Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jane Fonda's pissed at Women's Media Center

If you read Jane Fonda's latest post on taking down decorations and trying to help along a political hit job on a Republican candidate, you should have come across this:

and I wondered why there hasn’t been more mainstream/pop culture pieces about the confirmation of Janet Yellen as the first female Chief of the Federal Reserve. This is a BIG DEAL!! As my wise daughter-in-law said today, “It’s Ironic considering she will have far more influence over our culture in the long run than Miley Cyrus who is referenced every 10 seconds.”
No, she won't.

That's very stupid to say.  But I'll come back to that.

If Janet Yellen needs some 'shout outs,' some 'yelling,' well, where's Women's Media Center?

Jane's a founder of that embarrassing website.  So I went there hoping to read why I should love Janet (because I really don't care for her).

Couldn't.

Couldn't read about Janet.  This is WMC's only new article this week:


}Shedding New Light on Race and the Movies

Shedding New Light on Race and the Movies

| January 8, 2014
Several notable films featuring black lead characters garnered much media attention in 2013. But a new study of 500 films takes a deeper look at who audiences are seeing on screen—and how that is affected by who is behind the camera. More »



They didn't write about Yellin.

Janet Yellin is another corporatist.  I have no need to applaud Larry Summers little minion.  That Jane wants to is surprising since she could easily have written a piece about Yellin at WMC.


Jane's complaining that Yellin's not getting attention when WMC isn't covering her is really hypocritical.

As for Miley.

I know Jane wanted to be a boy when she was a little girl.  Not every little girl does.

Miley has tremendous power that will effect the way little girls see themselves and how they feel about themselves.  To ignore that is pretty stupid.



And how dismissive of Jane -- an entertainer -- to not grasp the power Miley has to shape the future.

Little girls of all races copy her in so many ways.  Little girls of all races reject certain things Miley does.  She is a system of measure for so many of them.

There was no need to undercut the power Miley has in order to pimp corporatist Janet Yellin.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, January 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, rumors of a secret deal surface, Nouri gets more rewards from the White House, Dan Murphy embarrasses himself (again), and more.




One of the points of Nouri's assault on Anbar was to end the ongoing protests in Iraq -- protests against his government -- protests which have lasted over a year.


How'd that work out for al-Maliki?



الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة سامراء:
.


That's Samarra.

You may remember Samarra especially due to AP falsely reporting December 30th that the protests had withered away in Samara.  False then, false today.


Brave Iraqis also turned out in Ramadi and Jalawla.

And fearful, scared Nouri resorted to collective punishment again today.   Iraqi Spring MC reports Nouri al-Maliki's air force bombed residential areas in Ramadi today, denied humanitarian aid to Falluja, killed a child named Taha Ayoub Aelchortani and left two more injured with his bombings, bombed homes in Falluja, Ramadi's hospital has received 200 dead or wounded from Nouri's bombings and Falluja has received 150 dead or wounded.  Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) reports:


Meanwhile, the head of the tribal council in Anbar, Abdul Rahman al-Zobaie from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor, “The army ought to stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian houses.” He noted, “This has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed a large number of houses. The government of Anbar ought to expedite measures to meet the needs of the affected families.” 
Zobaie said, “Local police forces are deployed at the entrance of the city, and checkpoints have been established in all areas in Fallujah, [and are] working on protecting the governmental institutions with the support of the tribes. There are no members affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] as propagated by some politicians and the government of Anbar.” 
He added, “The government of Fallujah, with all its tribal sheikhs and dignitaries, are demanding that the central government and the armed forces stop the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and withdraw the armed forces, as the [local] police are the only party responsible for managing the crisis.”

AFP notes, "The United Nations and NGOs have said that civilians lack access to essential supplies such as food and fuel as a result of a government blockade, while Human Rights Watch has condemned rights abuses by all sides during the crisis." And there's still little clarity for the western press regarding who's in Falluja with guns.   Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports, "Iraqis fleeing from Falluja question whether the masked gunmen who overran their city 10 days ago are really al Qaeda-linked militants as the government says, but fear their presence will draw a ferocious response from the army regardless."  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explains:


Neutral sources in the city confirmed to Al-Monitor that four armed groups are deployed inside the city and on its outskirts:
  • Tribal gunmen: This group of fighters is led by former army officers belonging to the main Dulaim tribes — among them the al-Bou Nimr, al-Farraj, al-Bou Issa and al-Fallaha — besides gunmen from the al-Jamilat, al-Jabour and al-Janabat clans. They have been organizing under the banner of the Tribal Revolutionaries. It is believed that Sheikh Ali al-Hatem al-Salman is personally leading them. Their political and religious reference is the Tribal Revolutionaries’ Council, which is likely led by the Salafist cleric Abu Abdullah al-Janabi.
  • Assorted armed groups: These had fought against US forces and later either disbanded, reduced their activity or joined the Sahwa or Iraqi security forces. They include Hamas-Iraq, Kataeb al-Thawrat al-Ishrin, Jamaat al-Naqshbandi, Jaish al-Mujahidin and Baathist outfits. These groups have Brotherhood and Salafist leaders inside and outside Iraq and coordinate with the Anbar Revolutionaries’ Council.
  • Salafi jihadist organizations: These groups follow al-Qaeda but are not part of ISIS, having split from it after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rebelled against the global al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. The most prominent of these groups is Jaish Ansar al-Sunna.
  • ISIS: Part of the ISIS contingent came to Fallujah from Ramadi, as noted above, after battles there against Sahwa forces. From there, they journeyed to Fallujah and were joined by local ISIS members as well as fighters from Abu Ghraib and other Baghdad environs.
The picture on the ground is made complex by overlapping forces. No one can say for sure whether there is coordination among these various groups. The most credible information indicates that the Tribal Revolutionaries is the largest, with thousands of fighters affiliated with tribal leaders and clerics, and is native to Fallujah. Meanwhile, outside Fallujah, besides Iraqi Army forces stationed east and north of the city, government Swat police forces have been deployed south and west of it connected to Ramadi. Tribal Sahwa forces are present in the areas of the Swat and army contingents, but are less influential in Fallujah compared to in other cities in Anbar.


Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports rumors of secret developments:


A secret deal was done between the tribes of Anbar and Sunni Muslim extremists this week – the result has seen extremists withdraw from Fallujah. But questions remain: Will PM Nouri al-Maliki still react with military force? How did Al Qaeda manage to take over a city like Fallujah in just two days? And why did they react so diplomatically when asked to leave?

Sources from within the tribes in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province say that on Tuesday evening, a secret deal was done by the tribes of Anbar and members of the extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Sources told NIQASH that the extremist group, also known as ISIS or Daash, said they would withdraw from the city so that the Iraqi army did not invade.  

For several days now Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been threatening to send his troops into Fallujah to re-take the city; as Iraqi army troops massed on the outskirts of the city he even put out a call to locals to expel the extremist elements themselves - or face an attack by the Iraqi military.
The deal, done in the central city, was reached in order to prevent any further damage to the city. The city is mostly home to members of Sunni Muslim tribes who tend to be conservative when it comes to religion and to tribal customs. And despite their antipathy toward al-Maliki’s government –a Shiite Muslim-led coalition that Sunni Muslims say has alternately sidelined and targeted them – locals apparently do not want to see a repeat of 2004, when the US army stormed the city after the gruesome deaths of four contractors there. 

Although it is unusual for ISIS to react in what may best be described as a diplomatic way, they apparently ad good reason.
“Only several dozen Daash fighters actually entered the city in the first place,” says Ahmad al-Jumaili, one of the tribal leaders in Anbar. “They were only carrying light and medium sized weapons with them. And there is no way they could control a city like Fallujah where all the people of the city have at least one weapon in their homes.”


AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted the following today:



  • Deadly standoff over major Iraq cities enters second week - :



  • At the Guardian and at BRussells Tribunal, Ross Caputi explains:

    This week, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior's assertion that al-Qaida's affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has taken over half of Falluja is being parroted in headlines by almost every major media network. But again, it appears that the role of al-Qaida in Falluja is being exaggerated and used as a justification for a military assault on the city.
    The violence began just over a week ago, when Iraqi security forces disbursed a protest camp in Falluja and arrested a politician who had been friendly to the protestors' goals. This camp was part of a non-violent protest movement – which took place mostly in Sunni cities, but was also receiving some support from the Shia community – that began a year ago. Iraqi security forces have attacked protestors in Falluja and other Sunni cities on several occasions, the most egregious example taking place in Hawija, when over 50 protestors were killed



    While some deal with reality, some struggle with themselves.

    In the church they light the candles
    And the wax rolls down like tears
    There's the hope and the hopelessness
    I've witnessed thirty years
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Hejira

    Case in point, Dan Murphy.  Light those candles, Danny, cause the tears they are a coming.

    Today, the Christian Science Monitor reporter Tweeted.



  • I took on a little of the partisan finger pointing in Iraq and the myth of how great things were post surge.



  • Well that's good, Dan, it's good to know you were objective or tried to be and --  Oh, he wasn't done Tweeting.



  • I wrote today if you're listening to people saying Obama "lost" Iraq well, you're listening to the wrong people.


  • Both Tweets take you to the same article by Dan, "The myth of Iraq's squandered stability."  I'm sorry is this a defense of Obama -- something Dan's already written many times over -- or a look at partisan finger pointing?

    Well it is a defense of Barack written by a devote schoolboy -- it's a bunch of crap.


    He should be ashamed of himself, he's immature brat. He's such a little brat and he can't even get his figures right.  He builds his article around 2008 and Petraeus.  That's when, according to Dan, everything went wrong.  Apparently, Iraq's been on a very slow simmer, with a tilted lid, for the last years and it only now boiled over.


    Dan took one for Barack today.  He's really hoping this did the trick and Barack will ask him to senior prom because Dan's got his eye on a purple formal.


    Like I always say, if you're going to be a bitch, don't be a dumb one.  Poor dumb bitch Dan also Tweets:



  • could have somehow seen to it that Allawi was PM after the election. Nonsense. We had no leverage beyond reoccupying.
    That's beyond ignorant.  And 2010 is the starting date -- it's what his article ignores but what a Tweet tosses onto his face.  There were many things that have been done when Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya in the March 2010 elections.  The White House could have pulled their support of Nouri at any point during the eight months when he refused to step down as prime minister.  They could have allowed the France sponsored position of a UN-caretaker government replacing Nouri, they could have done so much.
    Dan can't grasp that because all he ever grasps is his penis which he identifies with a gun and that with the military which is why he wrote his repulsive and ignorant piece today.  Next time, Dan, just excuse yourself, go off in the men's room, beat off, then come back.  Don't type while all your bloods flowing below your navel.
  • He's such a stupid idiot and fate has a way of ensuring the stupid look really stupid.

    If Dan's weighing in on Iraq today, who would be the counterweight?  That's right Ned Parker, an actual journalist.

    At the Los Angeles Times, Ned repeatedly broke stories of Nouri's human rights abuses and secret prisons.  The Christian Science Monitor still can't write about that, not even in retrospect.

    "Who Lost Iraq?" is the title of Ned Parker's Politico essay.  Remember Dan Murphy's first Tweet?  Pretending he was going to step out of partisanship?  Ned Parker actually does that and refuses to play cheerleader for either the Democrats or the Republicans.

    Here's three early paragraph of the articles, Dan Murphy can study and hopefully learn from them:


    It was the April 2010 national election and its tortured aftermath that sewed the seeds of today’s crisis in Iraq. Beforehand, U.S. state and military officials had prepared for any scenario, including the possibility that Maliki might refuse to leave office for another Shiite Islamist candidate. No one imagined that the secular Iraqiya list, backed by Sunni Arabs, would win the largest number of seats in parliament. Suddenly the Sunnis’ candidate, secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, was poised to be prime minister. But Maliki refused and dug in.
    And it is here where America found its standing wounded. Anxious about midterm elections in November and worried about the status of U.S. forces slated to be drawn down to 50,000 by August, the White House decided to pick winners. According to multiple officials in Baghdad at time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Ambassador Chris Hill decided in July 2010 to support Maliki for prime minister, but Maliki had to bring the Sunnis and Allawi onboard. Hill and his staff then made America’s support for Maliki clear in meetings with Iraqi political figures.
    The stalemate would drag on for months, and in the end both the United States and its arch-foe Iran proved would take credit for forming the government. But Washington would be damaged in the process. It would be forever linked with endorsing Maliki. One U.S. Embassy official I spoke with just months before the government was formed privately expressed regret at how the Americans had played kingmaker.


    With the exception of naming Joe, you can find that over and over here in the last years.

    We've covered it, we've covered The Erbil Agreement.  Dan Murphy can't find either with his one free hand.


    He also can't find the failure that is Chris Hill.  Chris Hill was not qualified to be the US Ambassador to Iraq and he did more to screw than anyone.  Thing is though?  That was obvious at his confirmation hearing and we noted it then.  He had no understanding of Iraq.  He was a joke.  And he only got worse once he was confirmed.  He was so bad he barely lasted a year and, for the record, when a president nominates someone to be an ambassador, they're not assuming they're going to have to keep coming back -- over and over -- in the same term to nominate others for the same position.

    Hill was a failure.

    You can be an idiot like Dan Murphy or you can start looking at what took place.

    The US government installed Nouri as prime minister under Bully Boy Bush (2006) and they demanded under Barack (2010) that the despot get a second term.

    That's too complicated for Dan Murphy so he goes to 2008 -- the last year Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, pretend not to notice -- and tries to pretend like that's what led up to everything.

    No, this is about democracy, this is about elections, this is about circumventing a Constitution.

    In fact, this is about Dan Damn Murphy.

    I have no problem calling out Bully Boy Bush and the archives make quite clear that, when he occupied the White House, I called him out over and over and over.  Barack Obama has been President of the United States since January 2009.  I don't have a problem calling him out.

    Dan Murphy does which is why he goes to 2008 to explain today's failures (when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House) and acts as though the last five years don't make a difference.

    And it's that same blindness over the last five years that allowed Nouri to grab more power and to destroy more lives.

    Dan Murphy's supposed to be a reporter.  Looking at Nouri's assault on Anbar today, he's unable to make one pertinent observation in a piece he Tweeted about twice.

    He also insists, in Tweets, that the US has or had no leverage.

    Excuse me, what's Nouri's stomping his feet for right now?

    That's right F-16s.  That's leverage the US has.  They have a lot of other leverage as well.  But for simple minds like Dan Murphy the only way to have leverage is to have 'boots on the ground.'  His limited vision goes to why his 'reporting' so often sucks.  He injects his opinions into the reporting and he's not a very thoughtful or analytical person.


    Now if you're not getting how insane Nouri is, please note that in the midst of all this week's events, he wasn't content to leave other things alone.  AFP reports, "Baghdad: Iraq’s oil ministry sharply criticised the autonomous Kurdish region on Friday for its move to sell oil independently, saying it was a violation of the constitution and amounts to smuggling."  It's one fight after another, Nouri's always picking fights.


    And the US government always caters to him.  Even if Dan Murphy won't face that fact.  Barbara Starr (CNN) reports, "The Pentagon is considering a proposal to train Iraqi forces in counterterrorism operations, a senior U.S. defense official tells CNN. It would be the U.S. military's most significant involvement with Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from that country two years ago."  Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The commando training likely would take place in Jordan and wouldn't require American troops to enter Iraq, a move opposed by the Obama administration and its toughest critics in Congress."



    Tuesday's snapshot noted this from Human Rights First:



    Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the Obama Administration for supporting the repeal of the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that led to the war in Iraq after 9/11. The support for the repeal came in an announcement made by National Security spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
    “While the move is mostly symbolic because the United States is not in an armed conflict in Iraq, it signals the reluctance of the administration to leave endless war authority on the books,” said Human Rights First’s Michael Quigley.
    The administration’s call for repeal of the Iraq AUMF comes amid an uptick in violence in Iraq, and serves as a reminder that the most effective responses to extremist violence will rarely require the status of war, and counterterrorism efforts may even be hindered by a war footing. The administration’s statement also precedes a likely in debate in Congress on the status of the Afghanistan AUMF as the Obama Administration ends combat operations in the country later this year.  At the National Defense University last May, President Obama said he would work with Congress to revise or repeal the Afghanistan AUMF.
    Most Americans are reluctant with good reason to extend the war to dozens of countries simply on the grounds of an al Qaeda-affiliated presence,” Quigley said.  “The debate this year should focus on strategic counterterrorism measures that assure U.S. security with resort to war only as a last step.”

    For more information or to speak with Quigley, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.



    Today Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Tweeted:


  • Co-sponsoring 's bill to , to end authority for war and prevent more troops being sent there.




















  • Friday, January 10, 2014

    This is where White Fan Girls don't understand

    I just left this comment at a story at The Hollywood Reporter:


    Why would they want Rihanna? She's Black. As a Black woman, I'm very well aware of the fact that Lena Dunham doesn't want my kind hanging with her "Girls."


      Shonda Rhimes rightly noted that Bunheads refused to include young girls of color.

      And she ended up savaged by 'progressive' White women.

      Not all.  And I use the term 'progressive' because that's how they tended to self-identify.

      But my point here is, that these same women were supposedly on my side in season one of Girls.

      They agreed it was bad that Lena set a show in NYC but couldn't find any Black women to be regular cast members.

      But, myself and other Black women were told, Lena knows it's a problem, she said so herself on NPR!, and she's going to address it next season.

      She didn't.

      And these wonderful White 'progressive' women let it drop.

      Because Lena tickles their vaginas.

      Just like the Black women lying to themselves that Beyonce was a feminist.

      I'm really tired of the nonsense all around.

      Reality, Beyonce's not a feminist, she's just making a buck.

      Lena Dunham's a racist.

      She says now it would be "artificial" to create a Black character, that she's writing about her own life.

      Which clearly has no room in it for Black people.

      Okay, Lena, we hear your message.


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


      Thursday, January 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on political rivals continues, the White House continues to dance on the string Nouri pulls, a few voices began to note this isn't about 'terrorism,' and much more.




      Failed spokesperson, Hillary Clinton gal-pal and spouse in neocon dynasty Victoria Nuland has weighed in on Iraq.  Failure is rewarded in Barack's administration -- failure and deception.  Which is how Dick Cheney's right-hand ended up in Barack's administration to begin with.  Nuland was interviewed for the Netherlands' Nieuwsuur:


      Question: The last few days we had some very serious news from Iraq.

      Assistant Secretary Nuland: Absolutely.

      Question: Anbar Province. And some commentators are now saying it was a mistake for the United States to leave so soon. Iraq was not ready for it. What are your feelings about this?

      Assistant Secretary Nuland: Obviously we are all watching with concern the situation on the ground in Iraq. I think you know that Vice President Biden was in touch with key Iraqi leaders in the last 36 hours to urge them to work together and to work with tribal leaders and others in the key cities in Fallujah and Ramadi, to say no to terror, to stand up to taking Iraq backwards, and for Iraqis to manage their security together.
      I think you know the backdrop of the U.S. decision. It was an Iraqi decision, how we would work with them going forward, and we have in this instance offered certain kinds of support for their security effort and we’ll continue to do that.

      No, he's not.  Even away from a podium, Victoria Nuland can't stop lying -- no wonder she worked so well with Dick Cheney for so many years.

      What leaders has Vice President Joe Biden spoken to?

      AP reports he finally spoke to KRG President Massoud Barazani today.

      Took his sweet ass time, didn't he?

      How does the US government leave Barazni out of the loop until today?  Barzani is a power player, he is the head of a political dynasty.  You're in a panic over Iraq but can't figure out how to look in the Kurds?


      Hoshyar Zebaria?  That little nobody?  That toad lackey?  Well maybe John Kerry liked speaking to him but Zebari represents no constituency and Goran can't stand him, the Talabani family sees him as an opportunist so exactly what faction does he represent?  The Barzanis?  No.  He represents no one.


      Iraq has no president -- the whole country's in a Constitutional emergency if anyone was smart enough about the law and grasp what was happening.  December 2012 -- not last month, December a year ago, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  He has been out of the country for over a year.  He's propped up every now and then to be posed for pictures.  No video because he can't speak.  And he can't carry out his duties and hasn't been able to for over a year.

      Some want to say the post is 'ceremonial' only -- yeah, well, so's the US Vice Presidency, right?


      Over 15,000 Anbar residents have fled to Erbil -- part of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.  At what point did you plan to bring them into the conversation?

      Today.

      No, not even today.

      AP explains Joe used his time today to whine about the KRG's deal with Turkey -- the deal Nouri doesn't like.

      Why the hell has the White House made What Nouri Wants their governing principle?

      Even now, when Joe should be doing the job of bringing in the Kurds, he fails because he's too damn busy whining that the KRG has an oil deal Nouri doesn't like.

      Nouri has certainly  f**ked the White House up the ass for the last five years.

      Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal but at least he wasn't jerked around in the public square by his puppet Nouri al-Maliki.

      The editorial board of Lebanon's Daily Star offers "U.S. nearing irrelevance."  Five years of doing Nouri's bidding slowly does not become strength by doing it quickly.  The US government is becoming a joke.  Barack's a klutz on the world stage, that's how he managed to spend the second half of 2013 elevating Vladamir Putin up to world leader status.  The White House is running blind, there's no grown up in charge and everyone's in a panic.

      In their panic, they're trying to arm Nouri more and quicker and John T. Bennett (Defense News) notes this criticism:

      “What is shocking is the State Department and the administration had not been more engaging with us on what they’re doing with the Iraqis on this,” a Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide told Defense News Thursday in a telephone conversation that included a second panel aide. “I think the administration has not yet successfully calibrated how to best engage with Congress.”

      Guy Taylor (Washington Times) speaks to Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily who parrots the line from Nouri:

      “The administration has to have a better understanding of any adverse impact of any delay in provision of support to Iraq,” Ambassador Lukman Faily told The Washington Times in an interview Wednesday. “It cannot afford a whole town or province of Iraq falling to al Qaeda and becoming a safe haven. It’s against the U.S. strategic interest. It’s against the U.S. national security to do that.”

      When you're playing someone else's game on their terms, you have no influence.  

      If there was adult left in the White House, they'd be focusing their attention on something other than Nouri's narrative and Nouri's wants and desires.

      They'd also be asking why Nouri kicked these events off now?

      Ellen Knickmeyer  (Wall St. Journal) reports:

      Voters in Mr. Maliki's political base in Iraq's largely Shiite south are speaking out, with some urging Iraq's army to attack Fallujah.
      For Mr. Maliki, the reward of a tough response "includes getting the prime minister's ratings [stature] high among ordinary Shiites, who still don't trust the Sunni community and feel uncomfortable [about] the Sunni protests," said Fadel al-Kifaee, a political analyst in Baghdad.

      Mr. Maliki is hoping for a third term as prime minister in national elections in April, said Kournay al-Mulhem, the Berlin-based editor at large for the Iraqi news website Niqash.


      Instead of questioning the events, they're so busy responding to the chaos Nouri's created, they can't even take a moment to think.


      Back to Nuland.


      Question: The Secretary of State said, Kerry said we might send some more weapons, but there will be no boots on the ground, no new boots on the ground. Is it possible for the United States to stay out if Iraq might become another safe haven for terrorists?

      Assistant Secretary Nuland: Again, none of us has a crystal ball but we are focused now with the Iraqis on their capacity as citizens of their country to manage their security issues together, to manage it across confessional lines, to manage it across political lines. That’s what they want to do with our support, with the support of European countries as well. So that’s what we should all be pushing for now. Iraqis being able to manage their own security challenges.

      Question: Can they?

      Assistant Secretary Nuland: Again, that is what they want to be able to do. We need to support them in that and we need to work with them to get the kind of progress that they deserve and that the Iraqi people have suffered a lot to have.

      Question: Were you shocked that the rebels were able to take control of Fallujah which is so important city politically, symbolically?


      Assistant Secretary Nuland: The presence of extremists of this kind, whether it’s in Iraq, whether it’s in Syria, whether it’s in Lebanon, is disturbing to all of us.

      But this was never about terror.  This was about Nouri arresting a political rival and stopping a political protest.

      December 27th, the Iraqi protests continue against Nouri's corrupt government -- a year and a week and counting.  Nouri was furious and vowed publicly, on TV, that the protests would not see another Friday.  Decemeber 28th, he ordered the arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani.  There were a number of problems including that a dawn raid on a person's home left 6 people -- including al-Alwani's brother -- dead.  Equally true, there was no right to arrest him.  He's a Member of Parliament.  He can be arrested by police if they catch him while he's carrying out a crime.  Otherwise, Parliament's got to first vote to strip the MP immunity or there's no arrest.  What's worse than the Constitution not being followed were idiots of Nouri's party stating that saying someone was guilty (charging them) was the same as them being caught in the act.  They are idiots.  December 30th, Nouri's forces attacked the protest squares.

      That's how we get to the attacks and the present mess.

      Doubt it?  Here's Bill van Auken (WSWS) explaining it:

      The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, installed under the US occupation, has pursued an openly sectarian agenda, ruthlessly purging leading Sunni political figures, using the security forces to crack down on the population of Anbar and branding protests against these abuses of power as acts of Al Qaeda terrorism.
      At the end of December, the Maliki regime touched off the present conflict by moving to arrest Ahmed al-Alwany, a prominent Sunni member of parliament in Ramadi—killing his brother and five bodyguards in the process—and then on December 30 sending in security forces to break up a protest encampment that had existed in the same city for months, killing at least 17 more.
      Amid seething popular anger, armed groups, including both the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and local tribesmen, seized control of police stations, drove out the security forces and set up local checkpoints, effectively taking over Fallujah and much of Ramadi.

      The Obama administration has responded by declaring its full support to Maliki and rushing weapons, including Hellfire missiles, drones and other equipment to his military. It is exerting maximum pressure on Congress to end its delay on shipment of Apache attack helicopters and F-16s to the regime. That this weaponry, in the hands of a regime that has become ever more sectarian and authoritarian, may soon be used to massacre civilians has presented no obstacle to the Obama White House.


      It was not about 'terrorism,' it was about Nouri attacking his political rivals.

      And now he's using the attacks to try to appear strong and the US is backing him -- this is his election strategy.  This is insanity.



      Even right-wing Max Boot (Wall St. Journal) grasps what kicked things off:

      Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no-one but himself to blame. If he had embraced the Sunni Awakening movement, Iraq likely would have remained relatively peaceful. Instead, the moment that US troops left Iraq, he immediately began victimizing prominent Sunnis.



      Reporter Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) also shows some wisdom:

      The national reconciliation that the US military's "surge" of 30,000 extra troops into the country was supposed to enable never took place. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from the Dawa Party, a Shiite Islamist political movement with close ties to Iran, has governed Iraq with intolerance and arrogance, stubbornly refusing to reach out to Iraq's disenchanted Sunni Arab majority and dismissing almost all of the community's political leaders who stand up to him as terrorists or friends of terrorists.
      Though it may seem strange, this is good news. Because what's happening in Iraq at the moment is not some atavistic expression of "ancient" hatreds and irreconcilable cultural differences. Instead, it's a function of the failure of politics and power sharing in the modern era. And that's the kind of failure that can be rectified if Iraq's leaders, starting with Mr. Maliki, decide to change course from the politics of marginalization and exclusion. 






      Allen G. Breed and Julie Watson (AP) offer this of the November 2004 assault on Falluja:

      For several bloody weeks, the Marines went house-to-house in what has been called some of the heaviest urban combat involving the Corps since the Battle of Hue City, Vietnam, in 1968. Historian Richard Lowry, who interviewed nearly 200 veterans of the Iraq battle, likens it to ''a thousand SWAT teams going through the city, clearing criminals out.''
      ''They entered darkened rooms, kicking down doors, never knowing if they would find an Iraqi family hunkered down in fear or an Islamist terrorist waiting to shoot them and kill them,'' says Lowry, author of the book ''New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah.''
       

      The most afraid would most likely be the "Iraqi family hunkered down in fear."  It's been nine years, you'd think by now the press could cover Iraq by covering Iraqis.  But you'd be wrong.  Stephen Lendman (Global Research) is one of the few who remembers the actual victims of the slaughters.

      Let's focus on the US Congress for a bit.  Brian Everstine (Air Force Times) reports, "A congressman who also is an Air National Guardsman is calling for the Air Force to begin again its fight in Iraq.  Rep Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said on the House floor Tuesday that the U.S. needs to use 'limited air power” in Iraq to help its fight against al-Qaida'."  Meanwhile ABC New Radio reports Speaker of the House John Boehner has declared US President Barack Obama's first mistake with regards to Iraq was putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of it, "Starting with the president delegating his responsibilities to the vice president, the administration has chosen to spend much of its time and energy trying to explain why having terrorists holding key terrain in the Middle East is not the president's problem.  The United States has and will continue to have a vital national interest in Iraq. We must maintain a long-term commitment to a successful outcome there, and it's time that the president recognized this and get engaged."  Stephanie Condon (CBS News) quotes Boehner stating, "I think that the president himself ought to take a more active role in dealing with the issues in Iraq.  Secondly, we need to get equipment to the Iraqis and other services that would help them battle this counterterrorism effort that they're attempting to do."  Senator John McCain said the White House "not only sits by and does nothing, but the president of the United States says nothing."

      Rasmussen Reports announced today the results of a poll (margin of error is +/-3%), "One-in-four voters is now prepared to take military action against Iraq or Syria if al-Qaeda-led forces win control there. "  You'd hope the poll would calm the White House a bit, allow them to leave a state of high drama and address reality.  The administration apparently doesn't care what the American people think.

      It's a shame members of Congress aren't paying attention to the poll or to what's really going on in Iraq instead of going into a mad panic.  There's no great threat in Iraq today.  And certainly nothing that justifies handing Nouri more weapons.  Stephanie Gaskell (Defense One) notes:

        "The issue here is not whether such aircraft would help Iraq fight violent extremists; they would. The question is whether the Maliki government would use them only against violent extremists, and whether we receive credible assurances that such weapons will be used to target Iraq’s real enemies, and not to further sectarian political objectives. With credible assurances, it would be appropriate to provide such assistance,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
      Iraq requested the Apaches last May, but members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must approve the sale, want to be able to monitor how the Apaches are used, and lawmakers still have concerns about oversight of flights in Iraqi airspace going to and from Syria and Iran.


      Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg News) notes Levin is a conditional yes.  Though his conditions are admirable, there's no way to ensure them which is why you don't say "yes" to arming a despot.  Richard Sisk (DoD Buzz) notes Levin's conditions as well but Sisk gets at the real point in this sentence, "The Obama administration, rattled by images of Al Qaeda flags flying over the flashpoint towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, announced Monday that the U.S. was speeding up the delivery of Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and reconnaissance drones to Iraq."

      And that is the problem, they're rattled and they're not thinking.  Rattled never leads to good decision making.  Panic isn't a confidence instiller.

      Reuters notes:

      Menendez' concerns have centered around whether Washington could ensure that Maliki, a Shi'ite increasingly at odds with minority Sunnis in Iraq, would not use the helicopters to target political opponents. He is also concerned over whether the administration was keeping Congress sufficiently informed about efforts to ensure Iran did not send military aid to Syria across Iraqi airspace.

      "The administration is now addressing concerns first raised in July that required responses before this sale could proceed," said Adam Sharon, a spokesman for the committee. "Provided these issues are sufficiently addressed, Chairman Menendez will be ready to move forward."


      I hope Menendez stands against arming the thug Nouri.  In the meantime, BRussells Tribunal notes Ross Caputi's important action:

        Once again the claim that al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah is being used to justify a heavy-handed military assault on the city. And again, these claims are false.
      Over 100 civilians have been killed in recent fighting in Fallujah, as the Iraqi government shells the city with American bought weapons. The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior claims that al Qaeda has taken over the city and that a heavy handed military response is needed to take the city back from terrorists. But many residents of Fallujah insist that tribal militias control Fallujah and that al Qaeda forces play only a marginal role in the fighting.
      The violence began when the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki, forced a year-old, nonviolent protest camp in Fallujah to disperse. The Iraqi government has since bombed Fallujah with American bought Hellfire Missiles, a weapon system that is believed to contain uranium and could cause indiscriminate public health effects.

      Tell President Obama and Congress to stop selling weapons to the Iraqi government

      Please sign our petition to tell the President and Congress to stop arming the Iraqi government: http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9035





      On the issue of the Senate, W. James Antle III (National Interest) offers a piece to flaunt his own stupidity.  Check out the ignorance on the third Jimmy Antle:

      McCain and Graham dispute that the Iraqi government decided against concluding a new status of forces agreement that would have kept U.S. troops in Iraq past the deadline originally negotiated by the Bush administration. The senators describe this as “patently false,” claiming to “know firsthand that Iraq's main political blocs were supportive.”
      Leaving aside the question of whether they had better sources for this information than Curveball and Ahmed Chalabi, the plain fact was that the American people had no appetite for an indefinite military presence in Iraq. 


      I didn't vote for McCain, I don't like him, I've never liked him (I do like Cindy) but that doesn't give me the right to lie about him.  I'm sorry that Antle is such an idiot but if he doesn't know what he's talking about, he should shut his mouth.  He, Graham and Joe Lieberman were told by Iraqi leaders -- who they have named in Senate hearings that little Priss Pott The Third couldn't get his candy ass to. Since he's insisting that the agreement was dead, absolutely dead, he should check out the November 2011 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  He'll find McCain very vocal who he spoke to.  But more importantly, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is testifying to that hearing that negotiations continue.  That hearing is after the refusal to grant immunity ended Barack's SOFA II negotiations.


      Those late to the party on that hearing can check out the November 15, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," November 16th "Iraq snapshot," November 17th "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's  "Who wanted what?"


      Meanwhile,  a 'major victory' for Nouri al-Maliki, this announcement: They have killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- "the driver for al Qaeda."  Next, they're going after the cleaning lady.


      Turning to some of today's violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tirkit roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left five injured, a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 police members, a Baquba sticky bombing left one person injured, 1 person was shot dead outside his Mosul home, 1 person "working as an owner of generating electricity" was shot dead, 3 fighters were shot dead in Baghdad, a Mosul bombing left four SWAT forces injured, a Tikrit car bombing claimed the life of 1 police member and left four more people injured, a Ramadi suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 SWAT members with six more left injured, a Mosul home bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers and 1 "gunman" and left four people injured, 1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, and a Mosul home invasion left 1 police officer and his mother dead.





















      Wednesday, January 8, 2014

      Elle's latest cover controversy

      Elle magazine is in trouble again.  And again I do not understand why.



      Those are the four covers.


      Elle's celebrating women in television and you might think that they'd get some applause for doing so.

      Instead, it's time to attack again.

      I think Mindy's got the best cover.  It's glamorous and she looks great.

      The other three look nice but they don't have the impact that Mindy's head shot does.

      I think it's a great cover and I think Mindy's Tweet says it all:


      I love my cover. It made me feel glamorous & cool. And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on thirteen dates with me.




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


      Wednesday, January 8, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack wants to send Nouri more weapons, supposedly the House Foreign Affairs Committee has caved on the issue, the assault on Anbar continues, as does the assault on Iraqi journalists, and more.

      We start with Bob Somerby because we grab our entry points where we can.  We last addressed him in the January 3rd snapshot.  He knows nothing about journalism.  He reveals that only more so today:


      There was a time when “television personalities” like Gutfeld weren’t allowed on television. We the people got our news from two people—David and Walter.
      Neither man was crazy or stupid or weirdly dishonest. They limited the dumbness to which we were all exposed.
      They didn’t give us mounds of fake facts. For the most part, they didn’t invent ridiculous topics, then invent bogus facts about them.
      But uh-oh! At some point, someone let Imus get on the air. After that, somebody hired Howard Stern.


      We the people got our news from two people -- David and Walter?  Well, We The People had three networks -- four when the DuMont Network was around.  Walter is Walter Cronkite who began anchoring what is now the CBS Evening News in 1962, so let's use that as Bob Somerby's starting point for history.  At that time, "David," David Brinkley was the co-anchor of NBC's The Huntley-Brinkley Report (now NBC Nightly News) and right there you got a problem with Bob's 'analaysis' -- even before you get to ABC (in 1962, the evening news anchor was Ron Cochran), you've got more than two people since "David" and "Chet" were two people on one program.

      What "mounds of fake facts" are Diane Sawyer, Scott Pelley and Brian Williams (not to mention PBS' The NewsHour's Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff) serving up?

      They miss important stories all the time -- some times by accident, sometimes by intent.  Walter Cronkite, for example, didn't report on East Timor or, take another example, one Ava and I made in 2006:

      Much is made of the fact that The New York Times killed their own story on the impending Bay of Pigs invasion. The Nation did report it. Where was broadcast news? As with the case of most stories over the years, no where to be found. That was in the glory period where profits and advertising dictated content far less than they would come to do. So the commentators would be wise to surrender the notion of a golden age.

      I'm not arguing anyone is above criticism.  I am saying making your criticism accurate.  It is inaccurate to claim we had honesty on TV thanks to Walter or David.  Much was ignored, much was covered up.  The same continues today only more so because the networks -- even PBS -- no longer are willing to spend the money required for investigative journalism.

      News, like scripted programming, costs money to produce.

      So TV (and radio before) has long thrived on cheap staples: game shows, soap operas and talk shows.  Soap operas were as good as dead when Susan Lucci used Days of Our Lives in 1979 to up her All My Children salary.  Everyone then followed suit.  And the shows were more costly as a result.  Equally true the cast size expanded because you need more characters to fill out an hour long show than a 15 minute one. Ratings were dropping but it was the cost that has all but killed daytime soaps.  (I think they'll make a comeback, these things go in cycles.) The staples weren't just cheap, they paid for the expenses elsewhere on the network -- including the news costs.

      Let's return to a moment of Somerby's long whine:

      There was a time when “television personalities” like Gutfeld weren’t allowed on television. We the people got our news from two people—David and Walter. 
      Neither man was crazy or stupid or weirdly dishonest. They limited the dumbness to which we were all exposed.
      They didn’t give us mounds of fake facts. For the most part, they didn’t invent ridiculous topics, then invent bogus facts about them.
      But uh-oh! At some point, someone let Imus get on the air. After that, somebody hired Howard Stern.



      When did Don Imus host the evening news?  Or Howard Stern?

      They didn't.

      Somerby doesn't know what the hell he's talking about as usual.

      Walter and David were anchors of evening news programs.

      Somerby's so stupid he doesn't understand that MSNBC is a talk show network.  It's  Virginia Graham, it is Mike Douglas, it is Merv Griffin, it is Dinah Shore, it is Della Reese, it is Ricki Lake, it is Montel Williams, it is Ellen, it is Queen Latifah, it is Wendy Williams.

      Johnny Carson may have been on TV, may have done an on air attack on Jim Garrison, may have done interviews but he wasn't a reporter, he was a talk show host.

      More than anyone, TV talk shows were Phil Donahue.  Last month, he was a guest on NPR's On Being with Krista Tippett (link is audio and transcript).  Phil spoke of many of the firsts he accomplished with his talk show and I think most of us would see this as an advance and agree Donahue is the most ground breaking TV talk show host to this day.

      By conflating reporting and journalism with cheaply made TV talk shows, Bob laments the decay of journalism.  But TV talk shows weren't mistaken for news in the 70s and shouldn't be mistaken today.

      Donahue did an amazing talk show and I will praise it.  I will even allow that it made news.  But it was a talk show, it was not reporting.  Do not confuse the two.

      Somerby wants to know when it all went wrong?  Maybe when his brain was no longer able to grasp the difference between reporting and chat shows?

      But 1967 is when Donahue's show started.  1969 is when Wally George launched his hate-speech career via his first radio show. 1968 is when Don Imus got his first radio gig.

      Radio?

      Where TV spills over from.  Where the original programming models were developed. People with a real sense of history -- that excludes Bob Somerby -- are well aware of Father Charles Coughlin who used his popular radio program first to promote FDR, then to denounce him, then to denounce him and the Jewish people, then to denounce him and the Jewish people while praising Hitler . . .  He attacked Communists and Socialists and many more and his program reached an audience ten times as big as Rachel Maddow's highest broadcast.  No one confused him with a news anchor -- except maybe Bob Somerby.

      His nonsense is really insulting, confusing TV talk show hosts with reporters, at a time when so many reporters around the world are being killed. The close of 2013 saw many updates on the continued violence around the world but, as Dirk Adriaensens "2013: Another year of slaughter in Iraq claims the lives of at least 21 media professionals" (BRussells Tribunal) points out, as bad as it seemed it is actually far deadlier for journalists in Iraq than was previously known:


      In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world.



      Dr. Yasser Salihee (here with his wife Dr. Raghad Wazzan) gave up his job at Yarmouk Hospital to become a journalist.

      In memory of Dr Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, killed on 24 June 2005 by a single bullet of an American sniper as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. Since May 2005, Dr. Salihee had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that had been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi Resistance. Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces had been carrying out extra-judicial killings. We believe that he was assassinated because he came too close to the truth. There is serious doubt that the shooting was “an accident”. Nevertheless, the Committee for The ‘Protection’ of Journalists (CPJ) has thrown Dr Yasser Salihee in the dungeons of history.  He doesn't figure in any of their death lists.  


      While Reporters Without Borders lists 11 Iraqi journalists killed in 2013 and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists lists 12, BRussells Tribunal reveals the actual number is at least 21.
      These murders take place, as Dirk Adriaensens vividly explains, in a lawless nation where killing a journalist matters so little that investigations aren't even launched.
      The Iraqi press sees this and knows this and yet still shows more bravery in reporting than western outlets in Iraq do. Nouri has provided no protection to journalists.  Instead, his forces have attacked and terrorized journalists.  Played a 'joke' of pointing a gun at a New York Times correspondent, kidnapped and beaten journalists who covered the February 2011 protests.  In 2006, his first moves as prime minister was to attack reporters.  He tried to arrest them for covering the violence.  He was humored by the world then and he's been humored ever since.
      As a result, each year is deadlier for journalists in Iraq.
            3 January 2014 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom, expressed alarm today at the recent killing of six media workers in two separate incidents in Iraq and called for measures to bring those responsible to justice.

      The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has condemned the killing of Raad Yassin, Jamal Abdel Nasser, Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, Wissam Al-Azzawi and Mohamed Abdel Hamid in an attack on Salaheddin TV in Tikrit, and of Omar Al-Dulaimy in the city of Ramadi.

      “Once again I call on the authorities to do all they can to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice,” she said in a statement issued by the Paris-based agency, which adds: “The escalation of violence against the media in Iraq is intolerable as it poses a severe threat to national reconciliation and reconstruction.”

      Omar Al-Dulaimy was killed on 31 December, while covering armed clashes in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where he worked as a correspondent for the Voice of Ramadi radio, a station broadcasting in Anbar province.

      Five members of Salaheddin TV— chief news editor Raad Yassin, producer Jamal Abdel Nasser, cameraman Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, presenter Wissam Al-Azzawi and archives manager Mohamed Abdel Hamid — were killed in a suicide attack on the headquarters of their television station in Tikrit on 23 December. 
      From UNESCO, let's go to UNAMI's statement released today:
      Baghdad, 8 January 2014 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said that the UN is working closely with the Iraqi national and regional authorities as well as with humanitarian partners to ensure safe passage for humanitarian assistance and emergency supplies to both the stranded and displaced families of Anbar province.
      “There is a critical humanitarian situation in Anbar province which is likely to worsen as operations continue. The UN agencies are working to identify the needs of the population and prepare medical supplies, food and non-food items for distribution if safe passage can be ensured. This remains a primary challenge. The situation in Fallujah is particularly concerning as existing stocks of food, water and life-saving medicines begin to run out. According to our preliminary assessment, over 5,000 families have fled the fighting and sought refuge in the neighbouring provinces of Karbala, Salahadine, Baghdad and elsewhere. The UN is working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to identify their needs and meet them immediately," Mr. Mladenov said.
      Yeah.
      Not a minor point.
      People are dying and, just as in the two attacks on Anbar in 2004, the western press wants to pretend like no one's being hurt except some 'bad guys.'  In November 2004, they lied and pretended everyone was out when the US government attacked.  No one lied harder than the New York Times' Dexter Filkins who even won a little prize for his lies -- while failing to share it with the US military censors who revamped and then cleared his copy (explaining the 8 day delay for it to make it into the paper -- the press moved faster in the days of the Pony Express).
      People died.
      People are dying now.  
      Anbar is a very populated province.  It is thought to have 1.5 million people (Iraq's not had a census in decades).  
      Human Rights Watch realizes there are lives at risk.  They issued a statement which opens:
      Iraqi government forces appear to have used indiscriminate mortar fire in civilian neighborhoods in Anbar province, and al-Qaeda fighters and armed men from local groups have deployed in and attacked from populated areas. Apparently unlawful methods of fighting by all sides have caused civilian casualties and severe property damage. A government blockade of Fallujah and Ramadi has resulted in limited access to food, water, and fuel for the population.
      Based on numerous reports and accounts by local residents in interviews with Human Rights Watch, government security forces responded to attacks by al-Qaeda armed groups on the night of January 1, 2014, with mortar and gunfire into residential areas, in some cases with apparently no al-Qaeda presence. The security forces then surrounded the cities, witnesses said.
      “The government urgently needs to deal with the threat from al-Qaeda, but killing their own citizens unlawfully is not the way,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Civilians have been caught in the middle in Anbar, and the government appears to be doing nothing to protect them.”
      This is a tragedy for Anbar.  It is a tragedy for the Iraqi people.
      This is from the Human Rights Watch statement:
      In Fallujah, the army closed the main eastern, northern, and southern checkpoints, refusing to allow any people, medicine, or food to enter or leave the city through these checkpoints. Fallujah residents said that security forces allowed families with children to leave the city through the two other checkpoints, but only with “extreme difficulty,” and, as of January 8, have continued to refuse to allow single men to leave. Army forces continue to surround Ramadi, but residents reported that they were able to leave the city. On January 8, the Erbil governorate announced that 13,000 Anbari residents had fled into Erbil province.
      Residents told Human Rights Watch that as of January 6, the army blockade and intermittent heavy fighting had prevented residents from getting sufficient food, water, electricity, and fuel. On January 3, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that it sent convoys with food aid to both cities but could not enter because of heavy fighting. On January 5, Anbar’s provincial council described the humanitarian situation in Fallujah as “catastrophic.”
      In a post on his Facebook page on January 8, a Ramadi resident, Omar al-Shaher, reported that al-Qaeda fighters had fought army forces that afternoon in the city’s Sharia 60 neighborhood. He said the army used drones to fire on the al-Hamiria bridge, which connects the neighborhood to desert areas outside the city. Al-Shaher said that Ramadi’s al-Malaab, Ziraha, Sharia 60, and Albu Jaber areas remained unstable and that residents feared that a “huge battle” was soon to come.
      An employee in Fallujah’s main hospital reported that mortar fire from army shelling had killed 25 Fallujah residents and injured 190 since the fighting began on December 30, 2013, all resulting from the shrapnel, the employee said. The areas of the city the employee said the casualties came from are all areas where, according to residents, al-Qaeda was not present.
      US President Barack Obama's denied giving Nouri armed drones so where did the armed drones come from?  Or is the press going to ignore that like they ignore so much?
      'Analysts' ignore a lot as well.  The Brookings Institution postss:
      Noting that the Obama administration tried to keep forces in Iraq in 2011, an offer rejected by the Iraqi government, [Michael] O'Hanlon said that "I'd be willing to see several hundred Americans or even a couple thousand of special operations persuasions, of intelligence backgrounds, go and help the Iraqis if the Iraqis can decide they want that help."
      Would Michael be willing to see that?  If he's an analyst, he should probably first acknowledge that Special-Ops were sent back in during the fall of 2012.  September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

       
      Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

      If you can't be honest maybe you should just not say anything?
      Then again, maybe we have to be grateful for partial honesty?
      Retired US Col Peter Mansoor (Defense One) gets it partly right when examining the roots for today's problems:
      Despite this promising beginning, the situation in Iraq began to spiral downward after the election of 2010 when the winner, Ayad Allawi, was sidelined in favor of another Maliki term in a backroom deal cut in Tehran. Sunni Arabs became disenchanted with the political process, increasingly dominated by an authoritarian prime minister who used the security forces and courts to pursue his political agenda. The withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2011 gave Maliki a green light to further these policies; his pursuit of Tarik al-Hashemi and other Sunni politicians deepened Sunni discontent. The way was open for the revitalization of al-Qaeda in Iraq, once left for dead after the manifest successes of the Awakening and the surge.
      Iran can be credited.  They strong armed cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr to drop his opposition to Nouri.  But that's not how Nouri got his second term.  There was still the problem of the votes and the will of the Iraqi people and a little thing called the Constitution.  Barack had US officials broker the extra-constitutional Erbil Agreement which went around all of that to provide Nouri a second term.  Mansoor's told half the truth and it's a sign of just how many lies are out there that I feel like shouting "THANK YOU!" to him at the top of my lungs.
      He's targeted one Sunni politician after another.  But he's just accused of it?  He refused to the power-sharing agreement outlined in The Erbil Agreement but he's just accused of running a sectarian Shia-dominated regime?
      Wow, thank goodness for the bravery of Al Jazeera America.  Next up, they're expose on tooth pastes that promise more than they deliver.
      David Welna (All Things Considered, NPR) plays stupid as well, "At the White House earlier this week, spokesman Jay Carney wondered aloud just what the president's critics might want, beyond the Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones that are being sent to Iraq."
      If you don't know what happened then maybe stop flapping your gums.  Had the White House not backed Nouri for a second term and sided with Iraqi voters, Ahmed Chalabi would be in charge.
      Is he a nicer person that Nouri?

      I don't know.  
      But the US government consensus was he'd be a better and more inclusive ruler.  The Iraqi people spoke in the election of 2010 and spoke for a united Iraq which is why they chose a Shi'ite leader (Allawi) of a mixed political party (Shi'ite and Sunni). 
      Sunni voters alone could not have allowed Iraqiya to beat State of Law.  It was Sunnis and Shias working together for the future of Iraq.  That was a powerful moment, it had been building in the 2009 elections.  The US could have backed up that powerful future.  Instead Barack spat on democracy and let a despot have a second term the people didn't give him.
      And the results aren't surprising.  Barack saw the same CIA personality disorder analysis on Nouri that Bully Boy Bush saw.  These were the liabilities outlined if Nouri's paranoia and narcissism weren't 'managed.'
      And Barack not only gave him a second term, he's armed him while Nouri's attacked Iraqis.  Nouri's over the Ministry of the Interior (in a power grab, he refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry) and that's who targeted the gay and emo youth, went around to schools encouraging kids to kill them, said that they sucked blood and were vampires -- Now, of course, the Ministry denied it.  And that might have been end of story but both Alsumaria and Al Mada had copies of the official handout from the Ministry that was given to students on each of these 'teachable moments.'  That's only one example.
      Nouri's a thug.  And Barack keeps arming him.  Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reports:
      As Iraqi army forces prepare to mount an offensive to take back control of the city of Fallujah from al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Obama administration is in a full court press to urge Congress to allow the sale of dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters the Maliki government has been seeking for years. Both the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been holding up the sales, out of concern Maliki will use them against his domestic political enemies. Senators in both parties also lament Maliki’s increasingly sectarian style of governing and his alleged cooperation with Iran to aid the Syrian regime.
      The Daily Beast has learned that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has now dropped its hold on the Apache sales but one senior senator still refuses to allow it to go through – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Congressional aides said Tuesday that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns has been lobbying Menendez to release his hold on the sales and Burns has also been reaching out to other senators who have problems with Maliki. 
      I'm not calling Rogin a liar but if the House Foreign Affairs Committee has dropped their hold without making any conditions for Nouri to turn over the seven Ashraf hostages?  I think a number of people may not be serving on that Committee after the 2014 elections.

      A Ramadi overpass was blown up, a helicopter was brought down,  154 people have been killed or wounded in Ramadi during the last ten days, and so much more in the violence Nouri's created.


      Some of the other violence?  National Iraqi News Agency reports an attack on an Odhaim checkpoint left 3 security officers dead and four more injured, 1 Ministry of Electricity worker was killed in Mosul, a Mosul armed attack left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured, a Samarra roadside bombing killed 1 police member, an armed attack in Shirqat left 8 students dead, a Balad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police lieutenant, a Siniah roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 Sahwa and left a fifth injured, a Mosul home invasion claimed the lives of a former military officer and his wife, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police members and 1 civilian, 1 "Arab nationality" was shot dead by Baghdad Operations Command, an Adheim roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more police injured, a Tikirt bombing killed 3 police members, wounded another and "wounding a number of students," a Mosul suicide car bombing left two police officers and two civilians injured, an armed attack in Mansuriya left 1 farmer and his son dead,  yet another suspect billed as "an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader" was killed -- they sure have a lot of leaders -- in Baquba,  and an eastern Baghdad home invasion late last night/early this morning left 12 people dead.



      At today's US State Dept press briefing Jen Psaki declared:

      One other item just before we go to you, Matt. I wanted to read out a call the Secretary had yesterday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari. The Secretary and foreign minister discussed the situation in Anbar province and the Government of Iraq’s efforts to combat ISIL in coordination with local police and tribes. The Secretary noted the critical need for support from the local population and encouraged the Government of Iraq to continue its efforts to empower local officials and tribes to isolate ISIL and drive them out of populated areas.
      He also emphasized the opportunity for the Government of Iraq to focus on political initiatives to increase political inclusiveness as an essential component of the CT campaign as the only path to long-term stability. He assured the foreign minister that we will continue to provide technical military advice and enhancing material support, and stressed that military efforts must be fused with political and economic efforts to isolate extremist groups.
      Foreign Minister Zebari expressed appreciation for the support of the United States under the Strategic Framework Agreement for Iraq's struggle against terrorism. He also expressed appreciation for the international support for Iraq that has been – Iraq has been receiving in the fight against terrorism and its ongoing commitment to support the process of constitutional democracy in Iraq.

      Both leaders – finally, both leaders noted progress on finalizing an agreement under discussion between Baghdad and Erbil on energy and revenue sharing, underscoring that this agreement should be concluded as soon as possible, as it will demonstrate that all Iraqis share equitably in the benefits of Iraq’s natural resources.


      We'll address that tomorrow.



















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