leave are a lot like the 2003 pre-invasion leafleting the US government did over Iraq.

 Did that send the protesters into hiding?


That's Samarra today.

-بهاء احمد16عاما في الثالث متوسط-الذي -ضمن حملتها الجديدة-داخل محل يعمل فيه في .

And that's 16-year-old  Ahmed Bahaa killed in Anbar today by Nouri's forces.

That's what Barack's backing.  That's what the White House is giving arms for.

The murder of Iraqis whose only crime is exercising their legal rights.

Here's Ramadi's sit-in today.

الموحدة في مدينة .

Iraqi Spring MC reports helicopters were flying over the Ramadi square.

Al Mada reports that Maliki was denounced at Anbar protests for his threats (we'll get to today's threats in a moment) and that he was denounced for his militias which are not held accountable for their terrorism.  In Samarra, Nouri was denounced for arming and paying Shi'ite militias to terrorize and kill Sunnis while at the same time Nouri insists that he's fighting terrorism.

Only one English-language outlet reports on today's protests.  Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) files a major report which includes:

Mohammed al-Bajari, the official spokesman for the sit-in in Fallujah, said, "The sit-ins will continue." He added, "The protesters will not leave the sit-in squares until their legitimate demands are met, oppression ends and the innocent people are released from prison."
Bajari clarified that the protesters "will not comply with the orders of political parties or failed politicians, [nor will they respond to] threats by militias." He alluded to preparations for "civil disobedience and internationalizing the issue via international courts."
Bajari noted, "Those present in the squares have tribal connections, which would exacerbate the crisis in the event that the protests were subjected to any attack." He stressed, "[The right to] peaceful sit-ins are guaranteed by the constitution. Citizens have the right to protest as long as the constitution guarantees this right." He also pointed out, "Any [measures that are] non-peaceful will lead to bloodshed."
Bajari explained, "The Glory and Dignity Army was only formed in the city of Ramadi. It does not direct weapons at the army or the police, but rather at militias — which I won't name — that are trying to eliminate the sit-ins."
Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today.  He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down.  He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition.  Sedition?  Nouri as William Bligh?  I can see it.  Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview.  Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.  
A number of Iraqi politicians, however, are rejecting Nouri's declarations of violence.
National Iraqi News Agency reports that Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi declared today, "The sit-ins squares do not represent threat to the country’s security, the big danger comes from desert areas in Anbar where armed groups are concentrated and from their; they launch their terrorist attacks against innocent civilians."  Ahmed al-Alwani is an Iraqiya MP who chairs Parliament's Economic Commission. Kitabat notes that al-Alwani dismissed Nouri's charges as beig without merit or value.  He declared that peaceful protests were guaranteed in Iraq's Constitution.  Al Mada adds that Kurdistan Alliance MP Hamid Buffy said there was no legal justification for breaking up the Anbar Province protests and compared using military force to break up the protests to the slaughter in Hawija.
That April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija  resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
Nouri's a thug and he's a killer. And this is who Barack's in bed with.

Iraq Body Count notes that, through yesterday, there have been 869 violent deaths this month so far with 9300 violent deaths for the year so far.  Earlier this week, RT interviewed Iraq Body Count's Lily Hamourtziadou.  Excerpt.

RT: You've been researching the victims of terrorism in Iraq for a long time. Where do you get the information and how credible is it?

Lily Hamourtziadou: Our research is daily and what we do is we check many media sources, any media source that is available to us in English or in Arabic. We collect any information we have on civilian casualties on a particular day. We have a very large database that contains names, ages, places where attacks have taken place, as well as who the perpetrators were if they are identified. And that enables us to monitor the violence, to provide some statistics and to see whether it is increasing or decreasing, who is doing the killing, who the targets are.

RT: Is there something the media and the general public don't know about the situation in Iraq?

LH: What most people don’t understand is that the violence in Iraq is daily. Normally we turn on TV and if there happens to be a major attack, it is reported and we hear about it. But the daily violence we don’t hear about. At the best of times in Iraq, 300-400 civilians lost their lives in a month that was at its quietest. That is completely unacceptable. We won’t accept it in the UK, in the USA or anywhere else in the world and now we have come to disregard it or not be interested in it, but through my work I have come to know.
Iraq Body Count notes that, through yesterday, there have been 869 violent deaths this month so far with 9300 violent deaths for the year so far.

This week also saw AFP's WG Dunlop do media rounds.  Sometimes billed as "William," sometimes as "Will."  It was "Will" who went on NPR's Morning Edition this week.  Has anyone ever been duller or less informed?  He only came to life when talking about the lack of electricity.  But he was on to talk about violence.  He didn't mention the slaughter in Hawija.  He didn't mention the slaughter of journalists.  He didn't do much of anything but promote AFP's 'count.'

For years, we noted the Iraqi government's count was an undercount.  As I would point out, UN friends would pass that along.  Finally, in 2012, Prashant Rao began a count at AFP.

The good from that was it demonstrated the Iraqi government was lying about the deaths.  And, to his credit, Prashant worked that into a report.

But the bad is that not everyone fills out the count each day.  And the other bad is, they only report deaths that the police tip them off to.

Iraq Body Count should be considered the standard because they have been doing their job since the start of the illegal war and they continue to.  They base their count on media reports.

I'll trust the media over Iraq's police force.

If Dunlap's going to be a guest discussing violence, he needs to note the shortcomings of the AFP count. To Prashant's credit, he publicly allowed that they did not get all the deaths due to their method for recording deaths.

elise labott
the los angeles times