scandal leaves no 1 to root for


i don't know.

i stared at the screen last night for about an hour then logged off.

what to say?

it was a lively episode.

it was also 1 that jumped the shark.

olivia refused to believe it when david informed her that vice president sally killed her husband or that white house chief of staff cyrus and first lady melli covered it up.

she then confronted cyrus.

discovering it was true, she burst out laughing.

she brought up how supreme court justice verna had been murdered (by u.s. president fitz - olivia's lover).

yeah, that is funny, right?

no, it's not.

and you have to wonder what's going on?

now that it is okay to murder any 1, who are we supposed to root for?

olivia's acceptance of murder?

with verna?

okay, verna was dying anyway, she had told fitz (minutes before he killed her) that she, olivia, hollis, mellie and cyrus had rigged the election so that fitz won even though he actually lost.

and she told fitz after that that she was going to go public.

it wasn't premeditated and he was in shock.  he was also recovering from an assassination attempt.

and olivia loves so i can understand it being a non-issue for her.

but now you've got her okay with sally killing her own husband.

i'm sorry but olivia's embracing government abuse at its most extreme.

as i watched her laugh, i realized i really didn't care any more to root for olivia.

and when quinn later told jake that olivia was just using him, i thought, 'yeah, quinn's got a point.'

the rest of the episode?

to keep sally from going public (she told olivia that god would not forgive her until she confessed), olivia told fitz he had to tank the debate.

(if you don't watch the show, sally decided not to run on the re-election ticket.  instead, she's running against fitz, while remaining the vice president.)

he did and sally lived.

that's the other thing that pissed me off.

cyrus told jake what had happened and told jake (now head of the spy agency) that he had to kill sally and jake told him that's not the job of the spy agency.

but moments later, he agrees.

he had an agent ready to shoot sally at the debate if she started to talk about how she murdered her husband.

by the way, that made no sense even in the amoral world of 'scandal.'

he has to kill her before she talks, do you grasp that?

on national television, sally can't be allowed to confess.

but the killer allows her to 'confess' without killing her because it turns out she's not talking about daniel (her husband).


for that storyline to have worked, the minute she wanted to tell the american people something, he would have shot her then, not waited.

so what else?

we should note abby's concerned and worried about david and wanting him to drop his efforts to expose sally as a murderer.

sally's manager comes to meet cyrus for something, it doesn't matter, don't worry about it.  what does matter is he notes the squealing noise.

cyrus hasn't noted it.

after the man leaves, cyrus tries to find it and finally does.  in the frame his husband james gave him is a microphone.

he confronts james, he knows james is the 1 trying to leak to the press the murder.

he tells james he loves him.

does he?

we'll get back to it.

right before that conversation, james is in the hall and gets a text from david calling for a meet up.

after talking to cyrus, james goes to the meet up.

it's james, david and 2 reporters.

cyrus has already made clear that the source needs to be killed.

so boom, boom, both reporters are shot dead right after james learns david didn't call the meeting.

the shooter?

it's jake.

and he pulls the trigger 1 more time.

apparently killing some 1. (maybe not, we don't see it.)

and we're supposed to wonder if he killed james or david.

and we're supposed to care why?

why does it even matter now?

there's no 1 to root for.

every 1 is a cold blooded killer.

and that's really not the show i was interested in watching.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, March 14, 2014.  Chaos and violence, continue, Nouri's big mouth brings political rival Moqtada al-Sadr back to Iraq, the State Dept finally finds a voice to condemn Nouri's 9-year-old child brides proposal, the press picks up on the issue today, rumors circulate of Nouri holding warrants ready to serve on his political rivals,  a Saturday protest is planned to rebuke him, the United Kingdom loses a strong anti-war voice, and much more.

Last Saturday, Iraqi women protested in Baghdad against Nouri al-Maliki's proposed bill which would allow father's to marry off daughters as young as nine-years-old, strip away the need for consent to sex,  and would strip custodial rights from mothers.  The US press has worked overtime to ignore the protest and the bill Nouri's sent to Parliament.  Today, it finally got some attention in the US press.

Lauren Cox (Hollywood Life) notes the bill and a detail everyone else (including me) has missed:

Iraq is seriously considering passing a new law called Jaafari Personal Status Law which would allow girls as young as 8-years-old to legally marry. The law itself actually reads girls age 9, but because Iraq follows the lunar Islamic calendar their age 9 actually equals the age of 8 years and 8 months. The law also mentions this is the same age that girls reach puberty. Is this their justification for allowing such young girls to be forced into marriage?
Making matters even worse, the same reads that a husband can have sex with his wife with or without her consent. This means that if an 8-year-old gets married, she could raped by her husband and it would not be illegal.

Cheryl K. Chumley (Washington Times) adds, "One more aspect of the proposal that’s angered many: It only gives the father -- not the mother or female guardian -- the right to refuse to accept a marriage proposal."  Brittany Greenquist (RYOT News) observes, "Sadly, the law doesn’t stop with child brides and marital rape, it also adds increased restrictions to a woman’s ability to leave her house, and would make it easier for men to have more than one wife."

The Associated Press' Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin offer a lengthy report which includes: "Also under the proposed measure, a husband can have sex with his wife regardless of her consent. The bill also prevents women from leaving the house without their husband's permission, would restrict women's rights in matters of parental custody after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives."

Many outlets are carrying the AP report including Huffington Post, The Australian, The Daily Beast, WA Today,  Savannah Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, News 24, Daily Inter Lake, the Scotland Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, Singapore Today, the Irish Independent, The Scotsman, Lebanon's Daily Star, The Belfast Telegraph and Canada's CBC.  UPI covers the issue by noting Felicity Arbuthnot's article from earlier in the week.

The bill is illegal by the Iraqi Constitution.  It's offensive and offensive to the world.  The brave Iraqi women who protested Saturday deserved and deserve support.

Nouri's asked his flunkies to stage rallies in support of the illegal bill.

As the West remained silent.

Nouri had the most success in Najaf on Wednesday when nearly a hundred women demonstrated in favor of this offensive bill while about 40 demonstrated in Basra. The women were mocked -- and deserved to be, let's not pretend otherwise -- and ridiculed in Arabic social media.  Which may be why all the efforts that followed had poor turnout.  Iraq Times notes a little over a dozen women turned out in Maysan today to insist the bill be turned into a law, close to 30 women turned out in Dhi Qar and a little over 20 turned out in Baghdad today whining for their rights and their daughters rights to be stripped away.

If you put it all together, the numbers from today with the numbers earlier in the week, you still don't have even half as many women as turned out to protest the law in Baghdad.

But that Nouri could scare up these 'support rallies' at all?

That goes to the refusal of the Western media to cover this issue and to make it clear that it was illegal and unacceptable.

Marie Harf is a US State Dept spokesperson.  She presided over today's press briefing (yes, State finally gave a briefing on Friday). Said Arikat, Al Quds bureau chief, raised the issue of the proposed law.

Said Arikat:  Yeah.  Iraq?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

Said Arikat:  Are you aware of a law that allows parent – fathers or guardians to marry off their 9-year-old girls?

MS. HARF:  Yes. 

Said Arikat:  And what is your comment on that?

MS. HARF:  This is a draft law.  We understand that this draft law, which I think several high-level Iraqi political and religious leaders have publicly condemned and claim violates the rights of Iraqi women – has been sent to the council of representatives for consideration.  We absolutely share the strong concerns of the UN mission in Iraq, which has noted that this law risks constitutionally protected rights for women.  The draft law I think is pending before the parliament right now.  It would require three readings before a vote could take place, so we’ll obviously be watching the debate closely and welcome a parliamentary process that ensures the rights of all Iraqis, including women, are fully protected in line with its constitution.
And I would also note that some women’s groups, some human rights NGOs, have also condemned the draft law as a significant step backwards for women’s rights in Iraq.

When a group in a country is being targeted, if the world rallies to call it out, it can have an impact.  By the same token, silence only endorses and embraces the targeting.  Human Rights Watch deserves strong credit for weighing in earlier this week with "Iraq: Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds."   Suadad al-Salhy and Reuters reports deserve credit for being the only Western outlet to grasp last Sautrday this was serious and news. (Yes, I know AFP's Prashant Rao spent Saturday attempting to get a copy of the bill's text in writing.  I know it, so what?  AFP didn't report on it -- because Prashant couldn't get a written copy of the bill.  al-Salhy and Reuters did report on the issue.  So we applaud them.  No applause for AFP and they should be glad that it's been too busy of a week for me to connect this to all the other silences on Iraqi women from AFP.)  Iraqi media covered it and deserves credit for that.  Rudaw took it seriously and did at least three stories by Tuesday on this issue so they deserve applause as well.

And we'll again note and applaud the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, for his Tweet last Saturday:

  • Gov adoption of Jaafari Personal Status Bill risks constitutionally protected rights for and international commitments

  • I'll certainly applaud the ones who showed up today.

    But there should have been a lot more and it's really sad that the State Dept can't make a statement on it until they're asked about it.

    You know what, though?  If the State Dept will make their policy on all countries, I'll be fine with it.  If John Kerry, Secretary of State, will stop threatening various countries and just keep his mouth closed unless he's asked a question, that might be a good policy.  It might de-escalate some of the tensions in the world right now instead of ratcheting them up -- something that's especially dangerous when Weak Barack is the president.

    You can play madman of the planet.  That's actually a game theory in international relations.  Bully Boy Bush was insane.  And the world knew it as did the US.  So he could bully and threaten and everyone knew he was crazy enough to do it -- to do anything.  As the global madman, he intimidated many.

    But Barack's not seen as a madman.  That's fine.  But is he seen as strong?  No.

    Which is why he delegates to Kerry to be the mouth piece making threats (and did so with Hillary Clinton before Kerry).  And both are willing to play this crazy role.

    You'll notice the Secretaries of Defense -- Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and now Chuck Hagel -- have all rejected that role in the administration.  That's because they're smarter than Kerry and Clinton.

    Let's move back to Iraq where Friday's big news was the return of Moqtada al-Sadr.  Alsumaria reports the cleric and movement leader has returned to Najaf from Iran and done so the day before the demonstrations he called for to take place.

    Background. Nouri's big mouth ended up tanking his own two-day conference.  For those who missed it, Nouri's fat mouth was flapping last Saturday insulting many as he spoke to France24.  France 24's Mark Perelman interviewed (link is text and video) Nouri for a half hour broadcast which aired Saturday.  In the interview, Nouri's well noted paranoia was on full display as he repeatedly declared, in the very first two minutes, his alleged 'victory' over those attempting to turn Iraq and Syria into one country ("there are goals to create a one state," "create a state -- one part in Syria and one part in Iraq").  He continued to gab and began accusing other countries of supporting terrorism (he was supposedly going to reveal proof of his gossip in the conference but, as usual, his fat mouth made empty promises).  He also insulted Moqtada.

    Moqtada al-Sadr announced his political retirement February 15th.  February 18th, he delivered a speech --  CounterPunch posted the speech in full  -- emphasizing his decision. February 26th,  NINA noted the rumors that Moqtada left Iraq, "The sources noted in a press statement that Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr left today's afternoon the city of Najaf heading to the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to complete his religious studies and stay away from the political scene as he officially announced for all Iraqis."

    Now Moqtada had left Iraq.  He'd asked his followers not to protest.  And they ceased their protests and heeded Moqtada's call.  But Nouri had to go all bitchy on Moqtada in the interview, insulting his intelligence, etc.  This led to mass protests all week and now it's led to the return of Moqtada to Iraq.  And to what's expected to be a very large protest against Nouri on Saturday.  Al Mada quotes Baraa al-Azzawi, with the Sadr bloc, stating that they've implemented security plans and are expecting a turn out in Dhi Qar of over one thousand.

    Kitabat notes that Moqtada met, earlier this week, in Tehran with the leader of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim and the two discussed issues regarding the planned April 30th parliamentary elections.  There are rumors in Arabic social media that his return will include an announcement or two regarding the planned elections.

    On the topic of the planned elections, Women's e-News notes, "About 3,000 Iraqi female candidates are preparing to start campaigning for parliamentary elections, the Arabic-language daily newspaper reported . It's the biggest female participation in an election in the recent history of Iraq, and the majority of the women are running for the first time. The Higher Commission for Elections in Iraq asked every party to have a minimum of 25 percent female candidates on their list."

    If Nouri had a brain, he would have kept his mouth shut.  If he had, it's doubtful Moqtada would have returned.

    March 4th, we noted an e-mail from an Iraqi MP which stated that Nouri was using arrest warrants to take out political rivals and that there was one on Moqtada among others.  Dar Addustour reports today the rumors that Nouri has files on many in Sadr's bloc -- open files, warrants, ready to be issued.  Former prime minister and leader of the National Alliance Ibrahim al-Jaafari is said to have tried to reason with Nouri but without success.

    In returning, Moqtada avoided Baghdad International by flying from Iran to Al Najaf International Airport.

    This allowed him to avoid the prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki.

    Sadly, the people of Anbar can't avoid Nouri or his continued assault on the province.  National Iraqi News Agency notes that the military shelled a residential neighborhood in Rawa killing 1 person and injuring three members "from the same family."  Nouri also ordered bombings in Falluja's residential neighborhoods and 1 adult and 1 child were killed while another child, a woman and five males were left injured.  Civilians are targeted, hunted and killed in Nouri's Iraq.

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 427 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports an al-Rashad Village home invasion carried out by  killers "in military uniforms" left 3 family members dead,  Baghdad Operations Command states they killed 6 suspects in Latifiya, Joint Operations Command stated they killed 4 suspects "near al-Mowadhafeen Staff bridge" (in Anbar), an al-Qaim roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more military personnel injured, an Abu Dsher roadside bombing left two people injured, an Anbar suicide bomber ("between Aanah and Rawa cities") took his own life and the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 police member dead (six more people injured), a Shualah roadside bombing left 2 people dead and six more injured, and "late last night" a bombing "targeted the house of municipal adminstrator [Aj,ed Sjejab] in Hawij" leaving four people injured. Alsumaria, citing Anbar Province's Council deputy chair Faleh al-Issawi, notes a Rawa bridge bombing which he states targeted a wedding and not the military present.  All Iraq News notes 18 people have died in the Rawa Bridge bombing and eighteen more were injured.  All Iraq News also reports 1 police member was shot dead near his Tikrit home.  Iraq Times reports a mortar attack in Ramadi (no word on whether it was by the military or not) left 2 children dead and four more injured.

    Let's wind down on Iraq by remembering Wednesday's snapshot included US Secretary of State John Kerry bragging about how the Dept is used as a collection agency, pressuring the government of Argentina to pay of US corporations.  It's interesting when you consider Nouri al-Maliki's failed conference.

    Iraq Times notes that Nouri had a little insignia for his conference.

    Is Nouri a graphic artist now?

    No, he's a tracer.

    Nouri used the copyrighted Batman insignia.  Did Kerry have any official bother to inform Nouri that this was trademark infringement?

    In England, a prominent figure in the anti-war movement has passed away.   GRITtv with Laura Flanders Tweeted:

    1. We're very saddened to hear of the passing of Tony Benn. Watch 's interview with him here

    We'll mix in Tweets throughout.  Tony Benn passed away today at the age of 88, just weeks from his 89th birthday (he was born April 3, 1925).  He served in the British Parliament for 50 years and was a member of the Labour Party. Afterwards, his actions included being the first president of the UK's Stop the War Coalition.

  • i really admired Tony Benn. one of those people who had unwavering principles. felt safe with him around. force for good. an inspiration

  • Stop the War's Lindsey German remembers Benn and notes:

    The loss of Tony Benn is a loss for our whole movement. He was a good friend to the Stop the War Coalition, of which he remained president to the end. One of his last speeches was at the Stop the War international conference on 30 November 2013. He was a socialist, someone with a deep commitment to social change, who was principled to the end.
    Tony was from a privileged and highly political background, the son and grandson of Liberal and then Labour politicians. He would have become Viscount Stansgate in the early 60s if he had not fought a long legal battle to renounce his peerage and to continue as an MP in the House of Commons. This he did, first in Bristol then in Chesterfield. He became an important minister in the Wilson Labour governments, standing for deputy leader in 1981 after Labour’s defeat by Thatcher.
    Almost uniquely for someone in his position, he moved to the left as he got older. As an MP he campaigned over a range of issues, supported the miners during their year long strike in 1984-5, was committed to equality and women’s rights, was an internationalist who opposed empire and apartheid, and a socialist. But in my opinion his most important work came after he left parliament as he quipped ‘to spend more time on politics’.
    This was after the death of his remarkable wife Caroline, a fine socialist campaigner and author. He dedicated the rest of his life to campaigning and was absolutely tireless in doing so. 

    Gary Younge (Guardian) offers, "The two things that stood out, watching him both from afar from an early age and up close over those few weeks, were his optimism and his persistence. He believed that people were inherently decent and that they could work together make the world a better place – and he was prepared to join them in that work wherever they were."


  • Tony Benn's "Five Questions For The Powerful" - crucial to ask these:

  • Charlie Kimber (UK Socialist Worker) shares:

    A lot of people genuinely loved Tony Benn for his commitment to working class politics and socialism.
    I was once lucky enough to speak at a meeting with Benn and share a train with him. 
    Throughout the journey people begged for photos or asked him to “speak to my mum on the phone—you’re her hero”.
    I don’t imagine that happens to Ed Miliband or Ed Balls—or that they are as accessible or friendly as Benn was.
    Benn had that happy knack that, even though you might have heard the speech many times, it never lost the power to cheer you up.
    He supported every significant working class struggle in the last 30 years and played a major role in building the Stop the War movement after 2001. 
    He campaigned across Britain, giving people inspiration and confidence.

    UK Channel 4 News grabs a series of his quotes including, "If you are invaded you have a right to self defence, and this idea that people in Iraq and Afghanistan who are resisting the invasion are militant Muslim extremists is a complete bloody lie."

  • Tonight's performance of Oh What A Lovely War at dedicated to Tony Benn. Spontaneous, lengthy ovation.

  • Mark D'Arcy (BBC News) reports, "Benn was a third-generation MP - his grandfather John had served in the Commons and his father William entered Parliament as a Liberal, served under Asquith as a Treasury minister and then switched to labour when the old Liberal party imploded, becoming Ramsay MacDonald's Secretary of State for India."

  • So what did Tony Benn lack that made him different from the rest? The pathological self-regard that blocks compassion. It's not complicated.

  • The New Yorker's John Cassidy offers a tribute which includes:

    [. . .] he raised many issues that are still pertinent, from Britain’s future in Europe to the primacy of the City of London and the financial industry; from the threat of rising inequality to the activities of U.S. intelligence services around the world. (He was forever invoking the misdeeds of the C.I.A.) He brought a drive and a moral urgency to politics that is largely lacking today, and, for a while, he accomplished something that few radicals manage: he created genuine fear among his enemies, on Fleet Street and elsewhere. To quote Benedict Brogan, of the Daily Telegraph, “There was a time … when he wasn’t harmless at all, but downright dangerous. That’s what made him such a powerful, memorable force in the history of British politics.”

    The Yorkshire Post opines, "There was no one else in his era who so superbly and with such fire led the left and who so utterly ignored his own personal prospects in order to get his message across."

  • Admired so many things about Benn: unwavering principles; always open to new ideas; stellar political speaker but unfailingly courteous.

  • Tony Benn dies. So sad. A personal political hero.

  • Michael White (Pakistan's The Nation) adds, "Throughout his adult life Benn was also a prolific keeper of what became nightly diary notes, later tape recordings, the basis of eight very readable volumes of diaries, the last published in 2013 as A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine. They provided insights into both his happy family life - married for 50 years to Caroline, an American of similar outlook - and Benn’s take on the politics of the day, both high and low, plus gossip. In old age, the diaries were augmented by live performance on stage and TV, where he was as much a hit in the Tory home counties as in Labour heartlands. Even his worst enemies did not deny he was an excellent mimic who could be very funny."

    Michael McHugh (Belfast Telegraph) notes Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams statements on Benn's passing:

    The former West Belfast MP said: "Tony was a true friend of the Irish people.
    "A principled politician and activist, he spoke up passionately for the idea of a united Ireland. He remained an avid supporter of Irish freedom throughout his life."
    Mr Benn met the Sinn Fein leader on numerous occasions. He invited Mr Adams to a meeting in 1983 during the height of the IRA's campaign when the republican party's tolerance of violence was anathema to most in Great Britain.
    After a visit by Mr Adams was blocked in 1993 he correctly predicted that he would eventually visit Downing Street, to become a regular occurrence during peace process negotiations under the Blair administration.

    UK's Pink News notes Benn was a supporter of LGBTQ rights:

    Benn voted strongly in favour of gay rights during his time in Parliament – including the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967.
    He denounced the Thatcher Government for introducing Section 28 in 1988.
    The law stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” and that schools “could not promote of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
    Speaking in the Commons, Benn said: “If the sense of the word ‘promote’ can be read across from ‘describe’, every murder play promotes murder, every war play promotes war, every drama involving the eternal triangle promotes adultery; and Mr Richard Branson’s condom campaign promotes fornication. The House had better be very careful before it gives to judges, who come from a narrow section of society, the power to interpret ‘promote’.

  • iraq

    the daily beast
    channel 4 news

    the socialist worker
    the belfast telegraph


    community - just lousy

    around the point chang and jeff were tied to one another in chairs, the latest episode of 'community' (nbc thursdays), it appeared the show couldn't get worse.

    then shirley tied the criminal justice prof and brita together.

    it was pathetic.

    so is the avid story which finds him with an actress who looks like she should be playing axel's girlfriend on 'the middle.'  she looks that young.

    and avid only looks older.

    especially in a dopey scene where he has water pouring on his head to imply rain.

    his stringy hair and heavily lined face.

    avid is 35 in real life and looks 42.  and it was creepy to see him with that actress who barely looks 18.

    and don't get me started with annie.  if there's anything whinier than annie it's her younger brother.

    and though it wasn't funny, it was accurate at the end when he was leaving and annie was going on bout forgiving him or whatever for some slight and he snaps back that he was 13 years old.


    the show is awful.

    dan harmon writes like a stoned virgin.

    in real life, people want to eat and they want to f**k.

    not on community.

    and not because the characters have higher purposes.

    this is a show written by the unlaid for the unlaid.

    this needs to be the final season.  this sitcom is awful.

    season 4, without dan, was great and you finally had a show.

    now he's back with his meaningless episodes.

    cancel the show.

    let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

    Thursday, March 13, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, his two-day conference in Baghdad ended today and is only the latest in a long string of Nouri al-Maliki failures, WG Dunlop Tweets a report he should have filed -- it was worth filing,  Nouri executes 7 people, his political rivals get bad news from Baghdad courts and the Justice and Accountability Commission, and much more.

    Poor thug Nouri al-Maliki.  He has no accomplishments to point to with pride -- despite two terms as prime minister.  And yet he wants a third term.

    How to pose and preen before the people before the vote?

    Well he could hold a meaningless 'terrorism' conference.

    Before it started, there was so much hope.  Aswat al-Iraq noted days ago that this "2-day conference" was one where "invitations were extended to all world countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran"

    How quickly the hopes fade.  Saudi Arabia?  Qatar? Tuesday brought news on those invites:

    If you ever doubted Nouri al-Maliki's ability to lead, it's on full display right now.  Tomorrow is the big terrorism conference that Brett McGurk's endlessly praised Nouri for.  The State Dept's Brett has praised this effort to bring the region's countries together to address the issue.
    But today comes the news that two won't be participating.  NINA reports Qatar and Saudi Arabia have decided not to participate.  This decision comes after Saturday's broadcast of Nouri al-Maliki's interview where he slammed Qatar and Saudi Arabia repeatedly.  (See Saturday's "Nouri 'celebrates' International Women's Day" and "Iraq snapshot.")
    He couldn't even keep his big mouth shut until after the conference.

    Wednesday, the bad news for Nouri just continued with Al Arabiya News reports, "The UAE recalled its ambassador to Iraq on Wednesday in protest against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s accusations of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom supports terrorism."  Gulf Times noted:

    State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash handed ambassador Mowafak Mahdi Abboud a memorandum protesting Maliki’s “claims that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism,” the official Wam news agency said.
    “Such remarks are false and not based on a proper assessment of the situation in the region concerning terrorism, especially as Saudi Arabia plays a significant role in combating all forms of terrorism,” said Gargash.

    And Arab News reported, "Bahrain also strongly condemned Saudi bashing by Al-Maliki and his false accusations against the Kingdom."

    Let's pause on Nouri's embarrassing failures and note what the conference came up with on their last day. NINA explains, "Baghdad first international anti-terrorism conference [. . .] recommended the conclusion of its works on Thursday to promote international cooperation, exchange of information, to respond to the demands of countries to handover of criminals, cooperation and take necessary measures to dying terrorism resources."

    That's it?

    A two-day conference and all they can come with is: Exchange phone numbers?

    Most people can accomplish that within ten minutes of entering a bar.

    Two days to get digits on a cocktail napkin?

    Even when you look for a Nouri success, you still come up with failure.

    Yet Nouri's spokesperson Qassim Atta had insisted, "Baghdad conference of anti-terrorism will come out with the important results and recommendations to enhance the international desire to eliminate terrorism and to hold the countries supporting it."  Kitabat delicately phrases the conclusion and results of the conference as "modest."

    Sadly, even a modest term like "modest" is overly generous.

    Let's note a speech -- or the press release on a speech.  Click here for the speech in full by Nickolay Mladenov.  He is United Nation's Secretary-Genral Ban Ki-Moon's envoy in Iraq.  This is UNAMI's press release on Mladenov's speech:

    Baghdad, 12 March 2014 – Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, today urged the political leaders of Iraq to put their differences aside and work together to address the terrorist threat that seeks to tear the fabric of Iraqi society. 

    At the opening of the First International Counter-Terrorism Conference that started today in Baghdad, SRSG Mladenov noted that the conference can send an important message to the public, “a message of solidarity with a nation that has shown unparalleled resilience and a continuing commitment to build a democratic state at a moment when Iraq stands at a crucial cross-road on its journey towards stability and prosperity”. 
    “Iraq will either succumb to violence, or come together and build a democratic state that protects human rights and is inclusive for all its citizens”, said Mr. Mladenov, adding that “finding ways to put an end to terrorism will not be easy, some difficult decisions will have to be made – but together the Government and people of Iraq, with the support of the international community, can find ways to do so”. 
    Mr. Mladenov expressed the United Nations’ deepest sympathy to the Iraqi people for the terrible toll that they endure on a daily basis and honored the brave men and women of the Iraqi Security Forces who risk their lives every day to protect citizens from the threat of terrorism. 
    He underlined that “the concept of human rights is one of the greatest assets in finding sustainable solutions to countering extremism and terrorism as well as the full community involvement in decisions relating to their security”. “Any comprehensive approach would be incomplete if it were not matched with broad political dialogue, inclusive economic and social policies and community reconciliation”, the UN Envoy noted. He also highlighted the utmost importance of “investing in police and security forces that have appropriate resources and are appropriately trained, while respecting the rule of law and human rights, in particular regarding arrests, detentions and trials”. 
    Moving beyond the national level, SRSG Mladenov stressed that only within the framework of constructive regional and international cooperation, fight against terrorism can succeed. He reminded the audience of the establishment in 2005 of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) saying that “through this Task Force the UN can assist Iraq in promoting its ability to contribute to the international effort to counter terrorism and implement the four pillars of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy”. 
    In concluding, Mr. Mladenov assured the Iraqi people that they were not alone and that “UNAMI and the United Nations in Iraq would continue to work with them and their elected representatives in promoting political dialogue and investing in its biggest resource, its citizens”.

    We'll note the speech in another entry -- in full -- but it's too long for this one.

    It's the only speech which will get significant attention because UNAMI has released it.  It won't get significant attention due to journalists hearing it in person.

    See, another of Nouri's failures with this two-day conference?  The press.

    Ghazanfar Laibi (Al Mada) reports that journalists were prepared to cover the conference in depth but were kept out and one of the reasons given was security snags leading one journalist to call the conference the most poorly organized and worst he'd ever attended. And while kept out of the conference proper, they were given press releases with meaningless data and access -- in an area described as "a narrow box" -- to file reports in a room with no internet lines or connections.  State TV, controlled by Nouri al-Maliki, Al-Iraqiya broadcast fluff.  That's not surprising, Deborah Amos wrote a paper on how Nouri used Al-Iraqiya to campaign in 2010 -- to illegally campaign -- in the parliamentary elections.

    Kitabat explains that while every other news outlet  -- Iraqi and foreign news outlets -- was prevented from entering the main hall of the conference, Al-Iraqiya was allowed to enter and to interview various participants.  Ghazzanfar Laibi adds that one journalist -- not with Al-Iraqiya -- explains that not only were the journalists prevented from entering the conference to observe it but 'photo ops'?  They were all given one minute to take photos.  (All except Al-Iraqiya which roamed freely.)

    AFP's WG Dunlop managed to find coverage despite being denied entry:

  • At the office after a successful morning of not being allowed into Iraq CT conference. Highlight: the falafel I bought on the way back.
  • Loaded, unattended M-16 later replaced by equally unattended Kalashnikov at an entrance to Iraq CT conference.
  • Soldier has left his loaded M-16 in guard shack at entrance to Iraq counter-terrorism conference.

  • Despite being widely discredited, fake bomb detectors still in use by Iraq counter-terrorism conference security.

  • Nouri needs to be prosecuted for using those 'magic wands' (fake bomb detectors).  For those unfamiliar with the magic wands, let's drop back to the June 8, 2010 snapshot:

    In November of last year, Rod Nordland (New York Times) explained the 'bomb detectors' in use in Iraq: "The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works 'on the same principle as a Ouija board' -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wantd as nothing more than an explosive divining rod." They are the ADE 651s with a ticket price of between $16,500 and $60,000 and Iraq had bought over 1,500.  More news came with arrests on January 22: "Caroline Hawley (BBC Newsnight -- link has text and video) reports that England has placed an export ban on the ADE-651 'bomb detector' -- a device that's cleaned Iraq's coffers of $85 million so far. Steven Morris (Guardian) follows up noting that, 'The managing director [Jim McCormick] of a British company that has been selling bomb-detecting equipment to security forces in Iraq was arrested on suspicion of fraud today'." From the January 25th snapshot:

    Riyad Mohammed and Rod Norldand (New York Times) reported on Saturday that the reaction in Iraq was outrage from officials and they quote MP Ammar Tuma stating, "This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device."  Despite the turn of events, the machines continue to be used in Iraq but 'now' an investigation into them will take place orded by Nouri. As opposed to months ago when they were first called into question. Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) adds that members of Parliament were calling for an end to use of the machines on Saturday.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) notes the US military has long -- and publicly -- decried the use of the machines,  "The US military has been scathing, claiming the wands contained only a chip to detect theft from stores. The claim was based on a study released in June by US military scientists, using x-ray and laboratory analysis, which was passed on to Iraqi officials." 

    Today the BBC reports police raids took place at "Global Tech, of Kent, Grosvenor Scientific, in Devon, and Scandec, of Nottingham. Cash and hundreds of the devices have been seized, and a number of people are due to be interviewed under caution on suspicion of fraud."  Michael Peel and Sylvia Pfeifer (Financial Times of London) add, "Colin Cowan, head of City police's overseas anti-corruption unit, said investigators were seeking further information from the public about the manufacture, sale and distribution of the devices. Det Supt Cowan said: 'We are concerned that these items present a real physical threat to anyone who may rely on such a device for protection'." 

    The magic wands were a con.  They did not work.  They weren't scientific but they were a con job.  This is from the  May 2nd (May 2, 2013) snapshot:

    The wands didn't work, they were never going to work.  The liar who sold them, and got rich off them, James McCormick, was convicted last month.   Robert Booth and Meirion Jones (Guardian) report, "A jury at the Old Bailey found Jim McCormick, 57, from near Taunton, Somerset, guilty on three counts of fraud over a scam that included the sale of £55m of devices based on a novelty golfball finder to Iraq. They were installed at checkpoints in Baghdad through which car bombs and suicide bombers passed, killing hundreds of civilians. Last month they remained in use at checkpoints across the Iraqi capital."  Today, Jake Ryan (Sun) reports, McCormick, who is 57, was sentenced to a "maximum ten years today."Robert Booth (Guardian) notes Saad al-Muttalibi ("adviser to Nouri al-Maliki) is insisting Nouri's considering suing on behalf of the victims.  Actually, the families of the victims should be suing Nouri for allowing those things to be used for the last years, even after the wands were globally revealed to be a joke.  The Belfast Telegraph notes that McCormick "showed no reaction as he was told his 'callous confidence trick' was the worst fraud imaginable."  Jake Ryan quotes Judge Richard Hone stating, "The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category.  Your profits were obscene.  You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse."

    We long ago noted that Nouri's continued use of these magic wands after the conviction of James McCormick meant that Iraq couldn't sue (and win) for all the money they wasted purchasing this junk.  For there to be a successful lawsuit, Nouri would have had to responded by immediately pulling the wands and filing.  But that didn't happen.  Instead the dumb ass Nouri continued to use them even after a respected court found against the manufacturer and court testimony established these wands were worthless.
    It doesn't matter that they don't work.
    If you buy junk and use it, it's on you.
    Nouri lost the window for a lawsuit.
    The people of Iraq have not.  They can (and should) sue the Iraqi government for using magic wands at a time when bombs sweep Iraq daily.
    WG Dunlop got a story -- though he doesn't appear to have written it yet -- out of the conference by observing the lax security.
    The conference took place inside the Green Zone, that would be the same Green Zone that suffered a mortar attack today.  It was embarrassing, yet another failure to add to Nouri's long list of failures which is why he and his flunkies are by their rush to deny it even happened.  But a security source tells World Bulletin that, while "the shell didn't hit the presidential palace, which is hosting the conference," it did leave one man injured.

    Reporters weren't the only ones prevented entry to the conference.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Nouri also refused to allow rival politicians to take part including Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim.

    When not shutting out his rivals from his photo-ops, Nouri gets them removed from the running.

    From the March 4th snapshot:

     We have little room here but Alsumaria is reporting that another arrest warrant has been issued against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- this one calling him an enemy of the state.  We're bringing it up because it's thought that this is a series of warrants and that one not yet issued, but which may be issued, is for Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader.
    I'm not accusing Moqtada al-Sadr of any crimes.  I don't believe Tareq is guilty of any.  But an Iraqi MP e-mailed about this story and the rumors in Parliament that Moqtada fled to Iran because he was tipped off that the Nouri had ordered the criminal court to prepare a warrant for him.
    Cleric and movement Moqtada al-Sadr announced his political retirement February 15th.  February 18th, he delivered a speech --  CounterPunch posted the speech in full  -- emphasizing his decision. February 26th,  NINA noted the rumors that Moqtada left Iraq today, "The sources noted in a press statement that Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr left today's afternoon the city of Najaf heading to the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to complete his religious studies and stay away from the political scene as he officially announced for all Iraqis."
    Again, I'm not accusing Moqtada of crimes.  I do accuse Nouri of using the courts to go after his political rivals.  And I'm noting this due to an e-mail from an Iraqi MP who believes that the warrant against Tareq (who's already been illegally convicted in Iraq and sentenced to the death penalty four or five times now) is part of a series of warrants Nouri has had the Iraqi courts prepare against his rivals.

    Today?  All Iraq News reports two candidates have been arrested and charged with terrorism.  The two are members of Saleh al-Mutlaq's coalition: Faris Fahad Taha al-Faris and Emad Ahmed Natah.

    al-Mutlaq, of course, was targeted by Nouri at the end of 2011.  And, of course, he was also targeted in February 2010 when Nouri's Justice and Accountability Commission refused to allow Saleh to run in the parliamentary election insisting the man who is now the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq was a "Ba'athist."

    Parliamentary elections are supposed to be held April 30th.

    MP Sabah al-Saadi won't be running.

    Has he decided he no longer wants to be in Parliament?

    No.  Iraq Times reports that the Baghdad judiciary that Nouri controls (that's not disputable although the press pretends it is -- even the State Dept has admitted that in open Congressional hearings) has announced they've determined he won't be able to run for re-election.

    al-Saadi is a rather famous MP so it's surprising that not one western news or 'news' outlet has managed to report on his being kicked out of the upcoming election.  Sabah al-Saadi was the MP and his criticism of Nouri resulted in Nouri going crazy.   September 22, 2011, Nouri swore out an arrest warrant for al-Saadi. Let's drop back to the September 20, 2011 snapshot:

    Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports MP Sabah al-Saadi is stating there is no arrest warrant out against him and that the claims of one stem from Nouri al-Maliki attempting to cover up his own corruption and he states Nouri has deliberately kept the three security ministries vacant and he charges Nouri is willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power."  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The increasing violence is likely to be taken as a further sign of political gridlock in the Iraqi government, in particular the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to name permanent ministers for the key security posts 18 months after the March 2010 elections."

    For those who've forgotten (or never knew), Nouri's arrest warrant was received by Parliament and . . . nothing.  As an MP, al-Saadi has legal immunity (until his term is up -- if he can run for re-election it may be time for him to leave Iraq).  Only Parliament can remove that immunity -- check the Iraqi Constitution.  From the September 22, 2011 snapshot:

    Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's criticism of Nouri al-Maliki swearing out an arrest warrant for Sabah al-Saadi claiming that criticizing Nouri is a threat to national security (see yesterday's snapshot). al-Sadr has called out the move and compared it to a new dictatorship and issued a call for the government to work on inclusion and not exclusion. Another Al Mada report notes Sadr declaring that Nouri needs to drop this issue and focus on the needed political work. It's noted that the Sadr bloc waited until Moqtada issued a statement to weigh in and that the Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barazni declared that the Kurdish bloc would not support a vote to strip al-Saadi of his immunity. As a member of Parliament, Sabah al-Saadi should be immune to Nouri's arrest warrant for the 'crime' of speech. Currently, the warrant exists but cannot be executed due to the immunity members of Parliament have. So in addition to filing charges against al-Saadi, Nouri and State of Law (his political slate) are also attempting to strip a member of Parliament of his immunity.

    The US State Dept has refused, for two work days in a row, to hold press briefings.  They haven't refused to take tax dollars and put them in their pockets.  When they finally do address the press again, maybe someone can ask them about how Nouri is using the courts and the Justice and Accountability Commission to eliminate his political rivals?

    Mishaan al-Jubouri is a former MP who is running in the upcoming parliamentary elections . . . or thought he was.  Kitabat reports Nouri's court issued an arrest warrant for al-Jubouri.  Dropping back to the April 12, 2013 snapshot:

    Al Mada reports that the Electoral Commission has denied Mishan al-Jubouri the opportunity to participate in the elections due to his criminal record.  His party also won't appear on ballots.  This is seen as a serious "blow" for Nouri who had been publicly promising he would pardon him and publicly embracing al-Jubouri in an attempt to take support away from Iraqiya (al-Jubouri is Sunni).  State of Law (and Nouri) are seen as anti-Sunni.  Alsumaria adds that the Electoral Commission was told by the United Nations that al-Jubouri could not run due to his criminal record and that, if he ran, they would stop elections in all of Salahuddin Province.

    Nouri lost use for al-Jubouri in the second half of 2013 and the pardon promise vanished.

    The Justice and Accountability Commission was supposed to have ended.  When Nouri signed off on the 2007 White House benchmarks, that was supposed to have ended the JAC.  It didn't because Nouri's a damn liar whose word cannot be trusted.  Which is why the Justice and Accountability Commission remains today and works overtime to eliminate Nouri's rivals.  All Iraq News notes Najih Hamoud has just been excluded.  From the April 30th elections?  No, from the Iraqi Football Association elections.  He's currently the head of it but the JAC has determined that he is or was a "Ba'athist" and, as part of "the process of DeBa'thification" have announced he cannot run.

    Again, deBa-athification was supposed to have ended in 2007 -- it was one of the White House benchmarks Nouri signed off on.  If there was a functional US Congress, they might hold hearings on this.

    When not using the Baghdad courts or the JAC to eliminate his political rivals, Nouri can always just have them put to death.  AFP reports Nouri had 7 prisoners executed today.  AFP misses a bit.  4 were killed for 'terrorism.'  3 for being 'Ba'athists,' among other things, supposedly.

    1 of the 3?  All Iraq News explains one was executed for "crimes such as killing the father of MP, Safiya al-Suhail, who was opponent for Saddam Hussein."  Where are the Western news or 'news' outlets?

    Nowhere to be found.  They can't even Nouri  pushing a bill which would allow fathers to marry off their daughters at the age of nine-years-old.  Felicity Arbuthnot (Dissident Voice) notes:

    Less than a month before the 11th anniversary of the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, the near destruction of much of the country, heritage, culture, secularism, education, health services and all State institutions, the country is poised to revert “two thousand years” say campaigners.
    On February 25th, Iraq’s Cabinet approved a draft law lowering the age of legal marriage for females to nine years old.
    Iraq was, prior to the invasion, a fiercely secular country, with a broadly equal male, female workforce and with women benefiting from a National Personal Status Law, introduced in 1959, which remained “one of the most liberal in the Arab world, with respect to women’s rights.”
    The legal age for marriage was set at eighteen, forced marriages were banned and polygamy restricted. Cohesion between communities was enhanced and fostered by “eliminating the differential treatment of Sunnis and Shiites under the law (and erasing differentiation) between the various religious communities …” Women’s rights in divorce, child custody and inheritance were an integral part of the Law, with Article 14 stating that all Iraqis are equal under the law.

    When not trying to engage in human trafficking, Nouri likes to break international law and treaties which is why his War Crimes continue as he uses collective punishment on Anbar Province.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 130 civilians have been killed ("including women and children") and 740 injured in Falluja since the start of Nouri's assault according to Falluja General Hospital.  Anadolu Agency observes, "Since last December, the army has waged a major operation in Anbar with the stated aim of flushing out Al-Qaeda-linked militants.  Many local Sunni tribes opposed to Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, however, continue to voice anger over the operation's mounting civilian death toll."

    Today's violence?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports a battle in Anbar left Colonel Feras Hamoudi al-Sudani dead, a Mosul suicide car bomber took his own life and the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with three more left injured, 1 man ("teacher and restaurant owner") was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 24 suspects, a Kirkuk sticky bombing left one person injured, a battle in Ramadi left 3 Iraqi soldiers dead, a Mosul battle left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured, 1 "intelligence officer and his driver were killed northwest of Baquba,"  Nineveh Inedependent Elections employee Mohammed Mu'aiyad was injured in a shooting near his Mosul home,  Alsumaria adds an eastern Baghdad bobming left two people injured, a suicide bomber took his own life while attacking a western Anbar bridge (it collapsed) and killing 4 people while leaving six more injured, a bombing targeting the Hawija Municipality Director's home left four people injured,  and a Sadr City bombing left four people injured.

    Lastly, Iraq has 18 provinces.  Had.  Today the number rose to 19.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Head of Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani, signed the decision to transfer Halabja district to a province. so to be the fourth in Kurdistan region and ninetieth in the federal Iraq , As reported by a familiar source in Arbil to NINA today.
    Head of Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani earlier called on the provincial government to take the necessary administrative procedures to quickly convert Halabja to a province and not waiting for a response from the central government. 


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