If you've read this blog for long, you know I am a huge fan of the James Bond movies. I can't wait to see the new one, Skyfall. You also probably know that I think Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery. Well Steven Zeitchik (LAT) reports:
Timothy Dalton, who starred as James Bond in two of the franchise's films, has seen 007 from numerous angles over the decades. But the 66-year-old believes current super-spy Daniel Craig
"There's a case to be made that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever, or at least in a very long time," Dalton said in a phone interview from London. "With Roger Moore it was a pastiche that almost became a parody at the end. And with Pierce [Brosnan], I think he wanted to go darker and deeper but that wasn’t what those movies were.” (Dalton left himself and the pre-Moore Bonds of the 1960s and early 1970s, including Sean Connery, out of the equation.) may have his predecessors beat.
Skyfall comes out Friday. I can't wait to see it. Haven't heard Adelle's song on the radio. I believe it crashed and burned but I could be wrong. Okay, it made it to number 8 on the hot 100 and Billboard also notes:
For hit maker Adelle, that's not a hit. I don't like the song. Kat reviewed Adelle's theme here.
CBS News has an interview with Daniel Craig (text and video) and here's a taste:
CBSNEWS.COM: Why do you think the Bond series has endured as long as it has? What is so appealing about James Bond and the stories?
CRAIG: I don't have a kind of clear answer really. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Broccolis [the family of producers who've been behind almost all of the Bond films] have had the franchise for so long. And protected it. They've kept it peculiarly British.
Of the two so far, I like Casino Royal best. I really thought they did a great job setting that up and getting it going. It was such a big change from the Pierce Bronson tone which was more like Roger Moore's Bond than Connery's. I like the Pierce Brosnan films. I like the Roger Moore ones too. But I just like the Connery films best (even the later one Never Say Never Again). Craig really filled the shoes to the point that he made Bond his own and set a new mark.
It may be time for a new Bond. I hope not. But if it is, I hope they go with another brave choice. Now that Craig's a success, everyone praises him. But Bond fans will remember that when news of his casting was first going around there were people who didn't think he'd be able to pull it off.
Skyfall comes out Friday. I'm seeing it Friday night and I hope it's as great as the trailer looks.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, November 8, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Dan Murphy hates spokespersons but loves War Starters, the World Bank sniffs around Iraq, the Ministry of Oil announces new deals, the BRussells Tribunal accuses Moqtada al-Sadr, and more.
Let's start with Dan Murphy -- and sadly I don't mean Soul Asylum. No, we're talking about world class liar Dan Murphy. The Christian Science Monitor needs to declare him a columnist -- not a good one either -- and he's about as honest as William Safire was. But on the left we're supposed to cheer because he lies for 'our side.' He writes crap that reads like, "I have the hots for Campbell Brown but Dan Senor married her so I hate his guts."
What the election says to nit-wit Dan Murphy is that another Dan (Senor) will have "no more influence in the White House today than he did yesterday." Dan Senor advised Mitt Romney and Dan Senor is evil, evil, evil. Dan The Nit Wit Murphy explains, "Mr. Senor was a key political player for the Bush administration in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, advising Paul Bremer on how to run the country in 2003 and 2004." I would ask, "How does this crap make it into print" -- but crap like this is why the Christian Science Monitor is no longer a daily paper.
Dan Senor may be many things. I casually know Campbell Brown, I do not know Dan Senor. And I remember being surprised by that pairing and being told that Dan's basically media anyway. Meaning he's PR. That's something I heard repeatedly over the years. Yet Murphy's explaining that Senor was basically running the CPA. How strange because I spent hours, during the Iraqi Inquiry, pouring over each day's testimony, on the phone with friends who were covering the Inquiry or who were attending it for other reasons, and never did I encounter Dan Senor's name. Paul Bremer? Over and over. Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, generals, etc and etc. No Dan Senor. But Dan Murphy wants us to know that "Senor was a key political player for the Bush administration in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, advising Paul Bremer on how to run the country in 2003 and 2004."
Well I can be wrong and often am. And were Dan Murphy correct, I would be writing, "Stupid me . . ." I have no problem owning my mistakes. But I wasn't wrong. September 12th, Chris Good and Shushannah Walshe (ABC News) reported:
Senor is the former spokesman for the American government in Iraq (the Coalition Provisional Authority at the beginning of the Iraq war under George W. Bush) and is a particularly close adviser to Romney on the Middle East.
Oh, he was a spokesperson. Yeah, that jibes with what I was told years ago. It also goes with what's been reported over and over and over. Now unless I'm remembering wong -- and I can be wrong and often am -- Dahr Jamail's Beyond The Green Zone: Dispatches From An Unembedded Journalist In Occupied Iraq mentions Dan Senor on exactly one page. Now I haven't picked up the book in years (not an insult, it's a great book, I recommend it highly) but I believe that's page 68, I'm seeing it in my mental picture as bottom of that page and the sentence starts "Coalition spokesman Dan Senor . . ."
Am I wrong on that? Could be but don't think so.
So a spokesperson is what we're talking about. And Dan Murphy's inflated him to what? Cabinet-level planner of the Iraq War? He's as nutty as the other partisan Democrats passing talking points off as facts and he's certainly not a journalist.
Dan Murphy refers you to a piece US House Rep Adam Smith wrote for Foreign Policy about how 24 foreign policy advisers to Romney worked in the Bully Boy Bush administration. That's shocking? Like it's shocking that so many of the Clinton White House people quickly drifted to Barack or Hillary in 2007 and 2008?
Dan Senor's not mentioned in Adam Smith's article. But Senor's the topic of Murphy's first four paragraphs and a photo of Senor (with Paul Ryan) is used to illustrate the article. Dan Senor was a spokesperson. Dan Murphy needs to dial back the crazy.
Dan Murphy's attack and distortion of Dan Senor wouldn't rate inclusion normally were it not that fact that the Christian Science Monitor wants to advise in their little intro to Kurt Shillinger's column on civility that, to bring it back to politics, "It starts with citizens."
Really? I kind of think it's starts with reporters or 'reporters' who think they can lie and distort. What the hell did Dan Senor do to rate him being called out the day after the election? And that question from someone who doesn't say "The Iraq War was wrong." Hell no. I say the Iraq War is a criminal war. Not wrong, criminal.
But even more reason for calling out Murphy's crap is Howard LaFranchi's garabage today that's Howard basically saying, 'I jizzed my shorts, I'm so happy!' Over what? Over Colin Powell possibly joining the administration in Barack's second term.
Oh. Okay. The rag calls out Dan Senor who was a spokesperson but it gets giddy over Collie The Blot Powell? The man who lied to the United Nations, who helped sell the damn war? There are no ethics and there are no standards, that is painfully clear.
I realize that when it comes to the press, no one gives head like Colin. Please, I saw him stab Bush I in the back to journalists in the mid-90s. He was entertaining three on background two tables over. No one self-promotes better than Colin Powell. The term "press whore" was invented to define him.
But if you're going to call out someone for being a spokesperson for the US government in Iraq then you damn well can't applaud the person who stood before the United Nations spouting one lie after another to justify an illegal war.
And before Dan Murphy whines that he was talking about neocons and how they won't be advising Barack, grab a damn clue with both hands. From the October 24th snapshot:
Barack's had necons throughout his administration. We regularly call out Victoria Nuland who is better known as Mrs. Robert Kagan and who is even better known as Dick Cheney's National Security Adivsor (2003 to 2005). In February 2011, whistle blower Sibel Edmonds (Boiling Frogs) noted some of the many neocons serving in Barack's administration: Marc Grossman, Dennis Ross and Frederick Kagan (that would be Victoria Nuland's brother-in-law). In 2010, Kristine Frazao (Russia Today -- link is video and text) thought Kagan's addition was so important, she did a report on just that, opening with, "They're ba-a-a-ck! The US government may be done with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld but another neoconservative is returning to the government payroll. That same year, Allen McDuffee (ThinkTanked) observed, "Because we overinflated the impact of neoconservatives during the Bush administration and paid little attention to them before that, we're missing the fact that neocons are having the same influence in the Obama administration they've always had, according to a report issued by the Brookings Institution." And if we drop back another year, we can land on
This morning leading neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan held a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel -- in support of President Obama's Afghanistan policy. Kristol and Kagan, as Foreign Policy's Laura Rozen has reported, have formed a successor organization to the Project for the New American Century, which came into disrepute for its advocacy of the Iraq War. The new one is called the Foreign Policy Initiative. Its contention is that America remains, in the words of Madeleine Albright, the "indispensable nation"and, furthermore, that neocons can play a valuable role in coming years in ensuring that it remains one.
So Dan Murphy's thrilled that Barack's administration is pure and protected from the neocons -- the ones who've already made their way in. But don't tell Dan Murphy. In the meantime, you can click here for a piece by Campbell Brown at Slate from August on journalism, politics and disclosures. And Dan Murphy can click there too because it's got a great photo of Campbell and he can obsess over her one more time.
While Dan Murphy foolishly believes there will be and has been no necons fluttering around Barack, you can find more honesty at the Libertarian Reason where Ed Krayewski observes:
Is there a charitable interpretation of much of the left's silence about Barack Obama's war policies? Either they don't know about them, they don't care about them or they find building the welfare state a more urgent cause than dismantling the warfare state. Maybe they assume he wouldn't be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate if he weren't a peacemakrer? You can suggest other interpretations in the comments.
Nevertheless, while Barack Obama built a name for himself on his 2002 opposition to the Iraq War (as a state senator out of Hyde Park, Chicago, mind you, where supporting the Iraq War would have been political suicide), he made it clear on the campaign trail he wasn't a non-interventionist. He promised if there was information on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts in Pakistan and the Pakistani government didn't act on it, he would. You couldn't get through the campaign season without hearing at least one Obama booster (or even the president himself) trumpeting that kept promise. Ending the war in Iraq was another promise Obama ran on in 2008. He claims he's kept it and campaigned on ending the Iraq war. Obama, of course, actually tried to renege on the status of forces agreement negotiated under President Bush and extend the war in Iraq.
It's a good commentary but, like too many, he seems unaware of what Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.
On the elections, language warning, Susan (On the Edge) offers her observations of just re-elected US President Barack Obama here. Via Jane Fonda, you can check out Peggy Simpson's piece for Women's Media Center about how female candidates faired in Tuesday's election. At Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford and Bruce A. Dixon weigh in on the results of the presidential election and the meaning of the results. Ruth asked that we note Dennis Loo's World Can't Wait piece about the ongoing Drone War and the
When host Joe Scarborough raised the criticism on his show Scarborough Country on October 23, 2012 that Obama's drone attacks are killing a lot of innocents, including 4 year old children, guest Joe Klein, Time Magazine's political columnist, an ardent Obama partisan, defended the drone attacks with these words:
"the bottom line in the end is - whose 4-year-old get killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."
Whose 4-year-old gets killed? This stunningly naked xenophobic and reactionary statement by Joe Klein topped an earlier comment of his in this same show in which he described the virtue of drone warfare:
KLEIN: It has been remarkably successful" --
SCARBOROUGH: "at killing people" –
KLEIN: "At decimating bad people, taking out a lot of bad people - and saving Americans lives as well, because our troops don't have to do this . . . You don't need pilots any more because you do it with a joystick in California."
This is one of the most prominent political columnists in America speaking, an ardent Democratic supporter: "You don't need pilots anymore because you do it with a joystick in California."
Iraq is slammed with violence yet again today but remember, kids, Barack 'ended' the war. They didn't get the memo in Hilla. Press TV says it was a car bombing and that 4 are dead and eleven injured. Security forces tell All Iraq News that the car was parked next to a gas station (which amplified the bombing) and that 7 people were killed and fifteen injured. AFP focuses on two bombgs in Mohoudiya -- the first, a car bombing, claimed 2 lives and left two injured while the second bombing ("seconds later") claimed 1 life and left three people injured. All Iraq News also notes that a Shirqat sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and that an attorney was shot dead outside his Mosul home. Xinhua adds that the al-Shiqat bombing also left one person injured and that "a civilian was killed and his won wounded when gunmen opened fire on them in the town of al-Hadeed." Press TV notes 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead a Mosul checkpoint.
A couple of days ago, the Baghdad Operations Headquarter stated that they found the remains of tens of Iraqi academics that were kidnapped from the Ministry of Higher Education – Department of Missions -in 14 November 2006.They were buried in the Al-Sada Area in Sadr City. The bodies were found after one of the militia members (who is arrested by the Iraqi authorities) confessed and told about the place where the victims were buried, their number, the details of how the militias carried out the kidnapping, why they did it and who is behind all this. (2)
The Iraqi people always ask themselves when such "incidents" occur, like a kidnapping or a blast or a car bomb:"who is behind this?"
Everyone in Iraq knows that the Ministry of Higher Education kidnapping was the work of sectarian militias, more specifically the ones that are politically linked to the government.
When the Iraqi people ask about the names of these militias, and the reasons behind the secrecy of the Iraqi government, theyare surprised that no one wants to talk and no one dares to name names.The Iraqi government,the Army, the Ministry of Interior, the Parliament members,the human rights organizations, even the TV channels and media,all of them avoid to mention the names of those militias as if it was a sacred talisman or a taboo!
Do these militias consider the blood of their victims as the cheapest thing in the world, and are their crimes all sacred?
Everyone knows that the Al-Mahdi Militia, led by Muqtada Al-Sadr, is among those who committed such disgusting crimes. Some of the media dared to mention the details of this crime saying that Hakim Al-Zamili, one of the leaders of the Al-Mahdi Militia,was responsible for this crime that took the lives of more than 150 Iraqis, some of them Iraq's best academics. Al-Zamili is a prominent member of the Iraqi Parliament, representative of the Al-Sadr Party. Many Iraqis know it, but the government and parliament representatives keep silent and never mention the name of the murderers of the academics in November 2006.
The United States government caused the violence. Car bombings did not roll Iraq prior to the US invasion. They continued to cause it even after Bully Boy Bush left the White House. By refusing to honor the election results, by backing Nouri al-Maliki for a second term as prime minister even though his State of Law came in second. They didn't just back him during the eight month political stalemate when he refused to allow the winner of the election to form a government, no, the United States also negotiated a contract: The Erbil Agreement. Weary political blocs, desperate to end the stalemate went along with contractual promises.
Nouri made various concessions in the contract and the political blocs agreed he could have a second term as prime minister. The US brokered the contract and promised that it was legal, binding and that it would have the full support of the US government. Nouri used it to become prime minister and then refused to honor the contract. He took what he wanted and then broke the contract. And the US government that had sworn they would back this contract acted like they'd never heard of the Erbil Agreement.
When votes don't matter, when the Iraqi Constitution doesn't matter, you not only destroy faith in any prospect of democracy, you also set up an illegitimate government that does not have any authority. That breeds violence and it also ensures that the political stalemate continues.
All Iraq News notes that the talk is President Jalal Talabani is reportedly going to try another attempt to address the political crisis. Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports there was a push in Parliament to limit the three presidencies to two terms. The three presidencies are the posts of President of Iraq, Prime Minister of Iraq and Speaker of Parliament. This move is, in part, to prevent Nouri al-Maliki from having a third term. Jalal Talabani is also serving a second term. Grace notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc favors the limitation and has spoken publicly previously about how it is needed to avoid a new dictatorship from emerging in Iraq. As was to be expected, State of Law stamped their feet and said no such law was needed and they worry about the legality.
State of Law is 'known' for respecting the Constitution. (That was sarcasm.) As further proof of their lack of respect for the law, Alsumaria reports that State of Law MP Abbas al-Bayati is stating that State of Law feels the solution for disputed Kirkuk is for it to become an 'independent' province. He's a liar. First off, the Constitution addresses this in Article 140. Nouri has refused to implement Article 140. Second, they're not suggesting something like the KRG that is semi-autonomous. They're saying it's a province. One of many provinces in Iraq. It will not be independent, no more so than any other province that is not in the Kurdistan Regional Government. What that means is the the issue was not resolved -- as outlined in the Constitution -- by a referendum and census but instead Kirkuk would become part of the central government out of Baghdad. Kirkuk is oil rich. It is disputed for that reason. It is also disputed because of its history with various groups claiming they were displaced at various points in history. The Constitution addressed this because it is a serious dispute. That's why Article 140 was written. State of Law continues to subvert and ignore the Constitution. This is how the second place political slate that the US put into place again in 2010 rules Iraq and sews tension and distrust when not breeding violence.
Meanwhile AP reports that the Ministry of Oil has announced a deal with Bashneft. Russian Oil Net describes Bashneft as "the unique large Russian oil company which is not incorporating oil refining factories. [. . .] The production association 'Bashneft' has been created in 1932. In January, 1995 the production association has been renamed to open joint-stock company 'Bashneft'. As a result of privatization about 63 % of actions remained in the Republic Bashkortostan property, 28,3 % have been distributed on the closed subscription among the labor collective, 5 % have got the administration." AFP notes the contract is with Premier Oil as well as Bashneft and "Under the contract, the two firms must invest at least $120 million to explore the 8,000-square-kilometre (3,100 square mile) block covering the provinces of Muthanna and Najaf in south Iraq." The British company describes itself on its website, "Premier is a growing FTSE 250 oil and gas exploration and production company with current interests in eight countries around the world." Live Trading News notes that yesterday the Ministry of oil issued an announcement, "The Iraqi Oil Ministry signed the final service contract with a consortium comprising Russia's Lukoil and Japan's Inpex to explore for oil reserves in Iraq's southern provinces of Muthanna and Dhi-Qar."
While it can make oil deals it can't rebuild the country for the people. AFP reports that Iraq's "investment chief" Sami al-Araji declared today that $1 trillion was needed to rebuild the country over "the next 10 years" and that oil will not be enough, "some [money] will have to come from foreign and domestic direct investment." This as the World Bank is sure that Iraq can start providing it with money. Dina al-Shibeeb (Al Arabiya) reports:
Deputy head of Iraq's Central Bank said last week that the World Bank asked Iraq to become a donor state by 2014.
But with the myriad challenges facing a country ravaged by years of war, Iraq is likely still far from being able to help others.
"Poverty is still rife in Iraq. Iraq continues to be a potential conflict zone. There are regular bombings in the country," Paul Sullivan, professor of economics at the National Defense University (NDU), told Al Arabiya.
Sullivan, also an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University, added that while Iraq needs to rebuild its infrastructure, education, health and more, "Iraqis do have a pile of oil revenues sitting around, but poor governance, corruption, weak rule of law and more militate against the proper use of it."
He said "the World Bank is less than clueless if they think Iraq is ready to be a donor state."
Iraq has more than enough money to take care of Iraqis if it cared to do that. But you've got a government that dreams parading across the world stage while taking a lot of the public's money and putting it into their own personal pockets. For that reason more than anything else, the Iraqi government wants money from other countries. If the US goverment provides it -- and it currently does -- people in government (besides just Senator John Kerry and his Senate Foreign Relations Committee) need to grasp that this is a tool of soft power. For months, the White House whined about wanting Iranian planes searched that were enroute to Syria. Only after Kerry and the Committee stated publicly that money could be cut did Nouri al-Maliki order the searching of the planes. The answer that Barack (like Bush before him) repeatedly falls back on is "war." There are many other levers of power. It's a shame even the US Ambassador to the United Nations was unaware of that but Susan Rice is a crazed War Hawk as well as public joke.
On the re-election, Kevin Gosztola (at World Can't Wait) gets the last word:
The decision was made to not try terror suspects in federal courts. Terror suspects believed to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and others imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, which Obama failed to close, are now going through a military tribunal process—a second-class justice system where one is not allowed to testify in court about torture experienced at the hands of CIA interrogators because the government claims it controls the thoughts and memories of detainees.
Warrantless surveillance escalated sharply under Obama. The ACLU obtained Justice Department documents that showed federal law enforcement agencies were "increasingly monitoring Americans' electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability." Now, the Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear a challenge against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which allowed telecommunications companies to be granted retroactive immunity for warrantless wiretapping under Bush. The act also allowed for the expansion of dragnet surveillance. Obama Justice Department lawyers have argued it does not have to tell plaintiffs challenging the law they have been unlawfully monitored and, even if they did violate their privacy, it would not matter because the surveillance state is here to stay.
Obama refused to prosecute war criminals. Not a single person was prosecuted and convicted of torture. Even though he signed an executive order as president that prohibited "enhanced interrogation techniques" used under Bush, torture was effectively decriminalized. The "state secrets" privilege was invoked when torture victims tried to sue government for torture, effectively preventing justice. Moreover, former CIA agent John Kiriakou was prosecuted for allegedly leaking the name of a covert officer, who had been a kidnapper in the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. It was believed that various individuals in human rights organizations knew this officer's identity, and it was largely suspected the government was prosecuting Kiriakou because he was one of the first in government to say on television the CIA had an official policy of torture while Bush was president. The prosecution destroyed his life, took a tremendous toll on his wife and his five children so he ended up taking a plea deal.