Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mike and Molly and Susan

Monday, Mike and Molly had Susan Sarandon on as a guest star.

Melissa McCarthy (Molly) is in a film with Sarandon that just finished filming awhile back.  Sarandon plays her mother.

On the sitcom Monday, she was a famous writer.

This season, Molly's quit her teaching job.  She's decided of late that she's a writer.  So for three episodes, we've dealt with that.  The first episode was about her book where she plotted to kill her mother-in-law.  The second one had Molly writing racy stories that made Mike fear he wasn't living up to Molly's sexual appetite.  Then came Susan.

This was a very weakly written script.

Fortunately, Melissa made something of it.

Surprisingly, so did Sarandon.

It's been years since she surprised me with her acting.  Probably White Palace was the last time she surprised me.

Here she did some inventive stuff.

She should be proud of herself because the script was 'generic guest star' and she elevated it so much.

She was also very good at physical comedy.

It's been so long since Compromising Positions (1985), I'd forgotten she could do physical comedy. 

So all in all, it was a happy surprise. 

Hopefully, it's also a sign that she's rediscovering her love of acting. 

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, assassination attempts increase, the KRG speaks out against violence against women while Baghdad is largely silent, more executions are carried out, we review the Jewish archives, and more.

In 2006 a number of things regarding Iraq became clear.  Among them was that you can't play red-light-green-light with Iraq.  You can't dash in and then dash out, checking out for months at a time.  Well you can.  You can do that if you want to look stupid.

Phyllis Bennis looked like the world's biggest idiot going on CounterSpin and raging over how little the US cared about the deaths of Iraqis as evidenced by the refusal to do keep a body count.  Poor Phyllis, it had been reported months ago that there was a count.  But she was off on Lebanon and Palestine and she'd checked out on Iraq but thought she could weigh in with an 'informed opinion.'  She couldn't.  She still struggles to this day because she pays damn little attention.

Another lesson that's emerged is people can't just discover Iraq as a topic.  It's starting to become to clear, as an e-mail today noted, why outlets would assign people to various beats and keep them on it.  This allowed the reporter to be informed and to have some perspective.

What's the alternative?

The garbage Adam Chandler serves up at Tablet.  And he references Lisa Leff's earlier 'report' so it's like a foundation of stupidity with a light dusting of ignorance powder.

Lisa Leff's big concern was that some people were calling the trove of Jewish artifacts discovered wasting in water in 2003 an "archive" and that's "misleading" because blah, blah, blah.  We don't have time to quote idiots in full.  Her definition?  That's actually how the trove was used prior to be it stolen by the Iraqi government.  She doesn't know a damn thing and, if you doubt that, the US National Archives have digitized every page and created a website for it.  What did this US governent body responsible for archiving call the site?  Preserving The Iraqi Jewish Archive.  Not creating a new archive, preserving an existing one.

Adam Chandler knows even less.   He wants to cite Reuters ("A National Archives spokeswoman said the materials, whose removal from Baghdad was agreed in 2003 - when a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam and the country lurched into widespread sectarian turmoil - would be going back to Iraq and the decision was made by the U.S. State Department.") and insist this decision was just made.

Let's drop back to the June 21st snapshot -- pay attention, Dunce Chandler and Dunce Leff, if you're capable of learning, you just might -- for the National Archives statement:

Washington, DC…On Friday, October 11, 2013, the National Archives will unveil a new exhibition, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve these materials. Located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, “Discovery and Recovery” is free and open to the public and runs through January 5, 2014.
In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 24 recovered items and a “behind the scenes” video of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit marks the first time these items have been on public display.


On May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.
The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Seeking guidance, the Coalition Provisional Authority placed an urgent call to the nation’s foremost conservation experts at the National Archives. Just a week later, National Archives Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg and Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and make recommendations for preservation of the materials. Both experts share this extraordinary story and take you “behind the scenes” in this brief video [http://tinyurl.com/IraqiJA]. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages its use and free distribution.
Given limited treatment options in Baghdad, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these materials have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and photographed under the direction of the National Archives. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain.

Display highlights include:

  • A Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568 – one of the oldest books in the trove;
  • A Babylonian Talmud from 1793;
  • A Torah scroll fragment from Genesis - one of the 48 Torah scroll fragments found;
  • A Zohar from 1815 – a text for the mystical and spiritual Jewish movement known as “Kabbalah”;
  • An official 1918 letter to the Chief Rabbi regarding the allotment of sheep for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year);
  • Materials from Jewish schools in Baghdad, including exam grades and a letter to the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton regarding SAT scores;
  • A Haggadah (Passover script) from 1902, hand lettered and decorated by an Iraqi Jewish youth ; and
  • A lunar calendar in both Hebrew and Arabic from the Jewish year 5732 (1972-1973) - one of the last examples of Hebrew printed items produced in Baghdad.
“Discovery and Recovery” is divided into six sections:
Discovery: The dramatic story of how these materials were found, rescued and preserved is one worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A short film captures these heroic efforts. The section includes actual metal foot lockers used to ship the documents to the United States.
Text and Heritage: This section explores Iraqi Jewish history and tradition through recovered texts, including a Torah scroll fragment, a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568, and a Babylonian Talmud from 1793.
Iraqi Jewish Life: Constancy and Change: Using recovered texts, this section explores the pattern of Jewish life in Iraq. Highlights include a Haggadah (Passover script), siddur (prayer book) and an illustrated lunar calendar in both Hebrew and Arabic (one of about 20 found, dating from 1959-1973).
Personal and Communal Life: Selected correspondence and publications illustrate the range and complexity of Iraqi Jewish life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Original documents and facsimiles in flipbooks range from school primers to international business correspondence from the Sassoon family.
After the Millennia: Iraqi Jewish life unraveled in the mid-20th century, with the rise of Nazism and proliferation of anti-Jewish propaganda. In June 1941, 180 Jews were killed and hundreds injured in an anti-Jewish attack in Baghdad. Persecution increased when Iraq entered the war against the new State of Israel in 1948. In 1950 and 1951, many Iraqi Jews were stripped of their citizenship and assets and the community fled the county en masse. This section includes the 1951 law freezing assets of Iraqi Jews.
Preserving the Past: It is not surprising that the Coalition Forces turned to National Archives conservators for help. Learn about transformation of these materials from moldy, water-logged masses to a carefully preserved, enduring historic legacy. View the National Archives’ state-of-the-art treatment, preservation, and digitization of these materials.
The Fall issue of Prologue Magazine, the Archives’ flagship publication, will feature two articles on “Discovery and Recovery.” Prologue is available in the Archives Shop.

National Archives Preservation and Conservation

The Conservation Department cares for the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents, as well as billions of other records. In state-of-the-art preservation labs, staff assess the condition of records and identify their composition. Experts stabilize and treat documents to prepare them for digitization, exhibition, and use by researchers. A “conservator-on-call” team is ready to provide guidance for any records emergency at National Archives facilities nationwide. National Archives conservation experts also serve as “first preservers” and provide aid to other agencies and offices following disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The National Archives is located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Hours are 10 AM-5 PM.

# # #
For more information on or to obtain images of items included in the exhibition, call the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

Lisa Leff is deeply stupid.  So caught up in word use, she doesn't even realize she doesn't know a damn thing she's talking about.

The Jews of Iraq did not abandon those documents, they were stolen by the Iraqi government in 1984. The 'wave' Leff thinks she knows about?  These documents were left in a Baghdad synagogue (on the second floor).  This was not an abandoned synagogue but a temple for Jews who chose to remain in Iraq.  It was from this active synagogue that the documents were stolen.

It was the Iraqi government that stashed them in a basement.  Jews were still in Iraq in the 80s.  Since 2003, most have fled.  AP reported last month that the last rabbi left Iraq in 2006.  They didn't name him, but it was Rabbi Emad Levy.  By 2008, there were nine remaining Jews in Iraq (read this WikiLeaks published State Dept cable).   The whispered number is 3 Jews remain in Iraq (in Baghdad) but that comes from a 'religious leader' (non-Iraqi) who was caught lying in testimony by IPS (he'd testified in '06 that there were no Jews left in Iraq when there were -- and he got angry at the IPS reporter insisting his public testimony wasn't supposed to be public so IPS shouldn't report on it).  I'm not even in the mood to mention that British liar's name.  We ignore him and have due to his lying.  Most Iraqis in and around Baghdad consider him a snitch and have throughout the illegal war. So he's got bad reputation pretty much everywhere he goes.

This is stolen property.  It was stolen in 1984.  The government of Saddam Hussein is no more.  That doesn't mean, legally or ethically, that Nouri or Iraq has a claim on these documents.

Adam Chandler, the plan has always been that the documents would be returned.  There is serious objection to this, as their should be.

The US government should have determined ownership before entering into a contract.

However, the US government being left red-faced with embarrassment?  That doesn't override the owners' rights to the property in question.

It belongs to the Jewish community.  Since 2003, Iraq's worked overtime to kill Jews and run them off.  Now they want to insist that Jewish property belongs to the Iraqi government?

In what world?

Not in the world of Congress.  November 13th,  Brett McGurk, the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, appeared  Wednesday before the  US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa (see the Nov. 15th "Iraq snapshot," the Nov. 14th "Iraq snapshot" and the Nov. 13th "Iraq snapshot").  The Subcommittee made clear, repeatedly, their position.  Here are a few examples.

Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  Before we begin this afternoon's hearing I will hand Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk an envelope and ask that he please deliver it to Secretary [of State John] Kerry.  These are my previous letters to Kerry pleading for the United States to help the residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty and to prevent another deadly attack like the one from September at Camp Ashraf which left 52 dead and 7 hostages who are still missing. There's also a video taken by the residents of Camp Ashraf during the last assault that I urge Secretary Kerry and all members of this Subcommittee to view.  And finally, a letter to Secretary Kerry regarding the return of Iraqi-Jewish community artifacts that are now on display at The National Archives.  In 2003, US and coalition forces found a  trove of Iraqi-Jewish cultural artifacts being warehoused in the basement of Saddam Hussein's secret police headquarters.  And the US subsequently brought them here, to The National Archives, for restoration, preservation and display; however, these artifacts are scheduled to be returned to Iraq where the government will claim possession of these artifacts which were unjustly taken from the Iraqi-Jewish community.  The US government must not return those stolen treasures to the Iraqi government but instead should facilitate their return to their rightful owners or descendants.  Therefore, on behalf of me, Congressman Steve Israel and over 40 of our House colleagues, we ask you, Deputy Secretary McGurk, to personally deliver this letter to Secretary Kerry and the Dept of State ensures that the Iraqi-Jewish community does not get robbed again of its collective memory and treasures. 

[. . .]

Ranking Member Ted Deutch:  I'd actually like to get back to the issue of the archives.  And you said that you're "open to discussions."  And these are just a couple of observations -- and I appreciate the attention that you've paid to this issue already.  Iraq, Babylon, was the center of Judaism for a thousand years and-and these documents, tattered as they were, found a decade ago are -- according to the agreement that was reached with the -- with the Coalition Provisional Authority were supposed to be sent -- were supposed to be sent back to a place where the number of Jews, the number is perhaps in the single digits.  The documents -- many of the documents are very personal in nature, records of the community, things that are of real value to the members of the community and their descendants who simply aren't there.  So help me.   I understand what the agreement was.  You've also said you're now open to discussions. And can we explore that a little bit?  Can we explore that a little bit?  And if you could just continue where you left off?   What discussion can we have?  And what can we do?  What -- what would be the hold up to ensure that these items are so, so personal to the community that is no longer living in the country can actually reside with the community?

[. . .]

US House Rep Grace Meng:  Regarding the issue of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that are currently on display in The National Archives, I want to especially acknowledge and thank Congresswoman [Ileanna] Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman [Steve] Israel and Senator [Chuck] Schumer for their leadership on this issue.  Rescued from Baghdad in 2003, the collection of ancient artifacts include letters, books and personal photos that were left behind by Jews after WWII who experienced extreme anti-Semiticsm including harassment and violence.  It is imperative that these artifacts are returned to the descendents of the Jewish community from which they were wrongly confiscated and not the Iraqi government.  We must ensure that justice for the Iraqi Jewish community.

That's just three examples, we can provide more.   US House Rep Grace Meng thanked Senator Chuck Schumer, Subcommittee Chair Illeanna Ros-Lehtinen and US House Rep Steve Israel because they had sent open letters to the White House calling for the trove, artifacts, archive not to be handed over to Iraq.

This is not a minor issue.  Cultural heritage is not minor.  If it were, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) would not work so hard to track down stolen Iraqi artifacts and return them to Iraq,

Today, Sylvia Westall and Jonathan Saul (Reuters) quote the World Organisation of Jews from Iraq's Cynthia Kaplan Shamash stating, "Returning the collection to a Jewish-free Iraq in the current conditions is incomprehensible and unacceptable."  And they quote Edwin Shuker, whose school certificate is pat of the documents set to be returned, stating, "It is not a sectarian issue.  Nothing is safe, no shrine or holy place let alone a site where Jewish artefacts are stored.  There is a complete breakdown in safety and security in Iraq now."

That is correct.  Iraq is still neither safe nor secure.  That's why Iraqis continue to flee the country.   Al Rafidayn reports the kingdom of Jordan has issued an apology for the treatment of some Iraqis crossing the border -- the article says Iraqis have been harassed (it does not define how) -- and declaring that this is not the policy of Jordan.

Here's what should happen right this minute.  The World Organisation of Jews from Iraq should filed in federal court on behalf of Shuker for his document -- it clearly belongs to him.  In addition, they should  argue that other artifacts can be traced and, even if they can't, Shuker and others would have legal claim -- especially if they were making a community claim and not a singular one.  It should be argued that those living today whose family names can be found within the trove have more of a claim on the collection than does anyone in the Iraqi government.  This would delay any transfer to Iraq and they could win the case.  They could win on legal grounds or they could win on electoral grounds.  Electoral grounds?  2014 is an election year.  Would the White House go up against so many Americans?


Saad Eskander is the head of the Iraq National Library and Archive.  Eric Tucker and Randy Herschaft (AP) quoted Eskander earlier this month stating, "Now, Iraqis have no problem in accepting the fact that the Jews are true Iraqi patriots who can live with their culture in a multicultural society, "

Now they do?

After the last Iraqis are run out of the country?

As for the ridiculous claim of a multicultural society -- the government out of Baghdad doesn't recognize that.  At the start of 2007, Nouri al-Maliki signed off on the White House benchmarks for success in Iraq.  The Council on Foreign Relations has a write up here, the benchmark we're referring to is this one:

Reversal of de-Baathification laws. The Iraqi parliament passed the Justice and Accountability Law on January 12, 2008, clearing the way for an estimated thirty-thousand low-ranking ex-Baathists to return to public life. The law also allowed some party members to collect pensions. But some Sunnis argue the law has made matters worse for them by opening the door to federal prosecution, barring top-ranking officials from regaining jobs, and restricting former Saddam security forces from reintegration. The drive to rescind de-Baathification laws was part of a larger effort to make constitutional concessions to minority groups like Sunni Arabs.

That's still not happened.  Nouri's targeting Sunnis. That's no longer even debatable.  As Tim Arango (New York Times) reported last September, Nouri has armed Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq:

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.

Not only that, but Aswat al-Iraq reported last week, "Parliamentary Deputy Sepaker Aref Taifour called the federal government to submit an apology for the Kurdish people for the atrocities of the previous governments.  He pointed out that 'some are still believing that the Kurds are second-[class] citizens,' calling Iraqi officials to follow the Turkish type in their apology to the Kurds."

That apology won't be coming anytime soon.

Multicultural Iraq?

Al Rafidayn reports a young girl was slapped in school for not wearing a veil, slapped by the teacher, and the uproar has the Ministry of Education investigating the incident.   Earlier this month,  the CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, Monique Villas, (at Huffington Post) noted violence against women:

The picture is grim. A perception poll of gender experts by the Thomson Reuters Foundation shows that the rise of political Islam across Arab Spring countries has had a real impact on secularism. Almost three years after popular uprisings toppled autocratic leaders in one of the most conservative corners of the world, three out of five Arab Spring countries rank among the bottom five states for women's rights
Many political gains for women have been lost. In fact, women are struggling to preserve their dignity, and far from progressing, they are now fighting to preserve the rights they had before the Arab Spring. 
[. . .]
Life is not much better in Iraq, second-worst country for women's rights in the region, according to the survey.
The experts said that radical Islamisation of society, sectarian violence and a reaction against what many see as western imperialism in the years after the 2003 invasion were all having a devastating impact on women.
The "war on terror" has made widows of 1.6 million Iraqi women, leaving them without income and with few prospects of employment. In Iraq, only 14.5 percent of the entire female population is employed, and women have lost their voice in political circles. Mass displacement has made them vulnerable to trafficking and sexual violence.

The response from Iraq?  The Ministry of Human Rights attacked it.  So did the Ministry of Women.  The latter insisted the report was "inaccurate" and that Reuters had "no clear-cut knowledge of Iraq and its laws."  If you're wondering why the Ministry of Women didn't speak up in support of the young girl slapped, it's because the Minister has stated that women have no rights.  She's a chauvinist, a sexist and hateful pig.  She attempted to institute a dress code -- for women only -- and she's done nothing to speak out or support Iraqi women who don't wear the hijab.
We've long noted the gender-traitor Ibithal al-Zaydi (see, for example, the February 3, 2012 snapshot).  Mufid Abdlulla (Kurdistan Triune) quoted the gender-traitor's most infamous remarks: 

I am against the equality between men and woman.  If women are equal to men they are going to lose a lot.  Up to now I am with the power of the man in society: If I go out of my house: I have to tell my husband where I am going.  This does not mean diluting the role of woman in society but, on the contrary, it will bring more power to the woman as a mother who looks after their kids and brings up their children.
She's in a position of authority and she's arguing against women's rights.  She's also supposed to represent all women and yet she doesn't.  In Iraq, as in every country, there are women who will never have children (by choice or due to fertility issues -- of the woman or the man), there are women who will never marry.  And Iraq is a land of widows.  Not only is she harming women's rights but she's even rendering women invisible.
Back in March, Rania Khalek (Muftah) noted it wasn't always women under attack in Iraq:
Contrary to popular imagination, Iraqi women enjoyed far more freedom under Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’athist government than women in other Middle Eastern countries. In fact, equal rights for women were enshrined in Iraq’s Constitution in 1970, including the right to vote, run for political office, access education and own property. Today, these rights are all but absent under the U.S.-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki.
Prior to the devastating economic sanctions of the 1990s, Iraq’s education system was top notch and female literacy rates were the highest in the region, reaching 87 percent in 1985. Education was a major priority for Saddam Hussein’s regime, so much so that in 1982 Iraq received the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) award for eradicating illiteracy. But the education system crumbled from financial decay under the weight of the sanctions pushing over 20 percent of Iraqi children out of school by 2000 and reversing decades of literacy gains. Today, a quarter of Iraqi women are illiterate, more than double the rate for Iraqi men (11 percent). Female illiteracy in rural areas alone is as high as 50 percent.
Women were integral to Iraq’s economy and held high positions in both the private and public sectors, thanks in large part to labor and employment laws that guaranteed equal pay, six months fully paid maternity leave and protection from sexual harassment. In fact, it can be argued that some of the conditions enjoyed by working women in Iraq before the war rivaled those of working women in the United States.
BBC News has a photo essay entitled 'In Pictures: Women At Risk In Iraq."  Umed Sami (Kirkuk Now) reported Sunday that it is Domestic Violence Awareness Week which actually lasts two weeks and that there are many different actions because there are "20 women's rights organizations in Kirkuk."  From the article:

No to Violence against Women is a women’s rights organization founded by a group of women’s rights activists back in 2010.  It is one of the organizations planning to organize a protest rally on November 25 in front of the governor’s office as they protest against the poor conditions of women’s rights and their struggles.
In the meantime, the Kurdistan Women’s Union, a women’s organization affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Karim, is a member of the political bureau boycotting the activities of No to Violence against Women and who view their rally as an “opposition against the governor and not demanding the women’s rights.”
Women’s activist Naska Muhammad told Kirkuk Now “The majority of the women’s rights organizations have boycotted the rally as we feel it is more targeted against the governor and it is politically driven.”
The Kurdistan Regional Government noted the kick off on Monday and that Monday was International Day Against Violence Against Women (that's a United Nations day around the world).  KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani addressed a large group of men and women -- including ministers of government, MPs in the Iraqi Parliament and the Kurdish Parliament, regional official and diplomats --  in Erbil.  Barzani noted that violence against women is violence against human rights and the issue is not a 'women's issue' but one for the entire community to work on.  He called for justice which means changing the laws in the KRG so that the light penalities for husbands killing wives are eliminated (he noted the KRG law currently mirrors the law for the rest of Iraq).  He noted that they need to address the issue of child brides and the practice of female genital mutilation.  He cited figures finding that reported violence against women had fallen in 2012 but he stated that the gains were not enough and the community needed to work harder to address the issue.
Iraq's Human Rights Ministry also had an event.  Compare the photos.  Even if you can't read Arabic, you'll note many things.  For example, the Baghdad turnout?  Not that impressive in terms of numbers. The KRG photo displays ten packed rows of attendees (and the photo cuts off with the impression that there are rows not displayed in the photo).  In Baghdad, they take up about six rows -- with a lot of empty spaces.  In the KRG, you see shiny, healthy hair on the heads of men and women.  In Baghdad, most women have their hair covered.  (Four brave women on the second row do not cover their hair.) Nouri's Prime Minister of Iraq.  Did he address the gathering?
He couldn't be bothered with the topic.  
Ibithal al-Zaidi was present.  Declaring she (now) believes in equality between the sexes -- based on the law and religions.   Whatever.  
How important was the event?  
They don't even bother to finish the press release -- it cuts off before the end of the release.
Nouri should have been present.  By refusing to show up for the Baghdad event, let alone speak at it, he made clear that violence against women does not qualify as a serious issue to him.

We're not done with the KRG yet.  Al Mada reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani issued a statement decrying violence against women saying it was inhumane and against the basic principals of humanity.  He noted the sacrifices and actions Iraqi women had taken part in to create a better Iraq and called for rights to live safely and free from oppression, discrimination and violence.
Let's drop back to September for Joel Brinkley's San Francisco Chronicle profile of the Iraq Ambassador to the US, Lukman Faily:
Yes, the Middle East is aflame, as Faily put it. And Iraq is in deep trouble, like most of the region. Almost daily, 20, 30, 50 or more people die in terrorist attacks that generally involve Sunnis killing Shiites or vice versa. Eighty-three people died in attacks Sunday through Tuesday, bringing the total dead so far this year to more than 3,800.
But Faily said his government is not asking the United States to return troops to Iraq. No, he said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yanked him from his position as ambassador to Japan and sent him to America a few months ago to carry the message: We need help with governance.
Falih Hassan Fezaa (Rudaw) notes the interview today and points out:

Faily stated that Iraq was “sitting on billions of barrels of oil. But no one has clean water.”
He stated in no certain terms that daily life in Iraq is deteriorating, lacking in clean water, a workable budget, modern technology and efforts to fight corruption.
Based on Mr Faily’s statements, I had thought that Baghdad’s Islamist rulers had finally realized their failures, and were looking to America for help.
But then, when Maliki visited Washington earlier this month, he reportedly asked for more weapons, instead of help with things like water and electricity. This is a dysfunctional government with no real military capabilities.
More than 10 years since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, the Shiite Islamists in Baghdad have failed to govern, while the Kurds have succeeded in carving out an autonomous and historic safe haven for themselves in the midst of Iraq’s sea of violence. These are parallel tales of failure and success.

The editorial board of the Gulf News observes, "It is abundantly clear that the Nouri Al Maliki government has failed Iraqis miserably. It has done nothing to address the root causes of the unrest, especially when it comes to complaints of discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities."

Violence continued today.  Al Mada notes there was a wave of assassinations and assassination attempts.   National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 person shot dead in Khalis, preacher and Iman Rakan Hussein al-Naimi was injured by gunfire in a Rilkaif assassination attempt. Sheikh Ghadanfar al-Mahdawi survived (without injury) an attempted assassination "between Baqbua and Muqdadiyah," a Falluja sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, a Falluja roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured, and the corpses of Sheikh Adnan al-Ghanem and Sheikh Kadhim al-Jubouri were discovered in Basra.  All Iraq News adds that the Mayor of Shuqiara Sufla Village, Jasim Mohammed al-Jubouri, was assassinated.

Executions also made the news cycle today. Dropping back to the November 18th snapshot for some numbers:

 Ammar Karim (AFP) reports that Nouri's government boasted today that they had executed 12 more 'terrorists' today.  By October 10, the number executed was at least 132 so that brings the total to 144.  In their yearly high, Iraq executed at least 130 people in 2012.  2013 will continue their yearly increase.  Kitabat reports that the official making the announcement today refused to provide his name.  Kitabat's count is 144 for the year as well.   Here are the figures for the previous three years, as offered by Kitabat:

2010 18 executions
2011 67 executions
2012 123 executions

November 22nd came an announcement of 7 more deaths bringing the total to 151.  Salam Faraj (AFP) reports 11 more executions were announced today -- the eleven were hanged on Sunday.  Faraj notes Sunday's executions bring the total number to 162.

In 2012, Iraq came in third for most executions.  (The US was fifth.)  It is known to have executed 129 which placed it behind Iran with 314 and behind China with no provided number.  Figures are from Amnesty International's [PDF format warning] Death Sentences And Executions 2012.

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