Friday, November 21, 2014

Debt Man and Blunder Boy



debt man and blunder boy

 

From August 18, 2011, that's  "Debt Man and Blunder Boy." 

C.I. noted:

Barack declares, "Hey America. We're still okay. I'm touring the country in a bus. And you can help by signing over your car title or house deed to me Debt Man." Joe Biden then adds, "And our bus is only costing you the taxpayer a million dollars!" To which Barack snaps, "Stop helping, Blunder Boy!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts


I like that one but what I'm really glad about is that I've documented some of the failed attempts at re-starting the economy that Barack ran with throughout his term.

And the economy still sucks.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



Thursday, November 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the Kurdish government is too eager to please the US government, VA officials attended a Senate hearing on veteran suicides without even bothering to brush up on basic figures (figures they should already know to perform their jobs), and much more.


AFP notes, "A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives blew himself up in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Wednesday, killing at least five people in the first big attack there in more than a year."

While Baghdad, the capital of central Iraq, and surrounding areas have been plagued with violence, the same has not been true of northern Iraq and the provinces making up the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Governments and especially not true of the city of Erbil.

The attack in the KRG capital on Wednesday should have caused some soul searching on the part of the government.


The Peshmerga are an elite Kurdish fighting force that's done a strong job protecting the KRG.

The attack yesterday should make the KRG re-evaluate the decision to send the KRG here, there, everywhere outside the KRG.

The attack should have the KRG questioning the decision to send the Peshmerga to Kobani.

Not only is that not a city bordering the KRG, it's not even in Iraq.

Why is the Peshmerga being deployed to Syria, to an area bordering Turkey?

This started at the beginning of the month.

The Peshmerga should be used to protect the KRG and any areas that immediately border the KRG.

Kobani is a Syrian border town -- it borders Turkey.  It's not even remotely near a Kurdish border.

Seems the Kurdish government's a little too eager to assist the US -- so much so that it's leaving their own region in danger.

Maybe it's the hope that, yet again, if they just try a little harder, the US will be a loyal partner?

That pathetic need has never accomplished anything for the Kurds.

And this week, they've been slamming the US government for not supplying them with weapons.

Press TV reports:

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has blamed the West for failing to meet its promises about arming Kurdish fighters with sophisticated weaponry, Press TV reports.
KRG Masoud Barzani President criticized the West and the US-led coalition fighting the Takfiri ISIL group for not providing Kurdish Peshmerga forces with heavy weapons to help them counter the ISIL.


There has been an effort from some member of the US Congress to send arms to the Kurds.  Julian Pecquet (Al-Monitor) reports:


Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., introduced temporary legislation to arm the Peshmerga forces in their fight against the Islamic State (IS). Doing so would mark a reversal of current US policy, which has sought to reinforce the central government in a bid to stop the country from splintering along ethnic and sectarian lines.
"We thought a long time ago that our appeals to Baghdad to do the right thing would be heard and [former Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki's government turned a deaf ear month after month. We've reached the point where we have allies to our cause of defeating [IS] fighting in the field, without adequate equipment, and we are determined to see that they obtain it," Royce told Al-Monitor. "We want the weapons in the hands of the Peshmerga that are on the front line, now."
The bill comes in the wake of an international public relations push by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Top Kurdish officials — including Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, and presidential Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein — were in Washington this week handing out a list of demands to lawmakers and administration officials, while President Massoud Barzani berated western powers for not providing his forces enough weapons during an interview on French television Nov. 19.

 

They've gotten no weapons from the US.  All Iraq News notes the US government did issue a statement condemning the bombing, as did the United Nations and the United Kingdom.

None of those statements will provide protection to the KRG.

And there was one more important statement issued.

India TV reports the Islamic State issued a statement claiming credit for the bombing in Erbil -- claiming credit for the bombing All Iraq News notes is the worst Erbil's seen "since September 29, 2013." Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "The city has remained largely untouched by Iraq’s violence, even after the Islamic State seized nearby Mosul in June and pushed the front lines to within about 30 miles. Kurdish security officials, however, have feared a campaign of terror, noting that hundreds of thousands of refugees have pressed into Kurdish areas from regions now dominated by the Islamic State."


The issue of arming the Kurds was raised in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:


QUESTION: Okay. Last night, I ran into the chief of staff of the Kurdistan president’s – Barzani, he’s the chief of staff of Barzani. And he talks about perhaps 100,000 – upward of 100,000 ISIL members in Iraq and Syria. Do you have any comment on that?


MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any update on numbers that --


QUESTION: Okay.


MR. RATHKE: We’ve spoken to numbers in the past --


QUESTION: Right.


MR. RATHKE: -- and the general estimates, but I don’t have an updated number to share.


QUESTION: Do you think these kind of figures that are staggering, I mean, would they, let’s say, influence U.S. policy in terms of having boots on the ground or having forces on the ground, at least in Iraq or in the near future?


MR. RATHKE: Well, again, I’m not going to comment on that particular number. I’m just not familiar with it. And I think also, the President and the entire Administration have been quite clear about our policy with respect to troops in combat roles.


QUESTION: Okay. I mean – okay. In view of the additions that took place last week – we’re talking about maybe an additional 1,500 whatever, advisors, military advisors and so on, and perhaps a discussion, as was done with General Dempsey last week, there is an indication that these forces might be involved in combat. Is there a likelihood that these forces might be involved in combat, if not directly, in an advisory kind of capacity?


MR. RATHKE: Again, I think the President has spoken to this quite clearly in just recent days. I don’t have anything to add to his words. There’s – we do not envision U.S. forces in combat roles.


QUESTION: Now, also, there are reports that the Iraqi forces, with American advisors, are getting ready to recapture Heet. It’s a town, a township called Heet or a city that’s called Heet. Do you have any comment on that?


MR. RATHKE: I don’t have a specific comment on that particular location. I did comment at the start about the success of Iraqi forces in breaking the siege at Baiji refinery, but I don’t have operational comments on every particular location.
Anything staying – wait, staying with Iraq?


QUESTION: Yeah.


MR. RATHKE: Okay. Go ahead.


QUESTION: Chairman Royce today introduced legislation that would provide the President with authority to give arms directly to the Kurds. Do you have any comment or reaction on that?


MR. RATHKE: I’m not familiar with the legislation that you have referred to, so I don’t want to comment on that. But we have spoken on several occasions about the matter of arms for Kurdish security forces and overall to the Iraqi Security Forces. Our position on that hasn’t changed. We continue to be supporters of Iraq’s Security Forces, of the Kurdish security forces as well.
And it’s our understanding that there was some discussion yesterday, which you may recall, about whether there were delays in shipments. I’d just like to point out, to kind of close that loop from yesterday, that the Government of Iraq has cleared and inspected incoming aircraft carrying weapons deliveries, but we are not aware that it has constrained or delayed the emergency supply of weapons to the Kurdistan Regional Government. That was a point made or a question raised yesterday.
And as well, the Government of Iraq itself has delivered over 300 tons of supplies in Iraqi air force aircraft to the KRG. We are committed to helping the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish security forces. Also, many of our coalition partners have been very supportive of Iraqi Kurdish forces. So we plan to continue that kind of support going forward.

QUESTION: Okay. So I guess the question is: Are you happy with the way things are currently going, with the current state of affairs, and thus do you not see any need for a change, any need for what’s contained in this legislation as a general proposition?


MR. RATHKE: Well, it remains the U.S. Government policy that all arms transfers should be coordinated through the sovereign, central Government of Iraq. We have no plans that I’m aware of to change that.


QUESTION: Yeah, but the legislation calls for direct supplies to the Kurds without the --


MR. RATHKE: I understand that question, but again, I’m not familiar with that legislation, so I don’t want to comment on it. But I simply want to indicate that our policy remains the same. Now, are we happy with the overall situation in Iraq? Of course not. That’s why we are leading a global coalition to disrupt and defeat ISIL. But that’s – we are very supportive of Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in that effort.
So  that was -- Uh, wait.  What was that about Heet?
QUESTION: Now, also, there are reports that the Iraqi forces, with American advisors, are getting ready to recapture Heet. It’s a town, a township called Heet or a city that’s called Heet. Do you have any comment on that?


MR. RATHKE: I don’t have a specific comment on that particular location. I did comment at the start about the success of Iraqi forces in breaking the siege at Baiji refinery, but I don’t have operational comments on every particular location.
Anything staying – wait, staying with Iraq?
Earlier today Iraqi Spring MC shared this on Tweet:







: اغتنام نحو (15) عجلة نوع همر تركتها القوات الحكومية بعد هروبها من معارك منطقة الدولاب في قضاء هيت .
32 retweets20 favorites





That's the Islamic State taking over the vehicles of Iraqi forces -- after Iraqi forces fled Heet to avoid combat with the Islamic State.  They fled, leaving behind 15 Hummers.



So much for the US government's propaganda effort -- amplified by the US press -- insisting the Islamic State is on the run.

As that propaganda effort falls apart, Johnlee Varghese (IBT) reports:

The US-led coalition against the ISIS seems to be crumbling as there have been reports on social media that several "Saudi pilots" have allegedly refused to fly missions to bomb ISIS targets.
The report, which was confirmed by an Iraqi journalist and political analyst, is bound to have severe repercussions not only on the coalition, but it may also spread the seeds of rebellion among other branches of the Saudi armed forces.


Violence continued throughout Iraq today.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports, "At least 142 people were killed across Iraq, and another six were wounded. Almost all the casualties belonged to militants; however, there is a report that several children died from exposure after being forced to flee their homes in Anbar province."


Let's move over to the US Congress.  David Swanson Tweets:











  • In other news, Katherine Skiba (Chicago Tribune) reports US House Rep Tammy Duckworth gave birth this week to a baby girl Abigail O'kalani Bowlsbey.  Duckworth was in the news last week and this week because House Democrats voted on various leadership positions this week and Tammy had requested to vote by proxy because she was unable to fly to DC per doctor's orders.

    That didn't matter for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who led the "no" against Tammy's request.  Tammy Duckworth is also an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs while serving in Iraq.  That didn't matter to Nancy either.

    Craven liar and plastic surgery victim Nancy Pelosi went on to Tweet this crap:





    No, the picture doesn't reflect the nation's diversity.


    Our nation has many returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- where are they in the photo?

    They're not there.

    And this week, the liar Nancy used weasel nonsense to weasel out of supporting veterans.


    US House Rep Tim Walz was running to be Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

    He had the support of veterans groups and he himself had over 20 years in the Army National Guard.

    He was clearly qualified.

    Nancy Pelosi's pet US House Rep Corrine Brown is clearly not qualified.

    To ensure that the deeply ignorant Brown get the post, Nancy and her cronies insisted Tim Walz did not serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

    Huh?

    Well, he had a waiver.  You can only serve on two Committees.  Tim served on the House Veterans Affairs Committee under a waiver.


    Because he served under a waiver, Nance and her goons argued, Tim didn't serve.

    No, that's not how it's supposed to work.

    But that is how whorish and crooked and unethical Nancy Pelosi is.

    She Tweeted the following earlier this month:




    As she proved by spitting on Tammy Duckwork and Tim Walz and on the publicly expressed wishes of veterans groups, her so-called claims to "salute" those who served are nothing but more lies from Nancy's mouth.

    She's an embarrassment to the country and she's lethal to the Democratic Party.

    Her disrespect of veterans will not be forgotten but will be her legacy, what the elderly woman will be remembered for.


    The House Veterans Affairs Committee needs real leadership.

    The VA has had one scandal after another in the last six years.

    When Corrine Brown managed to haul herself to a HVAC hearing, she didn't serve veterans.  She made excuses for the VA, she offered non-stop praise for the VA, she went out of her way to blame the VA's problems and scandals on veterans.

    And now this idiot -- thanks to Nancy Pelosi -- is a vote away from being the Democratic leader on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.


    If you don't get what liars the VA officials are, let's drop back to yesterday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

    The first panel was the VA's Dr. Harold Kudler (Chief Consultant for Mental Health Service), Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention) and Dr. Dean Krahn (Deputy Director in the Office of Mental Health Operations).

    The topic was veterans suicides.

    This topic wasn't a surprise.

    This wasn't the Senate's attempt to spring a pop quiz on the VA.

    The topic was announced.

    The witnesses knew what it was.

    They offered written statements ahead of the hearing.

    Remember that as we go through this exchange.



    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I want to pursue the line of questioning that Senator Johans began because I think it is absolutely critical. I've held meetings around my state with veterans. Some of them have occurred at what are called oasis which are basically college and school based centers. They're not medical, they're just meeting rooms.  They are literally a room where veterans can come together and call that place their own.  And they put up their posters, they have a coffee machine, they have doughnuts and they just come together "without medication" -- in quotes.  I met with a group just a week or so ago and they talked to me about -- in very graphic, moving terms -- about what it meant just to be with each other.  So I know that peer support specialists are part of this program.  With all due respect to the peer support specialist, I would respectfully suggest that this kind of resource may not always require a trained specialist but may just require a veteran -- and I have in mind the kind of veteran who got involved in part because I reached out to him at the suggestion of another veteran -- just made a call to him out of the blue.  And he came to one of these meetings.  So I don't think it involves necessarily a doctor, a nurse, a medical person but just a veteran who is empowered and enabled to perform this function.  So I don't want to use too much of my time with a statement about the importance of this topic but I would like to know -- and maybe you could provide this in writing -- specifically what the current peer support program embodies and how it could be expanded to fund meeting rooms on state campuses -- state schools which already which already should be a part of this program, private colleges and universities.  But then beyond the college or school setting, in communities, how that outreach function could be expanded and I -- I know this is a topic you are thinking about so I would appreciate your expanding on the testimony that you've given already.  I do want to ask you about your testimony because I do think that there are some very important questions about the age group that you don't cover.  We're talking about middle aged veterans which, as I understand it, are the 35 to 64-year-old group?  And in that group, rates of suicide have come down by 16% for those adults who use VHS services.  In the population as a whole, the rates have remained stable.  Correct?

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  [witness off mike]

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Well they've gone up for the -- Exactly, they've gone up from 35.5 to 37.5 percent. Right?  So the rates are coming down for middle aged adults who use VA services.  Rates have gone up a little bit for the overall group.  But they seem fairly stable -- 35 to 37%

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Uh -- authenticate the time with numbers -- uh, yeah, go ahead.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:   Well here's where I'm going, what that says to me is that among other age groups, suicide rates have risen dramatically for veterans who use your services. 

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Not just women but men.

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Can you tell me how much they've risen, for example, for -- and this is, so far as I can see, no where in your testimony for the age group 18 to 25 for 20 to 29, for the younger population of veterans because after all most of the veterans who are leaving the service right now are in that younger age group, right?  So what's the rate there 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yeah, we are -- we are extremely concerned about this population --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Yes, I know you're concerned but --
    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  I don't have the actual -- I believe it's up to 70 -- uh -- and this is, uh, over time.  The rates -- uh . . . I'd have to find the exact number.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I think that is a -- I think that is the elephant in the room.


    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:   Is . . what's . . .

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  The elephant in this room.   That younger group.  You're giving us middle aged veterans 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  No --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services .

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  We do -- I mean, we certainly do acknowledge that that rate is increasing and so what-what are we doing about this?  We need to provide and we are providing very, very specific outreach to those youngest veterans that --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Well we're talking about more than just outreach with all due respect.  We're talking about -- and this is the really critical point here -- we're talking about a group here that uses your services.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Absolutely.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  We've reached out to them.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  They're in your doors, they're using your services -- 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  And they're committing suicide at a higher rate.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.  So we're -- Yes.  We're trying to understand why is this?  We are -- We are at a loss as much -- as much as a lot of people are.  We --



    Senator Richard Blumenthal: This is -- with all of the publicity surrounding wait time, people dying -- are they dying because of the wait time, are they not?  People are dying at a higher rate --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services.


    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.  Yes, in this youngest age group.  Aboslutely.  We are very, very focused on this.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I don't know what more to say because my time has expired.  I apologize Mr. Chairman --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  We hear you.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- but,--  okay, thank you. 



    They came to talk about suicides but they didn't have the basic figures?

    I don't believe "we hear you" from the VA.

    Not when the officials can't -- or more likely won't -- provide answers to basic questions like the suicide rate for young veterans.

    This was such a basic detail that if the VA officials really didn't have that figure handy at the hearing, that may be an even more damning example of how unprepared the VA is and how little thought and effort they put into addressing issues.

    Her job, Caitlin Thompson's job, is to know that figure.

    Forget that she should have prepared for the hearing by having that and other figures handy.

    Doing her day-to-day job requires her to know that figure.  Her failure to do so goes to her failure at the job.

    Senator Blumenthal questioned the VA.

    Corrine Brown only compliments and sees her role as to excuse its actions and blame VA problems on veterans.
























    Read on ...

    Friday, November 14, 2014

    What? Us Diet?


    what us diet

     

    From August 17, 2011, that's "What? Us Diet?"

    C.I. wrote:


      Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta stuff their faces at the Government Trough. Hillary says, "Americans need to live within their means." Leon adds, "But public officials need big bucks to go with their big butts. Feed us, taxpayers, feed us!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts


    I think the comic speaks for itself.


    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


    Thursday, November 13, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, CENTCOM host a military meet-up, Gen Martin Dempsey seems eager to send more US troops into Iraq, and much more.



    US House Rep Walter Jones:  Mr. Secretary it's kind of ironic the last time that I heard, before today, a Secretary of Defense talk about military involvement in Iraq was Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  That got us into a war that was unnecessary.  I know ISIL is evil.  There's no question about it.  They need to be taken out.  But I looked at some of your statements from 2002 when you were a senator and how you felt about the obligation of a member of Congress to make a decision to send a young man or young woman to die.  I also looked at your statements  in 2007 when, like myself, you came out against the surge in Iraq.  Now we are going to possibly be asked by the President of the United States -- like we were by George W. Bush -- to authorize an AMUF.  This is nothing but an abdication of our Constitutional responsibility.  To give any president an AMUF.  We tried this past year in June when we had the NDAA bill, Adam Schiff tried to sunset out the AMUF that we gave to President Bush -- which is what was used by President Obama.  And I do not understand how we in Congress can continue to abdicate what the Constitution says is our responsibility.  Before I get to a brief question, James Madison once said this, "The power to declare war -- including the power to judging the cause of war  -- is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."  And I do not believe sincerely because when -- this happens to be President Obama.  He wants to have another AMUF or an extension of what we have.  I hope that the Congress -- both parties -- will look seriously at what is our responsibility because it's not going to be but so long.  You have sent more and more troops to Iraq to train.  Many of these [being trained] are former Saddam Hussein loyalists and now they're fighting with ISIS -- some are fighting for the other side.  It's very complex, I understand that and I agree with that.  But for goodness sake, why in the world should we make such a commitment?  And we don't even have an end point to it.  I would like for you or Gen Dempsey -- I have great respect for both of you -- to submit for the record two things very quickly: how does this new war end in your opinion?  And I realize that it's just your opinion but it's very important because of what you are.  What is the end state of what we're trying to accomplish.  The American people -- fifty -- over fifty percent of the American people do not want our personnel in Syria or in Iraq.  And I will be honest with you, I don't know how we can convince the American people that a nation that's financially broke  -- You sat right here, Gen Dempsey, and you were exactly right, sequestration and all the budget problems coming your way and yet you're asking for five or six billion dollars to drop more armaments in Iraq and in Syria?  Where is it coming from? Please explain to the American people and to this Congress how this war is going to end some day?  Whether we are advisors or we are fighting?  And I hope to God we are not fighting and I hope we do not give the president a new AMUF.  So if you'll get those into the Committee in written form [take the question for the record] then you won't have to answer them now.  But this, again, looks like we're going down the same road that Secretary Rumsfeld said we had to do -- we had to do! -- and yet there was no end point to that as well.  Thank you very much.




    That was Jones from this today's House Armed Services Committee hearing where Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey testified.

    Committee Chair Buck McKeon made clear from the start that any authorization he got behind would not be an open-ended one.

    The hearing was often surreal (and what was up with the band aid Hagel had on the left side of his face?) and a demonstration of just how insane the government is.

    For example, to listen to Dempsey, the Islamic State is nothing but a big pimple "We need to squeeze ISIL from all directions."

    He also insisted, "There is no change, and there is no different direction."  Or when he declared, "I think progress purchases patience."  Were that true, the reality would still be that there is no progress.  A fact Hagel seemed to acknowledge when he declared,  "We are three months into a multi-year effort."  Not a reassuring statement.


    Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) offers:



    So what’s our policy? You can’t really tell from here what this most "transparent" of administrations is up to, and what’s particularly scary is that one doubts whether even they know. Obama says one thing, and then does another. Dempsey says more, Obama says less. This game of seesaw between the President and Dempsey is a bit banana-republic-anish – I mean, who’s in charge here, exactly? Or are we being fooled into thinking Obama is the "reluctant interventionist," as he cynically plays the game once played by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the run up to our last world war?
    FDR, you’ll recall, pledged "again and again" that "your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars" – even as he was scheming and plotting to get us in by doing everything possible to provoke a German attack on our trans-Atlantic shipping. While FDR pussyfooted around – or appeared to – his allies and advisors clamored for more decisive measures, to which he eventually and gladly gave in.

    Whatever the President’s real views, we are sliding down the Iraqi slope pretty rapidly. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t hear of another few hundred GIs being quietly shipped to Iraq – "non-combat" troops, to be sure. Yes, they’re going over there to engage in some pretty dangerous and potentially lethal "non-combat" – and when they start getting killed in numbers high enough to notice, will they come back in non-bodybags? 


    At one point early on, Chair Buck McKeon noted that Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes went on TV (PBS' Frontline) and stated that US President Barack Obama would not reconsider his decision re: sending in troops for combat on the ground.

    Dempsey stated he was under no limitations with regards to what he recommends to Barack. and that there was nothing to stop him, if he felt it was needed, from recommending US troops accompany Iraqi troops on missions in Mosul and along the border, "I'm not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by US forces, but we're certainly considering it."


    US House Rep Loretta Sanchez wanted to know what was different this time?  After all the training that had taken place, what was different in this latest 'solution'?


    Hagel insisted one difference was the new prime minister (Haider al-Abadi) and how Iraq now had a Minister of Defense, "We haven't had a Minister of Defense in Iraq for more than four years -- [former] Prime Minister [Nouri al-]Maliki took that job for himself -- as he did the Minister of Interior."


    There is no political solution in Iraq still.  And no real effort to work towards one on the part of the US government.  But, as we noted in yesterday's snapshot, CENTCOM was leading more military efforts.  Today CENTCOM issued the following release:


    TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 12, 2014 – U.S. and partner-nation military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria Nov. 10 to 12 using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 16 airstrikes, U.S. Central Command officials reported today.
    Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq Nov. 10-12 using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists, officials said.
    Meetings at Centcom Headquarters
    And, Centcom will host military planners from more than 30 nations for an operational planning conference at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, from today until Nov. 21, officials said today. The conference provides an opportunity for coalition partners to strengthen relationships and further develop and refine military campaign plans to degrade and defeat ISIL. The event, officials said, is another milestone in U.S. and coalition military efforts to work together with Iraq and other partners from around the world to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.
    "This gathering of military planners from more than 30 nations is historic in many ways," said Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Centcom's commander. "The nearly 200 participants represent the broad coalition that has come together and is key to the success of our campaign to defeat ISIL.
    "Indeed, it is the coalition that our enemies fear most," Austin continued. "And, it is the coalition that will get the job done and done the right way, and as quickly as possible. I have every confidence that over the next several days this esteemed group will do tremendous work and through their efforts set the conditions necessary to ensure that ISIL is defeated and long-term security and stability is achieved throughout the Central Region."
    Airstrikes Target ISIL in Syria, Iraq
    In Syria, 10 airstrikes conducted near Kobani struck eight small ISIL units, damaged three ISIL fighting positions and destroyed an ISIL logistics facility. There were two airstrikes south of Al-Haskah damaging a crude oil collection point operated by ISIL. Three airstrikes northeast of Dayr Az Zawr damaged an ISIL crude oil collection facility. Near Dayr Az Zawr, one airstrike struck a small ISIL unit and damaged an ISIL vehicle.
    In Iraq, two airstrikes near Kirkuk struck a small ISIL unit and a large ISIL unit. Five airstrikes near Bayji struck three small ISIL units, one large ISIL unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings, an ISIL sniper position, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL mortar tube and an ISIL artillery piece. All aircraft departed the strike areas safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.
    The strikes were conducted as part of Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.
    The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project power and conduct operations. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

     Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


    In the meantime, Barack says that he can't be expected not to arm and support tyrants.  AP reports the White House is seeking an exemption from the Leahy Amendment which, among other things, is supposed to prevent the US government from giving aid and weapons to those they know torture.

    Barack always takes the low road.

    Today the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared:

    The Secretary-General welcomes the agreement reached between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government aimed at finding a solution to the issues related to the general budget and oil exports.
    He congratulates Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Kurdistan Regional Government's Prime Minister Nechervan  Barzani for the willingness to negotiate and conclude agreements that are in the interest of the Iraqi people.

    The Secretary-General encourages the Federal and Regional authorities to build on this important first step and to solve all remaining outstanding issues within the framework of the Constitution. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq stands ready, within its mandate, to continue supporting this process.


    The issue came up today in the State Dept press briefing.


    QUESTION: Just somewhat related to – well, not related to this at all, but in Iraq.


    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.


    QUESTION: Have you seen reports that the Kurds and the Iraqis – or the government in Baghdad have reached an oil agreement?


    MS. PSAKI: Yes. Yes, I have.

    QUESTION: Do you have any response to that?


    MS. PSAKI: We welcome the announcement that an agreement has been reached between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to take initial steps at finding a fair and comprehensive solution on the management of Iraq’s hydrocarbon resources. We urge that these steps be taken as soon as possible to build trust as Iraqi leaders continue to discuss remaining issues in the coming days toward a just and constitutional solution that will allow all Iraqis to benefit fairly and equitably from Iraq’s hydrocarbon sector.
    We are encouraged by this development and the willingness of officials in Baghdad and Erbil to address these complex issues directly and earnestly. We understand that this is the first of many steps that will be required to reach a comprehensive agreement, and the United States will continue to serve as a neutral broker and facilitator to the extent desired by the leadership of both Iraq and the KRG.


    QUESTION: Do you know or can you speak to what the U.S. involvement as a neutral facilitator was in getting to this point? Do you know?


    MS. PSAKI: I – that’s a great question. I’d have to talk to our team about our involvement in the last couple of days. Obviously, we’ve been encouraging both sides for some time to resolve this issue, but I can see if there’s more on that front to report.


    QUESTION: Ambassador McGurk was in Iraq. Did he play any role to facilitate this agreement?


    MS. PSAKI: Say that one more time?


    QUESTION: Ambassador Brett McGurk was in Iraq a few days ago.



    MS. PSAKI: Yes, he was. It’s a great question. I don’t have any details on his involvement. Obviously, this was largely negotiated between the KRG and the Government of Iraq. We’ve certainly been encouraging them to resolve this for some time. I can see if there’s any more to read out about his involvement.



    To his credit, Brett McGurk didn't try to claim credit he didn't earn:





    The violence continues and Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports, "At least 181 people were killed and 46 were wounded on Thursday. As well as the usual bombings in Baghdad and airstrikes in ISIS/DAASH territory, militants executed a number of tribe members. Also, several dumped bodies were found in Baghdad."


    And we'll close with this from RT's Abby Martin:


















  • Read on ...

    Friday, October 31, 2014

    Operator error


    operator error

     


    From August 14, 2011, that's "Operator Error." 


    C.I. wrote:


     Barack stands below a banner attempting to reach a microphone and declaring, "There is something wrong with our politics. Now you contact your Congress members and tell them to do what I say and I'll head to Martha's Vineyard for another vaction." As he speaks, he prays, "Please Holy Federal Reserve, don't let them ask me about last year's recovery summer." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts

    I don't even remember that comic, but I do like it.

    I think I forgot the comic the way everyone else forgot 'recovery summer' -- remember that?

    Broken promises are the hallmark of the Obama era.


    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


    Thursday, October 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods (War Crimes) continue, Loveday Morris explains what 'victory' looks like in Iraq, and much more.


    In Monday's snapshot, we noted the death of Sean P. Neal and the presumed death of Jordan L. Spears -- both in the latest wave of the Iraq War which has been dubbed "Inherent Resolve."  Tuesday, the Defense Dept issued the following announcement:


    IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Release No: NR-546-14
    October 28, 2014

    DoD Identifies Marine Casualty


      The Department of Defense announced today the reclassification of a previously reported death of a Marine in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
    Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea Oct. 1 while conducting flight operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He was initially classified as a non-global war on terrorism casualty.
    Spears was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron-163, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
    For more information, media may contact the I Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at (760) 763-7039 or after hours at (760) 207-5865.
     
    The "reclassification" the release notes means Jordan L. Spears is now the first US service member to die in Operation Inherent Resolve.


    How many more people will be sent to die in the never-ending Iraq War?

    For now, one group of armed forces won't be going.  Al Arabiya News notes:


    Australian commandos set to join the fight in Iraq against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have hit an unexpected snag – Baghdad has not yet issued them visas, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday.

    Although 200 special forces troops are in in the Gulf awaiting their deployment, the Iraqi government’s “excruciating inefficiency” has made them unable to reach their assignment, according to the daily, citing an unidentified source.



    The forces are sent over with no plan.

    Just bomb.

    Then bomb some more.

    And while the Iraqi government -- safe from the aerial bombings, safe in the protected Green Zone -- is happy to see the country bombed, already Iraqis are rejecting it.  Not a surprise.

    It's not a plan.

    It's a shock and, grasp reality, it's an insult to Iraqis.

    Foreigners are 'helping' them by bombing their countryside?

    In what world is that 'help'?

    In the world where countries can't stop lining up at the chance to bomb Iraq.


    NewsinEnglish.no reports, "Norway’s government has confirmed plans to send a total of 195 military personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan as a contribution to the US-led international efforts to combat terrorism. The decision announced Thursday was critizised by some left-wing politicians, but the opposition Labour party said it supported the move." Steven Chase (Globe and Mail) reports, "Canadian warplanes are poised to start striking targets in Iraq, with the government saying bombing of Islamic militant forces should begin very shortly."  Emily Kent Smith (Daily Mail) reports England's gearing up to provide Apache helicopters to Iraq and "If Apaches are sent to Iraq - which are piloted by the Army Air Corps - it would mark the first British Army involvement in a conflict role in the country."


    For those who've forgotten who else is bombing Iraq, the US Defense Dept helpfully notes, "Among the coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain."


    That's a lot of countries and so many more lining up for their chance to destroy Iraq.

    The US Defense Dept boast, "Separately, officials said, U.S. and partner-nation military forces conducted two airstrikes in Iraq yesterday and today, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. [. . .]

      In Iraq, an airstrike near Bayji struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, and an airstrike west of Ramadi struck an ISIL checkpoint."

    Tom Bowman (NPR's Morning Edition, link is text and audio) notes:

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been on the defensive recently about the strategy to take on the Islamic State. American warplanes have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, but militant fighters are still on the move.
    "We have made it very clear, I have and President Obama has, that this is a long, difficult effort," Hagel said.
    Difficult, some critics say, because the U.S. military is not bombing enough targets and is not deploying any U.S. ground troops in the fight. There are also critics who say the U.S. does not have effective partners on the ground and is not training a sufficient number of local troops or militias.

    "This sounds like a Goldilocks approach. We're looking for a solution that's just right," said Fred Hof, who worked in the Obama administration on Syria policy.



    Greg Miller (Washingon Post) adds, "The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered such outrage that even more are flocking to the fight because of American intervention."


    If you're not grasping what a failure US President Barack Obama's 'plan' has been, Xinhua reports, "A total of 255 tribesmen and local policemen were executed by the militants of the Islamic State (IS) after the group took them from their villages and towns in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said on Thursday."

    Here's the thing about little boys and their war toys, it stops being a fun game quickly.  They end up like gamblers at black jack, they just can't walk away..  They're losing but they keep betting because now they've lost face, now everyone's looking at them.  And they know they're not doing anything different and they're not planning to do anything different, but if they keep bluffing, surely (they hope) their luck will change.

    Luck is all Barack's hoping for at this point to save his 'plan.'


      Al Arabiya News notes,  "Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants executed 46 people and besieged 500 families in the Iraqi city of Heet, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent to Anbar reported on Wednesday."  Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) add, "Hit was captured by Islamic State militants earlier this month after heavy clashes with the government security forces and tribal militias."  Earlier this month.

    When you're losing cities, you aren't making "gains."  Even if you retake them, you are not making "gains." The Pentagon keeps labeling this and that "Islamic State propaganda" but the Defense Dept isn't averse to circulating its own propaganda.

    Loveday Morris (Washington Post via the UK Independent) provides the reality that the Defense Dept keeps glossing over:

    But a visit to the Sunni settlement this week laid bare the huge cost of that victory. The town is now emptied of its 80,000 residents, and building after building has been destroyed – by air strikes, bombings and artillery fire.
    After four months of battles between the Isis and the Iraqi army, about 10,000 pro-government Shia militiamen were poured into this area in Babil province for a final push, according to Hadi al-Amiri, who leads the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade and co-ordinated the operation.
    Defeating the militants involved clearing out all the residents and leaving the town nearly flattened, underscoring the challenge the Shia-led government faces in areas where demographics do not work in its favour.


    And that's what the Pentagon -- and White House -- insists is a 'success.'


    We noted some of today's deaths earlier.  Yesterday?  Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports:

    On Wednesday, Islamic State fighters rounded up and executed 35 tribesmen in Hit, a Euphrates town in Anbar, officials said.
    "We asked the prime minister to urgently arm anti-Islamic State tribal fighters. We told him each day that passes adds more complication to the situation in Anbar and the government needs to take immediate actions on ground," said Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud, from the prominent Albu Nimir tribe.
    "But speaking honestly all what we got out of the meeting with Abadi was promises."


    Rasheed reports on the growing distrust of the new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.  This isn't a surprise.  A new prime minister was not a clean bill.  It was a brief chance to demonstrate a new Iraq.

    Brief.


    Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "Yet Baghdad has been hit by a slew of bombings in recent weeks that seem intended to disrupt Muharram and shatter public confidence in the new Shiite Muslim-dominated government of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, the politician plucked from relative obscurity who the Obama administration hopes will find a way to bridge the country’s sectarian divide."

    Haider and the White House blew it.

    Reuters notes, "The bodies of 150 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe which fought Islamic State have been found in a mass grave, security officials said on Thursday.  Islamic State militants took the men from their villages to the city of Ramadi and killed them on Wednesday night and buried them, an official in a police operations center and another security official told Reuters."


    Had the White House and Haider done their job, the 150 deaths could have been a galvanizing moment, the reason the Sunni tribal sheiks who are now living in exile in Jordan to throw their support behind Haider.

    At some point, is the long promised "political solution" going to be worked on?



    AFP reports:



    As US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist group.
    Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS.



    The 'shock and awe' of US war planes was only going to be 'shocking' for a bit.  It's just another layer in the cycle of violence -- the never-ending cycle of violence in Iraq.  The average Iraqi citizen has had to endure and adjust to a life that no one would consider normal anywhere else -- car bombings, roadside bombings, grenade attacks, on and on and on.

    Hollie McKay (Fox News) reports on how a song Beyonce recorded, "I Was Here," has had an impact in Iraq:



    “Those words were so powerful, so life-changing,” Mohammad Huzaifa Muluki, a 23-year-old student in Baghdad told FOX411. “I know it is difficult to do, but we want to change the world and that song made us realize we can. We can leave in a world with peace, without war, without terror.”
    A lot of small steps, he said, can lead to big changes.
    The idea was initially sparked by a young student, Muna Abdel Halim, who coordinated with Muluki and just three other friends from university to quickly launch a humanitarian campaign of the same name – “I Was Here.” Today it boasts an ever-growing list of more than 150 young volunteers, all with a mission to provide services that will help those in need.

    “Every day we see and hear images and stories of pain and suffering in our own neighborhoods and in countries far away. But we also find acts of kindness, great and small,” he continued. “One day, one message, one goal to inspire people in Iraq to do something good no matter how big or small – for someone else.”


    Earlier this month, Shukur Khilkhal (Al-Monitor) reported on the campaign:


    Over the last two years, the campaign has completed a number of different humanitarian tasks. It cleaned up and reopened the Mustansiriya Madrasah, the most famous historical school in Baghdad, established in 1233.
    The cleaning process took a full week of continuous work, following which its members cleaned Mutanabi Street. They also collected food and clothing and distributed them to needy people during the month of Ramadan in a project they called "Ramadan basket.”
    As their number increased by the day, the volunteers started dividing themselves into groups, each specializing in a particular job. “There is a group dedicated to humanitarian work, another to technical work and a third to works of service-related nature, and so on,” Muluki said.

     



    The song's lyrics include:

    I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
    Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
    When I leave this world, I'll leave no regrets
    Leave something to remember, so they won't forget

    I was here
    I lived, I loved
    I was here
    I did, I've done everything that I wanted
    And it was more than I thought it would be
    I will leave my mark so everyone will know
    I was here

    I want to say I lived each day, until I died
    And know that I meant something in, somebody's life
    The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
    That I made a difference, and this world will see

    I was here
    I lived, I loved
    I was here
    I did, I've done everything that I wanted
    And it was more than I thought it would be
    I will leave my mark so everyone will know



    "I Was Here" was written by songwriter Diane Warren who Tweeted today:




  • In tears reading how "I Was Here" has inspired a peace movement among the youth of Iraq. This is truly the power of music. Humbled.



  • Along with "I Was Here," Diane's written or co-written many other hits such as  DeBarge's "Rhythm of the Night," Patti Labelle's "If You Asked Me To," Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me," Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," Roberta Flack & Maxi Priest's "Set The Night To Music," Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart," Aretha Franklin & Whitney's Houston's "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be," Heart's "Who Will You Run To," Brandy's "Have You Ever?" and  Cher's "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me," "Save Up All Your Tears," "Just Like Jesse James" and "If I Could Turn Back Time."

    Back to the never-ending bombing passed off as a 'plan,' any measure the US was going to execute would only be 'stunning' for a brief time.


    The White House spent far too much time -- wasted far too much time -- on the military response when at one point even Barack was saying that the only answer for Iraq was a political solution.

    But the US could hold a terrorism conference with defense ministers from around the world

    Couldn't do the same for diplomats from various countries.

    And the White House continued the militarization of the State Dept by wasting various State officials on the task of talking this and that country into joining the bombings.

    They failed at the diplomacy and that's what the world will remember years from now.

    Not the daily strikes the Pentagon's so damn proud of.

    But the failure of someone who (wrongly) won the Nobel Peace Prize to use diplomacy.



    It was a brief window of time, we noted that months ago.  The hope that a new prime minister might mean the government could be inclusive and might stop the targeting of Sunnis.

    It required some grand gestures.

    We noted that as well.

    Thug and thankfully former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki targeted Sunni politicians.  This included Vice President Tareq Ali who served from 2006 to 2014 -- the last two years in exile but he held the office -- despite the whoring lie of a whorish press (I'm referring to US and European press) as they rushed to lap at the crotch of thug Nouri.

    Jane Arraf hasn't said a peep about the Frontline special that aired this week.

    Rather strange when you consider that the only time she's on TV is when PBS throws her a bone.

    But she can't highlight that special, can she?

    She whored for Saddam Hussein when he was prime minister (Jane was at CNN then) and she's whored for Nouri.

    On Tuesday, Frontline exposed Nouri as the thug we always noted he was.

    Poor Jane.  All those reports for PRI, Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor.

    Find where she's noting Nouri's crimes?

    She was a good little whore for Nouri.


    Nouri charged Tareq with crimes and demanded that the Baghdad court he controlled try Tareq.

    Tareq was still Vice President.  To stand trial, per the Iraqi Constitution, Nouri had to wait until Tareq was out of office (he resigned or his term expired) or else get the Parliament to strip Tareq of his office and immunity.  The Parliament refused to do that.

    No trial should have taken place.

    Then, months before the trial started, Baghdad judges announced Tareq's guilt.

    Before the trial started.

    Before opening arguments, let alone before any evidence was introduced.

    That's the sort of bias that forces functional judges to recuse themselves from a case.

    But the trial proceeded.

    Tareq's defense attorney wanted to call a character witness.

    The judge refused.

    The character witness?

    Then-President of Iraq Jalal Talabani.

    Who was prepared to testify.

    The evidence presented was from tortured 'confessions.'

    At least one of Tareq's bodyguards was tortured to death, beaten so badly that he died from kidney failure.

    All of this calls for the verdict to a trial which never should have taken place (due to the immunity issue) to be set aside.

    As the head of the government, Haider al-Abadi could make that call/recommendation.

    He could also issue a pardon.

    He's refused to do either.

    All he's done is promise to end the bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.

    That was a good promise.

    Starting in January of this year, Nouri began bombing the homes of civilians in Falluja, a War Crime, legally defined as such, recognized by the international community as such (the term is Collective Punishment).

    So, September 13th, when Haider promised to end the bombings, that was good.

    Days later, as the bombings continued, it wasn't so good.

    His only gesture -- not grand at all, just respecting international law -- turned out to be hollow words as the bombings continued.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes the bombings continue and that Falluja General Hospital received the corpse of one civilian as well as one wounded civilian.


    There's been no grand gesture.

    Haider's failed to call for the release from Iraqi prisons and jails all people who have never had charges filed against them.  (In Iraq -- and they took this from the US government's actions when it directly controlled Iraq -- if you can't arrest the person you have a warrant for, arrest their spouse, or their parent, or their child, sibling, grandparent, etc.  These people, these Sunnis, remain behind bars despite never being charged with any crime.)

    The only gesture was that he would abide by international law and yet, despite that promise, the bombing of Falluja residential neighborhoods continues.









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