Suspected serial killer wants an apology from police

Arthur Nelson Ream acknowledges that he raped a teenage hitchhiker in the 1970s, had sex with underage girls and buried 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki in an unmarked grave.

But he denies killing Zarzycki or anyone else, and he says he deserves an apology from Warren police who have called him a suspected serial killer.

Police say Ream could be responsible for four to six murders and they spent several days earlier this month digging unsuccessfully for bones on property near the intersection of 23 Mile and North Avenue in Macomb Township. The missing girls range in age from 12 to 17 and disappeared between 1970 and 1982.

“I’ve never had anything to do with any of them,” Ream told the Free Press on Thursday in an hour-long telephone interview from prison. “There’s absolutely no connection between me and them at all.”

Ream said police should apologize to taxpayers for the money spent on the search and to the families of the missing girls.

“He owes them a big apology for getting their hopes up in this case,” he said. “He owes Cindy Zarzycki’s family a big apology for bringing up bad memories. And he owes me an apology for just getting me dragged into this..”

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said “there is no apology forthcoming.”

“If anybody owes an apology, it’s him and that’s why he’s in prison for life for murder and rape,” Dwyer said. “Why would law enforcement — the Warren Police Department, the FBI, the Michigan State Police — apologize to him? This was a task force. We all believe we have the probable cause. I said our suspect. I always used the word suspect. I never used his name.”

Dwyer said investigators make every effort to keep down costs, which he described as “minimal” but he couldn’t say how much has been spent thus far.

“We don’t go by cost when you’re trying to bring closure to the family of victims,” Dwyer said. “How can you put a cost on bringing closure to families that have suffered for 35 years for an investigation that is really our responsibility and our obligation to do?”

Ream, 69, was transferred last week from a prison in Muskegon Heights to the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.

“Due to the amount of media attention his case has received, we felt it was best for his safety and the safety of others, that he be moved,” said prison spokesman Chris Gautz.

Word of the dig in Macomb Township reached Ream in prison.

“To be honest with ya, on one hand I was laughing my ass off and on the other hand, I was pissed off,” Ream said. “So, you take it for what it is. There’s no bodies there that I know of.”

Mind games

Police said they began the search in Macomb Township after talking to Ream’s fellow inmates, reviewing his FBI profile and watching him fail a polygraph test.

What’s more, Ream had a history with that property. It was there that he buried 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki in 1986. Twenty-two years later, he was convicted of murdering her and he led investigators there to recover her remains.

But Ream also has a history of mind games, toying with investigators in a game of cat and mouse.

In the Zarzycki case, Ream offered to lead investigators to her grave if they reduced his first-degree murder charge to second-degree, which would allow him a shot at parole after 20 years.

Ream said he backed out of his offer, figuring he’d never qualify for parole because of two rape convictions.

Prosecutor Eric Smith said Ream’s offer was rejected. He said when Ream offered to show them where Zarzycki’s body was for a plea agreement “this man was the lowest form of human life that he would bargain with a dead 13-year-old’s body.” Smith said he wasn’t going to take it or “cut him any breaks at all.”

The jury convicted Ream of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Before sentencing, he finally led investigators to the Macomb property.

Asked last week about his reputation for mind games, Ream admitted it.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, why not? You know, I mean, I don’t hurt anybody with it. I don’t get carried away,” Ream said.

Phony maps

Ream said that when he learned police suspected him of killing multiple girls, he toyed with the idea of drawing phony maps to send them on a wild goose chase.

“With Cindy, I drew a map, telling them where she was,” Ream said. “I was so mad at this detective, I drew some maps up and I was going to give them to him. I was just going to have him go dig, willy-nilly, someplace that I knew.”

Ream said he decided against providing the bogus maps because he thought he’d get in deeper trouble for doing it. But he suspects the idea of the maps could be the reason that he failed the polygraph test.

Ream said that when the detective gave him the polygraph test, he asked whether Ream was going to be truthful about three other missing girls.

“I says, ‘yes,’ and, in reality, I wasn’t going to be because I was going to give the detective the maps,” Ream said. “So, that’s probably why I failed it. Now it might not be why, but that’s the only reason I can think.”

Dwyer said investigators are well-versed in Ream’s history.

“We know the history and how he’s played people,” Dwyer said, adding it was part of Ream’s profile. “We understood that. He has that reputation. We knew that going in.”

Dwyer said he remains confident in the investigation.

“Our position is that we still believe that we are on the right track as far as our investigation,” Dwyer said. “As far as him playin’ anybody, I’m not gonna comment on that.”

‘Rough time with women’

Ream grew up in Warren in the 1950s when much of it was still undeveloped. He said he quit school in seventh grade and left home at 13 because his father beat him. He denies being sexually abused.

He learned to install carpet and eventually opened his own flooring business. But his personal life featured constant chaos and an eye for underage girls.

“I’ve had a rough time with women,” Ream told the Free Press.

The first of his four marriages came in 1969 when he was 20. It ended in 1978 after he was convicted of raping a 15-year-old hitchhiker in Shelby Township.

Court records show Ream and his brother-in-law abducted the girl in July 1974. Ream was 26 at the time and his brother-in-law was 15.

The brother-in-law later testified that Ream pulled a switchblade on the girl and told the brother-in-law to use duct tape to blindfold the girl before raping her. Ream ignored the girl’s pleas to stop.

The next day, a detective called Ream about the attack.

“The comment he made was if ‘I ever do this again, I’ll kill the next victim,’ ” the brother-in-law testified in a later case.

Under 1970s laws, Ream was charged with statutory rape, a life offense. The charge was later reduced to indecent liberties with a minor female child, a 10-year felony.

“We picked up a hitchhiker and molested her. I don’t know how more to say about it,” Ream said. “He said, ‘let’s do it,’ I did it. Stupidity. That, in my life, was the worst screw-up so far in my lifetime.”

Ream was convicted and sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, which he began serving in August 1975. Two months later, he wrote to Judge George Deneweth asking for a reduced sentence.

“I have done a lot of thinking here in prison,” Ream wrote. “I want to tell the truth and have a second chance to prove that I will never be in trouble with the law again. I value my family too much to ever risk losing them again.”

Familiar pattern

While he was in prison, Ream’s wife filed for divorce. He tried to salvage the marriage, but she wanted out, claiming he’d beaten her repeatedly in front of their children and carried on affairs, including one with their 15-year-old babysitter.

“This apparently went on for two years while Mrs. Ream was at work,” his wife’s lawyer wrote in a letter to the judge.

“My first wife, I screwed that up pretty bad,” Ream said “It was my fault.”

In the early 1970s, Ream also abused a teenage niece, plying her with alcohol and taking advantage of her, according to Macomb County prosecutors who sought to admit evidence of those crimes in a later case.

Ream’s first divorce was final in February 1978. By then, he’d been granted early parole and the following month, he married again in what he termed “an arranged marriage.” It lasted eight months and they divorced in January 1979.

In December 1979, Ream married for a third time. That marriage lasted until 1986, when his wife divorced him, accusing him of physically abusing her.

“My third marriage, I don’t even know how to explain that. That was crazy,” Ream said. “I shouldn’t have stayed with her as long as I did.”

During that time, prosecutors said, Ream abused two other young girls with whom he was close. One was a 12-year-old niece, the other was a 13-year-old family friend. Both girls were given alcohol and assaulted.

Ream displayed a “common scheme and plan to sexually assault young females: He gains their trust, isolates them, and then rapes them,” Macomb County prosecutors wrote in their request to introduce his history as part of a later case.

Ream married for a final time in 1992, when he said he “found my true love.”

That marriage lasted until 1998, when his wife accused him of physical abuse.

By then, he’d also been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl, for whom he served as legal guardian. Investigators said the pattern was familiar: The girl was given alcohol and raped.

Ream acknowledged pleading guilty but said the sex was consensual, which wouldn’t matter because she was only 15. Ream said he had custody of the girl because her mom was having trouble with her. Ream lived in Roseville at the time, but owned property in Gladwin, where the rape occurred.

“We just went up there for the weekend,” Ream said. “She ended up getting into some liquor that my nephew left in one of the cabins and we ended up having sex. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Ream pleaded guilty in that case, spent 10 years in prison and was preparing to be released when he was charged with Cindy Zarzycki’s murder.

Ream has an explanation for that case as well.

He said Cindy was dating his son Scott and they often hung out at a warehouse for Ream’s business.

“They were on some carpet, she fell, went backward down the elevator chute and died,” Ream said.

Ream said he was responsible for her death because he’d wired the gate to the freight elevate shaft in an open position, to avoid lifting it up and down constantly.

“If the gate was down where it was supposed to be, she would have never fallen,” Ream said. He claims his son called him and he panicked, because he didn’t have insurance, so he removed Cindy’s body and buried it in Macomb Township.

The jury didn’t buy the story and convicted him of first-degree murder, guaranteeing a life term.

Ream now lives in a single cell and passes his days playing cards and watching television. He likes “Big Bang Theory” and watches the new “Roseanne,” but considers the original series better.

One of his brothers visited him about five years ago, but he hasn’t had any visitors since.

Dwyer stands by the investigation, saying investigators have “worked diligently for decades to get to this point.”

Dwyer said no more digging is scheduled, but said the effort was worth doing in a “very, very difficult investigation.”

“We have a responsibility and with the information developed, we had cause to reason the bodies of several young girls were buried at 23 (Mile) and North,” Dwyer said.

Konnie Beyma, the sister of Kimberly King, one of the missing girls police hoped to find in Macomb, said she plans to write to Ream.

“I want him to hear from me directly, word for word,” she said. “I feel an obligation to my sister, Kimberly, to communicate with this man. If he is responsible, I owe it to her to do everything in my power to see if I can get him to share where her remains are located.”

“That’s all I want from him,” Beyma said of Ream. “I simply want Kimberly’s remains. That’s all I want.”

Beyma said that she thinks it’s obvious that Ream killed Zarzycki becayse he knew where her body was buried. She said if he failed a lie detector test on King’s whereabouts, “then he certainly knows something.”

She said even if law enforcement isn’t on the right track immediately in a case, the crime still has to be investigated.

“I don’t see why they’d have to owe anyone an apology for doing their job,” Beyma said.

Ream said that given his history, he knows the public is unlikely to trust him.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t a rapist because I did hurt that girl in the ’70s, so that made me a rapist,” Ream said. He claims his other encounters with young girls were consensual, though he acknowledged the girls were too young to legally consent.

But he insists he’s not a killer, let alone a serial killer.

“For the rest of my life and beyond, I’m going to be known as a serial killer,” he said. “It’s out there. It can never be taken away.”

———

© 2018 the Detroit Free Press

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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California: Sneaky Legislature Offers New Gut & Amend Aimed at Gun Shows

Cow Palace Daly City CA
Cow Palace Daly City CA

Fairfax, VA – -(Ammoland.com)- Late last week, Senate Bill 221, until recently dealt with “Criminal Fines: HIV Prevention and Education,” was gutted and amended to prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the Cow Palace starting January 1, 2020.  Despite being a full time legislature that consistently pushes legislation to limit the rights of gun owners across the Golden State, the legislature continues to make procedural moves to sneak in additional restrictions. This has already happened several times this year and most notably in 2016 with the “Gunmaggedon” package of bills. SB 221 has already passed the Senate and has now been assigned to the Assembly Public Safety Committee where it awaits a hearing date.

Additionally last week, the Assembly Appropriations committee sent anti-gun bill, AB 2382, to the suspense file to be heard at a later date.

Oppose: Assembly Bill 2382,, sponsored by Assembly Member Mike Gipson (D-64), would require precursor firearms parts to be sold/transferred through a licensed precursor parts dealer in a similar process to the new laws regarding ammunition purchases. It would further create a new crime for transfer of precursor parts without the involvement of a licensed precursor parts dealer to anyone under 21 years of age or prohibited from owning firearms. Precursor parts include items such as barrels, ammunition feedings devices and upper receivers.

On Tuesday, May 22, Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear anti-hunting bill SB 1487.  Please use our TAKE ACTION button below to contact the Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and urge them to OPPOSE SB 14. Further this Friday May 25 is the deadline for fiscal committees to report bills to the floor in the house of origin. Both the Senate and Assembly Appropriations committees will be considering items that have previously placed on the suspense file.

OPPOSE; Senate Bill 1487, sponsored by Senator Henry Stern (D-27), would prohibit the possession of certain African species of wildlife.  The true goal of the bill is to ensure that a lawful U.S. hunter is not allowed to bring home a hunting trophy—even though the animal was legally taken and the hunter has the approval of the U.S. Federal Government.

Take Action Button

Bills on Suspense:

Senate:

APPROVE: Senate Bill 1311, sponsored by Senator Tom Berryhill (R-8), would create the annual sportsman’s license that affords the holder of the license the same privileges as the annual hunting and fishing licenses as a single license. SB 1311 would help generate participation and encourage the next generation of sportsman conservationists by providing a convenient and economical way to secure the necessary licensing for hunting and fishing activities in the Golden State.   

OPPOSE: Senate Bill 1100, sponsored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-25), would place further restrictions on law abiding citizens by expanding the current one gun a month restriction for handguns to include all guns and raises the purchase age for long guns to 21.

OPPOSE: Senate Joint Resolution 24, sponsored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-19), would urge the Congress of the United States to reauthorize and strengthen the federal “assault weapons” ban and would urge Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the federal Assault Weapons Ban of 2018. It would additionally call on the California Public Employee’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to engage with companies that produce or sell firearms and determine a method for those companies to withdraw from the sale or production of firearms, or produce a plan for CalPERS to divest its holdings from those companies. The reauthorization of an “assault weapons” ban would burden the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans without meaningfully addressing the problems it’s purportedly designed to address, it would not impact overall gun death rates, and there is no evidence it would prevent mass shootings.

 

Assembly:

OPPOSE: Assembly Bill 1927, sponsored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-18), would direct California’s Department of Justice (DOJ) to “develop and launch a secure Internet-based platform to allow a person who resides in California to voluntarily add his or her own name to the California Do Not Sell List.”  For more information on this issue, please read our article, Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression.

OPPOSE: Assembly Bill 2382,, sponsored by Assembly Member Mike Gipson (D-64), would require precursor firearms parts to be sold/transferred through a licensed precursor parts dealer in a similar process to the new laws regarding ammunition purchases. It would further create a new crime for transfer of precursor parts without the involvement of a licensed precursor parts dealer to anyone under 21 years of age or prohibited from owning firearms. Precursor parts include items such as barrels, ammunition feedings devices and upper receivers.

APPROVE: Assembly Bill 2670, sponsored by Assembly Member Kevin Kiley (R-6), would require, rather than authorize, the director to establish 2 free hunting days per year one in the fall and one in the spring, no later than July 1, 2019.

 

Today, Monday, May 21, the Assembly passed AB 2888.

OPPOSE: Assembly Bill 2888, sponsored by Assembly Member Phillip Ting (D-19), would expand the list of those eligible to file gun violence restraining orders (GVRO) beyond the currently authorized reporters which include immediate family and law enforcement.  The new list is expanded to employers, coworkers and employees of a secondary or postsecondary school that the person has attended in the last 6 months. GVRO’s can remove a person’s right without due process and not because of a criminal conviction or mental adjudication, but based on third party allegations.

Continue to check your inbox and the California Stand and Fight web page for updates on issues impacting your Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage in California.

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

About:
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

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It Looked Like A Common Insect Bite, But It Killed Her Husband. Now She Wants To Warn Your Family

Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when you have no warning at all. When Crissy Naticchia’s husband of 26 years developed a fever, she was pretty concerned considering she had never seen him sick before. She took him to the emergency room, hoping to get an answer but all tests came back negative. His illness continued to get progressively worse which escalated Crissy’s worry.

“He had been having drenching sweats— so bad he would have to change his clothes and bed sheets,” Crissy said.
“Urgent care tested his urine and diagnosed him with raging kidney infection, and prescribed him antibiotics. The fever and sweats went away but he still felt weak and not well.”

It got so bad that one day he had to leave work to go to the emergency room and just 12 hours later he was on a ventilator in the ICU.

Even though the tests were coming back negative, doctors did determine that his kidneys and liver were shutting down.
Soon he was transferred to a center that specializes in liver malfunction, which is where they received the diagnosis. Crissy’s husband had been suffering from Babesia, which is a tick-borne illness that attacks red blood cells and his case was particularly severe considering he didn’t have a spleen.

When doctors gave her husband medication, Crissy started to feel optimistic as she headed home for the night. But things took a turn for the worse when doctors called her at 4:30 am the next morning, urging her to come to the hospital because his blood pressure was dropping and his spleen was giving in.

Just two hours later, Crissy’s husband passed away.

As a result of the devastation, Crissy is on a mission to educate others on the parasitic infection that took her husband’s life, particularly those who don’t have spleens or are otherwise immuno-compromised.

“My son, now a junior in high school, has no father to teach him how to drive, to talk to him about girls, to help him choose a college— nor to see him reach all of these milestones,” said Crissy, who is regretful that they weren’t educated on the infection. “My husband was all about his family— he did everything for us, unconditionally— which we took for granted like most people do. Now that he is not here, we feel lost and scared and alone.”

Babesia, also called Nuttallia, is an Apicomplexan parasite that infects red blood cells transmitted by ticks. Over 100 species of Babesia have been identified so far. The parasite typically infects livestock worldwide, wild and domestic vertebrate animals and occasionally humans where it causes the disease babesiosis. The Babesia species are spread through the saliva of a tick when it bites. Already at its nymphal stage, a tick bites into the skin for a blood meal. The tick, if not removed, stays attached for three to four days, with longer periods of feeding associated with a higher probability of acquiring the parasite. The parasite can survive in the tick as it molts through its various developmental stages, resulting in all tick stages being potentially infectious.

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Illinois Considering Gun Transfer Rule Change After Waffle House Shooting

The Waffle House shooting was a strange case, to be sure. The killer in that incident was clearly a deranged individual with serious mental health issues that transcended him being a mass killer. In fact, it was bad enough the Secret Service knew the guy, for crying out loud. He’s apparently a complete nutbar.

Despite their already strict gun control laws, however, Illinois is considering making some changes intended to prevent a similar incident.

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday advanced new rules about the transfer of firearms in response to the mass shooting at a Waffle House last month in Nashville, Tenn.

[The shooter], 29, formerly of Morton, has been charged with four counts of criminal homicide in the killings and remains in custody in Tennessee. Authorities have said his firearm owner’s identification card previously had been revoked and his guns transferred to his father, Jeff Reinking of rural Tazewell County, who returned them.

The Illinois Senate measure aims to prevent similar situations by allowing for a minimum of one year in jail for people who return firearms without first checking to see if the recipient has a valid license. There’s currently no punishment on the books.

I’ll be honest, I’m kind of surprised they didn’t already have a rule on the books about this. As strict as everything else is, it just seemed they’d have a rule in place all about transferring a firearm to someone without a Firearm Owner Identification Card.

I have mixed feelings about something like this.

On one hand, I despise the FOID system in general. It’s absolutely ridiculous that you should have to get a special identification card before you can purchase a weapon when the dealer is going to conduct a background check. If this doubled as a concealed carry permit or something, maybe, but it’s not. It’s just permission to buy a gun, and the Second Amendment includes no provision for begging our masters in government for permission to exercise our right to keep and bear arms.

On the other, however, we do have laws about putting guns in the hands of crazy people, and this guy certainly qualified. I’m stunned that a state like Illinois has no way to prosecute this guy’s father for giving his son his gun back while he had to know the son was still a prohibited person. I’m floored at that.

My default position is that if the gun grabbers in Illinois like this provision, I’m probably against it. I can’t help but think how many people a law like this will turn into accidental criminals. After all, it’s impossible for people to remember each and every law that’s passed. Someone may well hand a gun to someone who lacks a FOID anymore and not realize they’re committing a criminal act.

Anything that creates more stumbling blocks is a bad thing, and I’m afraid that’s all this is going to do.

With the state of Illinois, though, I can’t help but wonder how many are hoping it’ll do just that.

The post Illinois Considering Gun Transfer Rule Change After Waffle House Shooting appeared first on Bearing Arms.

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Some initial reactions to the Iraqi election – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

The results of last Saturday’s national elections in Iraq may have been shocking, but they should not have been surprising.

Employees of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission check electronic counting device at a warehouse in Dohuk, Iraq May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

The place to start is with the turnout. Less than 45% of eligible voters cast a ballot. That is down from 62% in both 2010 and 2014. This is distressing, but widely expected. All of the reporting in the run up to the election indicated many Iraqis were choosing not to vote. The reason that Iraqis gave was very consistent: They were frustrated with their current crop of leaders, who they saw as having consistently failed to improve their wretched lives, but who continued to dominate politics to the exclusion of new faces, new voices, and concrete plans of action. Journalist after journalist warned that the turnout would be low because so many Iraqis had decided that the best way to register their anger at the entire Iraqi governing class was to not vote at all.

For several years now, Iraqis were telling anyone who would listen that they felt betrayed by their leadership for its corruption, indolence, and callous disregard for their misery. They protested in the streets, vented on social media, shouted from the rooftops, and said it to perfect strangers. Even in early 2016, I had found that Iraq’s three primary communities had become badly divided in their primary interests, and all of them felt alienated from the elite. Iraq’s Shi’a Arab community was focused on government reform, curbing corruption, and improving public services. Its Sunni Arabs wanted money for reconstruction, better political representation, and their fair share of Iraq’s economic benefits. And the Kurds wanted independence, in part for historical-cultural reasons and in part because they were sick of being treated like second-class citizens by the rest of Iraq. For all of them, defeating Da’ish/ISIS had become a secondary or even tertiary priority. Yet Iraq’s political class was wholly fixated on taking credit for the that victory and then divvying up the power pie in Baghdad.

All of this explains why Muqtada as-Sadr’s Sairoon Coalition appears to have won a plurality. First, the preliminary results suggest that as-Sadr’s support simply went down less than that of most other candidates, parties, and coalitions. Part of that relates to the fierce support that his family name still elicits among many Iraqi Shi’a, who remember his father, Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr, and his uncle, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, as revered Ayatollahs and sources of emulation. That is a loyalty that has been transferred to Muqtada. Second, especially in recent years, Sadr has cultivated a status as an arch-Iraqi nationalist and the champion of average Iraqis. Sadr has repeatedly encouraged his supporters to mount large public demonstrations to demand an end to corruption, more responsive administration, more government services, and more effective bureaucracy. All of this made Sadr the most authentic voice for average Shi’a Iraqis and that consistent stance was rewarded in this election.

All that notwithstanding, Sadr did not win by much. In 2010, Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiyya won 91 seats and Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law won 89. Sadr’s Sairoon looks like it will win about 55 seats this time, which will make it nothing but first-among-equals.  Hadi al-Ameri’s Fatah, and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Nasr, look like they will win close to that number — perhaps 54 and 52 seats respectively according to some sources. Moreover, Maliki’s State of Law, Allawi’s Wataniya, and Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma should all garner at least 20 seats. (Hikma may win far more according to some reports.)

Iraqi supporters of Sairun list celebrate with portraits of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, after results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad, Iraq May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

What that ultimately demonstrates is that those Iraqis who did show up at the polls really could not agree on a clear favorite because there was no candidate who convinced large numbers of voters that he or she had both the will and the skill to tackle Iraq’s countless challenges and remake the government so that it provided for its people, rather than just lining the pockets of its politicians.  Inevitably, such confusion begets political fragmentation and that is really what this vote produced. Which is why the election itself is nothing but a prologue to the real political action. The vote was just an appetizer. The main course of Iraqi politics is always the process of government formation that follows.

Unfortunately, because Iraq’s political system is so flawed, government formation can take months and produce an outcome completely at variance with the vote itself. That could easily be the case here. By winning a plurality, it is likely that Sadr’s coalition will become part of the future government coalition, although even that isn’t guaranteed. Since Sadr only won such a narrow plurality, his ability to determine that coalition — let alone dictate and dominate it — is going to be very limited.

In the coming weeks, and probably on into months, Iraq’s politicians are likely to try out every single possible governing coalition, reject every one of them, and then try them all again. Which one ultimately emerges as the winning combination is anyone’s guess. Sairoon may end up choosing the prime minister and holding other key governmental posts, or it could get shut out completely. Prime Minister Abadi could easily retain power as a reasonable compromise candidate. The Iranians might squeeze the various Shi’a parties until they ultimately agree to Tehran’s preferred candidate — whoever that might be — as they eventually did in 2010. Or the Iraqi politicians might fail to agree and after many, many months of deadlock, pick a total unknown as a placeholder unthreatening to everyone, which is how we got Maliki back in 2005.

The most interesting and important question of all, however, is not who becomes prime minister with what coalition now. It is what happens when that person and that government fail to deliver the better governance that the Iraqi people so desperately desire and that drove their behavior in this election. Because it is all-too likely that they will fail, especially since the United States seems uninterested in providing the kind of help and guidance that would probably be necessary for them to have a reasonable prospect of success.

In a year, or two, or three, when the government remains just as corrupt, impotent, and dominated by Iran as it is today, what then will the Iraqi people do? Will they storm the barricades to demand a change of leadership (or government)? Will they fatalistically accept their miserable lot, give up on politics altogether, and so leave the field entirely open to the worst of Iraq’s leaders to employ bribes and violence to take what they want? Or will they find some third way, as yet unknown?

Given their long suffering, their poignant faith in democracy, and their willingness to endure in hope that someday things will improve, the Iraqi people deserve better than what they are likely to get from this election and the politicking that will follow. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that they will.

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Clinton Campaign Funneled $150,000 To Hillary Clinton’s Personal Company

DC: Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has transferred nearly $150,000 of leftover campaign funds to a company she solely owns in the months following her election defeat, according to filings with [Read More]

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NSSF Hires Lobbyist As Financial Industry Explores Gun Sales Tracking

A short while ago, we reported that the financial industry was exploring ways to track gun sales, which is a troubling development, and one that we need to act to prevent as best we can. After all, it’s none of their business what we buy so long as we pay our bills, right?

Well, now the National Shooting Sports Foundation has stepped into the fray by hiring a lobbyist.

Concerned with financial institutes implementing new gun control policies, the gun industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, retained the services of a banking lobbyist firm. The NSSF hired lobbyist Will Hollier, of Hollier & Associates, to encourage Congress to act on “discriminatory banking actions against [the] firearms industry,” according to a federal lobbying disclosure form filed May 1.

Larry Keane, NSSF senior vice president for government and public affairs and the organization’s general counsel, declined to comment on the lobbying strategy, but told Guns.com that gun owners and the industry should be concerned “about the troubling reports that banks and credit card companies are collecting information about their purchases and the potential for the misuse of that data including blocking or denying transactions.”

News surfaced last month that banks and credit card companies had informal discussions about monitoring gun sales as a means to reduce gun violence. In meetings, they floated using specific transaction codes and keeping data on gun buyers so they could identify possible criminality. Gun rights advocates have long resisted those types of policies, arguing such activity could lead to limiting legal gun sales or preventing them entirely. The federal government is already barred from monitoring legal firearm transactions once they’re transferred from a licensed dealer to a buyer.

Citing NSSF literature, publicly traded gun companies defended industry standards in addressing questions about risks associated with selling firearms. Also, the industry’s response to preventing further shooting massacres as led by the NSSF includes supporting current policies like background checks as well as enforcing current gun laws.

It’s important to note that nothing came out of that meeting last month. I want everyone to be clear on that.

That said, this is still troubling, and I’m glad the NSSF is stepping in to try and do what it can to kill anything like this. The last thing we need is our bank deciding what we are and aren’t allowed to buy. While I tend to believe private businesses are free to do just about anything they want, I do disagree with businesses colluding with one another in the process.

The result of that is that an industry standard can be set not by companies learning from one another what works, but by a conspiracy to change the way people live their lives by blocking purchases some don’t approve of. If that’s allowed to stand, what’s next? Will our bank suddenly decide we can’t pay rent because our apartment or house isn’t as energy efficient as they’d like? Will we no longer be able to buy more than X amount of gas each month because of fears over climate change?

The truth is, it’s none of their business, but colluding with one another makes it their business is troubling.

Luckily, the firearm industry isn’t going to take this lying down. Good.

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