Monday, September 30, 2013

Tina Fey owes gays and lesbians an apology

difi 2

Sunday saw Kat's "Kat's Korner: Jack Johnson learns what really makes a man sexy"   and  Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Destroying The Privacy Wall" both go up at The Common Ills.

It also saw Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The sewer that is NBC."  I cannot believe that Tina Fey participated in that monologue.

She's not very smart.  People have wrongly assumed she was.

But for her to think that calling something "gayer" as an insult was anything but homophobia?

Shame on her.

And you can be sure the disgusting Seth wrote that skit.

So LGBT groups better get off their lazy asses and start defending us.  Otherwise, when Seth takes over Jimmy Fallon's show in 2014, we'll be the butt of all the jokes.


For over five years now, there have been PSAs calling out the insult of "That's so gay."

Somehow Tina and Seth missed that.

And, on top of everything else, not only is homophobic, it's tired and lame.

SouthPark was doing it in the 90s.

The audience didn't laugh.  Why would they?  It was homophobic and tired.

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

Monday, September 30, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the US State Dept notes the violence, even the KRG is targeted with a bombing, the results of the KRG elections are in, the First Lady of the KRG will remain First Lady (for now) but the PUK's awful showing in the elections means she's had to give up her position in the PUK political party (we warned you, day before the elections), the international (especially US) press continues to fail Iraq, and more.

Today, Baghdad was slammed with violence.  As Prensa Latina points out, "Iraq is still plunged into a spiral of violence."   While there were attacks elsewhere in Iraq today, it was nothing like Sunday when violence was spread out across the country.  How bad was the violence Sunday and today?

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks against Kurdish security forces in Erbil and inside a mosque in Babil Province yesterday. In addition, we have seen a horrific wave of car bombings across Baghdad today that has taken numerous innocent lives. These attacks, especially an attack inside a place of worship, are detestable and disgraceful and expose the nature of those perpetuating these attacks.   The terrorists who committed these attacks are a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community. We stand with the Iraqi people against this violence and in our commitment to support efforts to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims of these attacks.

That's State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki speaking at today's press briefing.  If you can get over your shock, Iraq is so rarely raised in the State Dept press briefings despite the fact that the State Dept is over the US mission in Iraq, get ready for another shock.

Psaki was not responding to a question.  She made the statement as part of an announcement before she took questions.  And from surprising, let's to go the ugly reality.  With Psaki making those opening remarks, the press in attendance asked . . . zero questions about Iraq.  They didn't have one single question about Iraq.  Can't blame the lack of interest on the State Dept this time.

Noting today's violence, Neil Clark (RT) observes:

The same elite figures in the West who couldn't stop writing or talking about Iraq in 2002 and early 2003, telling us what a terrible threat Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ were to us all, and how we needed to go to war with Iraq not only to disarm its evil dictator but to 'liberate' its people, are now silent in the light of the continuing bloodshed and havoc that the illegal invasion caused. In the run up to the invasion of March 2003, you couldn’t switch on a television news program in Britain or America without seeing a neo-con or ‘liberal interventionist’ obsessing about Iraq. In the lead-up to war, these great ‘humanitarians’ feigned concern for the plight of Iraqis living under Saddam’s dictatorship - but today show little or no concern for the plight of Iraqis being blown to pieces by bombs on a regular, almost daily basis. There are no calls from the ‘usual suspects’ for a Western ‘humanitarian’ intervention to stop the killing in Iraq. For these serial interventionists, Iraq, post-invasion, has become the greatest ‘non-story’ of the modern era. Instead, the same people who couldn’t stop talking about Iraq in 2002-2003 now can’t stop talking about Syria - feigning concern over the plight of Syrians in the same way they shed crocodile tears over Iraqis in early 2003.
It’s interesting that when it comes to casualty tolls, pro-war politicians can tell us exactly how many people have died in Syria since the violence started there in 2011, (and of course for them, all the deaths are the personal responsibility of President Assad), whereas when it comes to Iraq and the number of people who have been killed there since March 2003, there’s a great deal more vagueness. “We don’t do body counts on other people” Donald Rumsfeld famously declared in November 2003. The Iraqis killed since March 2003 (and casualty figures vary from around 174,000 to well over one million) are, for our political elite, ‘non-people.’ In 2013, it’s only dead Syrians (and Syrians whose deaths can be blamed on Syrian government forces) that matter - not dead Iraqis.
Because Iraq is deemed a ’non-story’ and our leaders never talk about the situation there, it’s no surprise to see that public perceptions of the death toll are way below even the most conservative estimates. Sixty-six percent of Britons in a poll earlier this year estimated that 20,000 or fewer Iraqis had died since the invasion of 2003. Donald Rumsfeld would no doubt be delighted to hear that.

I agree with Clark, he's 100% right.  But today, myself, I'd focus a lot more attention on the press today.  The UK's Foreign & Common Wealth Office issued the following:

The British Government utterly condemns the increasing cycle of violence in Iraq, including bomb attacks in Baghdad this morning and in Erbil on 29 September. The attacks in Erbil, a normally peaceful city, were particularly shocking. There should be no place for violence and terrorism in Iraq’s future and we support the Iraqi authorities in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government in their efforts to bring those responsible to justice.

These are just statements, granted, but they're really more than the bulk of the US media is doing.  And for the press at the State Dept today to be read the statement by Jen Pskai and then for her to open the floor for questions and then to ask nothing?  With today's mass deaths and yesterdays (78 is the death toll Iraq Body Count gives for Sunday)?   Not one question?

Over fifty minutes.  That's how long the press briefing lasted.  Nearly an hour.  And despite Psaki's statement at the top, despite the massive today and yesterday in Iraq, the assembled press did not ask one question about Iraq.   Shameful.

I've called out Psaki and Marie Harf (another spokesperson) this year for ignoring the violence.  This time Psaki raised it herself.  And it didn't mean a damn thing to the press present.

Today's chief focal point for violence in Iraq was Baghdad.   Kareem Raheem (Reuters) reports 14 car bombs have resulted in "at least 54" deaths in the capital.  RTT explains the "bombings took place during busy morning hours in New Baghdad, Sadr, Sabaa al-Bour, Habibiya, Ur, Shaab, Shula, Jamiaa, Kadhimiya and Ghazaliah" districts of Baghdad. BBC informs, "Groups of labourers gathering ahead of the working day were among the bombers' targets."  EFE adds, "155 were wounded Monday in a new wave of attacks mainly targeting Shi’ite neighborhoods in Baghdad, an Iraqi police source told Efe."  World Bulletin notes, "Death toll from Monday's multiple bombings in Iraq's capital rose to 65 people while more than 200 others were wounded, security officials said."

Pravda has a photo essay of the violence here.  Al Bawaba offers a photo of the damage here.   AFP notes,   "The bombings on Monday were the latest in a string of sectarian attacks in central Iraq that have raised the spectre of a return to the intense Sunni-Shi'ite violence that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.  The car bombs struck nine different areas, six of them Shi'ite-majority, one confessionally mixed and two Sunni-majority, also wounding more than 140 people."  Catherine Philp (Times of London) also notes the "fears that Iraq is sliding rapidly into the same all-out sectarian war engulfing next door Syria."   WG Dunlop (AFP) Tweets that the Iraqi government is insisting that only 10 people died.  DL Chandler (HipHopWired) notes, "Although no group has taken credit for the bombings, tensions between Sunni Muslim militants and Shiites have been growing." No one taking credit hasn't stopped the Iraqi government from laying blame.  The Voice of Russia reports, "According to the Iraqi Interior Ministry statement, al-Qaeda linked rebels are linked to the attacks. The ministry also noted that the terrorist organization is exploiting political divisions and regional conflicts to sow violence."

 Fu Peng (Xinhua) reminds, "The attacks came a day after a wave of insurgent attacks killed 55 people and wounded some 135 others across Iraq."   Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers this context, "More than 5,000 civiilans have died and 12,000 have been wounded in terrorist attacks and other violence in Iraq in 2013, the United Nations Mission in Iraq reported this month. The region around Baghdad has been the hardest-hit, the agency said."  Arthur Bright (Christian Science Monitor) reminds, "The Christian Science Monitor reported earlier this month that many Iraqis feel the civil war never really ended, and that the recent surge in violence is evidence of the sectarian divide still plaguing the country – as well as the government's inability to unite Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites."

While the vast majority of deaths are taking place in Baghdad today, the last day of the month, violence also took place across Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Rakatil-Haj village bombing claimed 1 life and left five more people injured, a Diyala Province sticky bombing claimed the life of Mehdi al-Sumaidaie (Assistan Director of the Eductation Directorate for the province),  a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 3 lives and left three more people injured,  a Zawbaa roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left three more injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left three more injured, a Baquba sticky bombing injured one police officer,  and, dropping back to late last night, a Baquba roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured.   That's 8 deaths and 18 injured outside of Baghdad.  Adding that to the 54 deaths reported in Bahgdad leaves us with at least 62 deaths so far today from violence.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count registers 1151 violent deaths for the month thus far. Press TV (link is video and text) notes "bombs and gunfire attacks" have resulted in "over 800" deaths this month.   Today is the last day of the month so the IBC total for September (issued tomorrow) will be over 1,200 deaths. 

Baraa Afif (Press TV -- link is text and video) notes, "A day after the explosions in Erbil, a series of car bombs rocked Baghdad."  What's she talking about?

Extreme violence in Iraq Sunday which  was spread out across the country including in Erbil.  National Iraqi News Agency reported 2 Mansouriya car bombings left 3 people dead and another twenty injured, a Muqdadiya roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, an armed attack in Kirkuk's Rashad district left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and three more injured, a Sada bombing (near Baquba) left one civilian injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left military officer Haider Sami injured as well as injuring a person traveling with him in his convoy, in Baghdad security forces state they killed 1 man and injured another -- both were wearing "Afghan uniform,"  an armed attack on a Hashimiat check point (Diyala Province) left two Sahwa injured,  a Mosul bombing near a military checkpoint left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and a third injured1 mayor was shot dead in Mosul as he left his home, in the nearby village of Geleo Khan, Mayor Dawood Yassin was also assassinated, Mayor Khalil Ibrahim was shot dead outside his home (NINA states he was the 5th mayor shot dead today in Iraq),  a Baghdad car bombing killed 2 people and left eight injured, a  Baghdad teacher was shot dead in a primary school, a Muqdadiya bombing injured three police officers, a Jawad village bombing left two police officers injured, a car bombing near a Musayyab mosque left 10 people dead and another twenty injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing left 1 police officer dead and three more injured, a Mansouriya car bombing left five members of one family injured, and there was an attack on the Asayis Headquarters in Erbil (think military intelligence) with 2 car bombs and 4 suicide bombers attempt to storm the building -- along with the 4 suicide bombers, the dead includes 6 Asayish and the injured includes forty-two Asayhish and one police officer.

Erbil is the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Tim Arango (New York Times) notes:

The attackers hit a building that houses the regional Kurdish government’s security service, and the scenes that unfolded -- terrified people fleeing black plumes of smoke, the charred and smoking husks of vehicles in the streets -- were extraordinary for a region that has largely been spared the violence that for years has plagued the rest of Iraq. 

All Iraq News said it was 6 suicide bombers (not four) and that all 6 were killed by security forces.  They get six because the 2 car bombs were actually being driven by bombers.   The outlet added strict measures were quickly put in place.  They mean a clamp down.  They don't note it but this included shutting down the Erbil Airport.   Arango notes, "In the aftermath, Iraqi forces swept across Erbil, and Sulaimaniya, another major Kurdish city, setting up checkpoints and other security measures familiar to residents of other Iraqi cities." Within hours of the attack, NINA notes, the "so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)" issued a statement claiming they were behind the Erbil attack.  The statement doesn't appear to have resolved the issue of who attacked.    Wladimir van Wilgenburg (Al-Monitor) reports today:

There are several organizations that could be behind the attack. A large number of Islamist organizations have emerged in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region since the 1980s. Some of them carried out attacks, but the majority decided to participate in the electoral system after Kurdistan became de-facto autonomous in 1991.
Ansar al-Islam, formed by the merger of several insurgent groups in December 2001, has in the past carried out attacks and assassinations in the area, but in 2003, US Special Forces and fighters from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) destroyed the group's bases in Halabja. Taka Kamran, a former leading member of Ansar al-Islam, told Al Arabiya on July 22, 2011, “After the US forces entered the country in 2003 and bombed us for 13 days running, we went to Iran and then returned to Baghdad.” 

After 2003, Ansar al-Islam, changed its name to Ansar al-Sunna and became one of the main Iraqi insurgent groups in the country, competing with but also cooperating with al-Qaeda. In 2007, the group reverted back to Ansar al-Islam. In February 2004, it killed 105 people in simultaneous suicide attacks in Erbil.
Another group, the al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions, which swore allegiance to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda in Iraq, carried out several attacks after its inception in 2007. A
Stanford University profile says of the organization, “Considered weak in number and capability, the group has not carried out an attack since late September 2010, when a bomb went off while being defused in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, wounding two police officers.” 
The al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions were designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department in January 2012. It was responsible for truck bombing the building housing the Ministries of Interior and Security in Erbil in May 2007 in which 19 people were killed.

KUNA notes that 2007 attack was the KRG last "major bombing."  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) adds, "Sunday's attack was only the third major foray into the area by insurgents since a 2007 suicide truck bomb hit the Interior Ministry, killing 14 people, and a 2004 twin suicide attack killed 109."  

Hiwa Osman (Rudaw) weighs in with his opinion on the attack:

Sunday’s attack against the Asayish building in Erbil was not a normal terrorist operation. It serves as a reminder of the threats against the Kurdistan Region and its establishments. The operation carries many clues to the nature of the threat, and a simple reading shows that the attack has two aspects, one internal and the other external.
The preparations for such an operation, the number of weapons and explosives used and the knowledge of the area all hint at a strong local organization: The planners had enough time and space to bring in the instruments and prepare for the attack.

Even these rudimentary observations show that the attack could not have been carried out by external elements only. There is an internal human element that contributed to this attack and which needs to be tackled by the security and political personnel.

UNAMI issued the following statement:

Baghdad, 29 September 2013 – In the aftermath of a series of car bomb explosions that hit the city of Erbil today and caused a number of casualties, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said: "I am shocked and concerned by this daring attack in Erbil today. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed, the Kurdistan Region Government and the Government of Iraq. For many years, the city Erbil has benefited from peace and security and I urge the regional and national authorities to work together to ensure that calm and tranquility will continue to prevail and that those responsible for the attack are brought to justice."

There was more violence on Sunday but let's pick up one incident already noted.  This one:  "a car bombing near a Musayyab mosque left 10 people dead and another twenty injured."  NINA reported a car bombing near a Musayyab mosque left 10 people dead and another twenty injured.  In an update, they reported that the attack was done by a suicide bomber in an explosive vest, that it targeted a funeral and that the death toll had risen to 15 with the number injured rising to 32. In a second update, they noted the number dead increased to 30 and the number injured to forty-three.  The death toll there continued to increase and it was a bombing targeting a funeral.  Arab Times reports:

At least 40 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shi-ite Muslim funeral in a southern Iraqi town on Sunday. The blast brought down the ceiling of the mosque in Mussayab, 60 kms (40 miles) south of the capital Baghdad. Police said some bodies were still trapped beneath the debris. At least 50 people were wounded. Those inside had been mourning the death of a man killed a day earlier by militants. “Until now, we are trying to retrieve bodies from under the debris. Most of the bodies were torn to pieces. Legs and hands were scattered on ground,” said a policeman at the scene. It was not immediately clear who was behind the bombing, which is the latest in a spate of attacks targeting both Sunni and Shi’ite places of worship, particularly during funerals.

AFP quotes eye witness Hamza Habib stating, "The collapse of the mosque roof killed many of those who were present.  Blood was everywhere in the mosque, and I saw some body parts of the victim."

In September, no one has been safe in Iraq.  The attack on the KRG yesterday made that clear.  Security forces -- including Peshmerga, police, Sahwa, Nouri's federal police, the military, security guards -- have been targeted, teachers have been targeted, medical professionals, men, women, children, appointed officials, elected officials, and activists.  September also saw repeated bombings of funerals.   Last Wednesday saw another peaceful activist assassinated.  As we noted at Third yesterday in "Editorial: The assassination of Ammar Jassam Theyabi:"

Ammar Jassam Theyabi, a peaceful protester, a student leader, was assassinated in Iraq on Wednesday.  You didn't read his name in the few reports that made the news on Wednesday or the following day Thursday.  When Iraqis exercise their right to protest and are attacked and/or killed, the US media doesn't want to 'embarrass' Barack by reporting it.

The the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  And that's been largely ignored by the press as well.  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 eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).  When the international press does manage to briefly mention the incident, they lower the death toll and they completely ignore UNICEF's revelations.  The US press is guilty of many things.  Lisa O'Carroll (Guardian) noted journalist Seymour Hersh's press evaluation last week:

Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What's going on [with journalists]?

In other news, the KRG held provincial elections Saturday, September 21st.  Iraq has 18 provinces.  Three of them are in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.  As of last week 17 of the provinces had voted.  Only disputed Kirkuk was prevented from voting.   The exit polling for last week's elections predicted an upset for second place.  Early counts indicate that is correct.  Kamal Chomani (Foreign Policy) notes:

On September 21, Iraqi Kurdistan held [provincial] elections, which for the first time in 22 years, have fundamentally altered the region's political landscape. Almost 3 million voters participated in the elections, with a total of 1,129 candidates competing for 111 parliamentary seats. While official results have been delayed by allegations of fraud, what the elections have made abundantly clear is the sweeping dissatisfaction with the Kurdistan Regional Government.
From its emergence in 1991, the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq has been ruled by an alliance of two parties: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Iraq's ailing President Jalal Talabani. This duopoly was broken on September 21, when Talabani's party appeared to hemmorage votes to the Gorran (Change) Movement, which split from the PUK in 2009. Preliminary results announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission on Sunday in which the KDP got 71,9004 votes, Gorran 44,6095 votes, PUK 33,2386 votes, Islamic Union 17,8681 votes, and Islamic Group 11,3260 votes. Eleven seats are reserved for minorities and religious sects. Gorran's jump to the second-biggest party in the parliament marks a new era in Kurdish politics. 

Isabel Coles and Sonya Hepinstall (Reuters) observed Saturday, "With 95 percent of the votes from the September 21 election counted, the KDP had 719,004 votes, Gorran had 446,095 and the PUK was in third place with 323,827.  Two Islamic parties placed fourth and fifth, with nearly 300,000 votes between them, followed by more than a dozen smaller groups."

Let's note two tweets:

  • With regard to & Hero Ibrahim's resignation, we are already witnessing the changing political landscape of .

  • Hero Ibrahim, Iraq's first lady, resigns from her post within PUK after a major loss in the . NRT to announce more info soon.

  • Oh my goodness.  I am shocked.

    Are you shocked too?

    Who could have ever seen that?

    Hero being blamed for the PUK loss?

    Who could have seen that coming?

    Oh, wait.  We did.

    Dropping back to the September 20th snapshot:

    If the PUK does less well than in 2009, there will be complaining.  If the PUK does really bad, there will be outrage.   The one who will face the most criticism may be First Lady of Iraq Hero Ibrahim Ahmed who has been reluctant to heed the advice of PUK leaders and assume the presidency in her husband's absence.  Could she?  Yes.  In the plan they outlined, Hero would not be "President Hero," she would be carrying out the will of her husband while he remains in Germany.  She would be voting by proxy.  She has refused that (just as she refused to take over the position outright) arguing that to do so would leave the impression that Jalal was unable to do his job.
    She's correct people would assume that.  But Jalal has now been out of the country for nine months.  Iraq's been without a president for nine months.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's recent revelation that he was refused when he attempted to visit Jalal in the hospital last April does not bode well for Jalal's health or his stature.  And it really makes the point for the posters in Arabic social media who compared the
    May 18th photos of 'healthy' Jalal to Weekend At Bernies. (In Weekend At Bernies, two men use Bernie's corpse to pretend Bernie's still alive.)
    If  Hero has the most to lose in tomorrow's vote, the one with the most to gain from the PUK suffering a big loss is Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari who has wanted to grab the Iraqi presidency for some time and attempted a move right after Jalal's stroke but was rebuffed by those in party leadership loyal to Jalal and Hero.
    Credit to Prashant Rao for covering the fact that Jalal's absence may negatively impact the PUK vote tomorrow but is no one going to run through what that means?  Probably not.  It appears AFP is the only western media outlet that's going to report on the KRG elections from inside the Kurdistan Region.

    And Hoshyar?  We didn't have time in Friday's snapshot to note it but Hoshyar broke with Nouri al-Maliki on an issue.  Stop the presses.  What was the issue?  Syria.  While Nouri and every other Iraqi figure note that a military strike is not the answer, Zebari floated otherwise.  Why was that?

    To shore up support from the US government.  He wants to be president of Iraq.  Hero stripped of her position in the PUK makes that a lot easier.  For those late to the party, yes, Iraq already has a president, Hero's husband.  But?    Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  With October starting tomorrow?  He's one month shy of a full year of being unable to perform his duties.  With Hero pushed out of her position in the PUK, those eyeing Jalal's job just got a big boost.

    Finally, Marc Lynch has long offered analysis on Iraq.  At Foreign Policy, he notes an event taking place this week:

    The absence of Iraqi voices from American discussions about Iraq over the last decade has long been a major shortcoming. The bookshelf of English-language books about the decade of war with Iraq overflows with accounts of Washington inter-agency battles, General David Petraeus, American soldiers in the field, General David Petraeus, and General David Petraeus. Some are excellent, some less excellent.  But very few of them seriously incorporate the experiences, views, or memories of Iraqis themselves -- a problem of American-centric analysis which I termed "strategic narcissism."

    And so, on Thursday, October 3, I'm proud to be hosting a really fascinating and hopefully important conference at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University called "The Encounter." Each panel at the full-day event will include both Iraqi students who lived in Iraq during some of the years of the war and American students who served those same years in the U.S. military in Iraq (including several Tillman Military Scholars). The keynote lunch session will feature a discussion about American policy and the Iraqi experience between me, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl and the Iraqi historian Abbas Kadhim. The agenda is open-ended, and the discussions about how Americans and Iraqis viewed one another should be extremely frank and direct.

    If you're in the Washington DC area, I hope that you'll be able to join us for all or part of this event at GW on October 3.

    qassim abdul-zahra


    Saturday, September 28, 2013

    Marilyn At Rainbow's End by Darwin Porter

    Rebecca and I made our summer read a Darwin Porter book on Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn At Rainbow's End: Sex, Lies, Murder, and the Great Cover-up.  (And she's covering it at her site, so go read it.)


    The long delay was caused by?

    We intended this to be our summer book.

    I got the book in early June and so did Rebecca.

    So what was the problem?

    We got it digital.  We wanted to try reading it that way.

    Rebecca has a Kindle.  I have a Nook that I don't use.  I ended up reading it on my laptop -- purchasing it from Amazon and keeping it in my cloud.

    For some books, that would be good.  And certainly, I got the book immediately and also for 5 dollars less than a print copy would have cost me.

    But I would have preferred a print version.

    So, as is to be expected, there's a ton of gossip in the book.

    I think most already know of Monroe's affairs so the big news will probably be her death.

    The book maintains she was murdered (I believe that).  Sam Giancana order the hit.  He was a mob boss. Who paid for it?

    Porter doesn't pretend to know.

    Marilyn, in her last day, was visited by RFK when she ordered Peter Lawford to get him to come from San Francisco to LA or she would tell the press everything.  He arrived.  They had a last screw but she then thought it was a sign of something more.  He made clear it wasn't.  They fought.  He wanted her red diary (with details about him and JFK) and she refused to give it to him.

    He left in fear and saying she was crazy.  And Lawford called her psychiatrist -- who was f**king Marilyn so he's a dirt bag.  (You don't screw your clients.)  Later, she called Lawford and told him she wanted JFK to call her (she couldn't reach him) so they could end it.  He did.  She promised not to hold a press conference.  But the hit had already been ordered.  Five men showed up that night, while mobster Johnny Roselli was there.  He'd called Marilyn saying he needed to see her, actually he was going in to let the killers in.

    They surprised her while she was talking to Roselli.  She was drugged.  She was given deadly enemas in her guest house (they carried her out there).

    An ambulance was called when Eunice Murray and her son-in-law returned shortly after.  The attendants succeeded with CPR but Dr. Ralph Greeson showed up.  He made a big to do and insisted on giving her a shot.  The shot killed her. (Possibly intentionally.)

    Were the Kennedys involved?

    Possibly.  And if their crappy hands were clean?  Marilyn was still murdered because of them.  And the 'suicide' was created to cover for JFK and RFK.

    I hate that whole family.

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

    Friday, September 27,  2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue, Moqtada calls for his followers to take to the street (and they do), Tim Arango reports Nouri's support of Shi'ite militias (that would be death squads), Iraq may make history in one province next year, Barack still wants war on Syria, we look at how WBAI threatens Pacifica Radio's survival, and more.

    We start with independent media and how it is at risk of going under in the United States.  This morning, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) announced, "The independent, daily half-hour news program Free Speech Radio News is airing its last edition today due to funding shortfalls. According to its website, FSRN is looking into the possibility of restructuring its organization in the future."  That's dishonest.

    FSRN explained in a public statement on their website, "FSRN is currently carrying just over $200,000 in accounts receivable. For much of the year, our major funder Pacifica has not been able to pay us and its past-due balance to FSRN is about $198,000. "

    Amy Goodman doesn't have to worry about these things because she found a way to leverage an attempted takeover of Pacifica Radio into riches.  This led to the 2002 deal in which Amy got ownership of the program (which had been owned by Pacifica) and hundreds and thousands in funding.

    So maybe it's guilt that made Amy lied this morning.  I don't know, I don't give a damn.

    She's just one of many WBAI thieves in the '00s who've destroyed Pacifica.

    WBAI in the '00s aired one substandard, embarrassing program after another.  This really isn't a story about a Saturday schedule without news, with tired old records or the programs of a dead man that were rarely topical when he was alive (Al Lewis), or wasting the airwaves with a program about "your PC" at a time when laptops and tablets were the new norm. 

    Pacifica Radio started with KPFA.  In 1949, KPFA began broadcasting in the Bay Area.  Pacifica was KPFA, KPFA was Pacifica.  It was the first listener-supported radio.  Long before NPR, there was Pacifica.  It had a commitment to diversity and to peace.  When Amy Goodman pimps Samantha Power and the UN resolution on Syria this morning, she's betraying the roots of Pacifica, so it's actually good in many ways that Democracy Now! is not a Pacifica program anymore.

    A decade later, 1959, Los Angeles' KPFK started.  No problem there, like KPFA, KPFK pulled its own weight.  Then came WBAI in 1960 and the troubles emerge.  No group worked to put together WBAI and that's why it's been trash on the airwaves for decades.  They arrived with a feeling of entitlement.  In the Bay Area and in Los Angeles, work had to be done to create KPFA and KPFK.  In Washington DC, work had to be done to create WPFW (1977) and in Houston, Texas, work had to be done to create KPFT (1970).  Those four stations contributed and never had a sense of entitlement.

    But unlike the other four, WBAI was a donation.  It's officially donated to Pacifica in January 1960 (it had been a commercial radio station) and broadcasting in the first week of the month.

    It has always pulled stunts that have risked the work of the entire network.  They knew, for example, that broadcasting the George Carlin 'naughty words' routine was risky but they did it.  Fortunately, the Supreme Court sided with Pacifica but it could have gone the other way and risked the entire network. 

    You do not get that cavalier F**K YOU WE DO WHAT WE WANT from the other four stations.  They have a history of work, not of entitlement.   That is not to claim that life is perfect and wonderful at the other four.  It is to note that if they take a stand, it's on a real issue -- a news issue, a broadcast issue -- whereas WBAI does stunts.

    And that's created the culture at WBAI that has been so destructive.  Greed and incompetence has been the hallmark of those who chose to stay with the station (as opposed to the many who elected to move on).  I'm not going to embarrass a '00 on air here.  But she was a woman of color, she was a very talented broadcaster and she was ousted from her job by the little junta which controlled WBAI in the '00s.  This same group -- a mixture African-Americans and Anglo Jews -- are the first to scream racism, but their own actions targeting people of color were racist.

    Doug Henwood hosts Behind The News (whch originated at WBAI and now airs on KPFA Thursdays at noon PST).  He characterizes the '00s at WBAI:

     Charges of “racism” were lobbed constantly. A succession of managerial mediocrities drove the station into the ground. Excruciating stupidity was embraced in the name of populist programming. For several years in the mid-2000s, the station was run by a cabal of black nationalists of an antique and alienating sort. They were forced out by Pacifica central, only to be replaced by an even less distinguished (though not black nationalist) set of sub-mediocrities.

    That probably includes the people who caused Henwood to leave.  In 2010, major changes were implemented and leadership forced on to WBAI.  Bernard White felt the need to whine publicly.  Strangely enough, White felt it was okay to use WBAI's airwaves in 2008 to promote and endorse Barack Obama for president.  In his role as program manager of WBAI, that endorsement was both questionable and potentially harmful.  As the daytime voice, he did bumpers between the morning programs, stupid musings without merit that would be embarrassing in any city but especially in New York City where so much media was present to catch the stupidity.

    It was in one such 'bumper,' that he mused on the violence that would arrive should Barack not become president.  Pacifica has a certain tax status and has that because it's non-partisan.  To have the daily announcer -- who is also the program manager and was the voice of WBAI at that time -- make such a stupid statement was appalling to the Pacifica board.  It was unprofessional and it could have resulted in the network losing its tax status.

    WBAI was not pulling its own financial weight and had not been for some time.  White's stunt set in motion his 2009 dismissal (which he claimed publicly was a COINTEL plot and "non-progressive, what I consider to be racist people").  What followed was the usual stupidity of 'poor Bernard was fired because he was Black!'  It's interesting how color 'matters' when White's cabal screams racism.  It didn't matter when White fired Robert Knight (who is African-American -- Knight would go on to do Flashpoints on KPFA with Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows-Friedman before returning on air at WBAI after White left), it didn't matter when they got rid of the woman of color I wrote of earlier.  But when White loses his job, it's 'racism.'

    No, it was about not paying the bills.  It was about draining Pacifica's cash with your station no one listened to.  In 2010, serious measures were taken.  It was necessary to get money and listeners immediately.  Pacifica was in danger of going under -- that was chiefly due to monies WBAI owed.  All stations suffered and had to make concessions.  KPFA, for example, had to do away with The Morning Show.  (A blessing in disguise.  It allowed for diversity in programming and thought to replace an increasingly soft pseudo news show.)  For WBAI, it meant experimenting with new programs -- a long overdue need.  That meant moving some programs currently airing and how the hosts did howl. 

    Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman provided a real service with Taking Aim.  (Doug Henwood would disagree, he despises shows that question the 9-11 narrative.)  They did a first-rate program.  But when they learned their Tuesday show was moving from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm, they had a hissy fit.  They dubbed ten p.m. "the bedtime hour."  Excuse me?  10 pm is bedtime in NYC?  WBAI was attempting, through the efforts of interim director Tony Bates, to bring in listeners.  They had to shake up the schedule.  They were not burying Taking Aim at midnight or later, they were airing it during the last hour of prime time.  (Don't ask Mya or Ralph what happens on ABC's Scandal -- which returns this coming Thursday at 10:00 pm EST, 9 central -- because they're already in bed and can't watch.)   The anger of Mya and Ralph was misplaced but quickly adopted by the Bernard White crowd with calls of 'take back WBAI!'  Under Bates, the station was actually listenable.  (Law and Disorder is the only WBAI show the station had that was consistently listenable in the '00s.)

    They never succeeded and they won't.  Goodman's gotten what she wants (she got it immediately -- two airings daily of Democracy Now! on WBAI).  They have no real leaders (in the past, people stood behind White, real leaders, pulling the strings).  And they're in a position of weakness.  August 13th, I filled in for Stan at his site and wrote "WBAI troubles."

    Oh, how the deluded don't like reality.  I got a real taste of the hatred the Bernard White crowd has heaped on Robert Knight (he had dared to call out Barack's Drone War, war on Libya and more).  To suggest that WBAI should be sold!!!! Gasp!!!! How dare I?

    Here's some of what I wrote:

    It has been a worthless radio station.  I don't slam the shows about "conspiracy theories" the way Henwood does.  I think they gave WBAI some diversity in thought.
    But the garbage, I call that crap out and have for some time.  We wrote about a lot of this in real time.

    For example, Saturdays and Sundays on WBAI was crap with one dee jay oldies music show after another.
    After Grandpa Munster passed away his Saturday time slot should have gone to needed news programming.  Instead Al Lewis was kept on the air (via old programs) for a year after he died.
    Now this garbage on the weekend?
    WBAI gets credit for airing Winter Soldier put on by Iraq Veterans Against the War.
    But it didn't air them.
    It aired Friday's proceedings.  They skipped Saturday and Sundays proceedings to air their crappy programs where they spin old records.  Actual news was taking place -- and KPFA was airing it -- but WBAI wasn't.
    Doug Henwood apparently is uncomfortable calling that out.  I have no problem.  I called them out on the Saturday it happened.
    WBAI's news has been a damn joke forever.
    They are in the media capitol of the world and yet their news played like the worst local news in the worst and smallest market in the country.
    The news only aired Monday through Friday and for a half hour.
    So if any news broke on the weekend, WBAI couldn't cover it.
    While KPFA has hourly news breaks during the day -- at the top of the hour (except during Democracy Now!) -- WBAI considers 'news' to be telling people the time and temperature.
    They are an embarrassment.  So is the DC station.
    And if you can't carry your weight and you're risking destroying the 'network' (five stations) you need to go.

    Law and Disorder Radio will go on if WBAI doesn't.  The rest of programming offers nothing.  It's weak minded hosted by the weak minded and so far from Lewis Hill's intent with Pacifica that they should all be ashamed.  It's not just the falling asleep on air twice in 2012 by Tom Wisker (who was then hosting Weaponry on WBAI).  They are an embarrassment.  More importantly, they are not carrying their weight.  They owe Pacifica money and they risk the entire network going under as a result.

    Free Speech Radio News was actual news.  It wasn't garbage.  It wasn't, "Let me interview my friend about their new book while we pretend on air like we're not best friends."  This was actual reporting -- a foreign concept to WBAI, granted.  The loss of this half-hour show is tremendous.  Free Speech Radio News covered everything that was news and did so professionally.

    A few weeks ago (a few days before I wrote the post at Stan's blog), a friend called about what was going to happen to FSRN.  Couldn't we, he suggested, all kick in and take care of that?  We could.  And normally I'd be the first to write that check.  But I'm sick of paying WBAI's bills.  And rescuing FSRN would just give Pacifica another excuse not to address the WBAI problem.

    WBAI is not pulling its weight.  It needs to publicly be informed it has X number of days to turn that debt around or its station will be sold.  Pacifica cannot risk going under to save that awful station.  Today, the world lost Free Speech Radio News.  If the problem's not addressed, it will be something else in a few months.  If the problem's not addressed, it will eventually be announced that Pacifica is going under.  One station should not be allowed to destroy the whole network.  KPFA, KPFK, KPFT  pull their own weight.  WBAI needs to make money quickly or be cut lose and the same is true of WPFW. 

    Pacifica is supposed to be a network which supports peace.  Its purpose is too important.  Losing FSRN is a huge blow, losing Pacifica would be even more so. 

    If you want to help Pacifica, you might also start demanding Amy Goodman write off the two million she's expecting Pacifica to pay her.  As Pacifica Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg noted at Matthew Lasar's Radio Survivor:

    It’s not correct that Democracy Now hasn’t been paid a penny by Pacifica. It’s been paid millions of dollars, just not the last million. Since 2002, when the initial contract is signed, through the current day, the total amount Pacifica contracted to pay Democracy Now is over $5 million dollars. The problem is signing contracts that go up every year regardless of whether the pledges received during the airing of the program go up or down, and they have gone down substantially in the last decade. Pacifica, unfortunately, has gotten a lot of bad legal advice over the years and tends to make decisions emotionally. Emotional ties to DN were not a good enough reason to sign a contract which was not advantageous to both parties involved. And in the end, it hasn’t proven that advantageous to DN either. Pacifica’s then-ED Greg Guma objected to the terms during the renegotiation in 2007 because he could see the numbers weren’t trending in support of the terms, but no one listened to him at the time.

    Goodman's very good at enriching herself.  It's really time for her 'to give back.'  It's also time for Pacifica to either enter a new contract with her or else drop her from the airwaves.  It wouldn't be a loss.  As Cindy Sheehan has pointed out, since Barack Obama has become president, she's been on Democracy Now! only once for a few seconds.  Amy puts on CIA contractor Juan Cole but ignores Cindy?  That's not Lew Hill's mission statement.

    It's Friday in Iraq which means protests -- as it has now for over nine months.  Iraqi Spring MC reports protests took place in Falluja, in Adhamiya, Mosul, Rawa, Tikrit, Samarra, Ramadi and JalawlaNINA adds:

    Preacher and Imam of Samarra Fri-Prayers Dr. Sheikh Mohammed Taha Hamdon called on Iraqis to obtain legitimated rights.

    Hamdon also appealed the international community, Arab countries and international media to come out for silent about what he described as "ethnic cleansing suffered by Iraq's Sunni component at the hands of militias.

    Addressing the people of Diyala and Baghdad provinces in addition to Kirkuk , Salahuddin and Anbar , saying: "What is happening to you of killing and displacement caused of your demands of legitimated rights."

    Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21st.  Someone tell the world media.  Al Mada notes that protesters in Falluja spoke of how they did not trust the government anymore -- not to protect them, not to represent them.  The newspaper reports Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, was called out in Diyala Province for marginalizing and excluding Sunnis.  He was denounced in Samarra and Ramadi where his insults of protesters was tossed back at him with protesters noting he was one the one practicing sectarianism.  Kitabat notes Nouri was also denounced by protesters across Iraq for allegedly taking marching orders from Iran.

    Those ongoing protests were not the only protests in Iraq today.  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) notes that the Sadr movement states they have at least 700 members in prison with at least 100 sentenced to death and they are in prison for resisting the US occupation of Iraq.   Some of them have been held since 2004.  Thursday, Moqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to protest these detentions.  Kitabat notes Moqtada's followers in Baghdad and across Iraq took to the streets to protest and demand the release of the imprisoned and that a mosque in Kufa had an especially strong turn out of participants.  What happened to the amnesty law which was supposed to address this.  An unnamed Sadr MP tells Al Mada that Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc  is blocking it.

    On protests, Adnan Abu Zeed (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Many Iraqi activists have been coordinating events to provide further impetus for a new campaign, spearheaded by the youth movement, that is calling for the cancellation of pensions for lawmakers and members of parliament. Organizers have called for demonstrations throughout Iraq on Oct. 5, 2013. Riad al-Husseini, one such activist, has begun posting new banners and ads calling for support for these protests.
    It seemed as if many Iraqis like Husseini have become so addicted to demonstrations and protests as the only available democratic means to achieve their goals that if their attempts were unsuccessful, they would consider democracy a failed project altogether.

    Husseini described the demonstrations on Aug. 31 during which protesters called for the cancellation of politicians’ and MPs’ pensions. However, their demands were not met, just as in all previous protests, and security forces cracked down on demonstrators and blocked the roads.

    Speaking to Al-Monitor, he said, “I was overcome with despair. I felt that those protesters were heading toward a dead end and wouldn’t achieve their goals. The government’s procrastination harms protests more than blocked roads or security officers, who have closed off all entrances in every demonstration.”

    However, Husseini discarded his despair and decided to take to the streets once again.

    Meanwhile mass arrests continue.  However, two arrests will probably garner more attention.   NINA notes, "Aljazeerah and Badiyah operations forces arrested late lastnight the Dean of Imam Aadham Faculty [Dr. Imad Kareem Hamad] of Aanah district western Anbar province."  Two nurses were also arrested.   NINA also notes, "Eyewitnesses told NINA that a military force arrested Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abdul Jabar [of Abu Hanifa NMosque] and one of his assistants after Friday Prayer, without knowing the reason."  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is asking why the Sheikh was arrested.

    The mass arrests help breed the continuing and ongoing violence.   AFP reports, "Two bombs exploded near Sunni mosques in the Iraqi capital as worshippers left after Friday prayers, killing at least six people, as four more died in other attacks, officials said."  Xinhua explains, "The first roadside bomb exploded near Al Tawheed mosque in the Dora district in southern Baghdad after Friday prayers, killing five worshippers and wounding 16 others, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Another roadside bomb went off near Shanshal mosque in the Jihad district in southwestern Baghdad, wounding five worshippers, the source said."  Iraq Times notes the final death toll from the two Baghdad bombings was 7 with twenty-eight injured.   In addition, NINA notes a Mosul bombing targeting a police patrol claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left three people injured.  Alsumaria reports a suicide bomber targeting Mosul military headquarters claimed 2 lives (3 counting the bomber) and left eleven injured.  The Iraq Times adds that 1 corpse was discovered on Palestine Street in Baghdad late Thursday night showing signs of torture.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes, "Gunmen also shot and killed police Col. Ghazi Ahmed after storming his house in the former insurgent stronghold of Hawija, 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad, police said."

    On violence, Tim Arango (New York Times) has a strong report (there's one flaw) which includes the rising Shi'ite anger in Sadr City following last Saturday's bombing attack on a funeral:

    As the government tries to put down the Sunni insurgency, it now faces rising unrest among members of the country’s Shiite majority, who are becoming more determined to take up the fight themselves. This is perhaps expressed most vividly in the sentiments stirring Sadr City, home to many former fighters in Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, who had largely put down their weapons in recent years and put their faith in the political process.
    But now that their community faces a deadly streak of terrorist violence, and believes the government incapable of protecting them, that is changing, demonstrated by the protests and unrest this week in Sadr City.
    “The whole city is angry,” said Razak Jassim, 43, a friend to Mr. Jabar who joined him in mourning on Wednesday.

    Arango goes on to note that Nouri al-Maliki is backing Asaib al-Haq, a Shi'ite militia rival to the Mahdi Army:

    In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

    And he's also probably hoping to neutralize cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr who has huge popularity in Iraq and who is Nouri's strongest rival in the next bid for prime minister.  Arango's report is the first thing in weeks to justify the claims his paper makes in the new round of TV advertisements -- we've all seen them right?  If Arango were given a little more space, he probably could have addressed Nouri's attacks on the Sunnis.  Not the 'Sunni insurgency' (a media catch all for rebels, militants, al Qaeda and more) but to the Sunni population in general.   And those attacks?  That's why he's backing Asaib al-Haq -- who do you think that militia is attacking?  The protesters have repeatedly maintained the Sunni community is being targeted by Shi'ite militias backed by Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Mada reports this was again raised in Friday's protests with speakers in Falluja demanding Nouri curb his militias.

    And this behavior?  It really demands that aid from the US be cut off.

    Iraq Body Count's death toll for September through yesterday?   1035 violent deaths.  Though media reports might want to pretend otherwise, there are a lot of Sunnis in that number.  The two mosques bombed in Baghdad today were Sunni mosques.  Equally troubling, the corpse on Palestine Street.  That's a sign of how bad the violence is getting, corpses are being discovered yet again, in the last weeks, dumped on the streets of Baghdad.

    Matt Hoh, Michael Shank and Danny L. Davis (CNN) survey the war fronts and notes:

    Iraq threatens to explode into all out civil war, with suicide bombings still all too frequent. Earlier this month, for example, 30 worshippers were killed at a mosque near Baquba, while late last month, several dozen people were killed in a string of bombings in and near Baghdad. Afghanistan, meanwhile, is still riven by insurgent attacks as well as tribal, religious and sectarian disputes.

    John Glaser ( observes:

    Not only is Iraq on the verge of all out civil war, but the U.S.-backed Shiite government in Baghdad is increasingly authoritarian and is contributing to the country’s ongoing demise. The Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq is, as the International Crisis Group (ICG) puts it, “as acute and explosive as ever” primarily because “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has implemented a divide-and-conquer strategy that has neutered any credible Sunni Arab leadership.”
    Maliki has had his security forces detain and brutally torture thousands of political opponents in secret prisons and denied them access to legal counsel. Amnesty International reported this week that Iraq executed 13 men following unfair trials plagued by allegations of torture. “Iraq is one of the world’s most prolific executioners,” the report states.

    In this environment, Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections early next year.  But they can't pass an election law, as we noted in Thursday's snapshot:

    Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's the one leading the push for Parliament to pass the election law on the Shi'ite side (in Iraq, the law is passed before each election or the elections are not held).  And the one saying no?  Members of Nouri's political slate (State of Law) and Nouri's political party (Dawa).  Guess what group Khudheir Al-Khuzaie?  Right.  All Iraq News reports that the vote on the election law did not take place today and was postponed until Monday.  Alsumaria quotes an unnamed source stating that there are disagreements about the electoral system and the quota system.

    All Iraq News notes independent MP Safiya al-Siheil is concerned and she stated today that she fears the elections may be delayed.  If elections are held, Diwaniyah may make history next year.  Al Mada reports feminists in the province are planning to form a collective to run for office with the goal of advancing women in all fields.  Dad Hasnawi tells Al Mada that the slate would be the first of its kind in the province, in Iraq and in the Arab world and that it would embrace women's issues.

    Saturday the KRG held provincial elections.  Exit polling places the Kurdistan Democratic Party (led by KRG President Massoud Barzani) in the lead.  The surprise from the polling is that the other dominant political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is no longer dominant.  Second place, according to the exit polling, has gone to Gorran (Change).  The Independent High Electoral Commission has still been unable to release the vote totals.  Only three provinces voted.  It shouldn't be that difficult.  Here are some of the latest Tweets on the election:  Kitabat notes allegations that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is attempting to rig the results of the elections and that UNHCR has sent a delegation into Sulaymaniyah to investigate.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reports:

    The preliminary figures cited by the parties, observers and independent organizations were based on polling station counts. The results showed the KDP in first place with 37.4% of the vote, which would give the party about a third of the total seats. Parliament is comprised of 111 seats, in addition to the 11 seats reserved for non-Kurdish minorities, which have traditionally been close to Barzani.

    The KDP’s main ally, Talabani’s PUK, slipped to third place with 16.6% of the vote. The Movement for Change came in second place with 24.7%, followed by the Kurdistan Islamic Union with 9.8 %, the Islamic Group with 6.1%, al-Haraka al-Islamiyya with 1.2% and 4.2% for the other parties.

    These figures are subject to change. A source from the Electoral Commission in Erbil told Al-Monitor that approximately 40% of the 150,000 votes of the security forces and of the Iraqi Kurdistan guard — the Peshmerga — will go to Barzani’s party.

    The official results are expected to be announced on Sept. 30, but the overall standings are not expected to be affected, prompting some within the PUK — including the deputy head of the party, Barham Salih — to recognize the party’s decline. He said, “The loss is harsh, but denying the people’s will would be shameful,” in reference to accusations by the Movement for Change that the PUK and the KDP are trying to rig the results.


    Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared at the United Nations, "So tonight, we are declaring together, for the first time, that the use of chemical weapons, which the world long ago determined beyond the bounds of acceptable human behavior, are also a threat to international peace and security anywhere they might be used, anytime they might be used, under any circumstances. As a community of nations, we reaffirm our responsibility to defend the defenseless, those whose lives remain at risk every day that anyone believes they can use weapons of mass destruction with impunity. Together, the world, with a single voice for the first time, is imposing binding obligations on the Assad regime requiring it to get rid of weapons that have been used to devastating effect as tools of terror. This important resolution reflects what President Obama and President Putin and colleagues around the world set out to do."

    Of course, he didn't mean it.  He's perfectly fine with the chemical weapons the US used in Iraq and sleeps without any sorrow over the hundreds of Iraqi children born with cancers and birth defects as a result of the chemical weapons.  Before the resolution passed, World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet noted at War Is A Crime:

    Wrapped in some benign sounding words about prosperity, peace, and “shifting from a perpetual war footing,” the core of Barack Obama’s message to the United Nations yesterday made clear that if the U.N. doesn’t pass a resolution the U.S. wants against Syria, he still could execute a strike.
    Here’s the take-home:
    “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.
    “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.”

    The UN News Centre notes that Iraqi Vice-President Khudheir Mussa Al-khuzaie spoke at the UN today:

    Turning to the situation in neighbouring Syria, Mr. Al-khuzaie called the conflict a “serious threat to our security, stability and the integrity of our land and people.” He urged a peaceful solution to the conflict warning that otherwise, “the region will forge ahead towards the unknown.”

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    mohammed tawfeeq