Saturday, December 7, 2013

Brian's alive (Family Guy)

As Ava and C.I. told you in "TV: A lot of stuffing, a lot of bluffing, not much entertainment," Brian's death on Family Guy was a stunt and he would be back.

Today, the news media is reporting it (such as here) and if this is news to you -- why the secret came out early -- you didn't read Ava and C.I.'s Sunday report:

Family Guy decided to 'kill' Brian off.  He's not gone.  Maya Rudolph will play a woman he falls for in an episode later this season.  The death is a stunt. Part of the shock and outrage stems from the fact that it was a throwaway.  On The Simpsons, when Maude Flanders died, that was the episode.

Here, viewers were (falsely) told Brian was dead and instead of focusing on that, it was time to get a new dog, Vinny (voiced poorly by Tony Sirico) who was about as needed as Poochie -- only when The Simpsons introduced Poochie, viewers were in on the joke.

When the audience realizes it was punked, it will be interesting to see how they take it because they are taking it very seriously right now, expressing outrage, threatening Fox that they will stop watching, signing petitions.

Will they just feel foolish when Brian re-emerges on the show or will they also feel angry?

And if they do feel anger, will they take it out on the show?

If they do, Seth MacFarlane picked the wrong time to tick off his fan base.  The Cleveland Show got the axe.  American Dad! rode to a giddy high with the friendship-rivalry of Hayley and Roger but then walked completely away from that story line and has become boring and yet another cartoon like every other Seth cartoon:  Talking animal/alien teams up with boyish male.

It's tired, it's boring and America's yawning.

That explains both the ratings and the fact that Fox has cancelled the show.  (TBS will air at least fifteen new episodes after it leaves Fox.)

Seth has destroyed his own shows.  They lack storylines -- instead repeatedly ripping off movies (including Tootsie and Crimes & Misdemeanors).  It's because, more and more, the episodes aren't based on recognizable life or real experiences.  Instead, the writers offer their copy of a film.

When you plant the same crop in the same field over and over, you strip the soil of the nutrients.  After awhile, nothing will grow there.

We fear Seth is approaching that point.

Fox execs told us they (a) now regretted axing King of the Hill (one said, "We thought Seth was the future but now we realize he does the same exact show over and over and we've stupidly paid for it."), (b) were looking for more Bob's Burgers type shows that pleased the audience because they had real storylines and (c) they were feeling "iffy" on Seth's Bordertime (new animated series to debut next fall on Fox).

"We're lucky," one exec said.  "We didn't give him a Michael J. Fox."

That's in reference to NBC's lowest rated sitcom The Michael J. Fox Show -- the show NBC would love to take off the air already but can't because they gave Fox a full season commitment for the show.  By contrast, Fox has only guaranteed 13 episodes for the show.

And this is the time he wants to piss off fans of Family Guy?

His career has never been shakier and he needs goodwill because he's following up his directing of the hit film Ted with his directing and acting in A Million Ways To Die.  When the film comes out in May, will the Family Guy stunt have tarnished Seth's fading glow?

See, Seth and company thought it was hilarious -- the outcry, the fans crying -- until Ava and C.I. played the odds and talked about the fallout that could come from making fun of your audience, tricking them and laughing at them.


Fox has canceled the hideous Cleveland show and now American Dad (which TBS is picking up) and if Seth's movie that comes out in May doesn't do well then Ted will be seen as a fluke.

Suddenly, dollars and cents walked into the room.

And it was decided to leak to the media that Brian returns on the December 15th episode.

This was an awful way to treat loyal viewers.

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

Friday, December 6, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, bombs and shootings in the capital (while the western press dozes), protests throughout Iraq just two weeks short of the one-year-mark but the western press can't cover it, another reporter killed in Iraq, we note Jane Arraf's time at CNN (not a pretty picture for journalism), the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, and more.

What the western media refused to cover today?


  • Tikrit.

    الغائب على الشيخ في ساحة اعتصام . .


    الموحدة في مدينة . .


    الموحدة في ساحة العزة والكرامة بمدينة في محافظة . .

    Iraqi Spring MC continues to do their job.  Western outlets can't say the same.

    Today's protests are part of a series of continuous protests which have been ongoing since December 21st.  They are soon to hit the one year mark.  National Iraqi News Agency quotes Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad stating, "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction."

    Instead of coverage from western outlets and 'reporters,'  we get crap like this:

  • would you say Kirk that the protests in Anbar have now been practically decimated? No longer effective or worrisome?
  • They were weakening for months, but Mutahidun's decision to abandon them just recognizes & accelerates this decline.
  • They hit a peak in late April/early May, but lost momentum some time ago.

  • Thanks, Kirk, for the ignorance.

    Sowell's never grasped the protests, misrepresented them to the clueless Joel Wing (who didn't correct him because he's so stupid himself -- and Joel, don't e-mail me, I don't want to hear from you or your foul mouth, go back your insane friend again -- the one who claimed the whole world was after him, back that lunatic some more). Sowell can't note the rape and torture of women in detention centers and prisons.

    But, check the archives, when those reports first emerged and before the protest broke out on December 21st, we noted they would lead to protests, that it is the sort of thing that provides urgency and meaning to opposition.  It was, it did.  And it was completely non-surprising -- except to the press.

    Maybe it's past time that courses on revolution, resistance and rebellion weren't elective poli sci classes at US colleges (as they were when I took them) but required ones and that they were downgraded from graduate course work to undergraduate?

    NINA notes an Anah sticky bombing left police Colonel Faris Karbouli injured, and a Dor suicide bomber took his own life and that of 5 police officers with eleven more people injured.  All Iraq News adds that Mohammed Jasim, employee with the Ministry of Industry, was shot dead in Baghdad, 2 Baghdad bombings left 1 person dead and fifteen injured, a Salman Bek bombing left two members of an Iraqi soldier's family injured, and a Tikrit bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left three more injured.

    If you're not getting how little Iraq is covered by western media, try to find those incidents of violence reported -- especially in western, English language media.  Did AP or Reuters even file from Iraq today?

    AFP reports Kawa Ahmed Germyani is the latest journalist to be killed in Iraq.  Last night, the editor or Rayal magazine and a reporter with Awene newspaper was shot dead "in front of his mother at his home in the town of Kalar."  Reporters Without Borders issued a statement which includes:

    “We are appalled by Germyani’s murder and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues,” Reporters Without Borders said.
    “A professional journalist who covered corruption and nepotism in Iraqi Kurdistan, Germyani knew he was in danger and had told the region’s authorities about the threats he had received. His murder could have been avoided if they had taken the necessary measures to protect him.
    “We are worried about the very dangerous climate for journalists both in Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, and about the impunity enjoyed by their attackers and killers. We urge the regional and national authorities to take the appropriate measures so that journalists can work without fearing for their safety or their lives.”
    Reporters Without Borders added: “Both the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad should be conducting thorough investigations into the murders of journalists and the groups that target them.”
    According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, Germyani had been threatened for years in connection with his revelations about corruption within Kurdish institutions and had initiated several judicial proceedings against those responsible these threats.

    Coincidentally, many Kurdish journalists and civil society representatives had gathered in Sulaymaniyah two days before his murder to press the regional and national authorities to adopt laws guaranteeing media freedom, as well as effective measures to protect journalists and combat impunity for those responsible for violence against them.

    Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman Tweeted the following:

  • I strongly condemn the killing of Kawa Germeyani who was shot dead in Kelar, more should be done to protect journalists in

  • On Tweets, we'll note this one but we've got a lot more to fit in.

  • Let's turn to politics.


           As part of an invitation to all Iraqi citizens to update their data in the voter registration centers (VRCs) and the great attention given by the religious leaders and the Iraqi leadership, his eminence Mr. Muqtada al Sader had visited on 12 November the VRC no. 1643 in Najaf province to make sure of the accuracy of his data in the voter lists.

            Mr. al Sader praised role of the IHEC in establishing rules of the democratic system in Iraq.

           In his turn, the Director General of Najaf electoral Office, Mr. Saad al Abdali called on all citizens to review the VRCs to update their data to ensure to cast their ballots in the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled on 30 April 2014. 

    Moqtada al-Sadr is a cleric and movement leader.  The Independent High Electoral Commission issued the above on December 3rd.  Voter updating/registration was supposed to end December 5th.  The IHEC has extended it to December 10th and states there will not be another extension. Parliamentary elections are supposed to take place April 30th.   Rudaw reports:

    In what appears to be an attempt to win allies in next year’s parliamentary elections, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has helped Fayli Kurds in Baghdad set up a new political group. 
     According to Ali Fayli, a community leader in Baghdad, the new group -- called the Peace Organization for Fayli Kurds -- is expected to run in next April’s legislative elections. Fayli told Rudaw that Haydar Isa Ali, a Fayli political figure, is to head the new organization, which has already registered with the Election Commission. 
    The Iraqi capital is home to nearly a million Fayli Kurds, who are Kurdish by ethnicity but Shiites by faith. Most Kurds are Sunnis. 
     Maliki, who is also Shiite, has often attended Fayli cultural and religious events. Meanwhile, the Kurdish parties in the north, who have offices in Baghdad, have also tried to win favor with the Faylis.

    All Iraq News reports on the statements by Kurdistani Alliance MP Hameed Bafi:

    In a press statement received by AIN, he said "Personally, I think that the government failed in providing the services and sustaining security in Iraq and there is no chance to Maliki to get a third term as the Prime Minister of Iraq."
    "Despite the sympathy of the Iraqi people towards Iran during the current time and due to the sanctions that it faces from the international community, the Iraqis want the decision to be theirs and not made by foreign sides," he added, noting that "Maliki headed to Iran to get its support for the nomination for a third term as the PM after his failure in convincing the USA to get its support for the same issue."

    As so much silence surrounds what takes place in Iraq -- so much western media silence -- let's move to the topic of reporting.   Saturday, Aswat al-Iraq reported:

    Press Freedoms Observatory reported that the Iraqi police are "pressing" journalists to "sign written pledges not to practice their field work", as well as detaining them for hours in Najaf and Missan cities. 
     Baghdadiya correspondent in Najaf Rasha al-Abidi said to the Observatory that she "suffered reactions by the people when covering the latest floods in the city". 
     She added that one of police officers demanded her to sign a written pledge not to work in journalism "for good" in order to release her, but she refused till some personalities interfered for her release, while her camera was kept with the security force.

    These are Nouri's forces and this is what they're doing to journalists -- on Nouri's orders.

    Nouri doesn't want reality conveyed.  He wants to shut down the press -- especially now as he's seeking a third term.

    And instead of joining the Iraqi press in a fight for truth, the world press leaves them alone, leaves them stranded.

    And at a time like this, you'll see people reveal their true natures -- not meaning to, but they just can't help themselves -- Freud noted the criminal's compulsion to confess and it must be something similar for 'journalists' who don't report.   US 'journalist' in Iraq Jane Arraf re-Tweets the following from her former boss (at CNN) Eason Jordan.

    1. In 1990, televised live worldwide 's release from prison... long before other TV news nets existed.

    Oh, you big brave men -- I mean Eason and Jane.  Eason and Iraq?  I believe he's best known for what CNN didn't broadcast.  If you're new to that topic, check out his self-justifying and minimizing column for the New York Times "The News We Kept To Ourselves."  It was published April 11, 2003 -- after the start of the Iraq War and revealed that for "the last dozen years," CNN hadn't really 'reported' from Iraq.  Out of fear, you understand.  And if they learned Saddam Hussein or his sons planned to assassinate someone -- they kept it to themselves.  Except to warn the monarchy in Jordan.

    For that, they broke their stay silent rule for.  Of course, the monarchy has its own security and its own intelligence agency so they greeted CNN's 'tip' as what it really was -- an attempt by a press outlet to suck up.

    Eason was over Jane's 'reporting' -- isn't it time she got honest herself?

    When Eason's column was published, Margaret Wente (Canada's Globe and Mail) offered a response which included:

    Last week, I learned there was a children's prison in Baghdad where they locked up the kids of parents deemed disloyal to the regime.
    I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. As more and more information emerges about Saddam Hussein's Iraq, we're learning how awful it really was. Still, I was stunned. What kind of regime locks up and tortures children?
    [. . .]
    Some of the major media knew, too. In a stunning piece called The News We Kept to Ourselves, published last Friday in The New York Times, CNN news chief Eason Jordan reveals that the network never did come clean on everything it knew about Iraq. It never told its viewers that local CNN employees were abducted and tortured. It never passed along what Mr. Jordan learned on some of the 13 trips he made to Baghdad to schmooze with the regime in exchange for reporters' visas. On one trip, Saddam's son Uday told him he planned to kill his two brothers-in-law (he did). On other trips, Iraqi officials told Mr. Jordan Saddam was a maniac who had to be removed.
    "I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me," he confessed. But he says CNN had to keep quiet in order to protect its employees.

    The way others see it, CNN had to keep quiet in order to protect its access. In their view, CNN soft-pedalled the horrors of the regime so it could keep broadcasting from Iraq. In this, it was not alone. That's the usual quid pro quo for reporting on dictators, and Iraq was unusually vigilant in the way it kept tabs on the media. Every foreign journalist was tended by an official minder; if the regime didn't like their stories, they were kicked out.

    Jane Arraf certainly internalized that policy (she was CNN's Baghdad bureau chief under Eason Jordan)  -- which explains why she writes nothing critical of Nouri today and why she ignores the violence in Iraq, and the journalists who are killed in Iraq.  She's the happy musings 'journalist' based in Iraq.  Former CNN journalist Peter Collins responded to Eason Jordan's 2003 column with one of his own entitled "Corruption at CNN" (Washington Times) and here he talks about CNN's efforts to 'get' a sit-down interview with Saddam Hussein:

    I took part in meetings between the CNN executives and various officials purported to be close to Saddam. We met with his personal translator; with a foreign affairs adviser; with Information Minister Latif Jassim; and with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
    In each of these meetings, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan made their pitch: Saddam Hussein would have an hour's time on CNN's worldwide network; there would be no interruptions, no commercials. I was astonished. From both the tone and the content of these conversations, it seemed to me that CNN was virtually groveling for the interview.
    The day after one such meeting, I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information, preparing for my first "live shot" on CNN. A producer came up and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. "Tom Johnson wants you to read this on camera," he said. I glanced at the paper. It was an item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim in an interview that morning with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan.
    The list was so long that there was no time during the live shot to provide context. I read the information minister's points verbatim. Moments later, I was downstairs in the newsroom on the first floor of the Information Ministry. Mr. Johnson approached, having seen my performance on a TV monitor. "You were a bit flat there, Peter," he said. Again, I was astonished. The president of CNN was telling me I seemed less-than-enthusiastic reading Saddam Hussein's propaganda.

    As Jane stays silent on one thing after another in her 'reports' for Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor, grasp that the above passed for 'ethics' when she was at CNN.

    Iraq Times notes the passing of Nelson Mandela, how 1961 saw Nelson Mandela organize the armed revolution against apartheid and how he was arrested in 1963 and, while in prison for the next 27 years, managed to lead the revolution.  Released from prison in 1990 (due to international outcry and support), Nelson Mandela would win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and be elected President of South Africa in 1995.  Singer, songwriter, dancer, fashion icon Jody Watley notes Mandela here.  Kim Petersen (Dissident Voice) remembers Mandela here and offers praise for Mandela for standing up for the Palestinian people and criticism for him embracing the Canadian government which practices -- to this day -- its own form of apartheid with tegards to Turtle Island's Indigenous people.  Palestine pops up in many left pieces.  We'll note Ireland in a bit because Mandela felt a natural affinity with the people and the country due to its own similar struggles.  (South Africa and Ireland were both the victims of colonialism.)  Jonathan Cook (CounterPunch) shares his disappointment of Mandela during his post-prison life.  Marcia critiqued NPR's reducing Nelson Mandela to a supporting player  "Maybe if NPR wasn't so White . . .," and, in "The Disneyfication of a proud Black leader,"  Betty took on the trend of the US media to reduce Nelson Mandela's power and strength:

    I'm real sick of seeing this proud Black leader Disneyfied.
    I'm sick of it and it saddens me.
    Nelson Mandela was an epic, he changed the world.
    They want to turn him into Jiminy Crickett.

    Russia Today reminds that Mandela was an outspoken opponent of the illegal war on Iraq:

    Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Mandela slammed the actions of the US at a speech made at the International Women’s Forum in Johannesburg, declaring that former President George W. Bush’s primary motive was ‘oil’, while adding that Bush was undermining the UN.
    “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings,” Mandela said. 
    Mandela did not hold back from making hard-hitting statements against the US, and repeatedly spoke out against the prospect of the country invading Iraq. As the US prepared its mass-action in 2002, Mandela told Newsweek:
    “If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”

    Independent journalist Rania Khalek Tweets:


    In 2003, Jarrett Murphy (CBS News) reported:

    Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the world's most respected elder statesmen, let the Bush administration have it right between the eyes, reports CBS News Correspondent Tom Fenton.
    "It is a tragedy, what is happening, what Bush is doing. But Bush is now undermining the United Nations," Mandela told the International Women's Forum.
    Mandela said he would support action against Iraq only if it is ordered by the U.N. He urged the people of the United States to join massive protests against Mr. Bush and called on world leaders, especially those with vetoes in the U.N. Security Council, to oppose him.
    "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."

    Those remarks were made in Johannesburg, South Africa at the International Women's Forum.  CNN reported:

     The Bush administration is threatening military action if Iraq does not account for weapons of mass destruction and fully cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.
    Receiving applause for his comments, Mandela said Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are "undermining" past work of the United Nations.
    "They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man?" said Mandela, referring to Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana. 

    He did not speak out only once and he did not stop speaking out once the illegal war started.  Ireland's NUI Galway conferred an honorary doctorate on Mandela and, at the June 20, 2003 ceremony, he again spoke out against the Iraq War.   Lorna Siggins (Irish Times)  quotes Mandela concluding, "All of us must have the courage to stand up and condemn what is wrong, and I am grateful that you have allowed an old man, who is more than 100 years old, to come and address you."  Louise Hogan (Irish Independent) and the Irish Mirror note Mandela's warm relationship with Ireland.  The president of the National University of Ireland Galway, Dr. Jim Browne, issued a statement on Mandela's passing which includes:

    Nelson Mandela was - and will remain -one of the most highly respected statesmen in history.  His capacity to endure political persecution and imprisonment and, most remarkably, to move beyond personal injustice to become the embodiment of reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa has made him a lasting and powerful global symbol of goodness and integrity.

    Last night, Tavis Smiley devoted his program (The Tavis Smiley Show, PBS)  to Mandela's life and meaning. speaking with singer and activist Harry Belafonte, journalist Larry King, and US House Rep Maxine Waters.  Click here for the video and/or transcript.  Excerpts.

    Tavis: It’s one thing to work alongside Dr. King as you did so courageously, but with regard to Mandela, for 27 years, certainly, he was behind bars. What do you recall most principally about working alongside one of the stalwart leaders of this movement to end apartheid when he himself for most of that time was behind bars?

    Belafonte: It was a very touching and a very exciting and rewarding experience. Often, I went to visit a man by the name of Oliver Tambo – who had been selected by the leadership of the ANC to lead the ANC during Mandela’s incarceration. So for all intents and purpose, Oliver Tambo was the head of the ANC, was the one that was given the power and the authority to give instructions to the rest of us who were in the service of that cause.
    So that I often heard Mandela’s voice very clearly through the things that Oliver Tambo was doing. It became apparent that we were getting closer and closer to the time when Mandela would be, in all probability, freed.
    Many of us looked on that with a great sense of hope that that would be the case. But I never thought I’d live long enough to see Mandela released from prison. When he was released, I was then instructed by the ANC and by Oliver Tambo to help them prepare for Madiba’s first visit to the United States.
    In that capacity I was able to not only correspond with Winnie Mandela and with Nelson himself through mail, but to also set up the kind of environment that would be most rewarding for his visit to the United States.

    He came here and I was charged with the responsibility of meeting all the demands that were made upon us for Madiba’s visit here.


    Tavis: I’ve said many times the very first rally I ever went to, very first protest rally, was on Wilshire and La Cienega, at the embassy, when Maxine Waters was leading this fight to bring down apartheid in the California legislature.

    Waters: That’s right.

    Tavis: Remind the nation, the audience tonight, of what was happening in America then and how hard it was – we see Mandela as a hero now, but we were so on the late freight in this country on divesture.
    Waters: That’s right, that’s right. We were late because don’t forget that our country and our public policy didn’t take us to the concerns of Africa, and they didn’t have a voice.
    So the white South Africans were in charge (unintelligible) before De Klerk, they were the spokespersons that our country would listen to. So just as we watch our country not understand some of the indigenous leadership and the opposition leadership to dictatorships and other things over the years, this is true with South Africa.
    It was only after the ANC became very bold, and as you know, they labeled them communists and terrorists and all of that. We got bold and we joined the ANC from here to say that no, this is the liberation movement. But it was hard. Racism prevailed here in the United States.

    Tavis: Larry, I will never forget as long as I live the night – speaking of communism – the night that Nelson Mandela was being interviewed in the town hall by Ted Koppel, and I had never seen Koppel get the business.
    I love Ted Koppel, but Mandela gave him the business that night, and told Koppel, “You do not tell me who my friends are.”

    Waters: “My friends are.”

    Tavis: You don’t tell us -

    King: I never saw that.

    Tavis: Oh, man, it was a moment.

    Those are just two excerpts, there's much more including the final remarks which are Tavis' reflections on Mandela and his meaning.

    Kitabat notes that the people of the world and the media have followed his illness and now his death because he was a source of pride, victory and love.  The news outlet wonders where Iraq's Nelson Mandela is?

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Why I hate Google News

    Google is a search engine.

    It's always retooling.

    In fact, you could argue that they don't know how to leave well enough alone.

    Once upon a time, I could easily enjoy Google News.

    I just pulled up the Google home page.  I selected "news."  Boom, I was there.

    And I could read through the top headlines for each topic (US news, world news, entertainment, tech, science, entertainment, etc.).

    But now?

    I don't have the option of "news" on the main page anymore.

    To get Google news' home page, I now have to do a search ("news") and click on it.

    I think I'm switching to Yahoo as my home page now.

    On Yahoo, I just go there and can click on news.  Don't have to do a search, none of the nonsense.

    Again, Google needs to stop screwing up what works.

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

    Thursday, December 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's State of Law tries (and fails) to spin for him, the conflict between Nouri and cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr gets more attention, one journalist sees the upcoming election as a race between Nouri and Moqtada, Nelson Mandela has passed away, US President Barack Obama is caught in another lie, and more.

    International inspiration, freedom fighter and world figure Nelson Mandela passed away today.  The Tavis Smiley Show (PBS) will explore the meaning of Mandela this evening:

    In a tribute to Nelson Mandela, Tavis talks with activist-entertainer Harry Belafonte, Rep. Maxine Waters and talk show host Larry King, all of whose paths crossed with this extraordinary man, and also shares a personal memory of the then-ANC deputy president’s 1990 visit to Los Angeles.
    Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to fighting for equality and helped transform the future of a nation. He moved the world when he became the first Black president in a part of the world engulfed by apartheid.
    From a 27-year incarceration for his activities in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement to winning the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming president of the Republic of South Africa, spending his retirement years raising money to build schools and clinics in South Africa's rural areas and sharing his life and struggles in several books, Mandela proved that one man can make a difference. The world has lost a courageous and inspiring human being.
    In a tribute to his life and legacy, we're joined by three people who have very personal remembrances of meeting the great man. Harry Belafonte—a tireless advocate for justice and equality in his own right—was a longtime friend and chaired the organization that introduced then-ANC Deputy President Mandela to the U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters first met Nelson Mandela in Los Angeles during his first visit to the United States. And, venerable talk show host Larry King had the privilege of interviewing President Mandela several times.

    Next topic, are you an undocumented worker in the US?  Better hope you're related to the President of the United States.  As his aunt and uncle demonstrate, when you're related to him, even though you've been ordered out of the country, you get to stay.  Everybody else, the White House insists, get out.

    In his first term alone, he deported over 1.4 billion people. Wednesday morning, Cedric's "He can't stop lying" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE LIES ABOUT EVERYTHING!" -- joint-post -- noted an interesting development in Onyango Obama's drunk driving case -- he told the judge that Barack lived with him for three weeks.  The White House had insisted, following Onyango Obama's 2011 drunk driving arrest, that Barack had never, ever met his uncle (the only brother of Barack Obama Sr.).

    Well pop goes the weasel!

    Here's how Jeff Mason (Reuters) rushes to cover for Barack:

    President Barack Obama lived briefly with his Kenyan-born uncle while attending law school, the White House said on Thursday, reversing earlier statements that there was no record of the two men ever having met.
    White House spokesman Jay Carney said he clarified the issue with the president directly after reports that Onyango Obama, who faced deportation from the United States, said he had housed his nephew temporarily.

    I know about the drunk driving only through Cedric and Wally's previous coverage.  It's not an 'issue' I follow. But even I knew that the White House stated the two had never met.

    You can be sure Barack Obama also knew the White House stated it.

    Or is this another moment of, "Nobody told me!"

    For two years, Barack let a lie stand.  For two years, he refused to correct the record.

    And now he's only doing it because his uncle's remarks in court leaked out.

    Maria Sacchetti (Boston Globe) reminds:

    In November 2011, a White House spokesman said he had no record of the two ever meeting. The Washington Post had also reported that scholars believed the two had never met.
    The White House never moved to correct the record, until the president’s famously private uncle took the witness stand in Boston immigration court two days ago.

    It's a lie.

    That's not, "Impeach him!  For lying!"  But don't pretend that it didn't happen.  I'd actually be more forgiving if we were told the clarification included a lie -- because this claim that he hadn't spoken to the man in 10 years and hadn't been face-to-face with him in 20?

    That's disgusting.

    Barack groupie Bruce Springsteen has a song entitled "Highway Patrolman" (first appears on Nebraska):

    Yeah me and Frankie laughin' and drinkin'
    Nothin' feels better than blood on blood
    Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band
    Played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
    I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
    Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good.

    Barack had no blood relatives on the mainland (Hawaii's not the mainland, love the state, have a home there, but it's not the mainland).  At that time or after.  So to have an uncle in Boston when Barack's living in Chicago and Barack has no contact with him?

    That's disgusting.

    Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good

    Apparently 'Dreams of My Father' are safe because Daddy's dead but to have your father's brother alive?  You can use him when you're going to college but you have no desire to make your own living blood relative on the mainland part of your life?  That's really sad.

    But the lying part?  To the American people, that's just unacceptable.  It's not crime, you can't be impeached for it.  But it's really sad that Barack is so unable to tell the truth.  As Rebecca observed last night, noting Bruce A. Dixon's audio commentary for Black Agenda Report about Barack and Attorney General Eric Holder's remarks versus actions, "they just never stop lying, this administration."

    Again, his latest lie?  Not a crime, not an impeachable offense.  It does, however, go to pattern and it goes to character.  There's a reason he's polling so poorly and is considered untrustworthy. Maybe Ann Dumham didn't teach him Aesop's fable about The  Boy Who Cried Wolf?  Let's review it by way of a scene from season two of Kate & Allie, the "Rear Window" episode written by Stu Hample -- Susan Saint James played Kate, Jane Curtin played Allie and Fred Koehler played Chip.

    Allie: Have you ever heard the story of the little boy who cried wolf?

    Chip: Yeah, it's about a little boy who cried wolf.

    Allie:  A shepherd.  The little shepherd went into the field one day and he got bored so he cried wolf.  And all the villagers came running.

    Kate:  Right and when they saw there was no wolf, they got mad and they went home.

    Allie:  And the next week, he went into the field again, and he got bored again and he cried wolf again

    Kate:  And all the villagers came and when they saw there was no wolf there, they really got mad and went home again. 

    Allie:  But the next time there really was a wolf.  And the little boy cried wolf but nobody came. And the wolf ate the little boy.  

    In the wake of yesterday's NSA spying revelations, Barack wanted to vouch for the NSA in an interview today, wanted people to believe him.  Matthew Hoye (CNN) quotes Barack declaring, "I've said before and I will say it again, the N.S.A. actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not- listening to their- the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the N.S.A.'s more aggressive."

    He wants to be believed.

    After "If you like your plan, you can keep it."  After misleading the American public with a tale of never having met his uncle.  After that and so much more, he wants to be believed.

    It's not that easy.

    The lies that you tell 
    Will leave you alone
    They'll keep you down
    They'll catch you up and trip you up
    Keep you hangin' around
    -- "Love You By Heart," written by Carly Simon, Jacob Brackman and Libby Titus, first appears on Carly's Spy

    Moving from Barack's statements to one by the US Embassy in Iraq today:

    The U.S. Condemns December 4th Terrorist Attack in Kirkuk

    December 5, 2013

    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad strongly condemns the December 4 terrorist attack in Kirkuk in which dozens of people were killed or injured. The United States is committed in its support to the Government of Iraq in combating terrorism. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the attack and hope for a rapid recovery of the injured.

    AFP reports:

    Security forces early Thursday ended an hours-long siege at a mall in the northern city of Kirkuk but not before militants killed nine people, security officials and medics said.
    The attack Wednesday on the mall in the oil rich ethnic tinderbox city, which involved a car bomb and would-be suicide bombers, came amid a surge in unrest that has claimed more than 6,200 lives this year.

    In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mada'in roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left five people injured, a Qara-Tepeh bombing claimed 1 life and left two injured, 3 people (two college students, one Sahwa) were shot dead in Mosul, 1 college student was killed in another shooting in Mosul, 1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, 1 Ministry of Industry employee was shot dead in Baghdad, the corpses of 2 Sahwa were discovered in Baghdad, and "Gunmen, wearing military uniforms, assassinated on Thursday 5, Dec the police officer of Aski police station after storming his house on the night of one of his sons wedding, killing three others, including the groom."

    Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq notes that "200 Badush prison guards in Mosul" have resigned "due to assassinations and threats."

    As noted at the Prime Minister's official website, Nouri al-Maliki, wrapping up his two day visit to Iran, met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

    nouri iran

    The visit comes amid increasing division within the governing Shi’ite coalition in Iraq. It follows an announcement by the Sadrist Bloc in Iraq’s parliament, led by Moqtada Al-Sadr, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by Ammar Al-Hakim, of their intention to fight the next parliamentary elections on separate lists and open the door to new alliances in order to choose an alternative prime minister to Maliki.
    Meanwhile, the State of Law Coalition, which Maliki leads, insisted on Maliki’s nomination for the premiership for a third term, a move rejected by the Sadrists and the Supreme Council.

    Jawad Al-Jubouri, a member of the Sadrist Al-Ahrar Bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The visit may seem like a state visit by a senior official, such as a prime minister, who is working on Iraqi international relations, especially with neighboring states. However, the problem is in the timing of the visit, because carrying out two visits in close succession to two important countries, the United States and Iran, makes observers suspicious.”

    There are reports that he was rebuffed.  As Dar Addustour notes, his sudden visit follows cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's announcement that Iranian authorities had decided they would not back Nouri for a third term.  Moqtada made those statements on the weekend.  On Monday, the media learned Nouri had decided to make a sudden trip to Iran.  He did not inform Parliament of the hastily cobbled together visit.

    Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) looks at the conflict between Nouri and Moqtada:

    While the last Iraqi general election in 2010 revolved around the rivalry between the State of Law Coalition, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the Iraqiya List, led by Ayad Allawi, the upcoming elections in April 2014 are more likely to be affected by the worsening conflict between Maliki and Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The latter has recently emerged as a major critic of the prime minister’s policies, even calling Maliki a dictator and advising him to not seek a third term.
    With the disintegration of the Iraqiya bloc and the likelihood that the next election will be an intra-communal competition, Sadr and Maliki will compete to win the largest number of Shiite votes, despite the fact that they have different constituencies. Sadr’s support is concentrated in the poor and densely populated Shiite areas, while Maliki has succeeded in securing the support of a large segment of the military, state workers and a considerable segment of the Shiite middle class, in addition to the tribal support that he gained by co-opting some tribal leaders in the south.
    However, this difference in support bases may be a reason for the intensification of the conflict between them. Unlike the Supreme Islamic Council, which is the third major Shiite force and which seems more cautious in its confrontation with Maliki, Sadr’s largely fortified constituency could secure enough votes to make him the kingmaker after the election. Sadr’s explicit opposition of Maliki’s attempts to secure a third term has made him a potential target in the premier’s survival tactics. 
    Among the first manifestations of the early electoral conflict between the two sides was a Nov. 2 statement by Sadr criticizing Maliki’s recent visit to Washington as an attempt to win US support to remain at his post. Maliki’s office responded on Nov. 4 in an unusually harsh statement that accused Sadr’s militia of having been involved in the sectarian killings in Iraq during the past years and of collaborating with external powers against the Iraqi government. The statement threatened a harsh reprisal in the future should Sadr not change his behavior.
    Later that month, Maliki ordered the arrest of a group belonging to Sadr’s Mahdi Army, which held a military parade in Diyala. Maliki’s move looked like another message that he would not be lenient with the Sadrists, but did not lead to a confrontation between the two sides because Sadr himself had denounced the group's actions and supported Maliki’s decision to arrest its members.
    The significant step in that confrontation came with the issuance of two arrest warrants and one summons for three Sadrist parliament members on corruption charges. It was noteworthy that the three lawmakers are fierce critics of the Iraqi government and the prime minister’s policies.

    Those dependent upon western media may be scratching their heads over the above events.  Dropping back to the November 4th snapshot:

    The Iraq Times reports Nouri launched an unprecdented attack on Moqtada today declaring that he's trying to destroy the country, that he knows ("very well knows") who is carrying out the killings and sectarian warfare in Iraq.  All Iraq News adds that Nouri accused Moqtada of joining foreign countries in plotting against Iraq.  Alsumaria notes that Sadr MP Hossein Sharifi responded that Nouri enjoys hurling accusations at rivals to deflect from Nouri's own failures in leadership.

    Nouri al-Maliki:  They also remember the honorable Iraqis who firmly and strongly confronted the terrorists particularly al - Qaeda and they also remember the control of Moqtada’s militia that fostered murder, kidnapping and theft in Basra, Karbala, Baghdad and other provinces .

    Wasn't that cute of Nouri to bring up militias and to target Moqtada with militia smears.   Neither should happen. As Tim Arango (New York Times) reported last September, Nouri has armed Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq:

    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.

    That group he's backing?  A rival of Moqtada al-Sadr's.

    That's the attack Nouri launched, let's move over to the arrest warrants.  From Monday's snapshot:

    Let's stay with political news out of Iraq.  All Iraq News reports today that arrest warrants have been issued against two members of Moqtada al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc -- MP Jawad al-Shihaili and Baha al-Araji.  al-Araji is charged with "damaging general properties" and al-Shihaili is charged with "stealing state's revenues."  These warrants come only after Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports MPs are accusing Nouri al-Maliki of misuse of state resources on his recent trip to Basra -- including, Moqtada's bloc pointed out, Nouri offering up land plots.  MPs see the visit as typical Nouri trying to bribe for votes but the difference this time is that a law's been passed to make this illegal.

    Tuesday, NINA reported:

    A member of the Parliamentary Committee on Integrity, MP for the Ahrar bloc Jawad al-Shayli accused the Dawa Party behind the arrest warrant issued against him.
    He said, at a news conference in the House of Representatives today that the judiciary issued an arrest warrant against him and MP Jawad Hasnawi and a memorandum of bringing against the head’sbloc Bahaa al-Araji , accusing the Dawa Party of being behind it , with the aim of political targeting, comparing the work of the Dawa Party, now with Baath Party.
    He added : "The warrant relating to charges in accordance with Article 316 of embezzlement of state funds , which means the money of the medical treatment, which he took from the House of Representatives ."
    He said : "The MP, of the State of law, Khalid al-Attiyah took four times this expense ," wondering : "Why did not issue an arrest warrant against Al-Attiyah, and many MPs of state of law ," adding : "The aim of these warrants is political targeting ."

    Dar Addustour reported yesterday that a judiciary source states the call for the arrests came personally from Nouri.

    State of Law MP Ali Shala is trying very hard to spin for Nouri.  Sadly for Nouri, Shala doesn't know how to spin.  Rudaw reports:

    Shala insisted that rumors about Maliki’s pursuit of a third term and securing Tehran’s support are baseless. “These are all propaganda and only the ballot boxes can decide on the next prime minister, not the neighboring countries,” he said.
     Iran, Iraq’s eastern neighbor, is a major power-broker in Iraq, exercising great influence through Sadr and other Shiite parties it supports. 
    [. . .] the State of Law official said that the National Alliance, a broad-based Shiite coalition comprising Sadrists, the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council and State of Law, would re-nominate Maliki for a third tenure.

    Rumors of a third term are baseless?  But Shala says that Nouri's going to be nominated for a third term?

    Okay, is the the third term attempt baseless or not?

    At least there were no prominent defections from State of Law today, right?

    Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki got some more bad news:

    State of Law is the coalition Nouri created.  Today it's the coalition with a high profile defection.  Iraq Times notes that State of Law's leader in Parliament, Izzat al-Shahbandar, is the topic of speculation with rumors flying that he had resigned from State of Law.  Alsumaria then reported that they could confirm the resignation via multiple sources.  Hours later, All Iraq News noted Izzat al-Shahbander had publicly announced his resignation and declared, "The SLC [State of Law Coalition] turned into a sectarian coalition."  All Iraq News also noted that al-Shahbander met with cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday.  Kitabat quotes him stating that Nouri's positions and actions do not reflect his own beliefs and he cites Nouri's refusal to work with political opponents or to respect the ongoing sit-ins.
    This is a major blow to Nouri.  It's a loss at a time when Nouri's personal prestige was already on the decline.  It's a loss that al-Shahbander and Moqtada can spin as 'the building of a new Iraq.'  The two were at odds for some time.  In fact, in 2011, the Sadr bloc was accusing al-Shahbander (and other State of Law MPs -- but they specifically named al-Shahbander) of procuring women for Nouri in the Green Zone. Now that can be put behind them, is the message, and the unity and good of Iraq can instead be embraced.

    Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports on the disintegration of Nouri's hold on State of Law:

    As political parties prepare for upcoming general elections, some very important alliances are falling apart. Shiite Muslim parties allied in the current governing coalition led by PM Nouri-al-Maliki say they will campaign alone - and they won’t promise al-Maliki another term. Amid a surge in sectarian violence, could the country finally be entering a post-sectarian political era?  

    Prominent Shiite Muslim politicians in Baghdad have confessed that there is one major reason why the previously strong alliance of Shiite Muslim parties is breaking up. This alliance was what allowed current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form his ruling coalition, the State of Law bloc. But now, as political parties start negotiating partnerships and jockeying for position ahead of the upcoming general elections, scheduled for April 2014, the formerly strong Shiite Muslim alliances have fallen apart.

    A special meeting was held in Baghdad on Nov. 18 at which all member parties of al-Maliki’s alliance were present. A statement was issued afterwards declaring, “Shiite Muslim parties are enthusiastic about competing in the coming elections together”. But this seems to have been spin: The reality on the ground is very different.

    “The State of Law bloc has asked that all other parties that want to enter into an alliance with it agree ahead of elections that if they win, the future Prime Minister will come from the Dawa party and that that party will not nominate anyone other than Nouri al-Maliki,” a senior politician, who did not want to be named, told NIQASH. “This is why the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Sadrist bloc are avoiding any such alliance.”

    The strongest Shiite Muslim parties in Iraq are al-Maliki’s Dawa party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, or ISCI, headed by cleric Ammar al-Hakim and the Sadrist bloc, headed by another cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. There are also other minor Shiite Muslim parties such as the National Reform Trend headed by former Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and the Islamic Virtue Party, or Fadhila, headed by controversial Najaf-based cleric, Mohammed Musa al-Yaqoubi.

    Both the Sadrist bloc and the ISCI seem firm about their intentions not to enter into an alliance with al-Maliki’s party again. Both al-Hakim and al-Sadr have been critical of al-Maliki’s government, with al-Sadr being very harsh, very publicly and al-Hakim tending to be quietly critical. 

    Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reports:

    In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hasnawi said: “There has been a political targeting of the Sadrist Movement and the Al-Ahrar bloc, particularly given that we are approaching the elections. The reason for this is to politically destroy opponents and harm their reputations, especially as the Al-Ahrar bloc is more active than others in raising corruption issues.”
    “These are part of vengeful attempts against us which have become obvious to all,” he added.
    Hasnawi accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki of being behind the issuance of the arrest warrants. He said: “The arrest warrants are dated and these cases have been closed for a long time. There is not a single one which is related to a new case, but there are judges who work as protectors for the prime minister who issue arrest warrants according to Maliki’s demands.”
    “The arrest warrant against Baha Al-Araji is related to the Red Crescent issue, which was closed in 2008, and the warrant against Jawad Al-Shahili is related to the issue of MPs’ loans and he provided parliament with receipts,” the Sadrist Movement MP added.

    He also accused MPs belonging to Maliki’s own State of Law coalition of corruption. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “All these accusations are being made while there are still some State of Law Coalition MPs, such as Khalid Al-Attiyah, who spent much more on medical treatment and have not provided any official receipts.”