Sunday, March 15, 2015

The 2,000 Mark

2000 mark

From September 30, 2012, that's "The 2,000 Mark."  Hardworking Barack made time for his mani-pedi. 

C.I. wrote:

 In December 2008, the number of US service members killed in the Afghanistan War was 500.  Barack Obama was sworn in as president in January 2009.  Today the US military death toll in the Afghanistan War reached 2,000.  Barack declares in the small panel, "People say, 'Barry, the 2000 mark. That's bad'."  Reveal him to be getting a manicure as he explains, "I say 2,000 deaths is a small price to pay to make an effecte, vain priss like me look manly!  Where's my arugula salad?  I need another mango smoothie!"  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Barack's forever your girl.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Tikrit attack proves to be humiliating for Baghdad and Tehran, lies and more lies from the US government on Iraq get exposed, we note the shooting death of an Iraqi in Dallas, Texas, and much more.

Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Badr militia leader Hadi al-Amiri has praised Iran for it's "unconditional" aid and support as contrasted with the US -- Iraqi leaders "kiss the hands of the Americans and get nothing in return."

Oh, Hadi, you're such an embarrassment, such an idiot.

Do you really think we've forgotten you or your weakling son?

Or the 2014 incident where your little baby (grown adult son) threw a tantrum because an airline refused to delay a flight for him.

Or that you, as Transportation Minister, then refused to allow the flight to land in Iraq?

Oh, Hadi, you stupid ass.

The world has not forgotten.

Nor has the world forgotten that, in your denials (lies) about the incident, you promised a full investigation.

There was never an investigation.

Which was good for your little boy, right?

Because you'd publicly insisted that if he was responsible, you'd turn him over to the authorities.

Poor little Hadi.  Such a joke on the world stage.

And part of the reason the US government did not back, last summer, Ammar al-Hakim for the post of prime minister.  Hadi's part of the al-Hakim led Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.  All Iraq News reports Ammar met with Brett McGurk of the US State Dept to tell McGurk that Iraq doesn't need the US.

Good enough, let's pull all US troops out of Iraq (at last).

Wednesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held an important hearing on Iraq and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that US President Barack Obama has requested.  We've covered the hearing in the Wednesday and Thursday snapshots and will cover it later in this one.  But for now, let's note what Ranking Member Robert Menendez stated as the hearing was coming to a close.

Ranking Member Robert Menendez:  Finally, I do hope that we can get to a point to find the right balance and that's not easy in this proposition to give you an AUMF that gives you the wherewithall to degrade and defeat ISIL but by the same token doesn't provide an open-ended check.  And I think that the real concern here  is for some of us who lived under shock and awe and were told that Iraqi oil was going to pay for everything and saw a lot of lives and national treasure spent, that even well intentioned efforts can move in a totally different direction.  And this is the most critical vote that any member of the Congress  will take which is basically a vote on war and peace and life and death.

As if to underscore the points he was making Wednesday, CBS News reported Friday:

A U.S. soldier at an Iraqi training base was injured by gunfire directed at the base, marking the first time an American soldier has been wounded by fire from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.
A Pentagon spokesman told Martin that the soldier received superficial wounds to his face after the incident, which occurred Wednesday at 3:00 a.m. Iraqi time.

National Iraqi News Agency adds, "The Spokesman of the Pentagon said that this is the first time that a US soldier wounded are carried out on the ground, since the United States began training Iraqi forces as part of coalition efforts to defeat the IS organization."  All Iraq News quotes the Pentagon spokesperson, Steve Warren, stating that "US soldiers returned fire."

Oh, what a beautiful city
Oh, what a beautiful city
Oh, what a beautiful city
Twelve gates to the city
There are three gates in the east
And three to the west
There's three to the north
And three to the south
There's twelve gates to the city
-- "Twelve Gates To The City," traditional song recorded by Carly Simon on her Christmas Is Almost Here

Twelve Gates To The City, and 12 days to reach Tikrit.

That's how long it's taken the Baghdad-Tehran alliance.  On Thursday, the 12th day of the operation, they finally reached Tikrit.  Apparently, there was no direct path so they had to take stop overs, possibly they traveled Jet Blue via Miami.

Thursday, All Iraq News reported that Khalid al-Khazrji (Deputy Chair of the Local Security Committee) was insisting, "The Iraqi forces have completely controlled over Tikrit."

Oh, the lies and the liars.

Like Khaled al-Obeidi.  Thursday, National Iraqi News Agency reported that Defense Minister al-Obeidi declared that the battle for Tikrit "will be today and will be a decisive battle."

Didn't happen.

But Iran and Baghdad's Shi'ite forces had finally made it to Tikrit.


Jean Marc Mojon (AFP) didn't seem to grasp what he reported on Friday morning:

Iraqi forces on Friday battled jihadists making what looked increasingly like a last stand in Tikrit but the Islamic State group responded by vowing to expand its "caliphate".
Thousands of fighters surrounded a few hundred holdout IS militants, pounding their positions from the air but treading carefully to avoid the thousands of bombs littering the city centre.

The bulk of Islamic State fighters had left, only a "few hundred" remained and that was still too much for the combined might of Baghdad and Tehran.

Offering a more clear-eyed assessment on Friday was Saif Hameed (Reuters) who reported:

The offensive to retake Tikrit appeared to stall on Friday, two days after Iraqi security forces and mainly Shi’ite militia pushed into Saddam Hussein’s home city in their biggest offensive yet against the militants.
A source in the Salah Al-Din Operations Command said Iraqi forces would not move forward until reinforcements reached Tikrit, of which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still holds around half.

Using guerrilla warfare tactics, the militants have turned the city into a labyrinth of home-made bombs and booby-trapped buildings, and are using snipers to halt their progress.

Adam Rawnsley (War Is Boring) notes that, "in a sign of Tehran’s growing military presence in the Iraq, Iranian weapons were a nearly ubiquitous sight in images and videos coming out of the offensive to take the mostly Sunni city."  Yamei Wang (Xinhua) adds that Friday saw at least seventy-two security forces injured and another 26 killed.

And today?  Xinhua reports:

Iraqi security forces fighting to free the besiege city of Tikrit planned to clear the city from the Islamic State (IS) militants within 72 hours, a militia spokesman said on Saturday.
The city "will be liberated within 72 hours," Karim al-Nouri, a leading figure of the Shiite party Badr Organization and the spokesman of the government-backed militia of al-Hashed al-Shaabi, said in the town of Awja, south of Tikrit.

But reality is not what's above.  Reuters reports reality which is that the Islamic State still controls at least half of Tirkit and the security forces who entered the city?

They have "paused their offensive for a second day on Saturday as they awaited reinforcements, a military source said."

This is also echoed by the Oman Tribune, "Earlier, Iraqi forces and Shia militia battling to wrest full control of the city of Tikrit from Baghdadi militiamen paused their offensive for a second day on Saturday as they awaited reinforcements.  A source in the local military command centre said military commanders had reached a decision to halt the operation until a suitable, carefully set plan is in place to break into central Tikrit."

So the operation starts with claims that are never met (they were supposed to have entered and seized Tikrit two Fridays ago -- that is what the officials promised) and after they finally arrive in Tikrit and face significantly fewer Islamic State forces than they expected, they're still so inept that they have to pause their fighting and wait for reinforcements.

Hundreds of Islamic State fighters.

Thousands of security forces.

And the security forces have to wait for reinforcements before continuing the battle.

This was supposed to be a confidence builder.

It has been anything but.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is again demonstrating he's no different than Nouri al-Maliki.

In 2008, you may remember, Nouri decided to attack Basra (and Sadr City in Baghdad).

It was an operation that the US was planning with Iraqi forces.

But Nouri jumped the gun.

And Iraqi forces, once fighting began, began deserting.

And Nouri hadto count on the US forces to rescue his plan.

But because the US government needed to promote Nouri as a leader, it was considered unkind to point out that it was only US forces that diverted the disaster.

And now there's Haider.

Who didn't want US help on this.

And the forces -- with all of Tehran's help -- couldn't even make it into Tirkit on time.

And when they did?

They can't even fight a much smaller than expected group of Islamic State fighters.

This was supposed to be the morale booster.

It should be the wake up call.

Yes, the US military assessment was correct:  Iraqi forces (with or without help from Tehran) are still not ready or maybe just still not committed to the actual fight.

Sending Shi'ites into Saddam Hussein's home town?

It was supposed to be a morale builder because Shi'ites hated (and continue to hate) the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

This was the area they would shoot up and destroy, feeding on their own hatred.

But even with all that, they still can't pull it off.

They're an embarrassment.

So is stupidity.

We're not even going to go into Nancy A. Youssef's idiotic efforts to claim a slice of Tikrit for the US -- she (and brass) feared the operation would be a success -- because they're unable to use their eyes and ears -- so she did a piece of whoring -- like what she used to do for McClatchy all the time.  We're not linking to her nonsense.

But we will go to greater stupidity.

Foreign Policy, we mean you.

Why did you ever hire idiots like David Frances and Sabine Muscat who wrote on Friday:

Congress sits by as Christians are besieged by the Islamic State. Last August, President Barack Obama signed a bill creating a special envoy charged with helping Iraq’s Christian communities and other minority religious groups targeted by the Islamic State. Seven months later, the post is still vacant, and Congress seems in no rush to fill it. FP’s Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Yochi Dreazen report on a “small but concrete example of Washington’s passivity in the face of an ongoing wave of atrocities against the Assyrian, Chaldean, and other Christian communities of Iraq and Syria.”

Leave out Yochi and Bethany because they don't argue what Frances and Muscat stupidly do.

Have you finished the third grade?

If so and you're an American citizen going to school in America you should be rolling your eyes at what Frances and Muscat wrote.

Congress isn't sitting by.

They're not the ones "in no rush to fill it."

Because, even though Frances and Muscat are too stupid to know it, Congress merely votes to confirm (or deny) someone the president nominates.

What kind of whores are Frances and Muscat to blame Congress for Barack's inaction?

Stupid whores if they think they can get away with it.

Again, the linked to article by Yochi and Bethany does not make the claim Frances and Muscat do.

Frances and Muscat are wrong, they're wrong about the Constitution and they really shouldn't be allowed to cover these topics anymore because either they're too stupid or they're too biased to be trusted.

Here's reality, Barack waited 10 days to sign the bill in question (passed by Congress) and did so quietly, as Yochi and Bethany note, "the White House quietly announced the signing in a late-afternoon press release that lumped it in with an array of other low-profile legislation. Neither Obama nor any prominent lawmakers made any explicit public reference to the bill."

When Barack's failure to nominate someone for the post results in two 'reporters' rushing to slam Congress, then Foreign Policy needs to do a house cleaning.  Frances and Muscat are not qualified to even write up synopsis so they shouldn't be working for Foreign Policy.

Yochi and Bethany write an even-handed report which includes:

Administration officials say they are paying close attention to the plight of Iraq’s religious minorities and doing all they can to help. In an interview, Rabbi David Saperstein, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said that he has devoted the majority of his time since assuming his post last December to the plight of the Christians and other groups that find themselves in the crosshairs of the Islamic State.
Saperstein noted that when the Islamic State encircled thousands of members of the country’s Yazidi community and threatened to exterminate them last year, it was American warplanes that beat back the militants and allowed the civilians to escape their clutches. “There are scores of thousands of people who are alive because of what we did,” he said.

The issue is Iraqi Christians.

If Saperstein is too ignorant to know that Yazidis are not Christians may be he's not up for his job.

The Yazidis should have been (and were) provided with supplies dropped from planes.

In addition, they were used to put US forces (publicly) back into Iraq.

The Yazidis are now aligned with the neocons -- via their sole MP in Parliament who spends so much of her time in England, Canada and the United States.  They really don't need an advocate.

But Iraqi Christians have been very public about the fact that the Yazidis have gotten the world's attention while the slaughter of Iraqi Christians in Iraq goes largely unnoticed.

The so called objective press might want to explain to their news consumers why that is, why they ignore the Iraqi Christians while they provide tons of coverage to the group advocating for US combat troops in Iraq -- because that's what the Yazidi leadership signed off on when they agreed to take neocon money in an effort to publicize themselves.

On the battles in Iraq, Kareem Shaheen (Guardian) reports:

On Friday a prominent Iraqi Sunni preacher urged authorities to prevent Shia militias from carrying out revenge attacks. Sheikh Abdel Sattar Abdul Jabbar said that if the government failed to stop revenge attacks by Shia militias, the country would face reignited sectarian tensions such as the ones it witnessed at the height of the war in 2006 and 2007.
“We ask that actions follow words to punish those who are attacking houses in Tikrit,” Abdul Jabbar said during his Friday sermon in Baghdad. “We are sorry about those acting in revenge that might ignite tribal anger and add to our sectarian problems.

Analysts say the campaign to liberate Sunni areas must be led by members of the community, fearing retributions and revenge attacks that could upend the campaign to drive out Isis. 

Back to Wednesday's hearing.  Isakson questioned the need for a time limit on Barack's proposed AUMF -- which currently has a 3-year-provision calling for a review three years after it is passed.  Isakson wondered, "Wouldn't we be better off sending a clear signal that there is no end to this conflict as far as we are concerned until we win the victory?"  Click here for the press release from Senator Isakson's office.

For any wondering about the answer, Ash Carter repeatedly stated this was a "political consideration" and that the Good and Powerful Barack didn't want to tie anyone's hands.

Strange because Bully Boy Bush signed a three year agreement with Iraq after -- after -- the 2008 elections which saw Barack win the presidency.  Before Barack won the presidency, he (and Joe Biden) insisted they would oppose Bully Boy Bush doing any such agreement without the Senate signing off.  Immediately after the election -- Deletion You Can Believe In -- that promise disappeared from the campaign site and neither Barack nor Joe ever brought it up again.

Ash Carter is the Secretary of Defense.  He appeared at the hearing to offer testimony as did Secretary of State John Kerry and General Martin Dempsey who is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs.

Let's jump in on this exchange.

Senator Cory Gardner:  . .  . what weight of effort would you say that the Peshmerga or other fighting in the region are pursuing against ISIL?

Gen Martin Dempsey:  The early successes against ISIL were largely through the Peshmerga.  And that will evolve over time but they've been carrying the majority of the effort thus far.

Senator Cory Gardner:  And by majority of effort, is there a weight?  Like they're carrying out a third?   Three-quarters?  Ninety percent?

Gen Martin Dempsey:  No, Senator, I can't actually put

Senator Cory Gardner:  -- the weight of effort on it?

Gen Martin Depmsey:  -- but the early, uh, the early effort to blunt ISIL's momentum were north and therefore with the Peshmerga

Senator Cory Gardner:  And reports in the news and other places have stated the Peshmerga are only getting about 10% of the arms that have routed through -- that have been routed through Baghdad.  Is that correct?

Gen Martin Dempsey:  Uh, again, I don't have the percentage but I can certainly take it for the record.  But there were some friction early on with the willingness of the government of Iraq to provide weapons to the Peshmerga but we think we've-we've managed our way through that.

Senator Cory Gardner:  And so right now you feel confident that the process by which arms will reach Erbil have now been settled or resolved?

Gen Martin Dempsey:  I am confident that we've broke through the initial friction but it doesn't mean it won't return.

He was confident on Wednesday.

Is he still confident?

Or is he just a liar?

Massoud Barazani is the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Hours after the hearing, The NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, audio and video) aired an interview with Barzani which included Barzani declaring:

We are satisfied with the [US] air support. We are getting good support, but, in reality, to this present moment, we have the same view as in the past on arming and equipping the Peshmerga forces with the right weapons.  It’s not to the standard we want.

If that's confusing for anyone -- possibly confusing for Dempsey, the title of the segment is "Kurdish leader says more U.S. weapons needed in fight against Islamic State."

Peshmerga forces include women and Cale Salih has written about that for CNN here.

But to the point of Dempsey's dishonesty?

That's all the hearing offered: dishonesty from the witnesses.

Hour after the hearing,  James Gordon Meek, Brian Ross, Rym Momtaz and Alex Hosenball (ABC News) broke the news that Shi'ites were committing War Crimes (they called it "human rights violations") in Iraq.

At the hearing, John Kerry lied non-stop including, "So as long as we continue to work on the integration, the  internal inclusivity of Iraq and its government -- to help the Iraqis to be able to do this themselves, help the region feel empowered by it, that is a long term recipe for the United States not to have as much risk and not to have to put ourselves on the line the way we have historically."

There is no 'inclusivity' in Iraq.  Shi'ites forces are targeting, terrorizing and killing Sunni civilians.

A fact Kerry didn't raise before the Committee.

Let's again note, the Thursday broadcast of ABC World News with David Muir:

David Muir: Now to new fall out after our ABC investigation last night. It involves the fight against ISIS known for those awful videos, lining up their victims on the beach.  And now a new concern.  Are some of the Iraqi forces -- trained and paid for by US taxpayers -- using techniques that are just as brutal?  Well the State Dept tonight responding to our report and ABC's chief investigative reporter Brian Ross back on the job tonight.

Brian Ross:  The State Dept called these scenes today serious and disturbing.  Brutal images of what appear to be Iraqi forces and militias carrying out, celebrating, torture and beheadings.  In this torture scene, two US weapons against the wall. This video shows two civilians, pleading for their lives, about to be shot dead.  A man with an American supplied weapon walks by, a gunman with what appears to be the insignia of Iraqi Special Forces caught on tape.

US State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki: Their behavior must be above reproach or they risk being painted with the same brush as ISIL fighters.

Brian Ross:  The Pentagon says it has already cut off money to some Iraqi units because of gross human rights violations.  But Senator Patrick Leahy says the ABC News report shows the government should cut off money to more Iraqi units.

Senator Patrick Leahy: When you look at at the videos and look at the uniforms being worn, do we really want to say the US condones that?

Brian Ross: US officials tonight tell ABC News that America's top military leader Gen Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has repeatedly warned Iraqi leaders about the conduct of the Iraqi military and the militias that fight with them -- especially because the US is sending $1.5 billion to the Iraqi army and almost 3,000 American troops to help train them.

The hearing on Iraq?  John Kerry should have informed the Committee.

Especially since this was Senator Bob Menendez's concern.

Not his concern today.

His concern back in November of 2013.

He was very concerned -- and very public about it -- that the US government would be arming thugs who would use the weapons to terrorize the people.

The White House not only assured him that would not happen, they promised that if it did, they would -- as the law requires -- cut off all arm shipments to Iraq.

Starting to understand why John Kerry lied and failed to disclose the abuses to Congress?

It was one lie after another.

And Kerry was also caught this week in yet another lie.

Last month, he was grandstanding in Munich -- yet again acting as though he were the Secretary of Defense -- and he created a figure -- how very Brian Williams of him -- that really didn't exist as he claimed that 50% of the Islamic State's leadership had been decimated in Syria and in Iraq.

Eli Lake and Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reported Friday:

When asked about Kerry's 50 percent claim, Army Captain John J. Moore, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told us: "We currently don't have a percentage attached to that statistic."
Experts told us Kerry’s estimate is tough to understand, because defining the Islamic State’s “leadership” is subjective. Cole Bunzel, a Princeton University scholar of Near Eastern Studies who closely follows Islamic State, said its leadership structure is opaque, and not much is known about the true membership of its Shura and Sharia councils, which play an important role in the organization. When the Islamic State has announced major decisions, such as its decision to expand into Syria or declare itself a caliphate, said Bunzel, it has made clear that one or both of those councils were consulted by Baghdadi.
"I am very skeptical of the claim that the coalition has killed 50 percent of the leadership of the Islamic State, whatever that means,” said Bunzel.
He later added, "The Islamic State has publicly announced when senior members of the group have been killed. But they have never talked about anyone in the core leadership being killed since 2010."

It's just been one lie after another.

And that's why Congress should be very alarmed at the wording in Barack's requested AUMF.

In the hearing, Senator Chris Murphy noted:

I remain as frustrated as many of my colleagues with this question over these definitions
I think the problem is in part every different member of the administration  we talk to does seem to have a slightly different interpretation of what these words mean and I can't blame them because, I think, as Secretary Carter said there's no historical operational definition of these words.  But I think the lack of consistency has hampered our efforts to get on the same page together.

Senator Rand Paul noted in the hearing, "It's disdainful to say, 'We want you to pass something but it really doesn't matter, we'll just use 2001' -- which is really absurd.  It just means that Congress is inconsequential and so are the people and the country,"

And it was disdainful for the witnesses to lie to Congress.

And Kerry's entire presentation was disdainful and, yes, shameful.

He needs to learn to shut his mouth.

Yeah, he chaired the Committee -- back when people traveled in wagons.  He's Secretary of State now and he needs to learn to shut his mouth.

At one point, the Chair told him he was done.

Kerry insisted he wasn't.

Chair Bob Corker said he was done with his "speech" and that he had taken five minutes and 20 seconds to 'answer' a question.  The time was up.  The Senator asking questions had already pushed the time limit before finally giving Kerry a chance to speechify. It was time for the next Senator to ask questions.

When the Chair tells you that, you don't keep talking, you don't argue.

You just shut your damn mouth.

When he chaired the Committee, Kerry certainly understood that.

His preening ego, however, prevents from understanding it today.

Moving from Kerry's never ending jaw boning and lying to violence in the US, All Iraq News notes the fatal shooting of Iraqi Ahmed al-Jumaili in Dallas, Texas.  Al-Jumaili was an Iraqi refugee who had only recently arrived in the US.  CBS News reports:

The victim's wife, Zahraa Altaie, told the station they noticed the men that night but paid no attention to them nor did anything to provoke them. She said the shooting appeared to be random.
"I put my hand on his heart. I still feel his heart beating. I tried to stop his bleeding, but I couldn't," said Zahraa.

Iraqi community members are e-mailing asking where the left is on this?

They note that the American left was calling out the movie American Sniper.  (Some were calling it out.  I didn't call it out.)  They note the protests in Ferguson over the killing of an African-American (Michael Brown) by police.

So why isn't this faction of the left also objecting to the murder of Ahmed, the e-mails ask?

That's a question they'll have to answer.  I don't think it will be a pretty answer so I'm guessing those that called out a film -- Debra Useless Sweet, Cindy Sheehan and all the others -- will not call out the killer who, for the record, is African-American.  Nykerion Nealon is the killer's name.

Rachelle Blinder (New York Daily News) reports:

Nealon, who went by the nickname Kaca, did not know al-Jumaili and shot him while seeking revenge, Cotner said. Someone reportedly shot at his girlfriend's apartment in a neighboring complex, making Nealon round up three buddies to look for the suspect, a witness told police. They went to Nealon's apartment to get his assault rifle and then headed to Al-Jumaili's apartment complex.
The thug saw al-Jumaili taking pictures of the snow and raised his rifle, one of his friends told police. The friend took cover under bushes and heard shots ring out, he said. 

Al-Jumaili ran back to his apartment as Nealon followed him with his eyes, continually aiming his rifle and firing at him, Cotner said. Al-Jumaili was shot in the chest.

15 shell casings were found at the crime scene.

Let's also note that the claim of Kaca's girlfriend's apartment being shot at was made -- in a phone call to the police -- after Kaca shot dead Ahmed.  After.  Whether the claim is true or not, no one knows.

Whether it's true or not, it does not justify Kaca grabbing a gun and killing anyone.

But it's important to remember the claim came after the fact.

It's important to remember Kaca shot dead Ahmed.  Kaca and friends then ran to girlfriend's apartment. Then the police were called and the alleged shooting at girlfriend's apartment was reported to the police but they didn't report the murder of Ahmed.  They didn't report that Kaca had shot Ahmed.

As Telemundo reports, the police only discovered Kaca shot Ahmed because Kaca was caught on security cameras (with his rifle).

I wouldn't believe, were I on the jury, the claim of a shooting at an apartment without physical evidence.  That said, were I the defense attorney, I would be sure to put Walnut Bend Apartments on trial and note that the ownership (BH Management) is notorious for its shoddy practices -- including falsely telling renters that  eviction processes had been started, including failure to salt frozen stairs and walk ways, etc.  They have one of the worst images of any in the region.  They do not have security, they often arrange drive throughs with local police.  Were I the defense attorney, I'd be asking what the security was like and how responsive the management was to security concerns.

Regardless of whether or not the shooting at his girlfriend's apartment can be proven, if BH Management did their usual poor job of security and of responding to safety concerns, a case for Kaca could be built around that.  And it's winter -- almost over -- so BH Management probably distributed in January or February a flier to the residents of Walnut Bend Apartments that would basically make clear how little responsibility BH Management takes for their properties.  I'd get a copy of that, were I the defense attorney, to explain why Kaca might have felt it was necessary to defend his girlfriend himself.

If he is convicted?  A few e-mails from Iraqi community members ask about the death penalty? Texas is a death penalty state.  If tried as an adult (Kaca is 17), the killer could face the death penalty.

(We are not calling the victim, Ahmed, by his last name because we humanize people by calling them by their first names here.  Due to the accused's age, we're also going with something other than the last name.  And we would have gone with his first name but when people have a preferred name that is on the record -- such as Ed Snowden always introducing himself as "Ed" -- we call them by the name they prefer.)

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Hollow Man

the hollow man 1


From September 23, 2012, that's  "The Hollow Man."  C.I. noted:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper notes, "People say, 'Stephen Harper, how could you be so heartless to deport Kim Rivera?'" And then, opening the door to his hollow chest, he explains, "Got your answer right here.  I'm the hollow man."  Indeed he is and the shame of North America.      Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

If you missed it, when Kim was forced out of Canada, she was thrown behind bars in America and delivered her child behind bars.

Unlike during Vietnam, the Canadian government hasn't been receptive to War Resisters.

But that didn't stop a stupid ass Canadian from getting his high horse last November and lecturing and hectoring the United States about how they voted.

Seems like Canada has a lot of work to do and needs to get their nose out of US elections.

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

Saturday, March 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Canada suffers a loss in Iraq, Stephen Harper is a Chicken Hawk in hiding, Gen Martin Dempsey apparently previously worked for Dionne Warwick's Psychic Network, the VA shows up at a budget hearing unprepared and leaning on the work of others, and much more.

February 26th, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee heard from the VA led by Secretary Robert McDonald, we covered part of the hearing in Thursday's snapshot.  McDonald is in his seventh month on the job.  He replaced Eric Shinseki who resigned in disgrace.  As Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal told McDonald in the hearing, "That has been one of the downfalls of the VA to this point, the lack of reliable truthful information.  It was the downfall of your predecessor."

It was noted throughout the hearing and it sort of left a question mark hanging over whatever limited information the VA was able to provide in the hearing.  Blumenthal is the Ranking Member and Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair.  The hearing was about the VA's budget request and the first panel was composed of VA employees led by McDonald.  The others were Dr. Carolyn Clancy, well known fabulist Allison Hickey, Ronald Walters, Stephen Warren and Helen Tierney.

Senator Patty Murray is a long serving member of the Committee and is a former Chair of the Committee.  She and Senator Dean Heller sponsored the Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2015.

Senator Patty Murray:  Secretary McDonald, as you know and as you said in your opening statement, the population of women veterans is increasing dramatically, it's doubled since 2001. I was really pleased to work with Senator Heller to introduce the Women's Veterans Access to Quality Care Act to make sure that the VA does have the services and the facilities to meet the needs of women veterans.  One of the key positions of that bill is requiring obstetrics and gynecology to be available at every medical center.  I wanted to ask you what resources and staff -- including support staff -- will you need to meet that requirement?

Secretary Robert McDonald: Thank you, Senator Murray.  We've very much in favor of that -- of that approach.  We're in the process of putting, uh, women's clinics all over the country.  We have a new one here in Washington, D.C. and I'd like to invite the members of the Committee to visit it.  Uhm, it's in our Washington, D.C. facility, it's a women's clinic.  Uh, as you know, I've been out to about 12 medical schools, talked to deans.  I'm -- We're hiring.  And we need to hire more gynecologists --

Senator Patty Murray:  Do you -- Do you know how many you would need to --

Secretary Robert McDonald:  Exact number --

Senator Patty Murray (Con't):  -- to do this?

Secretary Robert McDonald:  I don't have an exact number.  I can tell you that in the past -- the past nine months or so, we've hired about 8,000 people.  Of that, about 1,000 are doctors.  But I don't have how many of that are, uh, gynecologists --

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay, if you can get --

Senator Robert McDonald (Con't):  -- with that --

Senator Patty Murray (Con't): -- that for me and get back with me on that.  

And this is what frustrates me regarding the hearings.

McDonald doesn't have basic information?

He's got a team siting with him at the table and they don't have the information.

Forget not know -- they should know it -- but they're not able to flip through their paperwork in front of them and pull out the figure?

And the team McDonald has sitting behind him at the hearing can't whisper the information to him?

Because, throughout the hearing, the people behind him were feeding him figures and statistics.

When they don't feed on that, when no one at the table volunteers, it doesn't look like people just do not know, it plays like they don't want to share the information.

As Ranking Member Blumenthal and others noted throughout the hearing, Shinseki himself complained, when resigning, that he was not given accurate information from those in the VA reporting to him.

So you'd assume McDonald would be focusing on nailing down information.

If you're aware that approximately 8,000 people have been hired and 1,000 are doctors, knowing how many are OB-GYNs should not be a mystery.

Though he didn't supply a number, with 1,000 being doctors.

There are 152 VA medical centers and if we add in VA outpatient clinics, we're left with nearly 1,000 facilities.  (We could also add in the nursing home care units and domiciliaries.)

So there is an issue of a serious lack of gynecologists at VA medical facilities and if only 1,000 doctors were hired, you probably didn't fulfill the needs.

The hearing was February 26th.  The Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2015 was read and referred to Committee on February 12th.

14 days later, you're not prepared to discuss it?  You don't anticipate discussing it?

Let's go back:

Senator Patty Murray:  One of the key positions of that bill is requiring obstetrics and gynecology to be available at every medical center.  I wanted to ask you what resources and staff -- including support staff -- will you need to meet that requirement?

Secretary Robert McDonald: Thank you, Senator Murray.  We've very much in favor of that -- of that approach.  We're in the process of putting, uh, women's clinics all over the country.  We have a new one here in Washington, D.C. and I'd like to invite the members of the Committee to visit it.  Uhm, it's in our Washington, D.C. facility, it's a women's clinic.  Uh, as you know, I've been out to about 12 medical schools, talked to deans.  I'm -- We're hiring.  And we need to hire more gynecologists --

Senator Patty Murray:  Do you -- Do you know how many you would need to --

Secretary Robert McDonald:  Exact number --

Senator Patty Murray (Con't):  -- to do this?

Secretary Robert McDonald:  I don't have an exact number. 

The VA was present to argue for the budget and what the budget needs are.

The failure to be prepared to address this issue goes to the continued lack of respect for the needs of women veterans.

Senator Patty Murray:  And I also just wanted to bring up the VA's policy, up-to-date -- It is way past time to VA's policies up-to-date with modern medicine and allow the VA to provide better fertility treatment -- including in vitro fertilization for seriously injured veterans who want to start a family.  This is a high priority for me.  I think it is a high priority for our veterans and I want to work with you to get that done so I'll be talking to you more on that.

Senator Robert McDonald:  Working on it.

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay, I want to hear from you.  What are you doing to work on this?

Dr Carolyn Clancy: So my staff briefed me recently on how many women might be eligible and what would be the specific --

Senator Patty Murray:  Well it's women and men. 

Dr. Carolyn Clancy:  -- medical requirements.  Yes.  Uh, also compared what the Dept of Defense covers versus what we cover.  Or, actually, don't.  At the moment.  So, uhm, I sent them back with some more questions.  So we'll be happy to follow up with you.  

Senator Patty Murray:  I'll submit some questions on this but I think this is absolutely critical for our men and women who serve overseas, lose their capability and we have to make sure they can start a family so I will be focused on this.  

Again, the lack of respect for women veterans.

An issue the VA has failed on is referred to, by a medical doctor -- no less, as an issue for women.

Murray corrected her because Murray's worked on this issue repeatedly. She has spoken to many couple's effected by the issue.  She has Chaired hearings on this issue.

She is informed.

And she's done the work to be.

Why hasn't Clancy?

Check her official bio and ask yourself why she is so ignorant of this basic medical issue.

And, please note, this ignorance is after, she maintains, "my staff briefed me on this issue."

And let's note again, as Senator Murray has highlighted for several years now, the Defense Dept provides coverage for this to service members.  It's the VA that's failing to do so.

Senator Patty Murray:  I also wanted to talk to you about the legislation that I introduced last year to expand the caregivers support systems to VA, to all eras of veterans.  I'm going to be introducing that again this year and I want to be sure we're all working together to strengthen that program so that it will be ready to take on the additional workload.  VA's budget request says that in Fiscal Year 2015 you cannot hire any new caregiver support coordinators to help with overwhelming demand and I hear already at some facilities that providers refuse to help with doing initial evaluations or home visits.  And to me that is just unacceptable. I wanted to ask what you were doing to bring in more caregvier support coordinators?

Secretary Robert McDonald: Let me start and then I'll ask Carolyn to comment. We're very much in favor of improving our care-caregiver operation.  In fact, in the last week, I met with, uh, Senator Dole of The Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

Senator Patty Murray:  We're working very closely.

Secretary Robert McDonald:  We're working closely with her.  Uh, what we've agreed to do, I want to set up a special advisory committee for the Secretary on caregivers.  We don't have that and I think we would benefit from having that.  Number two -- working with her, incidentally, working with her foundation.  Secondly, is, uhm, we're talking about having a caregiver summit. Uh, something where we could get everybody together and, uh --

Senator Patty Murray:  For all eras? Or just --

Secretary Robert McDonald:  All eras.  Because-because, again, post 9/11 is not enough.

Senator Patty Muray:  Yeah.

Secretary Robert McDonald:  So we want to work together with you on this.

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay.  Well I want to stay in touch with you on that and keep me up-to-date on what they are doing. 

A basic question was asked:  What are you doing to bring in more caregiver support coordinators?

And the answer?

We're talking to Elizabeth Dole's foundation and we plan to have a summit at some point.

That's what you're doing?

After all the hearings on caregivers, that's what you point to as 'action'?  Farming out your work to Elizabeth Dole's foundation and talk of a summit?

Senator Patty Murray: And, finally, I want to talk to you about a home state issue -- the Spokane Emergency Room.  They have seen a dramatic cutback in operations simply because of staffing problems.  I have to tell you as the daughter of a WWII veteran this is unacceptable to me.  It is a very serious problem for veterans in that area and we've got to get it back to a full time operation.  I wanted to ask you today, when will the emergency room at the Spokane VA start operating 24 hours again?

Dr. Carolyn Clancy: So, Senator, we have had significant recruiting problems.  We had originally hoped to open it to 24/7 in April and it's now looking like that's going to get pushed back a few months until I met with some colleagues from the American Legion just a couple of days ago at their meeting this week and they have actually been out speaking to some of the other hospitals in town who may be able to help us out.  The other area where I think we need help recruiting emergency physicians is, uh, a legislative, uh, change that would allow us to accomodate what many people who go into emergency medicine want which is greater flexibility for hours than the current federal HR policies allow.

Senator Patty Murray:  So are you looking at every option because -- 

Dr. Carolyn Clancy:  Yes.

Senator Patty Murray (Con't):  -- we've heard recruiting forever. Temporary providers, bringing in doctors from other facilities, absolutely everything because this is a critical need in that community. 

Dr. Carolyn Clancy:  No, I would agree with you.  And we are looking at all options, yes.

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay and I want to follow up on you with that.  Let me know when and how and when we're going to see that open again.  Thank you. 

Robert McDonald has had many mis-steps since becoming VA Secretary.  And maybe that distracts from the above nonsense.

As Murray noted "we've heard recruiting forever."

The excuse has gotten more than a little old.

In addition, it's shameful that the E.R. would not be open full time but I find it more shameful that the needed work on the issue is done by the American Legion and not by the VA who is paid to do that work.

Good for the American Legion, They are a strong advocate and defender of veterans.

But why is the Legion able to do the work and the VA isn't?

The VA comes into a budget hearing, doesn't know the basics and repeatedly points to the foundations and VSOs as the answer -- in a budget hearing requesting funding.

'Fund us because of all the work that the VSOs and foundations do!'

McDonald's chief selling point was that he knew how to run things.  Seven months into his tenure, that has yet to be demonstrated.

In Iraq, Mahmud Saleh (AFP) reports, "Iraqi forces faced tough resistance from jihadist fighters around Tikrit Saturday, but the top US military officer said ahead of a Baghdad visit that victory was only a matter of time."  The officer is Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   You'd think US military brass, having so often gotten predictions on Iraq wrong, would hesitate before consulting their crystal balls yet again.

Even more so since the US military is shut out of this Tehran-Baghdad assault on Tikrit.  Hassan Hassan (The Observer) feels things may be less clear cut than Dempsey's predicting:

But there are ominous signs that the campaign faces many perils and there are fears that its impact may unleash fresh waves of sectarian conflict, as well as long-term rebalancing of political forces in the region.
The campaign, which entered it’s second week on Sunday, is the first serious attempt to dislodge Isis from a Sunni area it has governed since the group’s military blitz in Iraq last June. Despite the American-led air strikes since the summer, the militant group has faced little pressure inside what can be described as its heartlands, such as Mosul, Falluja, Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. The offensive in Tikrit is therefore a critical development that will be monitored closely and nervously by almost everyone involved in the conflict. It is also the first major effort led by pro-government forces without consulting the United States and members of the international coalition. That latter fact leaves many question marks about the campaign. The Iraqi government portrays it as a national effort, led by the security forces and including thousands of Sunni tribal fighters. It also claims that Tikrit is all but empty of civilians.

But these claims are not entirely accurate. Hashd al-Shaabi, the umbrella organisation for Iranian-backed Shia militias, put together in the wake of Isis’s takeover of Mosul in June to serve as a de facto replacement for the army in the fight against the terror group, is leading the offensive. Any Sunni forces participating, notwithstanding their numbers, take a back seat at best.

You'd also think predictions would be put on hold considering the claim Press TV reported earlier this week, "According to provincial officials, Iraqi forces are expected to reach Tikrit late on Friday."

They're supposedly still outside.

Dempsey did offer other things.  Missy Ryan (Washington Post) notes:

“The important thing about this operation in Tikrit in my view is less about how the military aspect of it goes and more about what follows,” he told reporters ahead of a visit to Iraq, where he will meet with the Shiite-led government. “Because if the Sunni population is then allowed to continue to live its life the way it wants to, and can come back to their homes . . . then I think we’re in a really good place.”  
"But if what follows the Tikrit operation is not that, if there’s no reconstruction that follows it, if there’s no inclusivity that follows it, if there’s the movement of populations out of their homeland that follows it, then I think we’ve got a challenge in the campaign.”

It's already a condemned operation.  Iraqi forces and Shi'ite militia were captured on camera this week executing an 11-year-old Sunni boy.  An unarmed child.

Dempsey's full of crap -- probably had his mouth pressed Barack's anus too long.

The US is backing the slaughter of children.

There is no high ground to scramble to.

As for what follows a 'liberation' of Tikrit, Abdulrahman al-Rashed (Al Arabiya) offers a Sunni perspective

The Americans should realize that they have become part of the region’s repugnant sectarianism, fighting alongside Alawites in Syria and Shiites in Iraq, while negotiating with Shiite Iran on the nuclear issue. All three scenarios are against Sunnis, or at least this is how it seems. The Americans have put themselves in an unprecedented, terrible trap.
We hoped, and are still hoping, that the United States will participate in isolating Assad, the Syrian regime and its sectarianism, and support the moderate opposition that includes all religions and ethnic groups. We hoped that Washington would refrain from supporting the government in Baghdad unless it agreed to become representative of all Iraqis.

Widening the sectarian wars in the region will not serve the West. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Nusra, Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and others are nothing but the outcome of such blind fighting. The West should help promote moderate civilian institutions against religious hardliners, not support the latter to achieve victories in wars against temporary opponents.

While the US government -- including Dempsey -- lie, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani at least expresses concern.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweets:

  • Across Iraq, Margaret Griffis ( counts 143 dead and 47 injured on Friday.

    And the violence includes a death.

    The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweets:

    We mourn with & send our deepest condolences to our Canadian partners after the loss of SGT Doiron in northern Iraq.
    24 retweets 9 favorites

    Do you mourn, Brett?

    Because (a) you enabled Nouri al-Maliki.  You saw him as your ticket to power.  You almost succeeded in becoming Ambassador to Iraq.  Now you do the work but don't get the title.

    Fitting for someone who saw Baghdad as a whore house and couldn't keep it in his pants.

    Maybe Brett is mourning . . . if death turns turns him on.

    Otherwise, it's just hollow empty words.

    Stephen Harper is the prime minister of Canada.  He promised it would just be training -- that's all Canadian forces would be engaged in.

    Barack's made similar promises.

    Will Brett "mourn" if or when a US service member is killed in the latest wave of the never-ending Iraq War?

    Sgt Andrew Joseph Doiron.  Brett "mourns" so hard he can't even include the first name of the fallen.

    If there's anything more shameful than Brett, maybe it's Stephen Harper.  While Defence Minister Jason Kenney did make an on camera statement, Harper still hasn't released a statement.

    Grasp that Harper can grand stand and preen about sending Canadian forces into Iraq, he just goes AWOL, runs like a coward and hides when it's time to face citizens and explain his 'peaceful' operation resulted in death.

    That's how a War Hawk becomes a Chicken Hawk.

    Support war, demand it.  I'll disagree with you on that.  But I'll lose any remaining respect for you when you don't have the maturity to step forward when it's time to own consequences of your actions.

    Stephen Harper is a Chicken Hawk.

    Somebody should tell him that but they'd have to figure out what closet he was cowering in first.

    missy ryan

    Read on ...

    Sunday, March 1, 2015

    No, I can't!

    no i cant1


    From September 16, 2012, that's "No, I can't!"  

    C.I. noted:

    In Chicago, striking teachers carry signs which read, "Fighting for the schools our students DESERVE."  A teacher sees the president and asks, "Barack, are you keeping your promise to 'walk on that picket line with you'?"  Barack replies, "And miss a week of fundraisers?  No, I can't!"      Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    Sadly, Barack's repeatedly sided with big business while ignoring the protests of workers.

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

    Saturday, February 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a lot of gabbing over the attack on the Mosul Museum but not any real analysis, Barack's desire for combat troops gathers more attention, is the Islamic State just desperate for more press or are they carrying out large acts as part of a farewell to Mosul, and much more

    A friend who's a TV actress can talk Iraq every few months.  Whenever there's a story, for example, about how zoo animals are hunted in Iraq, she's all over it.  She's outraged.  She's angry.  Her speech can go on for 90 minutes -- and it is a speech, it's not a conversation.

    And I guess I should be grateful that in a world of apathy -- in the United States of Apathy -- she thinks passionately about Iraq at all.

    But, no offense to the big game animals, I'm really more concerned with human life in Iraq.  I didn't notice, for example, anyone getting upset about the slaughter when new buildings or US outposts in Iraq were accompanied by the ritualistic slaughter/sacrifice of an animal.

    I bring this up because in Thursday's snapshot we quoted the Metropolitan Museum on the attack on the Mosul Museum.

    We could have quoted any number of organizations or what have you.  To me, however, if it's a museum that's attacked, let's listen to what another museum is saying.  And I think it's valid for museums around the world to issue statements.

    But there's valid and then there's questionable.

    A.R. Williams (National Geographic) reports:

    Islamic State militants released a video on Thursday showing the destruction of priceless antiquities in northern Iraq.
    Running for more than five minutes, the video records men toppling statues in a museum and smashing them with sledgehammers, and attacking other statues at an archaeological site with a jackhammer.

    And I think about it and, yeah, this is something National Geographic should be on, it's their reporting beat.  The Guardian carries a column by Haifa Zangana which notes:

    Earlier attacks on Mosul’s heritage by Isis targeted the tomb of Nabi Yunus (the prophet Jonah), and the grave of Abu al-Hassan al-Jazari, a 12th- and 13th-century historiographer known as ibn al-Athir.
    The destruction of Mosul’s history is a crime against people who are proud of their education and heritage, and fully aware of the value, for example, of the library of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-627BC), with its 22,000 cuneiform tablets. Destruction of monuments that have been preserved through 14 centuries of Islam in Iraq is widely abhorred. These actions can be likened to the barbarism of an extreme sect in early Islam that demolished the shrine in Mecca.

    And there's no question Iraqi novelist Haifa should be weighing in.  But Pravada's got a report that opens, "Islamic State has committed yet another atrocity, adding vandalism and desecration of world cultural heritage to its list of crimes. UNESCO has expressed outrage over the attack on Mosul Museum and the destruction of statues and other artefacts, and has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council."  And AFP's report notes, "Archaeologists and heritage experts called for urgent action to protect the remains of some of oldest civilisations in the world."  BBC offers, "The reported destruction of the statues follows recent reports that IS burnt down Mosul Library, which housed over 8,000 ancient manuscripts."  And CNN has filed multiple stories including this one.

    And we could go on and on with all the outlets filing stories.

    But here's the thing, I can remember when Nouri used his Minister of the Interior to go after Iraq's LGBT and Emo and suspected LGBT and Emo communities.

    And I can remember the reality -- not spin, not rumors -- of the violent deaths by stoning (often with bricks) or super-gluing the anuses, etc.

    And I can remember the US press and the world press ignoring it for weeks and weeks.

    I can remember getting traction with friends in the music press (including one who got a deal that I would stop slamming him if his publication tackled the story) and how even that took forever and took a mountain of work.

    I love books, I love art, I love film and music but I don't think I value art more than I value human life.

    But I'm not sure our modern press can say the same.

    Forget the LGBT issue for a moment, it's also true 2010 through 2014 saw a vicious government assault on the Sunnis in Iraq and very few wanted to report on it.  Some, like Patrick Cockburn, did so begrudgingly and minimized while 'covering' it.  (Which is why Patrick Cockburn's reputation is so awful in the Arab world.)

    I'm an artist.  I believe in art.  But I believe we can and do create new art every day.  And if you told me a ship was sinking and we could save five people or save Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa which was also on the ship for some reason, I'd say save the five people.

    That's not me calling art or culture disposable but it is me noting that people are needed for art: they're needed to appreciate it, they're needed for it to have value.

    So it bothers me that when people are being killed by their own government, the world press is happy to take a pass..  But some objects being destroyed gets the attention of the entire world press.

    I love animals, I love art.  I just question the priorities of a global press which repeatedly finds ways to be outraged over something other than the deliberate killing of people.

    Nearly fifteen months of daily bombings of civilian areas in Iraq -- in Sunni dominate Falluja -- by the Iraqi military -- bombings that have wounded and killed thousands -- has, in nearly fifteen months, received not even 1/4 of the coverage the attack on the Mosul Museum has received in 48 hours.

    Again, I question the priorities of the global press.

    For decades, the joke was that UPI was the Ethel Mertz of the global press.  These days Ethel Mertz seems quite a bit loftier than any press outlet.

    (That reputation preceded the Unification Church's purchase of UPI -- preceded it by decades.  Ethel Mertz is the character Vivian Vance played on I Love Lucy, a character who always enjoyed sharing a juicy tidbit with Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo.)

    The priorities seem skewed at best.  Like with this [PDF format warning] report by alleged friends like Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization.  The report supposedly is concerned with War Crimes in Iraq.  I'm supposed to be using this site to promote it.

    The fact that I was being asked (strong-armed) into promoting the Friday briefing that the report would be released at while at the same time not being able to see the report myself ahead of time was enough to set my 'Spidey sense' tingling and I said no.

    And I've now read the report and I'm glad I said no.

    Is that a report?

    Because it reads like a cry for war.

    I also don't get the bravery or the need to call out the Islamic State.

    What's next?  An emergency press release announcing Adolf Hitler was evil?

    Watch this: Adolf Hitler should burn in hell!

    Do you know I will probably not get one e-mail complaining about that statement.

    It takes no courage to call out Adolf Hitler.

    It also takes no courage -- if you're outside of Iraq or Syria -- to call out the Islamic State.

    But a worthless report of 38 pages goes on and on about War Crimes carried out by the Islamic State while failing to note the War Crimes of the Iraqi government. But haven't they done that for years now?  Ignore the War Crimes?  Ignore Nouri al-Maliki's goons carrying out his orders to attack peaceful protesters?  But suddenly they're concerned about Iraq.

    And they've so very big and brave -- what manly men they are, rising from their haunches to bravely call out the Islamic State.

    In keeping with their ground breaking announcement that the Islamic State is bad, next week Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization will announce the shocking and ground breaking news that some children hate broccoli.

    During the Bully Boy Bush era, Canada largely and wisely sat out the Iraq War.  These days, it's foaming at the mouth to get in its 'kills.'  Keith Jones (WSWS) observes:

    Canada’s Conservative government is steamrolling its new “anti-terrorism” bill through parliament—legislation that tramples on core democratic rights and dramatically augments the power of the state and its national-security apparatus.
    The Conservatives, who last fall sent Canada to war yet again, this time in Iraq, are also plotting to involve Canada still more deeply in US imperialism’s global offensive.
    In both instances, the government is justifying its actions with the claim that Canada is under attack from Islamist terrorism.
    This has been a constant refrain of Prime Minster Stephen Harper and his minsters since the killing of two members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) last October in separate incidents in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and Ottawa.

    Harper and his Conservatives seized on these killings—the work of deeply troubled individuals who had no connection with each other, let alone any terrorist group in Canada or the Middle East—to advance a pre-planned right-wing agenda.

    Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization churned out a report that also reads like a War Hawk attempt to spread fear and encourage more violence.  You sort of picture Stephen Harper flipping through with one hand while pulling his pud with the other.

    The White House is facing severe criticism for announcing to the press last week that an attempt to drive IS out of Mosul will take place shortly -- no later than May.

    Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports there are other objections to the White House announcement which include charges that the administration's underestimated the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and the level of their dedication:

    With the legitimacy of the group’s cross-border claim of authority at stake, analysts said they found it unlikely that the Islamic State would easily give up control of Mosul or dedicate such a small force to protecting it. Many hundreds of Islamic State troops were committed to the failed effort to capture Kobani, a far less important city on the Syria-Turkey border, and Kurdish forces only 12 miles from Mosul report near-daily attacks by hundreds of Islamic State troops.
    “The idea that ISIS will vacate Mosul without a substantial fight is almost laughable,” J.M. Berger, an expert on the Islamic State who’s affiliated with the Brookings Institution’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, said in an email. “The timing of the caliphate announcement with the capture of Mosul connects the credibility of the former to their ability to hold the latter in a pretty big way. The caliphate announcement was a clear signal they don’t intend to melt away into the hills.”

    Read more here:

    The various experts quoted in the article may be correct.

    They may be correct in full or in part.

    They may also be completely wrong.

    I have no idea.

    But the attack on the Mosul Museum?

    Is the big takeaway there really 'lost cultural heritage'?

    For all the hand wringing the press has done, they seem to be missing a point.

    That act seems more like a closer.

    If you've got a bill of artists performing and Diana Ross is one of them, chances are Diana's closing the concert.  Because she's a closer.  She's a big deal.

    The attack on the Mosul Museum could be a closer too.

    Meaning the Islamic State, with the announcement from the White House about an impending attack on Mosul, may be resorting to a few last big acts as they prepare to disperse to other areas.

    May be.

    I have no idea.

    I do know that the Islamic State tends to be elusive and while some might argue they need to hold Mosul to prove their strength, it's also true that they've held it for nearly a year and that they could move to another area of Iraq or just move to strengthen their hold in Anbar.

    We noted a little while ago that the Islamic State succeeds via fear and that their actions seemed to be getting more and more desperate in order to garner attention and spread fear.

    That could be all the attack on the museum was.

    But it could also be part of an attempt to pull off some big moments before they begin dispersing in part or in full from Mosul.

    It's amazing that so many outlets can 'cover' an event without ever offering possible reasons for the attack.

    Or are we so fear-based that we convince ourselves the attack is just part of 'evil'?

    The Islamic State has had a game plan from day one.

    The White House mistakenly believes dropping bombs is going to take on the Islamic State.  Dropping bombs isn't even playing catch up.

    Lying to the American people isn't a way to defeat the Islamic State either.  Thursday's snapshot addressed the fact that the White House clearly plans to utilize US troops in on the ground combat despite Barack Obama's June 'promise' otherwise.  That's why the AUMF if worded the way it is.

    We also noted in Thursday's snapshot that it was past time people started giving serious attention to analyzing the AUMF.

    Trevor Timm (Guardian) actually does give it serious attention today and notes:

    In the Senate hearing this week, the discussion focused on the nebulous language in the White House’s proposed bill and whether the Obama administration actually wants a ground war or not. The President, for months, has been insisting US combat troops would not be fighting on the ground - aside from their comically narrow definition of “combat troops” - but their war resolution paints a different picture. The language says it would “not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.” (emphasis mine)
    That means combat troops are on the table, the question is only for how long.

    It's Trevor Timm so we're noting the above but before anyone e-mails, Timm's factually wrong.  (Is that redundant?)

    Wednesday's snapshot and Thursday's snapshot cover the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that Barack's Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant testified at.  That's John Allen.

    I was at that hearing and we reported on it.  I was at other hearings this week that we haven't had time for.  That includes veterans hearings and it includes Tuesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.  Tuesday is when John Kerry testified.

    Timm writes:

     Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to draw a line in the sand at the Senate hearing: “If you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring,” he said. “If you’re going in to assist somebody and fire control and you’re embedded in an overnight deal, or you’re in a rescue operation or whatever, that is not enduring.”
    Oh really? At the very same hearing, retired General John Allen, special presidential envoy for the global anti-ISIS coalition, said this: “Enduring might be two weeks, it might be two years.”

    Kerry was at the Tuesday hearing.  He was not at the Wednesday hearing.  Timm needs to correct his error.  He also needs to pay a little more attention.  The link he offers goes to USA Today where an article clearly notes Kerry testified on Tuesday.

    If that's not proof enough, we quoted Senator Barbara Boxer already in our previous coverage -- including this comment she made to Allen:

     I know poor Senator -- Secretary [of State John] Kerry had to hear it over and over from our side yesterday.  But we're very uncomfortable with this language.  And when Senator Menendez was Chairman, he cobbled together a really good AUMF that united all of us on our side because he essentially said no combat troops with these exceptions -- and he put in the kind of exceptions that I think you would agree with -- special forces operations, search and rescue, protecting personnel.  And we would urge you, please, to go back and take a look at it. I just feel very strongly.

    I knocked Timm last week for his trouble with the facts.  The policy there is usually you've had three strikes before I call you out.  Timm had his three.  His 'reporting' is problematic and that's because he refuses to nail down the facts.  Kerry did not testify on Wednesday to that Committee nor did he appear at the same hearing as Allen.  These are facts.

    You either get them right or you don't.

    And it's not just him, it's also the Guardian's editorial oversight -- or lack of it.

    If Timm doesn't correct his error soon look for various 'reports' (columns) to repeat the error.

    Jessica Schulberg (Huffington Post) reports, "Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) indicated on Thursday that he may move to prevent President Barack Obama from deploying U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State by introducing a funding bill to limit how the money appropriated for the military campaign can be used."

    That was at Thursday's House Armed Services Committee hearing.  I wasn't present at that hearing. I'm counting on  Jessica Schulberg to have nailed down her facts (she's never had a problem doing that in any piece of hers I've read).  People reading Timm's piece are counting on him to nail down his facts as well.

    We've noted this week how Mosul may be symbolic -- taking it back from the Islamic State -- but that might be all it was.  Walter Smolarek (Liberation) addresses that possibility:

    Such a victory would be a much-needed boost to the authority of the central government, led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. It would not, however, settle fundamental questions about the future of Iraq. Recent events have shown that the recapture of Mosul would be little more than a cosmetic sign of Iraqi national unity, which has been shredded by the criminal policies of U.S. imperialism.
    Thousands of U.S. troops are deployed across Iraq, and even more may be sent to the country in the lead-up to the offensive. In order to placate both a skeptical domestic population as well as militias that are fighting IS but also fought the U.S. occupation following the 2003 invasion, the U.S. government has insisted that they will not engage in direct combat. Instead, the U.S. military presence, aside from the daily aerial bombardment, is claimed to be solely aimed at reconstructing and advising the Iraqi army.

    With Congress considering a wide-ranging war authorization and the steady escalation of the U.S. military presence, the ability of the “advisors” to avoid combat, even if they wanted to, is highly questionable. 

    Friday, Alsumaria reported 6 corpses were discovered dumped in Baghdad -- three of the six were brothers, all were shot dead.  They also noted a woman was hanged in Mosul after being accused of helping government security forces (Mosul is occupied by the Islamic State -- and has been since last June), a roadside bombing outside Baquba left 1 police officer dead and three civilians injured, and a Basra home invasion left 3 sisters and their father dead.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) noted 8 people dead from Baghdad "bombings and mortar strikes."

    This morning, Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 2 Balad Ruz car bombings leaving 11 people dead and another fifty injured while a Samarra suicide car bomber took his own live and the lives of 8 other people with fifteen more left injured.

    Read on ...
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