Friday, January 13, 2023

Little Plastic Castles and how Ani drove her audience away


Grace saw that video by Asher GiOtis.  He's covering Ani DiFranco's "Little Plastic Castles."  It's a great cover.  

"Little Plastic Castles" is a great song and there are so many great songs on that album (also called LITTLE PLASTIC CASTLES).  The first five are classics -- one right after the other.  It's why that is her highest charting album (number 22 on BILLBOARD's 200 -- the album chart).  

It's sad she became so pathetic and destroyed her career. 

2014's album only made it to 155 and 2017's album only made it to 192 and 2021's album failed to ever chart on the 200 best selling albums of any week.

She did it to herself.

She planned a bad event but that's not what I'm talking about. 

That's not what destroyed her.

What destroyed was driving off her fans.

She supported Ralph Nader in 2000.  That was her choice and her fans, however they themselves voted, were fine with her choice.  They didn't run from her.  They continued to buy her albums and enjoy her music.  Then she went on AIR AMERICA RADIO's THE MAJORITY REPORT and let Sam Seder bully her and shame her and badger her to support John Kerry.  Then, in 2008 and 2012, she didn't need anyone to badger her, she whored herself to the Democratic Party.  That's not who she was and that's not why she had support.

She was an independent artist, she was an independent thinker.  She believed in real causes not Dem-lite programs.  

She was to the left of me and I was okay with that, she raised issues that I hadn't thought of.  She helped all of expand.  And then she became about as inventive and original as a MSNBC 'analyst.'

That's why she lost her audience.  She seems inauthentic to this day.

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

Friday, January 13, 2023.  Iraq has another victory in the Gulf Cup, Joe Biden thinks the answer to his appalling handling of top secret documents is to serve up jokes, and much more.

Group A competitions of the 25th Gulf Cup held in the southern Iraqi city of Basra ended with an Iraqi victory over its Yemeni counterpart.

The Iraqi national team qualified for the semi-finals of the 25th Gulf Cup championship, after obtaining the first place in the group, while the Yemeni and Saudi national teams are leaving the championship following their losses in the first round.

The Iraqi national team achieved a superb 5-0 victory over its Yemeni counterpart, on Thursday evening, in the third and final round of the group stage.

When Qatar hosted the 17th Arabian Gulf Cup in 2004, it wanted to celebrate a special moment: Iraq’s return to the competition for the first time in more than a decade.

Diplomatic ties between Iraq and its Gulf neighbours were severed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As a result, the Iraqi national team were banned from taking part in the biennial tournament.

But Iraq returned in 2004, a year after Saddam Hussein was removed from power by an invasion led by the US. Despite this, the region was rocked by more than a decade of division as the country slipped into a period of sectarian strife.

Fifa banned Iraq from hosting international matches between 2003 and 2018, citing the poor security situation. But much has changed since and many view Iraq's hosting of the current tournament as a triumph of sports diplomacy, part of continuing efforts to heal a political rift.

To mark the occasion, Qatar commissioned the renowned Iraqi sculptor Ahmed Al Bahrani to design and create a new trophy for the tournament.

Mr Al Bahrani, who has lived in exile since the late 1990s, was overjoyed when he received the commission.

“I was happy for Iraq returning to the tournament and I was particularly proud to be given this opportunity as an Iraqi,” Mr Al Bahrani said.

Today Bahrain faces Kuwait and Qatar faces the UAE.  After that, the games resume on Monday with Iraq and Oman facing competitors determined by today's face offs.  

While there has been much to cheer about if you were Iraq or some of the other countries, the government of Iran has not been pleased with the games.  As we noted yesterday, the Gulf Cup or the Arab Gulf Cup is how it has been referred to and the prime minister of Iraq, on opening day, used "Arab Gulf Cup."  The government of Iran feels that term ignores and degrades the historic role of Iran in the region and that the games should be called "The Persian Gulf Cup."  Omar Ahmed (MEMO) explains:

Yet the recent row with Iraq is significant in that the country has, for some time, been seen as Iran's "backyard" due to the influence Tehran exerts in Iraq's internal affairs, particularly in terms of politics and security, but also due to the historic, cultural and religious ties that the two Shia-majority Muslim countries share.  Nevertheless, the rift has arguably exposed deep-seated nationalistic sentiments. Even some of the most ardent Iranian secularists opposed to the Islamic Republic would take issue with referring to the Gulf as "Arabian".  In some cases, these sentiments may supersede the strategic relations forged following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and, furthermore, with Iran's support in the fight against [ISIS].

It is also worth remembering that, Iran's leadership has sought to justify Iran's involvement overseas conflicts, including in Iraq as "the defence of Iran". During the height of the devastating Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini had initially hoped that Shia soldiers in the Iraqi army would take up arms alongside the Iranian forces; this didn't materialise. However, "This was not out of loyalty to the regime, necessarily, but to prevent Iraq from becoming colonised by Iran or from following in its theocratic footsteps." At the time, one western diplomatic source noted that the Iraqi Shia community has effectively been "nationalised" by the Baathist government who poured money into the shrine cities, in return for support against the Iranians.

The row over Iraq's referring to the Gulf as "Arabian" is unlikely to escalate further after Tehran sought clarifications from Baghdad, but it does illustrate the ethnic and nationalistic divergences that still exist between the two countries who, nevertheless, form integral parts of the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance. As such, the issue may be exploited in future by Iran's rivals across the Gulf in order to create a wedge between Iraq and Iran and to re-assert Iraq's Arab identity in an attempt to distance it from Iran. Speaking of the recent row, one senior Sadrist member, Issam Hussein, was quoted as saying "Iran is actually angry over Iraq's rapprochement with its Arab neighbours and it is afraid it will lead to economic and political cooperation and cost Iran its influence in Iraq."

As Basra gathers up the bouquets, Baghdad will hope that investors everywhere take note. But once the tournament is concluded, attention will quickly return to Iraq’s political dysfunction: The government of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, appointed in late October more than a year after the general election of 2021, may not be long for this world.
The backing of Iran makes it highly suspect in the eyes of most Iraqis. The country’s most popular politician, Moqtada al-Sadr, who was unable to form a government despite his party’s plurality of seats in parliament, retains the capacity to bring millions of supporters into the street and paralyze the government.
If Sudani can survive Sadr’s political maneuvering, he will have the unenviable task of managing Iraq’s economy, which is entirely dependent on oil exports. The prime minister dreams of oil remaining close to $100 a barrel. High prices through much of last year helped to cover the ineptitude of Iraq’s government, which is hoping to expand its export capacity in the months ahead.
But Iraq has been unable to convert oil revenues into opportunities for its young population. A comprehensive labor force survey conducted jointly last year by the Iraqi government and the International Labour Organization put youth unemployment at 35.8%. Joblessness, along with deep dissatisfaction with the government and anger at Iran’s meddling in Iraqi affairs, has powered the widespread protests that have wracked the country in the past three years.

Moving over to the US, President Joe Biden is in another mess.  Ruth's covering it daily at her site and Wally ("THIS JUST IN! JOE COPIES DONALD!"), Cedric ("Joe said it was wrong when Donald did it"), Betty ("They're both crazy!") and Ann ("Put them in a locked room and let them slug it out") did their joint post on Monday.

These are the basics.  Last year, Donald Trump, former US president, has his residence raided by the FBI because he had top secret documents that he had taken from the White House.  Donald has argued that he, in his role as president, had the right to declassify them and take them.  The National Archives had been insisting he return them.  When he didn't, the FBI was sent in.

The White House has confirmed reports that classified documents were discovered in a former office space used by Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., after his term as vice president. On Monday, Biden’s lawyers said a “small number” of the documents were discovered in a locked closet as they were closing the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. It’s not clear what the documents were related to. Biden’s lawyers say they immediately notified the National Archives, which took possession of the records the next day.

In 2018, then-President Trump signed a bill making it a felony -- rather than a misdemeanor -- to knowingly remove classified materials with the intent to retain them at an “unauthorized location.” Those convicted face up to five years in prison. Special counsel Jack Smith is currently investigating Trump for allegedly mishandling at least 325 classified documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago last August.

Journalist should be covering the way Amy did but most corporate journalist by Monday evening were not using terms like "Biden's lawyers say."  They were instead 'reporting' like "After the discovery, the National Archives were immediately notified."  No, you don't know that.  And you can't report it as fact.  It's "Biden's lawyers say."

Ruth rightly noted yesterday, when it was announced that more classified documents were found in Joe's possession at another location (in a garage), that this was not a time for jokes -- Joe had ha-ha-ed that "my Corvette's in a locked garage, so it's not like it's sitting on the street."

It's not the time for jokes.

It's also not time for partisanship.  But many are playing that on both sides.  

A House investigation?  I would agree with that.  We have a sitting president who has classified document problem -- that's more serious than the media's treating it -- hold on for that, I'll get to it.  So, sure, the House has every right to investigate.  Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a Special Counsel:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Appointment of a Special Counsel

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced today the appointment of a former career Justice Department prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur to serve as special counsel to conduct the investigation of matters that were the subject of the initial investigation by U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. related to the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and the Wilmington, Delaware, private residence of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Based on Mr. Lausch's initial investigation, I concluded that, under the Special Counsel regulations, it was in the public interest to appoint a Special Counsel. In the days since, while Mr. Lausch continued the investigation, the Department identified Mr. Hur for appointment as Special Counsel.

“This appointment underscores for the public the Department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law. 

I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner, and in accordance with the highest traditions of this Department.”

That's needed as well.

I don't want to even include the name of the guy who burned his bridges at MSNBC, ESPN, CNN, FOX SPORTS, CURRENT TV and GQ (did I miss a firing?) but he has nothing of value to offer (big surprise, right?) and this is a real news story and it's a serious one.  

There's no need to compare the two -- Joe and Donald.  One is a sitting president, one is a former president.  

Instead, we're back to this.

For those who are late to the party, Tara Reade came forward to detail her time working in then-Senator Joe Biden's office and to state that he assaulted her.  Tara is credible and I believe her 100%.  She has 'receipts' (including the call in her mother made in real time to CNN's LARRY KING SHOW).  The response was for Joe's campaign to smear her to the press -- who never explained to their readers -- and I say readers because most of it was in print and not on TV but do include PBS in this list of outlets who were allowing Joe's campaign to dictate the coverage.  

It became harder and harder to attack Tara's statements -- as Alyssa Milano found out (after being fed lies by TIMES UP!) -- and so we got the justification that the video above points out.  "Less rapes."

And now, it's less documents.

It doesn't matter if it was one document and we're not going to revamp our standards for legalities and make Donald Trump the bar.  No.  And if you don't like Donald (I don't), why in the world are using him as the standard?  "Well it's less than Donald had!"

He is in violation.

If you're going to compare the two at all, it's that Joe had those documents not as president, but as vice president and/or former vice president. If Donald's argument is legal -- a court will decide that -- it would apply for Donald but it's doubtful that Barack Obama, as the president under whom Joe served, could give Joe or anyone's classified documents -- if Donald's argument holds up in court, Barack could have given himself that permission but not anyone serving under him.

These documents turning up would be embarrassing for any sitting president.  

It's more embarrassing for Joe.


For Immediate Release – Thursday, Jan. 12th, 2023

Full-Page Ad on Capitol Hill Calls for Primary Challenger to Biden

The Hill newspaper today published a full-page ad in its print edition calling for a progressive Democrat to step forward with a primary challenge to President Biden, who has said he intends to run for re-election.

The ad, which appears under a big “Help Wanted” headline, says that a “historic position” is available for an “articulate and principled Democrat willing to show political courage on behalf of party and country.”

The notice goes on: “Qualifications include a record of progressive advocacy, effective leadership and proven integrity. Capacity to withstand intensive pressure from corporate interests and the Biden White House a must.”

The complete full-page ad, as it appeared in The Hill, is posted here.

The ad was placed by the Don’t Run Joe campaign, which is sponsored by the activist group RootsAction. The organization’s co-founder Jeff Cohen said Thursday: “A healthy political party requires healthy political debate about its future. President Biden should not be enabled to coast to renomination without such a debate, especially in light of recent polling that shows most Democrats don’t want him to seek a second term.”

Recent polls by CNBC and CNN found that nearly 60 percent of Democrats nationwide do not want Biden to be the party nominee in 2024.

“A presidential nomination should not be a coronation,” RootsAction national director Norman Solomon said. “Voters in the Democratic presidential primaries next year should not simply be told to rubber stamp a choice handed down from on high.”

For further information, contact RootsAction cofounders:
Jeff Cohen,, phone/text (914) 388-1431
Norman Solomon,, phone/text (415) 488-3606

For background, see the Don’t Run Joe website and Frequently Asked Questions.


Contact: | Learn more at our FAQ

Joe wants to run for re-election in two years.  He hasn't announced yet because there are still some trying to talk him out of it.  (He's had arguments -- including one of the phone with Barack.)  The majority of Democratic voters do not want him to run as evidenced by repeat polling.  They think he's too old.  That's reality, by the way.  If he ran and was re-elected, he would be the oldest president in US history.  He's 80 years old right now.

What does this have to do with the documents?

Donald Trump left the White House and took documents with him.  That's why you don't want to compare the two.  Donald was asked to return and said no.


Donald knew he had the documents.  Donald knew where he had the documents.

Joe's defense currently is, at best, oops!

He forgot he had them.

Okay, we already see him as senile.

He wants to argue that he's so senile that he forgot to return these documents in 2016 or by 2017 when his book on Beau Biden was published (the documents may have been used or mixed in with classified documents when he was working on that book published in 2017).

That's not making him look good.

He had top secret documents and worse than that, he had them for years.  He had them for years and he forgot them which means -- pay attention here -- he misplaced them.

That is a serious breach of national security.

He did not just misplace them for a moment, he misplaced them for years.

Again, a serious breach of national security.

This does warrant a special counsel.  This does deserve a Congressional investigation.

A sitting president has lost and misplaced -- not just mishandled -- classified information.

This needs to be addressed seriously.  This is not minor.  He is now handling tons of documents and it needs to be determined if he can handle that role and, if he can, he needs to be assuring the American people that this will not happen again.

Ruth is so right, this is not the time for jokes.  It's also not the time to hide behind your attorneys.  You are the President of the United States and you have done something that is appalling.  This is not a woopsie.  You need to speak to the American people and you need to be honest and forthright.  It is not a time for jokes.

Let's wind down the snapshot with this from Alex Bollinger (LGBTQ NEWS):

A 13-year-old boy in France named Lucas died by suicide last Saturday, January 7 after facing anti-LGBTQ+ bullying at school. People close to his family say that the school did little to stop the bullying.

The student at the Louis Armand de Golbey middle school in the Vosges department was out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the French magazine Têtu reports.

“He was constantly harassed for the way he dressed, his mannerisms, his presence,” said Stéphanie, a family friend. “He didn’t hide himself and that bothered some people.”

She said Lucas was “always pleasant, caring, spontaneous, full of dreams and a life.”

The following sites updated:

  • Thursday, January 12, 2023

    Again on Katie Porter

    Ring. Ring.  

    So Maggie wakes me up this morning and I answer with, "No one who knows me would be calling me this early!"  She needs me to turn on MORNING JOE (strike two).  US House Rep Katie Porter's on.  And Joe's all did-you-speak-with-Dianne-Feinstein-before-you-announced?  

    First off, who cares.  Dianne may be older than dirt but she doesn't own the seat.  She's urinated on it repeatedly, yes, but she doesn't own it.

    She really should be telling us -- the people who are going to be voting -- first.

    No, Katie tried but couldn't reach her or get through.

    Again, Dianne doesn't own the seat. 

    She will be 90 in June.  She will be 91 when the election starts.  She should have been put out to pasture long ago.  POLITICO or someone had a story about how she was being asked questions about something and she didn't know that she had already taken a position on it and her aide that was walking with her had to tell her.  She has no clue what's going on and it's been that way for some time now.

    She is the poster child for term limits.  

    I hope you saw Mike's "Graham Elwood and Barbara Lee thinks life begins at 78" already.  Barbara Lee?  Oh no,  She'll be 78 the summer ahead of the election.  No.  No.  No.  We don't need another geriatric.  That would make her 84 if she got elected -- 84 when she finished the Senate term.  No.  No.  And no.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) endorsed fellow progressive Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) for Senate in California in 2024, days after Porter announced her intention to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) Senate seat.

    In a video posted on her Twitter page, Warren said Porter saw “how giant corporations rig the rules to hurt families,” which is why “she stands up to Wall Street and Big Pharma” and “holds fossil fuel companies accountable.”

    Warren’s endorsement is the first so far in what is expected to become a crowded primary for the California seat, which is safely Democratic. There is still uncertainty over whether Feinstein, the longest-serving female senator, will retire at the end of 2024. The California Democrat has not yet said if she is running for a sixth term.

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

    Thursday, January 12, 2023.  A major event will take place next week in defense of Julian Assange and The First Amendment, in Iraq a trial is taking place today on corruption, and much more.

    Starting with this announcement from DEMOCRACY NOW!:

    On Jan. 20, Democracy Now! will live-stream the Belmarsh Tribunal from Washington, D.C. The event will feature expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers and parliamentarians on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    Watch here live at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 20.

    Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Srecko Horvat, the co-founder of DiEM25, will chair the tribunal, which is being organized by Progressive International and the Wau Holland Foundation.

    Members of the tribunal include:

    Stella Assange, partner of Julian Assange and member of his defense team

    Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower

    Noam Chomsky, linguist and activist

    Jeremy Corbyn, member of U.K. Parliament and founder of the Peace and Justice Project

    Chip Gibbons, policy director of Defending Rights & Dissent

    Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadowproof

    Margaret Kunstler, civil rights attorney

    Stefania Maurizi, investigative journalist, Il Fatto Quotidiano

    Jesselyn Radack, national security and human rights attorney

    Ben Wizner, lead attorney at ACLU of Edward Snowden

    Renata Ávila, human rights lawyer, technology and society expert

    Jeffrey Sterling, lawyer and former CIA employee

    Steven Donziger, human rights attorney

    Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief, WikiLeaks

    Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher, The Nation

    Selay Ghaffar, spokesperson, Solidarity Party of Afghanistan

    Betty Medsger, investigative reporter

    US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian and, for those who've forgotten, Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

    A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
    Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

    The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
    The new logs detail how:
    US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

    A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
    More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

    The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat

    The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.

    The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.

    But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.

    Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.

    Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.

    Lee Camp spoke with Stella Assange about the risks and persecution Julian continues to face for revealing the truth.

    As you listen to Stella describe the inhumane conditions Julian's being held in, you really have to ask yourself why does Joe Biden continue to persecute Julian?  Eric Zuesse (DISSIDENT VOICE) observes, "Julian Assange has been imprisoned by the UK on the demand by the U.S. for over a decade now, though never convicted of anything, but ONLY because he was the world’s most effective champion against censorship and for international democracy and personal accountability. To call either of these countries a democracy is to lie, and to insult the very term 'democracy'."

    Okay, now we're going over to Iraq.  There's an issue that we've been ignoring -- my choice to do so.  We'll go into why in a minute.  AL-MONITOR reports:

    Iraq has not apologized to Iran after several Iranian parliamentarians slammed Iraq for using the term "Arabian Gulf" as it hosted the 25th Gulf Cup in Basra and asked for an apology.

    Alireza Salimi, a member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Parliament, attacked Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani and the leader of Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, for what he termed a hostile action.

    “I advise the Iraqi prime minister and Muqtada al-Sadr to apologize and stop these kinds of contentious actions that are against the interests of the two nations and create disputes between the two nations,” Salimi said according to Iranian media reports. 

    Observers and experts, however, said Iraq has so far ignored the complaints because it does not want to become embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with Iran, especially as Baghdad is playing a key role in achieving rapprochement between regional countries, most notably Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

    While Baghdad has not officially commented on the “Arabian Gulf” dispute, the Sadrist movement, led by influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, rejected Tehran’s summoning of the Iraqi envoy. 

    Leading member of the movement, Issam Hussein said on Wednesday that Tehran is not justified in summoning the envoy. 

    Moreover, he noted that the move gives Iran’s supporters in Iraq the “green light” to criticize the naming of the tournament. 

    He remarked that Iran is “greatly bothered” by the rapprochement between the Iraqi and Gulf people. 

    It fears that this rapprochement could develop into an increase in tourism and later development in economic and investment, he added. 

    First, as a US citizen, I don't have an opinion on which of the two names Iraq chooses to use for the competition.  Second, I'm not Condi Rice. 

    The US government has too often seen Iraq and Iran as twins or as potential twins.  They are neighboring countries.  As we have noted for years now, they will have many disagreements -- and have had many disagreements.  They may act together but they will also act in opposition.

    Condi Rice, whenever things were going the way she wanted between Iran and Iraq (at odds) or at any time (like when Moqtada's influence was ebbing) would insert herself into the process.  It was stupid to begin with because the disagreement then becomes with the US.

    We're noting it now to explain to all those e-mailing why we aren't obsessing over this news and to again remind that neighbors will always have frictions.  The two countries are not twins.  They aren't individual nations that share a border and will work together on somethings and not work together on other issues.  When government officials in the US fret over Iraq and Iran it's as though they're still addicted to the domino theory.

    The above disagreement is not a US issue.  I don't plan to comment on it and say someone's right and someone's wrong, it's not my business and I don't see how it helps.  If outlets from the region choose to run columns or editorials, we may note those.  But this is something that needs to be between those two counties.  And, if that really makes you butt hurt because -- like Condi -- your goal is to drive a wedge between Iraq and Iran, grasp what Condi never could, a chorus of US voices is just going to turn attention towards the US and make it the target of frustration.  So let it play out for that if you just can't support the notion that we don't need to stick our nose into everything.

    I picked the morning paper off the floor
    It was full of other people's little wars
    Wouldn't they like their peace
    Don't we get bored
    And we call for the three great stimulants
    Of the exhausted ones
    Artifice brutality and innocence
    Artifice and innocence

    -- "The Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on DOG EAT DOG

    The trial of an adviser to the Iraq ex-Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Khadhemi on embezzlement charges will take place today.

    The suspect is likely Haitham al-Juburi, who has been charged in a wider corruption scandal surrounding the disappearance of $2.5 billion worth of tax revenue. It is the biggest corruption of the previous al-Kahdimi governemnt, involving businessmen and former high-ranking officials. Al-Juburi has already returned $2.6 million, a mere fraction of the total loss.

    The scandal has angered Iraqis, many of whom are dealing with poverty, decaying infrastructure, unemployment and a near total absence of public services. Corruption has long been at the core of Iraqi politics. It a serious challenge to Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and his new government, having vowed to lead a crackdown on corruption. The country ranked 157th out of 180 in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index in 2021.

    Mustafa's adviser?  Let's drop back to last month when  Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reported:

    Kadhimi, who left office in October, came to power in 2020 after mass anti-corruption demonstrations felled his predecessor. His government’s high-profile campaign to tackle graft in one of the world’s most corrupt countries drew widespread international encouragement.

    Central to the effort was a series of highly publicized night raids in late 2020 on the homes of public figures accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29. The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the “night visitor.”

    But what happened to the men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address. In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials who tracked the committee’s work — a picture emerges of a process marked by abuse and humiliation, more focused on obtaining signatures for pre-written confessions than on accountability for corrupt acts.

    Those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters or, in the case of detainees and their families, to protect their safety.

    “It was every kind of torture,” one former detainee recalled. “Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. They stripped us naked and grabbed at the parts of our body underneath.”

    In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee. Photographs provided to The Post by his family appear to show that a number of teeth had been knocked out, and there were signs of blunt trauma on his forehead.

    Allegations that the process was riddled with abuse became an open secret among diplomats in Baghdad last year. But the international community did little to follow up on the claims and the prime minister’s office downplayed the allegations, according to officials with knowledge of the issue. Although a parliamentary committee first revealed the torture allegations in 2021 and Iraqi media have raised the issue sporadically, this is the fullest attempt yet to investigate the claims and document the scale of the abuse.

    We'll wind down with this Tweet:

    The following sites updated: