02/26/2011 archive

An Invite to the Oscar Party

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I need a break from reality, at least for a few hours. The chance to sit in front of the big tube with a drink and a bowl of popcorn or other finger food and watch the glitz and glamor as the Stars walk down the red carpet and make fools of themselves bumbling the lines of acceptance speeches.

Tomorrow night at The Stars Hollow Gazette, I will be hosting a live blog of the 83rd Academy Awards starting at 7:00 PM EST when the march of celebrities in to the Kodak Theater. (yeah, I know I said I needed a break from reality but who said a blog was reality?). I haven’t seen any of these movies. If it weren’t for all the hype about a few of them, I couldn’t even tell you the plot. The hosts this year will be Anne Hathaway, the youngest host in the history of the Oscars, and James Franco, a Best Actor nominee for his tour de force in 127 Hours.

Some folks make this show like the Super Bowl with special drinks and food. Some go for simple, while some just go all out for exotic drinks and fancy food. The fanciest I get is an extra olive in my martini and maybe some fresh grated Parmesan cheese on my popcorn. So for chuckles here are some of the more exotic drinks in honor of some of the nominees and a few recipes for nibbles to munch as you watch.

The Natalie Portman

This is quite ambitious but looked so pretty in the glass. My experience with some of these types of drinks is, Look, Don’t Drink.

Named for the best actress nominee (for “Black Swan”) and created by Eamon Rockey of  Compose.

Beforehand, chill red wine that’s been sweetened  slightly with sugar (about a tablespoon per half cup of wine) and steeped with  lemon peels.

Next, combine one and a half ounces of Brooklyn gin,  three-quarters of an ounce of lemon juice, a half-ounce of triple sec, a  quarter ounce of gum syrup and an egg white.

Shake and strain into a cocktail  glass.  Using a funnel, pour the red wine into the bottom of the  glass so it forms a deep layer of color.

Mist the top of the cocktail with  absinthe (if you don’t have a spare mister, drizzle a few  drops of absinthe) and garnish with a few dashes of Angostura bitters.


The James Franco is another ambitious cocktail that requires a lot of pre-prep. However, It was amusing that the drink is kept shilled with a chunk of frozen rock.

The  Helena Bonham Carter goes for the simple. It starts out with a chilled glass that has been rinsed with absinthe, then the absinthe is discarded. I know where it can be “discarded”. Never waste absinthe.

Here are some really tasty recipes for appetizers that are fairly simple, can be made ahead and some only take about 20 minutes to prepare.

These would not last 5 minutes in my house

Cheese Straws With Pimentón

These eggs required hot smoked paprika which I found in my local Stop ‘n Shop

Smoky Red Devil Eggs

Make this dip a day ahead

Greek Goddess Dip

For something warm and spicy, this is great. Worth the extra time but can be made ahead and reheated under the broiler

Queso Fundido With Chorizo, Jalapeño and Cilantro

Another one that wouldn’t last in my house. If you like shumai, double this

Shrimp and Cilantro Shu Mai

This would be a great brunch recipe, too

Toasts With Egg and Bacon

An Asian twist on Swedish meatballs

Scallion Meatballs With Soy-Ginger Glaze

from firefly-dreaming 26.2.11

Regular Daily Features:

  • Late Night Karaoke has The Cure, mishima DJs
  • Six Brilliant Articles!    from Six Different Places!!     on Six Different Topics!!!

                    Six Days a Week!!!                at Six in the Morning!!!!

Essays Featured Saturday, February 26th:

join the conversation! come firefly-dreaming with me….

Random Japan



Toto’s warm water-spraying Washlet toilet seats celebrated 30 years of keeping things clean down under, living up to their slogan, “Buttocks, too, want to be washed.”

Locals in Miyazaki rolled out the welcome wagon for the Yomiuri Giants as they opened “spring” camp, lavishing 20 kilos of kumquat, 20kg of mikan, 10 boxes of strawberries and 100 broiled eels on the Central League powerhouse.

But the Giants gave as good as they got, donating some ¥3 million to support local relief efforts as Miyazaki battles bird flu and a spewing volcano.

Meanwhile, the Softbank Hawks also got a welcome gift at their camp when 10kg of tuna and 10kg of shrimp were dropped off by the Miyazaki Fish Federation.

16-year-old ballet dancers Shizuru Kato and Yuko Horisawa finished fifth and seventh, respectively, at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition, each earning year-long scholarships to some of the top dance schools in the world.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Do You Know When NOT to Call 911?

Survey Suggests Many People Call an Ambulance for Minor Medical Emergencies

Feb. 22, 2011 — One in three people don’t understand when an ambulance is not necessary to deal with common medical situations, a survey indicates.

The survey shows most people know when to call an ambulance for life-threatening medical emergencies like a heart attack, but many don’t understand when an ambulance is not needed for less urgent situations like a woman going into the early stages of labor.

Put Away the White Rice


Here’s a quick look at this week’s selection of grains:

LUNDBERG WEHANI This reddish-brown whole-grain rice has a slightly chewy texture and a nutty, savory flavor. To cook, combine 1 part rice with 2 parts water and salt to taste ( ½ to ¾ teaspoon per cup of rice). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 50 to 60 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the water. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, place a towel over the pot and return the lid to the pot. Let sit 10 minutes, and then serve.

For a nuttier taste, before adding the water sauté the rice in 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil until the rice smells toasty. A cup of raw rice yields about 3 1/3 cups of cooked rice.

LUNDBERG BLACK JAPONICA RICE A combination of medium-grain mahogany rice and short-grain black rice. Cook it like Wehani rice, above. A cup of raw rice yields about 3 ¾ cups cooked rice.

RUBY RED JASMINE RICE This red long-grain rice is distributed by a company that specializes in fair-trade products. The package says to cook 1 part rice in 2 ½ parts water, but I found a ratio of 1 to 2 worked better. Cook like the Wehani rice, above. A cup of raw rice yields about 3 cups of cooked rice.

PURPLE PRAIRIE BARLEY This hearty dark purple barley originated in Tibet. It takes 1 ½ hours to cook – 1 hour if you soak it overnight, which I recommend. Cook 1 part grain in 2 ½ parts water with salt to taste. Place a strainer over a bowl, and drain the soaked rice. Combine the soaking water (you don’t want to lose the pigment in it) with more water to make 2 ½ parts. Add salt to taste ( ½ to ¾ teaspoon per cup of grain), and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour or until the barley is tender and beginning to splay. A cup of cup raw rice yields just under 4 cups of cooked rice.

AMARANTH Amaranth is the tiny seed of a green native to the Americas. In Mexico, both the seeds and the greens are eaten. It’s very nutritious: high in protein, and very rich in the amino acid lysine, which most grains lack. Cook 1 part amaranth in 3 parts water, and stir often.

Amaranth Porridge

Black Rice and Soy Salad With Asian Dressing

Purple Barley Risotto With Cauliflower

Fried Red Thai Jasmine Rice With Shrimp

Red and Black Rice With Leeks and Pea Tendrils

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

Charles M. Blow: The G.O.P.’s Abandoned Babies

Republicans need to figure out where they stand on children’s welfare. They can’t be “pro-life” when the “child” is in the womb but indifferent when it’s in the world. Allow me to illustrate just how schizophrenic their position has become through the prism of premature babies.

Of the 33 countries that the International Monetary Fund describes as “advanced economies,” the United States now has the highest infant mortality rate according to data from the World Bank. It took us decades to arrive at this dubious distinction. In 1960, we were 15th. In 1980, we were 13th. And, in 2000, we were 2nd.

Laura Flanders: Crushing Workers in Wisconsin Has National Effects

So that’s what they mean by from welfare to work. First you go force the poorest Americans into the workforce, then you go after their bargaining power. Wisconsin has long been the eye of this storm.

“We have an environment in Wisconsin in which any poor family can climb out of the despair of poverty and pursue the American dream.”

So said former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, singing his own praises to the Heritage Foundation back in the early ’90s.  By the time Bill Clinton ended the federal welfare program in ’96, Wisconsin’s W-2 program had already cut off AFDC entitlements and forced poor moms to work for benefits. That pushed thousands of poor women into the labor market. Average wages were around $7 an hour; homelessness rose, as did the number of children in foster care; Milwaukee’s black infant mortality rate went up 37 percent, and as soon as the ’90s bubble burst, unemployment and poverty swelled.

Robert Reich: The Republican Shakedown

You can’t fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top — and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of the nation’s bills — Republicans will convince people it’s all about government and unions.

Republicans claim to have a mandate from voters for the showdowns and shutdowns they’re launching. Governors say they’re not against unions but voters have told them to cut costs, and unions are in the way. House Republicans say they’re not seeking a government shutdown but standing on principle. “Republicans’ goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government,” says House leader John Boehner, “not to shut it down.” But if a shutdown is necessary to achieve the goal, so be it.

The Republican message is bloated government is responsible for the lousy economy that most people continue to experience. Cut the bloat and jobs and wages will return.

Two Birds, One Stone: Solidarity Saturday In The Dream Antilles

Today is Solidarity Saturday.  Your bloguero and thousands of others will brave the cold and head to Albany, New York,  and other cities across America for demonstrations in support of Wisconsin’s beleaguered public workers and their unions.  So the first  bird (in this case a phoenix, for America’s labor unions) is this: join me in Albany, New York today at high noon or in the zillions of other places where at the same time  progressives will apply shoe leather to pavement, lift every voice, link arms and stand up for public employees.  You can find the demonstration nearest you by following this link.  As Mother Jones said, “Pray for the dead, fight like hell for the living.”  Your bloguero notes in passing the additional salubrious effect of exposure to cold winter air in battling cabin fever and inevitable Seasonal Affective Grumpiness (SAG).

The phoenix was your first bird.  The second bird (in this case almost a complete turkey):  the Dream Antilles Weekly Digest.  Your bloguero notes that this week was not the finest  at The Dream Antilles, but also, thank goodness, not its worst .   It was a  week dominated by concerns about events in  Wisconsin and never ending Winter.  Here’s what there was:

The week began much as it ends with Solidarity With Wisconsin’s Workers, complete with Pete Seeger and historical video, a recollection of the importance of unions public and private and a call to stand in solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin.

Haiku for a blustery, winter night with high wind and low, low, low prices temperatures.

Cuba’s Celebration Of Books: Can We Have One? notes the  delights of the Havana International Book Fair and wonders whether an event like that, focusing on the reader, wouldn’t be wonderful for New York City.  The Dream Antilles began as a Lit Blog.  Sometimes it actually finds its way back to its original topic.

In response to a New York Times piece prematurely hinting at  the demise of blogs and utterly clueless about the evolution of the Internet, your bloguero felt compelled to post I’m Nor Goin Nowhere, complete with Bob Dylan video and an analysis of why people migrate from platform to platform as the Internet evolves.

Your bloguero confesses it.  Your bloguero always aspired to be a philanthropist.  Alas, that has not happened yet, though, of course, hope for such things springs eternal.  Buying some pizza for the demonstrators was as close as your bloguero came this week to being a philanthropist.  Ian’s Pizza answers your bloguero’s telephone call.  The Governor answers the call of “Koch.”  Please contrast and compare.  The story of feeding the demonstrators and a call for others to buy pizza for those in Madison is in Feed The Wisconsin Demonstrators Pizza.  The success of this movement is noted in today’s New York Times

Annoyed that none of the major Democratic powers had visited the striking demonstrators in Madison, your bloguero issued an invitation to the President, Obama: Please Go To Wisconsin.  As I look out the frozen window here in preparation for today’s demo, I note in passing that Our Nation’s President has not responded to this clarion call for action.  Question for later: how not surprised is your bloguero?

Haiku about yet another approaching, forecasted snowstorm.  Yes, it did arrive.  Yes, there is more snow.  Columbia County, New York has had a snow cover for months.  Climate change has made this winter in your bloguero’s humble opinion the worst in decades.  More to come, he fears.

And you end up where you began, today is Solidarity Saturday.  Be There.  I hope we can all push back from the monitor and keyboard, pull on the appropriate clothing, and get out there.  After all, what else is there to do?

Your bloguero notes in passing that this Digest is a weekly feature of the Port Writers Alliance and is supposed to be posted early Sunday morning. Well, things happen.  The best laid plans of mice, etc.  Or as your bloguero’s great grandmother, an organizer of the ILGWU used to say, “Mann tracht; Gott lacht.” See you next week if the creek don’t rise on Sunday early.

On This Day in History February 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 26 is the 57th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 308 days remaining until the end of the year (309 in leap years).

Two national parks preserved, 10 years apart. The two national parks were established in the United States 10 years apart, the Grand Canyon in 1919 and the Grand Tetons in 1929.

The Grand Canyon National Park

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest lands and redesignated the preserve a U.S. National Monument on January 11, 1908. Opponents such as land and mining claim holders blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a U.S. National Park for 11 years. Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919.

Grand Teton National Park

In 1897 acting Yellowstone superintendent Colonel S.B.M. Young proposed expanding that park’s borders south to encompass the northern extent of Jackson Hole in order to protect migrating herds of elk. Next year, United States Geological Survey head Charles D. Walcott suggested that the Teton Range should be included as well. Stephen Mather, director of the newly-created National Park Service and his assistant Horace Albright sent a report to Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane in 1917 stating much the same. Wyoming Representative Frank Mondell sponsored a bill that unanimously passed the United States House of Representatives in 1918 but was killed in the United States Senate when Idaho Senator [John Nugent feared that the expansion of Park Service jurisdiction would threaten sheep grazing permits. Public opposition to park expansion also mounted in and around Jackson Hole. Albright, in fact, was practically run out of Jackson, Wyoming, by angry townspeople in 1919 when he traveled there to speak in favor of park expansion.

Local attitudes started to change that same year when proposals to dam Jenny, Emma Matilda, and Two Ocean lakes surfaced. Then on July 26, 1923, local and Park Service representatives including Albright met in Maud Noble’s cabin to work on a plan to buy private lands to create a recreation area to preserve the “Old West” character of the valley. Albright was the only person who supported Park Service management; the others wanted traditional hunting, grazing, and dude-ranching activities to continue. In 1927 philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. founded the Snake River Land Company so he and others could buy land in the area incognito and have it held until the National Park Service could administer it. The company launched a campaign to purchase more than 35,000 acres for $1.4 million but faced 15 years of opposition by ranchers and a refusal by the Park Service to take the land.

In 1928, a Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forests met with valley residents and reached an agreement for the establishment of a park. Wyoming Senator John Kendrick then introduced a bill to establish Grand Teton National Park. It was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge on February 26, 1929. The 96,000 acres park was carved from Teton National Forest and included the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at its foot in Jackson Hole. Lobbying by cattlemen, however, meant that the original park borders did not include most of Jackson Hole (whose floor was used for grazing). Meanwhile the Park Service refused to accept the 35,000 acres held by the Snake River Company.

Discouraged by the stalemate, Rockefeller sent a letter to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt telling him that if the federal government did not accept the land that he intended to make some other disposition of it or to sell it in the market to any satisfactory buyers. Soon afterward on March 15, 1943 the president declared 221,000 acres (890 km2) of public land as Jackson Hole National Monument. Continued controversy over the Rockefeller gift still made it impossible for the monument to officially include that land, however.

Opposition to the monument by local residents immediately followed with criticism that the declaration was a violation of states’ rights and that it would destroy the local economy and tax base. Ranchers, led in part by famed actor Wallace Beery, drove 500 cattle across the newly created monument in a demonstration designed to provoke conflict. The Park Service did not respond to the stunt but the event brought national attention to the issue nonetheless. Wyoming Representative Frank A. Barrett introduced a bill to abolish the monument that passed both houses of Congress but was pocket vetoed by Roosevelt. U.S. Forest Service officials did not want to cede another large part of the Teton National Forest to the Park Service so they fought against transfer. One final act was to order forest rangers to gut the Jackson Lake Ranger Station before handing it over to park rangers. Residents in the area who supported the park and the monument were boycotted and harassed.

Other bills to abolish the monument were introduced between 1945 and 1947 but none passed. Increases in tourism money following the end of World War II has been cited as a cause of the change in local attitudes. A move to merge the monument into an enlarged park gained steam and by April, 1949, interested parties gathered in the Senate Appropriation Committee chambers to finalize a compromise. The Rockefeller lands were finally transferred from private to public ownership on December 16, 1949, when they were added to the monument. A bill merging most of Jackson Hole National Monument (except for its southern extent, which was added to the National Elk Refuge) into Grand Teton National Park was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on September 14, 1950. One concession in the law modified the Antiquities Act, limiting the future power of a president to proclaim National Monuments in Wyoming. The scenic highway that extends from the northern border of Grand Teton National Park to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park was named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway to recognize Rockefeller’s contribution to protecting the area. In 2001, the Rockefellers donated their Jackson Hole retreat, the JY Ranch, to the national park for the establishment of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, dedicated on June 21, 2008.

Six In The Morning

Rebels lay siege to Gaddafi stronghold

Desperate dictator tells faithful: ‘We can crush any enemy’

By Donald Macintyre, Terri Judd and Catrina Stewart in Benghazi  Saturday, 26 February 2011

The beleaguered  Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi defiantly appealed to his hardcore supporters to “defend the nation” against an uprising which was last night closing in on Tripoli after thousands of protesters braved gunfire to try to march through the capital.

Standing on the ramparts of a fort overlooking the city’s Green Square, Colonel Gaddafi pumped his fist and told 1,000 pro-regime demonstrators: “We can crush any enemy. We can crush it with the people’s will. The people are armed and when necessary, we will open arsenals to arm all the Libyan people and all Libyan tribes.”

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 25, 2011-


Reporting the Revolution: 26.02.2011

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>This is The Guardian Live Blog from Libya.

Al Jazeera English also has a Live Blog stream that is up dated regularly.

Protests and violence continued across the region on Friday. The International community is considering its options and in a rare move the UN Human Rights Commission took sanctions against one of its own members, Libya. Meeting in Geneva, the commission voted unanimously recommending suspension of Libya from the Geneva-based body and decided to conduct an independent probe into violations by the Qadhafi regime, which has launched a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.  

The United States closed down the embassy in Tripoli as the last of its diplomatic personnel were airlifted to safety. President Barack Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets of Gaddafi, his family and top officials, as well as the Libyan government, the country’s central bank and sovereign wealth funds.

Thousands demanded reform in Jordan and in Bahrain more changes. Virtually isolated in Tripoli, the military still loyal to Gaddafi opened fire on unarmed protesters.

As Libya uprising reaches Tripoli Gaddafi vows to ‘open up the arsenals’

Gaddafi gives a defiant speech to cheering supporters, as witnesses report indiscriminate firing on demonstrators

Libya’s uprising reached the heart of Tripoli on Friday as anti-regime demonstrators defied a security clampdown to demand Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow amid hopes that key military units in the west of the country would defect.

Gunmen in cars reportedly opened fire on protesters as they streamed out of mosques after Friday prayers. Witnesses described shooting in streets near Green Square in the heart of the city.

Information remained patchy, confused and sometimes contradictory, but up to seven people were reported shot dead in Janzour, Fashlum, Bin Ashour, Zawiyat al-Dahmani and other urban areas. “Security forces fired indiscriminately on the demonstrators,” said one resident.

Later, Gaddafi appeared in Green Square to give another angry and defiant speech to crowds of supporters waving banners and cheering him – a message that he is alive and in control – as he pledged to “open up the arsenals”.

Gaddafi vows to crush protesters

Libyan leader speaks to supporters in the capital’s Green Square, saying he will arm people against protesters.

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has appeared in Tripoli’s Green Square, to address a crowd of his supporters in the capital.

The speech, which also referred to Libya’s war of independence with Italy, appeared to be aimed at rallying what remains of his support base, with specific reference to the country’s youth.

“We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people,” Gaddafi said, in footage that was aired on Libyan state television on Friday.

“I am in the middle of the people.. we will fight … we will defeat them if they want … we will defeat any foreign aggression.

“Dance … sing and get ready … this is the spirit … this is much better than the lies of the Arab propaganda,” he said.

Libya: International response gathers pace after Gaddafi counterattacks

No-fly zone or sanctions among options being considered as world bids to force Libyan leader to end the violence

International efforts to respond to the Libyan crisis are gathering pace under US leadership after a still defiant Muammar Gaddafi launched counterattacks to defend Tripoli against the popular uprising now consolidating its hold on the liberated east of the country.

The White House said Barack Obama planned to call David Cameron and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to discuss possible actions, including a no-fly zone or sanctions to force the Libyan leader to end the violence. Switzerland said it had frozen Gaddafi’s assets.

Gaddafi, in power for 42 years, has used aircraft, tanks and foreign mercenaries in eight days of violence that has killed hundreds in the bloodiest of the uprisings to shake the Arab world. Up to 2,000 people may have died, it was claimed by a senior French human rights official.

Friday protests grip Middle East

Opposing political camps rally in Yemen while protesters vent anger after prayers in Jordan, Iraq and Bahrain.

Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, have held rival rallies in the capital, Sanaa.

Protesters outside Sanaa University repeated slogans demanding that the country’s longtime president step down immediately, chanting: “The people demand the downfall of the regime.”

About 4km away, loyalists shouted support for the president, who they described as holding the fractured and impoverished tribal country together. “The creator of unity is in our hearts. We will not abandon him,” they chanted.

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Sanaa, said that while the situation is calm in the capital, due to the huge presence of police and military, there have been reports of protesters being killed in the south of the country.

“The situation in Aden [in the south] is very tense, two people have been killed and at least 24 pro-democracy protesters were injured in clashes with security forces [today],” he said.

“Security forces have been asked by the ministry of the interior to block the main square to put an end to the escalations there, as it is the stronghold of the secessionist movement who want to break away from the north.

“There have been huge rallies in the province of Sadah, the stronghold of the Houthi fighters. They have said they are joining the protesters and that their fight will be similar to the fight of thousands of protesters who are asking for an end to the political regime.”

Yemen has been swept up in protests inspired by the recent successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The demonstrators are demanding that Saleh, in power for 32 years, step down.

Deaths in Iraq pro-reform rallies

At least 12 protesters killed by security forces, amid nationwide “day of rage” against corruption and poor services.

Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets across the country to protest against corruption and a lack of basic services in an organised nationwide “day of rage”, inspired by uprisings around the Arab world.

In two northern Iraqi cities, security forces trying to push back crowds opened fire on Friday, killing at least 12 demonstrators.

In Baghdad, the capital, demonstrators knocked down blast walls, threw rocks and scuffled with club-wielding troops.

Hundreds of people carrying Iraqi flags and banners streamed into Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, which was under heavy security.

Military vehicles and security forces lined the streets around the square and nearby Jumhuriya bridge was blocked off.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said there was a violent standoff between the protesters and the riot police on the bridge that leads to the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Ahmed Rushdi, head of the House of Iraq Expertise Foundation, tried to join the protests in Baghdad but was prevented from doing so by the army.

“This is not a political protest, but a protest by the people of Iraq. We want social reform, jobs for young people and direct supervision because there is lots of corruption,” Rushdi told Al Jazeera.

“If [prime minister Nouri] al-Maliki does not listen, we will continue this protest. He told everyone that we are Saddamists, but that is not right. We are normal Iraqi people.”

Eight years after the US-led invasion which ousted Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, development in the country remains slow and there are shortages of food, water, electricity and jobs.

Protesters confirmed that they were protesting for a better life and better basic services.

“We are free young men and we are not belonging to a certain ideological movement but we ask for our simple legitimate demands that include the right of education and the right of decent life,” Malik Abdon, a protester, said.

Load more