Iraq bans fake bomb detectors


James McCormick, a British fraudster, got rich and got jailed selling fake bomb detectors to police in Iraq. But the devices—dowsing rods in a plastic handle, often sold as golf ball 'finders'—were so popular that even after he was collared, cops remained convinced (by inclination or graft) that they worked. After a series of horrific bombings, the government's stepped in to get rid of the useless gadgets.

It took a massive suicide bombing that killed almost 300 people in Baghdad on July 3 — the deadliest single attack in the capital in 13 years of war — for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to finally ban their use.

The reason it took so long is likely the widespread corruption in the government. Iraqis mocked the device from the start, joking that too much aftershave could set off the antenna.

Now there are accusations that plans to start using newly imported explosives-detecting scanners were intentionally held up as part of the political wrangling over which faction — the military or the police — will control security in Baghdad.

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Saddam Hussein novella translated to English


Described as a "mix between Game of Thrones and House of Cards," a novella written by late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has finally been translated to English. Written in the last days of his rule, the plot reportedly "revolves around a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs," a presumably unsurprising topic to fans. Read the rest

Five questions every journalist should be asking would-be UK Labour leader Angela Eagle


UK politics are in disarray: the leaders of the Conservative and UK Independence Parties have both quit; the Tory leadership race is a neverending night of the long knives and the Blairite wing of the Labour Party can't figure out which dice-lawyers to trust on their roll for initiative. Read the rest

Happy Chilcot Day (A Fairy Story)

Fantasy author Charlie "Oversight/Paradox" Fletcher says, "I wrote this as a Christmas story for my friends and family in 2010, seven years after the Iraq War began, eighteen months after the Chilcot Inquiry into it was announced. Six years further on Chilcot has finally reported. Because of that, and prompted by last week’s incredibly moving WW1/Battle of the Somme living memorial in the UK , it seems like a good time to share it again."

After 7 years, UK's Iraq War inquiry releases 2.6M word report damning Tony Blair and the invasion


The Chilcot Report on the UK invasion of Iraq has finally been released, seven years after it was announced, and many years after its completion (it was delayed for years over the release of government documents and memos that were contained in its pages). Read the rest

Massive email leak reveals the worst bribery scandal in history


Reporters from Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post obtained a huge trove of email from Unaoil, a business run by a rich Monaco family, that reveal that the family ran a corrupt bribery empire that spanned the world's oil-producing states, and that they world with companies like Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Leighton Holding, Samsung and Hyundai, to rig contracts through a system of bribes and kickbacks that looted the national treasuries of some of the world's poorest countries. Read the rest

ISIS terrorist suicide bomber kills at least 30 people in Iraq soccer stadium


Just days after bloody attacks blamed on ISIS claimed scores of lives in Brussels, today dozens more people were killed by an ISIS-claimed terrorist at a soccer stadium near Baghdad.

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Plummeting oil prices and 13 years of official looting leave Iraq on the brink

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For 13 years, Iraq's post-Saddam elites have run amok, looting the country's riches while creating a pervasive culture of corruption that spreads all the way down -- only the continuous injection of new money from the country's oil-fields kept the whole thing from collapsing. Read the rest

Liberated Yazidi sex slaves become a vengeful, elite anti-ISIS fighting force


The Force of the Sun Ladies is an all-woman brigade of fighters who were formerly enslaved by ISIS during the occupation of Mosul. Read the rest

A peek inside Iraq's most notorious weapons market


The fun-loving Chinese journalists in this segment manage to out-VICE VICE. 侣行 On the Road is billed as “a homemade outdoor reality show” featuring an "extreme couple" who love adventure. The pair and their team got some great footage of an open-air weapons market in Sadr City.

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Here's what official Islamic State “wear a hijab, or else, ladies” paperwork looks like

“The beauty of women can hurt her and attract evil,” it reads.

Inside Islamic State's spookocracy

The leaked secret strategic plans of Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi -- who served in the Iraqi army under Saddam and later masterminded the Islamic State -- reveal the surveillance at the heart of Islamic State's military success. Read the rest

Paintings of life in Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital

Molly Crabapple writes, "With the exception of Vice News, ISIS has permitted no foreign journalists to document life under their rule in Raqqa. Instead, they rely on their own propaganda. To create these images, I drew from cell-phone photos an anonymous Syrian sent me of daily life in the city. Like the Internet, art evades censorship." Read the rest

Crowdfunded news-site uncovers ISIS training camp using online mapping tools

Bellingcat kickstarted £51K to do data-driven/crowdsourced citizen journalism earlier this month, and a week later, pinpointed the exact location of an ISIS training camp near Mosul by matching the jihadis' social media posts to online maps and geo-location services. Read the rest

Iraq asks for US air strikes, as extremists take control of largest oil refinery

The refinery in Baiji, northwest of Baghdad, in 2009. [Reuters]

The Iraqi government today asked the US to execute air strikes on Sunni insurgent strongholds. Read the rest

Bartender places Tony Blair under citizen's arrest for unprovoked war against Iraq

Twiggy Garcia, a bartender at the east London restaurant Tramshed -- which is right around the corner from me! -- interrupted former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's dinner to place him under citizen's arrest and ask him to come to a police station to hear charges for his decision "to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq." The war criminal smiled winningly and tried to change the subject to Syria, while his offspring hurried away to get their private muscle. The bartender, sensing an impending beat-down, left, quitting.

I'm sorry he quit. I'd have booked a table at Tramshed for the express purpose of buying him a drink. If you're interested in placing Tony Blair under arrest, you can learn more at Read the rest

Proto-warblogger Kevin Sites returns to Afghanistan. Here's the reporting gear he's packing.

Xeni Jardin and Kevin Sites worked together to create one of the world's first "warblogs," when Kevin was a CNN correspondent headed into Iraq, and later, Afghanistan. Ten years later, Kevin is returning to Afghanistan to reconnect with the people whose lives he documented. He shares a snapshot of his gear bag, and the details on what's inside, as he prepares for what may be his last trip into a war zone.

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