Saturday, November 02, 2019


I watched DAVID BOWIE FINDING FAME tonight on SHOWTIME On Demand.  It's a documentary directed by Francis Whatley who also directed the documentary DAVID BOWIE THE LAST FIVE YEARS.

DB FINDING FAME focuses on his early years in the music business.  I think this is a strong documentary and that most people -- even if they don't know David's music -- will enjoy it.

I liked David.  I wasn't a devoted fan.  LET'S DANCE, for me, was his best album but I'm a huge Nile Rogers fan.  I loved the title track and "Modern Love" but his cover of Iggy Pop's "China Girl" was probably my favorite track on the album. 

I had huge hopes for the follow up, TONIGHT.  "Blue Jean" was a strong single and I was ready to love TONIGHT -- especially when advance word was about Tina Turner performing a duet with him on the album.  That ended up being "Tonight."  I remember buying that album and feeling like I'd been ripped off.

Of his singles?

I'd rank my personal top ten as follows:

1) "China Girl"

2) "Changes"

3) "Modern Love"

4) "Suffragette City"

5) "Blue Jean"

6) "Rebel Rebel"

7) "Heroes"

8) "This Is Not America"

9) "Let's Dance"

10) "Young Americans"

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

Friday, November 1, 2019.

Iraq is in turmoil as the needs of the people continue to go unmet.

Sharon Stone's paying attention.

The 1st gen after Saddam fight for democracy & to end corruption-a fight for their lives & future. “Iraq’s struggling economy & govt corruption sparked protests in which hundreds have died...the stability of the country is at stake.”

Are you?

Abbas Kadhim: In his address to the Iraqi people on October 31, President Barham Salih referred to Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s offer to resign if the two major parliamentary blocs (Sairoon and Fatah) that made a deal to nominate him for the post can agree on a replacement. Abdul-Mahdi was responding to a letter from Muqtada al-Sadr who had asked him on October 28 to “go to the Parliament and announce an early elections under UN supervision and soon.” Abdul-Mahdi’s response on the following day put the ball in the court of the political parties that nominated and confirmed him. These same political parties did not show true support for Abdul-Mahdi’s program of governance and instead continued to blackmail his ministers for corrupt favors.

President Salih seems to have given everyone a reasonable way out. If his plan is accepted, the protesters can go home having accomplished what they demanded, albeit not immediately, Abdul-Mahdi will avoid a vote of no-confidence, and Iraq will be saved from an unprecedented constitutional stalemate. Most importantly, there will be hope for significant reforms sponsored by the president and supported by a mandate from the protesters if the political elite honor their end of the deal. Iraq has great potential but is short on statesmen who can lead the country to reach that potential.

The Atlantic Council notes Abbas remarks and the remarks of others.  We'll note one more.

C. Anthony Pfaff: The resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister (PM) Adil Abdul-Mahdi should come as no surprise, but it should also come with a muted sense of relief. Mahdi’s security forces killed over a hundred protestors and wounded countless others. It is very difficult to come back from crossing that line and maintain the legitimacy required to make the reforms needed to address the protestors’ demands. However, that sense of relief should be muted as it is not clear who can take his place and do any better. The next Iraqi PM needs to direct government funds away from corrupt and inefficient agencies and towards recovery and reconstruction. He needs to invest in major infrastructure improvements, especially energy and transportation, so the economy can grow. Even trickier, he needs to promote development of a private sector without destabilizing the state-owned institutions that are Iraq’s biggest employers. While doing all this, he also needs to avoid the appearance of sectarian loyalties, and especially not appear under the influence of foreign powers, especially Iran and the United States.

None of that is going to be easy. Addressing any of those concerns attacks entrenched interests resulting in more protests. Having said that, the new Iraqi PM is not without resources. The Iraqi public is ready for change. Moreover, as these latest protests have demonstrated, this public is fed-up with sectarian politics and are looking for a leader who can unite them. If he can unite this public sentiment to push through the variety of measures described above, Iraq could finally be on a road to real recovery. The international community can help, but Iraq needs to demonstrate this commitment to reform first. While a real nationalist could emerge, the Iraqi parliament does not have a history of picking the best qualified candidate, but rather the least threatening to their interests. If they cannot do better this time, it will be business as usual and given the enduring nature of these protests, it is not clear how much longer that can go on.

What they don't note?  Another failure for the so-called intelligence agency, the CIA.  Since 2006, Adil Abdul Mahdi has been the choice of the CIA.  He had the gift, they insisted, he could rule.  But he couldn't.  The rules and laws around the elections in Iraq may be changed shortly.  But as they stood, Mahdi never should have become prime minister.

The country's Constitution had the process for how someone became prime minister.  The president of Iraq named them prime minister designate.  They then had 30 days to put together a cabinet.  If they could do this, they became prime minister.

This was never followed.  Nouri al-Maliki never managed to do it and no one else has either.

The whole point of the 30 days is that it is supposed to demonstrate that the leader can build coalitions, can show leadership.  If you can't put together a cabinet in 30 days (that's nominate people to head the posts and get these people approved by the Parliament), the argument was, you won't be able to govern.

al-Mahdi was made prime minister at the end of October of 2018 without putting together a full Cabinet.  It would be May of 2019 before he finally did what the Constitution required him to do.  He was inept.  He was meaningless.  He was so meaningless, in fact, that the President of Iraq, a purely symbolic office, began to get more attention from the western press than it ever had -- including some US outlets treating the post as though it were the post of the leader of Iraq.

Will Mahdi step down?  Who knows?  He's not exactly someone with a word you can trust.  REUTERS reports that Iran is working to keep Mahdi on as prime minister of Iraq -- reports based on anonymous sources.  BBC NEWS notes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi will resign if political parties can agree on his replacement, the president has said, as mass protests continue."  So despite all the talk that hes out, note that it's still conditional.

Even in departing, Mahdi can't show leadership.

He's accomplished nothing as prime minister.  He is a disgrace which is really saying something -- post 2003 invasion Iraq is not known for great -- or even good -- prime ministers.

Amnesty International notes:

The Iraqi authorities must ensure anti-riot police and other security forces in Baghdad immediately stop using two previously unseen types of tear gas grenade to kill rather than disperse protesters, Amnesty International urged today after its investigation found they caused at least five protester deaths in as many days.

Amnesty International carried out telephone and email interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, reviewed medical records and consulted medical professionals in Baghdad as well as an independent forensic pathologist about the horrific injuries caused by these grenades since 25 October.

The organization’s Digital Verification Corps geolocated and analyzed video evidence from near Baghdad’s Tahrir Square documenting the fatalities and injuries – including charred flesh and “smoking” head wounds. Its military expert identified the types of tear gas grenades being used as two variants from Bulgaria and Serbia that are modelled on military grenades and are up to 10 times as heavy as standard tear gas canisters, resulting in horrific injuries and death when fired directly at protesters.

“All the evidence points to Iraqi security forces deploying these military-grade grenades against protesters in Baghdad, apparently aiming for their heads or bodies at point-blank range. This has had devastating results, in multiple cases piercing the victims’ skulls, resulting in gruesome wounds and death after the grenades embed inside their heads,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

“The lack of accountability for unlawful killings and injuries by security forces, responsible for the vast majority of casualties this past month, is sending the message that they can kill and maim with impunity. The authorities must rein in the police, ensure prompt, impartial, effective investigations, and prosecute those responsible.”

In Iraq's latest wave of protests, security forces used a previously unseen delivery mechanisms for showering crowds in clouds tear gas -- ten times heavier than a usual canister, says they have been fired to kill.

Clerics are speaking out including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

AT LAST: Grand Ayatollah Sistani breaks silence to warn that no foreign power should intervene in Iraq. Punctures talk of Gen. Soleimani coming to crush Iraqi revolt. Sistani must come out with statement supporting popular uprising for freedom, decent living & national dignity.

Iraq protests enter second month, defying pledges of reform
Iraq protests enter second month, defying pledges of reform
Iraq protests enter second month, defying pledges of reform
Protests in : we call on all to show restraint & allow health personnel to carry out their work unobstructed & in safety.

The following sites updated: