Sunday, January 31, 2016

When Hypocrite Met Hypocrite . . .


when hypocrite met hypocrite 001


From June 10, 2013, that's "When Hypocrite Met Hypocrite . . ."  C.I. noted:

Barack says to Chinese President Xi Jinping, "You need to strengthen cyber security in your country."  Xi shoots back, "Oh?  Did you learn that by spying on your country's citizens?"   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

It's amazing how outraged we were when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House but how we've rushed to look the other way when Barack pulled the same illegal crap.

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

Saturday, January 30, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the US death toll continues, Hillary Clinton continues trying to minimize her support for the Iraq War, and much more.

The never-ending Iraq War continues.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Asad, one strike destroyed two ISIL bomb-making facilities.

-- Near Baghdadi, one strike destroyed three ISIL rocket rails.

-- Near Ar Rutbah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Habbaniyah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL fighting position and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Mosul, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 10 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, and an ISIL weapons cache.

-- Near Ramadi, one strike destroyed an ISIL command-and-control node and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

No one questions how these bombings -- this continued war -- makes America safer.  It certainly doesn't make Iraq safer.

They can talk of how many more US troops to send to Iraq, they just can't talk about what is the point?  Where is the success?  What is the end game?

Dropping back to Thursday's snapshot:

The continued talk of sending more US troops to Iraq comes as there's yet another US death in Iraq.
STARS & STRIPES reports, "A coalition servicemember supporting operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria died of a noncombat-related injury in Iraq, the Combined Joint Task Force in charge of Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement."
Back in November, Pvt Chrisopher J. Castaneda died at Al Asad Air Base from a "non-combat related incident."
These are deaths in Barack's endless wars.
His endless and illegal wars.

Yesterday, DoD identified the fallen:

The Department of Defense announce today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Sgt. Joseph F. Stifter, 30, of Glendale, California, died Jan. 28, at Al Asad Airbase, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from wounds suffered when his armored HMMWV was involved in a roll-over accident. The incident is under investigation.
Stifter was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
For more information related to this release, the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-307-6744.

Ryan Fonseca (LOS ANGELES TIMES) notes, "Stifter is survived by his wife, daughter, mother and father, the Army statement said."

Why was he deployed to Iraq?

All these years later, why are any US troops in Iraq?

There is no strategy, there is no logic, there is only continued death and destruction.

Which is why it does matter that Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War.

In 2002, she was a US Senator and she chose to vote for the Iraq War.

She chose to support it for years after.

It's only in 2008 that she can call it a 'mistake' publicly and then, this week, she insisted it was a 'mistake' only because Bully Boy Bush had prosecuted the war wrongly.

She's a liar.

As a US Senator, as a First Lady, as a Secretary of State, she's a liar.

But she thinks she deserves the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Other are less likely to agree.  Take Angela Ross of Eugene, Oregon who writes a letter to the editor of THE REGISTER GUARD explaining:

Many of my women friends favor electing Hillary Clinton as our next president because she’s a woman, but I can’t base my vote on gender.
Because Clinton voted to support the Iraq war while in the U.S. Senate, I can’t in good conscience vote for her for president. If she’d argued against invading Iraq (as Sen. Bernie Sanders did), it would have shown leadership. Instead, she went along with the Bush-Cheney program.
[. . .]
I not only will vote for Sanders, I’ll also work hard participating in the democratic process his campaign engenders. He has 21st century ideas, whereas the ideas of Clinton and other establishment figures are from the 20th century.

Hillary may have foreign policy experience, but when push came to shove, she showed an extreme lack of judgment on the most important foreign policy decision in a generation. As in 2008 when she was running against Obama, it casts serious doubt on whether she's the Democrats' best presidential nominee.
Hillary voted for the Iraq War either out of rank political opportunism, because as a prospective presidential candidate, she feared that an anti-war vote would make her look weak. If so, she voted to send thousands to their deaths to further her political career.
Or she voted for the war out of a sincere belief in the benefits of American military intervention in the Middle East and the good that could come from regime change. If so, her beliefs showed an extreme lack of foreign policy judgment.
I'm not sure which is worse: voting for a needless and destructive war out of political opportunism or out of poor judgment. In either event, the Iraq War vote remains a big black mark on Hillary's claim that her foreign policy experience makes her the best choice to be Commander in Chief on Day 1.

Academy Award winning actress Susan Sarandon spoke out against the Iraq War.  While Hillary used support of the Iraq War to increase her own profile, Susan opposed the war and was verbally attacked for that.  She saw a charity event cancelled because she supported peace.

As Gregory Favre (POYNTER) explained March 28, 2003:

This week, the folks at United Way of Tampa Bay, in their infinite lack of wisdom, canceled an event because the actor Susan Sarandon was to be the speaker. This decision was made the day after she flashed the peace sign during the Academy Awards telecast.
How dare she have an opinion, much less express it.
So the $75 a plate dinner was sacrificed. (In the interest of full disclosure, Sarandon's fee was being paid by the St. Petersburg Times, which is owned by The Poynter Institute, my employer. And my boss, our dean, Karen Dunlap, was scheduled to interview her as part of the program.)
It had nothing to do with Sarandon's views, a United Way spokesperson said. It's just that her presence would have been divisive.
But isn't this kind of heavy-handed response to dissent happening all over this country? Just listen to the violence of the language aimed at those who may raise questions. Are we back in the '50s and '60s of the last century?

And it didn't end there.  Roger Catlin (LOS ANGELES TIMES) reported the following month:

Last week, she and her partner, Tim Robbins, were told by Baseball Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey, a former assistant press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, that he was canceling a 15th anniversary celebration of their film "Bull Durham." Petroskey said the couple's antiwar stance "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger." Earlier, Sarandon's appearance at a United Way event in Florida was canceled.

Hillary didn't just speak out for the war, she voted for it.  Despite the fact that she was supposedly representing the state of New York which gave her no mandate to support the Iraq War.

She voted for in direct opposition of the will of the citizens she represented.

So she attacked democracy and logic to embrace illegal war.

In an attempt to bury the issue before her planned run for the 2016 Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Hillary 'addressed' the issue in her ghost-written, poor selling book entitled HARD CHOICES.  Lesley Clark (MCCLATCHY NEWS) noted in 2014:

Democrats such as Clinton believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat, a belief they said was fed by their own research beyond the word of the Bush White House, all of which later proved to be wrong.
Clinton said in the book that she’d voted to authorize war “after weighing the evidence and seeking as many opinions as I could inside and outside our government, Democrats and Republicans alike.”

But as Stephen Zunes (FPIF) pointed out earlier this week:

“Her vote was simply a mistake.”
While few Clinton supporters are still willing to argue her support for the war was a good thing, many try to minimize its significance by referring to it as simply a “mistake.” But while it may have been a terrible decision, it was neither an accident nor an aberration from Clinton’s generally hawkish worldview.
It would have been a “mistake” if Hillary Clinton had pushed the “aye” button when she meant to push the “nay” button. In fact, her decision — by her own admission — was quite conscious.
The October 2002 war resolution on Iraq wasn’t like the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing military force in Vietnam, which was quickly passed as an emergency request by President Lyndon Johnson when there was no time for reflection and debate. By contrast, at the time of the Iraq War authorization, there had been months of public debate on the matter. Clinton had plenty of time to investigate the administration’s claims that Iraq was a threat, as well as to consider the likely consequences of a U.S. invasion.
Also unlike the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which was disingenuously presented as an authorization to retaliate for an alleged attack on U.S. ships, members of Congress recognized that the Iraq resolution authorized a full-scale invasion of a sovereign nation and a subsequent military occupation. Clinton had met with scores of constituents, arms control analysts, and Middle East scholars who informed her that the war was unnecessary, illegal, and would likely end in disaster.
But she decided to support going to war anyway. She even rejected the advice of fellow Democratic senator Bob Graham that she read the full National Intelligence Estimate, which would have further challenged some of the Bush administration’s claims justifying the war.

It was not, therefore, simply a “mistake,” or a momentary lapse of judgment. Indeed, in her own words, she cast her vote “with conviction.”

She made a decision and it wasn't based on the will of the citizens, it wasn't based on the law, it wasn't based on facts.  She made a decision that started the Iraq War and all the destruction that followed -- all the destruction that continues.

This is no mere 'mistake.'

This goes to a serious lack of judgment and leadership.

Susan Sarandon is supporting Senator Bernie Sanders -- who, in 2002, voted against the Iraq War authorization.  She Tweets:

Read more here:

  • This campaign is about a political revolution - millions of people standing up and saying enough is enough.
    Embedded image permalink
  • Retweeted
    If we stand together on Monday night, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. :
  • Retweeted
    Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same-old establishment politics.

  • For many Democrats, 2016 is boiling down to a question of do you support a liar (Hillary) or a leader (Bernie)?

    The people of Iowa will be the first to weigh in when they caucus on Monday.

    The people of Iraq get no vote but then they really get no vote in their own country either.

    Haider al-Abadi is prime minister because Barack Obama wants him to be.  The US President made the decision in the summer of 2014 -- not the Iraqi people.

    Before Haider al-Abadi was prime minister of Iraq, the position was held by thug Nouri al-Maliki.

    Nouri was installed as prime minister in 2006 not by the Iraqi people but by Bully Boy Bush.  In 2010, the Iraqi people went to the polls.  One of the things they were deciding was whether to keep or ditch Nouri as prime minister.

    Nouri lost.

    He refused to step down as prime minister.  For eight months, he refused.

    In the end, he didn't have to.


    Barack had US officials negotiate a contract, The Erbil Agreement, which went around the will of the Iraqi people and democracy to give Nouri a second term.

    Please note that State of Law lost the 2010 election to Iraqiya.

    Yet, in 2014, when Barack replaced Nouri, he didn't go with a member of Iraqiya but again with the loser State of Law.

    The following Tweet best represents the attitude of the Iraqi officials to the Iraqi people they are supposed to serve.

  • iraq
    Read on ...

    Saturday, January 23, 2016




    From June 3, 2013, that's "Scandal."  C.I. notes:

    A glum Barack says, "57% of independent voters disapprove of the job I'm doing -- the scandals are hurting me."  The New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson insists, "Scandals?  What scandals?  At The New York Times, we don't see any scandals.  We don't even see my mustache!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    I think that's the perfect drawing of Jill Abramson.

    What a fake.

    She lost her job and then wanted to pretend she had integrity.

    After she killed one NYT report after another on Barack to protect him.

    She deserved to lose her job.

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

    Saturday, January 23, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack gives more weapons to Iraq, still no move towards national reconciliation or a national guard, persecution of the Sunnis continue, Haider's Iraq is going bankrupt (financially, this time) and much more.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Kisik, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, destroying 11 ISIL rockets, three ISIL vehicles and five ISIL assembly areas and suppressing an ISIL mortar position.
    -- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.
    -- Near Mosul, one strike struck an ISIL improvised explosive device factory.
    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, and destroying an ISIL front end loader, two ISIL vehicle-borne IEDs, an ISIL staging area, three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL heavy machine gun positions, an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle and denying ISIL access to terrain.
    -- Near Sinjar, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL mortar tube and two ISIL light machine gun positions.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Tal Afar, one strike suppressed an ISIL light machine gun position.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

    News?  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) addresses news in Iraq:

    This kind of “news” is common on Iraqi social media. And it’s dangerous because for many Iraqis, social media websites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to a lesser degree, have become a major source of political and security-related news. They do not trust mainstream media in Iraq, which is mostly considered to be partisan with much of it funded by political parties, religious bodies or other organizations pushing their own agenda. Many Iraqis say their most trusted source is word-of-mouth – relatives, friends, neighbours – so it makes sense that they would turn to social media, basically an expanded network of the latter, to get information they believe they can trust.

    The media is highly partisan in Iraq -- and elsewhere -- but on Iraq, if this is news to you, refer to Deborah Amos' paper "Confusion, Contradiction and Irony: The Iraqi Media in 2010" which documented the way so much of the media is controlled in Iraq.

    Mustafa Habib examines several stories that became popular on social media and influenced events in Iraq.

    We'll note one:

    Once a certain story gets picked up on Iraqi social media it is often rapidly disseminated further. The story about Sheikh Nimr’s execution was a prime example of this. It’s hard to know who posted the videos originally but it seems clear that the original user had an agenda.
    Under the guidance of advisors from open source verification experts at the investigative network, Bellingcat, a team of bloggers from the Iraqi Network for Social Media who are also the founders of a Facebook page called Fake Posts, as well as journalists from NIQASH, took a closer look at some of these falsified reports on social media.
    Using open source verification techniques like geolocation and reverse image search, the team quickly found that the first video, the one allegedly showing al-Nimr’s execution, had nothing to do with the Saudi cleric. The clip, watched by thousands of Iraqis, was actually the video of the execution of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia and it was four years old.
    The other video that supposedly showed al-Nimr’s body being thrown out of a helicopter after his execution was also something else: It was a video showing a member of Saudi police force falling out of a helicopter, most likely to his death, in 2013.

    The original user had an agenda?


    But let's not confine coverage to Iraq.

    FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS and other ridiculous outlets -- front groups posing as news outlets -- certainly had an agenda as they suddenly discovered executions.

    As was noted on Arabic media, FPIF was silent when the Iraqi government was killing the LGBT community members, when the Interior Ministry went into schools calling for violence against LGBTs, but suddenly it was interested in fairness.

    It was noted that FPIF was silent when Sunni women and girls were wrongly imprisoned in Iraq and then beaten and/or raped in prison.

    It was silent as Iraqi forces terrorized and killed Sunnis.

    But FPIF and others were wetting their panties in public and beating themselves with chains over the execution of one Shi'ite cleric -- while ignoring the others executed in the same batch of executions.

    Let's never pretend that some elements of the Iraqi media are the only ones with an agenda.

    Tuesday, the United Nations issued a report on violence in Iraq. As we documented in that day's snapshot, many news outlets and 'news' outlets were pushing an agenda and not actually reporting.  As we pointed out:

    The Islamic State is a terrorist organization.
    Documenting their abuses should be easy and something anyone can do without any great ethical challenge.
    The United Nations report notes consistent patterns of abuse by the Iraqi government.
    That needs to be spotlighted, it needs to be front and center.
    You do not excuse away a government committing crimes against its own civilians.
    You do not act as though that's nothing or that it's a sidebar.
    It is the prime story.
    Again, the Islamic State is a terrorist organization.
    As such it commits crimes against people -- that's what makes it a terrorist organization.
    The Iraqi government is supposed to serve (and protect) all the Iraqi people.
    When it instead targets its own people, that is news.
    The failure to properly report this goes a long way towards the growing divide between Arabs and others.  Arabs watched from 2010 on forward as the Iraqi government openly targeted Sunnis.  They saw little to no objection to this persecution.
    The United Nations puts out a report that documents crimes by a terrorist organization (ISIS) and crimes against Sunnis by the Iraqi government and the western media again ignores the crimes of the Iraqi government or offers a brief sotto voice aside.
    This is not acceptable.
    It is silencing those suffering at the hands of the Iraqi government.
    It is saying that Arabs are disposable and crimes against them can be ignored.

    Friday, Aisha Maniar covered the report at TRUTHOUT:

    The assault on the Iraqi people comes from all sides: ISIS, the Iraqi government and its security forces and related militias, coalition airstrikes and armed gangs cashing in on the prevailing state of anarchy. The UN report concedes that "The violence suffered by civilians in Iraq remains staggering," but with more than half of the report dedicated to atrocities carried out by ISIS, the Iraqi government gets off lightly.
    A number of the human rights abuses ascribed to ISIS could equally be attributed to government security forces or related militias. For example, both ISIS and the government's popular mobilization units - mainly Shiite militias drafted into the fight against ISIS - have been open about their recruitment and use of child soldiers. In the latter case, not mentioned in the report, the use of child combatants could have serious implications for the United States, as these militias fall under the umbrella of an army that is trained and supported by the US. UNICEF expressed its concerns in June 2015, and called for "urgent measures" to be taken by the Iraqi government to protect children, including criminalizing the recruitment of children, and "the association of children with the Popular Mobilization Forces."

    The report states that "systematic and widespread violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law" committed by ISIS could amount to "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide." Others, including Human Rights Watch, have suggested that Iraqi government-backed militias in the fight against ISIS may have also committed war crimes. Kurds too have been accused of potential war crimes. Indeed, all parties to the conflict have committed crimes against humanity against the Iraqi people, and there must be no impunity for any of them. A report focused on human rights and the protection of civilians should not be politically biased toward any party.

    Good for TRUTHOUT but let's not pretend that this is the dominant view the press is taking.  Even now, the UN reports is covered as 'agenda reporting' with outlets using it for war propaganda.

    Again, calling out the Islamic State requires no bravery.

    Noting that the latest prime minister that the US has installed in Iraq -- Haider al-Abadi -- continues to preside over a government that persecutes its only civilians?

    That's apparently too much even for the supposedly strong and brave American media.

    It does help keep so many news consumers uniformed.

    Dina al-Shibeeb (AL ARABIYA ENGLISH) reports:

    Mohammed Karbouli, a member of the Iraqi Security and Defense parliamentary committee, dismissed a recent report saying that 40,000 Sunnis were given the green light to join PMU, describing Sunnis as feeling continuously excluded.
    Instead, the lawmaker said the reality is a far cry from the reported figure, putting the current total number of Sunni volunteers at merely 16,000 whereas Shiites in the PMU account for as much as 120,000 fighters.
    “What we have – those who are receiving salaries – is a number that does not exceed 16,000 for all of the Sunni provinces,” Karbouli told Al Arabiya News.
    Of the 16,000 figure, the western province of Anbar takes the lion’s share of 9,000 volunteer fighters, he said.

    Anbar Province field and security commander is quoted discussing the promise of adding 50,000 Sunni fighters (never added) and the promise that the Parliament would create a National Guard (never created).

    National Guard?

    You  may remember US President Barack Obama was insistent on that back in June of 2014 on through August of that year.

    It never happened.

    He never forced it to happen.

    This week the US State Dept signed off on another huge weapons deal/gift to the Iraqi government.  This one is for $2 billion.  Yet in the failed administration of Barack Obama, where everyone is diplomatically challenged, no one thought to pin any conditions on the deal.

    There was no, "Haider, you promised a national guard, that's why we made you prime minister.  So you've got to create the national guard now to get this $2 billion deal."

    Haider never has to keep any promises or actually bring about reconciliation in Iraq.

    He's a failure across the board.

  • has $2b USD left of its budget! We are in January. 2016 is a game-changer.

  • It's January and the rich country of Iraq has $2 billion left in its budget.

    Haider doesn't appear to have ended corruption in Iraq, just accelerated it.

    He's also not protected the Iraqi people.

  • That's Haider's Iraq.

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  This is from Bacon's new photo essay "THE WORKERS OF SAN QUINTIN VALLEY ARE NO LONGER WILLING TO BE INVISIBLE" (EQUAL TIMES and David's website):

    On 29 March 2015, US photographer and labour activist David Bacon followed a group of farm workers in the San Quintín Valley in the Mexican state of Baja California as they marched to the US border.

    Thousands of workers - who pick strawberries and tomatoes for the US market - went on a two-week strike in protest over their poverty wages. These farm workers, who mainly come from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and make up the bulk of the agricultural workforce in Baja, are paid about US$9 a day; they were demanding wages of about 300 pesos, or US$24.

    Growers bring over whole families, particularly Mixtec and Triqui indigenous peoples, to live in labour camps and housing notorious for poor conditions. The whole operation is reminiscent of the maquiladora [export assembly plants] industry, transplanted into agriculture.

    The big companies walked out of negotiations with the workers March, and signed contracts with government-affiliated unions that were not on strike. They promised 15 per cent pay rises for the workers, which is much less than what they were asking for.

    The biggest US distributor, Driscoll's, claimed its main grower, BerryMex, pays higher rates of US$5 to US$9 per hour - a highly dubious claim, according to activists. The growers want to move towards a code of conduct that avoids any negotiation or contracts with the striking union, the Alianza. At the same time, growers brought more workers up from southern Mexico to break the strike.

    In a final negotiation session between the workers' organisation, the Alianza, and the government on 4 June 2015, authorities announced a new minimum wage in San Quintín of 150 (approximately US$8.40), 165 (US$9.20) or 180 pesos (US$10) a day, depending on the size of the employer.

    But at the top daily wage of 180 pesos, a Baja field worker has to work for almost three hours to buy a gallon of milk. Workers also say the companies are not abiding by the agreement, and have announced their support for a boycott of Driscoll's berries.

    Fidel Sanchez, leader of the strike told Bacon:  "Consumers eat the fruits and the vegetables that these workers are producing, but know next to nothing about the workers themselves. This march, and the strike itself, show that workers are no longer willing to be invisible."
    Read on ...

    Saturday, January 9, 2016

    Eric investigates Eric

    eric investigates eric 001


    From May 27, 2013, that's "Eric Investigates Eric."  C.I. noted:

    Attorney General Eric Holder explains, "The Justice Department went too far in targeting the press and I am the one to figure who is responsible.  After that, my wife has asked me to look into who forgot to take the trash out?  In both cases, I can assure you I will not be found responsible."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    When I'm drawing a real person, it's very rare that I don't pick the drawing apart afterwards.

    But I really felt like that one above captured Eric Holder.

    Again, that's not a common feeling for me.

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

    Saturday, January 9, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Basra's a hotspot again (who could've guessed? Uh, anyone paying attention), Haider al-Abadi's talking anti-corruption again, a drone crashes in Iraq and much more.

    Starting with terminology.

    One definition of "distraction" would be "a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else."  That's the definition we're interested in today.

    From December 31, 2015's "Those never-ending victory laps:"

    I guess every day is going to be about declaring and celebrating the liberation of Ramadi -- since it was first claimed on Monday and until the day finally comes that it is liberated.
    Point of fact, it's still not liberated.
    But every day, the limited amount of time the world press spends on Iraq is taken up by tales of Ramadi's liberation.
    And so much more gets ignored.
    For example?
    IRAQI SPRING MC reports counter-terrorism forces in Diyala shot dead a female civilian in front of civilians and Iraqi troops.
    Or how about a new flashpoint developing?
    IRAQI SPRING MC notes troops being sent to Basra.  This comes as NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes MP Abd al-Salam al-Maliki is calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in Basra arguing the situation there is turning into a crisis.
    But by all means, let's all waste another day declaring Ramadi liberated (when it's not).

    That's how the year ended -- and with no western press coverage of Basra, to be very clear.

    Nine days later?

    Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "Fear has become part of daily life amid a surge of violence in Basra, where rampant crime, kidnappings and extortion have become commonplace. Marauding Shiite militiamen drive around in cars with tinted windows and without plates, while local clans wage bloody feuds."

    Basra's struggling and, in part, that's said to be because Iraqi forces are being deployed elsewhere in Iraq.

    Such as?


    See the Iraqi forces are like the western press -- they apparently are small in number and can only focus on one thing at a time.

    How does Basra fall off the radar?

    Or has everyone forgotten this photo op?

    PM Al-Abadi visits West Qurna 2 in Basra and adopts new measures to enhance security for international oil companies
    Embedded image permalink


    From the August 22, 2015 snapshot, "Iraq Times reports the reaction to citizens in Basra which was to protest Haider's visit. The activists noted that he traveled all the way to Basra to reassure Big Oil but he did not meet with a single local protester to address the concerns that have had them pouring into the streets for the last weeks.  The report notes that the British and US Ambassadors to Iraq had lobbied Haider to visit Basra to reassure Big Oil.  As Iraq Times also notes, just north of Basra is where a protester -- protesting against Big Oil -- was shot dead by security forces working for yet another foreign oil company in Iraq."

    And the protests?  They continue in Basra.  ALSUMARIA reports Friday saw continued protests there against the government's corruption.

    Yes, the western press should have been paying attention to Basra last year.

    So much gets ignored.

    Including the lack of success in Barack Obama's never-ending bombing of Iraq.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Coalition forces used rocket artillery, fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and four ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL weapon caches and three ISIL assembly areas.
    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed 21 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL sniper positions, two ISIL recoilless rifles, an ISIL vehicle bomb facility, and two ISIL weapon caches.
    -- Near Sinjar, a strike struck two separate ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL light machine gun.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL-used culvert and an ISIL fighting position.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
    Jack A. Smith (GLOBAL RESEARCH) goes where the western press fears to tread:

    • IN IRAQ, WASHINGTON’S DISASTROUS WAR has lasted nearly 13 years from March 2003 with the exception of two and a half years until returning in August 2014 to fight against the Islamic State (IS) — itself a product of the first war. President Obama propelled the second intervention soon after IS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June 2014. Late last month, after losing much ground, Iraqi forces backed by American air power recaptured the key city of Ramadi, destroying a large portion of the city in the process. The battle to recapture Mosul may take place this year.
    However, many sources in and out of Congress argue that only a significant ground war will ultimately defeat the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. This could take many years. Aside from 3,500 U.S. military “trainers and advisers” in Iraq, President Obama is reluctant to engage in a ground campaign in either country, given the Pentagon’s difficulties in actually winning winning a major war in the Middle East. If political pressure doesn’t oblige him to deploy a large number of ground troops against IS this year, there is a likelihood his successor may do so in 2017. Regardless, the Iraq war will become more intense in 2016.
    There are several other important problems regarding Iraq, but two stand out.
    (1) The Islamic State is a militant Sunni “caliphate” based on Islamic fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine mainly propagated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The IS evidently considers its main enemy to be the Shia branch of Islam, which departed from the Sunni version in the 7th century. Virtually all of the many Sunni jihadist groups follow a form of fundamentalist Wahhabism or the nearly identical Salafism, and most condemn adherents of Shia Islam.  The IS “state” occupies large portions of two Shia-governed countries, Iraq and Syria. Sunni Arabs in Iraq — most of whom do not share fundamentalist views — constitute 15 to 20% of the Iraqi population. But many oppose the Shia controlled Baghdad government. Unless a substantial number of these Sunnis turn strongly against the IS, defeating it will be more difficult.
    Kurds make up 17% of the Iraqi population and are described as “mainly secular Sunnis” who seek independence from Iraq in the future to build their own independent state — but at the moment they supply the most effective ground forces against the IS. The Shia represent up to 65% of the population but have long existed under Sunni rule, usually as secondary citizens. It was only after the U.S. destroyed the minority secular Sunni government of Saddam Hussein and his B a’ath Party that the Shia won power in an election. The Bush/Cheney Administration probably knew that regime change in Iraq — Iran’s enemy neighbor to the west — could strengthen the Shia government in Tehran, but since they initially planned to invade Iran (as well as Syria) after Iraq was subdued they ignored the risk. The U.S. sank so deeply in the Iraqi quagmire that it never was able to expand its ridiculous imperialist escapade.
    Iraq continues to splinter and fall apart. 
    Though the Shia and Sunni divide has garnered the most attention in recent months, there's also the reality that the Kurds, as Smith notes above, seek independence.
    The Kurdish Regional Government is in northern Iraq and has been semi-autonomous for years.  The Kurds would like full autonomy.
    The Kurds remain the largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland.  
    Kurds in Syria and Turkey feel suppressed and both countries have governments that fear an independent Kurdistan in Iraq would increase demands for independence for Kurds in both Syria and Turkey.
    Hannah Lynch (RUDAW) wonders if this is the year the KRG sees full independence and notes:

    Kurdish president Masoud Barzani has echoed the sentiment of many people that the Kurdish region would fare better on its own.
    In the summer of 2014 when ISIS took over large swathes of Iraq’s territory, Barzani asked the Kurdish parliament to set a date for an independence referendum, saying that the Kurds no longer wanted to be part of Iraq’s troubles.
    "There might be some negative consequences arising with the declaration of independence in the beginning. We need to be patient because in the end it is worth it, and we can provide a better tomorrow for our people," says Ayub Hassan, a goldsmith in downtown Erbil.
    From reality, to fantasy.  Iraq is not just a corrupt country, it is regularly found in the top ten of most corrupt countries  in the world.  On its most recent corruption index, Transparency International ranked Iraq the 170th most corrupt country in the world out of 175 countries.
    Anyone remember the protests of 2015?
    Let's drop back to the October 5th snapshot:

    Haider al-Abadi was installed as the new prime minister in the fall of 2014 in an attempt to reset the clock and pull Iraq back from the brink.
    During his year and counting as prime minister, he's accomplished very little but flapped his gums a great deal.
    For example, protests started (re-started) months ago.
    The spark was the lack of electricity in 100-plus degree days.
    Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Guardian) reports:
    More than a decade after the US invasion – and more than $40bn (£26bn) of investment later – Iraqis must still make do with limited electricity. In a country with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, this is a matter of great exasperation for locals.
    “People here get a few hours of electricity every day, so when the current comes there is a huge demand: everyone plugs in their fridges and air conditioners, the old network is overloaded and transformers fry and cables melt,” said Faris. “We work three shifts, 24 hours a day, trying to patch up the old network and we can’t keep up.”
    When summer temperatures peak above 50C (122F), it’s a matter of life and death – a far more emotive issue than Isis and the sectarian divide. This summer, as temperatures surged and tempers frayed, thousands of people staged a series of protests, pressing into city centre squares to denounce the corruption that riddles the system.

    All these months later, all these grand pronouncements from Haider later, and the electricity issue is still not addressed.
    But Haider did announce, over the weekend, that he'd accomplished something to meet the demands of the people.
    Sunday, AFP reported that Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, declared that opening the Green Zone to the public is part of his fulfilling his promise to the Iraqi people.
    Strange, I don't require any signs carried by the protesters in recent months that called for opening the Green Zone.
    And, of course, it's not really that open.  As AFP noted, "The measure offers limited access to the vast area, with most streets still requiring a special badge [. . .]"
    Haider never met the demands of the protesters.  And the corruption continues.
    But do nothing Haider al-Abadi spoke today.  PRESS TV notes:
    “2016 is the year of eliminating corruption, there is no such things as acceptable corruption and non-acceptable corruption,” Haider al-Abadi said in a Saturday speech at a ceremony to celebrate Police Day in the capital, Baghdad.
    The comments came following a criticism by Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who urged the Iraqi government to reform the current administration and take more serious measures against graft.
    Covering the speech, ALSUMARIA notes that he gave a similar anti-corruption speech on September 23, 2015 but that, back then, he likened corruption to terrorism.
    Haider al-Abadi's empty words have been useless.

    Let's move to rumors.

    US helicopters are taking part in attacks in Kirkuk.

    ALSUMARIA reports that this rumor is being denied by US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones.

    And did a US drone crash in Iraq?  Yes, RUSSIA TODAY reports, "Washington has confirmed that one of its Predator drones deployed in a mission against Islamic State terrorists crashed in Iraq. However, the military denied ISIS militants’ claims that the jihadist group shot the drone down." Lolita C. Baldor (AP) adds, "U.S. Air Forces Central Command says the military lost control of the drone, but the specific cause of its crash is being investigated." And Phillip Swarts (AIR FORCE TIMES) observes, "In the last eight months of 2015, Air Combat Command reported the loss of at least three RPA's -- two in the Middle East and one in Africa."

    But what about what happened in Mosul?

    ALSUMARIA notes Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erodgen is insisting that Turkish troops defended Camp Ba'shiqah near Mosul from the Islamic State.

    But REUTERS notes, "Iraq's joint operations command denied on Saturday that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked by Islamic State or had clashed with the militants, refuting claims by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan."

    On that one, it's still unclear what is just rumor and what is fact.

    What about those false US rumors about the Iraq War having ended?  Michelle Tan (ARMY TIMES) reported Friday on new deployments, "About 1,300 soldiers will deploy to Iraq this spring to support Operation Inherent Resolve. The other 500 soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel."

    So, no, Barack did not end the Iraq War.  Or close Guantanamo . . . Or . . .

    We'll note this Tweet:

    The Shia cleric al-Sarkhi al-Hasani: "Shias clerics have forgotten about the executions of Sunnies in "
    Embedded image permalink



    In some of today's violence, ALSUMARIA reports a south Baghdad bombing left five people (including three children) injured, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Baghdad (shot dead).

    Turning to England, Jonathan Owen (INDEPENDENT) reports:

    Dozens of cases in which British soldiers are accused of unlawfully killing Iraqi civilians have already been referred to prosecutors, The Independent can reveal, with more than 50 deaths set to be examined.
    The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) has sought advice from the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) on unlawful death cases involving 35 alleged killings, and 36 cases of alleged abuse and mistreatment, it can be disclosed.

    This has been a story there for over a week but until now there were many allegations being made to the press.  These are still allegations but they've now been turned over to legal prosecutors.  Lexi Finnigan (TELEGRAPH OF LONDON) adds:

    On Friday night MPs and forces chiefs labelled the move to contact 280 soldiers a “despicable witch-hunt”. 
    Some veterans have even been handed the letters personally and quizzed on their doorsteps by taxpayer-funded detectives


    the telegraph of london

    Read on ...
    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.