Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Conversation

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Conversation"

That's "The Conversation" from January 18, 2015.  C.I. noted:

A conversation takes place with one person asking, "Did you hear?  The Supreme Court is considering same-sex marriage?"  The other replies, "I had no idea Chief Justice John Roberts was even out!  I hope Scalia says 'yes'!"   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

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

Friday, December 15, 2017.  The UN responds to Iraq's mass executions, a selfie sparks outrage, the claims that the Islamic State was defeated in Iraq look increasingly hollow, and much more.

Yesterday, the Iraqi government carried out 38 executions.

Important. Iraq also holding German-born Linda Wenzel.

This morning, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, declared:

We are deeply shocked and appalled at the mass execution on Thursday of 38 men at a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, Iraq, which once again raises huge concerns about the use of the death penalty in the country. These 38 prisoners had been convicted for terrorism-related crimes.

Given the flaws of the Iraqi justice system, it appears extremely doubtful that strict due process and fair trial guarantees were followed in these 38 cases. This raises the prospect of irreversible miscarriages of justice and violations of the right to life.

So far this year, we have learned of 106 executions in Iraq, including the mass hanging of 42 prisoners in a single day in September.

We once again urge the Iraqi authorities to halt all executions, establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and carry out an urgent and comprehensive review of the criminal justice system.

Throssell notes 106 executions in Iraq this year.  In 2016, Amnesty International recorded 88 executions in Iraq.

The 106 will not include the extra-judicial executions carried out by Iraqi forces.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (GUARDIAN) reported on some of these executions in "After the liberation of Mousl, an orgy of killing."  One example:

Then, on the radio, between batches of numbers, came the words: “We caught a D**sh.”
 Taha grabbed a radio and said: “Bring him to me.”
A wave of excitement ran through the room. Taha made a pistol gesture and shot in the air. “We will have a party today.”
Half an hour later, a soldier brought an old man into the room and pushed him to the floor. The man looked emaciated, but underneath his threadbare T-shirt, his muscles were tense and lean. His silky grey hair and wavy, shaggy beard, and the thick circles around his large, dark eyes, gave him the look of a 19th-century Russian revolutionary. The soldier said he was spotted crossing over from Isis lines with the civilians, but when he saw the soldiers he tried flee back to Isis territory.
“Who are you?” asked Taha in a firm voice.
“I am a hospital medic, please check my card.”
“Where is your national ID card?” asked Taha.
“It was taken by Isis fighters to prevent us from leaving,” replied the man.
“Taken by Isis, or you destroyed it to hide your name? How do we know you are not an Isis commander?” asked Taha.
“I am a medic sir, I told you. D**sh forced me to go to the old city and work in their field hospital. I was there treating injured civilians and yes, I will be straight with you, I did treat some of their fighters, too, because they forced me to. But I am not D**sh, sir, I actually hate them.”
“You are a liar,” said Taha.
“I swear by Imam Abbas … ” the man began, but before he had finished his oath upon the name of one of Shia Islam’s most revered figures, Taha smacked him hard in the face, sending him tumbling back into the lap of a soldier who sat behind him.
“Don’t utter these names, you filthy animal.”
The medic picked himself up, with an insulted look on his face. “But I am an old man,” he said softly, gradually bringing back the smile to his face. If there had been a moment in which he could have saved himself, it had now passed.
Taha and the soldiers dragged the old man out of the basement and into the street. They found a deserted house attached to a large ancient church, and pushed the captive through a courtyard, up a few steps, and into a small, dark room with three tall arched windows that overlooked a cemetery. They sat him on the floor and he leaned against the base of one of the windows, his head backlit by shafts of the afternoon sunlight. They stood encircling him. “Yalla old man, why don’t you confess so we can send you away from here?” said one young officer.

The old man, still smiling, said: “But how can I confess something I haven’t done? How can I prejudice myself?”
A heavy-set soldier picked up a short, thick metal pipe and started prodding the old man’s knees with it. “Look, from the window, that rotten body over there,” he said. “That was one of your people. We captured him few days ago and he, too, refused to confess.”
The man craned his neck and looked out of the window behind him. Below the house, a bloated, decomposed body had turned black under the scorching summer sun. He turned and smiled, but there was now a hint of fear, a loss of control. “I am just a medic,” he mumbled. Taha swung his leg back and kicked the man’s face so hard that he collapsed motionless on his back. For a second, everyone in the room thought he was dead.
“Pour water on him, he is faking,” Taha said angrily.
 One soldier pulled the man up and sat him down again. Slowly, he opened his eyes, which at first looked stunned, and then darkened with anger. He opened his mouth, and a dark lump of flesh, blood and a set of large, gleaming false teeth tumbled on to his chest and the floor.
“Ha, will you confess?” said the soldier with the metal pipe.
“I have nothing to say,” hissed the man with blood pouring from his mouth. Taha nodded to the heavyset soldier, who pulled the old man to his feet, his legs wobbling. He leaned the man against the arched window and then, in one quick move, the soldier flipped him out of the window, but held his feet. The old man hung, swinging, from the window.
“Are you going to confess now?” asked the soldier. “What else is left for you?”
“How can I prejudice myself?” came the faint voice of the old man from below.
In that dark room, the soldiers and officers looked at the old man’s feet, dirty and cracked, for a few seconds before they vanished from the window. He fell into the yard below with a thud. The soldier who had dropped him leaned out of the window with his machine gun and fired five bullets into the body in the rubble below. A cloud of gunpowder filled the room, dancing in the shafts of light. The soldier looked out of the window and then fired two more bullets. “These two at his legs, just in case he wants to walk home,” said the soldier, laughing.
Taha and the two officers walked back. A young officer said, with a sheepish smile: “I wonder if God one day will punish us for all these killings. Will we go mad or something worse?”

“He is my fifth since the start of [the battle of] Mosul,” said Taha. “Al-Qaida have one good principle: if they suspect someone, or have the tiniest evidence against him, they execute him. They say that if he was guilty, he deserved it, and if he was innocent, his blood will be purged and later he will go to heaven. I follow the same principle.”

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's entire report is available in audio format here read by Alice Arnold.

As Iraq breaks all human rights laws, prime minister Hayder al-Abadi frolics in France.

AP reports:

Three days after declaring victory over the Islamic State group, Iraq's prime minister warns that the group's extremists might "erupt again somewhere else" without international cooperation in combatting the militants.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters Tuesday that "we have managed to break them" in Iraq, but added that it's a worry for everyone that IS has "this unfortunate ability to recruit young people very quickly."

Meanwhile . . .

IS still being hit in Iraq and Syria despite claims by some that it’s mission accomplished.

And XINHUA reports:

A total of ten Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Friday in airstrikes on two IS safe houses at a rural area in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, an army commander said.
Iraqi helicopter gunships pounded two safe houses based on intelligence reports in Maytah area, some 120 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, leaving ten IS militants killed, Lt. Gen. Mezhir al-Azzawi, commander of the security forces responsible for military operations in Diyala province, told Xinhua.

Doesn't appear ISIS is defeated or broken in Iraq.

And reports of the Iraqi government attacking civilians in Tuz Khurmatu have reached the United Nations.  Spokesperson Liz Throssell declared this morning:

We are seriously concerned about the situation in the city of Tuz Khurmatu, in Salah al-Din Governorate in Iraq, where on 9 and 12 December residential areas were reportedly shelled, causing casualties among civilians.  It is not clear who is carrying out the shelling which is reported to be coming from the mountains overlooking the area. Iraqi forces are still working to discover the exact locations from which the shelling has come and the identity of those responsible.

Tensions have been increasing in Tuz Khurmatu following September’s independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and in disputed areas, which include Tuz Khurmatu. In recent weeks, clashes have broken out between Kurdish Security Forces – also known as the Peshmerga - and Turkmen Popular Mobilization Units or PMUs. This fighting has to date resulted in an unconfirmed number of deaths in each group.

UN human rights officers visited the area on 7 December and again on 14 December to investigate reports of the burning of homes and looting of businesses. They spoke to residents of Tuz Khurmatu in Kirkuk and Erbil who had fled the violence and also saw for themselves in Tuz Khurmatu some 150 premises that had been burned or otherwise damaged. This follows reports that, on 16 and 17 October, a similar number of houses were looted and burned by Turkmen PMUs and civilians, and that up to 11 houses reportedly belonging to Kurdish families and officials were destroyed by explosives in the city. Thousands of residents, mainly of Kurdish origin left for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, apparently fearing repercussions, and to date many have not returned.

Iraqi Government forces are in control of Tuz Khurmatu, supported by Popular Mobilization units. The city’s population is a mix of Turkoman, Kurd and Arab communities and there is a serious risk that given the ethnic and religious fault lines in the area, that violence could escalate and spread.

We urge the end of all acts that threaten the fundamental rights of the Tuz Khurmatu population. We also call on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that civilians there are protected and those responsible for human rights abuses brought to justice.

  1. : We urge the end of all acts that threaten the fundamental rights of people living in Tuz Khurmatu. Given the ethnic & religious fault lines in the area, there's a

Vengeance is not a governing principal -- a detail the US government forgot to pass on to all the Shi'ite runaways they put in charge of Iraq.  (The runaways fled Iraq and only returned after the US-led invasion in 2003.  Possibly due to their cowardice that led to fleeing, they returned feeling they had something to prove.)

Lastly, what can a selfie do?

Wow => Miss Iraq Posted a Photo With Miss Israel. Now She Has to Flee the Country.
Miss Iraq's family are forced to flee the country after the beauty queen posed for a selfie with Miss Israel

Miss Iraq's family has now been forced to flee their country after death threats. Miss Iraq simply posted a selfie with Miss Israel, saying she wanted to promote "peace and love"

A country is truly broken if a selfie leads to death threats and the forced relocation of a family. No wonder the Kurds want out of the monstrosity that is Iraq.

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and THE DIANE REHM SHOW -- updated:


  • Read on ...

    Saturday, December 9, 2017

    2014 Self-Exposure


    From Janaury 1, 2015, that's "2014 Self-Exposure."  C.I. wrote:

    Barack's move to Break The Government or at least the other two branches.  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    [Note: "2014: The Year of Self-Exposure" is now up and immediately below.  I'm leaving Isaiah's comic as the top entry for today.]

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

    Friday, December 8, 2017.  In the last year of Barack Obama's presidency veterans homelessness increased (despite his pledge to end it), PBS misleads regarding Iraqi militias and much more

    Starting with a report from last night's THE NEWHOUR (PBS -- link is video and transcript):

    • Reza Sayah:
      At a training camp just outside of the city of Kirkuk, a rare glimpse of America’s newest problem in Iraq, the Popular Mobilization Forces, PMF, for short, Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic, an armed militia more than 100,000 fighters strong who helped crush ISIS in Iraq, many armed, funded, and trained by America’s longtime foe the Islamic Republic of Iran, with no plans to disband.
    • Abu Ali Beyk (through Interpreter):
      The PMF has reached a place where no one can stop it, and this is a blow to U.S. interests in the Middle East.
    • Reza Sayah:
      Abu Ali Beyk is the face of America’s newest problem, a battle-scarred PMF commander committed to God and driven by duty, and in no small measure, revenge.
      When Beyk was a child, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, executed his Shia father. Beyk and his family fled to neighboring Iran, the leading Shia power in the region, where they lived for more than a decade. Twenty years later, he was back in Iraq fighting ISIS, a terrorist organization many here believe was made up of Sunni remnants of Saddam Hussein’s forces, and supported, Beyk says, by Washington’s Sunni Arab allies.
    • Abu Ali Beyk (through Interpreter):
      Everyone knows ISIS was manufactured by America’s allies in the region. The PMF, backed by Iran, defeated ISIS, so those American allies are not happy.
    • Reza Sayah:
      It was the threat of ISIS in Iraq that spawned the PMF in 2014. With most U.S. forces gone and Iraqi forces too weak to take on ISIS, the Iraqi government called on Iran for help, and Iraq’s highest religious authority, Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called for volunteer fighters.
      Within weeks, armed militias mobilized, backed by Iran.
    • Abu Ali Beyk (through Interpreter):
      While the whole world watched as Iraq was collapsing, in fact, it was only Iran that stood with us by providing us moral and material support.
    • Reza Sayah:
      The PMF acknowledged support from Iran. Many fighters say they have traveled there. We heard several speak the Iranian language of Farsi.
    • Haji Jawdat Assaf:
      We love Iranians.
    • Reza Sayah:
      But PMF spokesman Haji Jawdat Assaf insists they’re not beholden to Iran, and never use Iranian soldiers.

    But armed militias didn't mobilize within weeks.

    Why can't PBS demand accuracy?

    The militias existed.  They were barred from participating by Iraqi law.

    But they existed -- and they usually terrorized local communities.

    The remarks by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani didn't mean new groups sprung up.

    It just meant these thugs went in and became part of the Iraqi armed forces -- something that Hayder al-Abadi and the Parliament then illegally enforced.

    In fact, why can't PBS point that out?

    Without context, it's not news, it's just blather.

    I also missed, in last night propaganda, the fact that the militias have threatened US forces.

    US ally against ISIS War in Iraq, Shiite paramilitary Harakat Hezbollah Al-Nujaba threatened to attack the U.S. military in Iraq following President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s.

    20 hours ago?

    Thursday morning.  More than enough time to make Thursday night of a 'news' broadcast by PBS.

    And that wasn't the first threat to attack US troops made by Shi'ite militias.

    We've discussed this topic repeatedly -- most recently in the November 30th snapshot, following militia leader Hadi al-Ameri's threat to US troops who did not leave Iraq.

    In 2015, Maria Fantappie and Peter Harling (International Crisis Group) observed:

    Here is a new Iraqi paradox: whatever progress the Shi’ite Muslim-dominated Baghdad government makes against jihadi insurgents occupying large swathes of north-western Iraq, it is simultaneously undermining what is left of the Iraqi state, whose frailty and malfunctions created the environment in which jihadism was able to surge in the first place.
    The dereliction of the Iraqi state was already powerfully illustrated by the takeover of one-third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, by Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) in June 2014. Security forces proved rotten to the core despite a decade of training and expansion. Local Sunni Arab elites were revealed to have turned their backs on their constituencies in favor of a corrupt, corrosive relationship with authorities in Baghdad. Power struggles in the capital often deteriorated into sectarian fear-mongering.
    Since June, matters have got worse, particularly in the current battle for the Sunni-populated town of Tikrit, where much of the fighting is by Shi’ite militias under the guidance of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders. Though Iraqi elites and foreign officials alike have signaled they understand the gravity of such shortcomings, they have done little beyond professing intent to shore up the military, re-empower Sunni Arabs through local governance and provision of security and launch an inclusive political process in the capital.
    At the same time, the new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has been all but sidelined by the massive expansion, multiplication and professionalization of so-called “popular mobilization” groups (Hashid al-Shaabi) – in effect Shi’ite militias – that enjoy considerable support in some segments of society and have taken the lead in the single-minded pursuit of defeating Islamic State by military means.
    This decentralized fight has reduced the army to playing a bit role at best, which in turn has reduced the role of the prime minister, its commander in chief. In the vacuum, these militias operate beyond the control of the state, erode its credibility and cannibalize its resources. Their victories — in Tikrit and elsewhere — most likely will further entrench and normalize their role at the state’s expense, which would mark a decisive turn away from the state-building process meant to be ushered in by the 2003 U.S. invasion.
    Abadi professes a reform agenda, but he has not been empowered to deliver on it. On one side, he derives little power from control over national security institutions that have been thoroughly discredited; the interior and national security ministries, in particular, are in the hands of political rivals and essentially serve as the militias’ logistical backbone. On the other, he faces open resistance in parliament, especially from Iran-backed hardline Shi’ite factions, to efforts to reach out to Sunni Arabs and return them to politics.
    The risk is that, as the balance of forces tilts further to the militias’ advantage, they will have the power to decide what happens during and after military operations. There have been troubling signs that, calls for restraint notwithstanding, they have engaged in the same brutal, sectarian-based practices as their Islamic State adversaries, including summary executions and population displacement in mixed Sunni-Shi’ite areas.
    Moreover, there is danger the aftermath of battle might include reprisals against local elements under the banner of transitional justice, targeting anyone thought to be associated with Islamic State, reminiscent of de-Baathification after 2003. Without local institutions or acknowledged leaders to govern Sunni Arab areas, militias could end up having to promote local proxies lacking legitimacy. This would be especially damaging for the process of appointing and recruiting local police.

    2015 is the same year that Michael Weiss and Michael Pregent (FOREIGN POLICY) observed:

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey told Congress on March 3: “What we are watching carefully is whether the militias — they call themselves the popular mobilization forces — whether when they recapture lost territory, whether they engage in acts of retribution and ethnic cleansing.” He needn’t watch any longer. They are engaging in exactly that.
    The crimes of war
    On March 10, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a comprehensive study of human rights violations committed by both IS and pro-Iraqi forces. The Islamic State, OHCHR concluded, has likely committed genocide against the Yazidis, a ethno-religious minority in Iraq, in a catalogue of war crimes and crimes against humanity that include gang-rape and sexual slavery. But OHCHR’s language is equally unambiguous in condemning the other side on the battlefield: “Throughout the summer of 2014,” the report noted, “[PMUs], other volunteers and [Shiite] militia moved from their southern heartlands towards [Islamic State]-controlled areas in central and northern Iraq. While their military campaign against the group gained ground, the militias seem to operate with total impunity, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.” [Italics added.]
    Sunni villages in Amerli and Suleiman Bek, in the Salah ad-Din province, have been looted or destroyed by militiamen operating on the specious assumption that all inhabitants once ruled by IS must be IS sympathizers or collaborators. Human Rights Watch has also lately discovered that the “liberation” of Amerli last October — another PMU/Iranian-led endeavor, only this one abetted by U.S. airstrikes in the early stages — was characterized by wide-scale abuses including the looting and burning of homes and business of Sunni residents of villages surrounding Amerli. The apparent aim was ethnic cleansing.

    And a year earlier, Tirana Hassan (FOREIGN POLICY) was documenting the ethnic cleansing taking place in the name of 'liberation':

    There is mounting evidence that Iraq’s Shiite militias are using the fight against the Islamic State as cover for a campaign of sectarian violence targeting Sunni Arab communities. The Baghdad authorities have turned a blind eye to these militias’ crimes, while foreign governments have ignored the militias’ use of their military aid to pursue their campaign against Sunni Arabs. If the central Iraqi government doesn’t rein in Shiite militias and hold them and their commanders to account for their crimes — including war crimes — Iraq may enter even more terrible times. 

    Changing topics . . .

    Trump's announcement will be used by terrorist recruiters, Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi tells . Summit info:

    The announcement?

    I am unable to find the words to adequately describe the reckless stupidity of this decision. Jerusalem

    The so-called 'resistance' ignored the issue to instead focus on whether Donald Trump was drunk or had bad dentures.

    Expect them to continue to avoid the issue, Hillary's on record supporting this move going back to 1999.  In addition, her supporters support her on this as CNN noted in June 2016:

    Sanders' backers want to exclude references to Jerusalem as belonging wholly to Israel, which Palestinians contest, and consider language that labels Israeli settlements in the West Bank "an occupation," a notion adamantly opposed by Clinton supporters who warn it would undermine the peace process.

    : Iraqi demonstrators angered by U.S. President for recognising as the Israeli capital.

    Iraqi Cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr calls on ‘Saudi led coalition’ to end wars in Yemen, Bahrain & Syria and head towards to liberate it
    Top Iraqi Shia cleric condemns Trump’s al-Quds decision

    Let's wind down with this from IAVA:

    New York, NY (December 7, 2017) — This week, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released an assessment of national homelessness that showed veteran homelessness increased by 1.5% between January 2016 and January 2017. According to the report, more than 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness. IAVA, the leading voice of the Post-9/11 generation of veterans, calls the increase in veterans homelessness a national shame. This is the first time since 2010 that veterans homelessness has increased, and IAVA calls on leaders in Washington to react quickly to reverse this unconscionable trend. 
    Especially shocking is that this crisis disproportionately affects women veterans. In the past year, women veterans homelessness increased by 7%, while male veteran homelessness rose by 1%, adding to the evidence that women veterans are not getting the services and support they need. In 2017 IAVA launched the groundbreaking She Who Borne The Battle Campaign to recognize and support women vets. 
    “IAVA is dedicated to ending veteran homelessness,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA. “And our government must be dedicated as well. The White House, Congress and VA must continue to push for innovative solutions addressing veteran homelessness impacting changing populations. This is especially true for women veterans, who are more likely to experience homelessness. It is critical that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the housing community provide safe facilities for women that will address their specific needs. We were glad to see Secretary Shulkin withdraw a proposal that would have ended specific funding toward this critical program, which was strongly criticized by IAVA, allies and HUD. But there’s much more to be done, especially to support women veterans.” 
    In IAVA’s most recent Member Survey:
    -23% of IAVA members did not have housing secured when they transitioned out of service. 
    -About 1% of IAVA members reported that they did not have a place to live and could not afford one at the time of taking the survey.
    IAVA’s She Who Borne the Battle Campaign aims ensure that the service and support women veterans need is readily available to them — so that they never have to face homelessness or housing insecurity. The IAVA-backed Deborah Sampson Act will expand the services available to women veterans that may be at risk for homelessness or housing insecurity due to legal issues or financial insecurity.  
    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.

    And the following community sites -- plus THE GUARDIAN --  updated:

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