Sunday, August 30, 2015

Flatter Than A Ken Doll

 The World Today Just Nuts "Flatter Than A Ken Doll"


From February 10, 2013, that's  "Flatter Than A Ken Doll."  

C.I. wrote:

Barack explains, "People ask me, 'Barack, why The Drone War?'  When you've got a crotch flatter than a Ken doll, you really need a penis substitute."    Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Inspiration for this?

My 8-year-old niece's birthday party the day before where she got one Barbie after another (including Ken).

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

Saturday, August 29, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Nineveh Province residents state US forces are engaged in on the ground combat there, the Minister of Electricity gets a pass, the press gets giddy over Haider's latest statement, Iraqi activists are being assassinated (don't look for to cover it), and much more.

Starting with the farce that is reform in Iraq,  August 25th, the Minister of Electricity was supposed to appear before Parliament.  After no-showing, he finally appeared today.  Saif Hameed (Reuters) reports Qassim al-Fahdawi, after answering questions, had the "confidence" of the Parliament and adds, "The exoneration of Fahdawi, who took office a year ago, could stir anger among protesters who complain they have yet to see tangible results from reforms announced this month by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi."

There are no results -- tangible or otherwise -- in any of Haider's announcement.

Friday saw the fools come out -- not just lunatic Reidar -- exclaiming that the Green Zone was being opened! the Green zone was being opened!

Here's what had the boys and girls jizzing and creaming in their briefs and panties:

Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi issues orders to the Special Operations forces and the Baghdad Operations Command to carry out the necessary arrangements to open the Green Zone to citizens.


Aug 28 2015  

Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi issues orders to the Special Operations forces and the Baghdad Operations Command to carry out the necessary arrangements to open the Green Zone to citizens.

PM Media Office

Haider ordered it, did he?

The same way, September 13, 2014, he ordered an ending to the bombing of the residential areas of Falluja?

Because, despite being a War Crime, the Iraqi military continued -- and continues -- to bomb the residential areas of Falluja.

Even the giddy BBC News had to express, deep in their report on the 'opening' of the Green Zone, this deflating reality, "It is not clear when the plan will be implemented."

It never is.

So maybe next time don't treat an announcement as an action?

Just saying.

Or don't treat someone who's exactly the same as his predecessor as though he's a completely different type of leader.

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Al Jazeera offers a ridiculous report on the suffering of the people of Anbar Province.

To be sure, they are suffering.

The ridiculous aspect is the "more than a month" timeline Al Jazeera offers for the Iraqi military operation to liberate or 'liberate' Iraq -- it began May 28th.

Yes, that is "more than a month."

In fact, it's more than two months.

And, today, it's more than three months.

For all the whiners in the press e-mailing how cruel and mean I am to them of late (of late? seriously, of late?), a musical interlude.

Oh, Oh, Oh, I
I learned to wave goodbye
How not to see my life
Through someone else's eyes
It's not an easy road
But now I'm not alone
So I, I won't be so hard on myself no more

Don't be so hard on yourself, no
Learn to forgive, learn to let go
Everyone trips, everyone falls
So don't be so hard on yourself, no
Because I'm just tired of marching on my own
Kind of frail, I feel it in my bones
Oh let my heart, my heart turn into stone
So don't be so hard on yourself, no
-- "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself," written by Jess Glynne, Wayne Hector and TMS, first appears on Jess' album I Cry When I Laugh

Back to Iraq, John Cassidy (New Yorker) surveys the landscape and offers:

Despite more than a year of air strikes by the United States and its allies, and despite some important battlefield successes by the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces during that time, ISIS appears to be as strong as ever. Or, at least, that is what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded, according to a report published a month ago by the Associated Press. And, this week, the Times revealed that the Pentagon is now investigating whether intelligence officials “skewed intelligence assessments about the United States-led campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State to provide a more optimistic account of progress.”

Obama Administration officials continue to claim that the policy of air strikes, combined with the deployment of several thousand U.S. soldiers to train Iraq’s army and the supplying of arms to the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria, will eventually bear fruit. “I’m confident that we will succeed in defeating ISIL and that we have the right strategy,” Ashton Carter, the Defense Secretary, said last week. But Carter also conceded that “it’s going take some time.” Assuming so, that means the task of confronting ISIS, and deciding whether to escalate the level of U.S. involvement, will almost certainly fall on the next President.

Rudaw interviewed Jeannette Seppen who was in Baghdad for two years as the Netherlands Ambassador to Iraq and who is leaving to become the Netherlands Ambassador to Pakistan:

What are your best memories of the past years?
On the one hand it is sad to see what happens to the country, and on the other it’s promising to see how much resilience people show. It was surreal to visit [the Iraqi province of] Wassit and see the happiness of the governor and his people—that they had visitors again. Those are beautiful moments; that even using modest means you can still do something.

And the way IDPs and refugees try with all their might to regain their lives, the resilient people you meet. On the one hand it is sad normal people always are the victim, and on the other it is admirable how they are able to get through.

What I told my successor is that we should try to contribute to bring the lives of these people to a more normal level. Let’s realize how good things are for us, compared to so many others, and let’s get the energy and the means from this awareness to share with others that have so much less. 

The Iraqi people continue their heroic struggle for freedom -- from occupation, from puppet leaders, from corruption, from sectarianism and so much more.

But the struggle's never easy, especially when activists are assaulted -- as Iraqi Spring MC and Zaid Benjamin note as activist Khaled al-Akili is assassinated.

  1. واسط: ناشطون: الميليشيات الحكومية تغتال أحد ناشطي محافظة واسط الناشط المدني "خالد العگيلي" قرب منزله بمدينة الكوت .

  • Iraq Times notes he was shot dead Saturday night in Kut by unknown gunmen (plural) and that he is one of several activists calling for demonstrations who has been assassinated.

    Protests took place Friday throughout Iraq:

    Incredible photos from by - protestors call for a secular  

    Turning to US politics, Scott Walker is the governor of Wisconsin.  Supposedly, he's seeking the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nomination.

    Supposedly, because I've never seen such a crap ass campaign and we covered Jill Stein's idiotic run in 2012.

    Walker's in the news because he gave a "major foreign policy speech."

    And you can find that out at NBC News, CBS News, etc.

    You just can't really find it at his campaign website.

    They're helpful enough to tell you how you can watch the now past speech "live" and they even offer five bulletin points from it.

    Here's a clue for Scott Walker's campaign, come into the 21st century.

    If you give a major speech, post it on your campaign website, you damn fool.

    If you don't, why did you give it?

    What a moron.

    And that "moron" is due to his idiotic campaign website.

    We long ago noted at Third, ten years ago?, that your website was your online office.  You need to run it effectively.

    Bill Barrow (AP) reports:

    Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is calling for U.S. forces in Iraq to engage in direct combat to defeat "radical Islamic terrorists" in the Middle East.
    Yet even as the Wisconsin governor predicts a "generational struggle," he continues to avoid calling for additional ground troops beyond the roughly 3,200 military security personnel, trainers and advisers now deployed.

    Is that an accurate portrayal of Walker's view?

    I have no idea.

    He and his campaign were too stupid to post a transcript of the speech online.

    Some partisan outlets (Vox, to name one) are treating the above position sketched out by Barrow as outrageous.

    But this is US President Barack Obama's position -- though they never call him out.

    He's the one who's put over 3,200 US military personnel in Iraq.

    And this is close to the 3,500 to 4,000 he wanted to leave in Iraq after December 2011.

    And their being in combat?

    That's what he told the New York Times when he was first running for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination -- that after starting a withdrawal, if things went bad in Iraq, he was fine with sending troops back into Iraq.

    Oh, is this news to you?

    It's because the New York Times failed to report it.

    They did a fluffy, frou-frou report based on an extensive interview with Barack.  We took the transcript of the interview and wrote the reality at Third in November 4, 2007's "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq':"

    Presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama who is perceived as an 'anti-war' candidate by some announced that he would not commit to a withdrawal, declared that he was comfortable sending US troops back into Iraq after a withdrawal started and lacked clarity on exactly what a withdrawal under a President Obama would mean.

    Declaring that "there are no good options in Iraq," Senator Obama went on to explain that even with his 16 month plan for withdrawal, he would continue to keep US troops in Iraq, agreeing that he would "leave behind residual force" even after what he is billing as a "troop withdrawal."

    "Even something as simple as protecting our embassy is going to be dependent on what is the security environment in Baghdad. If there is some sense of security, then that means one level of force. If you continue to have significant sectarian conflict, that means another, but this is an area where Senator Clinton and I do have a significant contrast," Senator Obama offered contrasting himself with his chief opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination. "I do think it is important for us not only to protect our embassy, but also to engage in counter-terrorism activities. We’ve seen progress against AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq], but they are a resilient group and there’s the possibility that they might try to set up new bases. I think that we should have some strike capability. But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."

    The Senator insisted, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities. How large that force is, whether it’s located inside Iraq or as an over the horizon force is going to depend on what our military situation is."

    The positon of the majority of Americans in poll after poll is that all US troops need to be brought home by 2008. Senator Obama's strategy calls for bringing some troops home, should he be elected president, in his first sixteen months; however, he is not, by his own words, an advocate of a "Out of Iraq" strategy.

    While maintaining that he would remove all combat troops in sixteen months he did agree that the forces left behind to fight "terrorists" would be performing "a combat function."

    He also spoke of deployment, and presumably bases, "in places like Kuwait" in order "to strike at terrorist targets successfully."

    Returning the topic of leaving US forces in Iraq even after what he's billed as a "withdrawal," the Senator delcared, "As commander in chief, I’m not going to leave trainers unprotected. In our counterterrorism efforts, I’m not going to have a situation where our efforts can’t be successful. We will structure those forces so they can be successful. We would still have human intelligence capabilities on the ground. Some of them would be civilian, as opposed to military, some would be operating out of our bases as well as our signal intelligence.

    The senator also admitted that he was comfortable with sending troops back into Iraq after what he's terming a "withdrawal" though he wanted to split hairs on what constituted "armed force."  

    Again, if that's news to you, take it up with the New York Times which had the above quotations and chose not to run with them.  As we said at the end of the above:

    That's the story they could have written based upon the interview conducted by Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny. As C.I. noted in Friday's "Iraq snapshot," the interview the reporters conducted hit harder than the sop they wrote up on it that ran on Friday's front page of the paper. 

    Walker's position is not significantly different from Barack's.  (And, for the record, I don't support either's position on Iraq.)

    And for those really harping on Walker's position that US forces should be in combat, they already are.  Those bombs dropped from US war planes?

    That's combat.

    In addition, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported this week on what the people of Nineveh Province were seeing: US forces joining Iraqi forces in combat.

    The residents say this is not 'consulting' or 'advising' but that US forces are actually taking part in on the ground combat.

    Read on ...

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    Barry O and the Dronettes

    barry and the dronettes


    From January 21, 2013, that's  "Barry O and the Dronettes."  C.I. wrote:

    While Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel and Vice President Joe Biden provide back up, Barack sings, "These drones are made for bombing, and that's just what they'll do.  One of these days these drones are going to bomb all over you."    Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    I had forgotten this one.

    As soon as I saw it, I started laughing.

    This is basically Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking."
    That was the inspiration when I drew it.

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

    Monday, August 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, militias strangle the hope in Iraq, the League of Righteous lies (but what else would they do), the United Nations notes the ongoing refugee crisis in Iraq, and much more.

    One image may capture better than any other a feeling many Iraqis have regarding the leadership in the country.

    That's from the Kitabat website and 1/2 the face is current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi while the other half is former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    The accompanying article argues that Iraq is witnessing the struggle between Haider and Nouri -- both Dawa Party members, following Haider's announcement that the Vice President posts were being ended (Nouri al-Maliki is one of the three -- or was).  The article notes that Nouri cannot win the battle by depending on popularity.

    And that's a good call to make.  In 2010, when he lost the election to Iraqiya, before Barack Obama and the Iranian government rescued him and insisted he get a second term, there was a long line of people opposed to him publicly -- this included the National Alliance (Shi'ite political bloc), Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and the leadership of the Dawa political party.

    The article argues that Nouri will try to seize control by utilizing the support he has from various Shi'ite militia groups including the Badr brigade and the League of Righteous.

    The League of Righteous should have been dismantled (others would argue their members should be in prison or executed for the reign of terror they carried out).  But they'r e not dismantled and, in fact,  Mohammed al-Zaidi (Niqash) just interviewed the leader of the League of the Righteous Qais al-Khazali last week:

    NIQASH: In the past few weeks you have made several statements about the need to change Iraq's political system from a parliamentary one to a presidential one. Could you explain what you're asking for and why?

    Al-Khazali: Today in Iraq we have big problems and everybody knows what they are – namely state services are problematic as are strategic projects and the level of unemployment as well as a raft of other things.
    The League of the Righteous believes that one of the main reasons for these problems is the sectarian quota system in Iraq. To resolve this we have suggested that a presidential system be introduced because at the moment, the Prime Minister cannot choose the members of his government. He must bend to the will of the different blocs represented in Parliament who impose candidates upon him. There's a bad atmosphere between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and its had a negative impact on the government’s work. That is why we make such demands. But such sensitive issues must be left to the Iraqi people to decide.

    NIQASH: But in making these requests, some critics have said that what you are really doing is opening the door for the return of former Iraqi prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    Al-Khazali: We do not have any special relationship with Nouri al-Maliki. For example, we were not given any special positions within his government when he was in charge. Additionally we didn't join his electoral bloc during elections; in fact, we contested the elections as a completely separate list.

    That's an utter lie.

    First, let's drop back  to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

    This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

    Long before the Afghanistan-did-he-desert-was-he-captured melodrama, Barack had already negotiated with terrorists.  The League of Righteous are terrorists.  And Barack released their leadership from US military custody after he entered in a deal with them to release the 5 British citizens.

    The League was very public to the Iraqi press about the fact that they had a deal with the US government.  They also went back on the deal for a period of time -- releasing only 1 living British citizen and the corpses of three, holding onto a forth corpse while insisting Barack hadn't lived up to all of his part of the deal.

    It's a deal the American people should have known about.

    To this day, the White House has never publicly been pressed to be honest about that deal or even to acknowledge it.

    But several White House friends -- including ______________ -- have insisted to me over the years that the US just released the terrorists from military custody and that didn't prevent Nouri al-Maliki, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2014, from prosecuting them for their crimes in Iraqi courts and that, the argument (or lie) goes, was what was supposed to happen.

    So, by that logic, Nouri's done a great deal for the League, he's kept them out of prison and out of the Iraqi courts.

    He also, when no political organization was supposed to have an active militia, brought them into the political process -- despite his knowing (as did everyone) that the League was nothing but an armed militia.

    They participate in politics now as a result of Nouri.

    So Qais al-Khazali is both a thug and a liar.

    So that's the League.


    Kirk H. Sowell (Cairo Review) noted in his latest analysis:

    Badr—founded in the 1980s in Iran, its continued supporter—is not only the most important of the various armed groups composing the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd). It also symbolizes how Iraqis’ hopes for a democratic country governed by the rule of law have given way to a political system that is expressly sectarian and increasingly resembles a garrison state. No other militia-political party was better prepared to capitalize on the collapse of Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq last June. Badr’s military commander, Ameri—who tried and failed to get an appointment as minister of defense or interior, in part due to U.S. opposition—has been transportation minister since Maliki’s second cabinet and is now a parliamentarian. Under the new government of Haider Al-Abadi, Ameri was able to get a member of his party, Mohammed Salem Al-Ghabban, confirmed as interior minister. Prior to leaving office, Maliki had made Ameri the military governor of Diyala—an informal appointment usually described euphemistically as al-masuul al-amani (the security official)—which he remains to this day.

    Today, the International Crisis Group issued "Iraq: Conflict Alert" which warned:

    If the current reforms prove little more than window-dressing, they will mean the end of the political life of the prime minister and large portions of the political class. In their place, militia commanders would ride popular anger and military supremacy to power. There are many precedents in Iraq’s history. It was, after all, only a year ago that IS used Sunni anger and a lightening military strike to impose repressive rule in large parts of the country.

    Where does Iraq go now?

    As the White House continues to insist bombing Iraq is liberating it, things don't look all that good.

    The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) have brainstormed and come up with practical and realistic moves that can be taken.  For example:

    a. A call to hold extensive consultative meetings between the Iraqi powers that stand against the current political situation in Iraq, for the purpose of agreeing on and coordinating the principles and basics of the Inclusive Iraq Scheme and its activation.
    b. A call to convene a series of extensive seminars between the competent members and elites of the civil society, its active groups, its opinion leaders and social fronts, to bring closer the different points of views and reach perceptions that are as convergent as possible.
    c. A call on significant society groups, entities and titles to hold meetings, within their anticipated participation in any forthcoming collective Iraqi effort, and in support of and expansion of an Iraqi public opinion transforming into an active mass movement.
    d. A call to hold a public conference on the establishment of an inclusive Iraqi framework, under one title that regulates the ideas and thoughts of the aforementioned Iraqi powers. This is to be reached through a joint action charter based on the foundations of unity, independence of the Iraqi decision, rejection of near and distant foreign dependency and the enhancement of civil peace. This should stop any attempts to singly influence some powers dragging them towards individual concessions or into traps set here and there. This comes in preparation for a proper solution that can prevent Iraq from falling prey to deadly vacuum.

    We'll note more in tomorrow's snapshot.

    Meanwhile, Iraq has seen the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1947 -- and that was true by 2008.  It's only more true as the displaced continues to grow.  Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced a national hotline had been created to address the humanitarian crisis:

    Baghdad, 24 August 2015 - A national hotline for Iraqi citizens affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis has been launched to provide timely information on humanitarian services such as food distribution points, medical services, and shelter options across Iraq.
    The renewed conflict in Iraq has resulted in a displacement crisis of an unprecedented scale. Over 3.2 million people have been forced into displacement since January 2014 alone. People are scattered in over 3000 locations across the country. This continues to present an enormous challenge for aid agencies trying to provide emergency and life-saving assistance to displaced populations. Many internally displaced persons (IDPs) are residing in hard to reach areas and are in desperate need of assistance and information about available services.
    “More than 3.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since the beginning of 2014 and we are simply not able to reach everyone due to the sheer size of the crisis. People continue to be on the move and many more are being displaced as we speak. While the call centre will help identify and respond to the most urgent needs of the displaced, it will also ensure that up-to-date information is available to them, so that they can access the assistance and services they require”, said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative in Iraq. “This is particularly important for displaced people living outside formal camps and settlements, who may otherwise not be easy to reach to help them meet their needs and harness their resources”, Geddo concluded.
    The IDP Information Centre was established as a joint initiative of the Iraq Humanitarian Country Team in an effort to enhance two-way communication between displaced populations and aid agencies. IDPs and affected communities will be able to seek information about humanitarian aid, request assistance, and provide confidential feedback on the humanitarian agencies’ services and outreach activities.
    “First and foremost, the call centre serves as a quick and easy way for IDPs to find out about how the humanitarian community can help. But more importantly, it offers us a chance to connect to, and better understand, the people we serve,” said Jane Pearce, WFP Iraq Country Director. “Through the participation and feedback of IDPs in listening exercises and consultations, we are able to tailor the type of assistance we provide. The affected populations thus become stakeholders in the assistance process, and the humanitarian community more accountable to them”.
    Following a successful pilot in July 2015 in Erbil Governorate, the information centre is now operational across Iraq and can be reached via any Iraqi mobile phone by dialling 6999.
    “The IDP Information Centre represents a truly cooperative effort among humanitarian agencies”, said Kareem Elbayar, UNOPS Programme Manager. “UNOPS established and operates the information centre through the financial contributions of UNHCR, WFP, and OCHA; in-kind support has been provided by IOM. Most importantly, the information we give to callers is provided and regularly updated by dozens of NGOs and UN agencies working through the humanitarian cluster system in Iraq”.

    The IDP Information Centre is currently open from 8:30a – 5:30p Sunday through Thursday, but plans are in place to extend the working hours and add additional operators as needed.

    Iraq came up today at the State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.  We'll note the section regarding northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, where the issue of the presidency remains unresolved.

    QUESTION: Can we go to Iraq?

    MR KIRBY: Sure.

    QUESTION: Any updates on that Kurdish political parties meeting and U.S. involvement?

    MR KIRBY: So yesterday, the five main political parties in the Iraqi Kurdistan region met and decided to continue their discussions. We remain engaged with all the key stakeholders, the United States does. And as I said last week, this is, of course, an internal matter. And we’re – I’d refer you to the Kurdistan Regional Government for further information.

    QUESTION: So one point on this issue, and specifically on U.S. involvement. I’ve been monitoring the social media reaction by the people and also the Kurdish media, that they’ve seen the U.S. involvement is a negative one, is not in favor of democracy, is not in favor of representation law. Because what we have heard from the delegations, that – Kurdish parties’ representation in the meetings – that Ambassador McGurk, he is pressuring everyone to accept extension – President Barzani’s presidential extension for two more years as justifying with the ISIS issue or crisis or threat. And also this is, as you have mentioned before, this is the end of his term, and by law he’s not allowed to stay. And also it’s not an election that he’s suggesting. It is something – extension – which is not democratic, not according to the law. So can you confirm that this is what he suggested in the meeting?

    MR KIRBY: What I can confirm is that Ambassador McGurk was invited back to those meetings in Erbil after he had already left and went to Baghdad. We talked about this last week. He was asked back. And as I said last week, our role was simply to attend and to say what we have said all along, which is that we urge a unified, inclusive approach by all the political parties there, but that these were or these will be decisions that they make for the good of the people they represent. And any assertion that Brett McGurk or any other American delegate or any other American there in Iraq was putting undue pressure on the parties to do one thing or another is absolutely false.

    QUESTION: That means you confirm that that’s not true, that he’s not – he didn’t suggested any – in any way to --

    MR KIRBY: Ambassador McGurk was invited back. He didn’t go to Erbil to put pressure on any one party or for any one purpose. He was invited back, and so he went. And his message was that – what it has always been, which is that we want a unified approach by all the political parties to reach a consensus and to go forward so that they can best represent the people of the region.

    QUESTION: Last one on this. Do you believe – like, is it United States position that it is important that the Kurdish political parties to reach an agreement whether to stay – to allow President Barzani to stay as the president of Kurdistan in any way because of – you think that they – everybody should focus on the ISIS threat at the moment?

    MR KIRBY: We’ve said now is the time for unity in the face of a common enemy, and our focus is on defeating and degrading ISIL. And we want everybody to share that, obviously, same goal and to come together to unite against what is in fact a common enemy to all people living in Iraq.
    As for the solution that they come up with, again, these are internal matters for them to speak to, for them to decide, and for them to explain – not for the American Government to dictate, and we aren’t.

    QUESTION: Sorry, one thing is not clear. What do you mean by “unity?” Because they are all part of a government, all five major political parties. What this unity means, which is – I mean, they are – if they are part of the government and they are all in the parliament, so does this unity means that the division of the region that we have seen in the past in ’90s, so what is the unity --

    MR KIRBY: I just meant a unified approach. Don’t read too much into it. I mean, we want them to take a unified approach forward to best represent the people of the region.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    Sunday, Margret Griffis ( counted 188 violent deaths across Iraq.

    Lastly, Diana Ross broke barriers -- for all women and for men of color and, yes, for the gay community.  She has been an inspiration to more people and in more ways than most   could even list.  Her concerts are communities where she welcomes and embraces all as part of the family of the world.

    As the leader of Motown's Supremes, she remade the cabaret circuit.  TV?  As Oprah Winfrey has often noted, when Diana, in all of her glamour, popped up on 60s television, it was an event since national television featured so few African-Americans.  Lena Horne and Eartha Kitt are among those who preceded Diana and paved the way for her and others but both women were appealing to a mature (adult) audience.  Diana Ross was a teen sensation.  Motown was, as the slogan went, the sound of Young America.  As someone with huge appeal to teenagers and pre-teens, she was presenting images of joy, strength and empowerment before many of the damaging racial stereotypes  could take hold in the generation coming of age.

    At the height of the British Invasion, Diana and the Supremes held their own with dozens of hits that have remained a soundtrack of an era (12 of which went to number one on the pop charts).

    Diana went solo following her last number one with the Supremes ("Someday Will Be Together" -- a song which actually doesn't feature the vocals of the two other Supremes).  She became a Vegas performer as important as Frank Sinatra or Cher.  She continued to release hit records (5 solo number ones and one duet with Lionel Richie which went to number one) and also branched out into film and tele-films (Double Platinum, The Wiz, Mahogany, her Academy Award nominated performance in Lady Sings The Blues and her Golden Globe nominated performance in Out of Darkness).  Her concerts are legendary and so is she.

    Sunday, community sites did theme posts about Diana: Mike offered "Mirror Mirror,"  Marcia went with "I'm Coming Out," Ruth chose "'Chain Reaction'," Stan shined a light "Workin' Overtime," Elaine again explored"Swept Away," Ann went with the more recent "Diana Ross' 'Not Over You Yet'," Kat noted Diana's first solo dance hit "'Love Hangover'," Rebecca went with "surrender" which is one of the many classics Ashford & Simpson (Valerie Simpson and the late Nick Ashford) wrote for Diana, Betty squeezed in as much as she could into an overview of "Diana Ross" and  Trina kicked it back to the sixties with "Where Did Our Love Go."

    I try to note theme posts when the community does them.  I wrote a bit more than I normally would.
    If that bothers someone who feels some other topic should have been covered, I'm waiving to you right now -- with the middle finger.
    Women matter.
    And there are few western popular music artists -- male or female -- who have done as much as Diana has.
    There's also the background behind the posts.
    The immediate background is that Sunday Jim suggested we do a look at Diana's music at Third.
    Betty and I immediately said no.
    The posts were in response to that "no."
    Diana is a friend and my biggest regret online is the piece at Third that I believe savaged her music.  Betty was in tears over the final article and I was steaming mad.  That was years ago.  Betty can speak for herself at her site (and probably will tonight) but I am still furious.  And doing a piece that might or might not right that earlier piece from years ago?  It could actually see me walking offline because I am still that furious all these years later.
    So  never accuse me of playing favorites.  I hated that article.  There was no time to rewrite it, hours had been spent on it already.  I was opposed to it.  I noted I was but I didn't kill it.  I didn't censor it. So never accuse me of playing favorites.

    But those posts were an attempt to rectify an earlier wrong (I believe it was a wrong) and I will write a wrap around that notes the amazing accomplishments of a dear friend.

    Read on ...

    Sunday, August 9, 2015

    Curse of Chuckie

    curse of chuckie

    From January 6, 2013, that's "Curse of Chuckie."  

    C.I. noted:

    Barack prods Chuck Hagel (rumored Secretary of Defense nominee), "Go get 'em, Chuckie!"  Hagel explains, "I don't like gay peopleI'm lousy on affirmative actionI oppose women's reproductive rights.  There are serious crises in today's military including the rate of suicide and the rate of assault and rape.  Look for me to ignore all of that."   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    That really takes me back.

    Can you believe that in January 2013, there was talk of nominating Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense?

    He was nominated.  That was two years ago.

    He was nominated.

    He was confirmed.

    Barack had already had Robert Gates and Leon Panetta.

    Now he had to have Chuck Hagel.

    Two years later, where's Chuck?

    He's gone and Barack's got Ash Carter.

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

    Saturday, August 8, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Iraq, Haider al-Abadi's chance to demonstrate 'change' appears to have passed, the one year anniversary of Barack's plan or 'plan' reveals no real progress, and much more.

    Starting with news of awards, Nick Vivarelli (Variety) reports, " Iraqi-French director Abbas Fahdel’s docu “Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) is the winner of the Doc Alliance Selection Award, given by a group of seven prominent European festivals dedicated to docus, and presented for the first time this year at the Locarno Film Festival."

    Here's the trailer for the documentary.

    At his website, the following is noted:

    Abbas Fahde is an Iraqi-French film director, screenwriter and film critic, born in Babylon, Iraq.
    Based in France since the age of 18 years, he studied cinema at the Sorbonne University until Ph.D. In January 2002, he returned to Iraq with a French passport and filmed a documentary film, Back to Babylon (film), in which he asked himself: “What have my childhood friends become? How have their lives changed? What would my life have been like if I hadn’t chosen to build my destiny elsewhere?” The country’s dramatic situation is the background of this introspective investigation.
    One year later, in February 2003, when a new war seems imminent, Abbas Fahdel returned to Iraq with the intention of filming his family and friends, and the superstitious hope of protecting them against the dangers threatening them. When the war started, he returned to France and lost all contact with his family. Two months later, he again returned to Iraq and discovered a country shaken by violence, the nightmare of dictatorship replaced by chaos, but a country where, nonetheless, everything remains possible: the best or the worse. This historical moment is the theme of his second documentary film, We Iraqis.
    In 2008, he directed the feature film Dawn of the World, a war-drama in which he gives an unexpected account of the multiple impacts of the Gulf Wars and how they have dramatically damaged an area known to be the geographic location of the biblical Garden of Eden.

    In 2015, his new film Homeland (Iraq Year Zero), a monumental documentary of 334 minutes, is presented in “World Première” at Visions du réel International Film Festival.

    Moving over to activism, protests continue in Iraq.  As with last weekend, protests continued.  Friday, Alsumaria reported that Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr issued   instructions Thursday for his followers which included that they take part in peaceful actions and not damage private property, that they not wear military uniforms while protesting and that they not carry photos/placards/banners with photos of any political or religious official.

  • In the image above, the top right is Moqtada al-Sadr and below him is Ammar al-Hakim.  Ammar is the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq.  If he's now supporting the protesters, that would be a big switch from his remarks earlier this week.

    From Thursday:

    Last weekend saw protests across Iraq.  Abdul Latif al-Saadoun (MEM) observes today:

    "If we cannot provide enough electric power for the Iraqis, why don't the families buy private generators?" asked an Iraqi official during a recent press interview. It was similar to the quotation misattributed to French Queen Marie Antoinette two hundred years ago; if the people don't have bread, "Then let them eat cake."
    Again, like the French, the Iraqis revolted by igniting the uprising in Basra. This spread around the country and this time the Iraqi leaders could not blame the Yazidis, which they had done in the past when there was activity in Iraq's western cities. Those who gathered in Iraq's Tahrir and other Squares did not belong to a specific sect, race or party. They gathered as Iraqis and expressed their anger at their rulers who have subjected them to decades of failure, with neither justice nor anything as mundane as new building projects. Instead, the leaders conspired in the name of religion to loot the country's wealth and used its resources to satisfy their evil desires and feed their obsession for money and power.

    al-Saadoun goes on to note how the Iraqi government went on to blame the Islamic State with Ammar al-Hakim (leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) insisting that the protesters themselves were members of the Islamic State.  How very sad events have been for al-Hakim.  His relationship with the US has soured.  He's not moved forward or higher in the political hierarchy of Iraq.  And now he's attacking the people in a manner that recalls Nouri al-Maliki's ridiculous attacks on the protesters.

    So if Ammar is now supporting the protesters, that would actually be major news.
    Regardless of whether Ammar supports them or not, the protesters were out in full force:

  • The protests address corruption and lack of services.

    For massive protests, there had to be that and more.  The more for many Sunnis include the continued targeting of the Sunni population.

  • Nothing has changed under Haider's leadership.

    He is, thus far, an abject failure.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Speaker of the House of Representatives Saleem al-Jubouri announced on Friday that he will be assigned the next session of parliament to discuss the demands of the demonstrators and set time limits for their achievement, stressing the importance of ending the existence of the corrupt who have squandered the money of the Iraqi people.
    Al-Jubouri said in a speech addressed to the demonstrators: that the House of Representatives will allocate the next meeting to discuss the demands of the demonstrators and to identify time ceilings for their implementation," adding, that the demonstrators demands are legitimate and can not be ignored, it is necessary to end the presence of the corrupt who have squandered and stole the bounties of the country."

    All Iraq News reports:

    “All of you together to the court, all of you are thieves,” chanted protesters gathered at Tahrir Square and carrying Iraqi flags. “Friday after Friday, we’ll get the corrupt out.”
    Protesters also turned out in Nasiriyah, Diwaniah, Najaf, Samawah, Karbala and Babel provinces to air similar grievances, the reporter of AIN said.
    Baghdad and other cities have seen weeks of protests against the poor quality of services, especially power cuts that leave Iraqis with only a few hours of electricity per day as temperatures top 50C.

    Last Saturday, Iraq's prime minister dubbed the protests a "warning sign."  He faced more warning signs on Friday. All Iraq News reported, "The Supreme Religious Authority said that Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has to avoid the partisan confesionalism and uncover those who hinder reforms."  And they noted, "The Supreme Religious Authority called Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to cancel all former and current key officials' privileges."  Sputinik added, "Earlier this day, the country’s leading Shiite clergyman Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani released a statement through his aide addressed to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, stressing that he should immediately start reforming the government and strike those who steal people’s money with an 'iron fist'."

    And Haider's reaction?   Reuters quotes him from Facebook writing, "I promise to announce a comprehensive reform plan ... and I call on the political forces to cooperate with me to implement the reform program."

    Help me out.

    What was happening in February 2011?

    Oh, right: Protests.

    And what did then-prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki do?

    He declared give him 100 days and he would end corruption, create jobs and blah blah blah.

    And so Moqtada called for his followers to leave the streets and stop protesting.

    As we noted June 4, 2011:

    Among the things Nouri was supposed to be addressing in the 100 Days (called in an attempt to defocus attention on the protests and to buy time for Nouri) was the lack of jobs. Al Mada notes that while the official unemployment rates is 15% (a high number itself), the actual unemployment number is probably 30%. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) report on the impending end of the 100 Days and note what's taking place as the end arrives:

    But activists and a leading human rights group accused al-Maliki's government of a campaign of intimidation against protest organizers ahead of the deadline, even as an Iraqi government spokesman announced a news conference to showcase improvements.
    Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Friday in Baghdad's Tahrir Square to demand the release of four protest organizers -- Jihad Jalil, Ali al-Jaf, Mouyed Faisal and Ahmed Al-Baghdadi -- who were detained during a protest at the same location a week earlier.
    Carrying banners that featured pictures of the four organizers, demonstrators chanted: "Oh Maliki, don't muzzle the voice of the people/oh Maliki, release the four immediately."

    The 100 Days were also supposed to see an improvement in the security situation. That didn't take place either. Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi Parliament Speaker Ousama Al Nujaifi believes that the recurrence of bombings in Iraq without control is a clear sign on the failure to manage security in the country and an indicator on the major downfall in the performance of security forces."  

    But 100 days came and went and Nouri didn't end a thing.  From the June 7, 2011 snapshot:

    The 100 Days is over. Al Rafidayn reports Nouri's press conference yesterday in Baghdad found Nouri expressing his hope that "the citizens will treat us kindly in the measuring our accomplishments and that they will be objective." He announced that meetings would take place today on evaluations. New Sabah quotes State Of Law's Khaled al-Asadi stating that Nouri will make assessments through tonight and that the 100 Days was in order to evaluate the performances and that "no sane person would assume a government only four years old could accomplish improvement in one hundred days." Oh, how they try to lower the expectations now. The 100 Days?  Al Jazeera gets it right, "Maliki gave his cabinet a 100-day deadline to improve basic services after a string of anti-government protests across Iraq in February.  He promised to assess their progress at the end of that period, and warned that 'changes will be made' at failing ministries.  That deadline expired on Tuesday -- and Maliki largely retreated from his threat, instead asking for patience and more time to solve problems." Fakhri Karim (Al Mada) observes that the 100 Days has done little to instill strength in the belief that Nouri has the "ability to manage the Cabinet" and the duties of the office of prime minister. Karim notes that Nouri's inability to govern, his failure at it, led to the protests and that they were for the basic services which are "the most basic necessities" of our time.

    Iraqi politicians are known for playing kick-the-can and insisting, given time, they will solve something while apparently all they're hoping for is that, in the delay, people will forget.  Even Nouri appears to hope that the protesters have forgotten 2011.  Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly (Washington Post) reports:

    The protesters included a sizable number of supporters of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who suppressed similar demonstrations against the corruption of his government four years ago by detaining and intimidating organizers. Maliki, who has not attempted to hide his hope of returning to power, issued a statement calling on Abadi “to hit corrupt officials financially and politically.”
    Many demonstrators said they had turned out only to demand what Lamia Fadhil, 29, called “a decent life.”

    “For more than 10 years the government didn’t provide anything for us. No electricity, no services and no jobs,” she said. “That’s it. We’ve had enough.”

    Reuters reports:

    In Basra on Friday, one sign depicted the city as a bony "milking cow" -- a reference to complaints that Baghdad has benefited from the region's oil while neglecting basic services like power and water.
    "I call for fighting any corrupt official," said government employee Muntadhar Hatam, 55. "They are more dangerous than Daesh (Islamic State). They are the terrorists."  

    The same charges were made against Nouri al-Maliki.

    Is that any real surprise?

    Nouri al-Maliki is head of the Dawa political party.

    Haider al-Abadi is in the Dawa political party.

    Ahead of the 2010 elections, Nouri refused to run with Dawa and created the political coalition State of Law.

    Haider al-Abadi is a member of the State of Law coalition.

    There were any number of Shi'ite politicians US President Barack Obama could have backed for prime minister this time last year.

    He could have gone with, for example, anyone from the National Alliance or ISCI.  He could have backed Moqtada (though he never would, the US government has spent 12 years demonizing Moqtada).

    Instead, for 'change,' he backed someone who was friends with Nouri, who served in Nouri's political coalition and was a member of the same political party.

    And then Barack wanted to pretend 'change' was possible in Iraq.

    Nouri pulled the country to the edge of destruction.

    For those not paying attention, the Iraqi people kicked him out in the 2010 elections but Barack used a contract (The Erbil Agreement) to give Nouri a second term as prime minister.  That agreement was supposed to ensure a power-sharing government and Barack personally called Ayad Allawi (whose Iraqiya won the election) to insist that the contract had the full backing of the White House.

    But Nouri refused to implement the power-sharing government.

    So Iraqi leaders began demanding he do so in the summer of 2011 -- Ayad Allawi, Moqtada al-Sadr, Osama al-Nujaifi, Massoud Barzani and more -- Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds, all demanding Nouri honor the contract.

    He refused to do so.

    So, in the spring of 2012, they moved towards a no-confidence vote in Parliament to strip Nouri of his office.

    Moqtada repeatedly stated publicly that the effort could be killed at any time by Nouri agreeing to implement the power-sharing government he promised in The Erbil Agreement (promised in order to get a second term after losing the 2010 election).

    They gathered the signatures, as the Constitution demanded.  They then handed them over to the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani.

    Talabani refused to obey the Constitution and forward the petition to Parliament.

    He instead announced he had checked the signatures and some of the MPs -- he never identified them -- said they wouldn't sign the petition if it was put before them today.

    Too damn bad.

    Not only was this not Jalal's role but there's also the fact that you make your decision when you sign.  You don't get to remove your name after you signed (and maybe they wanted to or maybe Jalal just lied).

    If they wanted to change their mind, they could do so during the actual vote.

    But, under pressure from the White House, Jalal pretended he had the right to kill the petition and that's what he did.

    Then like the grotesque fat ass coward that he is, he announced he was leaving for Germany because he needed to have surgery -- it was surgery necessary for his continued living.

    Turns out he was having knee surgery.

    Karma bit the liar in the ass and months later he'd have a stroke.

    But after he killed the petition, the Iraqi people took to the streets.

    They had tried to vote Nouri out.

    They had tried to have their elected officials remove him.

    All they had left was protests.

    And Nouri called them terrorists, had reporters covering the protests kidnapped by the police, tortured by the police and he had the protesters followed home, had them arrested, had them killed -- yes, had them killed (especially in Anbar Province) and then he began attacking them at peaceful protests.

    The Iraqi people could not take a third term of Nouri -- Nouri who'd promised in 2011 that he would not seek a third term.

    The point of forcing Nouri out, as Barack did, was to calm the crises in Iraq.

    The point was to provide a re-set.

    And the new prime minister -- whomever he or she was -- would work quickly to demonstrate a difference with Nouri, to end the persecution, to end the corruption, to provide public services, to end the illegal detention of Sunnis, the beatings and rapes of Sunni women falsely arrested, and so much more.

    He couldn't even stop the illegal bombings of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.

    September 13, 2014, he noted these bombings were wrong (they are illegal, they meet the legal definition of War Crimes).

    He said they had ended.  He had ordered their end.

    September 14th, the very next day, they continued and have ever since.

    Haider's provided no change and the Iraqi people are registering that after a year.

    The violence continues (even increases) under Haider. Margaret Griffis ( counts 109 violent deaths across Iraq on Friday.

    We spent the bulk of the July 18th snapshot noting the failure that is Barack's plan or 'plan' with regards to combating the Islamic State in Iraq.  Today, Trevor Timm (Guardian) observes the failures:

    This Saturday marks one full year since the US military began its still-undeclared war against Islamic State that the government officials openly acknowledge will last indefinitely. What do we have to show for it? So far, billions of dollars have been spent, thousands of bombs have been dropped, hundreds of civilians have been killed and Isis is no weaker than it was last August, when the airstrikes began.
    But don’t take it from me – that’s the conclusion of the US intelligence community itself. As the Associated Press reported a few days ago, the consensus view of the US intelligence agencies is that Isis is just as powerful as it was a year ago, and they can replace fighters faster than they are getting killed.

     al jazeera
    Read on ...
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