Thursday, November 16, 2017

Senator Assault Franken


Ay-yi-yi what now?
 
Al Franken, that’s what.
 
Excuse me, Senator Al Franken.
 
 
 
 
On Thursday morning, radio personality Leeann Tweeden became the latest woman to allege inappropriate sexual conduct by a powerful man, describing a 2006 incident in which she says that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) kissed and groped her without her consent.
Franken’s office quickly released a statement playing down the accusation, which occurred before he was in office, but the timing is politically fraught for the senator. The Alabama Senate race has been roiled by accusations of sexual misconduct involving underage girls against the Republican nominee; accusations against other prominent celebrities have inspired a broad backlash — particularly on the political left. Even allegations made against Bill Clinton during his presidency have been resurrected, thanks to the cultural moment.
 
 
 
 

 
 
Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the highest ranking woman in the Democratic Senate leadership said Franken's apology "doesn't reverse what he's done or end the matter".
Murray said, "This is unacceptable behavior and extremely disappointing. I am glad Al came out and apologized, but that doesn't reverse what he's done or end the matter. I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations, and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it. "
 
 
I love Senator Murray for saying that.  Too often it’s, “Well he apologized!”
 
This isn’t forgetting to bring potato salad to the picnic.  This behavior is criminal. 
 
I’m not saying imprison him but I am saying his words do not wipe everything away.
 



This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 
Thursday, November 16, 2017.




"Do You Know Where You're Going To" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on (and it's the theme to her hist film MAHOGANY).   November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th to note this monumental achievement.  That's this Sunday and her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH, GIRLFRIENDS) will be hosting the broadcast.



Moving to Iraq, it's been a slow process but the renewed attempt to lower the age of marriage for girls to 9-years-old is finally get press attention.


Nine-year-old girls in Iraq could be forced to marry under new Muslim laws The bill includes provisions that would legalise marital rape and child marriage and ban Muslims from marrying non-Muslims.







IBT's Isabelle Garratsen notes:


Human rights activists are warning that a new Iraqi law could legalise marriage for children as young as nine and set women's rights back 50 years. 
They are calling on Iraqi ministers to withdraw a draft of the Jafaari Personal Status Law which would allow Muslim clerics to have control over marriage contracts.



For the earlier attempt, please refer to the April 17, 2014 snapshot.

We first noted the new push for the measure in the  November 3rd  snapshot.  Last week,  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reported on it, Chris Harris (EURONEWS) has reported on the issue and Karen McVeigh (GUARDIAN) has covered it.




Middle East media has covered this issue throughout the month.  One example being Rosie Alfatlawi's report for AL-BAWABA:

Child marriage may soon be legal in Iraq.
Troops have only just liberated the final major ISIS stronghold, but now Iraq’s parliament is voting on changes opponents say are reminiscent of the extremist group.
Baghdad’s House of Representatives voted “in principle” on Wednesday to approve amendments to the Personal Status Law that could allow girls as young as 9 marry.
Currently 18 is the official marriage age, although a judge can allow individuals as young as 15 to wed.
In addition, the amended law would facilitate polygamy, with men no longer needing a judge’s permission to marry multiple wives.


Yet while Middle East outlets have covered the issue, western media has been largely silent.  This despite the fact that the US State Dept commented on this issue last week. As KURDISTAN 24 noted:



State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert strongly criticized the Iraqi parliament’s approval, in principle, of a draft law that would allow the marriage of girls as young as nine-years old and restore the authority of religious courts in matters of personal status.
“We are completely against and oppose the idea of children marrying adults,” Nauert said on Thursday, replying to a question from Kurdistan 24 at a Department press briefing.
Nauert likened the pending Iraqi legislation to the practices of the Islamic State (IS.)
“It was not that long ago,” she said, that we condemned “the depravity of [IS] for taking children as brides.
“We remain firmly opposed to the idea that any adult would attempt to marry a child in that fashion.”

Iraq’s current personal status law goes back to 1959. It was approved in the wake of the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy in a military coup led by Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim in July 1958.




If you're in the west, especially if you're in the US, grasp this: Day after day, for weeks now, you are part of the daily outrage -- good, healthy outrage -- over the abusive behaviors of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, etc.  What is being proposed in Iraq right now is abuse.  And women and men in the west have benefited from global solidarity.

To avoid looking self-involved and hypocritical, it would be good for numerous 'social justice warriors' in the US to try to take a moment or two to recognize proposed abuse even if doesn't involve a famous performer.

Late yesterday, Bethan McKernan (INDEPENDENT) noted:

[T]he UN and various women’s rights groups in the region have condemned the proposed legislation.
“I call upon the Council of Representatives to seize this opportunity of the process to amend the Personal Status Law,“ the UN Secretary General’s special representative to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said in a statement. 

The Council of Representatives must “conduct a wider consultation on the draft amendments in a participatory manner to recommit to and ensure the full respect, protection and fulfilment of women and girls’ rights in Iraq in relation to matrimonial and other matters,” he added.


Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) explains:

Iraq’s current personal status law, introduced in 1959, is considered to be one of the most protective of women’s rights in the region. It is applied to all Iraqis regardless of their religious beliefs and sets the legal age of marriage at 18. In "urgent" cases, however, a judge is allowed to permit girls as young as 15 to marry.
The current personal status law bans forced marriages and restricts polygamy.
Under the new amendments, however, Shiite girls would be allowed to marry from the age of nine in line with the teachings of the Jaafari school of Shiite religious jurisprudence. The school was established by the sixth Shiite imam, Jaafar Al Sadiq.
Belikis Wille, Iraq and Qatar researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that the mooted changes — which were first proposed in an earlier, more extreme bill introduced in 2014 — were "catastrophic".
“The fact that this is not the first time the proposal was introduced is deeply disturbing,” Ms Wille added.

“It’s a step backwards for Iraq, a country where there are many initiatives to improve women’s rights. Now [after ISIL’s defeat] is the time to assert more clearly that everyone in Iraq has equal rights.”


In 2014, the bill was approved by Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet of Ministers.  Yesterday,voting was halted on the measure by a committee in Parliament.  Mohamed Mostafa (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

SNG website quoted Lama al-Halfi, chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s women affairs committee, saying in a press statement on Wednesday that the “personal status” law had been withdrawn from voting and returned to the committee for further deliberation with the endowments committee.
“This (draft) law permits girls between eight and nine to get married, while the Iraqi law 199/1959 sets a girl’s maturity age between 15 and 16,” Halfi said, asking to adopt that age range in the new amendments.


In other disturbing news, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

 
An investigative report by the BBC titled “Raqqa's dirty secret” has confirmed earlier charges by Iran, Russia and the Syrian government that the Pentagon has colluded with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the evacuation of ISIS fighters from cities and towns under US military siege.
The BBC story, based on interviews with some of those who organized the evacuation along with truck drivers who were brought in to transport the fighters and others who observed it, describes a four-mile-long convoy that included “50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 of the Islamic State group’s own vehicles. IS fighters, their faces covered, sat defiantly on top of some of the vehicles.”
In total, the convoy, which set out on October 12, transported some 4,000 people—ISIS fighters and their families—along with tons of arms, ammunition and explosives. The US military and its proxy ground force, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, assured that reporters and cameramen were kept out of Raqqa to prevent images of the long column of trucks, with armed ISIS fighters on top of them from being broadcast around the world.

The story has been largely ignored by the US media. It flies in the face of repeated statements by leading US officials vowing to “annihilate” ISIS to the last man in Iraq and Syria and debunks the greatest “fake news” story of the 21st century—the so-called US war on terror.


ISIS was bussed.  Poor thug Hayder al-Abadi.  He's been taking victory laps as fast as his tiny legs could carry his portly body while screaming that he'd defeated ISIS.  Poor Hayder, always a fool on the western stage.

This false claim has led to the mistaken assumption that the Iraqi forces have vastly improved when that is not the case.  The official desertion rate among the Iraqi forces remains as high today as it was in 2014.  They are still unable to move into a town unless they have at least 10 soldiers for every 1 suspected terrorist.  They have been trained and retrained.

It's probably always going to be difficult to get them to fight for a government propped up by the United States as opposed to a true Iraqi government.

That is only shocking to those who haven't paid attention to what has taken place repeatedly.  Of, for that matter, the 2011 brush off of the offer for more US training.  (Iraq's 'acting' Foreign Minister -- speaking on behalf of Nouri al-Maliki -- suggested that the US find a better way to spend their money.)

The bussing was also outrageous when you grasp that the US is supposedly fighting ISIS.  For many in the Middle East who have long argued that the US created ISIS and did so intentionally, this latest news will only confirm their beliefs.



The following community sites updated:






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    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

    Rockwell was right

    Berry Gordy's son had a hit song recording under the name of Rockwell.  With Michael Jackson offering backing vocals, "Somebody's Watching Me" made Rockwell a one hit wonder.

    And he was right -- we are being watched.

    Zaida Green (WSWS) reports:

     
    Policy and training documents from US intelligence agencies obtained by Human Rights Watch earlier this year authorize warrantless spying on US citizens with no connections to terrorists.
    The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Human Rights Watch in January, outline policies and procedures concerning surveillance, retention of collected data and the sharing of information among intelligence agencies.
    According to one training module, US citizens and legal residents, even when they have “no specific connection to foreign terrorist(s),” may be categorized as “homegrown violent extremists” (HVEs) and be subjected to targeted warrantless surveillance. Federal law generally prohibits deliberate surveillance of the communications of US persons without a warrant, obtainable only if authorities can show probable cause that the target has committed or is about to commit a crime, or that the target is an agent of a foreign power.
    The documents cite persons who commit mass shootings, such as the Orlando nightclub shooting and the San Bernardino workplace shooting, as examples of HVEs, but do not specifically explain how a person is identified as an HVE. A senior Department of Defense (DoD) official who provided comments to Human Rights Watch on the condition of anonymity gave an example of an HVE as someone who was “self-radicalized via the Internet, social media, etc.” and then executed—or only planned—”terrorist acts in furtherance of the ideology or goals of a foreign terrorist group.” The official refused to disclose the government’s criteria for designating a person as an HVE.

    Such a provision allows the US government to spy on citizens based “on their beliefs, or what the government thinks they believe, [instead of] specific evidence that gives sufficient reason to think a criminal offense is occurring or that the person is an agent of a foreign power,” pointed out Sarah St. Vincent, US surveillance and national security researcher at Human Rights Watch. “A secret determination that someone’s rights should be curtailed based on undisclosed criteria is incompatible with the rule of law. The government should explain what it’s doing as well as its legal basis for doing it.”


    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


    Wednesday, November 15, 2017.  The Iraq War continues, where's THE NATION magazine?  Iraqi girls are yet again under attack from the politicians who are supposed to be representing them.  And much more.








    "Touch Me In The Morning" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on.  November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th to note this monumental achievement.


    And Diana's daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH) will be hosting this year's American Music Awards.



    I couldn't miss the honoring my mom this Sunday... so I'm hosting the show! Don't miss it this Sunday at 8/7c on ABC!
     
     


    Switching topics, let's note things that don't make sense if you are capable of thought.

    If you want to know how Hypocritical the GOP is, consider the fact that there were more investigations into Benghazi than the false intelligence which rationalized the Iraq war, killing 300,000+ People.



    This nonsense has been going on forever.

    I have no idea why .


    This does not reflect poorly on House Republicans (where the bulk of the inquiries took place).

    House Republicans -- like Senate Republicans -- voted for the Iraq War and supported it.

    In the 2006 mid-terms, promising to end the Iraq War, the Democrats won back both houses of Congress.

    From January 2007 through January 2011, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

    Brian Krassenstein thinks he's saying something amazing.

    He's not.

    The Iraq War is the biggest blunder/crime/mistake/error/take your pick of the 21st century.

    And Democrats campaigned on ending it.

    But when in charge of both houses, they didn't do what the promised and they didn't investigate the lies of the Iraq War -- lies that started before the illegal war began and lies that continued after the war started.

    So the GOP's not the one looking bad there, it's the craven Democratic leadership in Congress that refused to do (a) what they promised and (b) what the Constitution required them to do.

    The ongoing Iraq War will hit the 15 year mark in March.

    Has it achieved anything of note?

    Is Iraq any safer?


    Countries that suffered the greatest impact from terrorism in the 2017 Global Terrorism Index: 1. Iraq 2. Afghanistan 3. Nigeria 4. Syria 5. Pakistan 6. Yemen 7. Somalia 8. India 9. Turkey 10. Libya Read more in the full report:
     
     



    14 years and counting and nothing to show for it.

    Every so-called "turned corner" leads right back to where they stood before.

    Hayder al-Abadi's 'big' difference between thug Nouri al-Maliki?

    His personal favorite to persecute is the Kurds and not the Sunnis.

    Otherwise, it's the same situation all over again.

    He's imprisoning reporters, he's attacking political opponents, he's committing War Crimes.

    In fact, he might soon be judged worse than Nouri al-Maliki because it was Hayder who brought the militias into the armed forces despite the Constitutional ban on the militias.

    In spite of that ban.

    The damage these War Criminals have already done is immense but the effects will be felt for years to come.

    That's why Hayder stands a good chance of surpassing Nouri when it comes to thuggish War Criminals.




    At the start of 2005, the magazine offered "Iraq's Lost Election" -- an editorial which included:


    As long as the occupation continues, any Iraqi government or constitution will be tainted and incapable of producing the compromises necessary for a stable and unified Iraq. Therefore, for the sake of Iraq's future and the safety of our young men and women, the United States must begin an orderly withdrawal, coordinated with stepped-up US and international economic assistance. We recognize that further violence and internal fighting among Iraqis may follow, but to believe that a continuing US military presence can prevent this is naïve or disingenuous; it will, rather, contribute to the instability. The best long-term outcome is for Iraqis to regain control of their own country and sort out their own future. 


    As we asked at THIRD this week, "What's changed?"


    Well, about the only change I'm seeing is that THE NATION no longer makes this argument and lost interest in Iraq in 2009.





    Thought I was over the bridge now
    Over the bridge now
    I'm already in
    Circles and circles and circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles, got to stop spinning
    Circles and circles and circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles and circles again, well
    Circles and circles, circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles, got to stop spinning
    Circles and circles and circles again, the girls
    Circles and circles and circles again, well

    -- "Cloud On My Tongue," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her album UNDER THE PINK (live version from her album TO VENUS AND BACK).


    Circles and circles and circles again . . .

    The US keeps imposing prime ministers on Iraq and then keeping US troops in the country to prop up their puppet.

    Nothing's changed.

    Elections are supposed to take place in May.

    Why?

    In 2010, the Iraqi people voted Nouri out but Barack Obama overruled them and nullified their votes via the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.



    C. Alexander Ohlers (THE HILL) offers:

     
    Another positive development was the emergence of a non-sectarian Sunni-Shiite coalition, the Iraqi National Movement (al Iraqiya), which would win a narrow majority in the 2010 election against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Collation.
     
    Although the victors normally have the first opportunity to form a collation government, Maliki influenced the Iraq courts to sanction his party with a prevenient opportunity to form a government. A nine-month standoff ensued as a result, during which time Maliki retained power while Iran pressured wayward Shiite groups to join Maliki’s coalition.
     
    The U.S. Administration was faced with a decision: to reinforce Iraq’s democratic process; or, to support the Maliki government. As reported by Ned Parker in Foreign Affairs and Politico, Vice President Biden and then Ambassador Hill chose to back the politically stronger Maliki as prime minister through a compromise power sharing arrangement, or the Erbil Agreement.
     
    The outcome was dire. After U.S. troops departed from Iraq at the end of 2011, Maliki reneged on the terms of the Erbil Agreement. Instead, he moved to centralized power, exiled several Sunni leaders, and marginalized Sunni groups in what many analysts believe set fertile soil for the rise of ISIS.


    Then, tired of Nouri in the summer of 2014, Barack installed Hayder -- a loser no one had heard of before.

    Circles and circles?  Yet again, there's a bill in Iraq that, if passed, would lower the age of marriage for girls (not boys) to nine-years.  If you missed this a few years back, you can refer to the April 17, 2014 snapshot.

    This month, the bill was again proposed -- see the November 3rd  snapshot.  Last week,  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reported:


    “There are serious constitutional and legal violations in this desire of the Islamic parties to amend the law,” one Iraqi MP, Shuruq al-Abaji, told NIQASH.
    She points out that Article 41 of the Iraqi Constitution guarantees that Iraqis are free to choose personal status according to their religious beliefs, sects or other choices. Before the amendments can be made to the personal status law, this article would need to be changed, al-Abaji insists.
    And there is another legal issue, the politician notes. The proposed new personal status law would refer issues of marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance to the religious endowment authorities – these are the bodies tasked with running and maintaining Shiite or Sunni mosques and shrines and they are very important institutions within their own sectarian communities. But, as al-Abaji argues, that violates not just the principle of the separation of powers but also human rights and international laws around women’s rights.
    “The organization of these issues should be the responsibility of the courts and not the executive branch of Sunni or Shiite religious orders,” al-Abaji concludes.
    Iraq’s original personal status law and the proposed amendments could not be more different. The first one grants mothers the right to custody and gives wives the right to inherit their husband’s estate. Meanwhile religious jurisprudence tends to say the custody of children is a matter for the father and that women do not have the right to inherit real estate or land.
    However these were not even the issues that really riled Iraqis up. The change that most angered locals was the one related to legal marriageable age. Civil law says a couple should be aged at least 18 in order to marry. Meanwhile religious law says puberty means a female is of marriageable age. In some cases, this is considered to be nine years old, in others 12 years old. 
    “The newly proposed law encourages the marriage of minors and reminds us most of the way that the [extremist group] Islamic State behaved with young girls, how the organisation forced them to marry group members when they were in control in Mosul and Raqqa,” says MP Rizan al-Sheik Daleer.
    Once again, civil society and women’s rights organisations rallied around to protests the changes in the law. Many Iraqis on social media used the hashtag #NoToUnderageMarriages and a number of Facebook pages were created to organize the protests and garner support.




    Chris Harris (EURONEWS) has reported on the issue:


    Iraq has moved a step closer to allowing girls as young as nine to marry, human rights campaigners have claimed.
    The proposal is part of a draft law recently approved by 40 MPs that would see the restoration of religious courts, says Equality Now (EN).
    Government courts have, since 1959, ruled on such matters, setting the official age of marriage to 18, although a judge can allow it at 15.
    But the proposed legislation – which will have to be approved by a full parliament to go ahead – would instead see religious courts decide.
    “The nine-year-old thing comes from the different interpretations of the wife of the Prophet Muhammad,” said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, EN’s Middle East consultant.
    “Some interpretations say she was married at the age of nine. That is why some religious sects in Iraq are following that.”
    UNICEF says one-in-five girls are married as children in Iraq and that the practice often sees them abandon education and fall pregnant. If the mother is under 18 when she gives birth her infant’s risk of dying in the first year is 60% higher. Underage marriage also puts the girl at greater vulnerability to domestic violence, the NGO says.
    “Iraqi women are outraged,” Abu-Dayyeh told Euronews. “We’re very concerned and it will affect all women’s issues in their daily lives.
    “I think we will see an explosion of child marriage in Iraq if it’s passed. It’s not logical, we’re in 2017 and we’re still going backwards in terms of women’s rights.” 


    Karen McVeigh (GUARDIAN) noted yesterday:

    Public demonstrations were held last weekend by civil society and women’s rights groups against the amendment. The United Nations in Iraq (Unami) called for wider consultations and for women’s rights to be fully recognised and protected. 
    An earlier, more extreme version of the bill, provoked an international outcry when it was proposed, ahead of the elections in 2014. The earlier version also restricted women’s rights in terms of divorce, parenting and inheritance.
    Opposition to the current proposals, which were approved this month, has so far concentrated on their impact on child marriage.
    Suad Abu-Dayyeh, of Equality Now, based in Jordan, told the Guardian: “This bill contradicts international conventions and the national law in Iraq. If it is approved, in effect, each and every religious sect will follow their clerics. It will be catastrophic for women’s rights.

    “We are outraged, and we will be supporting women in Iraq by issuing alerts about the bill. We are also writing letters to the speaker of [parliament] and the president.”


    Circles and circles . . .

    Meanwhile, Sunday's earthquake on the Iraq-Iran border continues to receive attention -- it is the deadliest earthquake of this year so far.

    The Iraqi constitution refers to the region hit by the as "Kurdistan Region". The Iranian constitution refers to it as "Kordestan", "Kermanshah" and "Ilam". Using non-official terms such as "Northern Iraq" and "Western Iran" is politicizing a humanitarian catastrophe.
     
     


    Among those offering sympathy?  Enrique Iglesias.



    Everyone please send your love, thoughts and prayers to those suffering from the earthquake in Iran & Iraq….
     
     



    Among those still failing to offer leadership?  Hayder al-Abadi.



    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated:



















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