Sunday, November 13, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

In Iraq today, northern Iraq was again attacked by the Turkish military. Reuters reports that the PKK's spokesperson Dozdar Hamo stated the bombing lasted for about an hour. Since August 17th, the latest waves of attacks have been taking place. The back and forth between the PKK and the Turkish government has been going on forever and, in fact, the Turkish government's oppression of the Kurdish minority in Turkey bred and spawned the PKK. The issue of Turkey's military attacks was raised last when Amar C. Bakshi (CNN -- link has text and video) interviewed KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih:

Amar C. Bakshi: Let's switch gears to Turkey -- an important regional neighbor that over the past few months has intervened in northern Iraq to go after Kurdish nationalist forces who have used terror to kill Turkish soldiers, numerous civilians. Now is the Kurdistan Regional Government cooperating with Turkey in its interventions into northern Iraq?

Prime Minister Barham Salih: These issues cannot be solved by military means, these issues cannot be solved by violence. There has to be a political track. This initiative that the Turkish government has started, the democratization process, needs to be enhanced, deepened, in order to ensure that this long-standing conflict is resolved in a different way.

But few bother with a different way, rather it's the Turkish government or the US government, it's war, war, war, all the time.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4485. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4485.

1st Lt Dustin Vincent was the most recent US fatality in the Iraq War. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) report that 3 soldiers serving with Dustin Vincent testified in an Iraqi court today:

The November 3 shooting of 1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent -- one of the last U.S. casualties in the more-than-eight-year Iraq war -- was chronicled by insurgents who captured the sniper shooting on video and posted it online.

Inside a crowded courthouse, one of the soldiers who were with the 25-year-old Vincent the day he was killed told the investigative judge that a "few days later a video was posted that claimed the killing of the 1st lieutenant, and it shows the same location we were that day."

In today's reported violence, Aswat al-Iraq notes 1 police officer killed in a Falluja bombing, 1 "high-ranking Iraqi Army officer has been assassinated in Tikrit," 3 Baghdad bombings claimed 2 lives (soldier and civilian) and left seven more people injured and 1 cop was shot dead in Samarra. Reuters adds a Mosul mortar attack claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, a Mosul car bombing injured a prison guard, 1 teenager was shot dead in Mosul, a Baghad bombing targeted Iranian pilgrims leaving 1 dead and for more injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi army officer and left a soldier injured and a 2 Taji roadside bombings claimed the life of 1 employee of the Ministry of Electricity and left seven other people injured.

Meanwhile Al Rafidayn notes the continued disputes over Exxon's contract with the KRG and how the government out of Baghdad remains upset over it. Hurriyet Daily News adds, "The regional administration in northern Iraq is urging the country's central government for a quick resolution to the dispute over rights to natural resources, the nation's biggest wealth source, as it insists on implementing deals undersigned earlier. The regional administration confirmed yesterday it had already signed a long-debated deal with U.S.-based oil major Exxon Mobil on Oct. 18 for six exploration blocks within its area of control." Reuters adds, "Iraq's central government, which has long-running disputes with the Kurdish region over oil and land, has said Baghdad would consider a deal between Exxon and the KRG illegal and a violation of the company's contract to develop Iraq's 8.7-billion-barrel West Qurna Phase One oilfield in the south."

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Life’s Too Short: New Ricky Gervais comedy seriously lacks laughs

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by Roddy Slorach

Ricky Gervais says his new “mockumentary” sitcom, Life’s Too Short, is a “naturalist observational comedy, dealing with everyday problems, human foibles and social faux pas… but with a dwarf.”

Warwick Davis plays the central character, an out of work actor whose glory days are long gone, as a pompous ass version of himself. He now runs the “Dwarves for Hire” talent agency, and frequents Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s office, pleading for work.

Gervais and Merchant’s previous works, the Office and Extras, drew their humour from embarrassing, awkward situations.

They poked fun at pompous and pathetic characters with a deluded faith in their own talent. The Office won deserved praise by making obnoxious boss David Brent the butt of the jokes—for example in his toe-curlingly awful treatment of Brenda, a wheelchair user.

That sitcom’s success was largely due to the often cruel and uncomfortable humour being balanced by an underlying humanity. On occasions this would even lead us into feeling sorry for Brent himself.

Davis’s character tells us in the first episode of Life’s Too Short that, instead of the usual stereotypes, we’ll be shown the life of “a sophisticated dwarf about town, carrying himself with dignity”.

We then see him stumbling as he gets out of his snazzy big car because it’s too high off the ground for him.

As with the earlier sitcoms, we quickly discover that he’s seriously deluded. Does the comedy work this time round? Well, no, it doesn’t.

Gervais’ brand of humour has always walked a tightrope between laughing at offensive behaviour and actually being offensive.

The problem with Life’s Too Short is there in the title—the jokes are tired and obvious, many poking fun at disability rather than prejudice itself.

As with Extras, lots of people will probably watch it to see the cameos from Hollywood stars sending themselves up.

But if the first episode (of seven) is anything to go by, this time there’s not many laughs at all.

The recent row over Gervais’s use of the word “mong” should have rung the alarm bells.

He initially attacked “the humourless PC brigade”, but then apologised. He claimed that he had no idea the word was still a term of abuse for people with Down’s Syndrome.

Those inclined to believe him should look at the old Extras episode where Stephen Merchant’s character challenges TV presenter Richard Madeley to spot a “mongoloid” from behind.

Then there’s the follow-up to his “apology”—his use of a new word combining “tweet” and “mongols” to make “twongols”.

My guess is it was a cynical provocation designed to whip up publicity for his new series. For this reason alone, I hope the show tanks.

The sad truth is that Gervais has taken a path well-trodden by comedians whose once edgy and original humour has dried up.

He’s replaced it with lazy stereotyping and downright bullying of minorities—and then sold it to us as “irony”.

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