Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Urkel Moment

The Urkel Moment.

That's "The Urkel Moment."  from January 1, 2011.  I had completely forgotten that one.  C.I. wrote: 

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts comic for the year 2010 "The Urkel Moment." Barack says, "2010. Did I do that?" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

I like it.

I don't remember what inspired it but I think it works for his entire first term.

We'll have to wait and see regarding the second term.

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's War Crimes continue, Iraq preps for parliamentary elections, the Ja'fari bill gets attention on KPFA, in the US an Iraqi man is convicted of killing his wife, and much more.

Starting in the US where there's been a conviction.  City News Service reports the El Cajon murder trial reached a verdict today with the jury "finding Kassim Alhimidi, 49, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five."  As we noted April 1st, Shaima's murder was briefly important to gas bags in March 2012 when they thought she was murdered by someone who hated her because she was Muslim or because she was Iraqi or both.  When it turned out it was her husband?  They ran from her and never looked back.  Uprising Radio, US Socialist Worker, Democracy Now . . . all of them cared when it was a 'hate crime' by a stranger.  When Shaima's murder became another in a long line of women killed by 'loved ones' in the US, they didn't have any interest.

  • Victim's family says guilty verdict is the least that could have been done. say in Iraq if you kill someone, you should be killed

  • Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Al-Himidi did not testify during the trial. He wept openly at times and followed the proceeding with the help of an Arabic translator. He screamed when the jury's verdict was read. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced." Kristina Davis and Dana Littlefield (San Diego Union-Tribune) offer, "Kassim Alhimidi shook his head and wagged his finger repeatedly when he heard the verdict: first-degree murder. He put his head down on the desk in front of him several times and appeared to be praying."  R. Stickney and Monica Garske (NBC San Diego -- link is text and video) note, "As the defendant cried out in Arabic 'not guilty,' his mother-in-law flailed her arms, screaming 'you killed my daughter,' while his two teenage sons chose opposing sides."  Kassim Alhimidi is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

    Moving to another topic popular on Twitter . . .

  • Child marriage law stokes fears of looming theocracy in Iraq

  • Breaking News: Iraq's leaders to vote on legalising . Tell them to vote "no" - via

  • Yesterday on KPFA's Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, the controversial bill which passed Iraq's Cabinet of Ministers and that chief thug and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki  has forwarded to the Parliament was discussed. 

    Shahram Aghamir: Last month the Iraqi Cabinet approved a new personal status legislation called the Ja'fari law which is named after the sixth Shi'ite Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq who established a school of jurisprudence in Medina in the 8th century.  This legislation has created an uproar among Iraqi women's rights and the civil rights community.  If approved, the Ja'fari law will abolish the current Personal Status Law 188 which is considered one of the most progressive in the Arab world.  The new law will roll back the rights of women in marriage, divorce and child custody as well as inheritance.  It will lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 9 and boys to 15.  Who has initially proposed the law and what are the implications of this law for Iraqi women?  Malihe spoke with Iraqi women's rights activist Basma al-Khateeb who volunteers with Iraq's 1st Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Shadow Report Coalition as an expert and a trainer.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  Actually, the Minister of Justice by the end of October declared that they have a committee -- expert committee -- and they have finished drafting the Ja'fari law.  It consists of 256 articles and he's going to present it to the Cabinet by the next session.  He says that they've been working on for the past two years.

    Malihe Razazan:  Back in 2004, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim who died in 2009, he was in exile in Iran for 20 years before the invasion, and after the occupation of Iraq, he worked very closely with the Americans.  His party worked to pass Decision 137 issue by interim governing council to abolish the Personal Status Law Number 188 which was passed  in 1959 --

    Basma al-Kahteeb:  That was actually the first thing that he -- that he issued, this Resolution 137 -- as if Iraq had no problems.  This was the only rule that he came up with.  And we had demonstrations and we managed to defeat that.  They withdrew it.

    Malihe Razazan:   Yeah, because there was a huge backlash against it.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  But this is historical.  His father, Muhsin al-Hakim, back in 1959, when the civil Personal Status Law was issued, the religious institutes led by Muhsin al-Hakim back then, his father, refused this Personal Status Law because it will take all the authority from the cleric.

    Malihe Razazan:  In matters regarding women's divorce, child custody, inheritance it will be left to civil courts.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  Yes.  And this is how our judicial system and lawyers and colleges and scholars all -- I mean, we're talking about sixty years that all our institutions -- judicial, court, everything -- is built on it.  This -- going back just to abolish all of this -- this law --the formal law, the Personal Status Law that's still active now. It doesn't go to clerics, only the judge rules.  This current law puts another council that is in control of judges of courts.  It just turns everything into chaos.  Every lawyer has to study all these religious and cleric institution and legal issues.  It doesn't mean that we have one court.  It means that we have more than 20 courts because each Ayatollah is different in examination with the other.  Havilah?  Even though they're Sh'itie, they're different from the Sadr group, they're different from Sistani interpretation which means multi courts.

    Raheem Salman, Ahmed Rasheed, Isabel Coles and Andrew Roche (Reuters) explore the topic and note:

    Proponents of the Ja'afari Law say many families marry off daughters underage anyway, particularly in the rural south, so the bill would protect young brides by codifying their status.
    "The law does not make the marriage of underage girls obligatory," said Shi'ite women's rights activist Thabat al-Unaibi, adding she would not let her own two daughters marry until they were old enough to have finished their studies.
    "Why all the fuss over this issue?"

    And supporters have been the winners.  Hajer Naili  (Women's eNews) notes:

    Haider Ala Hamoudi, a law professor at the University of Pittsburg who advised the 2009 Constitutional Review Committee of the Iraqi legislature on behalf of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, has analyzed the text.
    In a phone interview he called it sloppily drafted and poorly organized. "I just dismiss it as publicity to garner votes."

    In a in the Jurist, lays out the obstacles to transforming religious texts into actual laws and calls the text something of a "political stunt." In the article he quotes Ayatollah al- Bashir Najif, a leading Shiite, as criticizing the bill as "rife with flights of fancy in legal and juristic formulations that render it impossible that a jurist would find it acceptable."

    Really?  We're going to predict what's going to happen in an election when anything can happen?

    And if it's being used "to garner votes," might some push hard for it to pass the Parliament after the election?

    I have no idea what's going to happen with the bill.

    But it does have supporters and it is being sold.  It's being normalized.

    And this is happening not just with the bill and the attempt to kill off the Personal Status Law Number 188.  This is part of a larger war.  Dropping back to January 27, 2012 snapshot:

    We bring that up because Nouri did finally find a woman and named her to be Minister of the State for Women's Affairs. The woman is Dr. Ibtihal al-Zaidi. And Al Mada reports the lovely doesn't believe in equality stating equality "harms women" but she's happy to offer government dictates on what women should be wearing. No, she's not a minister. She's many things including words we won't use here but she's not friend to women and that's why Nouri picked her. A real woman fighting for other women? Nouri can't handle that. A simpering idiot who states that women should only act after their husband's consent? That gender traitor gets a ministry. She's currently at work devising a uniform for Iraqi women.

    Let's to back to Wednesday's broadcast of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  It lowers the marriage age for girls to  9 -- 

    Malihe Razazan:  From 18.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  -- 15 for boys, it's 18 for both [currently] marriage.  Only in  very, very special cases it's 15 with the consent of the judge under the current law.  But for this Ja'fari law it lowers the age to 9.  And wives must seek permission from their husbands before leaving the house.  If I am a doctor or a minister or a lawyer, I cannot go out without permission from my husband, go out of the house.  Muslim men would be prohibited from marrying non-Muslim women.  Granting husbands legal rights to have sex with their wives without their consent.  Granting custody to the father of any child over two-years-old in the case of divorce which is not the case that we have now with the current law.  

    Note the similarities between the law and the position, two years ago, of the Minister of Women's Affairs.

    Nouri picked that idiot for a reason.

    This is not happening by accident.

    Bit by bit, this gets pushed over and over.  And every time it does the appropriate response is world wide condemnation.  Short of that?  It's not just being normalized within Iraq, it's being normalized outside of Iraq via silence.

    Girls below the age of nine can be married with the consent of their

    "But it's still a danger because it's there, the draft is there."
    also them they're still lobbying to pass it

    As Mark Taliano (Troy Media) observes, "'Freedom' and 'democracy' are still cloaking, tacitly or overtly, mass murder and genocide in Iraq at this moment."  And that's certainly clear as Nouri terrorizes the citizens of Anbar.  His War Crimes are many but include the non-stop bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.  Yesterday's snapshot noted how common these bombings were.  The military's bombing of the residential neighborhoods continues.  NINA reports, "A source at the Fallujah General Hospital told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / five people, including a woman, were killed and 11 others wounded, including two children, in the renewed shelling and mortar to most of Fallujah today."  Qatar News Agency covers the killing of civilians here.

    This is a War Crime.  Nouri's committing War Crimes with weapons the US government provides him with.

    Ann submitted a question to  Gwen Ifill's  live 'chat' (it's not) at PBS' The NewsHour today:

      Which, by the way, is what Ann's question to Gwen Ifill was about (see previous entry "Ann's question on Iraq just got 'answered'").

    Comment From Ann  
    Good afternoon, Gwen. I'm bothered by the attack on Anbar Province in Iraq and the lack of western media coverage. Specifically, Nouri al-Maliki has been bombing the residential neighborhoods of Falluja every day since the start of the year. This is collective punishment and it is leaving many dead -- including many children. But we see nothing on the news about this in the US. Since we are the ones arming Maliki, this seems like a serious news issue in need of coverage to me. What does it take to get Iraq covered on The Newshour? Thank you.
    Gwen Ifill: 
    I have to say, if you're going to see coverage of the ongoing situation in Iraq anywhere, it will be on the NewsHour.

    So Ann raises specific issues and gets an 'answer' where Gwen basically says, 'Watch The NewsHour!'

    It's a funny kind of chat with Gwen playing Amway salesperson.

    But credit to Ann for raising the issue during the 'chat.'

    Turning to other violence . . .


    National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command declared they killed 54 suspects in Falluja,  a Balad Ruz suicide bomber took his own life and the life of 1 Iraqi soldierNouri's military used helicopters to kill 4 suspects in Ramadi, a Jurf al-Sakar roadside bombing left four Iraqi soldiers injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing left three police members injured, a Baghdad car bombing left 5 people dead and nineteen injured, and, west of Mosul in Addayya Village, an attack on an Iraqi military base killed 12 soldiers and left ten more injured.

    In addition, Xinhua reports:

    Also in Salahudin province, gunmen blew up a crude oil pipeline in al-Fatha area in east of the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, causing large quantity of oil spill into the nearby Tigris River, a provincial police source said.
    The pipeline carries crude oil produced from Ajil Oilfield in east of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, to the refinery in Baiji. A huge fire occurred at the scene, while the oil leak caused pollution in Tigris river that forces many water facilities to stop working in the cities to the south of the leak, the source added.

  • Shootings?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command declared they killed 54 suspects in Falluja,  1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, another Shabak was shot dead in Mosul -- Hussein Badran who was the city's director of parks and forests,  a Raibia secondary school was stormed and its director shot dead, and, west of Mosul in Addayya Village, an attack on an Iraqi military base killed 12 soldiers and left ten more injured.
    Alsumaria notes two parents and their daughter were injured in a Dora shooting,


    Alsumaria notes the corpses of 5 men and 1 women (all shot) were found dumped in the Euphrates River to the north of Babylon,

    Elections are supposed to take place April 30th, parliamentary elections.  Al-Shorfa reports, "Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) on Thursday (April 17th) said it has doubled the number of international observers who will monitor the next parliamentary elections."  Kirk Sowell (Gulf News) notes

      The other key Al Maliki rival are the Sadrists, most of whom are running under the name Ahrar Bloc (Freemen Bloc). Ahrar recently voted in a new governing board following Muqtada Al Sadr’s announcement that he was withdrawing from politics. It remains unclear as to what impact Sadr’s withdrawal will have.
    There are several third-tier coalitions which should get a handful of seats; some of them are entirely Shiite while others are cross-sectarian. They are about evenly divided between factions which are pro and anti-Al Maliki, and should only have an impact if Al Maliki’s margin of victory is relatively narrow.
    The primary Sunni Arab bloc is Speaker Nujaifi’s Mutahidun. It contains a majority of the Sunni factions in the 2010 opposition Iraqiya coalition nominally headed by former interim Prime Minister Eyad Allawi, plus the largest Sunni Turkoman group, the Iraqi Turkoman FrontIts political programme mainly consists of decentralisation, potentially forming new autonomous regions, and the defence of Sunni identity in the face of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

    While Mutahidun’s public rhetoric is focused on pillorying the Al Maliki government, Nujaifi is informally allied with the main Kurdish party, the Kurdistani Democratic Party (KDP), due to his pro-decentralisation stance, ties to Turkey and the need for Kurds, who are predominately Sunni, to balance the Shiites.

    Sowell also points out that there are 142 political parties competing and twelve of those are part of Nouri's State of Law coalition (which lost in 2010 to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.   Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) notes Iraqiya has fragmented since 2010:

    Five main coalitions will compete to win Sunni votes, but we cannot rule out surprise results that might be achieved by small or local parties. Three of these five coalitions, in fact, represent fragments of the Iraqiya List, which is no longer present in the elections. The Mutahidoun bloc, led by parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, is the first of these coalitions. It consists of 13 parties and is seeking to appear as the biggest Sunni force after the elections. The second coalition is the Arabiya led by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, and includes nine parties. Third, there is the Nationalist Coalition, led by Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister who was the leader of the Iraqiya List.
    The Nationalist is one of the rare blocs that includes Sunni and Shiite members. Moreover, it is participating in the elections in all Arabic-speaking provinces. However, this coalition has poor chances because of intense sectarian polarization and Allawi’s loss of a large part of his traditional constituency, partly due to the emergence of a new liberal list called the Civil Democratic Alliance.

     Al Mada notes Allawi stated today the US backed Nouri (gave him the post of prime minister for a second term) because the US just wanted out of Iraq and he notes their influence is very small in Iraq and in the Middle East -- he points to the failure of (John Kerry's) efforts with regard to Palestine, he points to the Taliban increasing in Afghanistan as the US prepares to leave, he points to Somalia and Sudan.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    The independent MP of the coalition of Kurdish blocs, Mahmoud Othman confirmed " the possibility of establishing a new alliance comprises Barzani , Allawi, al-Hakim, al-Sadr and al-Nujaifi to form the next government ," ruling out holding a session for the House of Representatives before the parliamentary elections ."

    Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) notes the parties are offering no platforms or programs as they seek elected office:

    The Iraqi political forces competing in the elections justify the absence of real programs by asserting that Iraq remains in transition, so there are real differences over the basis of the political process — such as the constitution, government formation, the decision-making process and the relationship between the central government and the provinces and the regions. They claim that this reality forces them to take positions on these particular issues, rather than presenting political programs. For example, some campaigns are sloganeering on amending the constitution, while others' slogans invoke government formation by the political majority, decentralization and the war on terror.
    Being in a transitional phase and disagreeing over political fundamentals do not, however, justify lacking an economic or development program or taking positions on such issues as housing, health, education, human development, and human rights and freedoms. To be fair, a few political forces such as the Supreme Islamic Council have presented detailed programs, but the problem is then that the Iraqi voter is faced with a choice between a detailed program and lots of attractive slogans.

    They may not have programs or proposals, but, in Basra, they have food.  Saleem al-Wazzan (Niqash) reports:

    “Some candidates believe that the easiest way to convince voters, or to silence critics, is by filling their mouths with food,” Kathem Zayer, a primary school teacher in Basra, told NIQASH. “The same thing happens when there are provincial elections – there’s clearly a direct relationship between elections and banquets. Today special meals are the best way of enhancing a candidate’s image, and of burnishing the image of the party behind them.”

    And during this round of campaigning it seems that banquets are more popular than ever, replacing the usual distribution of other gifts like blankets and food. Banqueting also seems to have replaced campaign promises, for things like government jobs or better services. That’s because nobody believes these promises anymore. But they can still dine out.

    In the province of Basra, south of Baghdad, there are more than 750 candidates competing. Prominent parties in the area, which has a mostly Shiite Muslim population, include the State of Law list led by current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is himself a Shiite Muslim as well as the list led by the Shiite Muslim-oriented Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Ahrar list, which is tied to the Sadrist movement, also Shiite Muslim. Also noteworthy in Basra is the Wataniya party, which is led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and which is trying to set itself apart as being secular and non-denominational. 

    By rights Basra should be one of Iraq’s wealthiest cities – it is the site of a major port and some of Iraq’s biggest oil fields are located in the surrounding province. But somehow this wealth has not had any effect on the lives of many ordinary people who live here – the poverty level in Iraq sits at around 22 percent but some recent estimates suggest that it’s higher in Basra. They say that just over a third of the population in Basra live in poverty.

    Read on ...

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Not Quite There

    Not Quite There

    From December 19, 2010, that's "Not Quite There." 

    C.I. wrote:

    A doctor instructs, "Push! Push!" Nouri al-Maliki replies, "I'm done. Just call it a birth all ready." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    Thug Nouri al-Maliki never got there, did he?

    And now he wants a third term.

    Like Iraq can afford to suffer through another term of Nouri.

    April 30th, Iraq's supposed to hold elections.  I hope and pray that the Iraqi people are finally free of Nouri.

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

    Thursday, April 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, elections 'analysis' from Brookings is a joke, new alliances emerge in the lead up to the April 30th planned elections, in the US Senator Patty Murray stands up for caregivers, Condi Rice and Eddie Vedder remain business partners, and much more.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Thursday, April 10, 2014                                                       (202) 224-2834

    Murray joined in Senate chamber by Senator Elizabeth Dole and caregivers from across the country
    “There is no way we will sit by and let caregivers and veterans face this on their own -- not when we can make it at least a little bit easier.”

    (Washington D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor to introduce legislation aimed at making critical improvements to how we support our ill and injured servicemembers and veterans and their caregivers. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act follows the release of a RAND Corporation report commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation that calls attention to the challenges faced by America's military and veteran caregivers. Sen. Murray was joined in the chamber by Senator Elizabeth Dole and caregivers from around the country who could be directly impacted by this legislation. Senator Murray helped lead congressional efforts to establish the original veterans caregiver benefits program and as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee pushed VA to stop delaying implementation of the program.   

    “Like so many of our men and women in uniform, our nation’s military and veteran caregivers don’t ask for much. In fact, rarely do they ask at all,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Too often these caregivers sacrifice their income, their relationships and even their own health to look after their loved one who is ill or injured as a result of serving our country. These caregivers provide a critical support system for our nation’s heroes in situations that many times mean the difference between life and death. It is our duty as a nation to not only provide those who have served with the care and services they’ve so rightly earned, but ensure those looking after them are also afforded these much-needed resources. I’m honored to introduce this legislation today as a major step in improving and expanding on the original caregiver benefits program and am so grateful for Senator Dole’s vision and commitment to this issue in calling the nation to action. I urge our colleagues to join us in this bipartisan effort to support these hidden heroes.”   

    "Last week we released the results of the RAND research my Foundation commissioned. The evidence-based study is the basis for our national call to action for support of America's military and veteran caregivers,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “Just one week later we celebrate the leadership and patriotism of Senator Patty Murray who is taking swift action on the legislative front and providing an example for bipartisan members of Congress to follow as we pursue increased, holistic support for America's hidden heroes.”

    Sen. Murray's bill introduction comes one day before First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will host former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Senator Elizabeth Dole at the White House to discuss the findings of the RAND report, as part of their Joining Forces initiative.
    WATCH video.

    READ bill text.
    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary | New Media Director
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834

    RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

    On Congress, we covered the Wednesday's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in Wednesday's snapshot.  Ava covered it last night with "No accountability at the VA (Ava)" and Ruth continued her coverage of Tuesday's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with "Laughable John Kerry says retirement is the same as death."

    From the US Congress to the Iraqi Parliament, April 30th is the day Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections.  Along with determining who will serve in Parliament, the elections are supposed to determine who will be named prime minister-designate (supposed to, hasn't happened so far).  Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

    Still on the subject of the campaign posters, Iraq's always useless Ministry of Women (headed by a woman who doesn't believe women should have rights) is having a fit.  Kirkuk Now reports males are taking photos of themselves kissing the posters of some female candidates.  If there's a problem with this it would be that it may be (or may be interpreted) as ridiculing female candidates.  But the Ministry of Women?  It's "immoral," they say.  It's kissing a poster.  Again, the Ministry's headed by Nouri's hand picked anti-women woman.

    We'll note this Tweet from Ruwayda Mustafah today:

  • New trend in Iraq: men kissing the posters of female election candidates and uploading the pictures online. F*** you.

  • Kholoud Ramzi (Niqash) reports today on how all the posters being mocked:

    Election campaign posters are telling cynical Iraqi voters nothing – there is barely any information on political aims or manifestos. So ordinary Iraqis are getting their own back with ridicule, sarcasm and some judicious photo shopping.

    Election campaigning started in Iraq last week with literally thousands of would-be politicians trying to win around 22 million voters’ hearts and minds by election day, April 30. And the cities and towns of Iraq are now filled with campaign posters and placards, the streets are full of candidates shaking hands, kissing babies and distributing alms to the poor.

    But all of this is also having an unintended effect in many quarters of Iraqi society. Outdated slogans, empty rhetoric and unnecessarily dramatic or heroic poses on placards have become fuel for ordinary Iraqis’ cynicism about the political process and fodder for jokes and mash ups. None of the information available really offers anything useful or allows voters to read a manifesto that would help them decide who to vote for and why.  

    A poster for Ahmad Jassim, who apparently represents the interests of the poor and unemployed, was ridiculed because the candidate was posed “like Rose, in the movie Titanic”. Some Facebook wits altered the picture to make it look as though the candidate was facing Leonardo DiCaprio.

    Kenneth Pollack offered an idiotic analysis last week.  I'm used to whorish American 'analysts' who pin all the blame on the government of Iran and ignore what the US government is done so this wasn't all that surprising:

    Iran wields considerable influence in Iraq, unquestionably more than any other foreign country and far more than the United States.  It was Iran that ultimately engineered Nuri al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister in 2010 by strong-arming the Sadrists to back him.  It was the Iranians who preserved his rule in 2012 by convincing Jalal Talabani to refuse demands to call for a vote of no-confidence—a vote that Maliki seemed likely to lose. 

    Pollack is with Brookings and to their credit and his credit they at least pay attention to Iraq but I'm just not able to stomach the whoring.

    Iran's government probably was involved in the decision and certainly the First Lady of Iraq makes pilgrimages to Iran all the time.  However, as Americans, we should be holding our own government accountable.

    And Pollack doesn't have any desire to do that.  The US government was all over Talabani to prevent the vote against Nouri from taking place.  They pressured him with face-to-face visits, they pressured with phone pleas (including from Vice President Joe Biden).  We covered all of this in real time.  It's nearly two years later and Pollack won't cover it but will point out that Iran supposedly pressured Talabani (I don't doubt that they did but I don't know that they did -- I do from State Dept friends that the US government pressured Talabani -- the same way I know that the State Dept asked for net censorship and got it and we'll probably be writing about that here in a few days).

    The no-confidence vote was an attempt to oust Nouri.


    Because the US government demanded Nouri get a second term as prime minister even those his State of Law lost the 2010 parliamentary elections to Ayad Allawi.  How did they do that?

    They brokered an extra-constitutional contract (The Erbil Agreement).  The US told the leaders of the political blocs that Nouri had refused to step down for 8 months following the 2010 election and he could go for 8 months more.  As Nouri refused to step down, the government was at a standstill (this is the political stalemate) and the US flattered the egos of the leaders telling them they were the bigger persons and that they could do what was right for Iraq and sign this legally binding contract and let the country move forward.
    Now that was playing to their egos and flattering them.  That didn't get to sign over a second term to Nouri. To get that, their had to be quid pro quo.  So, for example, to get the Kurds on board, it was written into the contract that Article 140 of the Constitution (which would resolve who gets Kirkuk -- the KRG or the central government out of Baghdad).

    All of these various promises were written into The Erbil Agreement and Nouri put his binding signature to it like every political bloc leader.  Nouri used the contract to get his second term.  He immediately then said it couldn't be implemented immediately.

    He stalled on delivering his end of the promises.  That was November 2010.  By the summer of 2011, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya were publicly calling for Nouri to implement the rest of the contact -- the part of it where he kept his promises to them.

    At this point, Nouri's spokesperson starts the contract wasn't legal.

    As Nouri continued to refuse to implement his end of the contract, pleas were made for the US government to help -- this contract was sold with the backing of the White House ("the full backing," Talabani was told). The pleas fell on deaf ears.  As the contract was still not implemented at the start of 2012, the Constitutional measure of a no-confidence vote was raised.  By April, Moqtada had signed onto the notion.  He repeatedly stated in public that Nouri could end the move towards a vote at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement.

    They began gathering signatures and got enough.  The signatures then go to the President (Jalal) who forwards them onto the Parliament.

    Under intense pressure from the US government -- and, Pollack says, from the Iranian government -- Jalal invented these 'powers' where he was supposed to vet signatures.  He wasn't.  Nor was he supposed to say, "You did sign it?  Okay, would you sign it now?  Are you really, really sure?"  He trashed the signatures.

    Then he ran to Germany, pretending he had a serious medical problem.

    As we were noting last week, call it karma, call it the universe, whatever, it has a way of slapping back.

    Jalal had elective knee surgery.  But he lied that he had a life threatening medical problem and had to leave for Germany to be treated.  He lied because the fallout from his unconstitutional actions was huge.

    But Jalal's in Germany now, has been for about 16 months now.  And he really has had a life threatening problem.  So maybe he shouldn't have lied in May of 2012 because the universe made his lying true.

    Pollack, if he got honest, probably could do a good analysis.  The crap he offered last week wasn't a good analysis. It included this garbage:

    In addition, Muqtada al-Sadr’s bizarre and unexpected decision to disband his political party and withdraw from politics has further benefitted Maliki.  Many former Sadrists are expected to sign on to Maliki’s SoL coalition. 

    Is Pollack that stupid or he is that much of a whore?

    I have no idea but I read those lies and just want to scream.  We already covered this b.s. spin that Moqtada's followers were going to flock to Nouri.  It's xenophobic and pretends that Shi'ites will support any Shi'ite.  From the February 18th snapshot and we're using "--------" to note the beginning and the ending of the excerpt:

    Moqtada al-Sadr was strong armed into supporting Nouri -- strong armed by the Iranian government.  His followers never supported Nouri.

    More than that, they clearly rejected him.

    Does no one remember what happened in 2010?

    For one thing, immediately after the elections Moqtada threw it to his supporters 'who he should back?'

    Have we all forgotten that?

    From the April 7, 2010 snapshot:

    That interview took place Monday and while there is no coalition-sharing government/arrangement as yet from the March 7th elections, Friday and Saturday, another round of elections were held -- this to determine whom the Sadr bloc should back. Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left). Following the invasion, Ayad Allawi became Iraq's first prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari became the second and Nouri al-Maliki became the third. It's a little more complicated.
    Nouri wasn't wanted, Nouri wasn't chosen. Following the December 2005 elections, coalition building took place and the choice for prime minister was al-Jaafari. But the US government refused to allow him to continue as prime minister. The Bush administration was adamant that he would not continue and faulted him for, among other things, delays in the privatization of Iraq's oil. Though the US had no Parliamentary vote, they got their way and Nouri became the prime minister. al-Jaafari had won the vote with the backing of al-Sadr's bloc, just as he won the vote that took place this weekend. The vote can be seen as (a) a show of support for al-Jaafari whom Sadarists have long supported and (b) a message to the US government. 

    Stop lying that Nouri benefits from Moqtada dropping out.  He doesn't.

    The Sadr bloc can't stand Nouri -- that's been obvious in Parliament for the last four years.

    Moqtada's supporters can't stand Nouri either.  They remember his attacks on them in 2008 in Basra and Sadr City.  Moqtada is seen as supporting the poor, Nouri's done nothing for the poor.   BRussells Tribune carries an Al-Monitor article from last week by Amal Sakr which opens:

    The head of the Model Iraqi Women Organization, Athraa Hassani, provided Al-Monitor with this information, quoting World Bank officials who discussed these statistics during a meeting in Turkey with a number of members of civil society organizations seeking to find a solution to the poverty crisis in Iraq.
    Hassani questions the accuracy of the poverty rates announced by the Iraqi government, affirming that these rates are continuously increasing because of a rise in daily violence and spike in unemployment rates in addition to a weakening of the Iraqi economy.

    Based on the World Bank’s figures, this would mean that out of Iraq’s 34.7 million citizens, more than 9.5 million individuals are living below the poverty line.

    Nothing has happened since 2010 to increase Nouri's standing among Sadr supporters.  In fact, since 2010, the efforts Moqtada and Ayad Allawi have worked on have probably resulted in greater support for Allawi which has let Nouri fall even lower.  Probably.

    But what is known is that Sadr supporters did not support Nouri in 2010.  They didn't support when the March 2010 voting took place and they did not support a month later in the poll Moqtada carried out.


    There is nothing to indicate that Moqtada's followers would support Nouri -- there is ample evidence to demonstrate that they won't.

    Equally true, Moqtada's not retired.  We pointed that out weeks ago when he returned to Iraq.  Prior to his return, we pointed out that his 'retirement' didn't really mean anything.  It didn't mean he couldn't be prime minister, it didn't mean anything.  And that was before he came back to Iraq.  And repeatedly denounced Nouri (which, again, means his followers will not be supporting Nouri).

    Joel Wing (Musings On Iraq) offers an analysis which includes:

    In March and April the Sadr movement continued to criticize Prime Minister Maliki. From March 10 to 12 Sadrists held rallies in Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Basra, Kirkuk, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babil, Wasit, and Diyala against the premier for his remarks belittling Moqtada al-Sadr. There were also reports of attacks upon Dawa offices, which were played down by both parties so that the election didn’t get sidetracked by violence. March 23, Sadr’s Ahrar List said it opposed Maliki serving a third term, stating that other parties and the Iraqi people wanted change. It went on to say that Maliki had failed to secure the country or to provide political stability. Continuing with that line on April 3 Sadr gave a speech calling Maliki a dictator who was leading the country towards one party rule by banning his opponents. Sadr was joined by parliamentarian Jawad Shahlya from Ahrar and independent lawmaker Saban al-Saadi, both of which had been barred from running in this year’s vote. Sadr went on to accuse the prime minister of attempting to marginalize Sunnis by launching military operations in Anbar. Sadr finished by calling on Maliki to step aside so someone else could try running the country. Finally, on April 5 Shahlya claimed Maliki was attempting to pass a law that would give him broad powers that would lead to the declaration of a state of emergency and the dissolution of the parliament.

    Of Nouri's coalition, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) observes, "The election campaigning has also made it clear that a lot of the candidates for al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc are first-time political wannabes, who are not well known in political, business or social circles. Some have said this is because the State of Law wants MPs who will toe the bloc’s line, unlike high profile defectors like senior MPs, Hussein al-Asadi and Jawad al-Bazzouni, who have both left al-Maliki’s Shiite Muslim coalition to join the also-Shiite-Muslim-dominated Citizen, or Muwatin, bloc."  Among Nouri's other serious challengers?  The head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim.  Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) reports:

    In an April 5 speech, Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Citizen Coalition, said that his coalition’s reform-minded approach is based on three tenets: the need for Iraq to be ruled by a competent team without wasting time on managing crises; the necessity to adopt a clear legal road map to restructure the Iraqi state; and the initiation of a real administrative revolution in state institutions.
    The Citizen Coalition represents an alliance between the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and 18 other parties and factions, including the Iraqi National Congress headed by Ahmad Chalabi, and individuals such as former government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh and former Interior Minister Jawad al-Boulani. The coalition is the outcome of a renewal process in the ISCI, beginning among the leadership, which has influenced its formation and rhetoric. Since the last provincial elections in April 2013, when the coalition won 78 seats — ranking second after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition — the ISCI seems to be regaining its old stature that once made it the country's largest Shiite political force. Its influence had waned after the death of its former leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and was further damaged after its electoral setback in 2010, when it only managed to win 20 seats. It later lost some of these seats when the Badr Organization, its de facto military wing, defected to join Maliki’s coalition.
    Since then, the ISCI has undergone wide-scale restructuring spearheaded by its young leader, Hakim.

    Rudaw notes another development:

    In a major gathering in Erbil this week, Iraqi Sunnis declared a new alliance whose aim is to block a third term for Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, after the upcoming April 30 legislative elections.

    The Karama (Dignity) Alliance, led by Iraqi Sunni businessman Khamis Khanjar, comes at a time when the country's large Sunni minority has turned its back on the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, accusing Maliki of neglecting Iraq's Sunnis and Sunni regions.

    Neglect?  Neglect would be a step up from the terrorizing that Nouri's doing to Anbar currently.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 5 civilians ("including a child") died from the bombings with fourteen more injured.  Meanwhile, Nouri's ordered the same bombings in Ramadi and NINA reports people are fleeing their homes, being rendered refugees, as a result.

    He's also begun bombing sections of Baghdad.  Far from the Green Zone, of course.  NINA notes:

    The MP, Hamid al-Zobaie held "The government and the security forces responsible for the lives of citizens in the areas of Baghdad's belt ."
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "There are safe areas in the belt of Baghdad, especially west of Baghdad , far away from the events of Fallujah , and the government and security forces should protect them not bomb them , on the grounds that the security forces shelled randomly , yesterday and today , areas on the outskirts of the Zaidan area, west of Baghdad , which led to the killing of two citizens and wounding eight others . "

    As BRussells Tribunal points out, the European Parliament has called out these attacks on civilians and did so in the European Parliament resolution 27 February 2013 on the situation in Iraq:

    Is deeply concerned about the continuing acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population, vulnerable groups and religious communities; calls on the Iraqi Government and on all political leaders to take the necessary measures to provide security and protection for all people in Iraq, in particular members of vulnerable groups such as women, journalists, young people, fundamental rights activists, trade unionists and religious communities, including Christians; calls on the Iraqi Government to ensure that the security forces comply with the rule of law and international standards;

    It's a shame other bodies and government officials can't call out these War Crimes.  The White House not only can't call Nouri out, they can't stop arming him, it's like an addiction with them.

    In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 police members were shot dead in Mosul, 1 person was shot dead in Sab'a Bour, 5 people were shot dead near Alboudajjah Village, and the corpses of 2 women and 1 child were discovered in Hamzah-algharbi.  All Iraq News notes Joint Command announced they killed 5 suspects in Ramadi and left two more injured, 2 people in a moving car were shot dead in Mosul, and three members of the same family were injured in Salah il-Din when they were shot as they were distributing election leaflets for the Iraqi Alliance.  Alsumaria reports the brother of a federal judge was shot dead west of Mosul, 1 of Nouri's soldiers stabbed to death a civilian to the south of Mosul after angry words were exchanged, 1 military captain was shot dead (by a gun with a silencer) to the north of Baquba, a Yathrib roadside bombing left 1 farmer dead and two of his children injured, a Mosul battle left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three people injured, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 44 suspects in Falluja, 1 police member was shot dead and two more injured at a checkpoint near Baiji, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Abu Ghraib.  Xinhua adds, "A car bomb went off in the capital Baghdad's eastern district of Alamein on Thursday evening, killing seven people and wounding 39 others, an Interior Ministry source said.  Five people were killed and 16 others injured in another car bomb attack near a hospital in Sadr City, a Shiite district of northeastern Baghdad, the source said."

    On violence, AFP's WG Dunlop Tweets:

  • Iraq violence update: More than 2,500 people killed, over 3,900 wounded since the beginning of 2014

  • Nick Turse Tweets:

  • Did you know the FBI was involved in JSOC's black ops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere No? Then read this from WaPo

  • If this is a surprise to you, you clearly missed Ted Koppel's reports (on NBC and NPR) in December of 2011.

    At the end of yesterday's snapshot, we noted Dan Primack (Fortune) report on Dropbox, how the 'grunge' band Pearl Jam was part of the business and now from US Secretary of State Condi Rice was as well.  I noted "greed" and that Eddie Vedder was now in bed with Condi.  This resulted in a string of e-mails from visitors who objected to my calling for Condi to step down from Dropbox and referred to the "posts you wrote condemning her and colleges that brought her to campuses to speak."

    All I can say is, "Who's your dealer?  You're obviously getting some primo weed."

    I didn't call for Condi to step down.  Let's move to my "posts" about her being on campus. I speak on campuses against the wars, the illegal spying, etc.  I don't call for people not to speak on campus.  I've written nothing like that, I've dictated nothing like that.  I never wrote a word about Condi and the campus issue.  You're confusing me with someone else -- and not someone in the community because I made my opinion very clear on this in a 2013 roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin.

    This is it at its most basic.  Everyone who can speak on a campus should.  Campuses should be a forum for free expression.  Because I speak on a campus doesn't mean everyone's required to attend.  If they oppose me, they're more than welcome to protest.  One of the scariest protests would be my arriving to find no one (or just a tiny handful) of people in the room waiting to hear me.

    To put this in terms of Condi Rice.  She has every right to speak on any campus.  And people have every right to attend or not to attend.  They have every right to protest.  They even have the right to heckle.  That's free speech.

    I've never called for Condi or anyone not to be allowed on campus.  And I've defended students protesting and heckling when the news media has rushed to condemn students for those actions.  Both speaking and responding are part of free speech.

    One e-mailer notes Charles C.W. Cooke's National Review post about a petition calling for Dropbox to drop Condi. I'm told, in the e-mail, I'm responsible for that.  For the record, I don't know anyone at the National Review so I have no pull with what they print (Cooke's calling out the petition to be clear).  I'm not Charles C.W. Cooke so I'm not responsible for what he writes.  That leaves the petition.  I didn't write it, promote it or link to it.  I personally don't believe in online petitions.  Sorry.  I think they're garbage and for the very lazy to feel like they accomplished something.  If you're opposed to something, write a letter or an e-mail.  Signatures collected online don't carry a lot of weight with advertisers, networks or, really anyone.  If you want to protest and be taken seriously, write something.

    Scott Shackford (Reason) notes this of Condi today:

    There has been some outrage in response to the idea of Rice "thinking" about privacy. In 2005, Rice defended President Bush skipping the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) Court and not bothering with getting warrants to place National Security Agency (NSA) wiretaps on foreigners in the U.S. with suspected terrorist ties (despite concerns at the time from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress).

    Those are concerns and they can be discussed.

    But to be really clear here, I was calling out Eddie Vedder.  I don't like Eddie.  This is not new, nor is it news to him.  I have openly loathed him -- and made clear to him why -- since the 90s.

    I think he's a variation on REO Speedwagon.  REO's not the worse thing out there, but they're not grunge and they're not alternative. Neither is Eddie.  He's a poser and a fraud.  In 2000, he did one of those brief bits of bravery he's so known for (take a stand and then fold).  He supported Ralph Nader's presidential campaign.  I was supporting Al Gore.  But I was forced to defend him  and it pissed me off because, even though it was the right thing to do, I knew that after the election Eddie would be back on board with the Democratic Party, playing more Democrat than thou and disowning third party and independent runs.  Sure enough he did.

    He's a creep whose vanity knows no bounds.  The whole point of his telling then-President Bill Clinton not to make a statement about Kurt Cobain's passing was the trashy little Eddie was jealous as usual.  His untalented hog calling never passed for singing beyond the deeply drunk and he's never been able to write a song that was either coherent or particularly melodic.

    I was (and remain) against the Iraq War.  Where Eddie stood is still open to debate all this time later.  (See this 2003 BBC report if you're not getting how confusing his stand was -- hate Bully Boy Bush but support the war in Iraq -- he's such a cheesy ass salesman.)  But in all of my years speaking out publicly against the Iraq War, I've never felt the need for violence.  Eddie could only 'communicate' whatever the hell he was trying to say by beating up a mask of Bully Boy Bush onstage at a concert.  Seems like some little boy was trying real hard to prove he was a man by resorting to violence.

    And that's the reality of Eddie that the fans never seem to grasp.  He's all pose and he's the most reactionary 'left' artist you'll ever meet.

    Having 'punched out' a Bully Boy Bush mask, I do think Eddie needs to drop Dropbox.  But I also know Eddie.  He's a cheap whore.  He's not going anywhere.  He may make a statement ('We won't use Ticketmaster again!') but it'll only last long enough for a few brief headlines.  He's a fake.

    Read on ...
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