Saturday, March 01, 2014

Matthew McConaughey

Confession, had a crush on Matthew McConaughey in Boys on the Side.

He was the cop who both was in love with Drew Barrymore and arrested her and put her behind bars.

A Time To Kill?

Oliver Platt ruined that film for me.  He ruins every film for me.

Then he went romcom and I thought, outside of Kate Hudson, why can't they get a good actress for him?


Drew, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan and assorted other women -- Cameron Diaz -- could have been paired with him but it seemed to always be the bottom of the barrel (Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner).

And I honestly wrote him off.

Then came Bernie.  That is an excellent film, he, Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine are amazing in that film.

Then came The Paperboy and Magic Mike and he was in a different field, a whole other plain.

Dallas Buyers Club continues this brave acting streak he's been on since at least Bernie.

And he really is amazing in that film.

Ever since he started doing films that seemed so not-to-be Matthew McConaughey films, he's really demonstrated what a great actor he is.

So I will be rooting for him Sunday night, watching ABC, hoping and praying that Matthew wins Best Actor.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, MSNBC preps another faux 'documentary' which they pretend is about Iraq but features no Iraqis, Jane Arraf takes to the airwaves to back her man (Nouri al-Maliki), if children are terrorists than Anbar may actually be the hotbed Nouri claims it is, gamesmanship and nonsense stalls a US Senate bill for veterans, and much more.

MSNBC  and microphone jockey Rachel Maddow attempted to fool people into believing they were attempting to do 'news' with a hideous 'special' in 2013 entitled Hubris: Selling The Iraq War.  If the title sounded familiar, it was because it was from David Corn and Michael Isikoff's book of the same title, their September 2006 book of the same title.  Seven years later, MSNBC pretended to be timely.

The special was nothing but crap.  That's all it was ever going to be.

Rachel Maddow is a carny barker and a War Hawk.  She spent her days at Air America Radio refusing to interview veterans against the war, glorifying the war and insisting the US military could not leave.

Those beliefs did not make her a star on Air America Radio.

They were, however, what MSNBC was looking for and because she continues to whore her awful ratings don't matter to the network.  They put a lipstick on their monkey and yell "Dance!" and Rachel does.

You have to feel sorry for her.  She's got no long range career.  She gets more rough looking each year and no woman's ever found a successful TV market for that.  Her stupidity gets worse and worse -- including but not limited to last week's smackdown on HBO where she was called out for yet again wasting air time with faux scandals meant to inflame.

We mention this for several reasons including that MSNBC is attempting another faux documentary.

(Christopher Guest should sue them -- or better yet, parody them, we all know Scott Baio could play Maddow in a minute.)

This one's called Why We Did It.


Toady's like Rachel Maddow always identify up.

Rachel (and MSNBC-GE-ComCast-Corporations-United) won't be offering anything of value.  You should grasp that.

Whores may warm the beds but they never feed the minds.

So Rachel will have professional liar Lawrence Wilkerson on again but this time she'll have him on with his true love -- his true love -- he'll always be his true love: Colin Powell.

Maybe Larry and Collie can make out.

Colin The Blot Powell will again get spit shined because that's what corporate stooges like Rachel end up doing.

She'll have the usual ridiculous guests from the CIA and Big Oil but don't look for Dahr Jamail or anyone who actually mattered on Iraq to show up.  Norman Solomon won't be a surprise guest.

Nor Janeane Garofalo.

Think about it, Janeane, before Air America even existed, was publicly against the war.  Unlike Rachel's low rated program Unfiltered (the highest of all the programs Maddow hosted or co-hosted), The Majority Report actually delivered ratings when Janeane was a co-host.  (Without her, the show sunk like a stone.)

And Janeane is camera ready, smart and attractive.  But MSNBC gave the cloying Rachel Maddow her own show.  Where she vouches for her own goodness with one lie after another but fails to bring in viewers or actual information.

Rachel Maddow is a War Marketeer.

That's all she'll ever be.

She's out to out-butch every other man and woman and she's been that way her whole life.  That's why she supports wars -- all wars -- and why she's so off-putting.

I don't have a major problem, for example, with Dana Milbank.  But I also don't mistake him for a reporter or anyone important on the topic of Iraq.  He's a columnist -- most noted for his sexism -- especially via the "Mad Bitch" 'joke' he did in 2009.

This is the sewer MSNBC wades though to find guests.

A columnist like Dana Milbank who can point to one (so-so) piece of pre-Iraq War reporting on Iraq?  (Remember when his feelings were hurt by Michael Massing over this issue back in 2004?)   His work was nothing.  Contrast that with Robert Scheer's work and the fact that the Los Angeles Times got rid of Scheer to be part of the drumbeat for war.  But Scheer won't be part of the special.

Again, Janeane won't be on it.  Norman Solomon won't be on.  Dahr Jamail won't be on.  Laura Flanders who did some solid radio on Iraq before and during the early years of the illegal war will not be on the program.

We'll hear what wouldn't pass for DC cocktail chatter 8 years ago presented as  'information.'

The Iraqi people will yet again be ignored as though they don't even matter.

Grasp that.

MSNBC is about to do another Iraq "documentary" which ignores the Iraqi people.

To further ensure that sweeping generalities and broad abstractions are the only thing presented, they won't book Cindy Sheehan either.  Don't ever get close to grief or truth on these specials, just step back and watch MSBNC's Brave Little Lesbian go down to the hairy root on Colin Powell.

Maddow will be cheered by some for being such a wonderful whore.

We're not cheering her here.

Ray McGovern is a bit of a joke -- to put it mildly.  But he believes he's educated on 'the blot' and wants to run defense for Collie Powell.  (He did that last year at Consortium when he wondered if 'good soldier' Collie might have just been conned himself.  If you never get what a craven whore Robert Parry has become, go into Consortium's archives looking up Ron Kovic and you'll find out that Colin Powell was disgusting and a liar long before the Iraq War.)

Only War Marketeers like Rachel Maddow allow history to be rewritten to benefit the scoundrels.

They strip everything of meaning and context so that all that's left is factoids and 'based on a true story.'

And it's meaningless and unimportant.

To tell the story, you need the Iraqi people.

There was a ridiculous piece by the New York Times this week where they let a veteran pontificate on how no one could understand unless they were there.  No, no, no.  You were a guest -- an uninvited one -- in another country.  Do not for one moment think you speak for the Iraqi people

Only the Iraqi people can speak for themselves and your brief experience in their country is neither historic or unbiased.  You are the warrior that entered their country to attack.  You can take pride in that, you can disown that, you can atone for it, whatever, but never pretend you can speak for the Iraqi people.

And MSNBC needs to stop pretending that their studio interviews with generic American talking heads makes for a documentary.

Or that they care about Iraq.

If they gave a damn about Iraq, they'd be covering what's going on now.

If they gave a damn about veterans, they would have been covering the veterans bill that hit the roadblock yesterday.  Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports, "U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget."  Josh Hicks (Washington Post) notes, "On Tuesday, GOP lawmakers tried to trim the VA bill and add sanctions on Iran for that nation’s nuclear program. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blocked those attempts."  Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News) explains:

While the bill technically failed to clear a procedural hurdle relating to spending measures, the real fight was over amendments. Republicans wanted free reign to offer alterations to the bill that could reduce its costs and change how it was paid for, but also to impose new sanctions on Iran relating to its nuclear program. The president has repeatedly asked both Republicans and members of his own party not to impose additional sanctions while the U.S. and six other world powers negotiate a long-term agreement to wind down the country's nuclear program, but some lawmakers want to put into place conditional penalties that would take effect if Iran's government fails to comply with the interim agreement in place.

Senator Bernie Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  He and Senator Patty Murray held a news conference late Thursday after the legislation did not pass.  (These quotes are notes from a friend covering the conference for their news outlet.  I was not present.)

Senator Bernie Sanders:   I'm very pleased to be joined by Senator Murray who, among other things, is the previous chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Let me just say that, I am disappointed that despite the significant effort to make this legislation -- legislation which protects the interests and the needs of millions of veterans into a bi-partisan effort that we could only get two Republicans to vote to overcome the budget concern.  This bill to a very significant degree is bipartisan.  Two of the major provisions in it -- to the Omnibus bills -- were passed with unanimous support.  A number of other provisions had strong majority support.  And the few provisions that were not discussed in Committee have passed the Republican [controlled] House with overwhelming bipartisan support.  So I'm not going to tell you this is a 100% bipartisan bill.  It wasn't.  But it was a significant bill.  My hope had been that maybe, just maybe, when you deal with the needs of people who have sacrificed so much for this country -- and I think, Senator Murray and I, as Chairs of this Committee, understand what war has done to tens and hundreds of thousands of young men and women in this country, I thought that maybe, maybe just on this issue, this Senate could come together and do the right thing for our veterans.  But at the end of the day -- at this point, at least -- we've only secured two Republican votes.  The needs of our veterans are significant.  Senator Murray will go into one of important components of this bill which I take very seriously and that is the helping wounded veterans be able to have families.  There is another provision which is also enormously important.  We have tens of thousands of families out there taking care of vets.  We did the right thing in 2010 passing a care givers bill for the post-9/11 veterans, we should do it for all veterans. This legislation opens the door for some new veterans to access VA health care, to begin to get dental care.  We built 27 new medical facilities that have long been in need.  We do away with the cuts in COLAs [Cost Of Living Adjustment] completely for military retirees  -- including those who entered into the service after January 2014.  At a time when the economy is in rough shape and we want the young men and women coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to be able to go out and to get jobs, get their lives together, we do that.  We deal with the issue of sexual assault.  This according to the veterans organizations is the most comprehensive piece of veterans legislation introduced in many, many decades.  And I want to take this opportunity to thank the American Legion, the VFW, the DAV, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Gold Star Families, all of the veterans, dozens of veterans organizations who supported this legislation.  I am going to keep going on this.  We are not going to give up on our veterans.  And at some point or another, we are going to pass this legislation.  Now let me just conclude by saying, I honestly -- and I mean this not from a political point -- I really do have a hard time understanding how folks here in the Senate, some of our Republican colleagues, do not have the slightest hesitancy about voting for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country, for billionaires, are not concerned that 1 out of 4 corporations in this country does not pay a nickle in taxes -- federal income taxes -- including some of the largest corporations in America.  And that's apparently okay. But when we need, over a ten year period, $21 billion for our veterans?  Apparently that's just too much.  Well I urge them to go out and talk to the veterans and their families and see if that is too much.  So, we're going to keep up the fight and I want to thank all of those people who have supported this effort.  Thank you.

Senator Patty Murray:   Thank you so much, Senator Sanders, for your leadership on this.  And, you know, really given what we've seen recently on some bills that, by the way, an overwhelming majority of Americans support, I guess we shouldn't be surprised by what the Republicans did today.  But I, like Senator Sanders, truly did think that this would be a different story.  And that's because, as he outlined, it contains ideas from both Democrats and Republicans.  This has historically been an issue that unites us.  And because everyone of us has pledged to do whatever it takes on behalf of our veterans.  But once again, as we just saw, our colleagues have decided to use unrelated issues to block progress.  This time, on a bill that would have greatly benefited our veterans and their families.  And I want to just talk about one example on how veterans stood to benefit if this bill could have moved forward.  Currently today, the VA is specifically barred from providing coverage for reproductive services like in vitro fertilization to severely wounded veterans or their partners.  This is an old, antiquated and absurd ban but it is nonetheless the law today.   And because of that law, veterans who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with catastrophic reproductive urinary and pelvic wounds have seen their dream to have a family dashed because of the tremendous cost of IVF services in the private sector.  We believe that's really unacceptable.  We believe that IVF is a cost of war to these men and women and the VA should absolutely cover it.  So this comprehensive veterans package would have overturned that ban on providing IVF services in this part of VA medical care.  But because of political games today with this legislation, our colleagues are just saying to these heroes, 'Sorry.  Despite the fact that you have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation, we can't provide you with the medical services you so desperately need to start a family.'  Every American can see how wrong that is.  And even with the VSOs and the leaders who have stood up and said issues like Iran sanctions have no place in this conversation, they [Republican senators] did it.  So it's really quite sad that politicians who claim, out on the campaign trail, that we should do anything and everything to help our veterans, here, in Washington, DC, they killed bills like this one with procedural votes.  And there was no excuse for bringing in an important but completely separate issue like Iran sanctions into a debate which is about veterans -- their health and their well being. Because one issue we should never be divided on is our duty to keep the promise that we've made to provide not only care but opportunity to all of those who've honorably served in our nation's armed forces.  And I will continue to work with the Chair of our Senate Veterans Committee, Senator Sanders, to get this bill passed as we move forward. 

We're going to weigh in here.

First, Senator Richard Burr is against the measure, voted against it.  He's the Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His thinking is that this will open up new claims and new needs at a time when the VA still struggles with a huge backlog.  I disagree with him but I do understand his argument, he's made it before with other VA issues and it is consistent on his part.

If every Senate Republican opposed to the bill had been opposed for these reasons, then it would be an issue of getting the veterans and veterans family communities to speak up even louder about what they feel is needed.

But as Senator Murray notes, there was also the issue of sanctions on Iran.

I'm not going to attack anyone for their belief on this issue.

Let's pretend for a moment that is appeared US President Barack Obama knew what he was doing regarding Iran.  (It does not appear that way and not just because of the weapons contract between Iraq and Iran but also because there are legal obligations for the US government with regards to the Ashraf community in Iraq.  Those obligations are not being met and it's unethical and possibly illegal for the US government to be getting in bed with the Iranian government while the Ashraf issues are still in play.)

But let's pretend Barack knows what he's doing.

Even in such a scenario, that really doesn't mean much.

The US and Iran may be about to enter a new phase.  That could be great.  That could be awful.  That could be nothing.

But these are issues for the people to address and then for their government to represent them on.  There has been no serious discussion on Iran -- in part because cable talk shows passed off as news programs focus on the stupidest of topics but also because Barack presented this as not a discussion to have but 'here's what I'm going to do.'

I can understand Republican Senator X being fearful that a huge mistake is being made and, having that belief, needing to fight for national security by all means possible.

But all means possible does not include the veterans.  As I've noted repeatedly here for about 8 years now, the Veterans Affairs Committees work -- in the House and the Senate.

And they work because the people serving on those Committees agree to work together for the benefit of the veterans.

Attach the Iran issues to a DoD bill and I don't care and I don't think most Americans do.  Fears over Iran are national security issues so block a DoD bill.  Most Americans also wouldn't care if it blocked a farm bill or a trade bill.

But as the federal government has spent about 13 years now being dysfunctional and the only thing you can point to with pride is the Veterans Affairs Committees -- which are also the only thing that both Bully Boy Bush and Barack both respected -- you really don't risk destroying the only hope the Congress has provided.

I praise the people who serve on the two Committees.  There are times in the hearings that I'll duck my head because my tears well up when you see two members who dislike each other's policies put that to the side to work on what needs to be done.

You've got a disagreement, that's fine.  And I won't call you crazy for a national security concern -- even though it's not one that I share.  (At the current rate, my guess would be this administration will bungle this opportunity as well.)

But Americans don't have a lot of faith in a decaying system.  Just this week, CBS News has reported on their poll where 59% of Americans express disappointment in Barack.  The Supreme Court approving ObamaCare did damage because of (a) the grounds on which they approved it and (b) Roberts' vote is still inexplicable.  Prior to that the Court's decision to grant personhood to corporations had made it questionable and the one-time-only-ruling-this-isn't-a-precedent in Bush v. Gore remains a stain.

So what's left or the federal government?  Congress.

And they argue every week and it doesn't really seem to most people -- get out and go around the country, leave your bubble -- that they're arguing because they're each trying to do the best for the American people.

The one area where it was felt that the Congress focused and worked was on veterans issues.

When you destroy that, you destroy the last hope many Americans had for a government that sees people leave their positions rich and rushing off to get richer -- these positions that are supposed to make them public servants.

But if that was all fakery and pretense, then it's good that the bill went down so that Americans can see that no part of the federal government currently functions.

I used to think I was intrinsically better than some people in this country because I was a Democrat.  I deluded myself for decades.  But the corporatist policies of Barack Obama stripped those illusions away forever.  There is nothing intrinsically better about being a Democrat. And that realization led me to stop feeling it was my duty to parrot DNC talking points or to defend hideous policies and programs that are inherently wrong and unneeded.

ObamaCare is worthless unless you are the insurance industry.  If you're them, it's great that a law was passed forcing Americans to buy health care.

If you're not the insurance industry, you should be appalled for various reasons including Congress refusing to do their job (my own House Rep Nancy Pelosi ridiculously insisting the legislation had to be passed first before they could figure out what was in it), including a member of Congress being strong armed into supporting it (Dennis Kuccinich who needs to take that private conversation with Barack public and stop just offering it to those of us who encounter him) but most of all for being a betrayal of what FDR and so many envisioned: an America where everyone could get medical care and treatment.

That's what universal health care.

The reality is that ObamaCare will never be that and can never be that.  It forced everyone to buy a policy.  The policies aren't all equal.  And many individuals and families don't have the money so they get the worst possible ones which means if they're really, really sick, they'll go to the doctor.  Otherwise, they're going to try to tough it out and self-prescribe at their local drug stores.

The Democrats had control of both houses of Congress and the White House.  They could have easily provided universal health care.  All they to do was expand Medicare.

But it wasn't about health care.

And that's why ObamaCare takes what was your option to buy insurance and turns it into a legal requirement that you do.  This was about ensuring the health of the insurance industry, not the health of the American people.

The populace is becoming more jaded and more awakened.  If the Congress can't pull it together for even the veterans, it will just confirm a growing belief across the country that our elected officials are concerned about everything except We The People.

The Iraqi people live in dire conditions -- lack of jobs, poverty widespread, lack of public services, the violence, the corruption and so much more.

Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I'm about to say
Could mean the world's disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain
It's that 
Love's in need of love today 
-- "Love's In Need Of Love Today," written by Stevie Wonder, first appears on his Songs In The Key Of Life (click here for George Michael doing a strong cover version -- and March 17th, George's Symphonica is released).

A group of Iraqis, Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports feel that Iraq is suffering from a shortage of love:

On Feb. 14, 2011, in Liberation Square in Baghdad, a campaign titled “Love Iraq” started. It was attended by hundreds of young people carrying red hearts and dressed in black to express their grief for the homeland and the will to change. The demonstration has taken place every year since.
Ahmad al-Baghdadi, one of the founders of the Love Iraq campaign, told Al-Monitor that the campaign’s goal has two parts. First, to spread a culture of love in the face of violence, terrorism and sectarianism, in a peaceful and civilized way and by means of change, which depend on a culture of peaceful protest. And second, to try to involve the civil current, intellectuals and democracy advocates in the process to reform the system.
When asked if anyone has harassed them, Baghdadi said that they had faced many obstacles in obtaining official permission for the Feb. 14 demonstration, and they were surprised by the fact that the security forces deployed in the parks where the demonstration was supposed to take place.
Al-Monitor spoke with many young people participating in the demonstration, and they expressed various demands regarding civilian life, including reforming and developing the educational system; fighting corruption in the government and state institutions; and improving services. They all said that all what’s happening in their country — the escalating violence and mismanagement — are the result of a lack of love for the homeland.

Love may be in need of love today but there's also a huge shortage of common sense.  If you ever doubt that, close your eyes, wait ten seconds and Jane Arraf will appear.  The one whose role at CNN was to obscure the brutality of Saddam Hussein's leadership still sees that as her role today only now she covers and obscures for thug and prime minister (for life?) Nouri al-Maliki.

Jane took her tired show and questionable ethics to PRI's The World:

"We sort of took our eyes off the ball," said Baghdad-based reporter Jane Arraf. "In the meantime, all of those fighters who US troops were fighting as well as a whole range of other influences, particularly the Syrian conflict next door, have gathered and now there is a war in Fallujah."

Did 'we' take our eyes off the ball?

You mean reporters, Jane?  Because that's what you're supposed to be.

Second, you don't know what's in Falluja.

Jane has a lousy reputation among Iraqi journalists because, even the young ones, have noticed what qualifies as news to Arraf and what doesn't.

Here are photos of two 'terrorists' that Jane Arraf apparently feels were appropriately targeted by Nouri.

  1. نموذج آخر لأهداف جيش المالكي الارهابي في حربه على الشعب: .
  2. نموذج لأهداف جيش المالكي الارهابي في حربه على الشعب: .

Those are children.

They aren't 'terrorists' and Nouri's used that term so much it should have no meaning.

He's been calling protesters that since 2011.

And Arraf should know that but apparently she 'reports' at the pleasure of Nouri.

That is what made her stay silent about so much in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, right?

Who's the real terrorist?  Those two young children or the thug that's using weapons to attack the people of Iraq, to go to war on them as if Anbar were a foreign country.

John Catalinotto (Workers World) reports:

United States weapons are still killing Iraqis as the government that the U.S. 10-year-long occupation installed bombs the rebellious cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. According to supporters of Iraqi sovereignty around the world, the regime of Nouri al-Maliki has exaggerated the presence of al-Qaida-like groups to justify its assault on the population.
Workers World received a release from the Iraq Solidarity Association in Sweden, dated Feb. 18, summarizing the atrocities caused in Fallujah and announcing a solidarity contribution to the city. The ISAS is one of many groups supporting an initiative for a meeting in mid-April in Brussels, Belgium, to look into ways of filing legal claims for reparations for the Iraqi people from U.S. and British imperialism, the countries that led the 2003 invasion and occupation that is still bringing harm to Iraqis.
Fallujah was one of Iraq’s small cities hit particularly hard by a relentless U.S. military assault in 2004. Thousands of residents were killed and much of the city destroyed at that time.
Fallujah – the city that never surrenders
“According to direct reports from inside Fallujah,” says the Feb. 18 statement, “the General Hospital has received at least 92 dead and 542 wounded since the government attack began. The city is surrounded by government troops that have to-date attacked the hospital eight times. Doctors and nurses have been killed or wounded in the attacks.
“The hospitals in Anbar Province suffer greatly from a lack of medicine and medical equipment. Some of the staff have been evacuated. The U.N. reports that 62,679 families or more than 370,000 people have been forced to flee the attacks in Anbar.
“In Fallujah itself, there is no food, and the inhabitants are reduced to drinking unsanitary river water. The people who remain to defend the city refuse to give up their homes and neighborhoods to government troops or to the handful of terrorists who seek to control the town. Fallujah has been in the foreground during the last year of widespread popular, national, nonsectarian protests against the regime that is the result of the U.S. occupation.

Again, who is the real terrorist because it's looking like it's Nouri al-Maliki -- the puppet Bully Boy Bush installed in 2006 and that Barack demanded a second term for in 2010 (after Iraqi voters said otherwise).

BRussells Tribunal carries "Iraq - Genocide in Fallujah" by the European Parliament's Struan Stevenson:

The unfolding tragedy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah seems to have slipped off the international radar screen, as the focus of the global community drifts from Syria to Kiev and back again. The humanitarian situation in Fallujah is dire. The sectarian prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki has surrounded the city with thousands of troops, effectively sealing it off. The Iraqi air force has mounted daily bomb attacks, cutting off electricity and water supplies and destroying several bridges in an effort to prevent food and water from reaching the besieged inhabitants. Last week, they bombed Fallujah General Hospital, killing nearly all of the doctors and nurses and many of the patients and forcing its closure. More than 300,000 people have been made homeless.
Ban Ki Moon and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) continue to plead with Maliki to provide humanitarian aid to the city and to enter into negotiations that can bring an end to violence in the predominantly Sunni, Al Anbar Province. The sharp response from the aggressively pro-Shia prime minister was there would be "no negotiation with terrorists." In a single sentence he has labeled all of the residents of Iraq's largest province as "terrorists" in order to justify his genocidal campaign.

The assault on Anbar Province continues.  NINA notes Nouri's forces have walled off Falluja with dirt and one of their mortar attacks today -- during the supposed 'truce' and 'cease-fire' -- left two children and two adults injured when the mortars hit their home.  NINA also reports:

Sheikh Ali Hatim Al-Suleiman said :, "The tribal Council is ready to accept any initiative to end the crisis in Anbar , stipulating army withdrawal from cities and civilian locals as well as stop the indiscriminate shelling of Ramadi and Fallujah cities.
He said in a statement to the National Iraqi News agency / Nina / : "The allegations by some about / Daash / in Anbar are almost exaggerated , unfortunately used by some politicians and tribal leaders in Anbar who present unreal image to the government about the situation in Anbar to serve their personal interests. emphasizing his personnel readiness to combat it and expelled any of Daash elements."

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 913 violent deaths for the month so far.

Today, the last day of the month, did not see violence disappear.  National Iraqi News Agency reports security sources are stating they killed 15 Da'ash in Ramadi, an armed attack on a Mosul police station left 3 police members dead and eight more injured, a Mosul car bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, a Baquba attack on a family "working in an orchard" left 3 people dead and one woman injured, a Heet suicide bomber took his own life and left 12 security forces dead or injured, a Peshmerga was left injured in an Alfakkah Village shooting, 1 suicide bomber targeted the home of a local council member Saiid Flayih leaving 6 of Flavih's relatives and bodyguards dead with twelve more people left injured, and, late last night, a Hibhib home invasion left 3 family members dead and one injuredAll Iraq News adds that 1 medical doctor, Dr. Sadiq Juma Abbas, was shot dead in Basra "while he was going out of his clinic."


Thursday, February 27, 2014

A 9-11 revelation

Did you visit Information Clearing House today?

It's a site I do try to visit Monday through Friday.

They're a great resource.  They offer some original content and amplify some content that you might have missed elsewhere.

I missed Guy Taylor and John Solomon's report for the Washington Times:

February 27, 2014 "Information Clearing House - "Washington Times" - In a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Washington Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef.

Mr. Curran gave the testimony in 2010 to an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists. The Times was recently alerted to the existence of the testimony while working on a broader report about al Qaeda’s origins.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission, congressional intelligence committees and terrorism analysts told The Times they are floored that the information is just now emerging publicly and that it raises questions about what else Americans might not have been told about the origins of al Qaeda and its early interest in attacking the United States.

Can you believe that?

I can.

I can also believe the silence that's greeted this huge revelation.

The government was never honest about 9-11.

Later in the report, a member of Congress says this will just fuel 9-11 'conspiracies.'


That's what happens when you lie to people.

I have no idea what happened September 11, 2001.  I will entertain possibilities, but I don't know what happened.

I do know the government lied.

I do know the Jersey Girls tried to get the important questions asked but were ignored and brushed off.

I do know the 9-11 committee ignored and brushed off whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, Nouri doesn't have the forces to enter Falluja but continues to pretend otherwise, Osama al-Nujaifi visits Erbil, Senator Patty Murray fights for veterans and their families, and more.

Starting in the US with Senator Patty Murray.

That's Senator Patty Murray speaking on the floor of the Senate today about a very important issue.  For those who need or prefer text, here are her remarks:

“On Tuesday I came here to the floor to discuss one issue we are rarely divided on in this building. And that is our duty to keep the promise we’ve made to provide not only care - but opportunity - to all those who’ve honorably served in our nation’s Armed Forces. The comprehensive veterans legislation before us today is really the test for many members of Congress. Can we put politics aside for the good of our nation’s veterans to keep that promise? Can we show these heroes that - despite our differences - we will work as diligently toward getting them the benefits and care they’ve earned as they have worked for our nation?
“Unfortunately our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are indicating they’d prefer to put politics over promises under the guise of an alternative to this bill. Given what we have seen recently on other bills supported by a majority of Americans, I shouldn’t be surprised. But I truly did think this bill would be a different story. Because it contains ideas from both Democrats AND Republicans. Because this is an issue that has historically united this body. And because we have ALL pledged to do whatever it takes on behalf of our veterans. But once again, our colleagues have decided to use unrelated issues to sour this entire effort for the veterans and their families who stand to benefit the most from this comprehensive legislation.
“Additionally, with their alternative bill, they’ve stripped away life changing programs for veterans who are looking to take the skills they’ve learned from the battlefield to the boardroom. They’ve decided to halt the expansion of opportunities for caregivers – who are integral to the health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable heroes. But among these – and many other – examples of the Republican effort to derail this landmark legislation, there is one issue I find most egregious: And that is their shameful opposition to providing our catastrophically wounded heroes with access to the reproductive services they so desperately need to start a family.   
“This shouldn’t be a political issue – Because this is about giving veterans who have sacrificed everything -- every option we have to help them fulfill the simple dream of starting a family. As we all know, our men and women in uniform have become increasingly susceptible to reproductive, spinal and traumatic brain injuries due to the changing weapons of war. But thanks to modern medicine, many of these servicemembers are being kept alive and are returning home. In fact, as of the New Year, there are 2,348 servicemembers who are living with reproductive, urinary or pelvic injuries. And like so many of our veterans, these men and women come home looking to return to their lives, to find employment, and so often to start a family. Yet what they find when they go to the VA is that the fertility services available don’t meet their complex needs. 
“In fact, veterans suffering from these injuries find that the VA is specifically barred from providing more advanced assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF. They are told that despite the fact they have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation we cannot provide them with the medical services they need to start a family. Veterans like Staff Sergeant Matt Keil  – and his wife Tracy.
“Despite returning home from Iraq a quadriplegic, Staff Sergeant Keil and Tracy started exploring the possibilities of starting a family together. But because his injuries prevented him from having children naturally, Tracy turned to the VA and began to explore her options for fertility treatments.  But because of the VA ban, they were turned away. Out of options, the Keil’s decided this was important enough to them that they were willing to pay out-of-pocket for IVF treatment in the private sector – to the tune of almost $32,000 per round of treatment. Thankfully, Staff Sergeant Keil and Tracy welcomed their twins Matthew and Faith into the world after just one round of treatments.
“Tracy told me, ‘The day we had our children something changed in both of us. This is exactly what we had always wanted, our dreams had arrived. The VA, Congress and the American People have said countless times that they want to do everything they can to support my husband or make him feel whole again and this is your chance. Having a family is exactly what we needed to feel whole again. Please help us make these changes so that other families can share in this experience.’
“Tracy and Matt are not alone. There are many men and women out there who share this common thread of a desperate desire to fulfill their dream of starting a family only to find the catastrophic wounds they sustained while defending our country are now preventing them from seeing that dream through.
“It should not be this way. Unfortunately, Republicans are indicating they will not join us in overturning this absurd and antiquated ban. Apparently they’d rather our nation’s heroes spend tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family. They don’t see the problem in letting our veterans’ marriages dissolve because the stress of infertility, in combination with the stresses of readjusting to life after severe injury, driving their relationship to a breaking point.
“Any servicemember who sustains this type of serious injury deserves so much more. Because we came VERY close to making this bill a reality last Congress. In fact, with Tracy Keil watching from the gallery here, we unanimously passed this legislation. Unanimously. 
“But here I am today, once again imploring Republicans to stand up and explain to our men and women in uniform – who I know are paying very close attention to this debate – And explain to them why they want to turn their back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars. On Tuesday, I spoke to a crowded room of heroes from Disabled American Veterans – and told them the heartbreaking story of the Keil Family and why we need this critical legislation. And if their cheers and applause are any indication, I’d say they wholeheartedly agree that our women veterans deserve this, our male veterans deserve this, and our military families deserve this.
“So I’ve come to the floor today to ask my colleagues a simple question: Are you willing to tell all those brave men and women -- that didn’t ask questions when they were put in harm’s way -- that you are going to let politics get in the way of our commitment to them? The catastrophic wounds we have seen from injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant that our veterans’ dreams to start a family have been put on hold because of the tremendous cost of IVF services. But we believe that’s a cost of war that VA absolutely should cover and it’s unacceptable to let unrelated issues stand in the way.
“Even the major Veterans Service Organizations and their leaders have said issues like Iran sanctions have no place in this comprehensive veterans legislation. People like American Legion Commander Daniel Dellinger who said, ‘Iran is a serious issue that Congress needs to address, but it cannot be tied to S. 1982, which is extremely important as our nation prepares to welcome millions of U.S. military servicemen and women home from war.’
“Or IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff, who called this comprehensive legislation, ‘a game changer that will change the trajectory for millions of veterans for decades to come.’
“As serious and timely as they may be, unrelated issues like Iran sanctions are calculated attempts to intentionally dismantle our bipartisan effort to expand health care, education opportunities, employment and other benefits for our nation’s heroes. We can’t allow our commitment to them to lapse or to get caught up in separate issues or political grandstanding.
“I’d like to once again thank the Senator from Vermont and his staff for their tireless work to work to bring this legislation here to the floor.

“I hope our colleagues will reconsider opposing this common-sense step that will give those who have sacrificed everything the reproductive treatments they need to start a family.”

Good for Senator Murray.

But I'm really confused here because we've been attending House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings for years and what Senator Murray's calling for and backing has never been seen as controversial in hearings.  It's been seen as needed and no member of either Committee over the years has ever uttered an objection in a hearing.  So these objections that are coming now?  No one offered to the faces of veterans and their families.

Senator Murray notes the Keil's in her statement today.  And no one had an objection when Tracy Keil appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and declared,  "I'd like to emphasize this statement: War time changes a family, it shouldn't take away the ability to have one."

Tracy's husband is Iraq War veteran Matt Keil.  She appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee June 12. Senator Murray was the Chair of the Committee then (she now chairs the Senate Budget Committee and Senator Bernie Sanders now chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee).  Murray had  S. 3313, The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012.  to address these issue.  We covered that hearing in the June 27th and June 28th snapshots and let's drop back so we can let Tracy Keil discuss why legislation is needed:

My husband Matt was shot in the neck while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq on February 24, 2007 just 6 weeks after we were married.  The bullet went through the right side of his neck, hit his vertebral artery, went through his spinal cord and exited through his left shoulder blade.  Matt instantly because a quadriplegic.  When I first saw him 3 days after he was injured I was in shock, they explained to me that he had a "Christopher Reeve type injury."  He would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life and would never move his arms or legs.
Matt and I looked at each other in his hospital room at Walter Reed and he asked me if I still loved him? I said "baby you're stuck with me!" at that moment we knew that we would be okay if we stayed in this together.  I knew that we just needed to work really hard to get Matt off his ventilator to increase his life expectancy.  Ultimately we moved to Craigh Hospital in Denver to be closer to family support.
Four weeks to the day of arriving at Craig Hospital in Denver, Matt was officially off of his ventilator and we could truly concentrate on him doing physical rehabilitation.  Matt has regained about 10% function of his left arm but not his hand.  He was feeling good and getting used to his new normal of being in a wheelchair and asking for help for everything.
It was while we were at Craig Hospital that we started talking about having a family.  Craig doctors talked to us about in vitro fertilzation and recommended some doctors for us to speak to when we were ready to start a family.  We started to get really excited that even though so much had been taken away from Matt physically that we could still have the future we always dreamed of. 
My husband is the most amazing man I have ever met, he is strong, honest and loyal and he wanted us to both have everything we always wanted before his injury and we agreed that this injury wasn't the end, it was the beginning of a new life, and we were in this together.
We had our whole lives ahead of us.  Matt was just 24 when he was injured and I was 28.  We are very fortunate that he survived his injuries that day and we made a promise to each other on our wedding day "For better or worse, in sickness and in health" I meant every word and still do today.  It is a challenge for my husband and I everyday but we knew we still wanted to start a family.  I remember back when he was in rehabilitation at Craig  Hospital it's all we could talk about was when we were going to be adjusted to our new normal and when we would we be ready to have children. We always knew we had wanted children.
In 2008 we moved into a fully handicap accessible home built for us by Homes For Our Troops.  We were starting to feel like things were falling into place in our lives.  We felt like we were starting to get back on track to where we were before Matt was injured.
His injury unfortunately prevents him from having children naturally.  In mid 2008 I started asking the VA what services they could offer my husband and I to assist us with fertility.  I can remember hitting road blocks at every turn.  I decided to take things into my own hands and write letters and make phone calls to try and get anyone to listen to us that we needed help.  Fertility treatments are very expensive and since I had left my full time job we were still adjusting to living on one income.
I felt helpless and hopeless and thought that our dreams of having a family may never come true.  The VA finally said that they would cover the sperm withdrawal from my husband . . . that costs $1,000 and that they would store the sperm for us at no charge.

It was very difficult when I found out there was no help available for us from the VA or Tricare. I felt very defeated, sad, disappointed and in some ways I felt helpless.  I researched everything I could about how to get Tricare to cover some of the costs but they couldn't because it was a direct result of my husband's injury and that fell under the VA.  The VA said that they had no programs in place for this sort of thing.  I even started asking non profits to assist with the cost and they couldn't help due to the other immediate needs of injured service members.

Why did Tracy and Matt suffer?

Because there was nothing in place to take their situation into account.  There are many other veterans families in the same situation.  They're not asking for a high rise or a shiny car, they just want to be able to have a family.  And they can.  It is medically possible.

Matt Keil didn't say, "Hey, I want a vacation.  I think I'll go to Ramadi and work on my tan."  The US government sent him to Iraq and that is where he was injured.  How dare anyone in Congress think they can ignore his needs now.

And there was no objection in the Senate in 2012.  The following year, US House Rep Rick Larsen noted, "The Senate unanimously approved a version of this bill authored by Sen. Patty Murray last year, but the House did not act on the companion legislation that Larsen had introduced before the end of the 112th Congress. Murray reintroduced the Senate version of the bill earlier this year."  So in 2012, universal support and, two years later, someone's 'rethought' it?  Maybe they need to explain to the veterans?  Rick Larsen is a Democrat.  He made his observation when he and Republican House member Steve Stivers joined together to introduce similar legislation in the House.

It also needs to be pointed out that DoD  provides this service  for service members.  It's just VA that's not providing it for veterans.  It is thought that the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War have produced approximately 2,000 veterans who could utilize this service.  Why are they being denied it?  How does this not fall under needed health care.

The costs would not 'break the bank' and it really is the right thing to do.  To quote Tracy Keil one more time, "I'd like to emphasize this statement: War time changes a family, it shouldn't take away the ability to have one."  Shame on anyone in the US Congress who can't grasp -- or refuses to grasp -- that.

Violence has slammed Iraq this month. Just through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 853 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  And the violence didn't stop yesterday.  The Buenos Aires Herald counts 52 deaths today.

National Iraqi News Agency reports an al-Shaab bus bombing claimed 1 life and left three more people injured, Commander Rashid Falih announced 4 suspects were shot dead in Anbar, a Tarmiyah bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, Commander Mohamed Khalaf al-Dulaimi of the 10th Army Division announced 10 suspects were killed in Krahh Village near Kirkuk, 1 person was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, Baghdad Operations Command's Saad Maan announced 7 snipers were shot dead outside Qarma, an armed battle in Albu Jabir left 3 rebels dead (and two more injured), the Ministry of the Interior announced they killed 4 Da'ash "near al-Mowdhafeen bridge in Anbar," a Mosul attack left one police officer injured, the Ministy of Interior says they killed 4 Da'ash in the desert of Ishtar, and a Sadr City motorcycle bombing left 11 dead and 35 injured.

Kareem Raheem, Suadad al-Salhy, Ned Parker and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) report  the death toll of the Sadr City bombing increased to 31 with the number injured increasing to 51.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhau) notes the death toll then rose to 32 with the injured rising to 56.  The Irish Times adds, "The motorcycle was in a market in the Shia Muslim neighbourhood that sells used bikes and was filled with people, mostly young men."

It should also be noted that many outlets are running with usual claims of Sunnis and blah blah.  Why would Sadr City be attacked by Sunnis?  And the attack also comes after yesterday's report that Moqtada al-Sadr had left and returned to Iran for more religious studies.

Who knows who attacked Sadr City?

But the best guess anyone could make right now would be that a Shi'ite group attacked and that possibly the increased danger in Sadr City is why Moqtada left for Iran.

Moving to another topic,  Anadolu Agency reports Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi went to Erbil (in the Kurdistan Region) today to meet with  KRG President Massoud Barazni and discuss the "tension between the sides [Baghdad and Erbil] over oil exports and budget distribution."  NINA reports Sadr bloc MP Bahaa al-Araji has talked about the visit, "Al-Araji told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that Nujaifi’s visit to the Kurdistan region came upon the authorization of the heads of political blocs , who met with him in order to finally resolve the standoff between the federal government and the Regional government. " Hiwa Barznjy (Niqash) explains the issues behind the conflict:

Conflict between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan over oil exports has resulted in something of a financial crisis in the northern region. State employees haven’t been paid, MPs are threatening to resign and there are rumours that Turkey was asked for a loan. Negotiations are continuing but some senior politicians are saying that Iraqi Kurdistan is ready for financial independence if a compromise is not reached soon.

Negotiators from the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan have visited Baghdad three times already this year. They went there to discuss many of the seemingly-intractable conflicts that the partially-independent region populated mainly by Iraqis of Kurdish ethnicity is having with the rest of the country, as governed from Baghdad.

The list of these conflicts is similar to those of past years: The disputed areas of Iraq which the Iraqi Kurdish say should belong to their region but which Baghdad says belong to Iraq proper. The oil and gas law - Iraqi Kurdistan has one and Baghdad does not. Who pays for the services of the Iraqi Kurdish military, the Peshmerga. Iraqi Kurdistan’s share of national income, based on oil earnings.

Nouri al-Maliki has been unable to stop the KRG's various oil and gas deals because there's no national oil and gas law.  Along with stomping and screaming like an angry child, Nouri's also attempted to use the country's budget to blackmail the Kurds.   Press TV (link is text and video) notes:

The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region says Baghdad’s decision to withhold the budget is a declaration of war against Kurdistan. President Massoud Barzani’s comments come as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continues to withhold Kurdistan’s share of the national budget. That includes monthly wages of more than $700m for hundreds of thousands of government employees. 

Rudaw adds, "The Iraqi government has suspended the flights of two small airlines that operate between Europe and the Kurdistan Region, an airport official in Erbil said, the latest in an oil feud between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurds."  NINA reports:

The President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani said: "The source of the problems is (breach the constitution and the monopoly of power and the failure to provide security)."
Barzani added, during a meeting with the Director General of the Department of Middle East and North Africa in the French Foreign Ministry, Francois Giroux, according to a statement to the presidency of the Kurdistan region, " getting Iraq away from all the meanings of the state and non- delivery of services and the failure to provide security is the result of breaching the Constitution and the monopoly of power."
Barzani expressed his hope that "the political parties' commitment by the constitution and hold elections for the House of Representatives opens avenues towards resolving the problems in Iraq."

Nouri has been a huge failure.  The Economist notes of his assault on Anbar:

Since sending the Iraqi army to dismantle a protest camp in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, in December, Iraqi security forces have been embroiled in a standoff with tribal fighters, some backed by al-Qaeda types who are also fighting in neighbouring Syria. From a former American base, the Iraqi army has mortared the outskirts of the city of Fallujah, sending over 300,000 civilians fleeing in the biggest displacement since the civil war of 2006-2007.
Iraq’s government bills the battle as a fight against al-Qaeda rather than a struggle against Sunni Iraqis who say the government arrests and executes its young men and has shut it out of power. Unable to speed up delivery of American attack helicopters, the Iraqi government has persuaded the American government to lease it some. Both Iraqi and foreign journalists are banned from the area.

All Iraq News notes that Sabah Karhot, Chair of the Anbar Provincial Council, is declaring that Nouri's extended a 'cease-fire,' "'The duration granted by the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki to suspend the military operations in Fallujah city, was extended for a week.''

What a load of nonsense.

Nouri did a 72-hour move he called a 'cease-fire' (one he called '72 hours' as well) and it wasn't (see Monday's snapshot).  Civilians in Anbar were injured and killed by the military's bombings.

Get honest, it's insulting at this point to lie so.

Nouri doesn't have to forces to enter Falluja.

He's been threatening to count to three and turn this car around, he means it, for about five weeks now.


Because it's past time to enter Falluja.

But he can't.  The military keeps deserting on him.  They don't want to go in.  I doubt they're 'scared,' it's like Nouri 2008 attack on Basra.

That resulted in mass exodus from the ranks.  They self-checked out because they didn't want to go hand-to-hand with other Iraqis, they didn't see signing up for the Iraqi military meaning they had to kill Iraqis.  It's happened again.  It's the least reported development in the assault on Anbar, the defections. There was a very high profile one over the weekend but AP, Reuters, AFP all ignored it.  All Iraq News reported, "The chairman of the military council of Anbar, Ali Hatim al-Sulaiman, fled of Anbar to unknown destination."

Nouri's a War Criminal.  He's not being nice or doing a 'cease-fire.'  He's had an excuse one week after another.  And the reason for these excuses?   He doesn't have the forces to enter Falluja successfully.

Despite Nouri's attacks on the Iraqi people, the White House keeps insisting he must armed and armed again.   Erin Evers (Human Rights Watch) observes:

The US has long supported the Iraqi government with arms, though the Iraqi government has committed serious, widespread abuses against its own people in the name of counterterrorism. That has proven ineffective in combating terrorism but has stoked resentment. Psaki acknowledged that the US has “providedthe Iraqi military and security forces with more than $15 billion in equipment, services, and training,” and recently delivered to Iraq “Hellfire missiles and hundreds of small arms along with large quantities of small arms and tank ammunition,” but did not address the copious evidence giving cause for concern that Iraq will use these weapons to continue abuses.
The State Department’s own 2012 Human Rights report noted that “Human rights violations committed by [Iraqi Security Forces] personnel were rarely investigated, and perpetrators were seldom punished,” and that the government “did not take widespread action to reform security forces to improve human rights.”
The new Human Rights Watch research about the treatment of women in Iraq’s criminal justice system, for example, shows that security forces frequently subject detained women to torture and ill-treatment, including the threat of sexual abuse. In early January, Anbar residents told us that the army’s mortar fire on residential neighborhoods had killed at least 25 residents in the first few days of fighting in Fallujah.

In November, we documented how Iraqi security forces, including agents from Special Weapons and Tactics [SWAT] in the Counterterrorism Service [CTS]—precisely the security forces who, along with the army, are at the forefront of the fighting in Anbar—abused residents by surrounding and closing off majority Sunni neighborhoods, illegally raiding homes and carrying out mass arrests. Since 2010 we have repeatedly reported that security forces including SWAT, Federal Police, and the army use unlawful force against peaceful protesters; carry out illegal arrests, interrogations, and detentions, and systematically use torture during interrogations.

It's just one critical pan after another for thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Justin Marozzi (The National Newspaper) reviews constitutional attorney Zaid al-Ali's new book The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy:

Much of this book, in fact, can be read as a passionate polemic against Al Maliki who, with the Americans, must surely take a great share of the responsibility for the unholy mess in which Iraq is now stewing.
Instead of seeking to build an Iraq that eschewed sectarianism, al-Ali writes, “his sole concern became to capture the state and to divide and conquer opponents, to remain in power for as long as possible”. By those limited, cynical criteria, so typical of Iraqi politics in living memory, and perhaps far beyond, Al Maliki’s efforts have been an unqualified success: parliament emasculated; armed forces shunted under his direct control; the judiciary nobbled; critics intimidated and silenced.