Wednesday, December 7, 2016

That never ending election

Even now, it's impossible to figure out why she lost. Let us continue to ponder.

Yeah, how could that happen?

Agree with Ken Silverstein.

Hillary's little party for her big donors.

How sweet.

They tossed money at her and made it rain and now she's doing lap dances.

We need to get corporate money out of elections.

Campaigns should be publicly funded.

At Black Agenda Report, Bruce A. Dixon offers his thoughts on Jill Stein and the recounts.

I don't agree with him but he may be right so give him  a read.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Mosul slog continues, where's that political solution, a veteran walks across America to raise awareness, a Canadian veteran is released from a KRG jail, the Matt Lee State Dept Press Corps laughs at teachers, and much more.

REUTERS reports that the Baghdad-based Iraqi government has approved the 2017 budget.

This is big news.

There were times under former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki that Iraq would be well into a calendar year and still have no approved budget.

The budget was not supported by the Kurds who note that their fighting force (the Peshmerga) and their government employees are not fully covered in the budget.

This is said to be punishment for the Kurds selling their own oil.

It may not be a success for the Kurds (and we'll certainly note any criticism they continue to offer of the budget) but in terms of Barack Obama-installed prime minister Hayder al-Abadi it is one thing he can call a success.

It may be the only thing -- but never say when didn't give him credit when he actually accomplished something.

And then there's Mosul.

On day 51 of the operation to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul, the slog continues.

And, please remember, the Islamic State took the city in June of 2014.

Only 51 days ago did the Iraqi government begin trying to move the Islamic State out.

Turns out the government of Iran was more strategic on the Mosul battle plan than the Iraqi government (or the US government) according to REUTERS.

How sad that something as basic as circling the city couldn't come to Hayder's mind (or his generals) during all this time.

How embarrassing for admirers of the Iraqi government that Iran was able to solve what Iraq could not.

More to the point, how embarrassing that even success in Mosul would mean so little.  Saad Aldouri (ANADOLU AGENCY) offers:

The campaign to liberate Mosul has seen an unprecedented coalition of military and paramilitary forces come together to fight ISIS [. . .], but so far this level of cooperation has not been reflected politically.
Without a comprehensive political settlement agreed upon by all invested political factions, any post-[Islamic State] setting in Iraq would be left extremely vulnerable to failure, which could bring catastrophic consequences with it.
The Iraqi government faces several challenges in setting aside vying political ambitions among competing interest groups involved in the fight against [Islamic State].
The early signs are that little progress has been made on this front, with high-profile Kurdish, Shia and Sunni leaders making contradictory statements on what governance structures and arrangements should be put in place.
If a sustainable victory against [Islamic State] is to be achieved, a political agreement over a roadmap for state re-building and reconciliation must be reached in the near future. Any long-lasting future solution must address fundamental issues to encourage greater social and economic inclusion among Iraq’s local populations.
And the above is accurate and true.
Where is that political solution?
It's the one US President Barack Obama insisted June 19, 2014 was the only solution for Iraq.
And nothing's been done on it.
But the White House continues to supply the government of Iraq with US troops and with weapons.

Turning to veterans . . .

This Iraq war veteran is walking nearly 6,000 miles from Maryland to California in search of hope and healing


Ben Bamsey (CNN) reports:

He was a combat veteran who had simply seen too much -- too many brother Marines dead on the battlefield in Iraq. When he came home he faced fresh battles: alcohol, arrests and a suicide attempt.
He chose a date that resonated -- and on September 11, 2015, Jonathan Hancock set out to prove that hurt would no longer define him.
Carrying 70 pounds of gear, he hit the road to walk 5,800 miles from Maryland to California and many backroads in between. He was searching for hope and healing. 

Some may remember Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum also hiked across America.


(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)

Hike for our Heroes was a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues.  Hike for our Heroes has been replaced with Active Heroes.

That was in 2010.  In 2014, C.J. Lin (STARS AND STRIPES) reported what had happened since:

The journey spanned 7,800 miles, 37 states and 17 months. Hike for Heroes raised $1.3 million, which was distributed to help pay the bills of 1,800 military families, many of whom were about to have their homes foreclosed on, he said.
“Every step I took meant it would support veterans and their families,” he said. “It mostly centered around a lot of my (veteran) friends not being able to find good jobs to take care of their families and then getting behind. Luckily for me, just the hike across America raised so much awareness and funds for that cause that I felt like that was my reward.”
But just like that, the money was gone, and there were more struggling military veterans. Yocum couldn’t keeping hiking across America.

“I see so many Vietnam, Korean, World War II veterans who are wounded or disabled that are not necessarily tended to as much as the younger wounded veterans,” he said. “So we wanted to make sure that the new post-9/11 wounded veterans were going to be helped years and years and years down the road.”

I wish we had room to note all Active Heroes' "our story" statement but we will note this part:

Yocum came up with a plan to raise awareness and funds to help military families by hiking across America. He began the 17-month journey, dubbed the “Hike for Heroes”, on April 17, 2010 and finished more than 7,800 miles across 37 states on September 3rd, 2011. Yocum became the first veteran to ever walk the length of 3 times across America and was awarded the Citizen Honors Medal by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The hike garnered national attention for veteran suicide awareness, raised $1.3 million for military families and helped to create the charity named Active Heroes to continue a mission to end veteran suicide.
Since the inception of Active Heroes, the programs have adapted to identify the triggering points associated with veteran suicide. Active Heroes has national programs in every state and regional programs serving with locations.

  • Active Challenges – Free events, seminars and Team Leader trainings for every state.
  • Peer mentors, business partners and resources in every state
  • A Military Family Retreat Center located in Shepherdsville, KY
  • A Military Family Community Center in Louisville, KY

We'll try to note Active Heroes regularly in the future.  I did know it existed until  CNN's story about Jonathan Hancock made me think of Troy.

 Meanwhile, a Canadian veteran has been released in Iraq.

Link to headline article

VOCM explained yesterday, "Kay Kennedy has confirmed for VOCM News that her son, Michael, was released today.  Kennedy told VOCM that her son would not leave others he was travelling with when they were arrested for visa infractions, even though his visa had not expired."  Colin Farrell (TELEGRAM) added:

 “He called me and he said, ‘Mom, I’ve been released. I’m good, I’m in good health and I’ll be home for Christmas.’”
She explained that her son had been travelling as part of a group when they were arrested.
“The five guys he was travelling with, three Americans and two Germans, their visas were expired,” she explained. “So it was a visa violation, Michael’s visa was not expired. It didn’t expire till January.”
Kennedy explained her son was given an option to go free or stay with the group.
“He turned around and said, the option for me, I am going to stay with my buddies, I am not abandoning them.”

The KRG is standing by their decision to arrest Michael. Murray Brewster (CBC) reports:

But Kurdish authorities, while not disputing the account, say Kennedy's side-trip into Syria was a serious violation that warranted his detention.
"He is arrested because he came from Syria and crossed [the] Iraq and [Kurdish Regional Government] borders illegally [at] Shingal," Dindar Zebari, the assistant head of foreign relations in the semi-autonomous region, told CBC News on Tuesday.

Zebari said Kennedy had been dealt with under Iraqi law.

And the five others that were arrested as well?  Garrett Barry (CBC) reports, "Though the other fighters have yet to be released, Kay Kennedy says their governments -- Germany and the United States -- have begun to work on the file."

I hope those in the United States realize how much they owe Kay Kennedy.

Three Americans.

Being held by the KRG.

And where's the focus on that in the US?

The US State Dept should be working to secure their release.

But at yesterday's State Dept press briefing, no one asked spokesperson Mark Toner about it.

No one said one damn word.

About that.

Please be clear, Matt Lee had his usual b.s. questions and "chest thumping" derision of the government of Iran.  And he had lots of questions about what Trump will do.

Donald Trump has not been sworn in as president.

I wish Toner would stop indulging this crap.  Or is he, in fact, encouraging it -- will more embarrassing e-mails for Matt Lee turn out that explain he is yet again coordinating with the State Dept to figure out what topics and questions to emphasize ahead of time in order to assit the current administration?

There was time for that nonsense from the Matt Lee State Dept Press Corps.

There a bunch of men and few women who want to be men (or, in Elise's case, sleep with the Secretary of State).

They're not people that anyone should take pride in.

Yesterday, they couldn't ask about three Americans being held in Iraq.

They did find time to mock teachers.

QUESTION: Let me just add one more question.


QUESTION: I met today with this Palestinian teacher. She won the best teacher award in the world and she’s in town. She actually has a very creative program --

MR TONER: Did she really win the best teacher of the – in the world award? Is that right?

QUESTION: In the world. Yeah, she --

QUESTION: She gets a mug. It says “World’s -- ” (Laughter.)

QUESTION: She has – oh, yeah, she did. Last year --

MR TONER: No, that’s amazing, actually.

QUESTION: -- it was an American teacher, this year it’s a Palestinian teacher.

MR TONER: World’s Greatest – well, okay.

QUESTION: And she has a creative program where she teaches kids to reject violence and so on and all these things. But – and she said – she told me that at one point you guys talked – or the State Department, someone, wanted to invite her over, and then – and they – like they did not disinvite her, but they stopped the process. Are you aware of that? Would you like to see someone like this come and visit with people and --

MR TONER: I apologize. So we’re talking about a different person now. This is not the individual that was just denied entry.

QUESTION: No, no. She was not – she’s here, actually.

MR TONER: She’s here.

QUESTION: She was not denied --

MR TONER: I’m not aware of this case, so we’ll look into it. I promise.

Oh, how funny it was to them.

I guess if I were nothing but a cheap whore who presented the administration's views and opinions as factual events, if I were that much of a liar and coward, I wouldn't like teachers either.

Because good teachers instill ethics and honesty.

Good teachers bust their asses doing actual work -- unlike the Matt Lee fluffers covering the State Dept.

Good teachers make a good difference.

Unlike the Matt Lees who pave the way for war by unquestioningly repeating lies over and over.

They think teachers are something to laugh at?

Have they looked in the mirror?

AFP reported earlier this year:

The Palestinian woman who this week won a $1 million “World’s Best Teacher” award returned home Wednesday and pledged to use part of her winnings to help students and educators.
Hanan al-Hroub, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem and now teaches at a school near Ramallah in the West Bank, was awarded the Global Teacher prize at a Nobel-style ceremony in Dubai on Sunday.
She received congratulations from Pope Francis, who announced the winner in a video message.

Here's Pope Frances announcing the award:

Here's Bill Clinton congratulating the finalists.

Here's Hanan al-Hroub.

They think she, her work and the award she won are funny?

What service do they provide?

With the continuing demise of print, they can't even claim to provide good fish wrapping these days.

Their 'work' is forgotten in an instant.

It has no value.

And they want to mock a teacher?

And a great teacher at that?

Talk about out of touch with the rest of America.

Oh, and a million dollars?

Can you imagine how many people in the administration Matt Lee would have to give head to in order to make that kind of money?  His lips would fall off before he got to $2,000.

Go ahead and laugh it, fat boys, you're the ones who look ridiculous with your frat boy ways at a State Dept press briefing.

Your outlets should be monitoring your behaviors and pulling in your for corrective discipline.

You disgrace both yourselves and them when you act like that in a public press briefing.

From Global Teacher Prize:

2016 Winner

Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine received her Global Teacher Prize award from Sunny Varkey of the Varkey Foundation.


Hanan grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp, Bethlehem, where she was regularly exposed to acts of violence. She went into primary education after her children were left deeply traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school. Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children’s behaviour, development and academic performance in the years that followed led Hanan to try to help others who, having grown up in similar circumstances, require special handling at school.
With so many troubled children in the region, Palestinian classrooms can be tense environments. Hanan embraces the slogan ‘No to Violence’ and uses a specialist approach she developed herself, detailed in her book, ‘We Play and Learn’. She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasises the importance of literacy. She encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behaviour. Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use.
Hanan has shared her perspective at conferences, meetings and teacher training seminars. She hopes that, with education, her people can reclaim their homeland.

  • Grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp; motivated to teach by her experiences as a mother of children traumatised by a shooting incident
  • Offers specialist care to pupils exposed to violence
  • Focuses on providing a safe space in the classroom and pays attention to individual needs
  • Has shared her approach at Ministry conferences and teacher training seminars

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT-- updated:

  • Monday, December 5, 2016

    So tired of the cry babies

    Cry babies can't face reality.

    Over 4.7 million people have signed a petition calling for the obliteration of "norms" and a Constitutional Crisis

    That's my take.

    The election has been over for a month now.

    Grow up, spoiled brats.

    We don't always get what we want.

    That's life.

    Grow up.

    Debra Messing is a psycho.

    Connie Britton better be sure this is what she wants to do before it cancels her show Nashville.

    Kurt's the guy who put thousands of dollars into an underage male porn star's hands.

    That's the crowd Debbie Messing hangs out with.

    No wonder she's a psycho.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Monday, December 5, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Mosul remains a slog, the US Secretary of Defense states the US military will need to remain in Iraq long after Mosul is finally liberated, Iraqi women stage an action in Baghdad, and much more.

    Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) explains, "For a war which President Obama promised would involve 'no boots on the ground,' the ISIS war in Iraq has involved a substantial deployment of ground troops, some 6,000 by most reckonings. Even as officials present ISIS as nearly defeated in Iraq, the US military presence looks to be more or less permanent."

    More or less permanent?

    US Defense Secretary: 'We must stay in Iraq after defeat of '

    On Ash Carter's remarks, RUDAW reports:

    US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has said that the United States military, along with its coalition allies, needs to retain a presence in Iraq after ISIS is defeated to ensure the group does not rise again. 

    Insisting that the US and the coalition must not halt the current campaign until the Iraqis successfully retake Mosul from the militants Carter said the need for a continued coalition presence after that objective is complete. 

    “But there will still be much more to do after that to make sure that, once defeated, ISIL stays defeated,” Carter said on Saturday, according to AP. “We’ll continue to counter foreign fighters trying to escape and ISIL’s attempts to relocate or reinvent itself. To do so, not only the United States but our coalition must endure and remain engaged militarily.” 

    Some are a little slow so they still may not be getting it: Barack Obama did not end the Iraq War.

    He came into office on the promise that he would.

    He leaves Iraq with the war continuing.


    Sunday, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, bomber, fighter, rotary and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted seven strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

    -- Near Huwayjah, three strikes disabled a bridge and destroyed five ISIL-held buildings.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units; suppressed an ISIL tactical unit; damaged a land bridge, an ISIL-held building, and 16 supply routes; and destroyed a mortar, a weapons cache, four ISIL-held buildings, a command and control node, an explosives factory, and a heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.

    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. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    That has been Barack's answer since August of 2014 -- drop bombs and more bombs daily.

    How's that working out?

    NIQASH spoke with people in Mosul and one of them explained "Even now, we still cannot get outside as the sky is raining rockets and bombs,” she adds. “We can’t cook and we have to find water; we’re living on bread and dates and food that we stored because we knew this day would come."

    Life in Mosul.

    The Islamic State seized the city in June of 2014.

    The Baghdad-based government of Iraq didn't care enough to try and liberate the people until October of this year.  49 days later, the people are still not free.

    Charlie Kimber (Great Britain's SOCIALIST WORKER) reports:

    The offensive was prepared by wave after wave of bombing. US, British, French, Jordanian and Australian jets and helicopters are providing air support to the Iraqi regime and its allies.
    Mosul was overrun by Isis in 2014 in what was described as a “total collapse” of Iraqi government security troops.

    The forces that now claim to be liberating Mosul are the same ones that smashed Iraqi society and killed hundreds of thousands of people after the 2003 US-led invasion.
    Many of them are backing or taking part in the bloody Saudi Arabian war in Yemen (see below).
    Isis’s rule has been appalling, but civilians are now terrified of the air and artillery assaults and the gun battles in the streets.

    There will be precious little “freedom” for many when the sectarian Iraqi militias arrive.

    Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) reports:

    The startling progress of the first few weeks of the campaign to take Iraq’s second city, the terror group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, has given way to a numbing reality: Isis will not surrender Mosul, and Iraq’s battered military will struggle to take it.
    Since Iraqi forces entered Gogali, a light industrial neighbourhood, in mid-November, the advance has slowed. “When we started, we were talking weeks,” said Hussein. “Now, we hope it will be by early in the new year. But these guys are not cowards. They kill as easy as they breathe.”

    Saif Hameed and Ulf Laessing (REUTERS) note that "the military's campaign is likely to stretch well into next year as it seeks to recapture a city where the jihadists are dug in among civilians and using a network of tunnels to launch waves of attacks."

    War, war and more war is all the White House has preached and done.

    In fairness to Barack, a big part of the lack of a diplomacy effort was John Kerry.

    Though he was supposed to be Secretary of State, Kerry was far more comfortable making war noises and pretending he was Secretary of Defense.

    In the end, Barack had to ice John out of the decision making and elevate Brett McGurk to his special envoy.

  • Visited front near today to express our respect & gratitude to and Security Forces. More to follow ...
  • Always great exchanges with re , internal challenges, cooperation w and reconciliation post ISIL.
  • PM Barzani and discuss post-ISIS Mosul and other regional issues:
  • With Bafal Talabani and Kosrat Rasul today in . A united critical for a stronger Region & destroyed .
  • Excellent meeting with close friend President Barzani. Honored to receive memento from liberation of Christian areas near .

  • That flurry of diplomacy over the last days was motivated more by the news that the Kurds were seriously considering breaking away from Iraq.

    Meanwhile it is the Iraqi people who will have to stand.

    Many women are standing up today in Baghdad.

    This photo is not old, it's in this morning in Baghdad - Abu Nawas Street, girls wanted to say that we are free and not slaves.

    = Bicycle Marathon

    First female bike marathon about to begin in central Baghdad Good luck to them all

    New content at THIRD:

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