Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nikita 'Self-Destruct'

 Nikita aired last night on The CW.  Remember, three more Fridays of new episodes. 

Ryan:  How many stayed

Michael:  14.  Along with 8 dead.  Including Sean.

Ryan:  So 14.

Nikita:   Owen has the black box.  He and Amanda talked about selling it.  But that's all we know right now.

Ryan's out of coma and out of the medical bay.  Lucky us.  He should have died and not Sean.  Ryan's such a priss. 

So Alex has left and Nikita wants to find her.  During the episode, we get Nikita's flashbacks to when she was with Division and her partner died. 

Alex is in a rundown part of town.  We see her watching drug buys.  She walks by.  She looks longingly.  Finally, outside a house, she walks up to a dealer and makes a purchase.  He tells her there's an empty room at the top of the stairs.  She goes up there to fix.  He's following.  The room has two men in it, he's planning to rape her.  Alex kills them all.

Nikita gets there as the guy Alex bought from is dying in the hall.

He says she's going after the main headquarters.  Where's that?  The man dies.

Two cops come in and disarm Nikita.

She points out that detectives don't really seem like they'd be the first to arrive on a 9-11 call . . . unless they were on the take and working for the drug house.

She takes them down and grabs one and forces him to drive her to the headquarters.

She goes in via a drain pipe in another building and finds a group of young women.  Alex is freeing the women forced into prostitution.

Back at Division.  Priss Ryan is insisting that Division be closed.  Michael says no.  Birkhoff goes along with Ryan.  Sonya doesn't vote.  No one seems to notice that -- not the writers for sure.  Sonya would mean Michael was out voted.

He leaves to go find Nikita.

Ryan just whines endlessly.  He climbs the cross on how evil he'd become, he was willing to do anything to keep Division running.  Birkhoff says, "Doesn't mean you weren't trying to do the right thing."

Ryan:  Maybe in the beginning I was but somewhere along the line I started to see the value of keeping Division running

Sonya: Indefinitely?

Ryan: This place represents everything I fought against my entire career and I fell under it's spell.  I need to take responsibility for that.

So he fell under its spell and started doing what he wanted to do -- whether others wanted it or not -- and now he's going to do . . . what he wants whether others (Nikita and Michael) want it or not?

Yeah, some change.

He, Birkhoff and Sonya say goodbye to (and pay) the 14 off and wish them well.  Division is no more.  Earlier the President called and she told Ryan the CIA Director died from natural causes and said good things about Division before he died.  She looks forward to continuing to work with Division.

The plan, Ryan says, is they will detonate Division and it will appear everyone died.

They'll never know about the agents who left (either sent off by Ryan or the ones who left before he came out of coma).

Nikita finds Alex in the building.  She says that Larisa never existed, it was a false memory Amanda implanted.

Alex slowly starts to remember.  Once she does, Nikita tells her they have to leave.

But it's too late.

So Nikita and Alex end up taking out the druggies.

They leave the building with the young women as Michael pulls up.

I thought at first that Nikita and Alex were going to bring them back to Division to give them shelter and provide the women with jobs.


Michael, Alex and Nikita get back and discover that everyone's gone but Ryan, Birkhoff and Sonya.

Birkhoff forgives Alex in a scene that makes him look petty.  In fact, he comes off bad the whole episode.  As a general rule, when the writers try to make him look cool, the actor just cops an attitude and comes off as a smart off.

Nikita doesn't go for the plan.  "I'm not leaving, not while the Black box is out there," she says.

They don't have the people, they don't have this, on and on the worry warts go.

Michael: When we took down Percy, it was just the six of us in a safe house. against all of Division and all of its resources.

Nikita:  I'm not going to say it's going to be easy but I just watched a bunch of girls fight heavily armed men and win.  They fought because --

Alex: It was the right thing to do.

Nikita:  Look Amdana waged this war and I've been so focused on figuring her out that I forgot what was improtant.

Birkhoff:  We couldn't beat her before, how are we going to beat her now

Nikita: We stop playing her game.

So now they apparently go after Amanda and "Sam" (Owen) and the black box.

Remember, only three new episodes left.

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

Friday, April 26, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the provincial elections are in for the press, protests continue in Iraq, State of Law offers smears for all (protesters, the US, Moqtada al-Sadr, everyone!), Shinseki gets confused over which lie he told and which he should tell to Congress, Chris Hedges supports Lynne Stewart, IVAW can't leave the sexism alone, and more.

Is Iraq Veterans Against the War doing parody?  I'm about to pull their link because of the crap that just went up under Patrick McCarthy's name. 

Brother Barrack, I'm really proud of you sir! I was wavering for a moment because of the drone thing-(nightmare). Children being killed by American air assets is a touchy subject for me but, we've all done things we're not proud of; we just need to make amends for them, that's being a man. Y'all are making sure the bombing suspect gets a fair trial. By maintaining the rights of all humans you can show the nay sayers what give me liberty or give me death means. Americans are supposed to be a people of peace that believe unconditionally in fairness and justice.
"Enemy combatants"- criminals-(Men) deserve a fair trial sir, lets retake the moral high ground with superior integrity not firepower and force.

Okay, Marcia's already called IVAW out recently for the sexism. "That's being a man"?  Oh the faux macho of those males who turn against war.  Not all but we're clearly miles from the 2008 IVAW.  I'm not supporting this crap.  Nor do I pretend that killing people with drones can be forgiven by anyone else getting a fair trial.

IVAW has wasted and withered in the last four years.  I've stood by them and avoided slamming them.  But they've lost many of the core members, people who haven't left no longer identify as IVAW in public and they're a nothing group.

Where were they on any damn issue to do with veterans?  I'm really sorry but if you want a make an impact, you start addressing veterans issues.  I speak to groups of veterans who can't stand me or my politics -- and I'm aware of that, that's fine -- but they will listen because I'm addressing veterans issues.  IVAW has failed to do so.  They do not lead on any health issue.  They have allowed IAVA to become the premiere and sole organization for today's young veterans.

When Marcia's post went up, I heard about it over and over. From female veterans who were tired of IVAW's "macho s**t" and tired of the fact that it  provides no leadership or advocacy on Military Sexual Trauma -- that includes a female veteran who was part of Winter Solider.  You are pissing off everyone who once supported you.  Today you allow a member to post that a fair trial for someone wipes away The Drone War.  Really?  Is that a gift from Barack Obama?  Because I kind of thought that was guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America -- or have you never heard of the Sixth Amendment?

I've already had three phone calls on this and has it even been up a half hour?  Four.  Ava's handing me a phone, hold on.  Okay.  Four IVAW members furious with the garbage that went up.  Can't say I blame them.

So now we praise people for following the Constitution -- as opposed to demanding that they do?  Oh, how low to the ground you crawl.

IVAW has made itself useless.  It has alienated women veterans, it has allowed itself to be ripped apart by arguments between Democratic members and Socialists (IVAW has members of all political stripes -- but in 2008 the fissure emerged between Democrats and Socialists and it never went away -- though it did leave many members to exit).  It has failed to lead on any issue.  It's failed to lead on veterans suicides, it's failed to engage with Congress, they couldn't even offer a statement on burn pits.  As the last months of 2012 saw Barack send in more US troops to Iraq, IVAW couldn't even acknowledge it -- not even a link to Tim Arango's first report on the issue in September of last year.  You've failed to get your house in order.   As Rebecca noted in March, when she dubbed them "the useless:"

but until they start standing for veterans, veterans have no use for them.
i'm sorry that no 1 ever explained p.r. to the group. 1st clue?  don't elect a 9-11 truther to be your leader. i'm not insulting 9-11 truthers.  i'm saying when your leader's 1, that's a distraction. they should have been working on disability issues, they should have been working on claims issues. instead, everything out of their mouth is political. do they not get how sick the country - and veterans in particular - has become with politics?

When they wrongly distanced themselves from Matthis Chiroux,  Jose Vasquez  issued a statement that ended with, "Our messaging is important and in the future we should all make an effort to reach consensus with those we organize with in an open way about how we represent IVAW." They may not be 'members in good standing,' but I've already heard from four IVAW members complaining about the crap that went up at the website tonight -- and that was less than 30 minutes ago -- stating it doesn't represent them.  Matthis was run out for burning a flag -- his own individual decision, representing only himself.  But you continue to put the half-baked 'wisdoms' of Patrick McCarthy up at your site including that now The Drone War is forgiven?  You've made yourself a joke.

On this week's Voices of the Middle East and North Africa (KPFA, Wednesday nights, 7:00 pm PST), the last segment featured Iraqi poet and Gallatin School of NYU professor Sinan Antoon reading his poetry.  He is a novelist and poet and, of his three books of poetry, the one widely available in the US is  The Baghdad Blues.  Excerpt.

I sit before one of those screens
Death in all languages.
The tower of Babel has disintegrated
Into a shore littered with corpses
My body is a tired boat
Silence is its mast.
I turn the channels
And corpses toss and turn.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 462 violent deaths in Iraq for April.  Over a fourth of those deaths have taken place this week (as of last Saturday, IBC's count was 328).

National Iraqi News Agency notes rebels clashed with Nouri's federal forces in Hadeetha and Kubaisa, 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja, 5 Sahwa were shot dead outside of Tikrit,  a Baquba bombing left one person injured, a Mosul bombing left twelve people injured, one civilian was injured in a Falluja shooting, a Sadr City car bombing claimed 1 life and left seven others injured, a bombing in southern Baghdad left seven people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left twelve injured, and two Baghdad bombings -- both targeting mosques; Malik al-Ashter Mosque and al-Qubeisi Mosque  -- left 2 dead and thirty injuredNINA also notes "that all the units of federal police withdrew from inside the city of Falluja" and quotes a security source stating, "The withdrawal came in the wake of violent clashes between insurgents and police."

At Anbar University today, protesters condemned the Hawija massacre. National Iraqi News Agency reports that sit-ins took place in Falluja and Ramadi.  Alsumaria reports thousands turned out in Ramadi (look at the picture even if you don't read Arabic -- the size of the crowd is impressive)  and they decried the killing of peaceful protesters in Hawija.   NINA reports, "Preachers in Diyala denounced storming arenas of sit-in Haweeja by the army and the killing of protesters, strongly condemning the government for what happened in Hawija of Kirkuk province."   They quote a coordinating member of the Anbar demonstrations stating "the Maliki government has lost its legitimacy when ordered army to open fire against unarmed people."   Alsumaria covers the protesters in Mosul (check out the picture) noting the demonstration expressed its solidarity with the people of Hawija and called for one Iraq of one people where the people are safe from Nouri's forces.

On Tuesday, Nouri's forces took to the air in helicopters to shoot at them and rolled over them with military vehicles, shot at them, arrested them.  All for the 'crime' of taking part in a sit-in.   Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) quoted Anbar Salvation Council's Sheik Ahmed abu Risha stating, "Maliki should be prosecuted like Saddam Hussein for what he does to the people." Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explores the Hawija attack, the 50 dead and 110 injured and offers:

Ultimately, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might be to blame for what occurred in his capacity as head of the government, commander in chief of the armed forces and the official directly in charge of running the interior and defense ministries, as well as the national security and intelligence services, which have lacked directors for the past three years.

Nouri's State of Law crony Sa'ad al-Muttalibi took to Press TV today -- knowing that they would let him lie as Iranian government's Press TV always lets State of Law lie --  to smear the dead, "those who were killed in Hawijah, they were not civilians, they were armed groups belonging to the Nagshebendi organization or Ba'ath Party members and definitely they were not civilians."  He wasn't done smearing -- please remember Nouri al-Maliki only remains in power because the White House props him up -- al-Muttalibi also wanted to link the US to these events in Hawija, he then went on to smear cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and his supporters, "The Sadrists are definitely against Maliki, they are Shia but they are against the will of the Shia people in Iraq."  Also State of Law only holds 89 seats in Parliament, al-Muttalibi tries to fudge the issue and imply otherwise.

Iraqiya MP Liqaa Wardi speaks with NINA and states Nouri's reckless actions in Hawija have "created unprecedented reactions of anger." 

Tim Arango (New York Times) reports on the efforts of "Western diplomats" noting:

The continuing battles on Thursday, which by late afternoon had left nearly 50 people dead, most of them described by security official as militants, came as Western diplomats intensified efforts to persuade Mr. Maliki and his government to back away from a military solution to the Sunni uprising. The urgings were met with justifications for the heavy hand, partly out of fears that the situation would otherwise deteriorate into another Syria, according to one Western diplomat and an official close to Mr. Maliki, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. Another diplomat, who also agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said a fierce disagreement had erupted within the military command between Sunnis who opposed the military response and Shiite officers who directed it.

Yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, Dorian Merina spoke with Mohamed al-Obaidi about the week's events

Mohamed al-Obaidi:  Well we had protests a couple of years back here in Baghdad and elsewhere.  What I know of the Baghdad protests is that they've mainly been led by the educated elements of Baghdad like artists, NGOs, even maybe some college teachers and they're basically protesting against corruption and how corrupt the entire public sector was and how bad were the services, demanding change of the regime, but, again, based on corruption and not unlike the current sit-in and protests in mainly Sunni provinces.  These ones are mainly now led by tribal men -- and tribal leaders -- who are demanding equality between Sunnis and Shias in this country and are rejecting the oppression, the general oppression on the Sunnis and mistreatment by security forces.

Dorian Merina: And some of the protests have highlighted the issue of detentions and torture by security forces as a reason for their protests.  What about that?

Mohamed al-Obaidi:  Well I mean like I said it starts with illegal arrests.  If a security breach happens somewhere, say an explosion or an assassination of some soldiers, they round up people by tens or hundreds and they torture some of them.  One of the outrageous acts they do is that they take hostages and arrest women instead of their husbands or their brothers which is a great social taboo in our country.  And in particular [. . .] this is untolerable offense to the honor.  And again people have been held for years in prison and since the time of the American occupation of Iraq until now we have people spending years in prison without facing trial.  And then you have many cases where people pay hundreds or few thousand dollars and get released from any charges they are faced with.  And then you have cases where security forces arrest people and blackmail their families for money.  I mean, 'We either charge you for this, or you pay this.'  So it's -- They're dressed in uniforms but they're acting like gangsters.  So how do you hope to stop that?

Dorian Merina: Well, today Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned of sectarian civil war returning to Iraq.  [Omitting Dorian's citing of the Christian Science Monitor -- Arthur Bright is either extremely ignorant or a liar -- regardless, he religious baits in the piece.]  Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to withdraw ministers from Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet.  How far could this go?

Mohamed al-Obaidi:   Well a new civil war is a very possible reality.  Sunnis are very fed up with the way they're treated and the Shias have a great mistrust in Sunnis.  And with the current corruption and oppression that's going on, it's -- things can develop.  As a retaliation to the crush-down of the protesters in Hawija, Kirkuk, you had Sunni tribal men attacking police stations in nearby towns and even in Mosul city to the north.  So, you know, it could be just like an avalanche.  One event triggers another and the vengeance keeps going and you have a cycle of violence.

Dorian Merina:  Mohamed al-Obaidi is a shop owner in Baghdad, a longtime resident there.  He spoke to us about the government's response to protests, and deadly clashes this week in Iraq.

There's some indication

Last night, Betty wrote about the situation in Iraq:

He was imposed on them (first by Bush, then by Barack).  He is not responsive to them.  He has a multi-billion dollar yearly budget but Iraqis live in poverty without basic public services.  And Iraq doesn't have the US population.  They've got about 30 million people.  And its budget this year is $118 billion. Do you realize that comes to about 60 billion per person? But it's not spent on the people. Can you believe this? No wonder the Iraqi people are sick of it.  Can you blame them?  I can't.

Kat offered, "The White House needs to step [in].  It needs to be made clear that this can't happen again.  If we had a real leader in the White House, they might even be able to get Nouri to leave."  Meanwhile Ann caught the network news and wondered why Iraq didn't make it on the broadcast?  Marcia noted another outlet unable or unwilling to cover Iraq:

Iraq's on fire and where's McClatchy Newspapers? They sure get a lot of praise for Knight-Ridder work.  They're not Knight-Ridder.  But would they have done that if it was McClatchy then? I'm not insulting Jonathan S. Landy or Warren Strobel or others.  I'm asking would McClatchy have given them the same space and support that Knight-Ridder did.  I don't know. But I do know big bad McClatchy's not in Iraq. Iraq's on fire. Not only do they not have Adam Ashton, Nancy Youseff, Roy Gutman or anyone else in Iraq.  And they've obviously gotten rid of the Iraqis that used to work for them in country. So they have nothing. Point being, praise Landy, praise Strobel, praise Knight-Ridder but stop acting like McClatchy is Knight-Ridder.  It's not.

Earlier this week, Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported, "In Anbar province, Sunni tribes were mobilizing Thursday to defend their cities against possible attacks by Iraqi security forces. They positioned gunmen and paraded in some of their cities, vowing to stop the military from entering their communities. Clashes were reported outside the city of Fallouja on Thursday night."   Today,
AFP notes, "The gunmen pulled out of Sulaiman Bek under a deal worked out by tribal leaders and government."  AFP could be more specific but choose not to be.  "Government" isn't Nouri.  NINA explains Salahuddin Province Governor Ahmed Abdullah al-Jabouri announced yesterday that he had met "with security commanders and local tribal leaders reaching an agreement by which the crisis will be solved tomorrow, and the military force to withdraw, according to the request of tribes' leaders, to be replaced with local police force."  Kitabat also makes it clear that the the peace agreement was made by the provincial government.

 Along with yesterday's defections, Iraqi Spring MC notes 25 have defected today in Kirkuk.  The defections may or may not be connected to the remarks of al-Saadi. Anytime the Iraqi forces have been used by Nouri to attack Iraqis, there have been defections.  This was most noticeable when Nouri attacked Basra in 2008 (and why the US military command was so outraged -- see the April 2008 appearances of then-Gen David Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker before the various committees in the US Congress --  that he jumped the gun on the planned invasion).  Earlier this week, Al Arabiya notes, "Abu Risha urged Iraqi army members, hailing from the mainly Shiite southern tribes in the country, to defect and not take part in the crackdown against their 'brethren' protesters."

AFP notes, "The gunmen pulled out of Sulaiman Bek under a deal worked out by tribal leaders and government."  AFP could be more specific but choose not to be.  "Government" isn't Nouri.  NINA explains Salahuddin Province Governor Ahmed Abdullah al-Jabouri announced yesterday that he had met "with security commanders and local tribal leaders reaching an agreement by which the crisis will be solved tomorrow, and the military force to withdraw, according to the request of tribes' leaders, to be replaced with local police force."  Kitabat also makes it clear that the the peace agreement was made by the provincial government.

Kitabat has an analysis of the provincial vote.  We'll wait for hard numbers before doing the same.  The IHEC still hasn't posted them.

What is known is that Nouri won 8 provinces.  It's a pity Iraq doesn't just have 8 provinces or even 12.  Then Nouri's pipe-dream of a majority government might be possible.  Iraq has six provinces that haven't voted.  Four that did didn't go for Nouri.  The six that haven't voted?  Five will absolutely not go for Nouri (Anbar, Nineveh and the KRG).  Kirkuk won't get to vote.  But that's 8 provinces for Nouri and 7 against.  That's not going to be a majority government when the parliamentary elections roll around.  Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) reports "educated Shi'ites" voted State of Law for just that reason, they though Nouri could deliver a majority government.   Equally true, there's been a flip-flop on parliamentary and provincial with one group turning out for one and another for the other.  It's a see-saw effect that goes with voters disgust.  There is nothing in the results that speaks well for 2012 and, as we noted before, these reflections did not and would not reflect on Nouri's own power.  These are local elections.  As Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) points out, "It should be noted here that winning one or even 20 seats in local governments does not allow the attainment of any of the above-mentioned goals because these governments have limited authority and primarily focus on providing basic services."  Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) notes:  "Sabah al-Sheikh, professor in politics in Baghdad University, told Xinhua despite that Maliki's State of Law Coalition has taken the lead in eight out of 12 provinces, he will not garner more seats in the provincial councils this time than in the previous polls."  How does that happen?  It happens because you didn't win by enough, you squeaked ahead of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc.

A win is a win.  But in terms of the meaning of the election, there's no overwhelming support for State of Law even in the eight provinces that went for State of Law.  So Nouri's a failure?

Nope.  We've said all along that provincial council elections are local issues.  This is not an indicator that Nouri is unpopular or less popular.  I would love for it to be so.  But Nouri's really not that much of a factor in these elections because people weren't voting for him, they were voting for locals. Hillary Clinton was at a big fundraiser this week and gave her first for-pay speech since she stepped down as Secretary of State.  She'll continue fundraising for the Democratic Party throughout the US.  She can do that because she can rally voters around the country.  She proved that repeatedly as Senator (and before as First Lady).  If you want to make a call based on the elections about Nouri, the best call -- but a still a shaky one, we're looking at one event only -- is that he can't rally people to his political slate (State of Law) regardless of his popularity or lack of it.

Niqash continues to do the strongest reporting on the elections.  We'll note this from Mustafa Habib (Niqash):

Voter turnout didn't seem so different from Iraq’s last elections. But now many Iraqis are boasting that they defaced their ballot papers instead of casting a real vote. Partly its political malaise, partly they did it to stop electoral fraud.

Young Baghdad man, Amjad Khudair, is pleased with the way he voted in the country’s provincial elections, held over the weekend. On his ballot paper he wrote: “I vote for Barcelona Football Club”. Barcelona were unsuccessful finalists in this week’s European Cup. But that’s beside the point. The point was that Khudair felt his vote was a waste of time.

“We see the same candidates and the same political parties in every electoral event,” Khudair explained. “So I refused to vote for them again because they always perform poorly and they are not able to manage Baghdad’s affairs the way they are supposed to.”

Nonetheless, Khudair decided to go his local polling station and claim his ballot paper so that it couldn’t be manipulated or used in any other way. He had heard that this was a possibility, especially in polling stations where there were no electoral observers. So he put a big X on his ballot paper and made his sarcastic joke. Then he went home.

Khudair was not the only Iraqi who felt this way. The latest reports suggest voter turnout of around 51 percent for the provincial elections – despite forecasts to the contrary, this is similar to the turnout for the last provincial elections in 2009. But it seems that plenty of the Iraqis who voted simply wanted to make sure their votes were not misused and turned up only to deface their ballot papers. Damaging or defacing the ballot papers meant that they could not be misused.

Their other election coverage this week includes Hiwa Barznjy's "iraqi kurdistan a dictatorship? current president will break law, run for election again"  and Daoud al-Ali's "election results so far: low voter turnout, more compromises needed."

Let's drop back to Tuesday's Senate Budget Committee hearing. Senator Patty Murray is Chair of the Committee.  Appearing before them was VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.  Senator Kelly Ayotte  made a strong case to Shinseki on why New Hampshire needs a full-service VA medical center to serve its population -- she noted over 10% of New Hampshire's population are veterans and that they are having to cross state lines to get most health care needs addressed.  She made a strong case and noted that she and New Hampshire's other US Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, are not going to drop this issue.

The biggest embarrassment at the hearing -- after VA -- was Senator Tim Kaine.  A first-term senator might want to keep his ignorance on the down low as opposed to flaunting in an open hearing.  Kaine lapped it up when Shineski whined about the VA being all paper and how hard he's had to work.  So what?

He's not working any harder than any of his predecessors.  And don't talk about 'overworkered,' the VA has never has never had as many employees as it does today (and yet the average hours for one worker to rate a single claim has gone up significantly).  Your ignorance of the VA, Senator Kaine, makes you look very stupid in open hearings.

In fairness, Kaine's often an idiot in public.  He's a homophobe who's against gay couples adopting and he's anti-abortion.  (Kaine is a Democrat, I probably should note that for those who aren't familiar with him.)  He's as weird as the man before him: Jim Webb.  Like Webb, he better get his act together because as one self-proclaimed "yellow dog Democrat" from Virginia told me after the hearing, if Kaine ever "acts the fool like that again" at a hearing about veterans, he'll rally support against Kaine in the veteran community.  For those who forgot or never knew, Jim Webb was a one-term senator who didn't seek re-election because the veterans community in Virginia turned on him.  And unlike Kaine, Webb was a veteran.  They will turn on Kaine much quicker.  Kaine may feel re-election is six years away but 2010 is when the veterans turned against Webb.  Kaine also, in the hearing, enabled Shinseki to lie about the 2009 scandal regarding GI's not getting their fall checks.  This was registered by the veteran I spoke to.  Again, Kaine better get his act together real quick.  He's damn lucky he doesn't serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  If he did, he'd have to speak on the issue more and the more he spoke in the hearing, the more he pisses off his veteran constituent.  Also true, no one likes a kiss-ass and Kaine's decision when the hearing should have been over to prolong it to offer some "compliments" might work at a social tea but it doesn't at a Congressional hearing.

Shinseki played the drama queen.  This is year five for Shinseki and his excuses get more and more ridiculous.  His complaints about the paper system also included whining about DoD records.  Before he was sworn in, January 2009, the VA and DoD were already tasked with coming up with an integrated record that would follow a service member from DoD to VA.  The biggest problem, already established before Shinseki was in the VA, was that DoD and VA's computer systems were not compatible.  As we learned this year, nothing has taken place on that issue for the entire four years of Shinseki's first term.  He whined about how he had to wait for Hagel.  Yeah, we heard that same whining when Leon Panetta replaced Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense.  I've already vouched for Panetta, he was willing to go along whatever had already been discussed and decided by Gates, but I've since been told by one of Gates' staff that Robert Gates wasn't an obstacle either.  Gates' attitude was, and this is a quote of what I was told, "Let's get it done, let's get it done quick."  He was willing to go along with whatever Shinseki thought would work best and willing to bend to VA because he believed VA would deal with medical issues -- especially serious medical issues and longterm ones -- much more than DoD.    Here he is yammering away in reply to Senator Angus King's questions about was the joint-electronic record place?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  It is not.  And so for the past four years, two Secretaries, first Secretary Gates and then Secretary Panetta and now -- and I -- and Secretary [Chuck] Hagel and I will undertake dealing with the frustration you described.  And that is why don't we have a single, common, joint, integrated electronic health record.

Here's reality, Panetta retired and Gates retired.  People retire in all walks of life.  Shinseki can pretend like that excuses him but it doesn't, he didn't retire.  He was tasked with it four years ago and has no accomplishment on it to point to.  The first decision is which system will be used: VA's or DoD's?  Gates and Panetta told him to use VA's system because that's what Shiseki said he wanted.  For him to pretend, after four years on the job, that he's accomplished anything on this is ridiculous.  Equally true, Hagel could retire tomorrow, could be replaced tomorrow, could die tomorrow.  This decision should have been made four years ago and Shinseki needs to stop making excuses because I was told Gates would probably be happy to discuss how he thought this decision was made in Shinseki's first year as VA Secretary.  At the end of the hearing, Chair Patty Murray also touched on the issue.

Secretary Eric Shinseki:   Madam Chairman, I -- Let me just say, uh, like you, I am committed to what we have been asked to produce here.  And I would say that over my four years of working with Secretary Gates and Panetta and, uh, now Secretary Hagel, uh, that both Secretaries were committed to single, joint, common, integrated health record -- open in architecture and non-propriety in design -- which is what the -- the, uh, the President [Barack Obama] asked us to go to work on.  For Secretary Hagel, who, uh, arrived and was not familiar with, uh, the previous history on IHER [Integrated Health Electronic Record], he asked for time to get into it, I understand, where the program was so I await the next opportunity for, uh, the two of us to sit down here to ensure that the program is on track as we have committed to.

Chair Patty Murray:  Well I hope that is going forward and I will certainly push DoD to do the same.  There is a December 6, 2012 memo from the US Chief Information Officer and US Chief Technology Officer that requires DoD and VA to submit a number of documents regarding the status of the IHER program and I would ask that you provide us with a complete set of documents as well.

Oh, so he and Hagel just discussed it once -- apparently for Hagel to request time to review?  Hmm.  That is interesting.  It's always interesting how Eric Shinseki tells one story one day and another the next.  Specifically, April 11th, the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the VA budget:

US House Rep Phil Roe:  Another question I have is the integration between DoD and VA on the eletronic health records and the benefits. Should we have a joint meeting between VA and DoD -- and I realize that Senator -- that Defense Secretary Hagel has a lot on his plate with North Korea and the Middle East right now. 

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  Yep.

US House Rep Phil Roe:  But this is one of my concerns when we changed was the fact that this would get a backburner again.  And are we going to be sitting here -- and you and I have spoken about this and that was a private conversation and it will remain that way but are we going to be sitting here a year from now or two years or three years because it's not a resources -- putting of money -- to be able to integrate these systems.  I mean, it's really become very frustrating to me to sit here year after year and, unless the voters have a different idea, I plan to be here in 2015 and see if we complete these things we say we're going to do.  Is it there.

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  Again, Congressman, Secretary Hagel and I have discussed this on at least two and maybe three occasions.  He is, again, putting into place, his system to assure the way ahead for him to make this decision and be the partner that we need here.  Uhm, he is committed to a, uh, integrated electronic health record between the two departments. 

So which is it?  He's had one discussion with Hagel on this or two or three?  Considering the importance placed on this and the fact that Barack tasked him with this four years ago, you'd think he'd know how often he'd discussed the issue with Hagel.  You'd also think he'd manage to give consistent answers in two hearings only 15 days apart.

Two veterans at the hearing (one is the one from Virginia noted earlier) there disgust when, in response to questions by Senator Jeff Merkley, Shinseki bragged that "suicide rates have remained flat" and "We think we have a program here that works."  A program that works does not have a high flat rate.  As for whether it's even flat? There's no empirical data to back that up.  Only due to Senator Patty Murray's efforts, while Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, are states reporting to the VA the suicides of veterans.  That's a recent development.  It doesn't cover half of Shinseki's first term.  He can call the rate "flat" but he can't prove any such thing.  Regardless, there are numerous suicides and the two veterans I spoke with did not find his self-praise ("We think we have a program here that works") comforting.

Senator Bill Nelson raised the issue of Orlando VA Hospital, It was supposed to be completed a year ago" and it still isn't but the target date is now for an August opening.  In January and this month Nelson received reports on it -- both stated that the medical center was 75% complete.  75% complete in January.  75% complete in April.  Shinseki offered that his number, right now, shows 79%.  So 4%, if he's being honest -- big if, in three months.  Repeating, it was supposed to open last year.  It not only is supposed to serve medical needs, it's also supposed to provide housing for at least 60 homeless veterans.

Senator Bill Nelson:  We can't just accept this.  It seems to me that from your office, you ought to suggest that some heads ought to roll so that people know we mean business when we set a contract and set some deadlines.  Are there financial -- Are there severe financial penalties in the contract for not completing in time?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  I would say there are provisions for that. I-I-I wouldn't -- not knowledgeable enough to declare whether they're severe or not.  The-These are normal steps in the, uh contracting process.

Senator Bill Nelson:  Maybe that suggests that we ought to rethink how we contract if they're just provisions?

It's really sad that the Shinseki doesn't know about the contract.  You'd think, the minute a VA medical center failed to open last year, Shinseki would have been asking not just what was going on but what the contract specified.  Let's also point out that Nelson has raised this issue (repeatedly) with Shinseki outside of hearings.  And Shinseki showed up for this hearing without the basic information required.

Still on the US, Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner.  This week, Chris Hedges (Truth Dig) wrote about her:

Lynne Stewart, in the vindictive and hysterical world of the war on terror, is one of its martyrs. A 73-year-old lawyer who spent her life defending the poor, the marginalized and the despised, including blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, she fell afoul of the state apparatus because she dared to demand justice rather than acquiesce to state sponsored witch hunts. And now, with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs, creating a grave threat to her life, she sits in a prison cell at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is serving a 10-year sentence. Stewart’s family is pleading with the state for “compassionate release” and numerous international human rights campaigners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have signed a petition calling for her to be freed on medical grounds. It is not only a crime in the U.S. to be poor, to be a Muslim, to openly condemn the crimes committed in our name in the Muslim world, but to defend those who do. And the near total collapse of our judicial system, wrecked in the name of national security and “the war on terror,” is encapsulated in the saga of this courageous attorney—now disbarred because of her conviction.
“I hope that my imprisonment sends the wake up call that the government is prepared to imprison lawyers who do not conduct legal representation in a manner the government has ordained,” she told me when I reached her through email in prison. “My career of 30 plus years has always been client centered. My clients and I decided on the best legal course, without the interference of the government. Ethics require that the defense lawyer DEFEND, get the client off. We have no obligation to obey [the] ‘rules’ government lays down.
“I believe that since 9/11 the government has pursued Muslims with an ever heavier hand,” she wrote, all messages to her and from her being vetted by prison authorities. “However, cases such as the Sheikh’s in 1995 amply demonstrate that Muslims had been targeted even earlier as the new ENEMY—always suspect, always guilty. After 9/11, we discovered that the government prosecutors were ordered to try and get Osama Bin Laden into EVERY Muslim prosecution inducing in American Juries a Pavlovian response. Is it as bad as lynching and the Scottsboro Boys and the Pursuit of Black Panthers? Not as of yet, but getting close and of course the incipient racism that that colors—pun?—every action in the U.S. is ever present in these prosecutions.”
Stewart, as a young librarian in Harlem, got an early taste of the insidious forms of overt and covert racism that work to keep most people of color impoverished and trapped in their internal colonies or our prison complex. She went on to get her law degree and begin battling in the courts on behalf of those around her for whom justice was usually denied. By 1995, along with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara, she was the lead trial counsel for the sheik, who was convicted in September of that year. He received life in prison plus 65 years, a sentence Stewart called “outlandish.” The cleric, in poor health, is serving a life sentence in the medical wing of the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. Stewart continued to see the sheik in jail after the sentence. Three years later the government severely curtailed his ability to communicate with the outside world, even through his lawyers, under special administrative measures or SAMs.
In 2000, during a visit with the sheik, he asked Stewart to release a statement from him to the press. The Clinton administration did not prosecute her for the press release, but the Bush administration in April 2002, the mood of the country altered by the attacks of 9/11, decided to go after her. Attorney General John Ashcroft came to New York in April 2002 to announce that the Justice Department had indicted Stewart, a paralegal and the interpreter on grounds of materially aiding a terrorist organization. That night he went on “Late Show with David Letterman” to tell the nation of the indictment and the Bush administration’s vaunted “war on terror.”

Two weeks ago on Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include political prisoner Lynne Stewart.  We noted it last week and it's worth noting again -- plus it has all the information on the petition and on contacting the Bureau of Prisons.

Michael S. Smith:  Michael, we sorely miss our friend Lynne Stewart who's in prison serving a really unjust ten year sentence.  And, of course, as we've reminded our listeners over the last few weeks, Lynne has taken ill again.  And there's a petition for her and I know you want to talk about it and get as many active because we want to get Lynne out of prison on a compassionate release.  So tell our listeners how they can help and what the situation is now for Lynne.


Michael Ratner: Well we're going to link to how you can sign the petition.  Lynne's got Stage IV Cancer as a lot of you know.  That is, her initial cancer which was in remission when they put her in prison three years ago is now in full bloom.  It's spread to her bones.  It's spread to her legs. It's spread to her lungs.  It's spread to her lymph nodes.  And it really is fatal.  We all want to get her out and get her some better medical care that she can get.  She's in a seven person cell down in Fort Worth, Texas.  Get her up to New York, better medical care and be surrounded by her family and friends.  And in order to do that, the Bureau of Prisons, the people with the key have to make a motion to Judge Kotel to ask that she be given a compassionate release.  It's possible.  You can get that.  They don't do it very often.  But with all the friends and supporters that Lynne has, we're hopeful that we can accomplish that.  6,000 people have signed the petition so far.  And I want to read you what Lynne said in thank you to these people -- two of them were Dick Gregory and Desmond Tutu and I'll read you something that Tutu said also. But here's this from Lynne:  "I want you individually to know how grateful and happy it makes me to have your support.  It's uplifting to say the least.  And after a lifetime of organizing, it proves once again that the People can rise.  The acknowledgment of the life-political and solutions brought about by group unity and support, is important to all of us.  Equally, so is the courage to sign on to a demand for a person whom the Government has branded with the "T" word -- Terrorism.  Understanding that the attack on me is a subterfuge for an attack on all lawyers who advocate without fear of Government displeasure, with intellectual honesty guided by their knowledge and their client's desire for his or her case, I hope our effort can be a crack in the American bastion.  Thank you, Lynne."  Pete Seeger wrote her back and said, "Lynne Stewart should be out of jail."  And he signed the postcard "Old Pete Seeger" accompanied by a drawing of a banjo.  Bishop Desmond Tutu, this was his esprit de corps.  He said, "It is devastating.  Totally unbelievable.  In this democracy, the only superpower?  I am sad.  I will sign praying God's blessing on your reference. Desmond Tutu."  Let's hope Lynne gets out on compassionate release while she's still able to at least be part of her community.  And if you'll go to Law and, we'll put the link where you can sign the petition.  And if you'll grab a pencil, I'll give you the name and address of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons  because a well-aimed letter at him is not going to hurt.  His name is:

Charles E. Samuels Jr.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534

Please send a letter.  Go to Law and -- our website -- sign the petition. We'll be updating you every week on how Lynne is doing.



law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Queen Kevin Drum

Everyone's favorite fancy nancy fat ass, Kevin Drum, gets Idiot of the Week.

He gets it for this crap.

As you should already know, there was a slaughter in Hawija on Tuesday.  Nouri's forces attacked a sit-in, over 50 dead and dozens injured.


And Kevy-poo decided to write about it . . . Not!

Bitch-boi just quoted an article and then wrote about neocons and whined for Barack like the bitch-boi Kevin Drum is.

How old is he anyway?  50?

God, he's so out of touch.

If you're writing about multiple deaths and injuries, and I say this as a Boston resident, you express something other than partisanship.

Deaths and injuries just mean electoral politics in the US to bitches like Kevin Drum.

Why are we surprised, right?

This is the nasty bitch who supported the Iraq War.  The 'brave' bitch boi Kevin Drum has blood on his hands. Can't unring that bell.

He's such a dirty bitch.

And he's also the Idiot of the Week for being unable to see the Iraqi people as something other than a political football.

I don't know anyone that takes him seriously.  He's like GrandPa Blogger.

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, curfews and vehicle bans are imposed, armed clashes between rebels and federal forces break out, the press is s skittish about explaining how this whole situation arrived, Kevin Drum shows his tacky side (again) by using the dead and the wounded of Hawija to try to score cheap political points, and so much more.

Iraq is in crisis mode.  No one's helped by false 'facts.'  This, from World Bulletin, is wrong, "Thousands of Sunnis have been protesting since December, venting frustrations building up since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box."  Protests have been going on since December.  If you leave out Moqtada's followers who have participated from time to time, you can paint it as just Sunni.  But that's not the problem. You can't pin down a problem if you can't be honest.

"The empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box"?  What have you been smoking? Quil Lawrence and all the other liars told us about that, remember?  Told us about it before the ballots were counted.  But, the ballots did get counted.  And the 2010 election didn't support the premise one bit.

Who came in first?  Not Nouri's State of Law -- a Shi'ite collection.  Iraqiya came in first.  It's often wrongly identified as Sunni by the press.  Ayad Allawi, the head of Iraqiya, is Shi'ite.  Iraqiya surprised the know-nothing press by besting Nouri's State of Law.

They misread 2009 elections and were sure they knew what was going to happen in 2010.  Which is how you got, the day after the election, Quil Lawrence on NPR raving about how Nouri's State of Law won by a large measure.  Didn't happen.

In 2009, one of the elements in the data appeared to be that voters were rejecting the sectarian identity.  That wouldn't have been a surprise.  The sectarian identity was seen by many as something imposed on Iraqis by the US after the start of the war.  Even those who want to quibble over that can generally agree that the US fostered that sectarian identity and encouraged it.

The 2010 elections repeated the pattern.  Iraqis were seeking a national identity (as they had prior to the start of the illegal war).  There are numerous reasons for this -- most of which we've repeatedly gone into while the know-nothing press has refused to do their job -- but the point is that Iraqiya won.
SOme in the press want to knock the win by insisting it wasn't big enough.  If you win a track race by a-half-a-second, you won that race.  If you win a US Senate race by one vote, you won that race.

If the vote was close, you might ask for a recount.  Which Nouri did, stomping his feet and whining as is usually the case for the overgrown baby.

But even after the recounts, Iraqiya won.  It was a new Iraq, that's what it presented.  Not an occupied Iraq, not an Iraq controlled by the fundamentalist thugs.  It was an Iraq made up of Sunnis and Shi'ites and anyone else who wanted to join, it was men and women and the women weren't decoration. It's slogan could have been "We are today's Iraq."  And that's what the voters embraced.

So, no, 2010 was not about "the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box."

The votes went with Iraqiya. Here's what happened -- and it matters and the people have said so, they said so this year, they said so in 2012 and they said so in 2011.  At some damn point, you either admit you don't care about what you're writing or you start listening to what the people are actually saying.

Per the Constitution, Iraqiya had first shot at the post of Prime Minister.  How it works in Iraq, confusing to many Americans, the prime minister-designate is decided by who has the most seats in the Parliament.  The prime minister-designate is a post that lasts no longer than 30 days.

During those 30 days, the designate has to be able to form a Cabinet.  Failure to do so within thirty days means someone else is named prime minister-designate by the president of Iraq. This is a full Cabinet -- another element that's too hard for the press to grasp.  If it was a partial or almost Cabinet there wouldn't be a 30 day deadline.  The 30 day deadline is to prove, as one of the writers of the Constitution now in the US explained to me, that you can govern by consensus, you can build consensus.  So you nominate people for your Cabinet and the Parliament approves of these people.  And then you move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  Or, if you fail to build consensus, if Parliament shoots down a nominee and you don't manage to pull together the Cabinet in 30 days, someone else is named prime minister-designate.

Now Barack Obama couldn't support democracy.  That's bad enough but he and his staff were so stupid that they didn't even realize how to rig the process.

Bully Boy Bush wanted Nouri in 2006 (he rejected Ibrahim al-Jaffari -- some pin that decision on Condi Rice, doesn't matter Bush was the ultimate vote on that).  In 2010, A Problem From Hell Samantha Power insisted that the US had to stay with Nouri.  This was based in part on the fact that the idiot is f**ked-up beyond repair and also because she's a liar who believes in manipulation and not honesty.  (Is it any wonder that she'd end up with Cass I-Love-Propaganda Sunstein?) Her failings aren't the issue once Barack adopts her position.  Like Bush, he's ultimately responsible.

I'm not endorsing ignoring the will of the people, but if you're brazen enough to do that, have the damn sense to do it in a way that doesn't make the people feel cheated.

What does that mean?  After 2010 elections, the US government spread a lot of cash around Iraq and made a lot of verbal promises to get The Erbil Agreement.

That was always unnecessary.  They still could have rigged it and could have done so in a way that still followed the country's Constitution.  Have President Jalal Talabani name Ayad Allawi prime minister-designate.  Use the same cash and the same verbal promises to ensure that he didn't get a full Cabinet.  Parliament rejected one or two nominees and the 30 days had expired.  Then Jalal could have named Nouri al-Maliki to be prime minister-designate.

That would have followed the Constitution, it would have appeared to honor the will of the people.  It certainly wouldn't have created the hostilities that Barack's 'three-dimensional chess' did.

They wanted to rig the process and, suffering from the Freudian compulsion of a crook to confess, apparently they wanted it known.

So when Nouri refused to allow the process to move forward -- let's explain that.  In January 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as US President.  Following the end of the recounts, April 2010, it was time for a prime minister-designate to be named, for members of Parliament to be sworn in and hold sessions.  Nouri refused.  It was as if Bully Boy Bush announced January 1, 2009, "I'm not leaving the White House."  And Barack's White House backed up Nouri.

They begged the press -- which was eager to go along -- to downplay what was happening.  Some in the press were appealed to under the pretense of, "This is such a thorny issue, we really need to think about how explosive this could be."  So reality was downplayed.  Explosive?  Maybe it would have been.  But you can't downplay an explosion.  You may be able to push it back but it will go off.

We called it a "political stalemate" here and were the first.  After three months it began to be a popular term.  For over eight months, Nouri refused to step down.  That takes us to November.  The US has been bribing and promising the political blocs all along.  Nouri is the White House's choice.  That's become obvious to everyone involved in Iraq. 

It was also obvious to many in the press leading to humiliating moments for Barack like in  when the Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality."

While he was taking his licks on the international stage, he had US officials telling the leaders of the Iraqi political blocs, as the US brokered a contract known as The Eribl Agreement, "This has lasted eight months already, Nouri could hold out for another eight months.  Do the right thing here, be the bigger person, put Iraq first.  It really doesn't matter who has 'prime minister.' It's going to have to be a power-sharing government because State of Law didn't win.  So just give him the post of prime minister and we'll write up in this contract and we'll put what you want in the contract to and it will be a legally binding contract with the full backing of the US government."

Before it was signed, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Australia November 8, 2010 and stated:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Probably over the course of the last eight months, we've had many indications that they were close to an agreement, they were on the brink of government formation, they had worked out their power-sharing arrangements only not to see that come to fruition. But it is fair to say that we have been consistently urging the Iraqis to have an inclusive government that reflects the interests and needs of the various segments of the population, the there had to be legitimate power-sharing amongst different groups and individuals. And that is what we hope at the end of this process [. . .] will be the result of all of their negotiation.

That same day, Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reported Nouri's spokesperson "claimed an agreement has been struck for him to remain in office."  November 9th talks went on:

Today, meetings continued. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reminds, "Leading up to Monday's meeting, officials had said they were close to completing an agreement, but remarks made by a number of the leaders indicated that they have yet to address key sticking points that remain unresolved ahead of this week's parliament session." And Raheem Salman and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) point out, "If they fail to strike a deal, the stalemate could drag on for months. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports the US is pressuring Kurds to step aside regarding the presidency so that someone from Iraqiya can be president -- Fadel names US Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain (in person in Baghdad) and US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden -- and that Nouri "is trying to garner the backing he needs [from Iraqi politicians] to keep his post without ceding any of his power.  Maliki emerged as the likeliest candidate for the top job in the new government when he secured the support of the Sadrists, a populist Shiite political movement opposed to the U.S. presence here." BBC News reports that Allawi and Tareq al-Hashemi did not show for today's meet up (al-Hashemi is also a member of Iraqiya as well as Iraq's Sunni Vice President) and that "[a]nother issue still to be resolved is whether parliament will meet on Thursday as previously announced." Sammy Ketz (AFP) reports that Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President, Adel Abdel Mehdi, walked out of today's meeting. Alsumaria TV reports that MP Saifya Al Suhail spoke out about the absence of women present in the deal making and that she stated, "A democratic Iraq cannot be built without women contribution to the political decision." Mazin Yahya (AP) adds, "Producing a deal by Thursday's scheduled parliamentary session will be difficult and while legislators have watched other deadlines come and go, there is a marked sense of urgency about meeting this court-appointed deadline to hold the session."  So, reports indicate, day two was actually less productive than day one since all players were not present and no big announcement was made.  When this was originally planned, it was thought it would be three days with main principles participating for the first two days only -- during which time, it was promoted, all the big points would be ironed out.  That does not appear to have happened.  Especially when Alsumaria TV is reporting that Iraqiya stated today "that the possibility of withdrawing is still open".

I believe  Leila Fadel (Washington Post) was the first to report what the rumors said the make up of the government would be: "Under the deal reached Wednesday, the parliament is expected to appoint a speaker from Iraqiya, then name the current Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, as president. He, in turn, will name Maliki as prime minister. Maliki will then have to put together a cabinet that a simple majority in Iraq's parliament will have to approve."  November 11, 2010, Parliament met:
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."  So all is well and good and . . . Ooops!!!! Lando, Dagher and Coker file an update, Iraqiya wasn't happy and walked out of the session.  Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that "a dispute erupted in the Council of Representatives chamber when the mostly Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc argued that the agreement they had signed on to was not being honoured, prompting the bloc's MPs to storm out. [. . .] Specifically, Iraqiya had called for three of their lawmakers, barred for their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party, to be reinstated before voting for a president." 

 Barack was deeply involved.  Don't pretend otherwise now.  And don't pretend that Sunnis are frustrated by "the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box." That is an utter lie.  And it does not one damn thing to explain what's happening on the ground today.  

Now we're going to move a lot quicker and if you need remedial, the links to the archives are to the right, scroll down.  We don't have the time or space to be pulling each day to explain with citations to everyone who forgot, or never paid attention, what happened.

In January of 2011, Nouri's Cabinet was still not complete.  The Erbil Agreement was extra-Constitutional.  It went around the Constitution.  Suddenly, the Constitution was trashed.  It no longer mattered if a Nouri had a full Cabinet or not.  Nouri's whores in the press, there are so many, assured you that this was temporary and that Nouri would soon nominate people to be the Minister of Interior (over the federal police), the Minister of Defense (over the military) and the Minister of National Security.  That never happened.  Ayad Allawi called it a power-grab back then and he was right and the press whores were wrong.

Last July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  That remains true to this day.  Those posts are empty.

In 2011, the people do not believe that the government is working.  By the end of Februrary 2011, there are mass protests.  The Arab Spring or 'Arab Spring' (a media fascination with Cairo that never really translated into support or even interest in protesters in other areas) was sweeping the region and tossing out politicians.  Nouri feared he might lose the post the US government had given him twice now.  Jobs, he'd create them.  Public services, he'd improve them.  Abuse and corruption?  He would address it.  Give him 100 days.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr appears to have matured over the years and today plays it very wisely in public.  That was not true in February 2011 when Nouri begged and pleaded with Moqtada to call off the protests.  Moqtada called on his people to go home and give Nouri 100 days.  Other Iraqis continued protesting.  No surpries -- we said it would happen repeatedly before it did -- 100 days came and went and Nouri didn't do a damn thing.  Nouri makes empty promises -- over and over -- and then doesn't keep them.  Apparently the February 2011 promise in an AFP interview that he wouldn't seek a third term as prime minister is one of those as well.  He had to make that promise then because protests were rolling Iraq.

By the time the 100 days ends, we're in the summer of 2011.  This is when Moqtada, the KRG (that's President Jalal Talabani, KRG President Massoud Barzani and others) and Iraqiya go public demanding that The Erbil Agreement be implemented.  All that happened was Nouri got to be prime minister.  Nouri refused to honor it.  That was obvious when the December 2010 census in Kirkuk was immediately called off by the end of November.  He lied the way he always does.

And Ayad Allawi never got the post he was promised.  This is the promise not just in The Erbil Agreement but that US President Barack Obama told him on the phone he would be getting.  Do you not get why the US image is yet again mud in Iraq?  Iraqis were hoping for a change with the exit of Bush and the arrival of Barack.  They just found another liar and another manipulator.

Let's leap ahead to 2012 when the press decided to whore big time for Nouri.  As the latter half of the year rolled around, Nouri began declaring that the government wasn't working.  Therefore, he stated, it was time to end the power-sharing.  And all the little whores and all their whore friends pretended to discuss this.  But their starting point was that day.

There whores who deliberately and repeatedly lie for Nouri.  It doesn't matter what he wants, he signed a contract agreeing to a power-sharing government.  That's a detail the bulk of the press just never find time to include in their reports.  

These are not minor points.  This is exactly why Iraqis are protesting.  

 And it's not that difficult to understand.  It can also be done a lot quicker.  If I had done it quicker, we'd have 1000 e-mails tomorrow insisting, for example, that Barack wasn't involved.  That's why we've included the excerpts from real time. 

We do need to again note John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

Yeah, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor wrote a whole book about how Iraq ended up where it is.  And what was the response to that?  As Ava and I pointed out last year in "TV: Media continued fail:"

Equally curious is who you don't see.  Gwen Ifill doesn't know a damn thing about foreign policy so asking her to moderate the segment was laughable.  Equally laughable was not going with a NewsHour foreign policy guest for the segment. In fact, we're thinking of one in particular: Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times. Gordon's appeared multiple times on The NewsHour.  Strangely, he wasn't booked for the segment on foreign policy last week. Why would that be? If you're wondering, he's not suddenly press shy.  To the contrary, he has a new book to sell, one he co-wrote with Bernard E. Trainor, The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. The book came out Tuesday. Generally, that means you can expect to see and hear Gordon all over PBS and NPR. Strangely, that has not been the case.  No NPR coverage last week of the book.  No come on The NewsHour for a discussion.  Frontline loved to have him on in the past but now now.  Charlie Rose?  He has appeared 12 times in the last ten years on Rose's PBS and Coca Cola program.  But he was no where to be found last week. Did Gordon show up at the PBS office party loaded on booze with little Gordon hanging out of his fly? No, he did something far worse than that. He dared to criticize Barack -- the ultimate media faux pas.

I'm not a Michael Gordon groupie.  Most of the time when his name pops up here -- check the archives -- I'm calling him out.  He co-wrote an important book worth noting (The Endgame) but it was too uncomfortable for NPR and PBS.  Now they were fine -- and probably still are -- booking him to promote war on Iran.  But telling some truth about Iraq?  They didn't want to know him. Before that book, you couldn't escape him on NPR and PBS -- and I groaned through every one of those appearances.  But when he finally had something to say that really mattered?  Public television and public radio suddenly lost his number.

It's not unlike, for example, if you lie to try to start a war in Syria, getting a promotion at NPR -- but that's a tale Ava and I'll share on Sunday at Third.  Reporters whore not out of the love of whoring but because they make money by whoring.

You need to grasp that because a pattern emerges.  It's not by accident that the western media keeps getting the story wrong and keeps failing to inform.  At all levels, over and over, we see a refusal to honestly discuss or report on Iraq. 

I don't care for Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) but a friend at his paper called and pointed out "gunmen" or "assailants" wasn't used in Colin's latest.  He called the people who 'seized' their own town "Sunni guerrillas."  Yes, that is an improvement.  So we'll link and we'll even note his first paragraph:

With civil war now raging in Syria, and post-Arab Spring governments taking their first unsteady steps in Egypt and Libya, it’s all too easy to forget the unfinished business that is Iraq. The tenth anniversary of the operation to unseat Saddam Hussein went barely noticed in the West last month, where neither the pro-war or anti-war camps seem particularly keen on to dwell on it. For some, it's a fiasco best forgotten altogether, while for others, it's time to move on now that the basics have been achieved: a dictator toppled, American and British troops withdrawn, and the trappings of a democratic government in place, even if it still suffers from corruption and authoritarianism.

Now, wait a second, you say, there were all those pieces.  No.  As we noted in real time those pieces weren't about Iraq.  They had nothing to do with the suffering children, with the poverty, with the ongoing protests.  They were "I paid attention in 2003 so let me pretend like these old observations are fresh and new."  It was about their grudge f**k against Bully Boy Bush passed off as Iraq commentary.  If you ever doubted it, check out the over-praised Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.  Drum links to the Los Angeles Times on the slaughter or Hawija Tuesday and then, after a lengthy excerpt, this is what Drum actually writes:

This is all Obama's fault, amiright? George Bush—currently enjoying a sudden resurgence of love from conservatives this week—was right on the verge of working everything out and bringing peace and harmony to Iraq when Obama was elected and ruined everything. That's the story I've been hearing for the past couple of years from the neocon rump, anyway.

You stupid piece of s**t.  I hope that's clear enough for Kevin Drum. Over 50 protesters died.  And what you have to offer is partisan bulls**t?  You should be ashamed to show your face in public. 
Alsumaria noted yesterday that Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) has announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  50 people are dead, 110 are injured and you don't say one damn word about them?  You are disgusting and inhumane.

Oh, I forget, Kevin Drum supported the illegal war.  Today he's at Mother Jones and whines about neocons.  But in 2003, Kevin Drum was a War Cheerleader.  He didn't give a damn about Iraqis then and he doesn't now.  So, yes, Colin Freeman's right about the lack of explorations on Iraq last month.

Kristin Deasy (Global Post) should slice of a piece of the shame pie before Drum finishes it all.  Her nonsense is mismash of half-facts and a lousy timeline.  This gets to what we were talking about this morning.  The press re-sets the clock for Nouri.  Doesn't matter that the alarm went off, for example, with the slaughter of Hawija -- the Nouri al-Maliki ordered slaughter, he commands those forces and he sent them there.  Doesn't matter that he spent last week verbally attacking the protesters in speeches around Iraq (until he was greeted with cries of "Liar! Liar!" and forced to retreat to Baghdad).  She has the nerve to say that Nouri's calling for peace (the headline, in fact screams it).  So after he set fire to the village, he hollered "Someone call 9-11?"  Is that it, Kristin?

This is what the bulk of the press does repeatedly with Nouri.  They strip away the background for whatever happens in Iraq so he is never responsible.  That's why the fact that violence has increased since 2011 isn't ever connected by the press to Iraq not having a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior or a Minister of National Security.  These are posts that Nouri is supposed to nominate people for.   He has refused to do so in order to have control over those posts and the federal police and the military. (Why?  Because his paranoia always sees a coup.)  Over 400 dead last month, it may reach 500 this month.  Violent deaths.  World Bulletin reports 92 deaths on Tuesday and Wednesday. And these positions aren't filled so Nouri's in charge of them.  At what point is he held accountable by the press for that?  Apparently never.  This was on display today at the US State Dept press briefing.  With all the violence rolling Iraq right now, you'll be happy to know Iraq came up.  At the very end.  With a question about oil.  That's where the press is at, never forget it.

The western press.  If you go to Lebanon, for example, you'll find the editorial board of The Daily Star hasn't been cowed:

Maliki’s government has done little to resolve long-standing disputes over the relationship of the Kurdish areas of the country to the central government in Baghdad; the Iraqi authorities also have a long-festering relationship with the Sunni political community. A vice president from that community, Tareq Hashemi, was officially charged in late 2011 with involvement in terror attacks, and was obliged to flee to Kurdistan, which highlights the dismal state of national affairs.
But the horrific violence that has erupted over the past few days in several Iraqi cities should serve as a reminder that the Arab world isn’t the same place as it was at the beginning of 2011. The sectarian and other fault lines were there before, but when Iraqi government forces respond to public protests by using bullets and helicopters, they have acted in the same, inflexible and violent way that has been used by authoritarian Arab regimes.

Alsumaria adds that former Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi declared today that the government has failed with regards to politics, security and public service and that the people are hostages of revenge and violence stemming from this failure. He decried the assault on the protesters in Hawija and said the country is in grave danger.  Adel Abdul-Mahdi was vice president for two terms.  He resigned, summer 2011, in the middle of his second term. The Shi'ite politician announced his disgust with Nouri's failure to keep his 100 day promise to end corruption and gave that as his reason for resigning.

Thank goodness for the Middle East press which shows more bravery and truth than the alleged free press of western society.  It is because of this kind of push back, especially in Arabic media, that Nouri's had to back down.  As Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports today, Nouri's had to drop his attacks on the dead in Hawija and stop calling them "terrorists." 

Hou Qiang (Xinhua) 'reports,' "The Iraqi cabinet decided Tuesday to hold the provincial elections in the Sunni provinces of Anbar and Nineveh on July 4, after they were delayed for security reasons, state-run television reported Tuesday."  Did they?  Reporting would require noting that it's the responsibility of the IHEC to set the dates.  Reporting would require so much more than Xinhua -- or other outlets -- have offered.  The United Nations issued a statement today which includes:

24 April 2013 – The top United Nations official in Iraq today expressed his disappointment at the Government’s decision to postpone until early July Governorate Council elections in two western provinces, reportedly due to security concerns.
Polls in Anbar and Ninewa, set to have taken place along with other provincial elections on 20 April, were pushed back until 4 July.

The Economist notes today:

In the provinces of al-Anbar and Nineveh, where Sunnis predominate and where anti-government protests have raged since December, the postponement of voting may help keep unpopular local politicians allied with Mr Maliki in power. But the government in Baghdad has become increasingly cut off from Iraq's restless provinces, literally as well as politically. Army roadblocks on the road from Fallujah, west of the capital, routinely prevent its residents from leaving their city.

The slaughter in Hawija continues to dominate events in Iraq.  NINA quotes Iraqiya MP Falah al-Naqib stating, "Since Iraq is still under Chapter VII that means the UN should play a bigger role, especially after what happened in Hawija."  All Iraq News reports Kurdish MP Latif Mustafa held a press conference today and declared, "The recent events in Hawija approved that the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, represents a danger on Iraq."  He outlined Hawija events, "What happened in Hawija exceed the red limits of the government where Maliki announced the emergency condition and this a constitutional breach and the second breach is deploying the army inside the cities without the approval of the parliament.  The third breach is using the army for attacking the citizens since the demonstrations represent an internal issue and the police can deal with them."  Don't hold your breath waiting for AFP or Jane Arraf to ever note those basics.  Things like the law, they don't interest AFP and Arraf and make it harder to spin for Nouri.   MP Mustafa summed up, "Maliki became a danger on Iraq and we should investigate him at the parliament."

RT speaks with Westchester University Professor Lawrence Davidson who pins the violence on the the illegal war ["Since 2003, thousands, tens of thousands people have died as a part of this sectarian violence. We (US) opened Pandora’s box and we could not close it even when we were there."] and  he notes, "Maliki government's reputation has already hit bottom.  What we got is a government that is determined to maintain its position and crush opposition, particularly Sunni politicians."

The BRussells Tribunal carries this statement of solidarity with the people of Hawija and the rebels:

The government of Iraq, installed under occupation and maintained after the US retreat, has committed a new massacre against peaceful protesters in the town of Hawija. The forces used and the way it was achieved reminds us of the Fallujah massacre at the beginning of the occupation.
Although towns in six departments are protesting in the same way, the government chose to attack this town, to make it an example for other larger cities. They attack it because the peaceful protests are a success.
At dawn, protesters in Hawija were encircled by forces in great number, ground and air, their tents burnt while they were unarmed inside. Those who tried to escape were fired at or crushed by military vehicles. There is news that even the wounded are being killed. A wave of solidarity is mounting in reaction while armed resistance movements, in support of the peaceful protests until now, are moving to block a government escalation of violence. 
The reasons of the protest are well known: 10 years of targeted discrimination and oppression of every kind. Their peaceful protest has been ongoing since four months without an answer to their human rights demands. The government chose the second day after local elections to punish in cold blood the protesters, announcing it will continue its policies whatever the result of the election would be.
This massacre is not only a crime against humanity; it is genocide. It is neither a civil conflict nor a sectarian one. It is a crime of a government against a national group, the Sunnis, who would vote against its politicsand who demand to stop hangings, campaigns of mass arrests, systematic torture, unfair justice and false accusations, to stop the discrimination in jobs, in education, in services, making their regions and cities large prisons encircled by military checkpoints and towering walls.
We are in solidarity with the peaceful protesters and their just demands. We call on all governments and human rights organisations to condemn this massacre and to unite efforts to bring Nouri Al-Maliki and all those responsible before international justice, not only to punish individually, but to stop the state terrorism and to prevent a larger violence — like that used in Syria — that would endanger peace in the whole region and entail very heavy civilian losses.
We join calls for the end of the fascist Maliki regime; the immediate departure of the head of the army command, the minister of interior, Maliki, his government, and the fascist ruling party. The international community, the UN and relevant bodies, should endorse the same end.
We express our support for the Iraqi people struggling against state terror and salute the solidarity of Iraqis with Hawija.
Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Hana Al Bayaty
Ian Douglas
Abdul Ilah Albayaty is an Iraqi political analyst. Hana Al Bayaty is an author and political activist. IanDouglas is a specialist in the geopolitics of the Arab region and has taught at universities in the US, UK, Egypt and Palestine.

 On violence, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 444 people dead from violence so far this month.  NINA notes that overnight in Mosul, armed clashes left 2 police officers and 1 military officer dead (and six more police injured) and ten people were killed in Mosul,  while today a Falluja home invasion left 2 Sahwa leaders dead, a Falluja drive-by left three of Nouri's federal forces injured, an Abid-Weis (north of Hilla) roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police and left two more injured, a sniper injured a police officer in Falluja, a Najaf bombing claimed 1 life and left twenty-five people injured, rebels stormed a Mosul military checkpoint and took weapons and military vehicles, rebels and the military clashed in Diayala Province, rebels and federal forces clashed in Falluja, rebels and federal forces clashed in Samarra and Dour, and  2 federal forces and 2 rebels were killed in another Samarra clash (with four forces left injured).

And the response to the above?  Ramdia and Falluja have a vehicle ban, there are curfews (Salahuddin and Diyala) and none of that's going to do a damn bit of good.

Calls for talks aren't either. There's is an incredible failure to understand the Iraqi people.  This is not occupied Palestine where, for decades, generations have grown up under an occupation.  This the Iraqi people who took the attitude of wait-out the occupiers (US forces).  They're not waiting now.  More than that, there's been a bodily reaction.  They're primed to fight now.  The fear-or-flight response has been engaged for days now.  Simple talk isn't going to change a damn thing.  In their chests is tightness, a strong physical reaction.  It can come out in violence, at it has so far.  It can come out in sobs.  What took place in Hawija shouldn't take place anywhere.  And the lies that get told do not help. This morning federal forces were claiming they had released all the protesters they rounded up that day in Hawija -- all 42.  Oops, they had some more. Okay, now they've released all 93.  These lies only add to the tension.  The failure of the world leaders, of all of them, to condemn what happened cannot be minimized.  One leader speaking up.  That's all it would have taken.  And those grieving would have felt recognized.  Instead, the world's told them they're on their own.  They're grieving, they're angry and they were wronged.  This is explosive and Nouri's going to have to make real concessions.  The world press should be preparing him for that or preparing for a blood bath.  It is as though a body memory is being created.  Nonsense about 'both sides were wrong . . .'  No.  One side had tanks and fired from helicopters.  The other side was engaged in a sit-in.  That's obvious to the Iraqis who are outraged now and the failure of so many outsiders to grasp that only increases the outrage.

In related news, Iraqi Spring MC reports that defections from the military are taking place in Hawija.  After the events, that's hardly a surprise and that's before you factor in what happened in Basra in 2008 when Nouri sent his forces there to attack.

 Last year, Iraq made it into the top five for executions as a result of at least 129 executions in 2012.  (The US was shamefully in the top five as well.)  Today Human Rights Watch issued a statement on the death penalty which includes:

 (Baghdad) – A striking increase in executions in Iraq points out the failure of Iraq’s justice system to meet international fair trial standards. The surge in judicial killings came shortly after the government conceded that justice system reforms are desperately needed.

 Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has announced a series of reforms since January 2013, in response to widespread protests in which demonstrators demanded reforms to the ailing justice system, but it is unclear whether any of the promises have been carried out. Instead of any action on these reforms, Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari announced in mid-March that the ministry would execute 150 people in the coming days. At least 50 people have been executed in the last month.
“The government seems to think that the best way to combat the increase in violence and terror that Iraq has suffered since the beginning of the year is with yet more state killing and injustice,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The concurrent escalation in attacks and in executions makes clear that its brutal tactics are not working.”


the telegraph of london
richard spencer