Thursday, December 31, 2015

Half a what?

From NPR:

Every now and then, a Julia Child or Michael Pollan come along and changes the way we eat.
Could Jean Kristeller, America's leading mindful eating researcher and the author of a new self-help book, The Joy of Half a Cookie, published Tuesday, be next? I'm of a mind to say maybe.

Back when Kristeller, now a professor of psychology emeritus at Indiana State University, was a grad student at Yale in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she had a compulsive overeating problem. She had been meditating for years, and decided to apply what she was studying about eating regulation and the mind-body connection to her overeating. As she writes, it was transformative. Once she got a handle on it, she developed a mindfulness training for a variety of eating issues called Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training, or MB-EAT, and set out to test its effectiveness.

Well if it works for her or you, more power on that.

Myself?

Half a cookie would never work.

I couldn't eat just half unless  I was splitting it with someone.

I also think it's probably problematic when you think of food waste.

If you're not splitting it with someone, you're wasting half a cookie that was cooked, shipped, etc.

Just my thought.


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



Wednesday, December 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the effort at liberating Ramadi is still incomplete, tensions rise between Turkey and Iraq, two people vying for their parties presidential nomination note Iraq today, and much more.



Saif Hameed and Ece Toksabay (REUTERS) report, "Iraq's prime minister accused Turkey on Wednesday of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troops from the country's north and its foreign minister said if forced, Iraq could resort to military action to defend its sovereignty."


This month found the government of Iraq objecting to the fact that Turkish troops were deployed to and stationed near Mosul.  They were formally asked to leave.  Xinhua notes, "Baghdad has insisted that the Turkish troops have no authorization from the Iraqi government and thus demanded their withdrawal, while Ankara called the troops only a routine rotation of the trainers."

When they refused, the Iraqi government appealed to the US government, the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League.

Last week, a body weighed in with a ruling.  SPUTNIK reported, "Turkey must withdraw immediately all its troops from Iraq without any preconditions, a statement unanimously adopted by members of the Arab League said Thursday."  AFP noted:


The Turkish deployment "is an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to Arab national security," they said in an Arab League statement after meeting at the pan-Arab bloc's Cairo headquarters.
Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Heli read out the statement at a press conference, in which he added that the Turkish troops "increased tumult in the region."



SPUTNIK reports:

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Turkey had not honored a commitment to withdraw its troops from the region.
Abadi said in a statement that a Turkish delegation to Iraq promised to announce, upon returning to Ankara, that Turkey would withdraw its troops, "but the Turkish government has not respected the agreement and we request that the Turkish government announce immediately that it will withdraw from Iraqi territory."


And Turkey's response?  Al Arabiya News reports:


Speaking during an interview on NTV, [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu acknowledged there had been "miscommunication" over the troop deployment. He said that Ankara respected Iraqi sovereignty but added that Baghdad is not in control one third of its own territory.

Turkey announced earlier that it had begun withdrawing troops in a bid to soothe a bitter row with Baghdad and following a call from U.S. President Barack Obama.



And we'll note these two Tweets:




  • BOOM! 's FM: we can resort to military means to expel turkish troops if all peaceful means are ineffective!




  • Ouch! After Iraq threatened to use force against Turkish base in N.Iraq, Turkish PM Davutoglu:If Iraq has such military, it shd use on ISIS



  • So a country asks foreign troops to leave its borders and the second country refuses.  How does this happen?  SPUTNIK offers:

    The US-led coalition’s arrogance towards the ongoing anti-terrorist operation in Syria encouraged Turkey’s similar behavior in Iraq, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

    Lavrov thus described the US-led coalition's position on what is going on in Syria and Iraq: “Well, the Iraqis invited us to move in and we like Iraq, but we are still trying to tell them what is right and what is wrong…  As for Syria, it is a dictator, its days are numbered and we’ll keep bombing it without asking for permission from anyone. This is exactly what the Turks are now saying too,” he told the Moscow-based Zvezda television channel in an interview.




    Turning to Ramadi which is still in the process of liberation or 'liberation' . . .




  • Sorry bad news: the (i) army has not taken over and the majority of the city remains beyond its control



  • This morning, CNN offered Jethro Mullen and Nima Elbagir's "After retaking most of Ramadi from ISIS, Iraq sets sights on Mosul."


    Two days after the misinformation began to be released as news and Ramadi still has pockets controlled by the Islamic State.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) calls out a NEW YORK TIMES editorial rah-rah-rahing over the 'liberaton' of Ramadi:

    What the Times editors choose to cover up is the fact that the Iraqi flag was raised over a city that has been largely reduced to rubble by a protracted siege and at least 630 air strikes by US and allied warplanes. There were no crowds to hail Ramadi’s supposed liberation and there is, as yet, no indication of how many civilians have been killed in this military operation. One can assume that the death toll is high, however, given the massive scale of the destruction.
    The retaking of Ramadi will hardly go down as one of history’s great military feats. When the city fell to ISIS in May of 2015, about 600 ISIS fighters routed an Iraqi government force ten times larger. The insurgents were even more greatly outnumbered this time around, with at most 350 fighters thought to be in the city, meaning the Pentagon launched roughly two air strikes for every armed member of ISIS.


    On the destruction of Ramadi, Thomas Fessy (BBC News) notes:

    Ramadi is a city that has been sacrificed in battle. The scale of destruction is enormous, delaying the prospect of return for those who lived in areas that have been liberated.
    "We hope to go back as soon as possible, but we heard on the news that it has been so destroyed I know it's not going to happen any time soon," lamented Mr Najm.
    The UN says it will be essential to ensure conditions are in place for people to return in safety. 


    Little if any attention has been paid to the citizens of Ramadi or the destruction to the city via the 'liberation' effort.  Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) does note the destruction:

    Gen. Mahlawi said operations in Ramadi were paused for today because of the weather, and estimated that ISIS still controls about 30% of the city, such as it is. This is a surprising admission, as Iraq claimed total victory in the city days ago.
    Defense Minister Khaled Obeidi, meanwhile, told the cabinet Ramadi had been turned into a “ghost town,” and that 80% of the city is effectively destroyed. The Education Ministry said 260 schools were destroyed in the fighting, and would cost $500 million to rebuild by themselves.


    In the corporate media, little attention has been paid to exactly what the goal for the US government is.  The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE  is rightly skeptical of all the "crowing" over Ramadi and raises a few points including the following:


    The issue then becomes why America is doing this, nearly 13 years since its initial invasion of Iraq and four years after President George W. Bush agreed with the Iraqis that the United States would withdraw its forces.  

    Despite the attention the American media have given the re-taking of Ramadi, deeming it a triumph of President Barack Obama’s strategy for sustaining the Abadi government and combating the Islamic State, Americans don’t care who holds Ramadi. They would like to see a definitive end to the risk of U.S. lives and expenditure of U.S. assets in Iraq.



    When does it end?


    Why isn't that being asked?

    Oh, that's right, the so-called 'leaders' of the peace movement can't call out -- let alone question -- Barack Obama.  Whores whore.





    Meanwhile ABC News Tweets:


    First fighter jets take off from the USS Harry S. Truman to combat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.                                                                                                                                                                                                 



    Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter, attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike damaged an ISIL trench system.
    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL assembly area, an ISIL bed-down location, 20 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL tunnel.
    -- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units, wounded an ISIL fighter, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb, three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL rocket rail, an ISIL building, an ISIL homemade explosives cache, an ISIL front-end loader, two ISIL fighting positions, and four ISIL heavy machine gun positions.
    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, suppressed an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL sniper position.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb storage facility.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.




    Turning to the US race for president, Senator Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.





  • Our foreign policy has failed the American people and led to wars like the war in Iraq which we should never have gotten into.






  • We need to invest $1 trillion to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create up to 13 million decent-paying jobs.







  • Business person Donald Trump is running for the GOP presidential nomination.  Today, he spoke in South Carolina -- BLOOMBERG NEWS posted video of the speech.  Among other things, he noted the ratings for the debate (Republican debates have been big draws for viewers).  We'll pick up where he's leading into Iraq.


    Donald Trump:  'Mr. Trump, you have thirty seconds, what would you do about ISIS?' Oh, great. Thank you.  And by the way, that question I hate those questions. You know why? Because I want to be unpredictable.  I don't want to tell ISIS what I'm going to do to knock the hell out of them. I hate it.  I hate it.  Remember, I said very strongly: Keep the oil for, what, four years. Four years.  I mean you've been watching.  Four years.  Get the oil.  Get the oil.  Because who's going to get the oil?  Iran is taking over Iraq.  We made a deal for Iran done by some of the dumbest people on earth on our side.  We gave them everything.  We don't even get our prisoners back. And now Iran wants to start negotiating seperately for the [release of the prisoners].  Can you believe it?  I go crazy.  We would have gotten them back.  All we had to do is say, "We want them back."  They would have said "no"?  I would have said, "I want them back. You don't understand me.  I want them back."  They would have said, "No, we won't do that"?  I would've said, "Bye-bye."  And I would've left.  Then I would have doubled up the sanctions.  And I guarantee you -- I guarantee you that within 24 hours they would have called back and they would  say, "You've got your prisoners, let's talk."  And I would have never given them 150 billion -- I would never have given them the money.  I would have never given them.  And they're using the money.  They don't have to make nuclear?  They can buy it, why do they have to make it?  And we have the nuclear where they have self-inspections.  How about the area,  the big area?  They don't want us there.  Oh, I wonder why? They don't want us there.  So they self-inspect.  Then they have the 24 day inspection.  But the self-inspection is the beauty: "We think you're making nuclear weapons here.  Well let us go check, Mr. President, we'll check.  No, sir, we're not making nuclear weapons.. Uh, no, nobody, we would never do a thing like that."  These are people that have lied to us, they've deceived us.  They are a terrorist state.  And I used to say it's the worst deal that I've ever seen negotiated.  And by the way, just to finish, prisoners.  So they come back, we get our prisoners but then when I hear the other day that now this deal is done, it's all done.  And now I hear, they want to negotiate to get the [prisoners].  And what did they say?  They said very strongly, they said, 'We are going to want a lot for the prisoners.'  We're staring off [with Iran saying] we're going to want a lot.  Now we've already taken off the sanctions.  They're already rich as hell.  What-what's going on there?  That's why I say -- Some people say it's worse than stupidity, there's something going on that we don't know about.  I mean honestly.  And you almost think -- I mean, I'm not saying that, And I'm not a conspiracy person.  [Referring to a member of the audience] She said, "We are! We''re saying it!"  Half the people in this room are saying it.  I'm trying to be -- like -- I'm just hoping they're stupid people.  Okay?  Which they are.







    iraq
    bill van auken
    bloomberg news
    bbc news


    Monday, December 28, 2015

    RT lies again

    Jill Stein is not the Green Party's presidential candidate.

    She wants to be, but -- pay attention RT -- that doesn't make it so.

    In August 2016, my party will hold a national convention.

    At that convention, we will determine who our candidate is.

    I'm sick of the whoring, I'm sick of the lying.

    Jill is not the candidate.

    No one is at this point.

    Quit whoring.

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



    Monday, January 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi is liberated, or it is if you change the meaning and definition of liberated, even in congratulations Secretary of State John Kerry notes that Ramadi is not liberated, none of the bombings address the root causes of the Islamic State, and much more.



    Ramadi, they say, is liberated.


    As we noted this morning, any announcement of Ramadi being liberated should have come from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.  Instead, it came from the military underscoring how precarious Haider's position actually is.  (It was only weeks ago that US senators, in a public hearing, were wondering how much longer Haider would be able to hold on.)

    Six hours after the military announced 'liberation,' someone thought to toss Haider before the cameras.

    Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli (REUTERS) report that he declared Ramadi liberated and insisted they would be tackling Mosul in the near future.


    Yet the reporters also write:

    Baghdad has said for months that it would prove its forces' rebuilt capability by rolling back militant advances in Anbar, a mainly Sunni province encompassing the fertile Euphrates River valley from Baghdad's outskirts to the Syrian border. 


    Mosul's not in Anbar.

    Falluja is.

    Supposedly, Falluja is overrun with the Islamic State.

    When the Iraqi government began bombing Falluja in January of 2014, that was the excuse for the bombing -- excuse for the press.  See, there's no excuse for War Crimes.  Bombing Falluja was Collective Punishment which is a legally defined War Crime.

    Those bombings started under then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and continue under Haider al-Abadi.

    Again, Falluja is in Anbar Province.

    The distance between Ramadi and Mosul is approximately 202 miles.

    And the distance between Falluja and Ramadi?

    Roughly 28 miles.


    But Haider al-Abadi announced on state TV today that Mosul will be next.


    In all of the years the US has been training the Iraqi military, did no one explain the concept of "clear and hold"?

    Just asking.


    And it's right to ask whether or not Ramadi is liberated.




    While Haider was declaring Ramadi liberated, the AP was reporting:


    In a televised statement, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool initially announced that Ramadi had been "grabbed from the hateful claws" of the Islamic State group and "fully liberated."
    But Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, head of military operations in Anbar, quickly clarified that government forces had only retaken a strategic government complex and that parts of the city remained under IS control. IS fighters have retreated from about 70 percent of city, but still control the rest; government forces still don't fully control many of the districts from which the IS fighters have retreated.



    And Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan (WALL ST. JOURNAL) reported:


    Despite the Iraqi military’s assertion that it was in control of the center and government compound and thus had liberated the city, Al-Sumeria, an Iraqi newspaper, estimated Monday that Islamic State still controlled about 20% of Ramadi, while 25% was contested.
    About 50% of the city was held by security forces, it said, based on its reporters’ visits to the city.


    And IRAQI SPRING MC reported Anbar Provincial Council was also stating Ramadi had only been 80% liberated.




    You are an unruly translucent
    A dirty windshield with a shifting view
    So many cunning running landscapes
    For my dented door to open into
    I just wanna tune out all the billboards
    Weld myself a mental shield
    I just wanna put down all the pressures
    And feel how i really feel

    Just show me a moment that is mine
    Its beauty blinding and unsurpassed
    Make me forget every moment that went by
    And left me so half-hearted
    Cuz i felt it so half-assed

    -- "Half-Assed" written by Ani DiFranco, first appears on her REPRIEVE


    Half-assed.

    Once upon a time to claim you had control of a city, you'd have to have, well, you know, control.

    But in these days of "Here's a trophy for everyone! We're all winners!" you apparently no longer have to control a city to insist that you do.


    When the press goes along with a lie -- and AP, THE WALL ST. JOURNAL and IRAQI SPRING MC are the exception to the non-stop lying since most outlets and Tweeters can't stop insisting that Ramadi is liberated -- it's because the government's going along with the lie.

    While the Iraqi government is going along with the lie, the US government wasn't so quick to hop in bed with the lie as evidenced by this statement the US State Dept issued:


    Press Statement
    John Kerry
    Washington, DC
    December 28, 2015
    We commend the Government of Iraq and the brave Iraqi forces that are displaying tremendous perseverance and courage in this fight to return the capital of Anbar province back to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi military is fighting with determination, courage, and skill to dislodge the enemy and bring closer the day when the city can be returned to families who have fled the terror of ISIL. The United States and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL have proudly supported this effort with training, advice, and equipment, as well as precision airstrikes. That support will continue as the mission in Ramadi is completed and we prepare for post-conflict stabilization.
    As soon as Ramadi fell to ISIL last May, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi developed a comprehensive plan for a counter-offensive. The Coalition met in Paris in early June, where Prime Minister al-Abadi presented his plan, and over a dozen coalition partners answered the call to support it, through training, advising, logistics, and stabilization support. The gains we saw today are a tribute to the prime minister’s strong leadership and his belief in a unified Iraq for all its citizens.
    While Ramadi is not yet fully secure and additional parts of the city still must be retaken, Iraq's national flag now flies above the provincial government center and enemy forces have suffered a major defeat. These gains attest to the growing confidence and capability of Iraqi forces who are fighting bravely against a ruthless adversary employing suicide bombers, snipers, and improvised explosive devices. We honor those among the Iraqi ranks who have made the ultimate sacrifice during this painstaking operation, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. We will continue to support Iraq and its security forces as they complete their work in Ramadi and move to liberate the entire country from ISIL terrorists.
    Dislodging ISIL from areas it has occupied is a central part of Iraq’s security strategy, but it is also vital to rebuild and stabilize the areas that have been liberated. In Ramadi, these efforts will be led by the Iraqi government and coordinated on the ground by Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi and his team. The United States and members of the Coalition have pledged or contributed over $50 million to the UNDP stabilization fund to support these efforts. The stabilization process will be supported by thousands of local police and tribal forces, many of whom have been trained by the Coalition.
    ISIL’s defeat in Ramadi is not an isolated event. It comes after losses this year in Tikrit, Baiji, Sinjar, and across northern Syria. Working with our Iraqi and Syrian partners, the United States and our Coalition will continue to apply relentless pressure and squeeze this barbaric terrorist group across all lines of effort. We will also continue to pursue diplomatic initiatives in Syria aimed at further isolating ISIL and contributing to its ultimate defeat. ‎




    "As the mission is completed," "not yet fully secure and additional parts of the city still must be retaken . . ."



    Let's take a look at  some of the 'reports' from the Judith Miller wing of Twitter:



    Iraqi forces liberate Ramadi from IS after weeklong battle: Iraqi forces announced on Monday that they had lib...




    See iraqi soldiers liberate the city of ramadi from isis



    military liberates - flies national flag.


    Developing now: Iraqi forces scoring a MAJOR victory in city of Ramadi - reports for us now

    Hey, if Fox News said it, it must be . . . suspect.
    And let's note the Judith Miller wing also includes 'reporters' for news outlets who bury the truth -- as did Miller (see "Parody: Rudith Miller" where we noted the way she 'reported' which included burying dissenting voices and facts deep in the article).
    If you look closely,  the bulk of the outlets are lying.
    Lying by emphasis, lying by silence.
    It's not that hard to tell the truth.
    Hell, even  State Dept spokesperson Mark Toner did in today's State Dept press briefing:

    Also, of course, all of you have seen in the news today, but I wanted to note events in Ramadi and the fact that we commend, rather, the Government of Iraq and the brave Iraqi forces that have displayed such tremendous perseverance as well as courage in the fight to return Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, back to the Iraqi people. The coalition has supported this operation every step of the way with hundreds of airstrikes and through our train, advise, and assist program and has assisted Iraqi forces to effectively maneuver and counter ISIL’s maneuvers and tactics in this very complex environment.
    While there’s still clearly a lot of work to be done to reclaim all of Ramadi – the remaining portions of Ramadi – and fully secure the city, and while these operations will take time, Iraqis’ forces gains in the city are dealing a significant blow to ISIL and exemplify the capability of Iraqi Security Forces and the effective coalition air power when working in conjunction with skilled partners on the ground. We think this is indicative of the – that the strategy we’re currently pursuing is having an effect. It is consistent with our national security interests. In order to address this problem over the long term, we need to build up the capacity of Iraqi forces who continue to battle to take back their country from the – from this barbaric organization.
    Paul McLeary makes an ass out of himself at FOREIGN POLICY because he rushes to 'impart' lessons following the 'victory.'  Next time, before the lecture on what will come, maybe he can take a little time to find out what has actually happened?


    McLeary sees the issue of post-liberation in Ramadi to be one of Sunni troops in the city.

    Sunni troops were in the city.

    That didn't stop the Islamic State from getting its toehold in Iraq.

    It got its toehold because Sunnis are persecuted by the central government out of Baghdad.

    They were persecuted when Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister and they are persecuted today.

    Before the Islamic State began seizing territory, this was known if you bothered to look.

    We stated here that this would happen.

    It started in 2010 when the US overruled Iraqi voters and Barack Obama -- via The Erbil Agreement -- gave Nouri a second term when he lost the 2010 elections.

    Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to get the second term but refused to honor it.

    Iraqiya (led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi), the Kurds, the Sunnis (Saleh al-Mutlaq, Osama al-Nujaifi, etc), Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr came together to tell Nouri that if he didn't honor the agreement they would hold a no-confidence vote in the Parliament.

    The Iraqi voters -- including a large number of Sunnis -- voted to evict Nouri.

    And the US government overruled them.

    Their political leaders attempted to reign Nouri in and the US government used Jalal Talabani to derail the vote.

    You've stripped people of their vote, you've rendered their political leaders powerless.

    What' left?

    Taking to the streets.

    December 21st, 2012,  a wave or protests were launched -- protests which would go on through January of 2014 -- ended only by Nouri's attacks on the peaceful protesters  Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) explained the reasons for the protests back in February 2013:


    Protests are raging throughout Iraq...thousands upon thousands are demanding the following :

    - End of Sectarian Shia rule
    - the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
    - the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
    - the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
    - the provision of government services to all
    - the end of corruption
    - no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

    The protests in Anbar, Fallujah, Sammara, Baquba,  Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul...and in different parts of Baghdad stress over and over 1) the spontaneous nature of the "popular revolution against oppression and injustice" 2) its peaceful nature  i.e unarmed  3) the welcoming of ALL to join the protests regardless of sect or ethnicity as ONE Iraqi people and 4) and the March to Baghdad.




    Despite the repeat attacks on the protesters, they stayed in the streets protesting.  The most infamous attack was the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).


    Where was your outrage then, ye who cluck and clutch the pearls over the Islamic State today and pretend that was the starting point and not a response to an abusive government?


    Of course, admitting that fact would be owning your own guilt for refusing to call out Nouri's government in real time when it mattered.


    Some of us did.


    In August of 2013, the International Crisis Group issued "Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State:"



    As events in Syria nurtured their hopes for a political comeback, Sunni Arabs launched an unprecedented, peaceful protest movement in late 2012 in response to the arrest of bodyguards of Rafea al-Issawi, a prominent Iraqiya member. It too failed to provide answers to accumulated grievances. Instead, the demonstrations and the repression to which they gave rise further exacerbated the sense of exclusion and persecution among Sunnis.
    The government initially chose a lacklustre, technical response, forming committees to unilaterally address protesters’ demands, shunning direct negotiations and tightening security measures in Sunni-populated areas. Half-hearted, belated concessions exacerbated distrust and empowered more radical factions. After a four-month stalemate, the crisis escalated. On 23 April, government forces raided a protest camp in the city of Hawija, in Kirkuk province, killing over 50 and injuring 110. This sparked a wave of violence exceeding anything witnessed for five years. Attacks against security forces and, more ominously, civilians have revived fears of a return to all-out civil strife. The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s local expression, is resurgent. Shiite militias have responded against Sunnis. The government’s seeming intent to address a chiefly political issue – Sunni Arab representation in Baghdad – through tougher security measures has every chance of worsening the situation.
    Belittled, demonised and increasingly subject to a central government crackdown, the popular movement is slowly mutating into an armed struggle. In this respect, the absence of a unified Sunni leadership – to which Baghdad’s policies contributed and which Maliki might have perceived as an asset – has turned out to be a serious liability. In a showdown that is acquiring increasing sectarian undertones, the movement’s proponents look westward to Syria as the arena in which the fight against the Iraqi government and its Shiite allies will play out and eastward toward Iran as the source of all their ills.
    Under intensifying pressure from government forces and with dwindling faith in a political solution, many Sunni Arabs have concluded their only realistic option is a violent conflict increasingly framed in confessional terms. In turn, the government conveniently dismisses all opposition as a sectarian insurgency that warrants ever more stringent security measures. In the absence of a dramatic shift in approach, Iraq’s fragile polity risks breaking down, a victim of the combustible mix of its long­standing flaws and growing regional tensions.



    Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazi (CSIS) noted in May of 2013:


    Iraq’s main threats, however, are self-inflicted wounds caused by its political leaders. The 2010 Iraqi elections and the ensuing political crisis divided the nation. Rather than create any form of stable democracy, the fallout pushed Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to consolidate power and become steadily more authoritarian. Other Shi’ite leaders contributed to Iraq’s increasing sectarian and ethnic polarization – as did key Sunni and Kurdish leaders.
    Since that time, a brutal power struggle has taken place between Maliki and senior Sunni leaders, and ethnic tensions have grown between the Arab dominated central government and senior Kurdish leaders in the Kurdish Regional government (KRG). The actions of Iraq’s top political leaders have led to a steady rise in Sunni and Shi’ite violence accelerated by the spillover of the extremism caused by the Syrian civil war. This has led to a level of Shi’ite and Sunni violence that now threatens to explode into a level of civil conflict equal to – or higher than – the one that existed during the worst period of the U.S. occupation.
    This struggle has been fueled by actions of the Iraqi government that many reliable sources indicate have included broad national abuses of human rights and the misuse of Iraqi forces and the Iraqi security services in ways where the resulting repression and discrimination has empowered al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. As a result, the very forces that should help bring security and stability have become part of the threat further destabilized Iraq.


    I'm real sorry that so many didn't give a damn when it mattered.

    I'm real sorry that liars like Robin Morgan -- a figure noted for her anti-Arab views for decades now -- gets to declare war on the Sunnis as she rewrites history and WOMEN'S MEDIA CENTER -- with its diverse board that includes women of all walks of life . . . except . . . Arab women -- let's her get away with it.

    I'm sorry that so many are not only encouraged to be dumb but make the choice to be ignorant and pretend like the Islamic State sprouted for no reason.

    It was a response to the persecution of Sunnis.

    No one else stepped forward.

    The US government tolerated Nouri and his attacks on the Sunnis.

    If you are saying you were surprised that the Islamic State emerged, you're an either an idiot or a liar.

    And until the world can grasp why the Islamic State emerged, they can't fight it.

    You can bomb and you can shoot, but you won't destroy it because you haven't addressed the core problems that allowed this response to emerge.


     In other violence, the US Defense Dept announced:


    Strikes in Iraq
    Coalition forces used rocket artillery, along with fighter, attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 21 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache.
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building and an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Kisik, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bulldozer.
    -- Near Mosul, eight strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles, six ISIL fighting positons, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL checkpoint, and an ISIL tactical vehicle.
    -- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, wounded 12 ISIL fighters, and destroyed seven ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL rocket-propelled grenade positions, an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL staging area and an ISIL vehicle bomb staging area.
    -- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Tal Afar, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL assembly area.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
















    Saturday, December 26, 2015

    Goldie, Diane and Bette

    whatberniewantsforamerica


    That's  Isaiah's  "What Bernie Wants for America."


    Now, new topic.

    Did you see Jury Duty?

    No, you didn't.

    You may have seen a Pauley Shore film by that title.

    But I'm talking about the film that was supposed to star Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton.

    The three starred in the monster hit 9 to 5.

    Yet studios did not rush to put the women back together in a film.

    If that surprises you, think of Thelma & Louise.

    Though not a blockbuster, it was an influential film.

    But there's been no effort to reteam Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.

    As the 90s were winding down, FIRST WIVES CLUB became a huge hit.

    Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler starred.

    It was a hilarious comedy.

    And a blockbuster.

    And the three wanted to work together again.  (Diane and Goldie would team up in Town & Country.)

    But despite that desire and despite frequent attempts to get a project off the ground, nothing happened.

    Now it will.

    Netflix is reteaming the three actresses for a comedy entitled Divanation.

    Hurray!

    I can't wait to see it.



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


    Friday, December 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Christmas is observed in parts of Iraq, international law is ignored by the US State Dept, and much more.




    Today, RT Tweets the following information:



    Link to headline article




    The tensions between the two governments is only increasing.



    Thursday, the Arab Leauge weighed in on a matter that's caused controversy throughout this month: Turkish troops in Iraq.  TODAY'S ZAYMAN brings everyone up to speed:



    Earlier in December Turkey sent a contingent of additional forces to bolster its military presence in the Bashiqa camp near Mosul to train local forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The move prompted a backlash in Iraq, sparking a diplomatic spat between Ankara and Baghdad. Last week, the Iraqi government brought the issue to the UN Security Council to demand the unconditional and full withdrawal of Turkish troops.
    At first, Ankara said it deployed forces in coordination with the central government in Baghdad. The Iraqi authorities said they had never invited such a force and it happened without its approval and knowledge. To defuse tension, Ankara partially withdrew its forces from the camp and re-stationed them further north in the Kurdish region.
    Unsatisfied with that, Baghdad pressed for the withdrawal of all Turkish troops, a demand yet to be met.



    And yesterday?  SPUTNIK reports, "Turkey must withdraw immediately all its troops from Iraq without any preconditions, a statement unanimously adopted by members of the Arab League said Thursday."  AFP notes:

    The Turkish deployment "is an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to Arab national security," they said in an Arab League statement after meeting at the pan-Arab bloc's Cairo headquarters.
    Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Heli read out the statement at a press conference, in which he added that the Turkish troops "increased tumult in the region."



    Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari reports SPUTNIK, told the Arab League, "We are not threatening for now. But if our security and integrity is continued to be threatened, I will use all legal means to respond to the attack. Every option is on the table."





    The issue had been raised most recently at the US State Dept's Monday briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.



    QUESTION: Iraq, John? On the situation in Bashiqa. Last Friday --

    MR KIRBY: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Last Friday, the President Obama made a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan on this issue again. And according to the readout, the U.S. side urged the Turkish side to withdraw all its forces from Iraq. Do you have any update on this? Is – the withdrawal is achieved over the weekend, according to your --

    MR KIRBY: If what was achieved?

    QUESTION: The withdrawal of the Turkish forces is achieved?

    MR KIRBY: I don’t have an update on Turkish military movements. I think you should – I would refer you to the Turkish Government for specifics on that. What we have said is we’re encouraged by the dialogue between the two countries, and we’ve seen the reports of Turkey’s intent to withdraw. We welcome that, because the third point I’d say – we’ve always made this clear – is that whatever military activity is going on inside Iraq needs to be done with the approval of the sovereign Iraqi Government. And so our view is we want this worked out bilaterally between the two countries. We’re encouraged by the dialogue that they’ve had and the progress they seem to have made. But I can’t give you a up-to-date tick-tock on exactly where Turkish troops are right now. I don’t know.

    QUESTION: Yeah, but the Iraqis brought this issue to UN Security Council also. It’s not anymore a bilateral issue. So as a chairman of the council – I mean this month, U.S. – what is the U.S. position on this issue? Is there any timeframe for the withdrawal, for example, or I mean – because the Iraqis are – I mean, it’s said that – Foreign Minister Jafari – they will carry on the process until the full withdrawal is achieved.

    MR KIRBY: I understand. And they have every right to pursue their sovereign ends the way they believe they need to pursue them. Our view is that we would prefer to see this worked out bilaterally. It appears that that is what is happening, and we want to see that continue.

    QUESTION: No. If there will be no withdrawal until a specific time, there will be a condemnation from the council, for example? Any specific --

    MR KIRBY: I’m not going to speculate about an action the council hasn’t taken yet. And I don’t speak for the UN. I know we’re the president, but I speak for the State Department and for Secretary Kerry. Our view is we want this resolved bilaterally. They continue to have discussions and talk through this, and we think that’s the right approach. But as exactly where Turkish troops are right now, you’d have to talk to the Turkish Government.

    QUESTION: Yeah. Last one on this. One of the arguments that the Turks raised on this issue: If the Turks will withdraw from the region, ISIL is – will be replacing the Turkish forces in the region. Is it a reasonable argument, do you think? I mean, can ISIS, for example, fulfill the gap in the region after the withdrawal?

    MR KIRBY: As I understand it – and again, I’m not going to speak to Turkish military activities. But as I understand it, it’s a training presence that they have there. And I don’t know of any – of any training mission that ISIL’s taken on with respect to forces in northern Iraq, so I don’t see how you can compare the two. But again, you’d have to talk to Turkey about what they’re doing with their troops and on what timeframe.

    We continue to want to see the sovereign integrity of Iraq respected and for military activity inside Iraq to be done with the full approval of the Abadi government, as ours is. And we want these two countries to work this out between themselves. Again, they appear to be doing that and we’re encouraged by that. Okay?




    John Kirby lies on behalf of the State Dept -- there's no polite way to put it.

    When Turkey began bombing northern Iraq (again) this year, Iraq's government objected and the US State Dept -- and Kirby himself -- gave Turkey a pass.  They did more than that.  Kirby went on record stating Turkey had a right to bomb northern Iraq in order to 'protect' and 'defend' itself.

    That was Turkey's "right," according to Kirby and the US State Dept but Iraq does not appear to have the right to insist Turkish troops leave Iraq -- not in the eyes of the State Dept.


    This should not be a 'both sides' issue.

    Does a nation-state have the right to demand foreign troops leave its territory or not?

    If it does have that right -- and the history of law and treaties says it does -- then the only answer is for the US government to support the legal right of Iraq's government to demand that Turkish troops leave Iraq.

    This is not a gray area.

    This is established law that's been in place for centuries.


    And it seems like the US government has been bombing Iraq for centuries but the latest wave of bombings only began in August 2014.  It continues with the US Defense Dept noting yesterday:


    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and 24 ISIL rockets.

    -- Near Kisik, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck seven separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 24 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL assembly area.

    - Near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, five ISIL command and control nodes, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL bed-down location, an ISIL artillery site, cratered five ISIL-used roads and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.



    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.



    December 25th is Christmas, celebrated throughout the world -- including in Iraq.


    Yesterday, ALSUMARIA reported that the Chaldean Church in Kirkuk held mass.  NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY adds that Ayad Allawi issued a statment congratulating the Iraqi people and Muslims and Christians throughout the world on the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed and on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ while hoping  that the coming year finds Iraq free of the "scourge of war" and terrorism and that the country -- and the world -- can strive towards the teachings of tolerance in Islam and Christianity.  He declared that attempts to purge the region of Christians should be seen as an attack on Muslims as well and the unity of the entire community.



    ALL IRAQ NEWS notes that Christmas services were held in Baghdad today.





     
     
     


     
     
     





    mass in the mountains of .
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    ALSUMARIA offers a photo essay of Christmas service in Baghdad.


















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