Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Target smart or stupid?

Target has a new policy.  Whether it will boost sales or lead to the store closing this year, I don't know.  Phyllis Furman (New York Daily News) explains:

The retail giant on Tuesday said it will match the prices of certain retailers all year round.

Target had a price matching policy over the Christmas holiday shopping season.

Now, it has decided to keep the bargains coming on a steady basis by matching prices found on the websites of its most important competitors: Amazon.com, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us.

If you purchase a qualifying item at one of its stores, and then find an identical item for less within seven days at one of these four ret
ailers’ online stores — or in a local competitor’s print ad — Target will match the price.

So what do you think?

I don't know what to think.

I tried to back Martha up at Ms. with two comments but my comments weren't moderated on by.  I didn't use foul language and wrote that I support Marth 100% on her statements regarding Hagel.  Maybe I'll try again but good for Martha for calling Ms. on it.  (Click here and look at the comment -- only one -- if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, a dopey feature writer tries to argue that knowing in 2002 how the Iraq War would turn out nullifies a Congressional vote for the war, groupies of a disgraced British doctor insist that dead Iraqis be ignored and that he be allowed to practice medicine again, protests continue, Anbar provides aid to the protesters, Nouri's refusal to listen to the protesters results in a Cabinet walk-out,  and more.
The plan in my head for this snapshot was we would start with women and end with women.  Start with Iraqi women, end with American women.  In between we'd do our usual sight seeing tour.  That changed.  That changed because we have to start with an idiot.  And, the modern pattern in America demonstrates, when we're talking about big idiots in the US -- it's usally a man.  Now maybe that's because they're more apt -- even now -- to be elevated to status for gender -- clearly, they did not get their on their minds.
Case in point, Esquire's chief idiot Charles P. Pierce.  Pierce drips against his y-fronts as he moans for Chuck Hagel, the homophobic, rape-doesn't-result-in-pregnancy, War Hawk that US President Barack Obama has nominated to be the next Secretary of the Defense.  (For those who didn't get their trading cards of Obama's Cabinet: Lots of Men and a Few Token Women, if confirmed by the Senate, Hagel would replace Leon Panetta.)
"I am going to do something I've never done before," Charles P. Pierce opens today -- sending a good portion of the public fleeing.  It's okay, he's keeping his clothes on.  He wants to quote Chuck in full in 2002 before Chuck voted for the Iraq War.  But, hold on, before we get that, we need to stop for a cheesy Esquire profile.  One Pierce did in 2007.  I'm sorry, does Pierce honestly believe that the celebrity profiles Esquire does strikes anyone as journalism?  The New York Times Sunday Magazine does journalism -- even in their profiles.  Vanity Fair sometimes does journalism in their profiles.  Esquire?  As if to proove just how cheesy Esquire is, the excerpt Charles provides starts with Tom Hagel vouching for Chuck -- hard hitting journalism at it's finest.
Then it's endless monologue from Chuck.  Charles seems to think that this responds to "one of the primary arguments made from the Left against" Chuck because he voted for the Iraq War in 2002.
Charles Pierce needs to retire. Esquire will never improve circulation with the very tired and very old Charles writing for it.  Four decades at the magazine?  He's never been Hunter S. Thompson.  He's just someone who knows he can't get work elsewhere.
Part of the reason for that is because he's so very stupid.
We tried explaining this with the idiots who promoted Barack (falsely) as anti-war.  In 2007 and 2008, as people pointed to that bad, small speech from 2002, we pointed to Barack's record when he got to the Senate.  He voted exactly as Hillary did.  In the primaries, he wanted special credit for being against the war (no, he really wasn't, it was a fairy tale, Bill Clinton was right) and claimed this proved sharper judgment than his contemporaries like Hillary and John Edwards and Joe Biden. 
But here's the problem with that.  If a five-year-old child burns their hand on the stove, you comfort the child, you treat the burn.  But if the child's smart enough to know that touching the flames on the stove will burn your hand and that child burns his or her hand, you're dealing with a different issue, you're dealing with a child who knew better but chose to ignore the knowledge.
If Barack believed the words he offered in 2002 and then goes to the Senate and votes for the war over and over and over, that's worse than stupid Hillary, John and Joe who apparently were too dumb to grasp what would happen.  (In fairness to Hillary and Joe, they didn't claim they voted for one thing only for it to turn out to be something else.  John did and Elizabeth Edwards did for him in an interview with Ruth Conniff for The Progressive.)
So if Hagel stood and listed all these things that could go wrong before he voted?  He looks even more empty, more craven and more like a War Hawk.  If he could picture many awful things that ended up coming true, he has no defense for voting the war.  He knew better.
To go to children again.  If you are 8-years-old and playing frisbee in the front yard with your older and wiser brother Chuck and a window gets broken by the frisbee, your parents are going to let you slide.  You're the child who wasn't old enough to know better.  But Chuck?  There's no slide for him.  He has to be accountable for playing frisbee by the windows when he was old enough to know better and old enough to know something could get broken.
I hope -- I really, really hope -- that Charles P. Pierce just really wanted to plus his 2007 (bad) feature article on Hagel.  I really hope that Pierce isn't so stupid that he thinks providing the over 2100 words Chuck Hagel spoke on the Senate floor about why war with Iraq was wrong doesn't excuse Hagel's vote and, in fact, damns Hagel because he knew better and still voted for the war.  Again, hopefully Pierce just wanted to plug his own (universally ignored) 2007 feature.  Hopefully, even Pierce isn't stupid enough to think that speech improves Hagel's image.
Let's move from an American idiot to a British one: Derek Keilloh.  Keilloh was a doctor who 'treated' Baha Mousa.  From the July 13, 2009 snapshot:

Moving over to England, Matthew Weaver (Guardian) notes that Iraqi Baha Mousa's death at the age of 26 while in British custody in September 2003 is the subject of a public inquiry in England which began today and that, "A central issue of the inquiry is why five 'conditioning techniques' -- hooding prisoners, putting them in stress positions, depriving them of sleep, depriving them of food and water, and playing white noise -- were used on Iraq detainees.  The techniques, inflicted on IRA suspects, were banned in 1972 by then prime minister, Edward Heath."  The Telegraph of London offers that Baha "was beaten to death" while in British custody, "sustaining 93 separate injuires, including fractured ribs and a broken nose."  The Telegraph also notes that the inquiry was shown video of Corporal Donald Payne yelling and screaming, "shouting and swearing at the Iraqis as they are force to main painful 'stress position'."
Today, Andrew Johnson (Belfast Telegraph) reports the latest, "A former British Army doctor has been found guilty of attempting to cover up the death of an Iraqi civilian who was fatally beaten by British troops in 2003, and of failing to protect other detainees."  Peter Magill (Lancashire Telegraph) notes of the Baha Mousa inquiry,  "Another detainee, Ahmed Al Matari, who had also been seen by Dr Keilloh at the detention centre after being kicked in the kidneys and legs, accused him of behaving like a 'criminal' during."  Press TV adds, "Britain's Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service will now decide what penalty the British doctor will face.The editorial board of Scotland's Herald weighs in, "Army medics cannot afford to be squeamish but ignoring such brutality amounts to a betrayal of all the servicemen and women who behave decently and within the rules. It also acts as a recruiting sergeant for extremism and destroys at a stroke any goodwill built up with the local population. It is shameful that it has taken so long to uncover the truth. Though maltreatment of detainees may not have been routine, the fact that a number of other such inquiries are still crawling through the system suggests this was more than the work of a 'few bad apples'."
And the punishment?  From the December 24th snapshot:
Yesterday, Ashleigh Barbour (Press and Journal) reported Dr. Derek Keilloh had been "struck off the medical register."  The Yorkshire Post adds, "The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service announced its decision to ban Dr Keilloh from working as a doctor yesterday after finding him guilty of misconduct." The Herald Scotland explained, "The MPTS recognised Dr Keilloh, now a GP at Mayford House Surgery in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, never harmed Mr Mousa and did everything possible to save his life, in a setting that was 'highly charged, chaotic, tense and stressful'. But they ruled he must have seen the injuries and, especially as a doctor, had a duty to act."  Mary Gearin (Australia's ABC) quotes MPTS Chair Brian Alderman telling Keilloh, "The panel determined that erasure is the only appropriate sanction in this case.  Given the gravity and nature of the extent and context of your dishonesty, it considers that your misconduct is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration."
BBC News reports today that "about 300 people" are calling for him "to be reinstanted."  They say that they know him and are his former patients and he's just wonderful.  No, he's not.  If he had any kind of character worth praising, he would have issued a statement saying, "Please stop calling for me to be reinstated."  He failed to do his job.  There are serious ethical issues here.  Oh, he did a great job on your boo-boos?  Well you're British.  He's not accused of enabling the mistreatment of British citizens.  It is an insult to the Iraqi people that so few have been punished for the murder of Baha.  It was murder.  He was an innocent.  He is dead now.
Grasp that.  Keilloh can do whatever he wants with the rest of his life.  That option has been forever denied to Baha.  Baha Mousa had a wife, he had children.  He was a hotel clerk.  He never should have been rounded up.  Once rounded up, he shouldn't have been beaten.  He was and others were as well.  That's due to the fact that Keilloh didn't maintain professional standards, didn't follow basic ethics of medicine.
Baha Mousa is dead.  The Telegraph of London has a photo of him with his wife Yasseh and each are holding a child -- their children, their sons Hussein and Hassan.  Little boys who no longer have a father.  Any suffering Keiloh may experience is not going to trump that.  Two little children lost their father.  A woman lost her husband.  Not by chance, not by accident, but by the actions certain individuals took.  Keiloh's professional embarrassment/set-back doesn't begin to compare with the world that was torn from Yasseh Hussein and her two sons.  If Keiloh had character, he'd tell the people demanding he be re-instated to leave it alone. 
Yasseh Hussein is only one of the many widows produced by the Iraq War.  The International Committee of the Red Cross has posted a brief documentary on YouTube about Iraq's widows  that the Arte network produced.  Here's an excerpt.
ARTE:  From above, Baghdad seems to be a city like any other, far removed from the violence of the past nine years. But sometimes the traces of war have a human face.  On every street corner, you glimpse black silhouettes.  These are the widows of Iraq.  In a country haunted by war, no one takes notice of these living ghosts.  There are more than a million widows in Iraq with 400,000 in Baghdad alone. Tradition dictates that these widows be taken in by their husband's family.  Um Barak and her children live with 24 people in 50 square meters. 
UM BAKAR:  (gesturing around the small, single room):  We use these blankets as a bed.  We have a gas stove to keep warm and we eat here. 
ARTE:  In this time of conflict when people are already struggling to cope, a widow's often a burden on her husband's family.  Left to fend for herself, Um Barak raises her children alone in this tiny room.
UM BARAK:  Which is bigger, the earth or the sun?
CHILD:  The sun.
UM BARAK:  Okay.  What about the stars?  Are they bigger than the sun?
ARTE:  What is it like, living here?
UM BARAK:  What do you think?  We live on top of each other.  It's very hard for us. Ask them.  They have no freedom.  No one here is free -- not my husband's family, not us.  We're suffocating.
ARTE:  Power cuts and water shortages are a daily reality for Um Barak.  Her husband was kidnapped and killed six years ago.  Since then, she receives only $300 every two months.  It seems there's no chance for a better life with barely enough to give her sons an occassional treat.
[At a market.]
UM BARAK:  Do you want a fruit juice?
UM BARAK:  You sure?
ARTE:  Is state aid enough?
UM BARAK:  $300 isn't enough for one month.  It doesn't matter who you are.   $300 wouldn't even be enough for a week even and I have to make it last for two months.
ARTE:  In an attempt to find a solution to her problems, Um Barek regularly goes to the education center for widows.  Around 30 women get together there every week.  Today, this young woman from the center has handed out a questionairre about religious tolerance.
CENTER WORKER: Don't copy.  Answer the questions yourself.
ARTE:  But their attention soon returns to their daily lives.
WOMAN 1:  All of this is the government's fault.  The government has no respect for widows.  What are we supposed to do with $300 every two months or if we get nothing like this lady here.  How much do members of Parliament get?  Do they think about what women have to endure in our society when they lose their husbands? These are mothers after all.  It is up to you, humanitarian organizations, to find a solution for us widows.
CENTER WORKER:  We're not from the government.  We're a humanitarian association so you can speak freely.
ARTE:  This center is one of the few places where these women can express themselves.  It's a much needed outlet in a society where widows are often  mistreated by their husband's families.
CENTER WORKER:  Couldn't you make meat patties? Snacks? Kibobs?  And sell them?

WOMAN 2: You really think I could do that?  My husband's family would never  allow it.
Such passes for life in Iraq.  Iraq rakes in billions each year on oil.  Where does the money go?  It doesn't go into infrastructure -- potable water and reliable and constant electricity remain elusive dreams -- and it doesn't go into caring for Iraq's widows and orphans.  Were it not for Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya, Nouri would have ended the food-ration card system weeks ago as he planned to.  Instead, people called out Nouri's decisions.  It was noted that in poverty plagued Iraq, taking away the food staples guaranteed to each family by that card would force women and children further into poverty.  That didn't trouble Nouri, he was still willing to go ahead with it.  Moqtada and Iraqiya not only called out the decision but, with the support of the Iraqi people, were able to shame Nouri into backing off.
If you're not grasping how Nouri is failing the Iraqi people, refer to this graph at Niqash offering the government's annual budget.  In 2003, it was only 6.1 billion dollars (US).  Today?  118.4 billion dollars.  And yet the Iraqi people continue to do without. 
Iraqi females -- women and girls -- are also at the risk of torture and rape in Iraq's prisons and detention centers.  Felicity Arbuthnot (Pravda) notes that and also notes:
In the light of the fact that it transpires that twenty-seven Foreign Office lawyers concluded unanimously that the Iraq invasion of Iraq was illegal, I write to draw your attention to just a few of the the chilling events currently taking place in Iraq under the US-UK's despotic, imposed, puppet Prime Minister.
Firstly, here is a list of prisons, detention facilities, interrogation centres and numbers of those held in each, as far as can be ascertained in the circumstances. As you will surely know, people are routinely arbitrarily detained for weeks, months, even years, often without trial, and with one, usually under a totally inadequate or corrupt legal system.
On the 3rd of January 2013, Nuri al-Maliki carried out the death sentence on Ahmed al-Samarrai and two other men from Mosul, on charges of his resisting the U.S. and Iran occupation. Resisting an unlawful occupation is, of course, a legal right. His body was not delivered to his family; a funeral will take place in his honor, in gatherings, in Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq. (Should you question the US occupation since they "pulled out" last December, just see the Vatican City size US embassy and its thousands of mercenaries, intelligence operators and nefarious other spooks and enforcers.)
Early this morning (the 4th of January), al-Maliki's  forces - wearing all black clothing - entered Taji Prison and took one hundred prisoners from the western city of Ramadi to an unidentified place. Death squads come to mind - again.
Al-Maliki has also ordered an on sight shoot-to-kill policy toward protesters.
By August 31st, there had been ninety-six executions in 2012, with twenty-six people reportedly being executed on both the 27th and 29th of August. Few details of those executed or their identities were released. They are simply the disappeared in the tradition of all despots. Iraq: "... has a huge problem with torture and unfair trials ...", Human Rights Watch, who produced the report, pointed out.
Rightly or wrongly, Nouri is seen as using the death penalty to kill Sunnis while releasing Shi'ites who have murdered other Iraqis.  He's seen as crowding the prisons with Sunnis via the mass arrests that target them.  He's seen as hurrying to execute Sunnis out of fear that a (long promised but never delivered) amnesty law might allow some of them to be released.  An amnesty law never makes it out of Parliament.  September and October saw serious attempts at getting it passed into law; however, Nouri's State of Law opposed the bill.
September 27th saw a major attack on a Tikrit prison.   From the next day's snapshot:
Alsumaria reports the spokesperson for the Sadr bloc in Parliament, Mushriq Naji, is pointing out that yesterday's assault and escape is what happens when corruption reigns and the institutions of reform fail and he specifically notes the faliure of the Parliament to pass the amnesty law.  All Iraq News adds that there is a demand to reform state institutions immediately.  The National Alliance line comes from one of their MPs who insists that political parlies helped with the prison break and this is an attempt to provide pressure to pass the amnesty law.  Al Mada notes Ahmed Chalabi is calling for MPs to propose amendments to the amnesty law to address whatever concerns they have.  This is most likely aimed at State of Law since they've been the biggest obstacle to the passage of an amnesty law.
Dar Addustour reports  that Thursday is supposed to see another vote on the proposed Amnesty Law.  This has gone on for years.  The amnesty was being discussed while Bully Boy Bush was still occupying the White House. You cannot end a war without an amnesty.  Violence in 2012 appears to back that up.
Meanwhile AFP reports that Nouri's thugs and ass kissers rallied in Kut, Diwaniyah, Karbala and Samawa -- if all are added together "thousands" were in the street declaring their undying love for Nouri al-Maliki.  If that seems like a large number, you haven't been paying attention.  Ran Alaaldin (The National) notes that Friday saw 60,000 alone in Falluja.
The protests against Nouri continue in Iraq.    All Iraq News reports that Nouri's advisor Amer Khuzaie took to the TV to proclaim that Nouri has responded to the protesters "legitimate" demands.  They note there were no specifics given.   Alsumaria notes that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq states that Nouri needs to grasp how serious these demonstrations are and that any attempt to suppress them would be devastating and cause a rift between the government on one side and the citizens on the other.    He also objected to the use of the military to suppress the demonstrations and noted that these had been peaceful demonstrations.

Yesterday at the Mosul protests, the Iraqi military showed up and attacked the protesters.  Kitabat notes that they fired guns and used batons injuring at least four and they review the demands of the protesters which include that those arrested who work for Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi be transferred to the Anbar Province's court system (Baghdad is seen as a kangaroo court controlled by Nouri), that Article IV be suspended (and with it the Justice and Accountability Commission), the release of detainees, holding security personnel accountable for rape and negligence of prisoners and detainees, stop the executions, pass an amnesty law, checks and balances on all the government institutions and the military, withdraw the Iraqi army from cities and end the operations in the governorates (reference to Tigris Operation Command which Nouri sent into the disputed areas), ensure that the judicial bodies are neutral from political interference, ban sectarianism from phrases and logos of the state institutions, and end the random night raids, speed up the professionalization of the Federal Supreme Court so that the judges do not belong to a political party or bloc.
Patrick Markey, Aseel Kami, Raheem Salman and Alistair Lyon (Reuters) report that "Iraqi Sunni Muslim and Kurdish ministers boycotted a cabinet sessions on Tuesday to show support for protests that threaten Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's fragile cross-sectarian government, lawmakers and a government source said."  Karafillis Giannoulis (New Europe) adds, "A senior government source confirmed that the ministers had missed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet Session because the ministers did not see a governmental action to implement protesters' demands."

Kitatbat reports that in Anbar Province, the people are providing food and medical services to the protesters on a daily basis in a show of solidarity with those who have blocked the international highway that links Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.  There is a food pavilion (photo with the article) that prepares food daily -- bread, rice, meat and soup -- and a tent has been set up with doctors, nurses and pharmacists.  The tribal leaders see it as "an honor" and "a duty" to feed the protesters who have been protesting night and day.

All Iraq News notes that 50 MPs have signed on to question Nouri before Parliament.  There are a number of things he could be questioned on.  For example, October 9th, Nouri was strutting across the world stage as he inked a $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia. In the time since, the deal has fallen apart amidst accusations of corruption with Nouri's former spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh having left his position and the country and stating that he is innocent but that there are attempts to blame him for the corruption.  Nouri's son is also whispered to have benefited from an allegedly crooked deal.   Last week, the Iraq Times noted it was Nouri who finger-pointed at Ali al-Dabbagh and that Iraqiya was stating he was attempting to obscure details and that the names of all involved needed to be made public.  Dar Addustour reports that the Parliamentary committees investigating the deal (there are several including defense, integrity and security) have found that there were two prices.  There was the negotiated price that the first delegation arrived at with the Russian government and then there was a different price when the second delegation negotiated.  The difference between the two?  Over 50%.  The price agreed to in the first round somehow more than doubled.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) speaks with an unnamed member of the Integrity Committee who states the Committee will release their final report today.

Along with the reports that all three Committees are supposed to release and the move to question Nouri before Parliament, there was talk in the last days of a no-confidence vote in Nouri. 
When there's talk of a possible no-confidence vote on Nouri, what does State of Law do?  That's right they start saying they'll launch a no-confidence vote on Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  Dar Addustour reports the latest whispered threats of that.
Through Monday, Iraq Body Count counts 75 people killed in violence in Iraq so far.  In  today's reported violence, All Iraq News notes a Mosul bombing hs claimed the life of 1 person.  Alsumaria notes the corpse of 1 soldier was discovered in Kirkuk.  Alsumaria also notes a Baquba car bombing  which claimed 4 lives and left ten more people injured.