Leslie and Ann's friendship was the heart of the show. I watched the first two episodes this season and I just can't watch it every week.
Of all the people the show can afford to lose, Ann is not one of them.
And I also think it's really sucky that the actress who plays Donna, after all these years, still isn't considered a real cast member.
At any rate I like Rashida Jones. She's the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton which means she's cool by birth.
Rashida's in the news today for a series of Tweets.
I agree with what Rashida Tweeted. I think most people would.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi publicly declared (speech in full via the National Council of Resistance of Iran or in the repost we did):
I want also to ask those countries, especially the United States, which still blindly support the current Prime Minister who keeps deceiving the international community by giving false reports about the situation in the country and never fulfills his promises, I ask them to reconsider their stands and help build a real and well-established democracy in Iraq.
The remarks followed the White House announcement last week that US President Barack "Obama will host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House," next week, Friday, November 4th.
The meet-up some would liken to a presidential audience being granted to despot Augusto Pinochet. And the Iraqi Vice President is not the only one who's noted the problems with Iraq's Prime Minister. As the editorial board of the Guardian observed in an editorial a year ago which wondered if the US government even cared what happened in Iraq now? From the editorial:
As Toby Dodge, a leading Iraqi scholar, has chronicled, Maliki gained complete control over Iraq's security forces, subverting the formal chain of command, moving the office of commander-in-chief into his office, and creating provincial command centres, commanded by generals who were handpicked by him. Under him, the Iraq special operations forces, described as the best in the Middle East, became a praetorian guard, dubbed "Fedayeen al-Maliki". The same goes for the intelligence services and the judiciary. Having seen off those Sunnis who downed their arms and tried politics in 2010, Maliki's next target will be the Kurds, whose autonomy he will threaten, and then the Sadrists. The end product will be a centralised state not unlike Vladimir Putin's Russia. Like Putin, Maliki practises a form of competitive authoritarianism. This employs the toolkit of a democratic state (a parliament, set elections, a constitution) for a purpose that is anything but – the maintenance of power at all costs, torture and death squads included.
While at the start of the year, The Economist observed:
Mr Maliki, who first came to power as a compromise prime minister in 2005 and then patched together a flimsy government in 2010, bears much of the blame for provoking these tensions. The move against Mr Issawi baffled Iraqi and foreign observers, who see Mr Maliki’s grudging response to the subsequent anger as foolishly inadequate. The grievances of the Sunnis who feel ignored go beyond salaries and harsh policing to a more general anger over rampant corruption and resentment of Mr Maliki’s dictatorial tendencies.
Yet most observers seem to think Iraq can avoid returning to mayhem. Few in Iraq’s political class relish the idea of renewed conflict, says a London-based analyst. He cites as positive signs that Sunni protests have remained peaceful so far, and that calls for the removal of Mr Maliki or scrapping the 2005 constitution, the drafting of which most Sunni politicians boycotted to their later regret, have failed to gain traction. Some Shia politicians, including Muqtada al-Sadr, a young cleric with a strong following who was long branded a dangerous firebrand, have even voiced sympathy with Sunni demands.
This summer, the Guardian editorial board noted, "But the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has proved to be a disastrous leader, subverting the constitution to concentrate power in his own hands, to exclude the Sunni minority and potentially to threaten the so far peaceful Kurdish north. The resulting Sunni backlash, exploited by al-Qaeda, is the background to the latest violence. The situation has been made worse by recent breakouts from the Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons, which returned veteran extremists to the fray and which suggest that the government may be as incompetent as it is dictatorial. Security, after all, is supposed to be Maliki's forte." But Nouri's failed to provide security and the monthly death tolls are now the worst since 2008.
Back to Tareq al-Hashemi's speech last Thursday where he pointed out the security problems:
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: As for the security, it has been increasingly deteriorating during the last two years in the country especially in the capital, Baghdad. UN reports said more 5000 people died and tens of thousands injured in violent attacks this year.
And when we want to investigate the responsibility for such horrible security collapse, the PM says that he cannot be held accountable although he is the Commander in Chief, and the acting Minister of Defense, and the acting Minister of Interior, and the acting Minister of National Security and the Head of Intelligence.
Security situation is declining although security forces are constantly growing and reached more than 1.5 million personnel now whereas the Iraqi population, excluding Kurdistan is only 25 million people. Moreover, the annual security budget takes more than 25 percent of the annual budget which is usually higher than 100 billion USD.
Nouri can't provide security. But he can pay militias to kill Sunnis. And the White House still wants him receiving US tax dollars. Tim Arango (New York Times) broke that news in September. Arango noted:
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.
In the US, very few outlets have paid attention to Iraq. One that has is the editorial board of the Providence Journal which noted last month, "Some would characterize today’s Iraqi government as authoritarian, not democratic. One result has been that minority Sunnis have seen their trust in Iraq’s nascent democratic institutions decline precipitously, to the point that al-Qaida has rekindled its bid to stir trouble there." In May, Nussaibah Younis wrote a column for the New York Times and noted the best thing for Iraq would be for Nouri to resign, "Iraq's parliamentary democracy could survive a resignation. It is normal for a prime minister to step down and be replaced by another figure elected by Parliament. There are other capable Shiite politicians who could recruit and lead a national-unity government."
Nouri al-Maliki has failed at creating a better Iraq. He's failed at political reconciliation as well; however, he never really cared about that and never did more than offer empty talk about that. In an important new column, Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) makes many important points including how the White House has to make this meeting mean something:
The political failure in Iraq is nothing new and has very little to do with the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Maliki ignored such advice when there were 140,000 American troops in Iraq; he ignored it when those troops began to withdraw; and he ignored it after they left altogether. He was never going to make such concessions unless he felt them absolutely necessary for his own survival. In part due to the temporary security gains of the U.S. "surge" and co-optation of the Sunni insurgency, he never really felt that he did.
Things might be different now, though. The harvest of his exclusionary politics has been long months of sustained Sunni protest, renewed insurgency, and an increasing perception that the country is coming apart at the seams. A dramatic increase in violent deaths has driven a widely held fear that Iraq is unraveling and that the fire is again burning. The perverse consequence of this year's growing violence and political crisis could finally be that the carnage is finally enough to push him to such belated, reluctant concessions. His own political survival instincts, not American leverage, might finally bring him around. With fateful elections looming next year and troubling signs emerging about the contours of the new electoral law, the White House should do whatever it can during his visit to nudge him in that direction -- and condition all of the incentives that might be activated under the SFA (like the military and intelligence assistance Maliki wants) upon his doing so.
There is little question that Maliki's persistent exclusion of Sunnis and consolidation of power has kept Baghdad's perpetual political crisis boiling. The initially peaceful protest movement that broke out among Iraqi Sunnis earlier this year was driven by widespread grievances over his sectarian politics, his government's corruption, and his consolidation of autocratic power. Frustrations grew over his refusal to compromise, and exploded over the government's brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, such as April's bloody attack on protesters in Hawija.
For the meeting to mean anything -- other than elevating a despot -- people are going to need to be honest. The meeting takes place in 12 days and it's doubtful that the domestic, US media can get off its lazy ass and pay attention to Iraq. It's also doubtful the Cult of St. Barack which tries to (falsely) pass itself off as the left in the United States will be of any help. They're too busy playing defense for Barack. They're obsessing over George W. Bush.
This is why the left gets no where in the United States. When your boat is sinking, you have to toss things overboard. If you're lucky, you might find these things later on. But you toss stuff overboard or you sink. And in 2013, obsessing over the idiot and War Criminal George W. Bush does not help the Iraqi people. As Nouri gears up for his visit, your grudge is useless. You hatred consumes you and you have nothing to offer.
Since Bully Boy Bush has thankfully been out of the White House, Nouri's targeted lesbians and gays in Iraq (having the Ministry of Interior -- which he controls since he refused to nominate anyone to head it -- visit schools and demonize gays and lesbians and ask children to harm and kill them puts the blood on Nouri's hands). He is using executions to 'prune' the population. He's doing that by having those from groups of political rivals executed while holding up an amnesty law that would let many off death row and out of prison. He has attacked protesters and protesting itself.
At the end of August, Human Rights Watch issued a plea for Nouri to stop banning protests and HRW Middle East Director Joe Stork observed, "It's ironic that officials suggest that using force to block peaceful demonstrations will assist Iraq's 'march to democracy.' The authorities can ban demonstrations if they believe they will be violent, but here the concern seems that protests will be politically embarrassing or inconvenient." Not only has he tried to ban the peaceful protests, he's called the protesters terrorists, and his forces have attacked the protesters. The most infamous attack was the April 23rd 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).
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Iraq, which was supposed to be freed from dictatorship ten years ago and to be rebuilt as a democratic nation with your support as the free world of the international community, is now sinking into another form of dictatorship and authoritarianism; but this time also with the support of some members of the international community which were deceived and misled by the current ruling regime.
The reason Barack needs to take leadership?
He created this mess. And that's the other reason to stop whining about Bully Boy Bush right now.
Iraq is worse off now and the reason is because of the will of the Iraqi people was spat on.
Yes, at the end of 2005, the Iraqi Parliament thought they were going to give Ibrahim al-Jaafari a second term as prime minister. But the White House said differently. They didn't want Ibrahim to have a second term for a variety of reasons. They wanted Nouri al-Maliki to be prime minister. And so, in 2006, the US government forced Nouri off on the Iraqi people.
That wasn't smart, it wasn't nice, it wasn't democratic. But it was the Parliament that got overruled.
March 2010 (when Barack's in the White House), Iraqis went to the polls. The winner was Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi. He was the winner even after Nouri's first tantrum. Nouri had bribed and prevented opponents from running for office and thought he was a shoe-in, that his State of Law would be winning by a landslide. He didn't like coming in second. He demanded a recount and, because he's a bully, the UN and IHEC tossed a few votes his way.
That still didn't put State of Law in first place.
Nouri refused to vacate his office. Can you imagine the uproar if Bully Boy Bush had decided he wouldn't step down in January 2009?
Nouri brought the Iraqi government to a halt for over eight months.
And instead of calling this out, the White House backed it. They supported Nouri. They regularly offered 'prizes' (bribes) to various political blocs to try to win support for Nouri. And how has that worked out? A failure on every level. Let's note corruption because a crooked election doesn't produce an honest politician and Nouri's corruption is well known.
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Local and foreign investors and businessmen usually say that the main obstacle to come to Iraq is the poor government effectiveness, marred by corruption and political interference. They consider poor governance more dangerous than security. Since April 2003, Iraq spent more than 630 billion USD in addition to more than 30 billion dollars from donor countries, while 30 percent of the population still live under poverty line, millions still spend their nights in full darkness because of power cut, thousands of pupils study on the floor in mud-made schools, and millions have no access to drinkable water in most provinces.
Iraq now ranks no (175) of the most corrupt countries in the 182 countries surveyed, as indicated by Transparency International. For the fifth year, Baghdad is considered the most dangerous place in the world to live in. UNDP recent report says that an average Iraqi must pay at least four bribes per year.
You must have heard of the corruption scandals by senior aides to the Prime Minister. The former Minister of Trade Mr. Falah Alsudani, who is a senior member of the PM’s political party, was officially accused and convicted of corruption. He is now free and living peacefully in London. The Ministry of Interior refused to ask the Interpol to arrest him.
The corruption of this government caused also the death of thousands of Iraqis as in the big scandal of purchasing technically-proved inefficient bomb-detection devices from a company in the UK. Iraq bought a device with 40 thousand USD while the actual cost is 20 USD.
The Iraqi people said "no" to Nouri but the White House didn't respect that. Barack showed no respect for democracy or voting rights. He just took a piss on both.
And the US got Nouri his second term. Couldn't do it via the Iraqi Constitution. The Iraqi Constitution put Iraqiya in charge. So the White House brokered The Erbil Agreement.
This legal document gave Nouri a second term as prime minister in exchange for him offering things others wanted -- such as the Kurds getting Article 140 of the Constitution finally implemented and the dispute over Kirkuk at last resolved.
But Nouri used the contract to get a second term and then refused to honor the promises he made in The Erbil Agreement. And the White House that swore the contract was binding and had the full backing of the US government?
They played dumb. Over and over.
Barack pretended to care just long enough for Nouri to be named prime minister-designate and then he played dumb.
And he got away with it because The Cult of St. Barack can't stomach truth and because the US press responded to his attack on them by going meek and useless. Dropping back to the November 10, 2011 snapshot when The Erbil Agreement allowed Nouri his second term:
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."
Barack lied to Ayad Allawi. That's reality.
When you draw up a contract, as the White House did, if it's not honored, if one person got what they wanted and everyone else got screwed? You don't build loyalty or understanding but you do breed distrust and resentment and arrive at the crises Iraq has today.
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: It is no secret anymore that Iraq is now held hostage by the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his ruling party. Our experience with this government has dashed all hopes that Iraq will become a fully functioning democracy based on the rule of law.
As you all well know that terrorism exists in many parts of the world, why is it increasing in Iraq despite of the huge allocated budget for the security? Terrorism expands where there are feeding elements like injustice, poverty, corruption, and discrimination. I will show you how Almaliki helps the spread of terrorism in the country.
I am not exaggerating if I say that Iraq has never witnessed in its modern history, a government as worse as the current one. After eight years under this government, Iraq has been deteriorating in public services, social justice, transitional democracy, development, judiciary, national peace, security, and last but not least, foreign policy. Almaliki has not only become a threat to the future of Iraq, but also a danger to the unity of the country and stability in the region.
Eleven more days and Barack meets with Nouri. Pressure needs to be applied. The Iraqi people went to voting booth and tried to make a peaceful change in 2010. Barack wouldn't let it happen.
He owes it to the Iraqi people to make this right.
Vice President Nouri al-Maliki: Today I am here to invoke you in the names of the principles and values you believe in your countries, the principles of human rights, women rights, democracy, good governance, transparency, rights of minorities, I categorically ask you to protect these principles and values in my country.
History will definitely write about your noble and brave efforts to help the people of Iraq. We do not want our children to suffer what we have been through.
To conclude, Iraq now is literally at a critical crossroads and the al-Maliki’s policies are dragging my country into a sectarian civil war. I am appealing to you to interfere and help us before it is too late.
The political process is at deadlock and the democratic institutions are paralyzed. All national efforts to bring back confidence among the politicians have failed.
There are a number of ways to make it right, including pulling support for a third term for Nouri.
Iraqis are trying to cope with today. They know Bully Boy Bush was a War Criminal. Americans have nothing to teach them about that. So maybe people who consider themselves left could let go of their Bush grudges long enough to acknowledge what's going on in Iraq today?
Maybe they can even learn about Hadi al-Mahdi?
His thanks for believing in a better Iraq and a more democratic one?
He was shot dead in his own home.
Dropping back to the September 8, 2011 snapshot:
In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered. In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis.Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home. Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did. And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree. Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories? (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.) So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual), Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:
Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."
A year after Hadi was executed, Prashant Rao (AFP) noted, , despite claims that they weren't responsible and that they would get to the bottom of it, the government has still not solved the assassination.
It's amazing how many opponents of Nouri al-Maliki are killed and how the killers are never found.
Equally amazing is the war Nouri has conducted on the press. Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi noted in his speech Thursday, "On the other hand, the freedom of speech has become a critical issue in Iraq. Hundreds of journalists have not been only the targets of terrorist groups but also to the government’s terrorism. AlBaghdadia TV Channel has recently been forced to shut down and the government confiscated all its equipment just because the channel was successful in exposing all government corruption files to the public."
Nouri is not the answer for stopping the violence in Iraq.
Nouri can only breed violence.
Barack needs to fix the mess he made by giving Nouri a second term the voters didn't want him to have. Part of fixing the mess would require meeting not just with Nouri but also with the leader of the winning party in 2010: Ayad Allawi.
All Iraq News notes Allawi is traveling to the US for a visit at the invitation of US Vice President Joe Biden. If Allawi does come to the US, he is owed a face-to-face with Barack. He is Iraq's Al Gore. Only instead of the Supreme Court stealing Gore's victory, the White House stole Allawi's victory.
There are ten more days in the month of Iraq. Yet, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count already counts 718 violent deaths so far this month.
In Iraq today there was an attempt to rush the police department in Falluja. National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 police were left dead and five injured. Let's stay with Falluja because militants did successfully storm the Falluja Dept of Electricity. Alsumaria reports militants seized control of the building and were holding hostages. SWAT and other security stormed the building at noon and armec clashes ensued. At least two militants are dead from detonating bombs and at least two Dept employees were kidnapped in the chaos that followed. NINA offers there were five militants seizing control of the building and that 2 escaped while 3 were killed. AP links the two attacks saying the gunmen from the attack on the police department then ran to the Dept of Electricity and took over the building. Al Mada offers a death toll of the two combined attacks: 6 militants killed, 6 police officers killed. The newspaper also notes that helicopters were involved in taking back the Department of Electricity. EFE provides this chronology, "The building was first attacked with mortar rounds, police told Efe. Shortly thereafter, a suicide bomber detonated his belt of explosives at the station's main entrance, while several terrorists fired machineguns at the building, which is located in a residential part of the center of town."
And buildings outside of Falluja were stormed in the last 24 hours as well. Alsumaria reports that Maj Gen Jamil al-Shammari (Chief of Police for Diyala Province) announced today that an attempt was made to storm Mandali's police station and that it ended with a suicide bomber being shot dead. All Iraq News reports that Interior Ministry spokesperson Sa'ad Maan confirmed the attack. NINA adds that the bombs on the car were disabled by an "explosive ordnance disposal force." NINA reports late last night there was an attempt to stom the federal police headquarters in Jurfissakhar
Police were targeted elsewhere as well. NINA notes a police offier's Baiji home was bombed claiming 1 police officer's life and leaving three other people injured. Alsumaria notes a Qayyarah roadside bombing left one police member injured, an armed Qasim Khayat attack left 1 police officer dead. Prensa Latina offers, "Two similar actions against police headquarters and a military unit were reported yesterday in the city of Rawaa, also in the northwestern city of Al Anbar, with the participation of eight suicide groups and armed attackers."
Sahwa fighters were also targeted. NINA reports a Sawha's Baiji home bombing left one child, two women and two men injured and an armed attack south of Mosul left 1 Sahwa dead. In another attack on security elements, Alsumaria reports a bombing east of Tikrit targeting members of the oil police which left five of them injured. NINA notes an attack on a Tikrit military patrol left 2 Iraqi soldiers injured. And rounding out security news, Al Mada reports Wasit Pronvince's council has voted to send their police chief -- Raed Shakir Jawdat -- packing. State of Law members refused to vote. The big objection was that the province had not been allowed to pick a police chief but instead had Nouri declare Raed Shakir Jawdat their police chief.
Community business? We don't remove posts. Go screw yourself. I don't care. I don't care that it's Ruth's post at Ruth's site. We long ago made the decision we don't delete posts. Is it hard for you to be called out online? So hard that you write -- let me give it a name. Betsy Ross. Pretend Ruth wrote about Betsy Ross. And called her out. Now Betsy shows up at the public e-mail account and tries to pretend she's another Betsy Ross who's being hurt by Ruth's post.
Does it hurt you? Would deleting it make life better for you? Could we wipe your ass for you right after we delete the post? Grow the hell up.
The Betsy Ross that Ruth called out worked for Danny Schechter as Ruth noted in her post. (And if she hadn't attacked Ruth in e-mails, Ruth never would have responded. Learn to read.) If that's not you, baby boo, don't give it a second thought. If this is so problematic to you, be glad your name's not "John Smith" or something more common. In fact, if you're name's causing you a problem, I have two suggestions for you. Take the complaint to whomever named you or consider changing your name. Try adding a middle initial.
We don't delete.
Senator Bernie Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Jonathan Tasini has just interviewed Sanders:
Bernie Sanders Tells Me: He Hasn't Ruled Out Running for President
Though it actually was at the end of my long interview with Bernie for Playboy Magazine, Bernie Sanders made it clear that he hadn't ruled out running for president. Honestly, I think that the reason he may not run is precisely why we need him: he isn't obsessed about power for himself.
Sanders talked about a variety of topics: Wall Street, the robbery of the middle class, the Democrats (thumbs down), and foreign policy.
Though I know every one of my subscribers is an avid Playboy subscriber because of its written content, I still took the liberty of offering you the full interview here.
I only ask one favor: if you download it, you also "like" it at the link on Working Life, tweet the location for others to read and pass it around.
Let me know your thoughts: sign up to the blog and post your comments!
the new york times