here to take a look at the best in film this year that you could stream or rent. Though two summer films were huge hits, both "Avengers" and "Dark Knight Rises (and Falls)" were as hollow and weak as anything coming out of 4Kids Entertainment. The future that awaits the fans of these films is the same one that awaited the big box office hit "Titanic" -- we're not talking about James Cameron's masterpiece, we mean the 1952 film that was a big hit with audiences at its time and an embarrassment within ten years of release.
The year's big trend appeared to be hopping on a moral soapbox for an easy stand. World Can't Wait, Glenn Greenwald and countless others you've never heard of (for good reason) came out against "Zero Dark Thirty
." Why? Because it's directed by a woman. They're 'offended' by this film. We're African-American and we're offended by Stephen Spielberg's "Lincoln." Winning easy praise -- in part because of its Socialist screenwriter -- the film supposedly tells us about the country. And, indeed, if telegraph operators sound more important to you than slaves or freed-Blacks who have to live in a world where people who look just like them are enslaved, then Spielberg's made just the film for you. If, to you, a 'great' film on slavery is one that reduces the accomplishments of Black people, then embrace "Lincoln." But it's a deeply racist and offensive film. We also notice that although Spike Lee's called out "Django Unchained" (Quentin Tarantion's latest film), World Can't Wait is organizing no protests against it and 'film critic' and part-time American Glenn Greenwald has yet to write several vicious columns attacking the film. (We haven't seen the film, so unlike Glenn and World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet, we won't condemn it. We will applaud Spike Lee for calling out turning slavery into a video game.) Here's a thought for Spielberg and Tarantino, as White men who so love to take bows for 'helping' the African-American race, do you think next time you do a film 'about' Black people, you might actually get an African-American writer involved, someone at the table who can explain to you how offensive your portrayals are. But don't worry, Steve and Quentin, you're men. So no one will protest you. Glenn Greenwald will organize no attacks on you. You can continue putting racism on the screen and know that the only ones who'll call you out are African-Americans and, as the Guardian (home of Glenn Greenwald and others) and World Can't Wait demonstrate, African-Americans don't really matter. Attacking women, that matters to them. Thanks for the clarification in 2012, Glenn and Debra.
Once upon a time, a film year would provide a wealth of choices. Not just the popcorn movies of summer (which have been boiled down to super hero costumes today), but films that explored relationships, explored ethics, explored family. Today, we get the popcorn movies year round and we also get bloated and lifeless films like "Lincoln" which are supposed to be seen as the successors to "Reds," "Shampoo," "Klute," "On Golden Pond," "The Conversation," and other film explorations which actually had weight and life to them. This year wasn't without promise . . .
1) "Take This Waltz
." In a large part ("The Sweet Hereafter") or a small role ("eXistenZ"), Sarah Polley is always worth watching watching but her follow up to her directorial debut (2006's Away From Her) is so great that we're almost ready to say, "Sure, stop acting. Just give us more films like this." "Take This Waltz" is a drama and a comedy and a romance and there's nothing 'high concept' about it. It's the most moving film of the year. The film stars Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby as two people who fall in love despite her husband (Seth Rogen). Sarah Silverman provides the kind of comic support as the best friend that has not been seen since Rosie O'Donnell's performance in "Sleepless In Seattle." This film hits no wrong notes.
2) "21 Jump Street
." We are not fans of TV shows turned into films -- we already suffering night terrors just picturing "Kojak: The Movie" -- but this film was hilarious and the funniest comedy of the year. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have the kind of comedy chemistry not seen since Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Channing's a dick in high school and Jonah's a nerd but, needing each other to pass the police academy, they finally bond. Their skills leave something to be desired and they're transferred to the undercover unit at, yes, 21 Jump Street. The place where Tom, Judy and Doug (Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson Peete and Peter DeLouise -- all do a cameo turn in the film) used to get their assignments as they went undercover at various high schools. Like the ones who came before, Channing and Jonah get an assignment, unlike their predecessors, they screw everything up.
They even take drugs -- necessitating the finger-bang they give each other in the men's room as they attempt to puke up the drugs. Their inability to do so leads to a very funny scene where they trip in front of the school's coach. Brie Larson, Ice Cube and Dave Franco give great supporting turns. And Jake Johnson and Nick Offerman are wonderful in their brief scenes. If you're not laughing non-stop during this movie, you're just not someone who likes comedies.
3) "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding
." Director Bruce Beresford may have been one of the few directors interested in exploring the family in 2012. Catherine Keener is an attorney who thinks things are okay when her husband leaves her. She takes her two children (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) go to Woodstock to visit her mother Jane Fonda
. Along the way Keener finds out she's not so right and also that she's not so wrong and, collectively, acceptance is the key to family. A strong script, tight direction and excellent performances (the scenes with Keener and Fonda crackle with energy), the kind of films that Hollywood no longer makes unless the characters are in spandex and tights and soar through the skies.
." What the hell is a stuffed teddy bear doing spanking Mark Wahlberg? Proving that Seth MacFarlane can transfer to the big screens. The guy responsible for "The Family Guy" and "American Dad" hasn't had much luck with live action TV shows but "Ted" demonstrates real strength. MacFarlane directs, co-writes the screenplay (with Alec Sulkin and Wellesly Wild) and voices Ted the teddy bear. The film's biggest weakness is the voice over. And MacFarlane might have been smarter to have gone with a woman (say Joanne Woodward doing something similar to what she did for Scorsce's "Age Of Innocence"). Instead of offering excitement and promise, something magical, Patrick Stewart's voice over just sort of lays there. If he made a mistake there (and he did), MacFarlane wisely used 'the voice of Meg' for the second lead. Mila Kunis can act (see "Black Swan") but, in many of her roles, what stands out most is the actress is a good sport. (Think of Jackie on "That 70s Show.") That quality is sorely needed in this film. If the actress playing Mark Walhberg's girlfriend gets too angry (and a woman would have every reason to) over Mark's relationship with his talking and walking (and pot smoking) teddy bear, the film falls apart. And Walhberg? He continues to be the most important film actor in America under the age of 60.
5) "Magic Mike
." A male stripper film worth watching? Yes, when it's directed by Steven Soderbergh (who swears he's almost done with directing). Soderbergh's crafted a seventies film in many ways, the layers of Lumet, the tensions of Pakula. "Magic Mike" is not just a good film, it's his best film since "Sex, Lies and Videotape." In a supporting cast that includes great turns by Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello and Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey gives an Academy Award worthy supporting performance. Holding the film together onscreen is Channing Tatum who makes it look so effortless he's probably not getting the credit he deserves for this performance.
6) "Perfect Sense
." When the world is no longer just falling apart, when it may be ending, is love still worth it? David Mackenzie explores that question from Kim Fupz Aakenson's script with the help of Eva Green and Ewan McGregor.
7) "A Cat In Paris
Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli direct this animated film about Zoe and
her cat, her mother Jeanne the police superintendent, Nico the burglar,
mobster Victor Costa among others. Rare for an animated film, "A Cat In
Paris" doesn't attempt to be cute or to play down to children while
playing up to their parents. This is a straight-forward film that
happens to be animated, an animated film worthy of the term "film."
" Like Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey placed two films on our top ten list. This one is a dark comedy starring Jack Black as the mortician who makes nice with various family members in mourning and then sets his site on a non-mourning Shirley MacLaine
who's not only the town's wealthiest citizen but also its most caustic, to put it mildly. The town is amazed that Bernie can put up with the woman whose own family avoids her. And then comes foul play. McConaughey may be the only person in town who wants Black to pay for what he did. This is director Richard Linklater
's best film since "Dazed and Confused," and Black, MacLaine and McConaughy all hit acting high notes on this sleeper gem. Our link for the film, by the way, goes to Netflix where you can stream it currently.
9) "Moonrise Kingdom
In the Wes Anderson canon, this film is way behind "The Royal
Tenenbaums" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" but somewhat ahead
of "Rushmore." Bruce Willis is a poor fit for the Anderson canvas and
it seems truly monochrome without Anjelica Huston. As a film about
children that doesn't talk down to them, the film succeeds and the
visuals make up for some of the gaps in energy. It's a flawed Anderson
film but one worth noting in spite of those flaws.
." Adrien Brody's steady performance steers Tony Kaye's ensemble film Detachment but James Caan, Lucy Liu and especially Marcia Gay Harden deliver in supporting roles.
And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
December 28, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the US Embassy in
Baghdad issues a warning, Iraqis take to the street in protest,
Nouri tries to prevent press coverage, Nouri makes strange noises, the
PUK 'corrects' Nouri's interpretation of the Iraqi Constitution, Iraqi
President Jalal Talabani's doctors issue an update, AFP provides a
valuable public service, and more.
December 28, 2012
information indicates that terrorist elements may target U.S. interests
in Baghdad, including the United States Embassy, as well as churches in
Baghdad and Kirkuk, on or around December 31, 2012. The U.S. Embassy
in Baghdad urges U.S. citizens in Iraq to exercise caution and to refer
to the current travel warning on our website.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Iraq enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov.
STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it
easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in
an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with
the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel
restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United
States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers
are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through
Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.
a sign of how much turmoil there is in Iraq currently that it was
little noted in the western coverage of Iraq today. This was the
day dubbed "Friday of Honor" with plans for large protests in Iraq.
Question: If you're the government and you don't want people to know
about the protests, what might you do? Hmmm. . . .
a second, Prashant! You are Nouri al-Maliki and you don't want the
protests to get attention, what could you do? How could you prevent
attention to the protests? Maybe --
Prashant Rao of AFP
we are trying to think right now. Okay, so protests are taking place
and Iraq's a failed state and you just made a new corruption list
and, as Al Mada reports
Baghdad's just been named the worst place to live in the world by the
Mercer Consulting Group. The rains are coming down hard and, as Dar Addustour notes
, Baghdad's sunk by rainwater. You're Nouri al-Maliki and you don't want the word getting out about these protests so --
my goodness, Prashant Rao, you are 100% correct. If the government
doesn't want word of the protests out, the easiest way is to refuse to
allow journalists close enough to the protests to cover them. BBC News observes
journalists attempting to reach the city were held at an army
checkpoint some 50km east of Ramadi for six hours, and were unable to
cover the demonstration, says the BBC's Rami Ruhayem who was at the
The government has succeeded in
keeping the protests out of the public eye to an extent, says our
correspondent, but in the process has revealed how nervous it is over
this latest challenge to its authority.
units did, however, bar Baghdad-based journalists from entering Anbar
province, holding teams from AFP and other media at a checkpoint between
Baghdad and Ramadi for more than five hours.
They also confiscated their press badges, promising to return them only if they turned back to Baghdad.
senior security official said that there were "strong preventative
measures to protect the demonstrators", but journalists witnessed dozens
of cars pass through the checkpoint where they were held with no
As the Washington Post's Liz Sly Tweeted:
'Democracy in Iraq' indeed.
Morning Star notes
"Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers for the sixth day
of protests calling for Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step
down and for the release of Sunni prisoners." Al Arabiya notes
that the protesters had support from Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, "In
a letter by Sadr sent to the tribal sheikhs, the Islamist leader said
that he supports their protests against Maliki and their effort to hold
unity and thwart sectarianism.
" Deutsche Welle quotes
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki whining today, "It is not acceptable to
express something by blocking roads, inciting sedition and sectarianism,
killing, or blowing the trumpet of war and dividing Iraq." Sign of a
true despot, civil disobdience is likened to "killing." Because it is a
'killing,' it's a killing of his crafted image, it's an exposure of his
failure as a leader. Ken Hanly (Digital Journal) observes
of the slogan at many of the protests across Iraq "The people want to
bring down the regime," "This is the slogan protesters used in Tunisia,
Egypt, and elsewhere during the Arab Spring."
that "millions" came out to protest in Anbar Province today. Their
photo of Falluja shows the large crowd with banners, flags and a huge
photo of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi (last week, Nouri al-Maliki
ordered the arrest of 150 staff and bodyguards working for al-Issawi --
10 have been charged with 'terrorism' and 50 have been released, this
was seen as politically motivated). The Falluja protesters demanded
that innocent people be released from detention and end to the 'terror'
arrests, an end to politicizing the Iraqi military, that Nouri turn
over the soldier who raped the girl in Mosul and more. They chanted for
unity and for an end to sectarianism and Nouri's abusive government. Kamal Naama and Raheem Salman (Reuters) add
"Around 60,000 people blocked the main road through Falluja, 50 km (30
miles) west of the capital, setting fire to the flag of Shi'ite Iran and
shouting 'out, out Iran! Baghdad stays free' and 'Maliki you coward,
don't take your advice from Iran'." AP goes
with the more conservative crowd estimate of "tens of thousands" of
people protesting. For a good photo from AP of the Falluja crowd, click here (photographer is Karim Kadim
). Omar al-Saleh reported for today's Inside Story (Al Jazeera -- link is text and video)
al-Saleh: A show of support in Ramadi and Falluja for Iraqi Finance
Minister Rafia al-Issawi. During it's biggest rally in days in Anbar
Province, local leaders have called for civil disobedience and thousands
have blocked the highway linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria. They are
demanding the release of 9 bodyguards of the finance minister who were
arrested on Thursday [of last week]. But Rafia al-Issawi addressed the
crowd saying the issue now was bigger than his bodyguards.
Minister Rafia al-Issawi: This crowd is not political or sectarian.
But it represents all Iraqis who came to denounce the injustice and
marginalization. When we say the injustice has happened against Sunni
Arabs, that doesn't mean that we want to take the country to a civil
al-Saleh: The protesters urged the Shi'ite-led government to stop its
sectarian approach and marginalization of Sunnis and their leaders but
the government continues to deny the accusation. Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki says the issue of the bodyguards is judicial and the role of
the state is to pursue wanted terrorists and not to support them. Many
feel the crisis may escalate.
Analyst Watheq Alshashimi: The situation in Iraq may take a dangerous
direction as elections approach. What politicians are doing is
polarizing their supporters ethnically and based on sectarian
affiliatons. What's happening in Anbar can escalate and may lead to
more pressure on the prime minister.
al-Saleh: But other Sunni leaders accuse the president of trying to
consolidate his grip on power and target his political rivals. Tareq
al-Hashemi, Iraq's fugitive Vice President, has been sentence to death
in absentia for terrorism charges. He says the prime minister is
adopting sectarian policies. Adding to Iraq's political turmoil is the
looming confrontation between the Iraqi army and forces from the
semi-autonomous Kurdish north.
are only noting the report from that broadcasting. We are not noting
-- on the advice of a former Al Jazeera producer -- the 'discussion.' I
called him to ask what the hell was going on when this discussion was
planned? State of Law is invited on and goes on to trash Iraqiya --
Iraqiya has no one on to represent them. No one to challenge the lies
of State of Law? We're not interested in that nonsense but we do get
why Al Jazeera had to kill Inside Iraq -- they killed that program --
because the presenter wouldn't slant it towards Nouri al-Maliki. Even
when they pulled him off air as a threat, he refused to slant the
program. He played it fair, inviting all segments of Iraq onto his
show. And Al Jazeera had a problem with that. Which is why his program
is no longer on. We're noting the report, we're not noting a fixed
discussion that was fixed before a 'dialogue' even began.
noted earlier, Prashant Rao and other journalists were prevented from
entering to observe the Falluja protests; however, they were not the
only ones blocked from entering the province. Aswat al-Iraq notes
"Police sources said here today that the army forces prevented Iraqi
delegations from other provinces from entering to participate in
Fallujah sit-in on the international highway." Al Jazeera (link has video) also goes
demonstrations took place along a major highway near the city of
Fallujah on Friday, a day after thousands of protesters continued an
almost week-long blockade on a key highway in the western Anbar
Protests erupted last week
after Iraqi authorities detained 10 bodyguards of the finance minister,
who is from Anbar and is one of the government's most senior Sunni
Many Sunnis accuse Maliki of marginalising the country's
religious minority group by refusing to share power and depriving them
of equal rights.
"hundreds" protested in Mosul at noon and their demands were similar
with the addition of they called for the execution of the soldier who
raped the young girl. All Iraq News adds
that the protesters called for all charges against al-Issawi's bodyguards to be dropped. Alsumaria notes
that Samarra saw thousands turn out and their calls were similar but
they also want the long promised amnesty law implemented and they want
the Justice and Accountability Commission dissolved (the Commission was
used most infamously in the 2010 elections to disqualify various Sunnis
from running for office -- that includes the current Deputy Prime
Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq). AP adds
that protests took place today in Tikrit as well. BBC News notes
a Ramadi protest and that held "a mock funeral for the Iraqi judiciary."
Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes
protests began last week after troops detained bodyguards and aides of
Finance Minister Rafie al-Essawi, while searching his home and offices
on December 20. The government has claimed that it arrested only ten of
the minister's bodyguards on charges of "terrorism." But Essawi, a
member of the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, charged that over 100
people connected to his staff were rounded up by what he said was a
"militia force" controlled by Maliki's supporters.
that the discrepancy arises from the fact that only the bodyguards
were subjected to formal arrest, while the others were essentially
subjected to extra-legal detention and interrogation.
Maliki in a statement to the Iraqi media, Essawi stated, "You are a man
who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the
law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible
for the safety of the kidnapped people."
The finance minister
told Associated Press that Maliki was deliberately seeking to stoke
sectarian conflicts between the Sunni and Shia populations. "These
practices are aimed at drawing the country into a sectarian conflict
again by creating crisis and targeting prominent national figures," he
The incident was essentially a replay of a similar
crackdown carried out a year ago, on December 19, 2011, the day after
the last US troops ended the more than eight-year American occupation of
Iraq. Then the target was Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, also
a Sunni member of the Iraqiya bloc.
While the protests took place, Nouri attempted to distract by giving a speech. Alsumaria notes
he was forced to admit that the budget for 2013 (that should be Fiscal
Year 2013 unless something's changed) did not and would not improve the
problems facing Iraqi citizens. For those who may have stepped out of
the main room for a moment, that is no longer just the lack of basic
services like electricity, potable water, trash pick up, etc. No, add
flooding to the list as Iraq -- especially Baghdad -- finds itself
flooded as a result of Nouri's refusal for the last six years to spend
money on the infrastructure. Home are collapsing, the Iraqi Red
Crescent Society evacuated one village this month (the village is in
Wasit Province -- see Wednesday's snapshot
). But Nouri says these problems will not be addressed in the budget. Karafillis Giannoulis (New Europe) notes
of Nouri's speech broadcast on Iraqi TV, "At a conference in Baghdad,
al-Maliki stressed that current tension can cause a return to the 'dark
days when people were killed because of their names or identities.' For
that reason Prime Minister of Iraq asked by the demonstrators to stop
protesting and promote dialogue instead." Why does that sound like a
threat? These protests can cause "dark days" to come back "when people
were killed because of their names or identities"? Maybe because
those dark days occurred most recently in Iraq during Nouri's first term
as prime minister and the Sunnis were the ones targeted by Nouri's
Ministry of the Interior forces? Maybe because that period of ethnic
cleansing was overseen by Nouri? As the editorial board of Gulf News points out
"The sectarian drift of the Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister
Nouri Al Maliki, needs to be reversed. Al Maliki is a leading Shiite
politician, but in his position as the head of a government, he needs to
serve the entire Iraqi population and his government must work to be
inclusive of all Iraqis — be they Shiite or Sunni; Kurdish or Turk;
Christian or Muslim. "
AFP, apparently with a straight face, reported
that Nouri was calling for dialogue and stating that nations have to
"rely on civil means of expression." Speaker of Parliament Osama
al-Nujaifi and President Jalal Talbani have been calling for a national
conference since December 21st and Nouri's blocked it and prevented it.
December 21st? Of 2011. For over a year, Nouri has blocked a
dialogue. Why? Because he got a second term due to the Erbil
Agreement. The voters didn't give him a second term, the 2010 election
results didn't give him a second term, the Constitution clearly didn't
give him a second term. But US President Barack Obama had a fondness
for Bully Boy Bush's puppet and Barack insisted Nouri get a second term
despite Nouri's State of Law coming in second in the 2010 elections.
Since there was no legal existing way for Nouri to get that term, Nouri
resulted to tantrums (bringing the country to a stand still for over
eight months) and the US resorted to a legal contract that they brokered
with Iraq's various political leaders: The Erbil Agreement. To end the
ongoing stalemate -- the longest period up to that time following an
election where a government still had not been seated, the leaders of
Iraq's political blocs agreed to allow Nouri a second term as prime
minister in exchange for his agreeing to various terms. Nouri used the
Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then broke the contract,
refusing to implement, for example, Article 140 of the Constitution,
refusing to create an independent national security council, and much
more. And the US let him get away with it. And covered for him. For
months, the political blocs practiced the 'patience' the US government
advised them on. By summer 2011, the Kurds, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya
had reached the end of their waiting. They demanded that the contract
be returned to. This creates Political Stalemate II and is why
al-Nujaifi and Talabani have called for over a year for a national
conference to address these issues via dialogue.
Nouri wants to talk about the need for dialogue today and no one's going to call him on that?
true, the US government's backing Nouri is being noticed. It's being
noticed how unfairly others are treated as the US tries to repeatedly
force other groups to make concessions so Nouri can 'win.' David Romano (Rudaw) observed
Iraqis increasingly lose faith with their gvoernment as the shell game
continues. As Nuri al-Maliki increasingly rides rough shod over the
Constitution and the law of the land, the American State Department
seems to forgive him all his transgressions. Instead of demanding a
better showing from Maliki, they pressure the Kurds, the Sunnis and
non-Dawaa Party Shiites to make nice with Maliki.
is on the record, it is there for the history books. As Little Saddam
turns more and more into a despot, Barack Obama's non-stop defense of
him will be noted in the history books as well as the fact that the US
didn't hold Nouri in check but instead put pressure on other groups --
who were already being victimized by Nouri -- to ignore the abuse.
six years in office, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has proven to
be incapable of providing basic security and services to the people. By
openly advocating a conflict between Kurds and Arabs, he is threatening
the territorial integrity of Iraq and the success of the Kurdistan
Region of Iraq.
al-Maliki is deliberately undermining the prospects of a prosperous Iraq
by threatening oil and gas supermajors against operating in Kurdistan,
withholding their revenues at ransom and barring them from auctions; his
foreign policy is a disaster, providing blatant support for Bashar
al-Assad's regime and his bloodshed while weakening ties with Iraq's
largest trading partner – Turkey; in the armed forces he openly incites
and promotes sectarianism and segregation in the mindset of a fragile
unconstitutional creation of an overarching Tigris (Dijla) Operations
Command Centre to oversee the internal security affairs of the Northern
provinces is a stark reminder of the previous regime for our people;
al-Maliki also accuses our leadership of harassing local Arabs and other
ethnic minorities by piling our security and intelligence officers into
the largely Kurdish areas outside of our region - inaccurately referred
to as disputed territories. By way of a twisting media campaign
al-Maliki and his associates are masking failures by shifting attention
towards the largely peaceful Kurdistan Region.
Rather than fulfill that role, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has instead become an instrument of division.
has fostered conflict with the country's Kurdish and Sunni communities,
as well as other minorities, and has divided the oil revenue between
north and south, creating further splits.
government has proved that it is an Iranian-inspired, supported and
cultivated government, rather than one focused on the interests of the
It has become riddled with
corruption that leaks billions of dollars. The extent of this is visible
in the suffering of the Iraqi people from a variety of social ills,
despite living in one of the most oil-rich countries in the region.
In other news, All Iraq News reports
that there's an update from the medical tem in Germany for Iraqi
President Jalal Talabani. They are stating that he is showing positive
improvement and that he is "responsive." After what? They don't say.
The President's office and family have not identified the health
condition that left Talabani hospitalized; however, Nouri al-Maliki's
office immediately declared it was a stroke. Al Mada notes
that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Jalal's political party, is
calling for the media to be accurate when covering Talabani's
(unspecified) health condition. Meanwhile Rebwar Karim Wali (Rudaw) states
"Statements and interviews by Talabani's close associates demonstrate
that they have started to come to terms with the reality that the
veteran 79-year-old leader may not be able to resume his duties, and
each has began to vie for the leadership post." Of Talabani
contributions and importance, Raghid al-Solh (Al-Khallej via Al-Monitor) notes
the past few days, the health of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has
captured public attention, both on the Arab and international levels.
This concern was not due to the status of the Iraqi presidency, but to
the status of the Iraqi president himself. Talabani is a prominent
international figure. He has acquired this status as a result of his
qualities of moderation, wisdom and flexibility -- which have almost
made him an Iraqi national symbol -- as well as a result of his role as a
If Talabani is forced to step down from the Iraqi presidency, the voice of moderation in Iraqi politics will be weakened.
the reports of allegations and torture and what Committees in
Parliament have discovered, led to Nouri's freak out where he threatened
to arrest members of Parliament who talked about the torture and rape.
Yesterday, he was insisting he had the power to do so. Al Mada notes today that Nouri's remarks are in conflict with the Iraqi Constitution.
A law shall regulate the rights and privileges of the speaker of the
Council of Representatives, his two deputies, and the members of the
Council of Representatives.
A. A member of the Council of Representatives shall enjoy immunity for
statements made while the Council is in session, and the member may not
be prosecuted before the courts for such.
A Council of Representatives member may not be placed under arrest
during the legislative term of the Council of Representatives, unless
the member is accused of a felony and the Council of Representatives
members consent by an absoulte majority to lift his immunity or if he is
caught in flagrante delicto in the commission of a felony.
C. A Council of Representatives member may not be arrested after the
legislative term of the Council of Representatives, unless the member is
accused of a felony and with the consent of the speaker of the Council
of Representatives to lift his immunity or if he is caught in flagrante
delicto in the commission of a felony.
that is not in keeping with the claims Nouri's made this week that he
will just strip MPs of their immunity and have them arrested. The above
section of the Constitution is very clear. But Nouri's never really
abided by or honored the Iraq Constitution.
All Iraq News reports
today that Adel Abdullah has stated that Nouri's statements regarding
stripping immunity are not constitutional, are not part of the framework
of democracy and that the PUK demands that Nouri back off from this
unconstitutional stance and stop attempting to muzzle free speech.
that the home of a city administrator in Baiji was bombed today -- no
one was at the house at the time. The month of December (and the year
2012) is winding down. December has been a violent month in Iraq with Iraq Body Count
recording 223 deaths from violence this month through Wednesday. AFP
's Prashant Rao Tweets:
And you can click here
recorded deaths, Rao has made it available in spread sheet form. Not
just today, it's been available for most of the month and he plans to
keep it available for the near future. He and AFP
deserve a big thank you for that. This is not the ministries count, this is the count AFP
tabulates each day. (And let me start the thank you train: Thank you, AFP
, for keeping your own count -- something all outlets did during Vietnam but something that only AP
have done during the Iraq War -- AP
have kept their own count throughout, others did not keep it one in
2003 or any of the years followed. Thank you now for sharing the count
in a way that makes it even more open and accessible. Whether your
numbers or higher or lower than I might believe the month called for, I
do appreciate that your figures are publicly out there and hope it will
lead other outlets covering Iraq to include your count as a reference
point when noting the monthly figures released by the Iraqi government
ministries. Again, thank you very much.)