Saturday, July 09, 2016

A look at the year in music so far

BILLBOARD reports:

It's the worst year (so far) for music sales since the 1991 debut of SoundScan (now Nielsen Music). Album sales, including track-equivalent albums (TEA, whereby 10 track sales equal one album unit) are down 16.9 percent in the first half of this year. But sales figures no longer tell the whole story of the record business.
First, let's bottom-line those disappearing sales. Album units overall fell 13.6 percent, with 100.3 million total sales. The compact disc continued to crumble, losing 11.6 percent and moving 50 million. Digital album sales fell to 43.8 million, from 53.7 million in the first half of last year. Vinyl sales continued to move up and to the right, growing 11.4 percent, to 6.2 million. New album releases have been most affected by the continued contraction, falling 20.2 percent overall, to 44.1 million units. Catalog albums fell "just" 7.7 percent, to 56.2 million.

How much of that is due to bad music and too many years of bad music?

I'm serious.

It took grunge to send the fake asses (briefly) packing.

Another Nirvana is desperately needed today as evidenced by the continued popularity of gang-rape bait Justin Bieber.

Seriously, does boy-toy own a shirt?

Everytime I flip through the net, there he is with one or more African-American rappers and the men have on shirts but boy-toy/boy-chic Justin's shirtless with that flat chest and those perky nipples on full display?

He always looks like the person who jumped out of the cake.

At any rate, music's suffered a lot in recent years.

Dylan Owens of THE DENVER POST picks his top ten albums for 2016 thus far:

David Bowie's BLACKSTAR
Blood Orange's FREETOWN
Anderson Paak's MALIBU

Frankie Cosmos' NEXT THING
Andy Shauf's THE PARTY 
Jacob Collier's IN MY ROOM

That list above it's number one through ten in that order.

I didn't dislike 8 of those albums but the only one I loved was Anderson Paak's MALIBU.

I haven't heard Jacob Collier's IN MY ROOM.

I'm not rushing off to it because I'm not real big on Dylan Owens and other male 'critics' who pick at their ass crack and then pretend they've pulled out music.

Meaning, boys, it's 2016.  Why are you unable to note women?

Hugh McIntyre (FORBES) goes with the sales and not with quality.  This is number one through number five:

Drake's VIEWS
Beyonce's LEMONADE
Adele's 25
Justin Bieber's PURPOSE
Rihanna's ANTI

I don't like any of those albums.

Rihanna's ANTI had about four good songs on it -- and that's with the deluxe addition that has bonus tracks.  It did not feel raw, just unfinished.

Adele became Carole King with 25 and that's not meant as a compliment (see my review).

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

Friday, July 8, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, another deadly bombing hits Iraq, Sunnis continue to be persecuted, Human Rights Watch issues a new alert on that persecution, the Iraq Inquiry's report results in a number of people digging up historical facts, and much more.

Balad's Sayyid Mohammed shrine was bombed on Thursday.  AL JAZEERA notes, "The incident comes just days after the worst bombing in the country since the US-led invasion of 2003, which was also claimed by ISIL. That attack, in a bustling Baghdad street packed with shoppers, killed 292 people, according to the health ministry."  Mustafa Salim and Loveday Morris (WASHINGTON POST) report, "Three suicide bombers dressed in military uniform opened fire on worshipers gathered at the shrine in Balad late Thursday, said Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul, a spokesman for the Iraqi military. Two then blew up their vests at the gate of a shrine, and a third was killed before he detonated, he said."  Susannah George (AP) notes Iraqi officials say there were 12 attackers in all.  She adds, "Mustafa Hassan, one of the men gathered at the scene on Thursday, said he had volunteered to help sift through the debris after authorities failed to do so. Hassan, a young man wearing a surgical mask and gloves, held up two plastic bags that he believed contained charred human flesh."  XINHUA counts 35 dead and seventy injured.

Since when did Iraqi blood become so cheap? arent they human with pure souls who have family to go back home to?

BBC NEWS adds:

Amid growing public anger over the truck bombing, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fired the three top security officials in Baghdad on Friday.
They were the head of Baghdad's security command, the head of interior ministry intelligence for Baghdad and the official responsible for Baghdad in the national security adviser's office.

We're trying not to note THE GUARDIAN this week out of respect to Iraq.  (THE GUARDIAN was in the tank for Tony Blair and continues to be.)  We will note one piece, however, for its historic stupidity.  It's from Tony Blair's very own Monica Lewinsky -- little mister Ranj Alaadlin.  Where's his stained blue dress?

Ranj wants to explain the Islamic State -- not because he cares about Iraqis but because he wants to defend Tony Blair.  You can read Ranj's 'erotic fantasy' in full here but we're noting this section:

Isis emerged not just from Iraq’s security environment but also the political and social divisions in the country. Throughout his rule, Saddam dismissed Iraq’s Shia community, particularly its opposition groups who now dominate the government, as an Iranian fifth column. His polemics shaped the perceptions of Iraq’s Arab Sunnis, who saw efforts to topple the Ba’ath regime as Iranian projects and existential threats, even though Shia opposition figures have historically espoused ecumenical and nationalistic ideals.
In other words, after 2003 many had misplaced fears that an Iranian-controlled Shia government now ruled Iraq that sought revenge for Saddam’s crimes, including the repression of hundreds of thousands of Shias. Many Arab Sunnis saw the fall of Saddam as their own fall, a perception that was reinforced after 2003 by Arab Sunni groups and politicians for their own gain, but also sectarian Shia politicians, militias and religious leaders, as well as Iraq’s neighbours.

Apparently spending more time practicing his fellatio technique than researching facts on Iraq, Ranj thinks he can get away with that nonsense.

A) Fear of an Iranian-controlled Iraq is not a Sunni concern only.  Kurds have frequently had the same fear (those associated with Jalal Talabani's family, of course, have no such concerns due to their long standing ties to Tehran).  Shi'ites have also had that fear and this becomes especially notable when Iran is accused of attempting to seize Iraqi land on the shared border or Iran and Iraq are engaged in a waterway dispute -- both of which have happened frequently since 2003.

B) Ranj's thoughts on Sunnis -- though no doubt clouded by his lustful fantasies of being Tony Blair's concubine -- probably have some accuracy.

C) Where they falter is in failing to include reality.

Sunnis are persecuted.

They have been persecuted by two consecutive prime ministers -- Nouri al-Maliki and now Haider al-Abadi.

As Nouri's longstanding (and well established) persecution of the Sunni population (civilians thrown into prisons and jails without charges or trials, civilians murdered, Nouri sending the military to encircle the homes of Sunni politicians, Nouri using the military to attack Sunni politicians and their families, etc) led to powerful protests -- which were peaceful protests -- Nouri responded by attacking and killing protesters.

The most dramatic example of this was the April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

These are the actions that allowed the Islamic State to get a foothold in Iraq.

The persecution of the Sunni civilians is real.

And it continues.

And here's the Human Rights Watch report noted above:

(Beirut) – An Iraqi government investigation into alleged abuses against civilians during military operations to retake Fallujah is being kept under wraps. New reports of serious abuses by the Popular Mobilization Forces and Federal Police compound the summary killings, enforced disappearances, and torture reported since the beginning of the operation, which Human Rights Watch documented.
  On June 4, 2016, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi opened an investigation into allegations of abuse and three days later announced unspecified arrests and the “transfer of those accused of committing violations to the judiciary to receive their punishment according to the law.” Government officials, however, have not provided information in response to Human Rights Watch inquiries since mid-June about the status of the investigation, who is conducting it, or steps taken so far.
“Failing to hold fighters and commanders accountable for grave abuses bodes very badly for the looming battle for Mosul,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Serious investigations and prosecutions are essential to provide justice to victims and their families, and to deter atrocities by government forces.”
  Human Rights Watch directed its questions about the investigation to spokespersons for the prime minister and the judiciary. Human Rights Watch also spoke with members of parliament, the judiciary, a local official in Anbar province, government human rights officials as well as foreign and United Nations diplomats. None could provide any information about the purported investigations, including whether anyone has been arrested and charged.
At the start of the Fallujah operation against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, on May 24, Prime Minister al-Abadi said that his government had taken measures to protect civilians. However, during the two weeks of fighting, there were credible allegations of summary executions, beatings of men in custody, enforced disappearances, and mutilation of corpses by government forces.
Abuses by government security forces in Fallujah have continued since the defeat of ISIS forces, Human Rights Watch said. A witness provided Human Rights Watch with a photo he said he took on June 27 on the northern outskirts of Fallujah of a decapitated corpse with a rope around his left foot. He said he saw fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an auxiliary fighting force under the prime minister’s command that includes many Shia militias, posing for pictures with the corpse moments before he took the photo. They were saying they were proud of killing a member of ISIS, though the status of the dead man as a combatant or civilian and the cause of death could not be determined.
Mutilation of corpses is a war crime, as is the killing of captured combatants or civilians, Human Rights Watch said.
The same witness said that in the Fallujah city center he saw PMF forces burning houses and shops while shouting slogans of revenge, and some looting. A photograph taken at the time shows burning shops in Fallujah. The media also reported arson and looting after government forces entered the city.

More reports have emerged about serious abuses during the Fallujah military operations. Several people, including two officials from Anbar governorate, told Human Rights Watch that on June 3, members of the Federal Police and the PMF executed more than a dozen civilians from the Jumaila tribe who were fleeing Sajar, a village north of Fallujah. The officials said they were protecting three witnesses.
A resident of Saqlawiya said that on the morning of June 3, men in army fatigues claiming to be Iraqi military came to the area, ordered the women, old men, and children to separate from the men. They then separated the men into various groups. The men in fatigues loaded him and at least 600 others, most from the al-Mahamda tribe, into trucks and eventually took them to Camp Tariq, an army base south of Falluja, 50 kilometers west of Baghdad. As he disembarked, he saw from the uniforms that the guards were from Hezbollah, a prominent Popular Mobilization Force.
He said that for the next 24 hours, the approximately 90 guards brutally beat him and the other prisoners, including with sticks and cables, while yelling anti-Sunni slurs. He said three of the men died in front of him. On the morning of June 5, local police forces freed the men, sending them to Amiriyat Fallujah Hospital.
  An Iraqi aid worker at the hospital said that at least 50 men from Karma and Saqlawiya told him that PMF fighters had beaten them after detaining them during military operations and sometimes subjected them to more brutal treatment.
The Anbar governorate official said the men who were released told him that they saw the PMF fighters take away another 600 or more al-Mahamda men. Another Anbar official provided a list of 49 men whom those released had seen die in detention. The official also shared a list of another 643 people still missing from Saqlawiya. The Saqlawiya resident who was detained and beaten told Human Rights Watch he had uncles and cousins who had been missing since June 3.

On June 28, in testimony to the US Senate, Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, said in response to a question from Senator Ed Markey about the Iraqi government’s investigation that “[a]bout 4-5 members of the Iraqi Army have been detained. The investigation hasn’t been concluded yet.” On June 22, McGurk had described reports of abuse as “isolated atrocities committed by some of the Popular Mobilization Forces” and said the Iraqi government was “doing the right thing to make sure that anyone who commits a human rights violation is held to account.”
 Iraqi criminal justice authorities should investigate all alleged crimes, including murder, torture and other abuses, committed by any party in the conflict in a prompt, transparent, and effective manner, up to the highest levels responsible. Those found criminally responsible should be appropriately prosecuted.
Iraqi authorities should also fairly prosecute ISIS members and other perpetrators of unlawful attacks on civilians, including those responsible for the horrific July 3 attack on people shopping for the Eid holiday in the Karrada district of Baghdad, which killed at least 165 people and wounded another 225. Such attacks are war crimes and, when part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population, constitute crimes against humanity.

Those conducting such criminal investigations and making decisions about prosecutions should be independent of those being investigated. They should be outside the regular military chain of command and free from political interference. The authorities should ensure the safety of all witnesses. At the same time, a commission of inquiry or equivalent should be created to examine the wider concerns about whether the abuses are being committed in a widespread or systematic manner.
 “The US government needs to fully acknowledge and address the widespread, ongoing abuses by Iraqi government forces and the near complete absence of transparent investigations or any investigations at all,” Stork said. “The US should not be praising the government’s rhetorical commitment to accountability when there is zero information indicating that any such thing is happening.”
Critical but unanswered questions remain:

  • Who is conducting the investigation and who appointed them?
  • What is the investigation’s mandate and powers?
  • Does the mandate of the investigation include command responsibility for abuses?
  • Is the investigation under the High Judicial Council or is it an extra-judicial body?
  • Is the investigation based on Iraqi military or civilian criminal law and does it include violations of the laws of war and crimes against humanity?
  • How many investigations have been opened so far and what have the results been?
  • Have there been arrests? If so what are the accused’s ranks and units, and what are the charges?
  • Will the final findings and recommendations be made public?

Again, these are realities and they continue daily.

Most of the non-Arab world ignored them for years.

And that's why they continue.

The tiny Yazidi population (with the help of a right-wing p.r. firm in the US) gets a ton of publicity and coverage daily.

The persecuted Sunnis?

Western media sometimes manages a collective yawn for the Sunnis.

  1. Shia militias crimes فديو مسرب الحشد الشيعي الارهابي يقوم بحرق بيوت العوائل السنيه بالفلوجة ويقول جئنا ل نحرقها

Houses of Iraqi Sunni civilians burned & destroyed by Shia militia backed by Iraqi government in Fallujah

Iraqi Sunnis displaced from Fallujah living tragic conditions I can't find words to describe this

200 Iraqi Shia civilian arrested by Iraqi government in Baghdad cuz they protested against government

Refugees وضع يبكي الحجر ل الاف العوائل السنيه العراقية النازحه بالفلوجة هذا حال السنه تحت حكم

Iraqi Sunni displaced from Fallujah living tragic conditions

Meanwhile, two journalists shooting smack.

determined to reignite sectarian bloodshed in thru "spectacular" high-casualty attacks on targets.

Mohammed A. Salih, you're real good about finger pointing at a terrorist group -- guess that passes for bravery in your cowardly, little world.  But you're not so good about doing exposes on the KRG, are you?  Nor are you good about noting the persecution of the Sunnis in non-KRG Iraq.

Keep self-stroking, Salih, someday you'll reach puberty.

The Iraq Inquiry report was issued Wednesday.  It's led to a lot of amnesia in the coverage.  Loveday Morris, for one, might need to check out the next Tweet.

Here’s how Saddam Hussein’s regime was born from western power games in Iraq |

Some of the community responses to the Iraq Inquiry's report:

  • The report is also prompting some to remind about previous statements.

    Greenspan admits Iraq was about oil, as deaths put at 1.2m