Friday, September 22, 2017

Boycott Ken Burns

PBS has kept Ken Burns fed.  Why?

He's not a good filmmaker.

Elaine's "" tackles this.

I would also recommend John Pilger's piece at CounterPunch:


In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.
Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”.  Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.
I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.
The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.
There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous.

It's time to stop watching Ken Burns, to stop praising him and to stop acting like his wordy, meandering propaganda ever qualifies as a documentary.


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


Friday, September 22, 2017.


In three days, the KRG and Kirkuk are scheduled to hold a referendum on whether or not they should remain a part of the Baghdad-based government.

As the vote looms, panic ensues among those opposed to the vote.

Denouncing the move are the foreign ministers of Iraq, Turkey and Iran.  The three elected to meet up in New York.  Tuvan Gumrukcu and Tulay Karadeniz (INDEPENDENT) type:

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the three countries voiced concerns that the referendum would endanger the gains Iraq has made against Islamic State, and reiterated their fears over the potential for new conflicts in the region.


How would a vote "endanger the gains Iraq has made against Islamic State"?

They repeat that fear over and over and no one ever asks them to define it.

The KRG and the Baghdad-based government do not get along and have not for years.

Has that prevented them working together in Mosul?

Why would this be any different?

It wouldn't.

But fear and the trash that peddles it always runs wild.

Let's play their game for just a second.  The Baghdad-based government manages to shut down the vote at the last minute, how does that help the struggle against ISIS?



Link to headline article




The pressure has been going on for weeks now.  So far, the KRG has refused to buckle.


Martin Chulov and Paul Johnson (GUARDIAN) quote KRG President Massoud Barzanin stating:

From world war one until now, we are not a part of Iraq.  It's a theocratic, sectarian state.  We have our geography, land and culture.  We have our own language.  We refuse to be subordinates.  The parliament in Baghdad is not a federal parliament.  It's a chauvinistic, sectarian parliament.  Trust is below zero with Baghdad.


And the Baghdad-based government is in violation of the Constitution and has been for years.

There are three days until the vote is scheduled to take place.

During that time, something could happen.

At present, meaningless words have not helped change any minds.

But anything could happen over the weekend and this remains a huge global issue -- as the western media ignores it.

Kurds from around the world watch closely to see what will happen.  As Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) observed in 2008, "Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."


RUDAW notes:

The referendum will be held as scheduled as no acceptable alternative has been offered, the High Referendum Council announced following a meeting on Thursday.

The High Referendum Council, headed by President Masoud Barzani, met on Thursday. In a statement released after the meeting, the Council reiterated that as time is running out and no alternative has been offered to replace the referendum and guarantee independence, the vote will be held on time.  


The always useless UNAMI bowed yet again before the prime minister of Iraq and issued the following:

The members of the Security Council expressed concern over the potentially destabilizing impact of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s plans to unilaterally hold a referendum next week.
Council members note that the planned referendum is scheduled to be held while counter-ISIL (Da’esh) operations – in which Kurdish forces have played a critical role – are ongoing, and could detract from efforts to ensure the safe, voluntary return of over three million refugees and internally displaced persons.
Council members expressed their continuing respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity of Iraq and urged all outstanding issues between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to be resolved, in accordance with the provisions of the Iraqi constitution, through structured dialogue and compromise supported by the international community. Council members expressed full support for UN efforts to facilitate dialogue between Iraqi stakeholders.


The Kurds will have independence one day.

When that day comes -- this year, whenever -- history is not going to look kindly upon all that stood in the way.

The US government claims to be about self-determination.

But it will have a very hard time explaining all the efforts to prevent the Kurds from independence.

For this segment of the timeline only, it will have a hard time explaining how threats from the Turkish government were ignored.  There will be violence -- thunders the Turkish government.  Sounds like a threat.  The Turkish government has no say in internal, Kurdish matters.


ANADOLU AGENCY notes, "The [Turkish] parliament will hold an extraordinary session on Saturday to debate the extension of Turkish military’s operation in northern Iraq and Syria, according to ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group deputy chairman."

Interesting timing.

YENI SAFAK offers:

The U.S. while releasing statements that it is against the non-binding independence referendum the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) plans to hold on Sept. 25, has deployed 1,700 troops to occupy Kirkuk, Iraq. The specially trained soldiers deployed in Erbil will work against the prevention of the referendum in Kirkuk. There are still 14,000 Peshmerga troops working for KRG President Masoud Barzani and former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Iraq’s oil center, Kirkuk. The United States’ occupation of Kirkuk is interpreted as preparing the region for an independent state which will be declared after the referendum.


Nearly a decade ago, the RAND corporation noted Kirkuk and the need for its status to be decided.  The longer this is postponed, the worse the situation gets.


And the price for the never-ending wars just keeps increasing.

While most working people live paycheck to paycheck, Iraq & Afghanistan wars have cost average US household $100K.
 
 
 












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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rob Reiner is an idiot and also a liar

Margaret Kimberley may have found the best Tweet about that idiot (and racist) Rob Reiner:



  1.   Retweeted


And from the article linked to:

Of secondarily maddening note is Reiner’s claim that Russia is undermining American democracy. I’m not sure what America he’s living in, but there’s nothing democratic about America. Rather, as even pointed out by former President Jimmy Carter, America is an oligarchy. And our oligarchy is managed by the establishment wings of the Republican and Democratic parties. Non-wealthy and non-celebrity Americans know this. Our overly burdened lives know this. This is why Hillary lost. We didn’t need Putin to explain it. We’re suffering it every day. Yet, wealthy, celebrity baby boomers, like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, have frustratingly lined up behind Clinton and Obama, using their celebrity muscle to herd us into the corporatist, Democrat camp. But in 2016, voters said no thanks. And going forward, millennials won’t be paying attention. They’re moving more socialist and anti-capitalist.



Exactly.  The do-nothing duopoly better realize 2016's results were a reflection of just how weak their support has gotten.

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


Wednesday, September 20, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, efforts continue to derail the planned September 25th vote, Turkey kills at least 3 Iraqi civilians, and much more.



ALSUMARIA reports that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared today that KRG President Massoud Barzani should call off the planned referendum on September 25th or face sanctions from Turkey's government.

Sanctions?

Today, Turkish warplanes attacked Dohuk Province and left 3 civilians dead according to ALSUMARIA NEWS.

Is this Erdogan's idea of sanctions?

As we noted in yesterday's snapshot:


Also ANADOLU AGENCY states, "Turkish fighter jets killed at least three PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, the military said in a statement late Tuesday."  And THE DAILY SABAH states, "The counterterror operation was launched upon receiving intelligence that PKK terrorists were planning an attack, the statement elaborated."  Earlier, XINHUA noted another strike, "The Turkish Air Force conducted an airstrike in northern Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least four PKK militants, a statement released by General Staff said."

Two strikes in one day.  Based on the statements of the government who ordered and carried out the strikes.  No one on the ground to check it out.  Nor will there be any follow up.  Most of the time, these strikes kill animals, villagers, farmers.  But, hey, let's just go with what Turkey claims happened, right?  The Turkish government would never lie, right?  No government would ever lie, right?



Well today the Kurdish War Planes killed 3 civilians and injured an untold number.

But they 'forgot' to issue a statement on that.

They killed civilians and where is the condemnation?

They do this over and over and get away with it.

The western press treats it as a non-event and parrots whatever the Turkish government says.

 This Tweet gets it right.



As Erdogan rants against Kurdish independence in the UN, his state is funding terrorists or bombing Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.





The White House should be condemning Turkey.  Instead, they look the other way.


Nash Naam (EFFINGHAM DAILY NEWS) offers this look at what's going on in Iraq:


The Iraqi government in Baghdad is trying to dissuade Barzani from going ahead with the referendum. Iraq neighbors, especially Turkey and Iran, don’t want this referendum to take place. They are concerned that breaking away of one third of Iraq will destabilizes the already inflamed situation in that part of the Middle East. Even the Trump administration is trying to push Barzani to postpone the vote indefinitely.
But even if the referendum does not go as planned, the fact that the Kurds, who now occupy at least a third of Iraq, and are itching for a measure of independence, will eventually try to establish at least a sort of federal relationship with the Baghdad government. No matter what happens, it seems the winds of change are creating a reality that is vastly different from the Iraq that we knew before.
At one time, former Vice President Joe Biden, then a senator, advocated dividing Iraq into three small countries based on their sectarian differences. Many, including me, scoffed at his remarks. Sadly, now it seems that his vision may be the ultimate solution to the sectarian violence and hatred that permeate this area of the world.

Despite legitimate Kurdish aspirations for statehood, the Sept. 25 vote, in reality, is not necessarily meant to secure total independence. Instead, its goal is to fundamentally reshape the relationship between the Kurdistan regional government and the federal government in Baghdad. Many Kurdish politicians hinted at their satisfaction with something less than total independence, such as confederation between Kurdistan and Iraq.




Meanwhile, those opposed to the referendum stage a meet-up.



Turkey-Iran-Iraq meet to discuss referendum at the .



Interesting.


The only time Iraq, Iran & Turkey sit down & have a friendly meeting is when they’re discussing a way to keep the Kurds down.




The Kurds do not trust the Baghdad-based government because it has not acted fairly since 2003 and it has not followed the Constitution (including the refusal to implement Article 140).  RUDAW notes, "Kurdistan emphasizes that the Iraqi constitution allows Erbil to end the “free union” between the two governments because Baghdad has violated at least 55 articles of the Iraqi constitution, including cutting the regional government’s share of the Iraqi budget since early 2014, lack of defense budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Article 140 that concerns the fate of the Kurdistani or disputed areas such as the oil-rich Kirkuk province. "


But the current problems go the larger problems, the historical ones and that's what the western media refuses to talk about in their contemporary coverage of the issue.

From 2006, this is PBS:

After the war with Iran began in 1980, Iraqi troops stationed in the north were transferred to the frontline, allowing Kurdish peshmerga forces to gain in strength and numbers. At the time, Kurdistan, as the area is often called, simmered with revolt, led by the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In the war, both parties actively sided with Iran. By 1987, although Kurdish cities were still controlled by Iraqi troops, the villages of the vast interior were safe havens for the Kurdish rebels. That year, Saddam tapped his cousin, Ali Hassan al–Majid, a man well–known for his brutality, to take charge of northern Iraq. Al–Majid quickly deployed military resources to, in his words, “solve the Kurdish problem and slaughter the saboteurs.” He ordered Iraqi aircraft to drop poison gas on PUK and KDP targets and civilian villages, killing hundreds indiscriminately. The Iraqi regime had become the first in history to attack its own civilian population with chemical weapons. Al–Majid came to be known as “Chemical Ali.”
The Anfal began in earnest in early 1988. A directive from Baghdad ordered commanders to bomb rural areas of the north day or night “in order to kill the largest number of persons present.” The same directive declared that “[a]ll persons captured in those villages shall be detained and interrogated by the security services, and those between the ages of 15 and 70 shall be executed after any useful information has been obtained from them.” There were eight Anfal attacks in all, each following a similar pattern. First, air attacks dropped chemical weapons on both civilian and peshmerga targets. Next, ground troops surrounded the villages, looting and setting fire to homes. Then townspeople were herded into army trucks and taken to holding facilities, the largest being Topzawa, an army camp near Kirkuk. At these camps, men and boys deemed old enough to carry a weapon were separated from women, the elderly and young children. Routinely and uniformly, these men and boys were taken to remote sites, executed in groups, and dumped into pre–dug mass graves. Many women and children were also executed, especially those from areas that supported the Kurdish resistance.
The Anfal military campaign ended in September 1988 when Saddam’s regime announced a general amnesty for all Kurds (although they were not permitted to return to “prohibited zones”). In any case, 90 percent of Kurdish villages had essentially been wiped off the map, and the countryside was strewn with land mines to discourage resettlement. The response from the international community was muted, as many nations, including the United States, had supported Hussein with money and arms during the Iran–Iraq war.
Charges and evidence

Human Rights Watch estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed during al–Anfal; Kurdish officials have put the number as high as 182,000. When presented with this figure, “Chemical” Ali Hassan al–Majid took exception. “It could not have been more than 100,000,” he said. Since the fall of Saddam, mass graves related to al–Anfal have been found in Hatra, near Mosul, and in Samawa, southeast of Baghdad. In some cases, audiotapes document meetings of Ba’ath leaders discussing the campaign. Soil samples taken from bomb craters in northern Iraq show evidence of the use of chemical weapons. Observers expect that Saddam will be tried for his role in al–Anfal following the Dujail trial. He may be charged with genocide.


On Monday, the State Dept's Bureau of Near Easter Affairs acting assistant secretary David M. Satterfield got called on US hypocrisy in the middle of a press briefing.


QUESTION: You talked about the need for an intact, nonpartitioned, independent Syria. What do you then say to the Kurds who, let’s face it, did a lot of the hard fighting for us for the last several years and are now seeing their aspirations for independence being suppressed in multiple parts of the region?

AMBASSADOR SATTERFIELD: Well, we would certainly not agree with that characterization. There was discussion --

QUESTION: Which part of the characterization are you disputing?


AMBASSADOR SATTERFIELD: The suppression of Kurdish desires for independence. There was discussion during this meeting which was focused on Syria – I want to underscore that – but there was discussion of the Kurdish referendum. And I’ll be very clear that there was uniform consensus in the room that now was not the moment for this referendum, announced and advocated as it has been, to proceed. I think there is an international consensus on that point. But frankly, this was a Syria discussion, not a Kurdish-focused discussion. 


Kenneth M. Pollack has moved from Brookings to the American Enterprise Institute -- shedding further light on just how right-wing Brookings actually is.

Today, he yet again claims a 'turned corner' in the Iraq War.

And he's yet again prepared to advise how to move forward (keeping US troops on the ground indefinitely is part of that 'move forward').  He also offers:



Meanwhile, the United States and United Nations should take responsibility for three compelling issues: (1) beginning a national reconciliation process among senior Iraqi leaders – primarily Sunni and Shi’a, but also including other minority groups as well; (2) investigating and possibly reforming Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission to ensure that Iraq’s elections are fair and free; and (3) overseeing talks between Baghdad and Erbil over the status of Iraqi Kurdistan. On this last issue, Iraqi-Kurdish talks should run on two parallel tracks, one focusing on a long-term (5-10 years) process for peaceful Kurdish secession, and a second focusing on Baghdad-Erbil relations in the short term, to include sticky issues like security cooperation, administration of Kurdish occupied territory, oil revenues, and fiscal policy.
The last thing that the Iraqi government will need considerable American assistance in handling is the question of the militias. Because of their domestic power and Iranian backing, these cannot simply be handled by fiat. They need to be slowly integrated into Iraq’s security forces at the individual level. Most of their leaders need to be rewarded for their service and give respectable positions within the Iraqi government or else significant pensions for their service. Any attempt to break them or disband them, let alone punish them, could break Iraq instead. But a key will be to build up the power and popularity of the Iraqi government to the point where its leaders can negotiate with the militia leaders (and the Iranians) from a position of much greater leverage. The best way to do that would be to accomplish all of the other steps on this punch list above.


Today's violence also includes a west Baghdad bombing left 1 person dead and four injured.


Meanwhile, in the United States, despite non-stop coverage and promotion, Hillary Clinton's latest ghost written tome couldn't even sell a half million copies in its opening week -- despite major price slashing at Costco and at Barnes & Noble, despite online prices that amounted to little more than free give aways.

For someone so quick to pass off the 65 million voters as her personal fan club (ignoring just how many held their noses to vote for her), 300,000 is a rather paltry sales figure.

Andre Damon (WSWS) offers his take on the War Hawk's latest book:

Her speeches and the six-figure honorariums she received were, she explains, entirely appropriate.
“My life after leaving politics had turned out to be pretty great,” she writes. “Like many former government officials, I found that organizations and companies wanted me to come talk to them about my experiences and share my thoughts on the world—and they’d pay me a pretty penny to do it. I liked that there was a way for me to earn a very good living without working for any one company or sitting on any boards. It was also a chance to meet interesting people.”
But, she admits, she failed to appreciate that ordinary people, with their limited perspective, might see things otherwise. “I should have realized it would be bad ‘optics’ and stayed away from anything having to do with Wall Street. I didn’t. That’s on me.”
All of Clinton’s supposedly candid admissions of mistakes have the same character. Whether the issue is millions in speaking fees from Wall Street or glib talk about putting coal miners out of work, there was nothing intrinsically wrong about what she did, only her failure to anticipate the response of the ignorant masses.
Clinton admits to two major electoral surprises: the popular support for socialist policies as reflected in the mass backing for the supposed socialist Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, and the collapse of minority working-class support for her campaign on Election Day.
Regarding the primaries, Clinton writes: “Nothing in my experience in American politics suggested that a Socialist from Vermont could mount a credible campaign for the White House.” But Sanders “tapped into powerful emotional currents in the electorate.”
She adds, “When a Des Moines Register poll in January 2016 found that 43 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers identified as Socialists, I knew there could be trouble ahead.”
In one of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, Clinton admitted that she was “kind of far removed” from the struggles of ordinary people because of “the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy.”

While she makes no such frank admission in her book, the above quote perfectly sums up the type of middle-class snobbery that pervades it, including a passage where she equates the aspirations of millions of people for a decent job, health care and retirement savings, expressed in their support for Sanders, with a child’s selfish desire to “get a pony.”


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










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