Friday, July 31, 2015

Two faces

The Journal of Turkish Weekly notes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that the Turkish airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq constituted a violation of the country's sovereignty."

And yet the White House is not asked about this.

They back the bombings.

And the White House refuses to defend Iraq.



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



Thursday, July 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  the US continues dropping bombs on Iraq, Turkey continues dropping bombs on Iraq, it's as though all of Iraq has turned into the Gap Band singing "You Dropped A Bomb On Me," and much more.




At the Guardian, Sarah Yahya writes about expectations and stereotypes she encounters from some people based upon the fact that she is an Iraqi woman:




“No one can make you do what you don’t want to do and no one can stop you from doing what you want to do,” my grandmother always said.
My grandmother is the most acclaimed and respected actress in Iraq. In a career that spanned over 40 years, she shaped the female role in both theatre and television in Iraq. She was the first Mandaean actress in history. Mandaeanism is an ancient and a minority religion that resides in Iraq and Iran, to which we belong.

My own mother is the first female president of the largest Mandaean association in Australia or anywhere in the world.


It's easy to bury history.  You can, for example, just hide it under the rubble.


The US Defense Dept notes that air strikes continued on Iraq today:



U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place yesterday, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
[. . .]
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 22 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:
-- Near Haditha, eight airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, five ISIL staging areas and as ISIL command and control site and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, three ISIL structures, an ISIL berm, an ISIL IED belt, eight ISIL mortar systems and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck an ISIL heavy machine gun position.
-- Near Makhmur, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL buildings.
-- Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL bunkers, an ISIL weapon cache, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL light machine gun.
-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tank, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.

 -- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.



It was probably stupid for anyone to think that the same US government that went to war on Iraq in 2003 was going to extend a helping hand.

The US government should be cleaning up the environmental damage done.  The burn pits in Iraq, for example, injured many American troops and contractors.  Those burn pits remain in Iraq polluting the environment whether or not they're used.

Falluja is a chemical dumping ground due to the weapons -- confirmed and denied -- that the US government ordered used there.

The birth defects result from this -- as though the US government's biggest export was some sort of play-at-home version of the Love Canal.

Instead of cleaning up these toxic minefields, the US government now 'helps' Iraq by endlessly bombing it.

Again, there are many ways to bury history -- among the easiest is to just let rubble fall over it.


As the day began, the State Dept's Brett McGurk's Twitter feed looked like this.






But for some reason, Brett began creating new Tweets but backdating them.




He spent considerable time this morning posting Tweets, newly posted today, but with older dates on them.

12brett


Again, it's very easy to bury history.

Especially when all involved agree not to ask questions or even speak of what you've done.

The same press that pretends there's nothing strange about a government employee using his work time to create a false (and public) narrative is the same press that never asks how bombing Iraq from war planes today helps?

How does it help?

Is anyone in the press ever going to be brave enough to ask that question?

Recruitment for the Islamic State is not dropping.  Most estimates have it increasing but it is, at the very least, maintaining its recruitment numbers of the last six months.

How does dropping bombs on Iraq address the recruiting numbers for the Islamic State?

Maybe it's one reason there are so many doubts about the 'purity' of the US government's motives?


RT notes:

   
US doesn’t want to resolve the crisis and put an end to Islamic State. On the contrary, it’s eager to exploit the jihadists “to achieve its projects in Iraq,” Qais Khazali, a leader of Iraqi Shiite fighters has said.
"We believe the United States of America does not want to resolve the crisis, but rather wants to manage the crisis,” Qais Khazali, a leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group, told Reuters in an interview.


The US government has carried out a war on Iraq under the pretext of 'helping' Iraq.

At what time does any sober, thinking person find the honesty to ask: How does dropping bombs on Iraq help the Iraqi people?


It is long past time for #IraqiLivesMatter.

There's little honesty in the press corps and that was demonstrated yet again today.


Background: At the end of last week, Turkey began bombing northern Iraq.

It did so with the approval of the US government which sought to argue that Turkey had a "right" to bomb Iraq.

The government of Iraq, however, disagreed.















  • In response, the US State Dept stopped their daily briefings -- no briefings Tuesday or Wednesday.



    Today, the press briefings resumed with spokesperson Mark Toner taking over from Monday's John Kirby.


    And today?


    Not one reporter or 'reporter' bothered to ask the State Dept to explain how they could praise and defend Turkey's bombing of Iraq when the Iraqi government -- a supposed ally of the United States -- was calling the bombings a violation of their national sovereignty?


    Not one.


    It's not that they ignored the bombings.

    It's just that, yet again, no one gave a damn about the Iraqi people.


    QUESTION: Staying with Turkey --


    MR TONER: Yeah, sure.


    QUESTION: -- you indicated earlier – you said the U.S. believes that Turkey’s attacks against the PKK are a form of self-defense. Overall, is there U.S. concern that if these types of attacks continue that it’s going to be destabilizing to the overall U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State?


    MR TONER: Well – and thank you. I can’t reinforce that enough, that the recent PKK attacks, and, of course, the Turkish military response, have nothing to do with our counter-ISIL efforts. And I know that there’s a tendency to lump them together. We’ve been – we can’t be more clear about that. That said, it’s PKK that’s initiated this violence; Turkey’s retaliated in self-defense. But we want to see, obviously, that situation calm down. We want to see the PKK cease violence and return to negotiations, and we would urge the Turkish Government, obviously, to respond proportionately.


    QUESTION: Is there a concern that they have not responded proportionally so far?


    MR TONER: Again, I don’t – these are longstanding issues. This was the PKK that carried out attacks against Turkish military. They have carried out a series of airstrikes in retaliation. I think what we want to see generally is the PKK to stop these attacks so that the situation can calm down.


    QUESTION: Yeah, but do you think that the Turkish airstrikes have been disproportionate?


    MR TONER: No. I would say it’s been in self-defense, and we would --


    QUESTION: So so far --


    MR TONER: -- and that’s been very clearly our line.


    QUESTION: So thus far, at least, what the Turks have done in terms of the airstrikes against the PKK is okay and is in accordance with the U.S.-Turkey understanding on how to go about business, the business of countering ISIL?


    MR TONER: Well, again, I don’t want to – I want to separate the two out. Because what we agreed to in terms of our coordinating closely with Turkey on anti-ISIL efforts is a different thing altogether than these PKK attacks and the strikes carried out by Turkey.


    QUESTION: So you’re saying in conversations with the Turks about this the PKK has not come up once?


    MR TONER: Oh, I don’t necessarily think that. In fact, we – look, our position’s clear. We’re – they’re a foreign terrorist organization. We consult with the Turks a lot on PKK issues. But I think we want to see – just to be clear, we want to see the PKK stop these provocative attacks, and we want to see the Turkish Government respond proportionately.


    QUESTION: Yeah --


    MR TONER: Yeah.


    QUESTION: -- but is there anything having to do with attacks on the PKK that is contained within this understanding that you reached with Ankara?


    MR TONER: No.


    QUESTION: No?


    MR TONER: No.


    QUESTION: Okay. So as far as you’re concerned, the Turks can do whatever they want with the PKK in terms of airstrikes, as long as they don’t hit the YPG, the other Kurds?


    MR TONER: Well, again, I think --


    QUESTION: The non-FTO Kurds?


    MR TONER: Right, but I think that we want to see – we want to see this settled down.


    QUESTION: I understand what you want to see, but you’re not going to complain if the Turks continue to attack the PKK.


    MR TONER: No.


    QUESTION: Is that right?


    MR TONER: Well, I don’t know “complain,” but we’ve been very clear that these are separate and that Turkey does have a right to defend itself.


    QUESTION: From a policy perspective rather than a --


    MR TONER: Yeah.


    QUESTION: -- on-the-ground military perspective --


    MR TONER: Yeah.


    QUESTION: -- how does one tell the difference between the PKK and the – how do you tell the difference between a good Kurd and a bad Kurd? And how should the Turks make that distinction? Do they have to wear uniforms that say “FTO” on them, the PKK? (Laughter.)


    MR TONER: Look, Matt, in all honesty --


    QUESTION: Well, I mean, how does this work? It seems like you said “no, not at all” --


    MR TONER: In all --


    QUESTION: -- in response to a question about whether or not this complicates things there.


    MR TONER: We know --


    QUESTION: And I would submit to you that regardless of whether you think it complicates stuff standing in Washington right now, on the ground there it does complicate things.


    MR TONER: Yeah, but there’s – anyway, they’re located geographically in different areas. Again, I don’t want to get into the details about how you tell them apart, but it’s very clear that they are separate entities.


    QUESTION: All right.


    MR TONER: Yeah.


    QUESTION: So your alliances are based on geography? I’m sorry.


    MR TONER: I apologize. That’s --


    QUESTION: You form your alliances based on geography?


    MR TONER: No, no. We just know that the PKK, where they hang out. That’s all I’m clarifying. They’re in northern Iraq mostly is where they base their operations.


    QUESTION: Right, but they’re mobile. I mean, people move, so you can’t – it just can’t be a geographic thing, especially in an area which --


    MR TONER: Understood.


    QUESTION: -- where the lines of the map have become completely blurred.


    MR TONER: I understand – I understood your question, but again, I would refer you to the experts who are following these kind of movements on the ground and can delineate.
    Yeah, please. Go ahead. Sorry.


    QUESTION: Just two questions. The U.S. ambassador in Iraq and General Austin met with President Barzani yesterday. And according to local media reports, they discussed the Turkey-PKK conflict. Do you have anything about the content of those meetings to share with us?



    MR TONER: I don’t, frankly. So I can try to get more of a readout. I don’t know what we – we consult, obviously, all the time with the Kurdish region. But I don’t have any specific readout of that meeting.



    That's a lot of words.

    You can bury reality under many things -- not just rubble, even a barrage of words.


    Bombs aren't falling on an empty regions.

    AFP at least recognizes that and spoke with one of the many targeted by Turkey's bombs:



    Rasul Abdullah Faqi, a father of seven from Inzi, a village at the foot of the Qandil mountains, said the population lived in fear of more air raids. “The strikes hit our village in several spots and we have lost a lot of cattle. Some of our farms were damaged or burned down,” the 40-year-old said.
    He pulled his donkey out of an enclosure to show a makeshift bandage he wrapped around his animal to cover a deep wound.
    “There are no PKK members in my village, they’re further up, quite far from here,” Faqi said.
    “The people are scared, some have left but many are staying and will stay until the bitter end,” he said.



    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 194 violent deaths across Iraq today.










    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    Good for O'Malley

    Latin Post reports:

    Martin O'Malley will be the first presidential candidate, regardless of political party affiliation, to visit the commonwealth of Puerto Rico on Aug. 1. Former Maryland Gov. O'Malley's visit to Puerto Rico comes as the island faces healthcare issues and an economic crisis with $70 billion debt.
    O'Malley will be meeting with Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's only non-voting elected official to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the commonwealth's House of Representatives Speaker Jaime Perelló to discuss the island's concerns. Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla will be at the National Governors Association meeting in Colorado, but his absence will not affect O'Malley visit and meetings with political and public figures.


    As I recall 2008, Puerto Rico really turned out for Hillary in their spring primary.

    But please note, Hillary can't turn out for Puerto Rico.

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



    Wednesday, July 29, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government continues to be silent over Iraq's objections to Turkey bombing northern Iraq, The Ant Colony of Hillary works over time to protect their Queen, and much more.



    Starting with Hillary Clinton.  As Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HILLARY'S FAN CLUB GETS UGLY!" and Cedric's "Hillary lovers attack the press" note, 'journalist' Eric Boehlert.

    A little nothing who moved from outlet to outlet never making a name for himself, Boehlert ended up at David Brock's bordello Media Matters.  Brock, of course, is the man who lied about Anita Hill and smeared her with 'cute' phrases like 'a little nutty and a little slutty.'

    Anita Hill is a woman so to the faux left she doesn't matter.

    It's more important for them to get behind the liar David Brock.

    And the fact that he has a continued problem with African-American women is not ever supposed to be commented on.

    But it was David Brock who went around whispering that Michelle Obama had been caught on tape trashing "Whitey."

    And you have to wonder about the ethics -- or lack of them -- of anyone like Boehlert who chooses to work in the Brock Bordello.

    Boehlert's having a hissy fit about a story the New York Times did on Hillary Clinton.

    For those late to the party, Michael Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt wrote a story last Thursday.


    As the paper's editorial note explained Monday:


    The Times reported online Thursday night (and in some print editions Friday) that the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies had sent a referral to the Justice Department requesting a “criminal investigation” into whether Mrs. Clinton “mishandled sensitive government information” on the email account. That article was based on multiple high-level government sources.

    On Friday, another question arose — whether the investigation being sought was a “criminal” inquiry. As other news organizations followed up on The Times’s report, the Justice Department confirmed to them that a “criminal” investigation had been requested. Officials also gave that description again to Times reporters who were rechecking their initial story. But later in the day, the Justice Department and the inspectors general said that the request was not a “criminal referral” but rather a “security referral,” meant to alert the F.B.I. about a potential mishandling of classified information. It was not clear how the discrepancy arose.



    Eric B has his panties in a twist over "criminal" investigation.

    I'm sorry Eric is such a damn fool, I'm sure he was a great disappointment to his parents.

    But when you refer anything to the Justice Dept, that's a criminal referral.


    Now for the area in question, they term it a "security referral."

    That is the proper term for it.

    But you can call it whatever term you want, the reality is that a referral to the Justice Dept -- because of the very nature of the Justice Dept -- is a criminal referral.


    If this is confusing to you, the Justice Dept explains: "To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans."

    Idiots like Eric embrace a really poor column by Margaret Sullivan (easily the worst public editor of the New York Times).  She has no grasp on anything as evidenced by:

    Much later, The Times backed off the startling characterization of a “criminal inquiry,” instead calling it something far tamer sounding: it was a “security” referral.


    It is called a "security referral" because that is the term the intelligence community uses.

    The reason Justice Dept sources did not use that term when speaking to the Times and later outlets is because a referral to Justice is a criminal referral (to Justice) but, yes, the proper term is "security referral" for the intelligence community.

    This is not complicated -- it is semantics.

    And that Sullivan didn't grasp that goes a long way towards explaining her failure to address the real issues until paragraph 29.

    It's also why she quotes from an organized e-mail campaign in defense of Hillary while ignoring the complaints (which outweighed the e-mail campaign by over 2 to 1) from readers who felt that the paper was being too sensitive to the concerns of the Clinton campaign.

    And by including the charges from the organized e-mail campaign in defense of Hillary but never directly disputing them, Sullivan also endorses them -- intentionally or not.

    She's a lousy public editor.

    And unlike Eric, we have a long history of taking on public editors and ombudspersons -- for real reasons, not partisan crap.  (And, for the record, Daniel Okrent was much kinder to me and this site in his book than I ever was to him.)


    Along with Sullivan's bad column, Eric and the other idiots also point to a column written by a biased former New York Times employee who, as noted in "You've got some really strange and creepy heroes," lied to the paper about money he used to buy a story and then tried to whine that he had memory loss due to his illness (epilepsy). He's lucky the Justice Dept didn't come after him for those funds which, yes, were used to pay for kiddie porn.

    Around those two bad columns, Eric and others try to build an argument.

    Eric goes further, he outright lies by selectively quoting one paragraph from this July 24, 2015 statement of the Inspectors General of Intelligence and State.  Read it in full, Intel is acting with and on behalf of State.

    Jennifer Werner is then quoted and no one needs to scrape that low.  She's a professional liar in her position as spokesperson for Democrats on the Benghazi Committee.

    Unlike Eric, I've been at the Benghazi hearings where I've heard one Democrat after another embarrass themselves and usually make a claim that if X happened they'd be the first . . . and then X is revealed and they play dumb about their previous comments and continue to insist Benghazi doesn't matter.

    Benghazi doesn't matter is also Eric' position who can't stop writing his nothing-to-see-here pieces which read a lot like the denials of Watergate many partisans offered prior to Woodward and Bernstein's expose.


    In terms of Hillary's latest scandal, the basics are: the IGs for State and Intel have referred the matter to the Justice Dept, the matter itself is over classified intel being sent over a non-secure server.

    She is running to become US President but she can't even be trusted handling classified information.

    She's irresponsible at best -- even if her actions do not rise to illegal (the Justice Dept will determine that), they were irresponsible.


    She who taunted Barack in 2008 about not being ready for the 3 AM phone call is actually not ready to handle classified information at any time of day.


    We could have ignored this topic.

    There are other things to focus on.

    But Eric is a real whore.

    He accuses the Times of overplaying their hand.

    But he's the one comparing this report from last week to Judith Miller's New York Times coverage on Iraq.

    They are not the same thing in any way, shape or form.

    The Times was forced into issuing a statement on Miller's coverage in 2005 as a result of Daniel Okrent's weighing in on the issue and Okrent was forced to weigh in for reasons and issues we noted in real time -- reasons and issues no one else caught because Eric and company are idiots whose frame of reference is, no doubt, as tiny as their penises.

    (For those late to the party, Okrent's position was he wouldn't weigh in on the Iraq coverage because it happened before he became public editor.  He was forced to address it because he covered the Tonys -- a fact Eric and company ignored because of their selective interest and their inability to pay attention.  He didn't just cover the Tonys, before the nominations were announced, he wrote a lengthy grip about how the paper covered it . . . in the past.  When that column was published, he was bombarded by e-mails noting he no longer had an excuse to avoid Iraq.)

    With regard to the Hillary story, it went up Thursday night.  The Clinton campaign complained on Friday and the story was altered on Friday.  Alterations continued as the story developed and an editorial note was issued on Monday.

    That is not the same thing as Miller's Iraq War coverage.

    Eric's an idiot.  (See "Rudith Miller" -- our 2005 parody piece -- for Miller's approach in her Iraq reporting.  And, yes, we outed Scooter Libby as her source.)

    Sullivan says the paper should have taken a slower approach.

    No, they shouldn't have.

    Government officials within Justice and at the White House told the reporters X was happening.

    They reported what they confirmed through multiple sources.

    That is reporting.

    And reporting can be wrong.

    Or partially wrong.

    The paper added to the story as details emerged.

    That is reporting.

    This did not take place with Iraq.

    With Iraq, lies continued forever and a day.

    They continued after the paper's 'mea culpa.'

     And I honestly, in 2015, don't take any alleged 'critic' seriously when they offer Judith Miller.  She's disgraced.  It takes no courage to call her out.

    It takes cowardice to refuse to call out Chris Hedges who co-authored the New York Time's first front page story (falsely) linking 9/11 to Iraq.

    When you can't call that out, you're not really concerned about the paper's Iraq coverage.


    Eric's never cared about Iraq but will trot it out when it suits him.


    The point in his attack on the paper is not better journalism or anything like that.

    He works for David Brock.

    'Work the refs.'

    They scream and yell in order to intimidate the press.

    Their whole point is to constrain coverage, to prevent their tiny gods from being covered fairly.

    Hillary Clinton's refusal to use a secure server put her in the position she is in now.

    Hillary's lies at the UN earlier this year about her e-mails (including that she only used one device) set the stage for her current problems.

    As with Benghazi, Eric's entire point here is to intimidate the press, to bully them, so that they'll walk away from the story.

    I have no problem calling out the Times.  We used to do that every day here.

    But we did that and we moved on because I'm not doing greatest hits.

    The sameness of it bores the hell out of me.

    Media Matters is nothing but a nostalgia act performing tired old songs to smaller and smaller audiences.

    But when we slammed the Times daily, or when we do so occasionally today, we did it because the coverage was too narrow.

    We never, for example, slammed the Iraq coverage to get the paper to stop covering Iraq.

    But that is the point of Eric and Media Matters.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    Jim Michaels (USA Today) reports, "In a sign of its resilience, the Islamic State appears to have recruited new fighters to offset 15,000 militants killed in a U.S.-led airstrike campaign approaching its first anniversary, U.S. military and intelligence estimates show."


    Estimates.

    They may be somewhat higher or somewhat smaller in actuality.

    But the trend itself is what matters.

    And the reality is that the greatest recruiter for the Islamic State was and remains discrimination against Sunnis.

    In terms of Iraq, this trend speaks to Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's continued inability to broker any kind of a political solution in Iraq or to create an inclusive government.


    Meanwhile file it under on-the-fifth-day-of-Christmas-my-true-love-gave-to-me: Jason Ditz and Antiwar.com discover (finally) objection to the Turkish war planes bombing Iraq.


    While it's taken some time for Antiwar.com to cover the objections, they're still ahead of Iraq 'expert' Joel Wing whose 'musings on Iraq' continue to fail to include the Turkish bombings of Iraq or their objections from within Iraq and within Turkey.

    Yes, the bombings of northern Iraq have outraged many.



    Press TV notes:

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has slammed Turkey for launching air raids on the Iraqi soil, saying the assaults violate the Arab country’s sovereignty.
    Abadi said late Tuesday that his council of ministers views Turkish airstrikes on his country as “a dangerous escalation and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.”


    AFP reports:


    Massud Barzani, the president of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, has expressed disquiet to Ankara over the air raids.
    Turkey’s foreign ministry undersecretary, Feridun Sinirlioglu, was in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil on Wednesday for meetings with Iraqi Kurdish leaders, in a clear bid to calm tensions.
    The pro-Kurdish opposition in Turkey has furiously accused [p]resident Recep Tayyip Erdogan of ordering the air strikes as revenge for its strong performance in June 7 general elections which cost the ruling party its overall majority and failed to produce a conclusive result.



     Today's Zaman notes, "In a three-part message posted on his official Twitter account Tuesday, al-Abadi said that the council is committed 'not to allow any attack on Turkey from Iraqi territory and called on Turkey to respect good relations'."


    In the wake of Haider's statement, the State Dept has now refused to hold a press briefing for two days in a row and Brett McGurk goes silent on Twitter.  This after the official position had been that they stood with Turkey and that Turkey had the right to carry out these bombings on Iraq.


    Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari is not silent.  Alsumaria reports al-Jaafari has stated any bombings must be approved and coordinated with the Baghdad-based government of Iraq.  All Iraq News adds that he expressed this to Farouq Qaimagja, Turkey's ambassador to Iraq.

    Alsumaria reports the most recent bombings largely did little more than set forests and farming areas on fire and cause panic to those living in nearby villages.


    They also note that, as Turkey bombs the Kurdistan region, Iran's Deputy National Security Secretary Mohamed Amiri visited Erbil to stress that the government of Iran supports the KRG and will do their part to ensure the stability and security of the Kurdistan region.



    The US government's decision to give the go ahead to these bombings more and more appears to prove  Patrick Cockburn's prediction Monday (Independent):


    The result is that the US may find it has helped to destabilise Turkey by involving it in the war in both Iraq and Syria, yet without coming much closer to defeating Isis in either country. If so, America will have committed its biggest mistake in the Middle East since it invaded Iraq in 2003, believing it could overthrow Saddam Hussein and replace him with a pro-American government. 



    Mike Whitney (CounterPunch) offers his take which includes:

    The Kurdish militias (YPG, PKK) have been Washington’s most effective weapon in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But the Obama administration has sold out the Kurds in order to strengthen ties with Turkey and gain access to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. The agreement to switch sides was made in phone call between President Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan less than 48 hours after a terrorist incident in the Turkish town of Suruc killed 32 people and wounded more than 100 others.
    The bombing provided Obama with the cover he needed to throw the Kurds under the bus, cave in to Turkey’s demands, and look the other way while Turkish bombers and tanks pounded Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq. The media has characterized this shocking reversal of US policy as a “game-changer” that will improve US prospects for victory over ISIS. But what the about-face really shows is Washington’s inability to conduct a principled foreign policy as well as Obama’s eagerness to betray a trusted friend and ally if he sees some advantage in doing so.

    Turkish President Erdogan has launched a war against the Kurds; that is what’s really happening in Syria at present. The media’s view of events–that Turkey has joined the fight against ISIS–is mostly spin and propaganda. The fact that the Kurds had been gaining ground against ISIS in areas along the Turkish border, worried political leaders in Ankara that an independent Kurdish state could be emerging. Determined to stop that possibility,  they decided to use the bombing in Suruc as an excuse to round up more than 1,000 of Erdogans political enemies (only a small percentage of who are connected to ISIS) while bombing the holy hell out of Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq. All the while, the media has been portraying this ruthless assault on a de facto US ally, as a war on ISIS. It is not a war on ISIS. It is the manipulation of a terrorist attack to advance the belligerent geopolitical agenda of Turkish and US elites.








    Wednesday, July 29, 2015

    Hillary doesn't know where she stands

    Should she support Keystone or shouldn't she?

    Hillary Clinton doesn't know.

    But she wants to be president.

    Martin O'Malley knows where he stands.





  • RT if you're with me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



  • This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



    Tuesday, July 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, AP reports on the use of child soldiers in Iraq, Iraq's prime minister objects to Turkey's bombings of northern Iraq, presidential contender Hillary Clinton has no apparent thoughts on what to do about Iraq today, Senator Tammy Baldwin pushes a VA reform bill, and much more.




    Let's open with veterans' news.  Senator Tammy Baldwin's office released the following:




    For Immediate Release                                                          
    Tuesday, July 28, 2015

      (202) 224-6225


    Baldwin Announces Growing Support for Major Bipartisan VA Reform Bill


    Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act would provide VA with the tools it needs to address the problem of overprescribing practices
    Senators Durbin, Franken and Klobuchar join The American Legion, MOAA, AMVETS and others in endorsing legislation


    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today announced that support continues to grow for her bipartisan legislation aimed at providing safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act.
     
    In just a month, Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation has gained support from: Disabled American Veterans Wisconsin, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans for Common Sense, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), American Veterans (AMVETS), American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), and Trust for America's Health (TFAH).
     
    In the U.S. Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Democrats and Republicans: U.S. Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
     
    “The sad truth is that the number of veterans taking opioid painkillers is disproportionately high, compared to the general population,” said Senator Durbin. “The VA is exploring different ways to help veterans alleviate their pain. This bill assesses the scope of the issue and recommends ways to help veterans obtain the best and safest care. I commend Senator Baldwin for her leadership on this important issue.”
     
    “Unfortunately, our veterans' battles don't always end when they come home,” said Senator Franken. “Too many of our servicemembers return with mental and physical wounds sustained while protecting our freedoms, and I believe we have a special duty to ensure that they get the care and support they need to cope. But we cannot continue overprescribing and over-relying on medications that all too often lead to tragic consequences. This bipartisan bill would help provide our veterans with safer, more effective pain management plans.”
     
    “As a former prosecutor, I know the havoc drugs can wreak on families and also that every struggle with drugs is unique—there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in this fight,” said Senator Klobuchar. This bipartisan legislation gives the VA the ability to offer our nation’s veterans a diverse set of proven tools that can help combat addiction.”
     
    “Too many of our nation’s veterans have returned from overseas only to fight another battle here at home. Tragically, stories like Jason Simcakoski’s exist all around the country, including in my home state of West Virginia. Far too many young West Virginia veterans have faced the horrors of PTSD and failed to receive the quality of care they deserve. These are heartbreaking examples of the grave magnitude of overmedication, and we must do everything in our power to prevent deadly opioid overmedication in our VA facilities. I am proud to join with Senator Baldwin to strengthen opioid prescribing guidelines and improve pain management services at the VA. This legislation will not only provide our veterans a healthier transition to civilian life, it will save lives,” said Senator Capito.
     
    “The American Legion applauds the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act and Senator Baldwin’s efforts to reform prescribing practices for veterans,” said Ian DePlanque, Director of the Legislative Division for The American Legion. “Medications in and of themselves are tools – not necessarily good, not necessarily bad – you want to make sure you’re using the right tools in the right situation. There are other tools that are available. Some complementary and alternative therapy might work better for particular veterans or for veterans that may have circumstances that are particularly exacerbating.”
     
    “The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act is an extremely important and timely piece of legislation,” said VADM Norb Ryan, USN-ret., President of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). “MOAA fully supports this bipartisan effort and commends Senator Tammy Baldwin for championing such a critical bill that will keep veterans safe and provide VA with the necessary tools to more effectively manage pain services.”
     
    “AMVETS thanks Senator Baldwin for her ongoing support of all American veterans and especially for her leadership in the development and introduction of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act,” said Diane M. Zumatto, AMVETS National Legislative Director. “Once enacted, this legislation will go a long way towards reducing veteran addiction to prescription medications, thereby greatly improving their quality of life, their ability to secure and retain appropriate, living-wage jobs and to continue their service to our great nation.”
     
    “AFGE strongly supports the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act and commends Senator Baldwin for her leadership on this critical patient safety issue for our nation’s veterans,” said Beth Moten, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Legislative and Political Director. “This important legislation establishes lifesaving preventive measures that ensure safe opioid prescribing practices while expanding available treatment options consistent with current best practices and research.” 
     
    On August 30, 2014, U.S. Marine Veteran Jason Simcakoski died at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a result of mixed drug toxicity. The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act would provide VA with the tools it needs to help prevent this type of tragedy from occurring to other veterans and their families.
     
    "This is an opportunity to take all of this and learn from it. We have a chance to create a new path; or we can continue how we currently are and keep making the same mistakes we are today,” said Heather Simcakoski, Jason’s widow. “When I look back at the past, I want to know we made a difference. I want to believe we have leaders in our country who care. I want to inspire others to never give up because change is possible."
     
    "This legislation from Senator Baldwin is one of the most important actions we can take to save the lives of our greatest assets, our veterans,” said Marv Simcakoski, Jason’s father.
     
    Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation, crafted in close consultation with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, and the Simcakoski family, focuses on strengthening the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) opioid prescribing guidelines and improving pain management services by putting the following reforms in place:
    ·         Requiring stronger opioid prescribing guidelines and education for VA providers including stricter standards against prescribing dangerous combinations of opioids with other drugs and for prescribing opioids to patients struggling with mental health issues;
    ·         Increased coordination and communication throughout the VA with medical facilities, providers, patients and their families surrounding pain management, alternative treatments for chronic pain, and appropriate opioid therapy; and
    ·         Holding the VA system accountable for appropriate care and quality standards through consistent internal audits as well as GAO reviews and reports to Congress.
     
    In addition to improving opioid therapy and pain management, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act helps strengthen patient advocacy, expand access to complementary and integrative health and wellness, and enhance VA hiring and internal audits.
     
     
    View an online version of this release here.

    ###






    Moving from the Congress to those who want to be president, the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee will be decided by voters in early to mid 2016.  The declared candidates so far are (in alphabetical order): Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Robby Wells and Willie Wilson.


    CNN notes of one, "Chafee has struggled to make much traction in the Democratic presidential race. A recent CNN/ORC Poll showed less than 1 percent of democrats surveyed backed Chafee, compared to 57 percent for Clinton."

    Chafee was the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the authorization for the Iraq War in 2002.  He then became an independent and is now a Democrat.  Chafee is stressing his vote with regards to press favorite Hillary Clinton who voted for the Iraq War.  David Cook (Christian Science Monitor) covers a Christian Science Monitor breakfast and neglects to record the menu but does note that Chafee stressed the 2002 Iraq War vote:

    "I did my homework, I looked carefully to see if there were weapons of mass destruction. I didn't see it," he said. Clinton has said since that her Iraq War vote was a mistake. 
    When asked about polls showing voter concerns about Clinton’s honesty and credibility, Chafee said she had suffered “a lot of self-inflicted wounds, unfortunately.” But, he added, after the primary season is over, he and the other Democratic candidates would “certainly unite as Democrats to win in 2016.”


    Jonathan Easley (The Hill) also covers Chafee's breakfast remarks and includes this:

    “I have a lot of work to do,” Chafee said. “The reality is that secretary Clinton has a huge head start with endorsements and money and the rest of us are scrambling. But I think I have the vision, ethical standards and ideas. There’s still more to be don on fundraising and organization, but it doesn’t discount what I bring to the table.”



    Hillary, of course, refuses to discuss Iraq.

    She pretends a brief aside in her ghost written book from 2014 'addressed' and 'ended' the issue.  David Lightman (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds:

    Clinton said last year she regretted her vote. “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple,” she said in her book, “Hard Choices.”



    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article29110669.html#storylink=cpy


    And she does that to the idiotic raves of Maggie Haberman, the New York Times reporter or 'reporter' who is making a career this year of minimizing and justifying Hillary's actions.

    Haberman's coverage -- including her Tweets -- border on soft core porn -- you picture her as Brian De Palma's camera for the locker room scene in Carrie before Sissy Spacek gets her period -- was of course ignored by David Brock and other partisan hacks and whores last week as they rushed to insist the New York Times was always unfair to their  crush.



    Possibly due to the way the Iraq War vote continues to haunt her, Hillary appears unable to take firm positions today.  Akilah Johnson (Boston Globe) reports on the town hall Hillary held today:


    Bruce Blodgett, a software developer and conservative from Amherst, asked for a "yes or no" answer to whether Clinton "as president" would support the proposed pipeline -- an $8 billion project abhorred by environmentalists -- that would transport oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
    Clinton sidestepped the question, saying: "This is President Obama's decision. If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question."


    Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny (CNN) report Blodgett's reaction to Hillary's response, "I thought she avoided the question completely. Her excuse was she didn't want to step on President Obama while he was still in office.  I just thought that was a very weak answer. I just wanted to know where she stands on it one way or another."

    Nancy Pelosi infamously argued that the Congress had to first pass ObamaCare to then figure out what ObamaCare would do ("We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it").  Hillary's taking that even further.  You have to first vote her president and then, after she's in office, she'll decide where she stands on an issue.

    This refusal to press a candidate who goes around repeatedly saying "when I become president" is appalling.

    She needs to be asked about Iraq repeatedly.

    The Iraq War continues to this day.

    She helped kick it off with her 2002 vote and her championing of the illegal war once it started.

    She only (semi) turned on it after the public had.

    US troops are being sent back into Iraq in a steady drip today.  US pilots fly combat missions over Iraq today.  The Iraqi government, instead of coming up with a political solution to the country's problems, remains in gridlock.

    Exactly how does Hillary plan to address any of this if elected president?

    Hillary and her cult -- which includes the Times' Maggie Haberman -- are perfectly happy to take the position that Hillary doesn't have to answer to any of that unless "it's undecided when I become president."

    Meanwhile, last week Ben Jacobs (Guardian) reported:


    In Iowa on Thursday, in response to a question from the Guardian about whether the White House should take further steps towards arming Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, the former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic candidate said: “Probably, yes.”
    The Obama administration has long hesitated over directly arming Kurdish militias in the north of Iraq, for fear of further aggravating sectarian tensions.
    [. . .]

    Doug Wilson, a top foreign policy adviser to O’Malley, made clear that the candidate “was not unilaterally proposing that we step up additional arms to the Kurds”. Instead, Wilson said, O’Malley would only do so “if it was determined by the US military that it was appropriate to up the arms to the Kurds”.


    Where does Hillary stand on that question?

    Oh, that's right, Maggie Haberman thinks Hillary said all she needs to via that ghost-written 2014 book.


    Let's note quickly another political party.  Last week, the Green Party held a Presidential Forum:

    Friday, July 24, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Presidential Forum with declared candidates for the Green nomination: Darryl Cherney, Bill Kreml, Kent Mesplay, SKCM Curry, and Jill Stein. Co-moderators: David Cobb, 2004 Green presidential nominee, and George Martin of the Green Party's International Committee and Black Caucus. Sponsored by the Green Party's Presidential Campaign Support Committee National Women's Caucus. Location: Provincial House Multi-Purpose Room.


    Back to Hillary and Iraq.  What plan -- if any -- does she have for Iraq?

    The Daily Sabah notes that Turkish F-16 war planes continue bombing northern Iraq.



    In related news, the US State Dept noted today, "There is NO Daily Press Briefing."

    Of course not.

    No way could they send John Kirby back out to face the press after yesterday's embarrassing performance.

    For those who missed it, we noted this in Monday's snapshot, Kirby prattled on and on about the rights of the Turkish government.


    Yes, it was embarrassing but, as we noted, what about the rights of the Iraqi government?

    Kirby created a 'right' where Turkey can bomb any country in the world.

    He just didn't recognize Iraq's sovereignty.



    Not everyone plays it so stupid.






    1. Council of Ministers considers Turkish airstrikes on Iraqi territory a dangerous escalation and a violation of Iraq's sovereignty (1/3)






  • The Council stressed commitment not to allow any attack on Turkey from Iraqi territory and called on Turkey to respect good relations (2/3)






  • Council of Ministers also called on Turkey to increase water discharge to Tigris and Euphrates in accordance with bilateral agreements (3/3)




  • Haider al-Abadi is the Prime Minister of Iraq.

    In the US government's rush to embrace the bombings Turkey is carrying out, they forgot (a) that Iraq's supposed to be an ally and (b) that these bombings had previously outraged Iraqis.


    It's a reality we were noting in Saturday's snapshot:

    The Turkish government -- probably like many others -- is using the pretext of the Islamic State to attack Iraq.
    In doing so, it is violating Iraq's sovereignty yet again.
    This didn't work out well before, for any who paid attention.
    The Turkish warplanes, announcements swore, killed 'terrorists.'  Reality, they bombed farming communities and killed civilians.
    This didn't endear them to the Iraqi people.
    There was outrage, naturally.




    The US government is now scrambling to craft a 'position' on the strikes -- hoping to approve of Turkey's bombings while still pretending to respect Iraq's sovereignty.

    And that's why there was no press briefing today.

    But there's a good chance that, had the State Dept held a press briefing today, the press would have ignored the issue of Iraq's sovereignty.


    The press ignored it in Monday's briefing.

    And while we've raised the issue every day (here for Sunday and you can also read Third's "Editorial: Turkey attacks Iraq"), the western press has avoided it.


    Now that the prime minister of Iraq has weighed in publicly, the western press may have to cover this aspect of the story.

    Or maybe not.

    Even Antiwar.com -- apparently too busy sobbing over Rand Paul after months of playing Sheila E singing "Next Time Wipe That Lipstick Off Your Collar" (Justin Raimondo writes a bitter, ex-lover's goodbye to Paul here) -- has failed to note these bombing violate Iraq's sovereignty or that, today, the Prime Minister of Iraq publicly objected to them.

    And, of course, the always worthless Joel Wing has offered 14 posts since Turkey began its re-bombing of northern Iraq and not one even noted the bombings.

    That's because Joel's an idiot who can never take a stand (except to root for despots) and instead waits days and days until a water cooler consensus emerges.

    Laws and treaties never matter to Joel, just the tepid consensus of gasbags and blowhards.

    Until that emerges, he'll remain silent -- except to post about his being 'covered' in media -- because he wants to lead "The Glamorous Life" -- but never will.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 72 violent deaths across Iraq today.


    Turning to the topic of child soldiers, Human Rights Watch has noted:

    Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These boys and girls, some as as young as 8-years-old, serve in government forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls may be forced into sexual slavery. Many are abducted or recruited by force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival. We are working to prevent the use of child soldiers and to hold accountable the people who send children to fight.


    Andrew Shue's Do Something has a list of facts on the issue of child soldiers which includes:


    1. Children who are poor, displaced from their families, have limited access to education, or live in a combat zone are more likely to be forcibly recruited.


    1. Children who are not forced to be soldiers volunteer themselves because they feel societal pressure and are under the impression that volunteering will provide a form of income, food, or security, and willingly join the group.
    2. In the last 2 years, 20 states have been reported to have child soldiers in government, government-affiliated, and non-state armed groups. Additionally, 40 states still have minimum age recruitment requirements under 18 years.
    3. Girls make up an estimated 10 to 30 percent of child soldiers used for fighting and other purposes. They are especially vulnerable when it comes to sexual violence.
    4. A few of the countries who have reported use of child soldiers since 2011 are Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. 



    Amnesty International notes:

    Under international law, the participation of children under 18 in armed conflict is generally prohibited, and the recruitment and use of children under 15 is a war crime. Yet worldwide, hundreds of thousands of children are recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil militia and a variety of other armed groups. Often they are abducted at school, on the streets or at home. Others enlist "voluntarily", usually because they see few alternatives.
    Such children are robbed of their childhood and exposed to terrible dangers and to psychological and physical suffering. They are placed in combat situations, used as spies, messengers, porters, servants or to lay or clear landmines. Girls in particular are at risk of rape and sexual abuse.

    And the United Nations maintains, "Regardless of how children are recruited and of their roles, child soldiers are victims, whose participation in conflict bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being. They are commonly subject to abuse and most of them witness death, killing, and sexual violence. Many are forced to perpetrate these atrocities and some suffer serious long-term psychological consequences. The reintegration of these children into civilian life is a complex process."


    Sometimes the US government expresses dismay or even outrage over the use of child soldiers . . . when they're used by countries the White House is in opposition to.



    Something the US government calls out . . . when used by opponents.

    But something the US government goes along with when it is an ally (permanent or temporary).

    We last noted the use of children soldiers by Iraq's Shi'ite militias on July 23rd when focusing on the United Nations hypocritically condemning the Islamic State for using children soldiers but ignored the use of the children soldiers by the so-called 'Popularization Mobilization Forces;'



     And what would Kubis like to do with regards to the use of children soldiers by the "Popularization Mobilization Foces" (Shi'ite militias)?
    Because they are using children.
    And you can find it all over Arabic media and social media.
    And Haider al-Abadi's remarks about the Islamic State and children soldiers were slammed the minute they were made -- slammed in Arabic media and Arabic social media -- by critics who pointed out the Shi'ite militias use of children soldiers (while on the payroll of the Iraqi government).




    Today, Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report:

    This summer, The Associated Press saw over a dozen armed boys on the front line in western Anbar province, including some as young as 10. Of around 200 cadets in a training class visited by the AP this month, about half were under the age of 18, with some as young as 15. Several said they intended to join their fathers and older brothers on the front lines.



    Salama and Abdul-Zahra explain that the certain forms of military aid cannot be provided to countries using child soldiers per The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and that US "weapons and funding" given to the Iraqi government does continue onto the so-called 'Popular Mobilization Forces.'  They also note:

    When informed of the AP findings, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying the U.S. is "very concerned by the allegations on the use of child soldiers in Iraq among some Popular Mobilization forces in the fight against ISIL," using an alternate acronym for the militant group. "We have strongly condemned this practice around the world and will continue to do so."

    Very concerned?

    They're not concerned at all.

    Arabic social media is not hidden away in Superman's Fortress of Solitude or on Wonder Woman's Paradise Island.

    Arabic social media is available to all throughout the world and that does include the US State Dept -- in and out of Iraq.

    It is there that the use of child soldiers has been repeatedly documented.

    It has also been documented in the Iraqi press.

    There's no way the US Embassy in Iraq was hearing of it for the first time when AP contacted them for a statement.

    But because AP has a major report on the subject, the Embassy issued a weak-ass, do-nothing statement.

    And unless other news outlets follow up on the topic, that statement will be it.

    They will lapse back into their silent cooperation or, worse, silent encouragement.

    The Islamic State is a violent group that resorts to terrorism.

    Their use of children soldiers is not shocking.

    But US officials -- including Samantha Power -- have condemned them for this use.

    The Iraqi government is not supposed to be a terrorist organization.

    Yet US officials remain silent over their use of children soldiers.

    Hypocrisy remains the common thread of US foreign policy regardless of which party controls the White House and/or the Congress.


    Lastly, theme post in the community, Mike's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Stan's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Ruth's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Elaine's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Marcia's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Trina's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Ann's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Rebecca's "barack's biggest disappointment," Kat's "Barack's biggest disappointment" and Betty's "Barack's biggest disappointment" attempted to pin point the biggest disappointment of Barack's presidency.







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