Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nina Simone and the state of music

I love writing about music.  And that’s not just a plug for my review which will go up on Sunday.  Last week, Elaine wrote about music ("Music") and noted:

Nina Simone.  I can remember when I was introduced to her music by C.I. in college.  There was a time when we lived on two albums:  To Love Somebody and Here Comes The Sun.

To Love Somebody not only contained Nina's cover of the title track (a Bee Gees song), it also included her powerful versions of "Suzanne" (the finest recording of that song in my opinion) and a very powerful version of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."

It's a solid album with the Beatles' "Revolution" and other songs.  But as much as I love To Love Somebody (and I do), Here Comes The Sun is even better.

She's like a cooling rain on a hot day with her cover of George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun."  "O-o-h Child" and "New World Coming" are excellent performances as well but, most of all, the album works as a whole.

It's truly amazing, as is Nina Simone.

Nina Simone is a one of a kind treasure.  When Tower Records was still around, I used it as my excuse to write about Nina by covering a collection they had on sale (“Nina Simone The Solid Gold Collection”). 

She’s a one-of-a-kind artist and I’m glad I was able to get her into my reviews at The Common Ills.
“Ooh Child” is one of those songs that you love – in the original form or as a remake – but then you hear Nina sing it and it’s like hearing it sung right for the first time.

She offers so much gravity to the song that it’s reborn.  And when she caresses a note, it’s like a blessing. 
Nina wasn’t a singles artist.  I always wonder what that means for her legacy.

Especially today when it’s about ‘tunes’ and not albums.

Nina is very much an album artist.

And yet we’ve got an entire generation that I don’t believe grasps what an album really is.

Like if they come across Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, they’re thinking it’s a greatest hits.  “Oh, look, Millie, they’ve got all the hits we love on this collection – ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ even!”

If you’re talents exceed a single track on iTunes, how do you end up making an impression?

It’s a question worth asking.

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

Friday, July 11, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, election season heats up in Iraq, what is the status on Iraq's president who's been out of the country for over year, and more.

Let's start with some wisdom from Noam Chomsky.

  • I mean, suppose it was true that Iran is helping insurgents in Iraq. I mean, wasn’t the United States helping insurgents when the Russians..

    1. ... invaded Afghanistan? Did we think there was anything wrong with that?

    From wisdom, let's move to confusion: the status of Iraq's president.  
    December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.
    This week, Rudaw noted the rumors that Jalal might "soon return to Kurdistan" and quoted his son Qubad stating Jalal was "willing to return."  Dropping back to the April 3rd snapshot:

    Here are all three photos:

    Jalal may not be able to fulfill his duties as president but he's clearly the new reverse Streisand.  For years (up until Funny Lady), Barbra hated to be filmed from an angle that emphasized the right side of her face.

    For some reason, Jalal refuses to show the left side of his face.

    That's true in the photos above, true in all of the photos released so far including back in May of 2013 when  Jalal was posed for his first series of photos (below is one example).


    What's wrong with Jalal's right hand?  And why does the Talabani family keep releasing still photos instead of video?  Can Jalal speak?  What range of motion is he capable of?

    Like all the previous photo releases, the latest ones don't answer those questions.

    The only advance evident in the latest photos is that Jalal can now smile and show teeth.  That's not sarcasm.  Whether he can do a full smile or not is unknown.  He may only be able to manipulate the right side of his mouth.  Clearly, his recovery has not been the 'progress' that the Talabani family has repeatedly announced.

    Rudaw noted this week:

    Since December 2012 when Talabani was rushed to Germany after a serious stroke, the PUK has only released some photos of the ailing leader. But there have been no videos to show the extent to which Talabani -- who is also Iraq’s president – is able to move or talk. The pictures alone have not been enough for the public to gauge the degree of the ailing leader’s recuperation.
    Latif Rasheed, who is the husband of Talabani’s sister-in-law and appeared in the president’s latest photos, said those pictures were taken last Newroz.
    [. . .]
    Rasheed also added that, “In the future videos and photos of Talabani will be released.” But he did not say when that would be, nor did he give any other details.
    However, a source close to the Talabani family denied speculations both of his imminent return or that videos of him would be released anytime soon. “No videos of Talabani will be released,” the source said.

    Why no videos?

    What is clear is that Jalal should have been relieved his duties.

    He's not done is job since December 2012.

    APA reported Thursday on the rumors that Jalal was dead -- rumors which include he's dead and has been dead and that the Talabani family plans to announce the death immediately after the elections are held.

    And as elections approach, the need for a president is felt even more.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reports:

    On April 4, the Iraqi Council of Ministers endorsed the “national safety” bill, which regulates the state of emergency and defines the prime minister’s powers and the steps he can take during “emergency” measures, which mostly fall under “martial law.”
    However, the bill sparked a controversy when it reached parliament and was published. Most of the debate focused on fears that “the law could be abused by the government to liquidate its opponents,” according to former Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who pointed to a number of deficiencies in the bill’s mechanisms and loopholes.
    Other political parties wondered why the bill was proposed just ahead of the elections, and suspected that the timing pointed to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s intention to cancel the elections and dissolve parliament. 
    Raising suspicions further was the fact that the bill, which requires a two-thirds vote in parliament in accordance with Article 61 of the constitution, is being put forth at a time when parliament is unable to hold a regular session to approve the budget. This prompted the parliament’s rapporteur, Mohammed al-Khalidi, to say, “The government sending the National Safety Law to parliament is evidence of [its] failure to provide security, which it hasn’t achieved in the last 10 years.” He expected the bill to be moved to the next session. 

    Nouri wants a third term as prime minister -- many fear it.  After two failed terms, it should be obvious how little Nouri has to offer other than attacks. His State of Law coalition should be a concern all itself.  Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Kadhem al-Haeri, a cleric who has close ties with the Islamic Dawa Party and the Iranian regime, issued a fatwa March 30 banning the election of secular candidates in the upcoming elections. Large banners were hung in many areas of Baghdad and included a picture of the marja (spiritual guide) and the signature of the party’s office. The banners read: “It is forbidden to elect secular candidates.” The banners, hung late in March, are still present in some areas in Baghdad.
    This fatwa has come in tandem with a media attack by ruling Islamic parties against the secular movement. The official media outlets of these parties are constantly instilling fear among the people regarding the “dangerous agendas” of secular candidates, claiming they have links to foreign parties and ties with the former regime.
    A good example of this drive is what recently happened to civil activist Hanaa Edwar, known as the "Mother Theresa of Iraq" for the large-scale humanitarian services she provides there. Almasalah, affiliated with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, accused Edwar of raising the old Iraqi flag from the era of deposed President Saddam Hussein and of being involved in corruption cases, without presenting any documents or supporting evidence. The website also described her critical stance against Maliki and the Iraqi government’s violations of human rights during a conference held by Maliki himself in 2012 as “exhibitionist, theatrical and characterized with overreaction and self-inflation.”

    Related, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes,  "In a press conference last week, Sadr called on Maliki not to run for a third term. He said: 'Brother Maliki thinks he served Iraq. Let him rest for four years, and see if whoever comes next would serve better.' "

    Saad N. Jawad (MiddleEastOnline) offers:

    Meanwhile, al-Maliki is already working hard and effectively to eliminate his rivals and critics. His policy is to alienate possible rivals by discrediting them through the courts, accusing them of involvement in criminal acts or corruption (even if they have not been sentenced) or of being former Baathists (through the de-Baathification committee, known as the High Commission for Justice and Accountability). It has also been rumoured that al-Maliki has been giving loyal members of the armed forces two electoral cards, and not distributing these cards properly in areas where he thinks his popularity is low.
    These tactics of rigging elections and referenda have been used before. During the referendum on the permanent constitution, the government tampered with the results in order to prevent three provinces from rejecting it. There are indications that the US embassy, which was pressuring all the political coalition to approve the constitution in order to justify the US strategy of pulling out of Iraq, approved of this method by not objecting to it. When the results from Anbar and Salahuldin (Tikrit) provinces were negative, the government then tampered with the results from Ninevah (Mosul), claiming the no votes did not constitute the majority needed to reject the constitution. Another method was not to send ballot boxes to areas regarded as being against the constitution.

    One of Nouri's rivals  almost didn't have more time to serve today -- he was the target of an assassination attempt today.   World Bulletin reports, "Iraqi Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq and lawmaker Talal al-Zawbai survived an attempt on their lives in western Baghdad on Friday."  DPA notes the attack took place in Abu Ghraib.  al-Mutlaq is running for re-election.  Parliamentary elections are supposed to take place April 30th.  al-Mutlaq is a Sunni and, until 2013, was considered part of Iraqiya (the coalition that won the 2010 parliamentary elections besting Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition).  AFP reports:

    While an interior ministry official said only that gunmen attacked the convoy, Mutlak's assistant specifically blamed the army.
    "We were the target of an assassination attempt by the army who opened fire on us, and the bodyguards responded in the same way," the assistant said, without elaborating.
    There is widespread anger among Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which complains of being marginalized and mistreated by the Shiite-led government and security forces.

    BBC News notes that al-Mutlaq's "office said the gunmen were in fact Iraqi soldiers, and a source described the encounter as a 'scuffle'."  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Al-Arabiya Coalition headed by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, counted on Friday the assassination attempt against al- Mutlaq as an attempt to get rid of the national symbols and personalities.. for the implementation of suspicious projects and schemes.
    A spokesman for the Coalition Muhannad al-Bayati said in a statement to the National Iraqi News / NINA/ that the assassination attempt against al- Mutlaq aims to remove him from the concerns of people.

    Saad Abedine (CNN) reports, "One of al-Mutlaq's bodyguards died in the attack, and five others were injured."  BBC offers, "His office also told the BBC that, contrary to earlier reports, nobody was killed in the fighting."  AP notes, "A group of armed men in army uniforms and driving military vehicles opened fire at their convoy, triggering a shootout with guards and soldiers protecting al-Mutlaq, said al-Zobaie." Sherif Tarek (Los Angeles Times) explains, "In the upcoming elections, more than 9,000 candidates will compete for 328 seats in parliament."

    al-Mutlaq and al-Zobaie weren't the only politicians who were targeted today.  NINA reports:

    A bomb exploded on Friday outside the home of a candidate for / Arab Kirkuk / Coalition in Wahed Huzairan neighborhood in Kirkuk .
    A security source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA/ that the bomb was exploded outside the home of a candidate for / Arab Kirkuk / Coalition Yacob al-Emara, and the blast wounded his wife and son , as well as causing major damage to the house .
    It is worth mentioning that al-Emara has been subjected three years ago in to an assassination attempt by adhesive bomb in his car led to his badly injured.

    In other election news, Alsumaria reports a candidate has been arrested for attempting to buy electronic voting cards.  They offer this report on why some citizens might sell the cards (poverty).  All Iraq News reports,  "The Kurdistani Alliance announced its rejection to the nomination of the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, for a third term of the Prime Minister's post."

    If elections do take place April 30th, parts of Anbar Province will not be participating in the elections.  From Tuesday's snapshot:

    Dar Addustour reports that IHEC's Muqdad al-Shuraifi held a press briefing with the Supreme Security Committee in Baghdad today  in which he announced that not all areas of the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province will be able to vote because the IHEC will not send staff and supplies into areas they deem unstable. That's hilarious and sad at the same time.  Baghdad will be allowed to vote, its inhabitants will vote in polling stations throughout the city.  But Baghdad's experienced high levels of violence -- see-sawing with Falluja in the last nine months for who was most violent.  But Baghdad will be allowed to vote.
    March 31st,  All Iraq News reported, "The employees of the Independent High Electoral Commission in Siniya district of nothern Tikrit have resigned due to the threats of the armed groups."
    But Tikrit will be allowed to vote.
    It's really hard to believe that the decisions are really just about fear of violence.  It's hard to believe that the strong opposition to Nouri isn't part of the reason.  (Yes, Tikrit is Sunni dominant.  It saw protests against Nouri -- as did Sunni dominant Mosul.  But the protests were nothing like the ones which took place in Anbar.)
    But if it really is about fear of violence, possibly it's about the fear that Nouri's military will start bombing the polling centers.

     Jason Ditz ( notes the continuous efforts to disenfranchise Anbar:

    Yet that seems to be what is happening in Iraq’s Anbar Province, where the central government is treating it less and less like an equal province and more like a tribal frontier where locals enjoy fewer rights.
    We’ve been seeing the first steps toward this for months, with the conspicuous exclusion of Anbar from official government monthly reports on violent deaths, even though it is the province with the largest number of such deaths.

    Nouri has no leadership skills and lacks common sense as well.

    When an area already feels disenfranchised, if you're seeking peace, you don't make them feel even more disenfranchised.

    At every opportunity to bring Sunnis into the fold, Nouri has instead attacked.

    He has no skills, he has nothing to show for 8 years as prime minister -- nothing but a death toll.

    Nouri al-Maliki's ongoing assault on the civilians in Falluja continues and he got three 'kills' today.  How proud the thug must be.  Alsumaria reports three children were wounded in the bombing of the residential areas of Falluja and 3 more children were killed.

    If you missed it, every outlet attempted to cover Saleh al-Mutlaq today.

    It's a real shame that the Associated Press, the BBC, and so many others refused to show the same concern when it comes to 3 dead children.

    But they never do.

    The treat any politician almost harmed -- almost -- as news but left children die and they look the other way.

    Let's turn to some of today's violence.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Ghatoon-Razi roadside bombing left 1 man and a child dead (with three more people injured), 2 rebels were killed in a battle near Aladheim, a Halawah Village bombing left 1 person dead and nine more injured, and Joint Special Operations Command announced they killed 44 suspects in Anbar.  All Iraq News notes that 1 woman (a teacher) was shot dead in Mosul.   Alsumaria adds the corpse of a police member was discovered outside of Kirkuk, hours after he was kidnapped and that two people in Ramadi were injured by a rocket attack.  Margaret Griffish ( counts 54 dead today.

    mushreq abbas

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Guns and Butter

    Renee asked if I still listen to Guns & Butter?

    Yes, but since I'm never home during the week (San Francisco) these days/years, I listen to the archived broadcast online.

    It's a great show.  Bonnie Faulkner goes where no one else wants to go and I applaud her for that and for always making lively shows.

    That does not mean I always enjoy the guests.

    Not every one is as wonderful as Peter Dale Scott, for instance.

    I loathed Rowland Morgan, for example.

    If he had any points to make, he failed to do so.

    He was on to discuss a number of 9-11 topics (including that cell phone calls were not being made) and he might have been persuasive were it not for how he 'destroyed' every one he went after.


    They were Christians.

    Because of that, he savaged and attacked them.  One or two were end-of-timers.  That's a form of Christianity.

    He even attacked one book because it was published by a publishing house that also publishes end of times books.


    As offensive as his attacks on those who believe in Jesus were, his stupidity really went off the rails on the book publisher.

    I'm at C.I.'s DC area home.  This is our base when we're attending Congressional hearings.  C.I. bought it after we'd repeatedly used a Georgetown home of a friend of hers.  So anyway, she's had it a few years.  We all have our own rooms to decorate -- we being Ava, Wally and me.  C.I.'s put in bookshelves and the beds and the bureaus, etc.  But like I have vinyl album covers on the walls in here (Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation, the Beatles' With The Beatles, The Mamas & The Papas' Deliver, etc.).  And when the rooms were first being furnished, C.I. put a number of books in the rooms -- based on our personal tastes.  So for example, Wally's bookshelves have books Wally's added in the last years as well as all these James Bond books that C.I. got for Wally (Wally's a huge Bond fan).

    Citadel Press is on my bookshelf, represented by Call Her Miss Ross, J. Randy Taraborrelli's book on Diana Ross (in softcover). Now I love Diana.  So I like that there's a book about her.  But I could trash Citadel Press for publishing this book.  It's one of many they publish -- at my hone, I've got a dirty jokes book that they published as well.

    Point being, most publishing houses publish a variety of books.

    I'm not really sure where a series on end of times books or vampire books or whatever go to discrediting a book itself.

    Rowland also was offended that one of the 9-11 widows appeared before the President and the Congress and was introduced to all assembled before Tony Blair ("the Prime Minister!").

    What a pompous little bitch Rowland was.  He might be a source of tremendous information but until he learns to stop slamming Christians and book publishers, he's going to have a hard time reaching out beyond his own limited circle.

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

    Thursday, April 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, elections 'analysis' from Brookings is a joke, new alliances emerge in the lead up to the April 30th planned elections, in the US Senator Patty Murray stands up for caregivers, Condi Rice and Eddie Vedder remain business partners, and much more.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Thursday, April 10, 2014                                                       (202) 224-2834

    Murray joined in Senate chamber by Senator Elizabeth Dole and caregivers from across the country
    “There is no way we will sit by and let caregivers and veterans face this on their own -- not when we can make it at least a little bit easier.”

    (Washington D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor to introduce legislation aimed at making critical improvements to how we support our ill and injured servicemembers and veterans and their caregivers. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act follows the release of a RAND Corporation report commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation that calls attention to the challenges faced by America's military and veteran caregivers. Sen. Murray was joined in the chamber by Senator Elizabeth Dole and caregivers from around the country who could be directly impacted by this legislation. Senator Murray helped lead congressional efforts to establish the original veterans caregiver benefits program and as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee pushed VA to stop delaying implementation of the program.   

    “Like so many of our men and women in uniform, our nation’s military and veteran caregivers don’t ask for much. In fact, rarely do they ask at all,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Too often these caregivers sacrifice their income, their relationships and even their own health to look after their loved one who is ill or injured as a result of serving our country. These caregivers provide a critical support system for our nation’s heroes in situations that many times mean the difference between life and death. It is our duty as a nation to not only provide those who have served with the care and services they’ve so rightly earned, but ensure those looking after them are also afforded these much-needed resources. I’m honored to introduce this legislation today as a major step in improving and expanding on the original caregiver benefits program and am so grateful for Senator Dole’s vision and commitment to this issue in calling the nation to action. I urge our colleagues to join us in this bipartisan effort to support these hidden heroes.”   

    "Last week we released the results of the RAND research my Foundation commissioned. The evidence-based study is the basis for our national call to action for support of America's military and veteran caregivers,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “Just one week later we celebrate the leadership and patriotism of Senator Patty Murray who is taking swift action on the legislative front and providing an example for bipartisan members of Congress to follow as we pursue increased, holistic support for America's hidden heroes.”

    Sen. Murray's bill introduction comes one day before First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will host former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Senator Elizabeth Dole at the White House to discuss the findings of the RAND report, as part of their Joining Forces initiative.
    WATCH video.

    READ bill text.
    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary | New Media Director
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834

    RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

    On Congress, we covered the Wednesday's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in Wednesday's snapshot.  Ava covered it last night with "No accountability at the VA (Ava)" and Ruth continued her coverage of Tuesday's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with "Laughable John Kerry says retirement is the same as death."

    From the US Congress to the Iraqi Parliament, April 30th is the day Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections.  Along with determining who will serve in Parliament, the elections are supposed to determine who will be named prime minister-designate (supposed to, hasn't happened so far).  Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

    Still on the subject of the campaign posters, Iraq's always useless Ministry of Women (headed by a woman who doesn't believe women should have rights) is having a fit.  Kirkuk Now reports males are taking photos of themselves kissing the posters of some female candidates.  If there's a problem with this it would be that it may be (or may be interpreted) as ridiculing female candidates.  But the Ministry of Women?  It's "immoral," they say.  It's kissing a poster.  Again, the Ministry's headed by Nouri's hand picked anti-women woman.

    We'll note this Tweet from Ruwayda Mustafah today:

  • New trend in Iraq: men kissing the posters of female election candidates and uploading the pictures online. F*** you.

  • Kholoud Ramzi (Niqash) reports today on how all the posters being mocked:

    Election campaign posters are telling cynical Iraqi voters nothing – there is barely any information on political aims or manifestos. So ordinary Iraqis are getting their own back with ridicule, sarcasm and some judicious photo shopping.

    Election campaigning started in Iraq last week with literally thousands of would-be politicians trying to win around 22 million voters’ hearts and minds by election day, April 30. And the cities and towns of Iraq are now filled with campaign posters and placards, the streets are full of candidates shaking hands, kissing babies and distributing alms to the poor.

    But all of this is also having an unintended effect in many quarters of Iraqi society. Outdated slogans, empty rhetoric and unnecessarily dramatic or heroic poses on placards have become fuel for ordinary Iraqis’ cynicism about the political process and fodder for jokes and mash ups. None of the information available really offers anything useful or allows voters to read a manifesto that would help them decide who to vote for and why.  

    A poster for Ahmad Jassim, who apparently represents the interests of the poor and unemployed, was ridiculed because the candidate was posed “like Rose, in the movie Titanic”. Some Facebook wits altered the picture to make it look as though the candidate was facing Leonardo DiCaprio.

    Kenneth Pollack offered an idiotic analysis last week.  I'm used to whorish American 'analysts' who pin all the blame on the government of Iran and ignore what the US government is done so this wasn't all that surprising:

    Iran wields considerable influence in Iraq, unquestionably more than any other foreign country and far more than the United States.  It was Iran that ultimately engineered Nuri al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister in 2010 by strong-arming the Sadrists to back him.  It was the Iranians who preserved his rule in 2012 by convincing Jalal Talabani to refuse demands to call for a vote of no-confidence—a vote that Maliki seemed likely to lose. 

    Pollack is with Brookings and to their credit and his credit they at least pay attention to Iraq but I'm just not able to stomach the whoring.

    Iran's government probably was involved in the decision and certainly the First Lady of Iraq makes pilgrimages to Iran all the time.  However, as Americans, we should be holding our own government accountable.

    And Pollack doesn't have any desire to do that.  The US government was all over Talabani to prevent the vote against Nouri from taking place.  They pressured him with face-to-face visits, they pressured with phone pleas (including from Vice President Joe Biden).  We covered all of this in real time.  It's nearly two years later and Pollack won't cover it but will point out that Iran supposedly pressured Talabani (I don't doubt that they did but I don't know that they did -- I do from State Dept friends that the US government pressured Talabani -- the same way I know that the State Dept asked for net censorship and got it and we'll probably be writing about that here in a few days).

    The no-confidence vote was an attempt to oust Nouri.


    Because the US government demanded Nouri get a second term as prime minister even those his State of Law lost the 2010 parliamentary elections to Ayad Allawi.  How did they do that?

    They brokered an extra-constitutional contract (The Erbil Agreement).  The US told the leaders of the political blocs that Nouri had refused to step down for 8 months following the 2010 election and he could go for 8 months more.  As Nouri refused to step down, the government was at a standstill (this is the political stalemate) and the US flattered the egos of the leaders telling them they were the bigger persons and that they could do what was right for Iraq and sign this legally binding contract and let the country move forward.
    Now that was playing to their egos and flattering them.  That didn't get to sign over a second term to Nouri. To get that, their had to be quid pro quo.  So, for example, to get the Kurds on board, it was written into the contract that Article 140 of the Constitution (which would resolve who gets Kirkuk -- the KRG or the central government out of Baghdad).

    All of these various promises were written into The Erbil Agreement and Nouri put his binding signature to it like every political bloc leader.  Nouri used the contract to get his second term.  He immediately then said it couldn't be implemented immediately.

    He stalled on delivering his end of the promises.  That was November 2010.  By the summer of 2011, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya were publicly calling for Nouri to implement the rest of the contact -- the part of it where he kept his promises to them.

    At this point, Nouri's spokesperson starts the contract wasn't legal.

    As Nouri continued to refuse to implement his end of the contract, pleas were made for the US government to help -- this contract was sold with the backing of the White House ("the full backing," Talabani was told). The pleas fell on deaf ears.  As the contract was still not implemented at the start of 2012, the Constitutional measure of a no-confidence vote was raised.  By April, Moqtada had signed onto the notion.  He repeatedly stated in public that Nouri could end the move towards a vote at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement.

    They began gathering signatures and got enough.  The signatures then go to the President (Jalal) who forwards them onto the Parliament.

    Under intense pressure from the US government -- and, Pollack says, from the Iranian government -- Jalal invented these 'powers' where he was supposed to vet signatures.  He wasn't.  Nor was he supposed to say, "You did sign it?  Okay, would you sign it now?  Are you really, really sure?"  He trashed the signatures.

    Then he ran to Germany, pretending he had a serious medical problem.

    As we were noting last week, call it karma, call it the universe, whatever, it has a way of slapping back.

    Jalal had elective knee surgery.  But he lied that he had a life threatening medical problem and had to leave for Germany to be treated.  He lied because the fallout from his unconstitutional actions was huge.

    But Jalal's in Germany now, has been for about 16 months now.  And he really has had a life threatening problem.  So maybe he shouldn't have lied in May of 2012 because the universe made his lying true.

    Pollack, if he got honest, probably could do a good analysis.  The crap he offered last week wasn't a good analysis. It included this garbage:

    In addition, Muqtada al-Sadr’s bizarre and unexpected decision to disband his political party and withdraw from politics has further benefitted Maliki.  Many former Sadrists are expected to sign on to Maliki’s SoL coalition. 

    Is Pollack that stupid or he is that much of a whore?

    I have no idea but I read those lies and just want to scream.  We already covered this b.s. spin that Moqtada's followers were going to flock to Nouri.  It's xenophobic and pretends that Shi'ites will support any Shi'ite.  From the February 18th snapshot and we're using "--------" to note the beginning and the ending of the excerpt:

    Moqtada al-Sadr was strong armed into supporting Nouri -- strong armed by the Iranian government.  His followers never supported Nouri.

    More than that, they clearly rejected him.

    Does no one remember what happened in 2010?

    For one thing, immediately after the elections Moqtada threw it to his supporters 'who he should back?'

    Have we all forgotten that?

    From the April 7, 2010 snapshot:

    That interview took place Monday and while there is no coalition-sharing government/arrangement as yet from the March 7th elections, Friday and Saturday, another round of elections were held -- this to determine whom the Sadr bloc should back. Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left). Following the invasion, Ayad Allawi became Iraq's first prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari became the second and Nouri al-Maliki became the third. It's a little more complicated.
    Nouri wasn't wanted, Nouri wasn't chosen. Following the December 2005 elections, coalition building took place and the choice for prime minister was al-Jaafari. But the US government refused to allow him to continue as prime minister. The Bush administration was adamant that he would not continue and faulted him for, among other things, delays in the privatization of Iraq's oil. Though the US had no Parliamentary vote, they got their way and Nouri became the prime minister. al-Jaafari had won the vote with the backing of al-Sadr's bloc, just as he won the vote that took place this weekend. The vote can be seen as (a) a show of support for al-Jaafari whom Sadarists have long supported and (b) a message to the US government. 

    Stop lying that Nouri benefits from Moqtada dropping out.  He doesn't.

    The Sadr bloc can't stand Nouri -- that's been obvious in Parliament for the last four years.

    Moqtada's supporters can't stand Nouri either.  They remember his attacks on them in 2008 in Basra and Sadr City.  Moqtada is seen as supporting the poor, Nouri's done nothing for the poor.   BRussells Tribune carries an Al-Monitor article from last week by Amal Sakr which opens:

    The head of the Model Iraqi Women Organization, Athraa Hassani, provided Al-Monitor with this information, quoting World Bank officials who discussed these statistics during a meeting in Turkey with a number of members of civil society organizations seeking to find a solution to the poverty crisis in Iraq.
    Hassani questions the accuracy of the poverty rates announced by the Iraqi government, affirming that these rates are continuously increasing because of a rise in daily violence and spike in unemployment rates in addition to a weakening of the Iraqi economy.

    Based on the World Bank’s figures, this would mean that out of Iraq’s 34.7 million citizens, more than 9.5 million individuals are living below the poverty line.

    Nothing has happened since 2010 to increase Nouri's standing among Sadr supporters.  In fact, since 2010, the efforts Moqtada and Ayad Allawi have worked on have probably resulted in greater support for Allawi which has let Nouri fall even lower.  Probably.

    But what is known is that Sadr supporters did not support Nouri in 2010.  They didn't support when the March 2010 voting took place and they did not support a month later in the poll Moqtada carried out.


    There is nothing to indicate that Moqtada's followers would support Nouri -- there is ample evidence to demonstrate that they won't.

    Equally true, Moqtada's not retired.  We pointed that out weeks ago when he returned to Iraq.  Prior to his return, we pointed out that his 'retirement' didn't really mean anything.  It didn't mean he couldn't be prime minister, it didn't mean anything.  And that was before he came back to Iraq.  And repeatedly denounced Nouri (which, again, means his followers will not be supporting Nouri).

    Joel Wing (Musings On Iraq) offers an analysis which includes:

    In March and April the Sadr movement continued to criticize Prime Minister Maliki. From March 10 to 12 Sadrists held rallies in Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Basra, Kirkuk, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babil, Wasit, and Diyala against the premier for his remarks belittling Moqtada al-Sadr. There were also reports of attacks upon Dawa offices, which were played down by both parties so that the election didn’t get sidetracked by violence. March 23, Sadr’s Ahrar List said it opposed Maliki serving a third term, stating that other parties and the Iraqi people wanted change. It went on to say that Maliki had failed to secure the country or to provide political stability. Continuing with that line on April 3 Sadr gave a speech calling Maliki a dictator who was leading the country towards one party rule by banning his opponents. Sadr was joined by parliamentarian Jawad Shahlya from Ahrar and independent lawmaker Saban al-Saadi, both of which had been barred from running in this year’s vote. Sadr went on to accuse the prime minister of attempting to marginalize Sunnis by launching military operations in Anbar. Sadr finished by calling on Maliki to step aside so someone else could try running the country. Finally, on April 5 Shahlya claimed Maliki was attempting to pass a law that would give him broad powers that would lead to the declaration of a state of emergency and the dissolution of the parliament.

    Of Nouri's coalition, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) observes, "The election campaigning has also made it clear that a lot of the candidates for al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc are first-time political wannabes, who are not well known in political, business or social circles. Some have said this is because the State of Law wants MPs who will toe the bloc’s line, unlike high profile defectors like senior MPs, Hussein al-Asadi and Jawad al-Bazzouni, who have both left al-Maliki’s Shiite Muslim coalition to join the also-Shiite-Muslim-dominated Citizen, or Muwatin, bloc."  Among Nouri's other serious challengers?  The head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim.  Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) reports:

    In an April 5 speech, Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Citizen Coalition, said that his coalition’s reform-minded approach is based on three tenets: the need for Iraq to be ruled by a competent team without wasting time on managing crises; the necessity to adopt a clear legal road map to restructure the Iraqi state; and the initiation of a real administrative revolution in state institutions.
    The Citizen Coalition represents an alliance between the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and 18 other parties and factions, including the Iraqi National Congress headed by Ahmad Chalabi, and individuals such as former government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh and former Interior Minister Jawad al-Boulani. The coalition is the outcome of a renewal process in the ISCI, beginning among the leadership, which has influenced its formation and rhetoric. Since the last provincial elections in April 2013, when the coalition won 78 seats — ranking second after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition — the ISCI seems to be regaining its old stature that once made it the country's largest Shiite political force. Its influence had waned after the death of its former leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and was further damaged after its electoral setback in 2010, when it only managed to win 20 seats. It later lost some of these seats when the Badr Organization, its de facto military wing, defected to join Maliki’s coalition.
    Since then, the ISCI has undergone wide-scale restructuring spearheaded by its young leader, Hakim.

    Rudaw notes another development:

    In a major gathering in Erbil this week, Iraqi Sunnis declared a new alliance whose aim is to block a third term for Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, after the upcoming April 30 legislative elections.

    The Karama (Dignity) Alliance, led by Iraqi Sunni businessman Khamis Khanjar, comes at a time when the country's large Sunni minority has turned its back on the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, accusing Maliki of neglecting Iraq's Sunnis and Sunni regions.

    Neglect?  Neglect would be a step up from the terrorizing that Nouri's doing to Anbar currently.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 5 civilians ("including a child") died from the bombings with fourteen more injured.  Meanwhile, Nouri's ordered the same bombings in Ramadi and NINA reports people are fleeing their homes, being rendered refugees, as a result.

    He's also begun bombing sections of Baghdad.  Far from the Green Zone, of course.  NINA notes:

    The MP, Hamid al-Zobaie held "The government and the security forces responsible for the lives of citizens in the areas of Baghdad's belt ."
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "There are safe areas in the belt of Baghdad, especially west of Baghdad , far away from the events of Fallujah , and the government and security forces should protect them not bomb them , on the grounds that the security forces shelled randomly , yesterday and today , areas on the outskirts of the Zaidan area, west of Baghdad , which led to the killing of two citizens and wounding eight others . "

    As BRussells Tribunal points out, the European Parliament has called out these attacks on civilians and did so in the European Parliament resolution 27 February 2013 on the situation in Iraq:

    Is deeply concerned about the continuing acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population, vulnerable groups and religious communities; calls on the Iraqi Government and on all political leaders to take the necessary measures to provide security and protection for all people in Iraq, in particular members of vulnerable groups such as women, journalists, young people, fundamental rights activists, trade unionists and religious communities, including Christians; calls on the Iraqi Government to ensure that the security forces comply with the rule of law and international standards;

    It's a shame other bodies and government officials can't call out these War Crimes.  The White House not only can't call Nouri out, they can't stop arming him, it's like an addiction with them.

    In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 police members were shot dead in Mosul, 1 person was shot dead in Sab'a Bour, 5 people were shot dead near Alboudajjah Village, and the corpses of 2 women and 1 child were discovered in Hamzah-algharbi.  All Iraq News notes Joint Command announced they killed 5 suspects in Ramadi and left two more injured, 2 people in a moving car were shot dead in Mosul, and three members of the same family were injured in Salah il-Din when they were shot as they were distributing election leaflets for the Iraqi Alliance.  Alsumaria reports the brother of a federal judge was shot dead west of Mosul, 1 of Nouri's soldiers stabbed to death a civilian to the south of Mosul after angry words were exchanged, 1 military captain was shot dead (by a gun with a silencer) to the north of Baquba, a Yathrib roadside bombing left 1 farmer dead and two of his children injured, a Mosul battle left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three people injured, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 44 suspects in Falluja, 1 police member was shot dead and two more injured at a checkpoint near Baiji, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Abu Ghraib.  Xinhua adds, "A car bomb went off in the capital Baghdad's eastern district of Alamein on Thursday evening, killing seven people and wounding 39 others, an Interior Ministry source said.  Five people were killed and 16 others injured in another car bomb attack near a hospital in Sadr City, a Shiite district of northeastern Baghdad, the source said."

    On violence, AFP's WG Dunlop Tweets:

  • Iraq violence update: More than 2,500 people killed, over 3,900 wounded since the beginning of 2014

  • Nick Turse Tweets:

  • Did you know the FBI was involved in JSOC's black ops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere No? Then read this from WaPo

  • If this is a surprise to you, you clearly missed Ted Koppel's reports (on NBC and NPR) in December of 2011.

    At the end of yesterday's snapshot, we noted Dan Primack (Fortune) report on Dropbox, how the 'grunge' band Pearl Jam was part of the business and now from US Secretary of State Condi Rice was as well.  I noted "greed" and that Eddie Vedder was now in bed with Condi.  This resulted in a string of e-mails from visitors who objected to my calling for Condi to step down from Dropbox and referred to the "posts you wrote condemning her and colleges that brought her to campuses to speak."

    All I can say is, "Who's your dealer?  You're obviously getting some primo weed."

    I didn't call for Condi to step down.  Let's move to my "posts" about her being on campus. I speak on campuses against the wars, the illegal spying, etc.  I don't call for people not to speak on campus.  I've written nothing like that, I've dictated nothing like that.  I never wrote a word about Condi and the campus issue.  You're confusing me with someone else -- and not someone in the community because I made my opinion very clear on this in a 2013 roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin.

    This is it at its most basic.  Everyone who can speak on a campus should.  Campuses should be a forum for free expression.  Because I speak on a campus doesn't mean everyone's required to attend.  If they oppose me, they're more than welcome to protest.  One of the scariest protests would be my arriving to find no one (or just a tiny handful) of people in the room waiting to hear me.

    To put this in terms of Condi Rice.  She has every right to speak on any campus.  And people have every right to attend or not to attend.  They have every right to protest.  They even have the right to heckle.  That's free speech.

    I've never called for Condi or anyone not to be allowed on campus.  And I've defended students protesting and heckling when the news media has rushed to condemn students for those actions.  Both speaking and responding are part of free speech.

    One e-mailer notes Charles C.W. Cooke's National Review post about a petition calling for Dropbox to drop Condi. I'm told, in the e-mail, I'm responsible for that.  For the record, I don't know anyone at the National Review so I have no pull with what they print (Cooke's calling out the petition to be clear).  I'm not Charles C.W. Cooke so I'm not responsible for what he writes.  That leaves the petition.  I didn't write it, promote it or link to it.  I personally don't believe in online petitions.  Sorry.  I think they're garbage and for the very lazy to feel like they accomplished something.  If you're opposed to something, write a letter or an e-mail.  Signatures collected online don't carry a lot of weight with advertisers, networks or, really anyone.  If you want to protest and be taken seriously, write something.

    Scott Shackford (Reason) notes this of Condi today:

    There has been some outrage in response to the idea of Rice "thinking" about privacy. In 2005, Rice defended President Bush skipping the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) Court and not bothering with getting warrants to place National Security Agency (NSA) wiretaps on foreigners in the U.S. with suspected terrorist ties (despite concerns at the time from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress).

    Those are concerns and they can be discussed.

    But to be really clear here, I was calling out Eddie Vedder.  I don't like Eddie.  This is not new, nor is it news to him.  I have openly loathed him -- and made clear to him why -- since the 90s.

    I think he's a variation on REO Speedwagon.  REO's not the worse thing out there, but they're not grunge and they're not alternative. Neither is Eddie.  He's a poser and a fraud.  In 2000, he did one of those brief bits of bravery he's so known for (take a stand and then fold).  He supported Ralph Nader's presidential campaign.  I was supporting Al Gore.  But I was forced to defend him  and it pissed me off because, even though it was the right thing to do, I knew that after the election Eddie would be back on board with the Democratic Party, playing more Democrat than thou and disowning third party and independent runs.  Sure enough he did.

    He's a creep whose vanity knows no bounds.  The whole point of his telling then-President Bill Clinton not to make a statement about Kurt Cobain's passing was the trashy little Eddie was jealous as usual.  His untalented hog calling never passed for singing beyond the deeply drunk and he's never been able to write a song that was either coherent or particularly melodic.

    I was (and remain) against the Iraq War.  Where Eddie stood is still open to debate all this time later.  (See this 2003 BBC report if you're not getting how confusing his stand was -- hate Bully Boy Bush but support the war in Iraq -- he's such a cheesy ass salesman.)  But in all of my years speaking out publicly against the Iraq War, I've never felt the need for violence.  Eddie could only 'communicate' whatever the hell he was trying to say by beating up a mask of Bully Boy Bush onstage at a concert.  Seems like some little boy was trying real hard to prove he was a man by resorting to violence.

    And that's the reality of Eddie that the fans never seem to grasp.  He's all pose and he's the most reactionary 'left' artist you'll ever meet.

    Having 'punched out' a Bully Boy Bush mask, I do think Eddie needs to drop Dropbox.  But I also know Eddie.  He's a cheap whore.  He's not going anywhere.  He may make a statement ('We won't use Ticketmaster again!') but it'll only last long enough for a few brief headlines.  He's a fake.