Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kitchen Appliances in the Kitchen

Prevention recently had a piece on 'green kitchens.'  I thought it was unfortunate and ignored it.  And would continue to do so but people have written.  On the oven, Prevention argues, you don't have to preheat and you can turn it off half-way in the cooking and just leave the door closed.  On an electric grill, they argue turn the heat off mid-way and it will still keep cooking.  Here's the link to the nonsense.

I actually do turn the oven off, in the summer, half-way through baking chocolate chip cookies.  That's really it though. I do that to avoid the kitchen getting really hot in the summer.

So what's my problem with Prevention?  Usually nothing.  I read it religiously.

But if you read their article, you may cringe.  I did.  I immediately thought how people would apply this.  And they have. But apparently Prevention writers don't eat a lot of meat.

One reader makes beef pepper steaks using his mother's recipe and writes to ask if I know how many minutes he can save?  And he's only the first e-mail.  And they're all about meat.

I'm sorry, Prevention, food illnesses aren't worth saving a few minutes.

We may come to the day when we have to learn to cook that way, but we're not there yet as a country.  And no one should be second guessing the cooking of raw meat.  Cook it as you normally would and forget Prevention's bad article.  It was ill thought out and unhealthy and unsafe.

It did lead to one person asking about ways she can save money with appliances. 

If you're trying to, I have two suggestions.

Few people have a popcorn popper anymore.  If you do, you can stop using it. 

My friend Maria Alejandra would disagree if this were last month.  She stood by her hot air cooker that required no oils to cook so was much lower in calories.  Then she wanted some popcorn while we were chatting in the kitchen.

And I got out my popper.

Yes, I have a popper.  I bought it at Target because I was getting tired of microwave popcorn.  I love it but it's in the box and my husband, my son and my granddaughter live here.  Meaning, I go to the box in the pantry that's open and there's nothing in there.  (To be clear, my granddaughter has to have it cooked for her.  She's too small to operate the microwave.)

This wasn't a problem, even with 8 kids, in the old days because I bought the bags of kernels.  They were clear (see through) and I could tell when a bag was near empty (as opposed to a box that I have to pick up and look inside).

So one day while at Target . . .  I'm always at Target.  I have nothing against Wal-Mart.  I did.  Until The Common Ills started.  I hated Wal-Mart and had the DVD about how evil it was and blah blah blah.  Then, early on at The Common Ills, a member left a comment (in the early days you could comment) and C.I. responded that she had never made a point to attack Wal-Mart shoppers and wouldn't.  She explained she was on the road all the time speaking out against the Iraq War all over the country and was fully aware that if, for example, you needed diapers at 9:30 pm or later, in some areas all you had was Wal-Mart.  The same thing if you needed fresh vegetables at any time.

I wish Wal-Mart treated their employees better but I'm not at war with Wal-Mart shoppers.

Even when all 8 kids were at home, I'd switched to Target and my reason was censorship.  Wal-Mart demanded certain changes in album covers and words in songs.  Target didn't care.

So at Target, I found a large bowl with a lid.  Nothing surprising there.  Except this bowl is for popcorn.  You put a third a cup of kernels in it, put the lid on, pop for up to six minutes (you stop as the popcorn stops popping -- in my microwave, it's usually 3 minutes and 20 seconds for a third a cup).  This produces enough popcorn for three adults.  If it's just me, I'll use less than a third a cup.  I don't have to use oils or butter.  So it can be like a hot air popper if I don't add anything to it.  I have popcorn seasoning and salts that I sometimes add after cooking but not all the time.

This uses less electricity than your popcorn poppers that you plug into a socket but can be as healthy.

I have many rice cookers.  Including plug in the wall ones.  But if I'm in a hurry -- and honestly, even not in hurry -- I use the one I got at Target.  It's a device -- bowl with clamp down lid -- that you put the rice in and then put in the microwave.

You can get one at Wal-Mart.  We wrote about one there this summer at ThirdHere it is at the Wal-Mart site.  Since you can't order it online, there's no price.  I wish we'd written how much it cost.  I know it was less than ten and I want to say it was around six dollars.  It was a little easier to use than the one I have from Target.  That's in terms of the lid.  It secured easier in the Wal-Mart version.  Which is why my daughter grabbed it.  She doesn't like rice cookers but learned the Wal-Mart one and the Target one by watching me use them.  She used both a few times at my house before saying she was taking the Wal-Mart one ("to make up for my cat.")

Yes, in reply to Josie, I still have the cat.  I love the cat.  Pretty little orange Tabby.  I'm not a cat person and would never have gotten one.  But when my daughter was on her cruise and I was stuck with the cat, I bonded and so did she.  About 30 minutes a day, she wants attention.  She'll come rub against my legs and I'll pick her up and pet her and after 30 minutes she's good to go.  Throughout the day, if she's not outside on one of her adventures, she's generally following me or my granddaughter around the house.  She'll let my granddaughter play with her forever but she's just as fine curling up for a nap near us.  I have not renamed her.  She's Genevieve.  She had her name before I cat-sat.

Josie notes 2 Broke Girls had an episode about a cat.  I had missed it.  I don't watch a lot of TV other than The NewsHour, not regularly. 

But 'we' did "The week in funny" at Third last Sunday.  'We' because my contribution was, "Yes, that's funny." And "No that isn't."  I said that to Modern Family.  I hadn't seen the episodes so I was the perfect test reader.  The lines might have been hilarious if you saw the episode and knew the show but to be quoted in an article read by someone not knowing the show?  Didn't make me smile even.

But Max and Catherine taking in a stray?  Four exchanges made me laugh out loud and two made the article.

Catherine:  Excuse me, I overheard you two asking people if they want a cat and I'd really love one.

Caroline:  Really?  Well we have your cat.

Max:  Oh now, woah, not so fast.  I've got a couple of questions first.  Do you smoke?

Cartherine:  Yes.

Max:  Drink?

Catherine:  Yes.

Max:  Prescription drugs?

Catherine:  Yes.

Max: Forget the cat, will you take me home?


Max:  No, Kitty is not going to a shelter.
Caroline:  Why?  Lots of cats get adopted and end up in beautiful homes.

Max: Look I didn't want to say this but [covering cat's ears] she's not pretty enough.

Caroline:  What are you talking about?

Max: [Covering cat's ears] She's not pretty enough.

Caroline:  Come on, she doesn't have classic good looks but she's adorkable.

Max:  We cannot take her to a shelter, [covering cat's ears] she'll die there.  And yeah everyone says they want them with a nice personality but they really just want a  hot sexy young kitten who still gets excited about balls in her face.

2 Broke Girls, airs Mondays on CBS.  I went to the show link and the episode was up and I streamed it.  It was hilarious.  "Jinxy was her slave name!"  I had never seen the show before and couldn't stop laughing.  Streaming it Sunday led me to even make a point to watch on Monday night and I hate watching TV.  I don't mind Tivo, I don't mind streaming, didn't mind VCR in the old days.  But raising 8 kids, my time was limited and I grew to hate the notion that I either watched something then or never.  (The NewsHour -- I watch it in the kitchen while I cook dinner -- have done that for years.) But, as Josie points out in her e-mail, that's a hilarious episode.

I woke up, in fact, Friday morning laughing in bed.  My husband asked me what I was dreaming about.  The funny neighbor -- who was in the Christopher Guest films -- saying the cat was her dead friend Nancy.  Let me look up her name because if you're so funny in your role that you've got me laughing in my sleep, you deserve to have your name mentioned.

Jennifer Coolidge.  She's hilarious on the show (and in all the Guest movies as well as Legally Blonde).  On the new episode I caught Monday, she was grinning and strutting and explaining to Max and Caroline that she was doing her walk of shame because she'd hooked up the night before.  She then had to rush back to her hookup when she realized she'd left her good Spanx behind.  The entire cast of that show is funny but Coolidge talking about Nancy and how, in Poland, if you die outside you come back as a cat was priceless.  Especially when she found out they'd kept 'Nancy' and she tells 'Nancy' she can't talk to her right now.

Anyway.  It's a good thing I'm not usually a morning blogger, I'd never shup up, would I?

Okay, this is from Bruce Dixon's "Obamacare VS Single Payer – Top 10 Things the ACA Gave Us VS the Top 10 We Gave Up" (Black Agenda Report):

5. We gave an ongoing river of cash to private health insurance companies. Millions more are now forced to buy their crappy product, with the premiums funded by billion annually in public subsidies.

Health insurance executives got massive salary increases since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Existing insurance company shareholders saw profits and stock prices spike, first with the passage of the ACA, then with the onset of open enrollment. Anticipated ballooning profits have led health insurance companies to buy back as much of their own stock as possible. What else would you expect? Health insurance company lobbyists wrote the ACA.

While the ACA pads the pockets of insurance company executives and keeps employed an army of advertisers, marketers and bureaucrats, single payer would have created a quarter million new good paying jobs delivering actual health care to people, according to the National Nurses Union.

6. The ACA gives us little or no cost control over medical care and even bans most measures that would lower the cost of prescription drugs.

With the substandard policies the most families will be able to afford, skimpy coverage, high co-pays and deductibles will continue to threaten hundreds of thousands annually with bankruptcy due to unpayable medical bills.

The US is one of the few places in the developed world in which a family can lose its home, and its children their college educations because of unpayable medical bills. We could have changed that. But we didn't

The entire ten is worth reading.  I just chose two for an excerpt.

Reader Bob, I'm using your question next Friday/Saturday.  I can't answer it yet.  I'll be researching this coming week.  But my husband can and did answer you this morning so check your inbox.  Bob's question was about grilling. 

This is C.I.s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:  

Friday, October 18, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, ongoing protests in Iraq reach the ten month mark (where's the western press), Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi states he has evidence of Nouri al-Maliki's crimes against the Iraqi people, news of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, and much more.

Tareq al-Hashemi is one of Iraq's two vice presidents.  Sunni and a member of Iraqiya, he was targeted by Nouri in 2011 and has sought safety in the KRG and Turkey.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Today, al-Hashemi was supposed to participate in a human rights conference in Brussells.  Nouri's State of Law went into a tizzy.  All Iraq News quotes State of Law MP Salman al-Musawi insisting, "The participation of the convicted Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashimi, in a Human Rights Conference held by the European Union violates the sovereignty of Iraq."  Then the outlet reports the Iraqi embassy bragged that they had forced the cancellation of a press conference today by Tareq al-Hashemi.  NINA notes:

It is mentioned that a statement from the Office of Tareq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia, said he has arrived to Brussels yesterday afternoon , at the invitation of the EU.
The statement added that al-Hashemi will attend today's formal meeting in the European Parliament, which will listen to his speech on the challenges facing Iraq. According to the statement.

Today AFP reports the Vice President did hold a press conference and he declared, "My case is politically motivated and the charges are absolutely fabricated. Nevertheless, I now express my readiness to return to Baghdad immediately ... in (the case) the EU guarantees a fair trial."  Middle East Monitor quotes al-Hashemi also stating, "The chances of just litigation are non-existent in Iraq when Chief Justice Medhat Al-Mahmoud is clearly complicit with the Prime Minister's Office, thus distorting the image and reputation of Iraq both domestically and internationally."

Even those who believe al-Hashemi is guilty have to, if they have any self-honesty, have to admit the Baghdad courts are a joke and Tareq was denied a fair trial.

In France, where they kiss in the main street, Francois Hollande is president.  Can you picture any French court denying to allow Hollande to testify as a character witness in a trial?  No. But Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was denied by the Baghdad court when he attempted to offer testimony on behalf of Tareq.  Equally true, by 2010, it was obvious that the Baghdad courts were not independent and were ruling for Nouri and against the laws of Iraq (including the Constitution).  As Congress was repeatedly informed in the last years of the '00s, the graft and corruption in Iraq included the judicial system.

The world looked the other way when  the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February 2012 at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi. Excuse me, that is wrong.  They reproduce what the judges said.  They failed to note the Iraqi Constitution -- which protects Tareq or anyone in office from being tried while they hold public office and which protects all with the belief of innocent until proven guilty.

Reuters and the others couldn't be bothered with facts or the law.  They couldn't even raise the issue of a group of Bahgdad judges declaring a person guilty before a trial had even started.  They were so up the ass of Nouri that they treated this moment as normal.

It was not normal.  Tareq was tried in absentia in a kangaroo court.  For those who've forgotten, al-Hashemi also asked that the trial be moved to another area of Iraq where Nouri did not control the judiciary.  That was refused.   Today Middle East Monitor reports:

During the conference, Hashemi revealed documents and videos proving the involvement of Al-Maliki and his office in acts of torture and serious violations of human rights. He explained that: "most of the detainees are innocent while the real criminals are still free with the knowledge of the security services. The major proof is the continued collapse of security; the incidents, assassinations and sectarian displacement, all with the support of Al-Maliki's security services."

In all the bad western media coverage of 2012, one lie after another was repeated as the 'indpendent' press conveyed Nouri al-Maliki's position like good little stenographers.  The steno pad, for example, was fond of repeating Nouri's lie that an arrest warrant was issued and then Tareq fled Baghdad.  Lie.  Dropping back to December 18, 2011:

AFP reports, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and several of his bodyguards were escorted off a plane at Baghdad airport on Sunday because two of the guards were wanted on 'terrorism charges,' officials said, the latest step in a deepening political crisis." Also on the plane was Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister whom Nouri has asked Parliament to strip the powers of. al-Mutlaq was also forced off the plane. On today's All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

Nizar Latif (The National) observes:

Those moves have added to a fear among the prime minister's critics that he is seeking to eliminate rivals and consolidate power.Iraqiyya warned it would pull out of the coalition government unless Mr Al Maliki agreed to seek a solution that respects "democracy and civil institutions".
"Iraq is now in a very difficult position. This is a critical time," said Eytab Al Douri, an MP with the Iraqiyya bloc. "If solutions are not found quickly, Iraq will be heading towards sectarian and ethnic divisions, and a return to civil war."

The Baghdad authorities had Tareq.  They pulled him off the plane (and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq as well), held him for a few hours and then led to proceed to the KRG.  The next day, December 19, 2011, they issued an arrest warrant.  From that day's snapshot:

CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."

Somehow, Nouri's the western press, aka Nouri's steno pool, turned that into "a warrant was issued for al-Hashemi who then fled."

They were so eager to serve Nouri, they didn't even bother to get the timetable correct.

So it's no surprise they also ignored Tareq al-Hashemi's conflict with Nouri.

We didn't.

Because the conflict was long standing.  Just as Nouri became prime minister in 2006, Tareq al-Hashemi became vice president the same year.

They had many conflicts.  The most recurring conflict?  Over the abuse of Iraqis held in detention centers and prisons.  When  Ned Parker (the Los Angeles Times) and Human Rights Watch would reveal the secret prisons -- supervised by Nouri -- where torture took place, everyone would play dumb.  Except al-Hashemi who always had a public statement.  While prisons were otherwise ignored in Iraq, Tareq would announce he was going into one and taking press with him.  In other countries -- and this especially pissed Nouri and his State of Law off in 2010 -- Tareq's visits would include him discussing the abuse taking place in Iraqi prisons.  This was among the reasons, during the 8 month political stalemate of 2010 (Nouri had lost the parliamentary election but refused to step down as prime minister), State of Law was publicly denouncing Tareq and insisting he was not vice president (when he was and would be named to a second term in November of 2010).

I don't doubt that Tareq al-Hashemi has proof of Nouri's crimes against the Iraqi people.  In part because Nouri's so stupid and so crooked.  But also because Tareq's always been sharper than Nouri.  In 2009, when Sunnis were being marginalized in the upcoming elections (as voters), Nouri felt he had a clean sweep at victory.  But that fall, Tareq used his Constitutional power to stop the bill Parliament had passed and to demand that Sunni refugees had the same voting rights of Shi'ite refugees and other Iraqi people.  Nouri was not pleased.

But the steno pool couldn't -- or wouldn't -- tell you that.  They'd lie and type that he was the former vice president.  They could do that.  But he was never stripped of office.  (Failure to first strip him of office is why the verdicts against him have no legal standing.)  Nouri tried.  He spent months -- a little over five -- trying to have Tareq stripped of office and Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of office as well.  He failed in both cases.  In May of 2012, Nouri dropped his efforts to have Saleh stripped of office and, at the same time, the trial of Tareq (in absentia) also took place.  The two events were related.  Even after the Baghdad judges pronounced Tareq guilty in Februrary 2012, the trial didn't start.  Because Nouri knew he had to first get Tareq stripped of office -- and was convinced he could.  The trial only started after he faced the reality that it wasn't happening -- not for Tareq, not for Saleh.  Then, in violation of the Constitution, the trial began.

I know the press is largely stupid and rarely bother to look at the law.  But by the time Nouri was going after Tareq, even a lazy and ill-informed press should have known what's what.  In part because Nouri attempted to sue an MP only months before.  Sabah al-Saadi was the MP and his criticism of Nouri resulted in Nouri going crazy.   September 22, 2011, Nouri swore out an arrest warrant for al-Saadi. Let's drop back to the September 20, 2011 snapshot:

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports MP Sabah al-Saadi is stating there is no arrest warrant out against him and that the claims of one stem from Nouri al-Maliki attempting to cover up his own corruption and he states Nouri has deliberately kept the three security ministries vacant and he charges Nouri is willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power."  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The increasing violence is likely to be taken as a further sign of political gridlock in the Iraqi government, in particular the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to name permanent ministers for the key security posts 18 months after the March 2010 elections."

So Sabah al-Saadi was arrested!


As an MP, he had immunity.  The Constitution guarantees him that -- guarantees Nouri that.  Only while in office, but it exists.  And the western press never bothered to tell you that fact.  Though they were frequently able to repeatedly lie and insist that Tareq was a "former" vice president.  Tareq is Vice President he's never been stripped of office.

December 2011, Nouri showed to the world his disrespect for the Constitution and his political rivals as he abused his office to target Nouri.  A year later, he underscored that point.  From the December 21, 2012 snapshot:

In Iraq, it's seasonal tidings.  Yes, that time of the year when Nouri uncorks The Crazy.  How bad is it?  So bad that rumors attach War Criminal Henry Kissinger's name to the current crisis.   Or, with a take from a different angle,  conservative Max Boot (Commentary) proclaims, "Ho hum, another holiday season, another power grab by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."  AFP says the new crisis "threatens to reignite a long-running feud between the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc" and Nouri and his State of Law political slate.  What the heck are we talking about?  Look at this Reuters photo (individual photographer is not credited by the news agency or we'd note him or her by name) of the thousands who turned out to protest in Falluja today demanding Nouri al-Maliki resign as prime minister.
After morning prayers, Kitabat reports, protesters gathered in Falluja to protest the arrests and Nouri al-Maliki.  They chanted down with Nouri's brutality and, in a move that won't change their minds, found themselves descended upon by Nouri's forces who violently ended the protest.  Before that, Al Mada reports, they were chanting that terrorism and Nouri are two sides of the same coin.  Kitabat also reports that demonstrations also took place in Tikrit, Samarra, Ramdia and just outside Falluja with persons from various tribes choosing to block the road connecting Anbar Province (Falluja is the capitol of Anbar) with Baghdad.  Across Iraq, there were calls for Nouri to release the bodyguards of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi.  Alsumaria notes demonstrators in Samarra accused Nouri of attempting to start a sectarian war.
So what happened yesterday?  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

Iraq's Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi said Thursday that "a militia force" raided his house, headquarters and ministry in Baghdad and kidnapped 150 people, and he holds the nation's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, responsible for their safety.
 Members of the al-Essawi's staff and guards were among those kidnapped from the ministry Thursday, the finance minister said. He also said that his computers and documents were searched at his house and headquarters. He said the head of security was arrested Wednesday at a Baghdad checkpoint for unknown reasons and that now the compound has no security.

Kitabat explains that these raids took place in the Green Zone, were carried out by the Iraqi military and that Nouri, yesterday evening, was insisting he knew nothing about them.    In another report, Tawfeeq quotes al-Essawi stating, "My message to the prime minister: 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."

And those December 21, 2012 protests?  Though the western press ignores them, they continue non-stop to this day.  This was the ten month anniversary of the start of them but don't expect to discover that via AP or any other US outlet which seems to see it as a point of pride that they really don't care -- not even to report on Nouri's efforts to ensure that reporters don't cover the protests.  You don't need to read Arabic to grasp how Nouri's forces treat the press, just look at the photo to this Kitabat report.

Embedded image permalink

Iraqi Spring MC reports protests took place in Samarra (above),  Falluja, in Ramadi, in Tikrit, and in Rawah, among other places.  Other places?  How about the KRG?  Erbil found protesters blocking the road and insisting the government provide protection for the people.  Alsumaria reports that an estimated 300 protesters turned out in Erbil.   National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "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.

Alsumaria reports that, at the Falluja protests, Younis al-Hamadani called for the government to disclose the status of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and that it is impossible to believe the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki do not know Talabani's condition.  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  al-Nujaifi has disclosed he attempted to meet with Talabani last spring on a trip to Germany but that Talabani's office refused to allow the meet-up to take place.  On the topic of al-Nujaifi, the White House issued the following yesterday:

Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi

Vice President Biden spoke today with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. The two leaders discussed events in the region and efforts to bolster moderate forces against the terrorists and other extremists targeting innocent Iraqis. The Vice President expressed his sympathies to the families of those killed in these cowardly attacks.  He also pledged continuing U.S. support under the Strategic Framework Agreement to help Iraq bring the perpetrators of these atrocities to justice.  The Speaker also discussed the important issues pending before the Iraqi parliament, including the law to govern national elections in 2014.  The two leaders noted the recent resolution from the Iraqi parliament, stating that these elections should be held no later than April 30, 2014, and the Vice President urged all of Iraq’s leaders to work together to finalize the election law as soon as possible.

Meanwhile Nouri's gearing up for his visit to the US. Alsumaria reports his visit will begin October 29th.  There are rumors of protests when Nouri meets with Barack on November 1st -- chiefly by the Ashraf community supporters who wear yellow when attending Congressional hearings.

Back to today's protests in Iraq, The Association of Imams and Khateebs released a statement noting that Nouri al-Maliki's government has not responded to the demands of the protesters that the innocent prisoners and detainees be released.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has publicly called for his supporters to be released from Iraqi prisons.  These are his followers who did not harm the Iraqi people but did resist foreign occupation.  They were long ago supposed to be released.  The Iraq Times reports that Nouri has 'responded' to Moqtada's call.  Earlier this week, the paper reports, Nouri's SWAT goons entered  Camp Cropper Prison in Baghdad and beat up, tortured and electrocuted prisoners associated with Moqtada.   On protests,  The Voice of Russia reports today:

In August a number of individuals protesting in Nasiriyah and Baghdad were assaulted and detained by police. It followed reports that several provinces had refused to issue permits allowing people to protest. On 2 August Iraqi Security Forces in Baghdad are reported to have detained 13 people to prevent them from protesting against corruption and the deteriorating security situation in the country. Some of those detained also claim they were assaulted by security forces.
The British Government said: "We share Human Rights Watch’s concerns about this incident, and the government of Iraq’s use of regulations which allow police to prevent peaceful protest. We are also concerned by reports that Iraqi Security Forces raided Baghdadiya TV station offices on 13 September".

Al Rafidayn reports that, at the start of this week, KRG President Massoud Barzani declared he did not believe Iraq's political crisis could be resolved before the next parliamentary elections (which are supposed to take place April 30th) and he noted that some fear a civil war will break out before then.

Turning to violence, yesterday's snapshot included NINA reporting 10 Baghdad car bombings left 13 people dead and eighty-seven injured. AFP reports today that the death toll for the Thursday Baghdad bombings increased to 44.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 601 violent deaths so far this month.  The US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following today:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Attacks During Eid al-Adha

October 18, 2013
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks across Iraq on Thursday, including the targeting of the minority Shabak community in the village of Mwafaqiya. These attacks killed over 50 and injured dozens of innocent men, women, and children. The United States stands with the Iraqi people against this violence and continues to work with the government of Iraq to combat terrorism and to bring to justice those individuals responsible for these cowardly attacks.  Such violence against innocent civilians is always abhorrent, but is particularly reprehensible when inflicted on the occasion of Eid al Adha. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish for a full and speedy recovery to the injured. 

On the violence,  NINA reports a Baghdad car bombing has left 12 people dead and twenty-three injured, a Tikrit bombing claimed 6 lives and left nineteen injured, and a Dour bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured.

Yesterday in Iraq, violence targeted the Shabaks. This led to, All Iraq News notes, a protest in Nineveh Province demanding that security measures be taken.   Today the religious minority under attack was the Yezidis.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that 3 Yezidis were stabbed to death in Sinjar.

In 2007, Sean Thomas (Daily Mail) noted the Yezidis "number between 400,00 and 800,000" globaly.  The Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International states:

We Yezidis are an Ezidi speaking people who live principally in northern Iraq presently.  We number approximately 650,000 - 750,000 in Iraq; smaller populations live in Syria, and Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and  with more than 200,000 settled in other parts of the world especially Germany and other European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria; small communities live in USA, Canada, Australia, etc.  We Yezidis are mostly a poor and oppressed people in today’s world without basic human rights recognition and protection from the International Communities, but we have a very rich spiritual tradition that we contend is the world's oldest people.  Originally we Ezidis are from the heartland of Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran) and also some live in India.  And about 900 years ago, we Yezidis also were living in Afghanistan (Kandahar), Yemen (Sinjar), Tunis, Morocco and Algeria, but unfortunately due to Islamic extremists and fanatics’ attacks against us, the Yezidi people were totally annihilated in those regions.  Well before this time, as far back as 4000 B.C., we Yezidis were living in the Middle East and playing an important role in the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Jewish civilizations. Today, we (the Yezidis) have the oldest religion in the world, contending that the truth of this is reflected in the antiquity of our calendar.  We can trace back our religious calendar 6760 years, thus making 2010 Calendar Era (CE), the Yezidis year of 6760.  In relation to some of the other major religions, our Yezidi Calendar is 4,750 years older than the Christian or Gregorian calendar, 990 years older than the Jewish calendar, and it is 5329 years older than the Muslim Calendar. In the past 20 years to present, especially since the internet has become the easiest way to find information regarding whatever a person wishes to search for.  We have seen that more than 99% of the writers accusing the innocent Yezidi as devil worshipers, this is absolutely pure fiction.  During the Saddam’s era, the Yezidis were misclassified as Arab in ethnicity by his political force.  Although Saddam has gone, but the KRG (Real Dictators) has come to power in Northern Iraq since 1991, and they also are forcing the innocent Yezidis to be misclassified as Kurdish; again this time under KRG’s brutal and dictatorial system. All these are misleading, untruth, and pure fiction information about the innocent Yezidis (Ezdae). 

Stuart Stevenson is the president of the European Parliment's Iraq delegation.  Last week, he wrote (The Hill) about the vast number of groups targeted and at risk in Iraq:

The Syrian conflict raging on the borders of Iraq has poured petrol on the flames. In Iraqi Kurdistan, one of the few havens of peace in the country, terrorists have infiltrated groups of refugees fleeing to safety, setting off a series of bombs in the Kurdish capital Erbil some days ago that killed six people and injured dozens, the first terrorist attack in six years. Kurdistan is now swarming with refugees, not only from Syria but from the rest of Iraq, where ethnic minorities as well as minority women and LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) individuals are daily at risk from targeted violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, harassment, intimidation, displacement, political disenfranchisement and social and economic marginalization. 
The many ethnic groups who for generations lived in peaceful harmony side by side with the majority Shia and Sunni communities now suffer systematic abuse. Despite being guaranteed safety and security in a multi-faith society enshrined by the Iraqi Constitution, the reality is much different. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a puppet of neighboring Iran and its hard-line mullahs, has become increasingly sectarian, ruthlessly removing all Sunni politicians from influential government positions and cracking down hard on dissent. The predictable Sunni backlash has unleashed a storm of violence, directed not only at the Shiite community but inevitably targeting ethnic minorities.
The Christian population of Iraq, once estimated at more than 1.5 million, is now down to less than half that figure, with many Christians fleeing abroad or to Kurdistan for safety. Soon, some people think that one of the oldest Christian communities in the world may become extinct. But they are not the only minority facing ethnic cleansing. There are only around 3,500 Mandean-Sabeans left from a previous population estimated at 70,000 a mere 10 years ago. Iraq’s Jews have suffered extreme persecution since the 1950s and now there are now only an estimated 10 individuals left living in the country from an original population of more than 150,000, although it is reckoned that many others may be in hiding, literally practicing their faith in secret in the privacy of their homes.
Other ethnic groups like the Turkmen, Baha’i, Shabak and Yezidi minorities all suffer discrimination, despite their rights being guaranteed in the Constitution. The black Iraqis, an ancient community of African slave descent, are regarded as inferior by many of their Arab neighbors and live as almost total outcasts, mostly in Southern Iraq, where -- despite numbering around 2 million -- they are denied identity documents, marriage certificates or even access to basic education for their children, and live in abject poverty.
Around the world, countries have often had wonderful sounding documents that outlined rights but were, in fact, not practiced.  As the illegal spying scandal has made clear US President Barack Obama -- 'the Constitutional law professor' -- declared the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution null and void, Americans are beginning to see how different the written law and that actually practiced by the government can be.

Turning to today's press briefing at the State Dept by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: The New York Times piece on Snowden today makes reference to his claims that while in Hong Kong, before going to Russia, he transferred information to other journalists at that time. We do know, of course, that the Consulate and whatnot had been alerted, and I’m wondering if there’s any information as to what the State Department had done at that time, whether there’d been any outreach to these journalists who allegedly received this information from him.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any new information. Obviously, as you all know, we work with journalists frequently when they’re reporting on stories, but in terms of what the statements were in The New York Times and the accuracy of those, I don’t have anything new for you on that.

QUESTION: But was there – was there any outreach by the Consulate in Hong Kong at that time to make contact with those journalists?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I’m happy to do that for you .

What's being discussed?  Kind-of-sort-of today's front page of today's New York Times has an article by James Risen on NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  Risen interviewed Ed online, over several days.  Risen reports:

 He argued that he had helped American national security by prompting a badly needed public debate about the scope of the intelligence effort. “The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater danger than their disclosure,” he said. He added that he had been more concerned that Americans had not been told about the N.S.A.’s reach than he was about any specific surveillance operation.
“So long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision,” he said. “However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that’s a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalization of ‘governing in the dark,’ where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.”         

In the interview, he speaks of a climate of fear and intimidation at the NSA.  He explains that going through channels does not work -- through the examples of what was done to Thomas Drake as well as a minor spat he had with a supervisor when he (Ed) identified a flaw in the CIA software.  In 2009, while removing items that were not supposed to be on a computer, he came across an IG report on the NSA's illegal spying under Bully Boy Bush and discovered how pervasive and illegal the spying was.  He tells Risen he realized, "If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously dangerous."

Somehow this was missed by the press at today's briefing and in the 'reporting' by  the BBC, AP,  and Michael Winter (USA Today).   We'll close with two Tweets from YourAnonNews:

  • Why Is Preventing The Release Of The Senate Torture Report?
  • Head of NSA's Snowden task force will be next deputy director