Saturday, March 08, 2014

Music videos

That's Gossip's "Move In The Right Direction."  We noted that video at Third back in June of 2012.

It's a great video and a great song and I think Gossip's a great indie band.

But C.I. texted me about an idea for a feature at Third and asked if I'd noticed the number on Gossip's video?


No, I had not noticed that.

I do love the song but I hadn't thought about it much except to think it should have been a much bigger hit.  It made it to number 17 on the dance charts but that was its only chart in this country.

But bigger hit?

13 million streams?

That's a huge hit.

And it's a great video.

In 2010, Devendra Banhart released one of my favorite songs "Foolin'."

But the video runied it.

To be clear, the S&M didn't bother me.  He walks into his boyfriend's house and he's strung by his arm and his naked butt gets slashed with a whip.

I would have a problem if it was a woman but two men who appear willing?  It's not going to bother me.

But then the boyfriend cuts off Devendra's finger.that's bad enough.  However, then a woman uses the finger part still on the hand, the blood from it, to make herself some lipstick for her mouth.

That whole finger thing is just too gross for me.

If you've never seen the video, it's here. The song is great and what I do these days is open another tab and write in that while the tab I can't see plays the video.

And on videos I love, this will always be my favorite Amy Winehouse one, she's singing "Valerie" live.

My all time favorite video is here.  I can remember that on MTV when I was a little kid -- and when they played music videos.

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

Friday, March 7, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, he arrests a flunky for an offense that would warrant firing -- at the most -- anywhere else, the whistle gets blown on the so-called Center for American Progress, and much more.

We've long called out the 'Center' for American Progress and the Podesta boys.  For example, let's drop back  to the March 28, 2007 snapshot:

Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the  2004 election.  Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney.  All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . .  The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed."  John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress."  

Yesterday, Ziad Jilani blew the whistle on his former employers at the 'Center' noting:

Flash forward a couple years, and the Democratic Party’s lawmakers in Congress were in open revolt over the Afghanistan policy. Our writing at ThinkProgress had opened up a lot on the issue, and I was writing really critical stuff. I worked with our art and design team at CAP to put together a chart showing that Obama’s supposed “withdrawal” plan from Afghanistan would leave more troops in the country than when he began his presidency.
The post was one of the most successful things I had ever written to that point. It was featured by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and the Congressional Progressive Caucus used it in their briefings to criticize Obama’s plan. I felt great — like I was actually doing the right thing about Afghanistan for once at an institution that had remained quiet or supportive of Obama’s policy there, which in my view was accomplishing little but more bloodshed.
But then phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes — speaking of a staffer who follows policy set by others for his career path — even made a post on the White House blog more or less attacking my chart by fudging the numbers and including both the Iraq and Afghan troop levels in a single chart to make it seem as if the surge never happened (the marvels of things you can do in Excel!). 

Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama. It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war — in our “Progressive Party,” the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.

CAP was begging for money -- as it always does -- and claiming they were trying "to end the war in Afghanistan" but all the little whores were doing is screaming at writers to stop blogging about the Afghanistan War because it was too much for little Barack and his pretty little feelings.

You get how it really operates on the faux left.  Any asshole who didn't mention that Barack sent troops back into Iraq in fall 2012 should now be suspect to you.  They don't offer the truth, they merely repeat what the White House wants them to.  Here, we noted Tim Arango's September 25, 2012 report (in print 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.

Where were the whores of Panhandle Media?

Those little bitches who pretend to care, really, really care, about informing you and insist that you give them your hard earned money so they can continue to not report, so they can continue to gas bag while doing the bidding of the White House?

It doesn't matter that it's a Democratic White House.

A kiss ass is just a kiss ass -- regardless of political party or identification.

Yes, US corporate media walked from Iraq.

That didn't mean Panhandle got an excuse to do nothing.  Listen to biggest whore of all Amy Goodman self-proclaiming her greatness of  going 'where the silences are.'  Not on Iraq.

No, the dirty little whore had nothing for Iraq.  Nouri attacked protesters.  A week before he did, Goody Whore talked 'about' Iraq with a guest and neither was interested in the protesters.  This week, she briefly discussed Iraq.  But she wanted to focus not on the tragedy that is Anbar right now but what happened there in 2004 and as soon as Dahr Jamail said the words "Barack Obama," the Goody Whore was pissing herself as she rushed to wrap up her bad segment.

This is what the whores have done and this is why you do not let Medea Benjmain get away with her whorish remarks that the peace movement just walked out on leaders like her.  No, it was Medea and the others who walked away from Iraq.

And it may just be a topic to them, but to many of us, it's a humanitarian crisis -- ongoing -- created by the US government via an illegal war, continued by Barack Obama who refused to back the Iraqi voters when they went to the poll in March 2010 and voted Nouri out.

Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal who started an illegal war.

Also true, when he ceased his occupation of the White House in January 2009, Iraq was in a much better place than it is currently.

Violence was lower, more women served in Nouri's Cabinet, there was an increase in hope via elections on the part of the Iraqi people, the judiciary was receiving assistance and training, the mass exodus of Iraqis from their country appeared to have slowed,  Iraq had two Vice Presidents in the country -- one who spoke out strongly on the human rights abuses, the other who made his key issue the issue of corruption.  Jalal Talabani was President.


Start with violence.  It increased and increased until now when it's back to 2007 levels.  Nouri named a second cabinet which originally included no women and then found a token -- a woman who said women shouldn't have any rights in Iraq, that's the woman Nouri decided should be in charge of the Ministry of Women's Affairs.  (The insufferable Hoshyar Zarbani was holding this position before Nouri could find a gender-traitor.)  The Judiciary in Baghdad is a joke, all the western governments look at it in shock.  Though the fleeing has yet to reach 2006 levels it has been increasing and increasing -- though only BBC World Services has felt the need to report on this in the last 12 months.  Hope in the elections?  When the Iraqi people voted Iraqiya over Nouri's State of Law and saw the US insist that Nouri won anyway, they saw how little votes could actually matter.

The Vice Presidents?  In 2010, they had three vice presidents -- one more than before.   In 2011, the one who'd focused on calling out corruption stepped down, resigned because Nouri failed to keep his Give-Me-100-Days-And-I-Will-End-The-Corruption promise.  That was spring of 2011.  A the end of 2011, the one who spoke out against human rights abuses, went to the KRG a day before Nouri issued an arrest warrant for him.  He remains Vice President but now spends his time in surrounding countries because Nouri's kangaroo courts have sentenced him to the death penalty -- multiple times.

And President Jalal Talabani?

The punchline to every joke in Iraq.

December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany. 

When did Jalal return?

February 2013?


Not even by February 2014.

Jalal remains in Germany, he's never returned.

Yesterday, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reported

As the countdown begins for Iraq’s parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on April 30, one of the questions on everyone’s lips is about what will be done to address the failure to appoint an acting president following Jalal Talabani’s stroke at the end of December 2012.
Although the presidency in Iraq is largely ceremonial and divorced from day-to-day government, the president is considered the guardian of the constitution and has exclusive jurisdiction following the vote of 2005. The consensus-based nature of governance in Iraq also renders the role of the president indispensable as a mediator in a system of overlapping powers and authorities, in a country where offices of state are divided among ethnicities and sects.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, prominent Kurdish leader Fuad Masum, head of the Kurdistan Alliance in the Iraqi Parliament and one of the founders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) along with Jalal Talabani in 1975, said Talabani’s absence from the scene left the Iraqi political system unbalanced.

“Despite the fact that, according to the constitution, the vice-president is supposed to replace the president in his absence—and this is what is happening now—from a practical point of view there is a breach of the principle of consensus,” he said. “Talabani has not filled his position for more than a year and there have been no Sunni vice-presidents [since] Tareq Al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia. There is now one vice-president, Khodair Al-Khozaei, who belongs to the Islamic Da’wa Party led by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, but from a practical standpoint the position belongs to the Kurds.”

Regarding Talabani’s health, Masum said: “What we know, whether we are leaders in the PUK or the Kurdish or Iraqi street, is what is relayed by those close to him. They are receiving information from his family and his personal physician, the Governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Najmiddin Kari . . . We receive assurances about his health even though his stay in Germany has been a long one. His treatment is proceeding slowly and requires time.”

The PUK isn't very smart.  That's why Goran was able to seize second place (behind the KDP) in last fall's KRG provincial elections.  First off, Tareq is not an ex-Vice President.  Parliament can remove him from office.  No one else can.  Parliament has refused to remove him from office.  That means he's still Vice President (and any convictions were inappropriate because he has legal immunity).  Second, if I was the PUK and I had stomped my feet and insisted that  Jalal hold onto his job for over a year despite not peforming it?

I think I'd down play things too.

But the reality is, Iraq's in a very dangerous spot right now, worse than it's been since the initial invasion.

Try to imagine 2010 without Jalal.

Nouri lost.  He demanded a recount.  He still lost.  He refused to vacate the post.  He brought the government to a standstill (with the help of the White House) and this continued for 8 months.

Without Jalal, what would have happened?

For those who've forgotten, in the summer of 2010, in the midst of Nouri's tantrum, Tareq refused to do nothing and went on a diplomatic tour of the neighboring countries leading to outrage from Nouri and his followers who insisted Tareq was not a vice president, that the country had no vice president.  Now they didn't say that about prime minister but they did say it about the vice presidents.  And it took Jalal speaking up to shut them up.

If Nouri loses this upcoming election and there's no Jalal, what the hell happens?

Jalal was the only thing that held Nouri in semi-check.

What the PUK can't admit, the KDP can.  Judit Neurink (Rudaw) quotes Fuad Hussein (KRG President Massoud Barzani's Cheif of Staff) declaring, "Iraq, maybe, has the last chance to build a democracy.

This is failure and it has happened since Bully Boy Bush finally left the White House.  It can't be pinned on him.  Some War Hawks -- Republicans and some Dems in Congress, for example -- would like to pin it on Barack's refusal to keep a large number of US troops in Iraq.


The above has nothing to do with that.

It does have to do with Nouri getting a second term he didn't win.  It does have to do with Barack having US officials broker The Erbil Agreement -- the contract that gave Nouri a second term if Nouri agreed to concessions and power-sharing.

And he did.  For 24 hours.  He signed the contract along with the other leaders of the political blocs.  And he used it to be named prime minister-designate.  He then announced that he would implement the contract but couldn't right away.

His second term is coming to an end in less than two months and he's still not implemented it.

This has created the political crisis which led to the protests which morphed into a human rights crisis as well as a security crisis.

None of that has to do with US troops on the ground.

It does have to do with the White House -- with Barack -- screwing up everything so that things are now worse in Iraq than when he was first sworn in as US President.

That's not even getting the assaults on the Ashraf community under Barack or the asaults on the LGBTs under Barack.

Instead of putting the needs of the Iraqi people front and center, the faux left whored for Barack and never gave a damn about the people around the world -- certainly not the ones in Iraq.

Yesterday, the US State Dept issued a travel warning on Iraq which included:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq. Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated September 5, 2013, to update information on security incidents and to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Iraq, including kidnapping and terrorist violence.  The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.

U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence.  Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs; mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets; and shootings using various direct fire weapons.  These and other attacks frequently occur in public gathering places, such as cafes, markets and other public venues.  Numerous insurgent groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persist in many areas of the country at levels unseen since 2007.  Iraqi forces are conducting military operations in Anbar Province and elsewhere against insurgent and terrorist organizations.  Baghdad International Airport has been struck by mortar rounds and rockets.  Due to the potential of political protests and demonstrations to become violent, U.S. citizens in Iraq are strongly urged to avoid protests and large gatherings.
The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines.  All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy.  State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.  Detailed security information is available at the U.S. Embassy website.

It does continue but it leaves out the most important part for anyone considering traveling to Iraq:  Your plane may not land there.

The world learned that yesterday.  From Thursday's snapshot:

On top of all that, he [Nouri] can't explain why a flight didn't land in Baghdad.  What an idiot.  The basics, as explained by Kitabat, a plane took off in Lebanon headed for Baghdad.  Twenty minutes after take off, the decision was made by someone in Baghdad that the plane would not be allowed to land.  This was then conveyed to Beirut and the plane with the plane then turning around and heading back to Beirut.  Why?  Ghassan Hamid (Alsumaria), citing Nouri's spokesperson, reveals Nouri is claiming no one knows who gave the order.
Nouri's government has created an international incident -- demonstrating yet again what a joke his leadership is.  Dana Khraiche (Daily Star) reports:

MEA’s Public Relations Officer Rima Makkawi said the carrier was investigating why the plane was forced to return to Beirut, saying the earlier statement quoted rumors “and not the company’s reasoning.”
“We want to investigate what happened,” Makkawi told The Daily Star.

Right now, the best guess on what happened?  The plane waited six minutes after scheduled departure for Mahdi al-Amiri and a friend to be found and board.  They didn't.  The plane took off.  al-Amari's father threw a hissy fit -- yet another reason Nouri shouldn't appoint his friends and lackeys to positions of powe.  See Mahdi al-Amiri's father is Hadi al-Amiri is the Transportation Minister.  His son didn't make the flight.  The easiest explanation is that his father refused to allow it to land so it would turn around, go back to Beruit, where it would pick up little prince Mahdi.
Leave out the motive and who gave the order and this is what Oliver Holmes and Jamal Said (Reuters) report happened, "A passenger plane flying from Lebanon to Iraq on Thursday turned back after the Iraqi transport minister's son missed the flight and phoned Baghdad to stop the aircraft from landing, Middle East Airlines (MEA) said."  It also fits with the original statement issued by Middle East Airlines -- one they only retracted when Nouri began blustering and declaring he was going to launch an investigation immediately.  And it's certainly more believable than the statement made by Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Kareem al-Nuri who denied that was even supposed to be on the plane and that the reason for the refusal was that they "were cleaning operations in the airport and specific measures were taken.  We asked all flights not to land in Baghdad airport after 9 am (0600 GMT) but this flight arrived after this time, so we asked it to turn back."

CNN reports on the incident and notes it's become a Twitter topic with CitizenDeCat Tweeting, "You might consider getting . . . to the gate on time, Mahdi al-Amiri."  And that was a smart move by CNN, to note the Tweeter reaction.  Let's copy their move and notice how it's all over the world:

  1. Leia atentamente: Avião quase no destino volta atrás para buscar filho de ministro Por Redação Mahdi al-Amiri,...
  2. Ulah arogan seorang anak menteri diperlihatkan oleh Mahdi al-Amiri, yang merupakan putra dari seorang menteri...
  3. Iraqi Transport Ministers son al-Amiri misses his plane then phones ahead to have it denied landing, another Uday another dollar!
  4. You might consider getting your arse to the gate on time, Mahdi al-Amiri.
  5. Mahdi al Amiri fils du ministr d transport a fait revenir un avion qui étai parti dep8 21min parce kil étai en retard

Isn't that something.  The corruption is noted everywhere.

You know what else is something?  Nouri's 'answer.'

AFP quotes Nouri's spokesperson Ali Mussawi declaring, "[Deputy Airport Head Samer] Kubba was arrested . . . because his action was wrong and harmful to the prestige of the Iraqi state."

How stupid is Nouri that he thinks the world is that stupid?

Does anyone in their right mind honestly believe that the deputy head of an airport gives a damn if some little spoiled prince misses a plane?


The only reason he cares is because people above him -- including the little prince's daddy -- want the plane to turn around.

As usual, Nouri al-Maliki has demonstrated how corrupt he is and how there is no justice in Iraq.

First of all, guilt in this should result in dismissal, not an arrest.

Second, it makes no sense on the face of it.  Everyone knows this was about the Minister of Transportation protecting his little baby boy.

And it's outrageous and it stinks and it should be tied around Nouri's neck as yet another example of how he and his cronies live high on the hog and abuse their positions while the Iraqi people suffer.

Targeting some low level flunky for the actions of one of Nouri's friends is corrupt beyond belief.

Samer Kubba should be immediately released and he should receive an apology from both Nouri and the little spoiled prince's daddy.

It's an international incident.  Anything Kubba did or didn't do resulted from orders issued by people up the chain above Kubba.

All Iraq News notes,  "Dozens of citizens demonstrate in Baghdad and several other provinces on Friday calling to cancel the privileges to the key officials by the Pension Law."

From Iraq's relations with Lebanon, let's move to Jordan.  Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports:

The United States recently sent a small number of special forces soldiers to Jordan to train with counterparts from Iraq and Jordan, a new step in the Obama administration's effort to help Baghdad stamp out a resurgent al Qaeda threat, a U.S. defence official said on Friday.

This is step one.  Is America ready for step two?  Probably not because there have been no honest discussions about step one.

The assault on Anbar Province continues.  UNHCR issued the following today:

GENEVA, March 7 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday said the continuing fighting in western Iraq's Anbar province has forced thousands more people to move to safety. Those affected are in various locations across the province, moving westwards from previously safe locations.
"During the last week the number of displaced people in the town of Heet and surrounding areas which lies to the northwest of [the city of] Ramadi has increased by some 25,000-30,000 people," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.
Elsewhere in Anbar, an inter-agency mission this week by UNHCR, the World Food Programme and the UN Children's Fund assessed the living conditions and the needs of displaced people living in Al-Obaidy, some 450 kilometres northwest of Baghdad in the Al Qaim area.
Due to the poor security situation, the mission was forced to postpone part of their assessment. Al Qaim district hosts some 5,000 Syrian refugees, some 2,000 of them are in camp Al Obaidy while others are in host communities. The team met with people displaced to temporary houses and two collective shelters in Al-Obaidy town.
The team members identified many with specific needs, particularly female-headed households with large numbers of children. In one home, three female-headed families were cramped together in one small house with 13 children.
While the local communities have generously assisted the displaced, people are still in need of food and health care. Families living in unfinished houses lack blankets, mattresses, cooking facilities and clothing. As an immediate step, UNHCR is distributing aid packs to 300 families the team visited.
"The humanitarian needs of the displaced are growing rapidly. Prolonged displacement is putting pressure on both the displaced and host communities as they begin to exhaust their resources," Edwards said.
UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are receiving an increasing number of requests for humanitarian assistance and support. UNHCR and partners are continuing to conduct assessments of the humanitarian needs. At present the shortage of shelter remains one of the most pressing issues.
Close to Baghdad, the city of Fallujah remains under siege, the roads remain closed and there are reports of shortages of fuel, food and other basic items. Armed clashes have been reported in the north, south and east of Fallujah, even during a 72-hour ceasefire initiated by the government of Iraq last week.
The situation in Ramadi is also volatile. Shelling and clashes have continued in recent days in the city and in rural neighbourhoods. As the situation deteriorates in the Al-Malab, Al-Bothaib and 20th Street areas, small groups of residents have fled and headed to Heet. The local council in Heet is still welcoming those fleeing, despite the significant burden on the local infrastructure, lack of sufficient accommodation and overstretched services. The district already accommodates some 11,250 displaced families.
To the north-east of Anbar, the first UN humanitarian assistance has in the past few days reached some 200 displaced families living in dire conditions in Sulayman Beg, Salah Al-Din governorate. They fled clashes last week in the north-east of the governorate.
As of Thursday, the number of people displaced in Anbar and the other governorates of Iraq is approximately 380,000. This represents almost 64,000 families, some 42,000 of whom have been displaced in Anbar, the largest governorate in Iraq.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement and the UN launched a strategic response plan to address the immediate humanitarian needs of people affected by the fighting in Anbar. The plan calls for US$103.7 million to cover the provision of assistance to 240,000 internally displaced people as well as host communities and those stranded in conflict-affected areas.
UNHCR requires US$26.3 million to address humanitarian needs of people displaced by the crisis in Anbar over the next six months. These needs are 11 per cent funded.

Nouri risks the lives of innocent civilians as he pursues collective punishment.  Collective punishment is legally defined as a War Crime.  The United States government recognizes that definition.  And yet the White House continues to arm the tyrant Nouri al-Maliki who then uses the weapons to attack the Iraqi people.

Through yesterday, violence has killed 228 people in Iraq this month according to Iraq Body Count.  Today?


National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 Khirbet Aziz Village roadside bombings left two Iraqi soldiers injured, an eastern Mosul roadside bombing left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three more injured,  a suicide car bomber in Ramadi took his own life and the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers with four more left injured, a Baquba roadside bombing left three people injured,  a Tahrir roadside bombing left 1 person dead and two more injured, an al-Musayyib roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, a second Ramadi suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 7 police members, and, dropping back to late last night, a Musayyib home bombing left five family members injured.


National Iraqi News Agency reports an Alakhsaf battle left 6 rebels deadJoint Special Operations Command announced they killed 10 suspects in Falluja,  Abdul Rahman al-Izzi and his brother Lt Gen Mahmoud al-Izzi were shot dead in al-Yarkon Village,  and, dropping back to late last night,  1 government official was shot dead in Khanaqin last night and a government employee left injured.


All Iraq News notes 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Nasiriyah.

Back to the US, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "STRIKES AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE PROTEST FIRINGS AND DEPORTATIONS" (Working, In These Times):


For the last six months, community and labor activists-mostly young- have sat down in front of buses carrying people to detention centers for deportation. In Tucson, they obstructed and chained themselves to ICE vans. In San Francisco, a few days after blocking a bus carrying deportees to detention, "Dreamer" Ju Hong-a young immigrant whose deportation was deferred in the White House's executive action two years ago-challenged President Obama during a local speech. "You have the power to stop deportation," the protester told him.

In response to these actions and others like them, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have passed resolutions demanding a moratorium on deportations;  San Francisco is imposing a halt in immigration-related firings as well.

And the pressure is only intensifying. Last week, unions and community organizations closed down an intersection in front of a Silicon Valley supermarket chain where hundreds were fired after an inspection by ICE of company personnel records (an I-9 audit), intended to identify undocumented workers for termination. The next day, immigrant recycling workers in one San Leandro, Calif. trash facility walked out of work when their employer and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency threatened their jobs in a similar audit.

These protests are a direct response to the deportations and firing that have intensified as a result of the Obama administration's immigration enforcement policies. 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Elementary: Can you solve this?

Elementary airs on CBS Thursday nights.  It's about Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) who are detectives.  They frequently consult for the NY police dept.  On this episode, the detective from last week, Lestrade, found his confidence thanks to Joan.  Lestrade was Holmes' partner in London. They parted long ago.  As a result of Lestrade claiming credit for Holmes' work.  So Joan had to confront him early on about drinking and how he couldn't stay with them and drink and he found his footing and left.

He was the subplot.

The main plot.

In 2011, a woman was kidnapped.  Her husband attempted to deal with the kidnappers alone and she was never returned after he says he paid the million dollars.

The police (headed by Aiden Quinn) have always assumed he was the kidnapper.


Two ears turn up with a ransom note for a new million.

The husband insists he's not involved.  He says those are his wife's ears.

DNA says the same.

Is he guilty?

There's a money hand off and he panics and kills the man picking up the money.

Was this to cover his tracks?

Holmes and Watson discover the woman alive.

At an AA meeting.  She's started a new life.  She's married to a doctor and she tells them that the DNA must have come from the brush.  It wasn't her brush.  She packed her brush when she left in 2011.  It must have been the woman her husband was sleeping with.

Husband did have a woman over.  Kara, a prostitute.

Who's telling the truth?

It gets more confusing because the ears look just like the woman's, not the prostitute but the wife.

So what's going on?

Did you see the episode of South Park where the teacher decides he wants to be a man again and the rat runs through the episode?

That's a little clue.

Who was telling the truth?

The husband.

Those were the wife's ears.

Kind of.

Her new husband, the plastic surgeon grew them on her back.  (Remember in real life when a mouse's back was used to grow an ear back at the end of the 90s.  In the South Park episode the teacher had his penis cut off for his operation to become a woman and then decided he wanted to be a man.  They grew a new penis for him on the back of a rat, remember?)

Okay, Norman Pollack has a new piece at CounterPunch and here's the opening:

Ukraine came along just as Americans’ fears instilled through the climate of counterterrorism, critically important to inducing complaisance and complicity with respect to US interventions, massive defense spending, and the demiurge for remaining on top (what The Times euphemistically called today [3-5], speaking positively, “credibility and global leadership”), were beginning to flag, a waning interest in global conquest periodically requiring shock treatment to keep intense and self-justificatory. “Came along,” however, is obviously incorrect: America had been fishing in Ukrainian troubled waters for some time, aware of the potential for heightening Cold War tensions at the center of the US’s international posture. Imperialism is not a cliché, but through time and geopolitical-economic experience, its contours must be redrawn to satisfy a meaningful account of its practice. Lenin’s analysis may have accurately described the late-19th century world, say through World War I and into the ‘Twenties, in which markets, investments, and raw materials were driving forces in themselves. Even America, in contradistinction to traditional imperialism involving tariffs and the seeds of war, had its own peculiar brand, what Gallagher and Robinson famously called, “the imperialism of free trade.”

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, Nouri's crony apparently refuses to allow a plane to land because it left Lebanon before his son could get on, Nouri claims the Constitution doesn't matter, in the US the Senate again fails to pass needed legislation, the House and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committees hold a joint-hearing, and much more.

John Rowan: [. . .] We have just recently in conjunction with the Veterans Legal Service Clinic at Yale Law School put out a report on the illegal personality and adjustment disorder discharges by the Coast Guard.  This is the tip of the iceberg of what's going on in the military with bad discharges.  I-I worked on a program 40 years ago dealing with Vietnam veterans with bad discharges.  Half-a-million people came out of the Vietnam era with a bad paper discharge -- most of them administrative nonsense.  We overturned many of them but unfortunately there's still many of them out there and we're concerned the same thing is happening again.  And as the military downsizes, it starts to throw people out, they're going to take any excuse to get people out the door.  And an unsuspecting 20-year-old who doesn't know they're signing their life away, is putting a noose around their neck for the rest of their lives, is susceptible to manipulation. 

John Rowan is the national president of Vietnam Veterans of America.  He was speaking this morning at the joint House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committtee hearing.  Also appearing to offer testimony was National Guard Association of the US's Peter Duffy, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs' Clyde Marsh, Jewish War Veterans' Robert E. Pickard, AMVETS' John Mitchell, Militatry Order of the Purple Heart's Ron Siebels, Retired Enlisted Association's Rick Delaney, Military Officers Association of America's Robert F. Norton and Blinded Veterans Association's Mark Cornell.

Last week, February 25th, the two Committee held a joint hearing as well.  Many members were absent from that hearing.

Acting Senate Chair Richard Blumenthal:  He [Senator Bernie Sanders] could not be here today because, indeed, he is helping to  manage the bill, the comprehensive bill that's under consideration this week before the United States Senate and indeed, I may have to leave early, I will have to leave early to assist him in that effort. 

The comprehensive bill was S.1982 "The Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014."  And it failed to pass the Senate.

This morning, one of the witnesses raised that failure.

Ron Siebels: Congress has proved that it has the wisdom and compassion to accomplish great things.  But for some reason, the wall between the parties often hinders progress.  The military's success is achieved because the different branches work together and never let each other down.  That's one of the reasons the military is well respected.  We believe Congress can dramatically upgrade  its own public image cordial compromise instead of carving party lines in the sand. We thank Senator Sanders and every co-sponsor of Senate bill 1982.  We think that well constructed legislation would have resolved many of the issues you're being confronted with now. We fully understand there are costs and balances  so Congress can meet their promise to veterans. With that in mind, I offer my personal suggestions.  I would get a portion of it from bonuses paid to under performing VA executives who have not reduced the lingering backlog of VA claims.  I'd get some of it from the rapidly expanding social benefits VA paid to people who have never contributed anything to anyone in America.  

I want to note an exchange from the hearing.

Senator Mark Begich: On women's veterans' issues, this is a continued, growing opportunity in a way -- and I say in a positive way -- women are joining the military in greater number than before but more veterans are coming into the system and because of that there's more requirements and more issues we should be focused on.  Can you each tell me -- and, Ron, I'll ask you and then I'll go to Col Norton specifically -- what are those one or two things that you think that we could be doing better specially around women veterans.  Ron, I know introduced me to a woman that's running your efforts within the [Militatry Order of the] Purple Heart which I think is fantastic and I give you a lot of credit for that.  So could you give me a little thought there.

Ron Siebels: Yes, Senator.  Obviously MST [Military Sexual Trauma] is a big issue. The other thing is homelessness.  The fastest growing segment is women veterans.  I talk to a lady not long ago.  She's living out of a car.  She's a single mom, two kids, living out of a car.  She needs help.  She can't even afford to go to a hospital with a sick kid, can't even get her kids registered for school.  Those women need some help.  And I don't know all the answers but that's why I applaud the VSOs and staff who are bringing women's veterans issues to the forefront.  Women are veterans too and they're serving this country very well.  And most of the women when they get out of the service, the first thing they look at is taking care of their kids, taking care of their families.  Guys like us, we want to get back with the guys, we want to get back into the groove.  Well women look at those things a little different.  They've veterans too, they're just like us but they do have some separate issues so I don't really have the answers but I think those answers lie within people like Wendy Buckingham who I appointed our National Women's Director and Wendy's here today and if you ever want a chance to meet a lady that's doing a terrific job for  veterans spend some time with Wendy Buckingham sitting here behind me.  She's doing a fantastic job, I'm so proud of her.  But we need more people like that to get involved, people that care, people that know what they're doing.  And if we do that, I think we'll extract the answers you're looking for, Senator.  I don't know if I've answered your question but hopefully I have.

Senator Mark Begich:  No, that's good, Ron.  Let me also say, Col Norton, before you comment, I know when you, in your commentary, you made a note and I wanted to restate it because I know the Chairman's here now, thank you for your comment on Chained CPI.  I too, like the Chairman [Bernie Sanders], don't believe we should be messing with Chained CPI, it should not be part of the equation when it comes to our Social Security, veterans benefits, I think it really does a disservice -- long term, what it does is take away benefits, pure and simple, so thank you for those that mentioned it.  But on the women's issues, you had mentioned in your testimony and I just wanted to tap on that for a second if I could.

Robert F. Norton:  Yes, Senator, thank you.  I would say first of all it is a cultural issue to begin with overall in the VA system.  As you know, it's largely a male dominated enterprise, if you will, at this point.  The VA needs to be more welcoming and more responsive to the unique needs of women veterans.  For example, I know Senator Sanders will probably mention the great initiative in his state  where they opened up a separate entrance for women veterans at the hospital in Vermont.  Unemployment is a huge issue.  Higher unemployment among female veterans than among male veterans -- that is a big issue.  Especially because, as Mr. Siebels mentioned, a lot of women veterans are single parents and so they have that additional complication.  Thirdly, of course, is the alarming number of women veterans -- as well as male veterans -- who have been sexually assaulted in military service.  So counseling, medical intervention, pyschiatric, psychological, social work support for our women veterans in the VA is very important.  That's a provision in a bill that's sponsored out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as you know, thank you.

I'm noting the exchange for a reason.  This was a solid hearing.  So was last week's joint-hearing.

That's not been the case.

The joint-hearings from VSOs are the VSO making a presentation which is prepared remarks (submitted in writing ahead of time) that they read out loud.  Some statements can go on for 30 minutes.

I get, I've been at these hearings for 8 years now, I get that you can just want to leave.

And in the past, that's what's really happened.  Credit to House Chair Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Mike Michaud and Senate Chair Bernie Sanders and Ranking Member Richard Burr as well as everyone on the two committees.  They have changed the rush to say, "Thanks for coming!  You know where the exits are!"

Instead, last week's joint hearing and this week's has made a point to use this opportunity to ask the witnesses specific questions.

I don't consider this minor.

I'm already ticked off that the United Nations Security Council takes regular reports on Iraq without ever asking one single question.  It's a waste of time.  Stop holding the hearings, stop having people fly in to testify, just post online the written statements they plan to read.

Good for the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees for using this opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.  It's not minor and I say thank you and, last week, I spoke to three veterans at the joint-hearing who were also happy that the members of the Committee had questions following the presentations.  It' not a minor thing and praise to the leadership of both Committees for this change.

We're not done with today's hearing.

John Rowan:  One, we support Senator Gillibrand in her efforts to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act and we hope the Senate votes on that this afternoon. 

That's from Rowan's opening remarks.  Last week, an important bill was killed in the Senate, as we already noted above.  Today, it repeated.  The important bill Rowan spoke of did not pass.

Tom Brune (Newsday) reports, "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill to fundamentally revamp the military justice system for sexual assault victims hit a wall Thursday when it failed to advance in a procedural vote.  An unusually bipartisan majority in the Senate voted 55-45 to break a filibuster of her bill, but that fell short of the 60 votes needed to clear it for a final vote. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) lost two co-sponsors and couldn't win over undecided senators."  Donna Cassata (AP) points out, "Conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky backed her effort, while the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, opposed the measure."

Stacy Kaper (National Journal) reports:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blamed the White House's lack of support for the failure of her sexual-assault bill in the Senate on Thursday, and she vowed to keep fighting to reform the military justice system.
"I made my greatest case, I advocated for this position, this reform, and the president has been very clear: He wants to end sexual assault in the military, he wants it to be further studied, and he wants to see progress and whether it's been accomplished in the next year," the New York Democrat said at a press conference after her bill went down.
When asked if she would have succeeded if President Obama had pushed for her bill and whether she was disappointed by the White House's lack of support, she quickly answered, "Yes, yes."

Senator Gillibrand's office issued the following statement after the vote:

March 6, 2014

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand delivered the following remarks Thursday following the vote on the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act, which despite having the support of a bipartisan majority of the Senate, fell five votes shy of breaking a filibuster.

Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

I want to first thank my colleagues who stood so strong and united in this effort from the very beginning. Your leadership truly made the difference to gain the support of a majority of the Senate.

From the very beginning – this was never about being a Democratic idea or a Republican idea. It was just the right thing to do – that people of good faith from both parties could unite around.

And I want to thank the retired Generals, former commanders and veterans of every rank for making their voices heard – to make the military they love so dear as strong as it can be.

And I want to especially thank all the survivors. We owe our gratitude to the brave survivors who, despite being betrayed by their chain of command, continue to serve their country by fighting for a justice system that will help make sure no one else suffers the same tragedy they did. Their struggles, sacrifice and courage inspire me every day.

They may not wear the uniform anymore, but they believe so strongly in these reforms that for a full year now, they marched the halls of this Congress, reliving the horror they endured, telling their stories, in hopes that no one else who serves our country has to suffer as they did.

Tragically, today the Senate failed them. Despite earning the support of the majority of the Senate, we fell five votes short of overcoming the 60-vote filibuster threshold. But we will not walk away, we will continue to work harder than ever in the coming year to strengthen our military.

Without a doubt, with the National Defense bill we passed, and Senator McCaskill’s Victims Protection Act, we have taken good steps to stand up for victims, and hold offenders accountable.

But we have not taken a step far enough. We know the deck is stacked against victims of sexual assault in the military, and today, we saw the same in the halls of Congress.

For two full decades, since Dick Cheney served as the Defense Secretary during the Tailhook scandal that shook the military and shocked the nation, we’ve heard the same thing: “zero tolerance” to sexual assault in the military.

But the truth is in the results, and that’s “zero accountability.”

I always hoped we could do the right thing here – and deliver a military justice system that is free from bias and conflict of interest – a military justice system that is worthy of the brave men and women who fight for us.

But today the Senate turned its back on a majority of its members.

As painful as today’s vote is, our struggle on behalf of the brave men and women who serve in our military will go on. We owe so much to those who bravely serve our country, and I will never quit on them.

For the men and women who sign up to serve our country for all the right reasons – only to be twice betrayed by their chain of command – if they can find the courage to make their voices heard to strengthen the military they hold so dear– we have to keep up this fight.

We will continue to the fight for justice and accountability. That is our duty.

The truth is there is "zero accountability."  She is correct.  Her bill will most likely pass.  Maybe in the next Congress, in fact.  And there will be a time in the near future where a Vermont VA won't need separate entrances for women.  Those entrances are to keep the women from being harassed.  When John Hall served in the US Congress, he explored these issues at length.

The women veterans aren't facing catcalls or abuse from veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan War.  It's from veterans a little older -- because doesn't always mean smarter.  For them, female veterans aren't that common.  But for veterans of today's war, it's a different story.  As they age through the system, there will be less need for separate entrances.  And Senator Gillibrand is so very right to connect what happened today to the 90s Tailhook scandals.

What she did today, the fight she took to the Senate floor?

There was nothing like that during Tailhook.

There was outrage.  There were promises, few of which were kept.

But did you get a sense that there was a real fighter on the Senate floor for this issue back then?

I didn't.

I do with Senator Gillibrand.  And when the time comes that she leaves the Senate, there will probably be at least ten more strong senators following in her footsteps because of the fight she's mounted.

I wish the bill had passed today.  It should have.  But her fighting for the bill -- before and after the vote -- is a victory that is making an impression on the country and on future members of the Senate.

Some people make a difference for the better and then, on the other side, there's Nouri.   Whether he's killing civilians, refusing to appear before Parliament or attempting to unconstitutionally declare a budget, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, destroys the country he supposedly leads a little more with each passing day.

Today was supposed to be the day when Parliament addressed Nouri's ongoing attack on Anbar Province.  But despite being called before Parliament, Nouri violated the Constitution (again) and refused to show up. National Iraqi News Agency notes MP Salman Jumaili of the Motthaidoon bloc decried the "absence of Prime Minister General Commander of the Armed Forces Nouri al-Maliki, security leaders or concerned ministers or even the governor of the province, except Chairman of the Board of Anbar province who attended to the parliament."  Why did some not attend?  All Iraq News notes a press briefing today by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi in which explained, "The Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged the MPs to avoid attending the sessions of the Parliament. [. . .] Maliki intervened in the duties of the parliament which is an independent authority and the source for legitimacy."  Alsumaria adds that al-Nujaifi called Nouri's lobbying people not to attend a session of Parliament "a dangerous precedent."  Kitabat notes Osama al-Nujaifi pointed out Nouri took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Iraq.

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

NINA reports MP Sadiq Labban (with Nouri's State of Law) insists that State of Law will continue to refuse to attend sessions of Parliament.  While Nouri's State of Law boycotts Parliament, NINA notes that Nouri has stated Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is "disrupting the work of the Council" of Ministers.
Nouri's gone after many Sunnis and Iraqiya members -- usually they're both.  Iraqiya was the slate that beat Nouri in the 2010 parliamentary elections.  He's held a kangaroo court against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, for example.  He's often trashed Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, brother of the Speaker of Parliament.
But he's largely stayed clear of Osama al-Nujaifi.
Now he's going after him.
And he's not just accusing al-Nujaifi of harming his pretty little Council.  NINA notes Nouri's also blaming the failure of the 2014 budget on Osama.   And All Iraq News reports:

The Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, accused the parliament Speaker, Osama al-Nijaifi, of hindering the nomination of the security ministers.
In his weekly speech on Wednesday, Maliki said "Nijaifi and those who target the political process always state that the security ministers are not nominated, but they refuse to ratify the names of the nominees for the Interior and Defense Ministers posts." 

How crazy is Nouri?
He was supposed to make those nominations no later than December 2010.  He never did.  And now, as his second term draws to an end, now he wants to pretend it's Osama's fault?

As Kirkuk Now observes, "For three weeks, Mr. Almaliki has been assaulting the Iraqi parliament and its speaker in his weekly speeches."

Alsumaria notes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq leader Ammar al-Hakim and the KRG President Massoud Barzani also see Nouri's action as an attack on the Parliament and its powers as well as an assault on democracy.

As this and other problems Nouri's created continue to brew, National Iraqi News Agency reports President Barazni is announcing that measures may be taken (what measures are not clear) and he declares, "The Kurds have been subjected to genocide and buried in mass graves, as they sought for freedom and rejection of injustice.  The Kurds will not return back and will not give up their freedom."  Al Mada notes Barzani was warning Tuesday that the Baghdad government was at the crossroads of collapse.

Among the serious issues for the Kurds is the national budget.  There is no 2014 budget.  There still is no 2014 budget.  Yes, this reality escapes a lot of 'reporters' for Western 'news' outlets.  Nouri has a proposal, it just can't get the votes.

It won't pass Parliament as is.  When that happens, a leader has to find votes by what's called "horse trading" or a leader has to be willing to compromise.  Much has been made of the fact that Nouri's actions have left many working in the Kurdistan government without salaries.  But, as Al Mada reports today, Nouri's actions also mean that hundreds of his federal police have not been paid and they're getting increasingly vocal about his failure to pay them.

NINA notes Nouri's announcement that he'll just push through monies without the approval of Parliament and how Speaker al-Nujaifi states that dispensing public monies without the approval of Parliament "is an embezzlement of public money."  It's also a violation of the Constitution.  NINA reports:

The independent MP, Mahmoud Othman described Maliki's decision "to launch the money without approving the budget in the House of Representatives is unconstitutional or illegal, pointing out that Maliki's comments yesterday came as election campaign . "He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The Constitution says the budget has to be approved by the House of Representatives then the money should be under the government to carry out its duties .
He added, "We do not know what is meant by al-Maliki to submit a complaint to the Federal Court against the House of Representatives," pointing out that" the Supreme Court cannot get out of the Constitution," adding that " Maliki's comments comes as early election campaign and it is political more than procedural and executive . "

Kitabat explains al-Nujaifi declared that this is not only an illegitimate action but yet another attempt on the part of Nouri to ignite a new crisis to distract from his already existing failures.

Nouri can't continue his assault on Anbar without his federal police.

Which is probably why thug Nouri is stating he alone can declare a budget and he can bypass Parliament to do so.

Nouri can't stop abusing the Constitution.

Under the guise of fighting 'terrorism,' Nouri continues to kill Iraqis.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri's military shelled  al-Jughaifi, al-Shuhada and al-Asakari neighborhoods in Falluja leaving 4 civilians dead and twelve more injured (three of the injured were children).  Another round of shelling left 1 civilian dead and twelve more injured.

Has his attack on Anbar reduced violence?

Not at all.  In fact, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 170 violent deaths for the month so far -- that's 170 deaths in five days.

And today?

National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 Mosul bombings left 1 person dead and another injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing left one person injured, 2 Hilla car bombs (near al-Faiha hospital) left 2 people dead and six more injured, a Hilla car bomb near a casino left 1 woman dead and five more injured (there's a fourth Hilla bombing but it's unknown if anyone was wounded or killed),  a car bombing at a car show in al-Nahda left three people injured, a Shirqat sticky bombing left 1 police officer dead, 1 police officer was shot dead in Khalidiyah,  a Sadr City roadside bombing left 4 people dead and twelve injured, a Baghdad car bombing (Karada Mariam) left 2 people dead and eleven more injured, and a Baghdad car bombing (al-Amel district) left 4 people dead and sixteen injured.    Amjad Salah (Alsumaria) reports an assassination attempt on Supreme Council leader Mohammad Taqi al-Mawla via roadside bombing targeting the motorcade south of Mosul and while al-Mawla was not harmed one of his bodyguards was injured.


National Iraqi News Agency reports  2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in al-Qarma, 1 police member was shot dead in Mosul, and  1 person was shot dead in Yusifiyah.   All Iraq News notes Salih Diri ("former mayor Abla") was shot dead in Basra today. Amjad Salah (Alsumaria) reports an assassination attempt on Supreme Council leader Mohammad Taqi al-Mawla via roadside bombing targeting the motorcade south of Mosul and while al-Mawla was not harmed one of his bodyguards was injured.


National Iraqi News Agency reports  the corpses of 2 women were discovered dumped east of Baghdad.  All Iraq News notes Salih Diri ("former mayor Abla") was shot dead in Basra today.

On top of all that, he can't explain why a flight didn't land in Baghdad.  What an idiot.  The basics, as explained by Kitabat, a plane took off in Lebanon headed for Baghdad.  Twenty minutes after take off, the decision was made by someone in Baghdad that the plane would not be allowed to land.  This was then conveyed to Beirut and the plane with the plane then turning around and heading back to Beirut.  Why?  Ghassan Hamid (Alsumaria), citing Nouri's spokesperson, reveals Nouri is claiming no one knows who gave the order.

Nouri's government has created an international incident -- demonstrating yet again what a joke his leadership is.  Dana Khraiche (Daily Star) reports:

MEA’s Public Relations Officer Rima Makkawi said the carrier was investigating why the plane was forced to return to Beirut, saying the earlier statement quoted rumors “and not the company’s reasoning.”
“We want to investigate what happened,” Makkawi told The Daily Star.

Right now, the best guess on what happened?  The plane waited six minutes after scheduled departure for Mahdi al-Amiri and a friend to be found and board.  They didn't.  The plane took off.  al-Amari's father threw a hissy fit -- yet another reason Nouri shouldn't appoint his friends and lackeys to positions of powe.  See Mahdi al-Amiri's father is Hadi al-Amiri is the Transportation Minister.  His son didn't make the flight.  The easiest explanation is that his father refused to allow it to land so it would turn around, go back to Beruit, where it would pick up little prince Mahdi.

Leave out the motive and who gave the order and this is what Oliver Holmes and Jamal Said (Reuters) report happened, "A passenger plane flying from Lebanon to Iraq on Thursday turned back after the Iraqi transport minister's son missed the flight and phoned Baghdad to stop the aircraft from landing, Middle East Airlines (MEA) said."  It also fits with the original statement issued by Middle East Airlines -- one they only retracted when Nouri began blustering and declaring he was going to launch an investigation immediately.  And it's certainly more believable than the statement made by Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Kareem al-Nuri who denied that was even supposed to be on the plane and that the reason for the refusal was that they "were cleaning operations in the airport and specific measures were taken.  We asked all flights not to land in Baghdad airport after 9 am (0600 GMT) but this flight arrived after this time, so we asked it to turn back."

This is part of the reason the protests in Iraq have been protesting continuously since December 21, 2012 -- the corruption.  While Iraqis are in need of jobs, in need of dependable public services, in need of security, the 'blessed' living in the Green Zone live it up on the public money and are corrupt and do whatever they want.  In this case, it appears Nouri's friend -- and, yes, Hadi al-Mari and Nouri go way back -- was able to use his job to send a plane back to Lebanon in order to pick up his son and then fly back.  Iraq Times calls it just that, an example of the ongoing corruption in Nouri's government.   Corruption is all over Iraq -- one issue is detailed here.

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