Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pathetic

He said he'd close Guantanamo, remember?

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) does:

Much has been made in the media about Obama confronting a challenge to his “legacy” in failing to remove the Guantanamo provisions from the spending bill.
On his first full day in office, the Democratic president announced an executive order promising to close down the prison camp within one year. This will be the sixth Pentagon budget in a row that he has signed precluding such a shutdown. The restrictions were first put in place by a Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
The latest legislation not only bans the transfer of prisoners to the US, but also prohibits their being sent to third countries, including Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.
Approaching the end of his second term, Obama has yet to present any plan to Congress for closing Guantanamo, and there is speculation that he could issue an executive order claiming the power as “commander in chief” to determine the fate of the detainees without congressional approval.

I never fell for Barack.

Fake ass.

But a lot of people did.

And what I wonder is what exactly it will take for them to admit they were wrong?

He's disgusting.

He's the worst.



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


Thursday, November 12, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the UN Security Council hears about Iraq, John Kerry spins in public, the Peshmerga continue to try to take Sinjar, Nouri al-Maliki talks to the press, and much more.



Wednesday, the US Defense Dept offered:


Airstrikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Mosul, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL excavator, two ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL buildings, and an ISIL 23mm anti-aircraft artillery piece.
-- Near Sinjar, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL command and control nodes, three ISIL vehicles, and 18 ISIL staging areas.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Huwayjah, four strikes struck an ISIL headquarters, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL logistical facility, and an ISIL security headquarters.


-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings, three ISIL weapons caches, and three ISIL fighting positions.

And the airstrikes were apparently so successful or so much fun that DoD announced today:


Strikes in Iraq

Bomber, fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 40 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Albu Hayat, one strike, struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL command-and-control node and two ISIL weapons caches.

-- Near Kisik, two strikes struck two separate ISIL staging areas.

-- Near Mosul, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL buildings, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL excavator, two other ISIL vehicles, two ISIL bomb clusters, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, 24 strikes struck nine separate ISIL tactical units, nine ISIL staging areas, and destroyed 27 fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL bomb, six ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL vehicle-borne bombs, two ISIL command and control nodes, an ISIL bunker, two ISIL caches, four ISIL staging areas, and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun.


-- Near Tal Afar, six strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, three ISIL staging areas, an ISIL bridge, and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL observation post, and two ISIL bunkers.


And the airstrikes will continue tomorrow.


They've gone on daily  since August . . .


of last year.


They've accomplished nothing of value and only a fool would think that they might.

At this late date, only a professional idiot would still hold out hope of something coming from these bombings.


Yesterday the United Nations Security Council heard about Iraq.  The UN notes:


Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi faces “immense challenges” to his efforts to bring reconciliation and broaden the political process in his strife-torn nation, confronting obstacles from all sides, the top United Nations official in the country warned the Security Council today.
“Since taking office (a year ago), the Prime Minister has been struggling to exercise his authority while his opponents grow bolder,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Ján Kubiš told the Council, presenting the latest UN report on the country. “Meanwhile, the scope and impact of the reforms have not met public expectations.”
“Despite hopes that he would be able to move national reconciliation forward and bring the broader Sunni community into the political process, the Prime Minister's efforts have been obstructed by elements within all Iraqi components, the main reasons being lack of trust and vested interests.”


We'll note this from Jan Kubis' testimony:


Special Representative Jan Kubis:  In July, when the country was experiencing record high temperatures and repeated electricity cuts, popular demonstrations erupted to protest the poor delivery of services in Baghdad and the southern governorates. By early August, the demonstrations had grown in strength and numbers. The protests have recurred each Friday and are led by civil society groups and young people, who are demanding better services, better governance and an end to government corruption and mismanagement. The protesters' demands for reform gained momentum when, on 7 August, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take decisive action against corruption, improve the Government’s performance, reduce public sector expenditure and publicly name officials who are impeding reforms. On 9 August, Prime Minister al-Abadi announced a reform plan to address the economic and social needs of Iraq, counter corruption and strengthen democratic institutions. The plan included downsizing the Government to reduce public expenditure and improve State performance, abolishing the posts of Vice-President and deputy prime ministers as well as a number of senior officials in various ministries, reducing their salaries, protecting services, and judicial reform. The reform plan was unanimously endorsed by the Council of Ministers just hours after the Prime Minister's announcement. On 11 August, the Council of Representatives unanimously approved Prime Minister al-Abadi's first package of reforms and its own reform package to complement the Prime Minister's measures. The Council of Representatives also stated that the reforms should be in conformity with the Constitution of Iraq and other laws.  Following the endorsement by the Council of Representatives of the reform packages, Prime Minister al-Abadi began reducing the number of Government personnel. On 16 August, he ordered the immediate abolishment of his deputies' posts, the reduction of the Council of Ministers from 34 to 22 members and the dissolution of the Ministries of Human Rights, Women's Affairs, and Municipalities and Public Works. He also ordered the merging of Ministries with similar specialized functions: Science and Technology with Higher Education and Scientific Research; Environment with Health; Municipalities and Public Works with Housing; and Tourism and Antiquities with Culture. On 20 August, the Prime Minister announced a 90 percent reduction in the number of personnel dedicated to providing protection for Government officials. On 9 September, he announced the dismissal of 123 senior officials from their posts. They were to either retire or have their administrative status adjusted.  The Prime Minister also took steps to formalize the abolition of the posts of the Vice- Presidents. On 20 August, he ceased the payment of their financial entitlements and on 15 September, the Council of Ministers submitted to the Council of Representatives a draft law to aboli sh their posts. All three Vice - Presidents publicly stated that they considered the abolition of their posts unconstitutional. 8 . The Government took steps t o initiate inquiries into allegations of political corruption. On 15 August, the Presidency of the Council of Representatives referred to outstanding cases of corruption against staff in the Ministries of Defence and Commerce concerning the award of arms contracts. The day before, the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Hassan al-Yassiri, had announced that travel bans had been instituted against those under investigation for corruption.



So there's real movement on the political front?  That's the story?


Nope.


Special Representative Jan Kubis: Most of the priority legislation that would aid national reconciliation, however, remained pending in Parliament. Votes on the national guard law were postponed on 30 August and again on 7 September owing to disagreements between parliamentary blocs over its provisions. Additionally, no progress was made towards the enactment of a general amnesty law since its first reading on 5 July. Meanwhile, the National Reconciliation Committee of the Council of Representatives separated the Justice and Accountability and Banning of the Baath Party Act into two bills on 25 July. While the Council of Representatives concluded, on 30 July, the first reading of the draft law on the banning of the Baath Party, dissolved entities and parties, and the activities of racism, terrorism and takfir (charge of unbelief), no voting took place on legislation that would revise de-baathification measures. On 15 September, the Council of Ministers decided to withdraw and review all draft laws submitted to the Council of Representatives by the previous Government. This amounted to some 80 draft bills, including the draft anti-terrorism law of 2005.



Before US President Barack Obama became enthralled with airstrikes, he was fond of pointing out that the only answer to Iraq's various crises was a "political solution."  June 19, 2014, he was proud of declaring that publicly.

Yet when he began the current wave/latest wave of the Iraq War (August 2014, less than two months later), he was obsessed with bombings and completely forgot about the need for a political solution.


Bombing has passed for a 'plan.'


Who thinks Barack's 'plan' is working at this point?

Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki has waded into the discussion and called out the US.  He says there's no way the Islamic State could survive these bombings and fears some nations (he means the US in that "some") want to see the Islamic State succeed.


Barack looks like an idiot because he's set himself up to be.

In June 2014, he was full of talk about how this would require a political solution -- Iraq's crises -- and how this or that (military actions) would not fix the problems.

And the bombings weren't intended to.

Until Barack lost any interest in a political solution.

That was somewhere around the time the US State Dept began acting as an auxiliary to the US Defense Dept and you had Brett McGurk acting like Military Wanna Be McJerk and focusing on everything but the political issues at stake in Iraq (which can mainly be boiled down to a lack of inclusion).

Barack's 'plan' is a failure and he's got no one to blame but himself.

He needs to realize that as Nouri continues to serve him up to the press.


RT notes:


Nouri al-Maliki, who stepped down as the head of the Iraqi government last year and remains a vice-president, believes that Iraq was targeted by a “regional conspiracy” and is at risk of breaking up. He also said inviting Russia to target Islamic State targets in Iraq could play a positive part in the debacle.
Describing the effort of the international coalition led by the US to cripple ISIS fighters in Iraq, Maliki said it was “inefficient”.
“It's unbelievable and unacceptable that more than 60 nations comprising this coalition that have the most modern aircraft and weapons at their disposal have been conducting their campaign in Iraq for 14 months and IS still remains in the country,” he told RT's Arabic-language sister-channel Rusiya Al-Yaum.



Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the so-called US Institute of Peace.

There, he pretended to be concerned and fair.  On Iraq, which he briefly noted, he zoomed in on the Islamic State and declared that their " fighters have been abducting, raping, and auctioning off women and girls, even teaching that the abuse of underage, non-Muslim girls is not only acceptable but a form of prayer, an expression of the will of God. That is how perverse this has become. And they have urged followers and affiliates from across the globe to murder their neighbors, to commit homicides and suicide at the same time."


At Wednesday's UN Security Council briefing on Iraq, Jan Kubis also noted the actions of the Islamic State.

Unlike John Kerry, Kubis didn't leave it at just the Islamic State.



Special Representative Jan Kubis:  UNAMI also continued to receive reports alleging that pro-Government armed groups and militias had perpetrated human rights violations. Members of the Sunni Arab community were targeted in particular, primarily in Diyala. On 12 August, approximately 50 members of the Sunni Arab community were abducted in Baquba District, Diyala Governorate; at least 17 of the bodies were found in the Diyala River later the same day. Many of the abductions reportedly took place at or near checkpoints manned by Iraqi security forces and associated forces. On 1 September, militia members allegedly abducted at least 40 persons of Sunni Arab origin near Balad District, Salah al - Din. The fate and whereabouts of the abductees are unknown. Reports were also received of persons in Peshmerga uniform destroying homes and structures in Sunni Arab-inhabited areas in Jalawla, Diyala Governorate, on or around 16 August. 



Poor John Kerry, such the hypocrite.




In other news, Charlie D'Agata (CBS Evening News -- link is text and video) reports:



Kurdish Peshmerga troops, backed by 36 American airstrikes, moved to take the town of Sinjar. They seized part of a highway used by ISIS to ferry supplies from Raqqa, its stronghold in Syria, to Mosul, an Iraqi city of more than 1 million people.
The battle to reclaim Sinjar began in the air. U.S. airstrikes pounded suspected ISIS targets throughout the day. Thick smoke hung over the city, and ISIS fighters lit banks of tires to try and block the bombers' visibility. 



On this topic, David Sim (IBT) announces, "Kurdish fighters, backed by US-led air strikes, have captured several villages in an attempt to retake the Iraqi town of Sinjar from Islamic State (Isis) militants who overran it more than a year ago. Thousands of Yazidis living in Sinjar were killed and enslaved by IS, causing the flight of tens of thousands of people. This focused international attention on the Islamist group's violent campaign to impose its radical ideology, and prompted the US to launch air strikes against the militants."

Of course, the announcement's a little late in coming since they've been attempting to retake Sinjar since before August 2014 -- if anyone bothers to remember that.


Sri Lanka's The Nation newspaper explains, "The town sits on an important highway Islamic State uses to ferry supplies from Raqqa, Syria to Mosul in northern Iraq. Islamic State seized the city last summer in a major offensive, widening its self-described caliphate to about an hour’s drive from the Kurdish capital, Erbil."  AFP adds, "Kurdish forces and the U.S. military said the number of Islamic State fighters in the town had increased to nearly 600 after reinforcements arrived in the run-up to the offensive, which has been expected for weeks but delayed by weather and friction between various Kurdish and Yazidi forces in Sinjar."

So 600.  And they need to undertake (another) massive mission?

How many Peshmerga have been sent in to take on the 600?

Jim Michaels (USA Today) reports there are 7,500 Peshmerga that have been sent in.

So basically, they've sent in 15 times the number of Islamic State fighters.

BBC News is alone in reminding of just how long this 're-taking' has actually already taken:  "The IS attack on Sinjar in August 2014 was one of the reasons the US began air strikes against IS positions in Iraq, amid a warning of genocide." Mike Giglio (BuzzFeed) reports:


To promote the offensive, Kurdish officials have put their press program on overdrive. They quietly arranged to have a flock of international journalists on hand for the offensive’s start, bringing them to Sinjar in convoys on Wednesday. Even a hashtag — #FreeSinjar — was a preplanned part of the operation. A KRG official pushed journalists to include it in their tweets; he requested to speak to at least one organization’s social media editor directly.
The public relations push may also be aimed in part at internecine politics. The PKK, the Turkish insurgent group classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. government, did much to stem the losses in Sinjar in August 2014 and halt the ISIS advance. PKK fighters have remained in the area, doing some of the most grueling house-to-house fighting to help clear ISIS from the town. But their presence has also rankled KRG leaders who suspect the group of wanting to carve out its own influence. The Sinjar offensive was reportedly delayed in part due to bickering between the peshmerga and PKK over who would be credited for the win.
For those who would like audio, Mike Giglio participated in a segment of PRI's The World today and you can click here (and scroll to mid-page) for Jim Muir's video report for BBC News.. Video, audio and transcript options are available with The NewsHour report Gwen Ifill anchored.












pri

How do you judge a movie star?

I'm asking the question because there have probably been 50,000 people in the US that have been proclaimed as movie stars and most of us would be lucky to name a couple of hundred.

And I'm asking because I'm thinking of Lana Turner.

I'm not a Lana devotee.

I love The Postman Always Rings Twice and love her in that movie.

But I also love Imitation of Life.

And Madame X but even more so Imitation of Life which is one of the few early films that deals with racism (also true of the earlier Claudette Colbert version).

Those three movies remain classics today and I doubt Imitation of Life will ever stop being watched.

So is that what makes a movie star?

Participating in classic films?

Jane Fonda, for example, has given some outstanding performances over the years.

But Faye Dunaway's appeared in more classic films.  (And that's not to insult Faye, she's a great actress herself.)

So is Faye going to be the one remembered 50 years from now?

I guess I'm asking because I was talking about movies with a friend last week and I happened to mention Jean Harlow.

Who?

And this is a lady who knows her movies.

In the sixties, Harlow was the topic of dueling film bios.

And now it's come to "Who?"

So I'm just wondering.



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


Tuesday, November 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, bombs continue to fall on Iraq, the US government may be prepared to pay pennies for the deaths of civilians but neither they nor the Pentagon press corps want to acknowledge Sunday's civilian deaths, the IMF prepares to take over Iraq, and much more.



The violence never ends in Iraq.  Today, the US Defense Dept issued the following brag:


Strikes in Iraq

Bomber, fighter, and attack aircraft conducted 16 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 homemade explosives cache, two ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL boat.

-- Near Fallujah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL anti-air artillery piece.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL heavy machine guns, 15 ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL mortar, an ISIL building, damaged another ISIL building, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, seven strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 30 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL light machine guns, and an ISIL command-and-control node.


-- Near Tal Afar, two strikes destroyed six ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL light machine gun position.


The bombs keep falling but the White House tries to pretend the war is over.









  • At today's US Defense Dept press briefing, Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook was asked about the airstrikes.


    Q: And in terms of the figures that have come out in the last week that the U.S. is carrying out 95 percent of the airstrikes in Syria, 78 percent of the airstrikes if you include Iraq and Syria -- are those figures accurate? And does the U.S. still plan to shoulder the -- the -- the bulk of these airstrikes? Or are you trying to get other allies to pick up some of the air war?


    MR. COOK: Well, as you know, Jennifer, we continue to work with the -- with a substantial and large coalition, and those coalition members are contributing in a host of ways -- not just in terms of aircraft.

    But -- but some of those nations -- many of those nations -- do continue to engage in airstrikes on behalf of the coalition. But that's not all they're doing.

    Some have provided bases with which to carry out the fight against ISIL. Some have provided financial support for this effort, training, as well. So there's a whole host of ways in which these coalition members have -- have stepped up.

    Yes, it's true, the United States has conducted most of the -- a significant number of the -- of the airstrikes to date. There have been more than 8,000 to date.




    Spin, spin, spin.

    That's what Cook served up and what the American press swallowed.


    No one raised the issue of Sunday's deaths.


    National Iraqi News Agency reported "the International Coalition Aircraft" launched an airstrike in Mosul which killed "11 civilians, including six children, and wounding five others."


    Barbara Starr and her contemporaries aren't interested in shaking the boat.


    They just want to parrot whatever lie the Defense Dept feeds them.


    Spin, spin, spin.


    They don't want reality.  Earlier this week, Press TV notes, "The Pentagon is ready to compensate the families of Iraqis killed by American bombs during US airstrikes against purported Daesh (ISIL) positions there, a new report says."  They're cribbing from Kate Brannen's Daily Beast report which notes:

    The Pentagon is about to get a $5 million fund to pay the Iraqi families of civilians killed by American airstrikes. It’s a big change for the U.S. military, which has yet to publicly acknowledge accidentally killing or wounding any innocents in the country even after 3,586 airstrikes targeting the so-called Islamic State.


    The US government, repeating "has yet to publicly acknowledge accidentally killing or wounding any innocents."

    But they do and now they've got the slush fund to toss a few pennies at the family members of the dead and wounded in an attempt to shut them up.  Al Bawaba explains:

    The fund for Iraq falls under a program that is actually intended for Afghanistan-- dubbed the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP).
    Under CERP, US commanders can approve up to $2,500 per person or damaged property, but higher-ups are allowed to sign bigger sums if needed.
    This means the US could hand out up to 2,000 “condolence payments” to Iraqis over the next year.



    Pennies tossed at the families of the dead and wounded in an attempt to assuage guilt.



    In other violence on Monday, Press TV reports a Sabaa al-Bour bombing left 3 people dead and eight more wounded, a bombing in Baghdad's Husseinia neighborhood left 3 more dead and seven more injured, a third Baghdad bombing left 2 people dead and seven more injured while 2 people were shot dead in Baghdad.  Alsumaria reports two security officers were shot in Basra, 1 Peshmerga was shot dead outside Kirkuk,



    There's talk of other shootings -- of US involvement in other shootings.  But the Pentagon is denying this.



    Q: There's a media report today that alludes to the fact that there are U.S. Marine snipers in Fallujah taking out ISIS.

    Are you -- are there any U.S. Marines in Fallujah working as snipers? Or I guess, in Anbar, operating as snipers, to your knowledge?



    MR. COOK: To my knowledge, there are not -- I was made aware of that media report, and my understanding is that it's not accurate, that there are no Marines operating in that way.


    Q: Are there any U.S. Marines acting as snipers, I mean, anywhere in Iraq? Are you -- I guess even, any service of any snipers?

    Is there anything to it that -- to this report at all?



    MR. COOK: You know, honestly, I asked about this specific -- or I was made aware of this specific report, and was told that there's nothing to support the stories.

    So, that's -- that's the only reference I know of, and again, my understanding is that it's not an accurate report.




    If you paid close attention, Cook denied the "specific" allegation but did not deny that US Marines might be snipers "anywhere in Iraq."


    Spin, spin, spin.


    There's success in Iraq.


    Just around the corner.


    Yes, you know it's quagmire time when they again trot out that tired cliche.


    Back to the DoD press briefing.


    Q: This morning, Colonel Warren said in Baghdad that ISIL was losing ground and he was talking to reporters, I think at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraqi reporters, and he said that the Iraqi security forces get much of the credit for that. Is the Pentagon satisfied that the Iraqi security forces have worked out all of the issues that have been raising concerns over time and that they are now poised to go ahead and make the push against the Islamic state that many had hoped they would make before now? Or is this just another step in the process?



    MR. COOK: I think -- I'm not sure exactly what Steve was referring to, but I think we've been pretty clear, the secretary's been pretty clear that the Iraqi security forces -- some in particular have made significant strides forward, but that overall, that there's still deficiencies. That's one reason they need support from the United States.

    Some of their forces, the counter-terrorism forces have shown particular skill and resiliency. Those forces in particular that have received recent U.S. training have shown advances on the battlefield, but the Iraqi security forces obviously still need enhancements, still need additional training and -- and they need to improve their overall effectiveness.

    But I think it is safe to say that some of them have shown strides, but this is going to be a step in the process. I don't think the government of Iraq would say that their security forces are where they need to be at this moment in time.




    Q: Just a really quick follow-up. Does the training process for the U.S. shift to get them to them to the next level or is it sufficient for what is needed from them now? And if, of course, they demonstrate the need for more advanced training down the road, the U.S. would invest more money in that process?



    MR. COOK: I think we're dealing with the situation we have right now. The training that's taking place right now is designed to improve their -- enhance their effectiveness. A good example, some of the training they're getting right now in dealing with the IEDs around Ramadi, counter-IED training, good example of specific U.S. capabilities that are being brought to bear, that kind of training for Iraqis.

    But there's -- if there need to be adjustments going forward, I'm sure there will be. But we're working closely with our Iraqi counterparts to make that happen. And again, some of their units have shown greater effectiveness and resiliency than some of their others, and those in particular that have received some of that U.S. training have proven to be the most effective in the battle space in recent weeks.




    Fred Lambert (UPI) documents many claims that Iraqi forces are on the verge of entering Ramadi.

    And maybe they are.

    They've only been trying to since May, after all.  At some point, they're bound to have to be on the verge of entering Ramadi.


    As Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) observed earlier this week:


    Iraqi forces’ hopes of recapturing the city of Ramadi from the Islamic State have stalled, largely because their efforts to cut resupply routes into the city of nearly 1 million have failed.
    Iraqi planners had hoped a cordon around the city, the capital of Anbar province, Iraq’s largest, would prevent the Islamic State from being able to prepare for a long siege. But local military commanders, residents and analysts say the Iraqi forces were unable to maintain the cordon and that the Islamic State has been able to resupply.

    Iraqi officials have announced a new operation to retake the city nearly every week since the Islamic State routed its defenders last spring. But despite the vows, it’s become clear that the government has neither the manpower nor the training to conduct an offensive in a huge city that remains packed with civilians. The Islamic State apparently has succeeded in keeping civilians from fleeing.



    Meanwhile, Alsumaria reports that Baghdad is opening its  doors to some refugees from Anbar Province.  This might seem a good thing except for the fact that Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, has long claimed Baghdad was already open to Anbar refugees.

    Equally true, countries around the world are taking in refugees from the region and northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, has taken in over two million refugees.

    All that's happening in Baghdad is what the law should have always allowed -- a point many Iraqi MPs have already made.



    In other news, they pretend to be in awe of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani but they ignore him frequently.  He has repeatedly warned in the last months against foreign money and how it could be used to control Iraq.


    No one in charge listened.




















  • Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    How can she protect the country when she can't protect her inbox?

    The Washington Beacon reports Hillary was warned in the first months of her tenure as Secretary of State that her Blackberry was not safe to communicate on:


    According to internal emails about Boswell’s memo, released with significant redactions to the Competitive Enterprise Institute in response to an open records request, intelligence suggested that Clinton’s BlackBerry was vulnerable to monitoring or intrusion during her first trip abroad as secretary of state.
    A redacted sentence in the memo “indicates [that State’s diplomatic security division] have intelligence concerning this vulnerability during her recent trip to Asia,” according to an email from Boswell’s executive assistant.
    Clinton told Boswell that she “gets it,” according to that email. However, Clinton has also said that she used a personal email address instead of an official government one so that she could receive emails on her BlackBerry.

    At least 300 of those emails contained information that has since been deemed classified. Clinton says they were not marked as such at the time, but the nondisclosure agreements she signed upon taking the job made her responsible for ascertaining the classification status of information in her possession.

    She couldn't even protect her inbox.

    The woman who can't protect (or won't protect) her own e-mails is suddenly up for the job of protecting the United States?

    I don't think so.


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



    Monday, November 9, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government continues dropping bombs on Iraq but makes plans to toss a few pennies for the lives of civilians they've killed, the six-month attempt to retake Ramadi remains a failure, a call emerges for Haider al-Abadi to resign as prime minister, and much more.



    Starting with a Tweet:







  • So sad and heartbreaking at what's happening in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan with these never ending wars



  • Never-ending indeed.

    In the ongoing Iraq War, the US Defense Dept announced today:



    Strikes in Iraq

    Bomber, fighter, and attack aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed another fighting position.

    -- Near Mosul, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL building, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL fighting position.



    -- Near Sinjar, four strikes destroyed two ISIL command and control nodes, 12 ISIL fighting positions, and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.


    Today,  Press TV noted, "The Pentagon is ready to compensate the families of Iraqis killed by American bombs during US airstrikes against purported Daesh (ISIL) positions there, a new report says."  They're cribbing from Kate Brannen's Daily Beast report which notes:


    The Pentagon is about to get a $5 million fund to pay the Iraqi families of civilians killed by American airstrikes. It’s a big change for the U.S. military, which has yet to publicly acknowledge accidentally killing or wounding any innocents in the country even after 3,586 airstrikes targeting the so-called Islamic State.


    The US government, repeating "has yet to publicly acknowledge accidentally killing or wounding any innocents."

    But they do and now they've got the slush fund to toss a few pennies at the family members of the dead and wounded in an attempt to shut them up.  Justin Salhani (Think Progress) adds, "The number of casualties is also likely to increase in the coming weeks as the Obama administration steps up the air campaign against ISIS."

    What could finally end the Iraq War?

    Massive protests.

    In the meantime, some may hang their hopes on the US Congress.



    Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted this morning, "A group of bipartisan House lawmakers are calling for Congress to vote on the escalating U.S. wars in Iraq and Syria. More than a year after the United States launched airstrikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Congress has yet to vote on authorizing force. The Obama administration has controversially claimed their actions are covered by the 2001 congressional vote authorizing force against al-Qaeda. The open letter calling for a vote was signed by members of both parties, including Democratic Congressmembers Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern and John Lewis, and members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus. The lawmakers said they 'do not share the same policy prescriptions' but do share the belief it’s 'past time' for a vote on the wars."



    Goodman managed to put her meaty paw on the scales yet again -- while pretending to practice journalism.  Did you notice?  She gave three names.  All Democrats.

    We'll note this press release that US House Rep Tom Cole's office issued  on Friday:



    Nov 6, 2015


    Washington, D.C. – A broad, bipartisan coalition of 35 House lawmakers called on Speaker Ryan today to schedule and debate an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as quickly as possible following the recent announcement by President Obama of a deepening entanglement in Syria and Iraq.
    The letter to Speaker Ryan is led by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole, (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Welch (D-VT), and John Lewis (D-GA). 
    “Last week, the president announced [that] the U.S. will deploy a U.S. Special Operations contingent into northern Syria to be embedded with and to advise opposition militant forces in that region; and U.S. military advisors and special operations forces already in Iraq will be embedded with Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the front lines of combat,” the lawmakers wrote, calling the move part of “a significant escalation in U.S. military operations in the region” that places “U.S. military personnel on the front lines of combat operations.”
    “We do not share the same policy prescriptions for U.S. military engagement in the region, but we do share the belief that it is past time for the Congress to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and vote on an AUMF that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on U.S. military engagement in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region,” the lawmakers added. 
    “Congress can no longer ask our brave service men and women to continue to serve in harm’s way while we fail in carrying out our constitutional responsibility in the area of war and peace,” the lawmakers concluded. “As long as the House fails to assert its constitutional prerogatives and authority, the Administration may continue to expand the mission and level of engagement of U.S. Armed Forces throughout the region. We strongly urge you, Mr. Speaker, to bring an AUMF to the floor of the House as quickly as possible.”
    Other Members signing the letter are Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), John Conyers (D-MI), Joe Crowley (D-NY), John Abney Culberson (R-TX), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), John Garamendi (D-CA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Richard L. Hanna (R-NY), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Bill Posey (R-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Ted S. Yoho (R-FL), and Ryan K. Zinke (R-MT).
    The full letter, sent today, can be found here.




    If they were to vote, it would be the first authorization for war Congress had voted on since 2002 when they voted to authorize the Iraq War.  Shira Schoenberg (MassLive) adds, "McGovern, an opponent of expanded use of military force in Iraq and Syria, previously introduced a resolution that would have required the U.S. to withdraw troops from Iraq and Syria and end U.S. airstrikes there."


    In the meantime, Operation Inherent Failure stumbles on.


    Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) offers a clear-eyed look at reality, one which opens:

     Iraqi forces’ hopes of recapturing the city of Ramadi from the Islamic State have stalled, largely because their efforts to cut resupply routes into the city of nearly 1 million have failed.
    Iraqi planners had hoped a cordon around the city, the capital of Anbar province, Iraq’s largest, would prevent the Islamic State from being able to prepare for a long siege. But local military commanders, residents and analysts say the Iraqi forces were unable to maintain the cordon and that the Islamic State has been able to resupply.
    Iraqi officials have announced a new operation to retake the city nearly every week since the Islamic State routed its defenders last spring. But despite the vows, it’s become clear that the government has neither the manpower nor the training to conduct an offensive in a huge city that remains packed with civilians. The Islamic State apparently has succeeded in keeping civilians from fleeing.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/middle-east/article43768743.html#storylink=cpy



    Some offer clear eyed truths, some offer xenophobia (with typo sprinkles):









  • US should never have entered Iraq at all! Let thise backwards countries manage themselves. #oil#bush






  • I'm sorry but Iraq is not a backward place.

    If you're unhappy with who is in charge?

    Guess what?


     So are the Iraqi people.

    Do you think they wanted to be ruled by Iraqi exiles who spent decades outside of Iraq but showed up after the US invasion and the US government made them 'leaders'?


    Or how about the 'brain drain'?


    The violence -- that the Bully Boy Bush White House encouraged (and that Barack Obama appears to encourage as well through the inept Operation Inherent Failure) -- led to what was labeled as the 'brain drain' -- Iraq's intellectuals, doctors, etc, leaving the country.


    And let's note the reality of the corruption of so many 'leaders' in Iraq that the US government has backed (and often installed).


    Related,  Susannah George (AP) reports at least 69 people have died from electrocution as flash floods met faulty wiring and poor construction. George notes:

    Many died in their homes as they waded through flooded first-floor rooms. Others, like the al-Qurayshi sisters, were electrocuted in the city streets where electrical lines are haphazard and jerry-rigged, connecting homes to the municipal grid and a network of generators. Most homes in Baghdad only receive nine to 14 hours of electricity a day from the government. While the rainy Iraqi winter has only just begun, this year's death toll is already higher than last year's, when fewer than 60 were killed by electrocution amid widespread floods.


    These were preventable deaths.

    The government should have ensured public safety.

    Instead of pouring money into the crumbling infrastructure, the officials stole the money time and again which is why Transparency International regularly ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt governments in the world.


    The current government of Haider al-Abadi isn't seen as a great deal better than the previous government of thug Nouri al-Maliki.  The Huffington Post speaks to the governor of Kirku Najmaldin Karim who calls today for Haider to step down:



    "The time has come for Prime Minister Abadi to submit his resignation and form a new government of technocrats that he picks," Karim said, speaking at the headquarters of the Kurdistan Regional Government here. "He can pick among the Kurds, among the Arabs -- Sunni Arabs, among the [Shiites] -- among the minorities. He can do that. I think that's the only way you can say if Prime Minister Abadi is successful or a failure: if he picks his own ministers. But this way he can blame the parties."

    Protests against government mismanagement and corruption erupted in Iraq in August. Though Abadi initially capitalized on the public dissent to try and push through reforms unpopular among other politicians in the Shiite-dominated government, his opponents have since stymied those efforts at change -- and left the prime minister, seen by Washington and many analysts as the best hope for a united and stable Iraq, at a loss.



    With all that going on, some people can only whine about themselves and turn their tangental 'suffering' into the story of Iraq.


    Let's do a song dedication to certain (now) public people who ignore Iraq over and over except when they can continue their own personal grudge.  We get it.  The Bully Boy Bush administration outed you as an undercover spy.


    Guess what?


    It wasn't the end of your life.


    And Iraqis actually suffered and  continue to suffer in the Iraq War.  No one offered them big publishing advances (for a book that never sold) or hired Naomi Watts to play them in a box office failure.


    So maybe everything isn't always about you?



    And you can House and Garden
    Vogue and Glamour, Mademoiselle
    Well, I know you can Bitch and Screw
    And Penthouse just as well
    No, I don't expect humility
    But what about some good old
    Dishonest modesty?
    -- "Dishonest Modesty," written by Carly Simon and Zach Wiesner, first appears on Carly's ANOTHER PASSENGER


    Your efforts to make it all about you are about as successful as the 2010 film about your 'tragedy' was -- FAIR GAME failed at the box office and then some indicating that any good will had long ago been exhausted.  Valerie Plame should grasp that familiarity breeds contempt (see the growing backlash against Caitlin Jenner) and that she's become about as interesting a 'reality' TV star.  That's what happens when you don't give back and instead make everything about you.



    Turning to repulsion at a War Hawk, H.A. Goodman (Huffington Post) makes a case for Bernie Sanders by exploring how voters feel about Hillary Clinton:


    When under half of Democrats would "enthusiastically support" Clinton and 27% would only do so "because she is the nominee," even Democrats planning to vote for the former Secretary of State hold reservations.
    Then, there are 14% who will not support her in a general election; this figure could easily increase. Also, not only will a sizable percentage of Democrats refuse to vote for Clinton, but 57% of Americans find Clinton "not honest and trustworthy."
    In addition, Clinton's negative favorability ratings in 9 out of 10 national polls make her unelectable as a candidate in a general election. If you can name a presidential candidate in American history who voters both didn't trust and didn't like, I'd love to hear the name.
    Furthermore, recent polls showing Clinton ahead of Sanders by an astronomical figure target primarily landline telephones and also highlight the fact that even the landline telephone respondents don't trust or admire Clinton. Even in positive polls, there's enough evidence to show that Clinton is simply unelectable in a general election, and I explain why in this YouTube video.
    The truth is that Sanders defeats Trump by a wider margin than Clinton in a general election. 
    [. . .]
    When I wrote in The Cleveland Plain Dealer that Bernie Sanders Can Win, Sanders was at 21% support in the Democratic primary. Sanders is now at 31% support and polling trajectory shows him winning the Democratic nomination. And no, Biden votes shouldn't all go to Clinton. 




    And we'll close with this from the office of Senator Johnny Isakson, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:





    FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY
    Monday, November 9, 2015
    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Lauren Gaydos, 202-224-9126





    ***MEDIA ADVISORY***
     
    Isakson to Hold Nomination Hearing for Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General
     
    WASHINGTON The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., will hold a nomination hearing on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, to consider the pending nomination of Michael J. Missal to be Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
     
    The hearing will be streamed online at www.veterans.senate.gov. Media planning to attend should RSVP to Majority_Press@vetaff.senate.gov.
     
     
    WHO:         Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
     
    WHERE:   418 Russell Senate Office Building
     
    WHEN:      2:30 PM
                       Tuesday, November 17, 2015
     
     
     
    ###
     
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.













    Sunday, November 8, 2015

    Return From Witch Mountain

    I really liked Escape from Witch Mountain, growing up.

    The story of Tony and Tia, brother and sister with magic powers, made for a good movie.

    But Return From Witch Mountain, the 1978 sequel, was a film I loved.

    Tia got to do so much more than be a tag along and I loved that.

    I loved the group of 'lost boys' she befriended.

    It had more suspense and conflict since Tony and Tia were separated for most of the film.

    The two aliens are sought by Letha Wedge (Bette Davis) and Dr. Victor Gannon (Christopher Lee).

    Kim Richards is wonderful as Tia but what makes this film better than the first are Davis and Lee.

    They are scary villains.

    I didn't find the villains as scary in Escape.

    To me, that's one long chase film.

    And the chase is often scary (and who doesn't leap for joy at the end with the mobile home takes flight?) but it really lacks worthy villains.

    Bette Davis and Christopher Lee give delightfully wicked performances.

    (I enjoyed Dwayne Johnson's Race To Witch Mountain, FYI.)


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



    Saturday, November 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, rains continue to threaten Iraqis, apologists for politicians feed the war, Nouri al-Maliki refuses to fade away, and much more.


    The public discourse would be a lot better off if partisan whores would just sit their tired asses down and stop polluting the conversation with spin and misdirection.

    Saritha Prabhu is intellectually dishonest or just a plain idiot.  At The Tennessean she wants to whine and uses the Congressional Benghazi hearing to start her nonsense:


    But listening to the above, one wondered if the Republicans on this panel and in Congress had any sense of irony, or shame or any sense of proportion.
    What they said with utter seriousness about ignored warnings and dead Americans and uninvestigated truth seemed to many listeners to apply also on a much bigger scale to the Iraq War.
    The origins of the latter have, of course, never been investigated fully.


    You care about the Iraq War, do you, Saritha?

    No, you don't.

    You just lie and lie again.

    The reality of that is clear in the quoted passage above.

    Saritha claims that Republicans lack a sense of proportion and more.

    And they may or they may not, I'm not going down that rabbit hole.

    But cheap little whores like Saritha need to be called out.

    If you think the Republicans did the right thing or they went overboard or somewhere in between, the issue really isn't the Republicans, not when you bring up the Iraq War.

    You should be asking where is the shame of the Congressional Democrats?

    The failure to investigate the Iraq War?

    The American people used the 2006 mid-term elections to repudiate the Iraq War.

    Democrats -- including trashy Nancy Pelosi who needs to be wheeled into a nursing home and not remain leader of the House after she led the party in one losing election after another allowing the GOP to take control of the House?

    They're the ones to be outraged at.

    They had the permission of the American people to investigate.

    They campaigned on this.

    They said they'd end the Iraq War, they said control over one House -- just one -- would give them the power to hold hearings and launch investigations.

    The American people responded to that by giving them control of not just one house of Congress but both houses of Congress.

    Saritha's a two-bit whore whose stupidity or intellectual dishonesty should forbid her from writing her allegedly generic columns (one of which was truly hate speech -- her attack on Christians).  But please note, she's castigating Congressional Republicans for not focusing on Iraq when she's got a column, her own space, to write whatever she wants and she doesn't write about Iraq.

    She's a fake ass liar.

    Ava and I took on MSNBC's 'coverage' of the Benghazi hearing in "TV: The least trusted name in news" and we noted:


    And that's why MSNBC is a cesspool.
    They offered one voice after another saying the exact same thing.
    They could brook no thought or opinion that strayed from the hymnal.
    For a brief moment, as the coverage was winding, down, Tom Brokaw appeared.
    He expressed the belief that nothing changed with the appearance.
    He offered that Hillary had pleased her supporters but done nothing to pull over her detractors.
    It was a fair and objective view.
    And it's what the entire coverage should have been.



    I bring this up now because Brokaw made many outstanding points.

    Ava and I could have gone into more of that but I know Tom and like Tom and didn't want to turn his brief moments in the coverage -- we watched two hours of MSNBC coverage and he was probably on for less than six minutes -- into the entire review.

    But Tom's most important point may have been that a hearing on Benghazi does not preclude one on Iraq.

    It's not an either/or.

    And he's right.

    And the point I'm making here is if you're upset that there's been no hearing on Iraq (as we've noted before, there have been Congressional hearings on Iraq) -- or upset that it wasn't the type that the Benghazi hearings have been (pointed and often harsh) -- why is that Republican issue?

    Again, Democrats held control of no house of Congress in 2005 and 2006 and those two years found Democrats campaigning on the promise of ending the war and doing investigations if they got even one house of Congress -- control of one house.

    The American people responded to the campaign promises and gave Democrats control of both houses.

    So if you're upset that the Secretary of State (Condi Rice back then) was not immediately called before Congress or someone else to answer for the Iraq War, that's not a Republican issue.

    You can lie and whore and be intellectually dishonest.

    But the reality is that until the 2010 mid-terms, Democrats controlled both houses of Congess.

    They didn't use that power to investigate Iraq any more than they used to end the illegal war.

    In case you missed that, and Saritha appears to have missed it, the Iraq War never ended.

    Democrats in Congress pretending to care?

    That ended.

    And that's why their embrace of Cindy Sheehan ended.

    They were happy to promote Cindy when they pretended they were powerless.

    But when they had the power and the Iraq War continued?

    They turned on Cindy.

    And instead of calling the politicians out, whores and spinners found distractions to focus on.


    At CounterPunch on Friday, Andrew Stewart offered:

    Or consider the Spielberg film LINCOLN, which featured both Williams and MUNICH screenwriter Tony Kushner. Besides being a breezy plagiarism of the Gore Vidal novel, it is essentially an analogy for the fight over the neoliberal Affordable Healthcare Act, a debacle loaded with huge gaps that is really a bail-out for the pharmaceutical and insurance companies. The film ends with the implication that Lincoln would have done more is he had lived, perhaps enacting the ideals of Thaddeus Stevens, suggesting in analogue that Obama would have preferred single-payer healthcare had he not been stopped by the GOP. Of course, that is total nonsense, Obama threw single-payer advocates under the bus as soon as possible and pulled in his major campaign donors from Big Pharma immediately. Likewise, Lincoln was not an abolitionist, his record towards Africans was reprehensible and he was in favor of repatriating freed slaves to Africa after the war.


    I'm not remembering Andrew Stewart truth telling in real time but he may not have been given the opportunity or the space in real time.

    But in real time, Black Agenda Report was one of the few calling out ObamaCare for what it was: a gift to the insurance companies.  It wasn't about healthcare being improved or made affordable (a fact many more Americans will learn next year).  We called it out here.  And Trina, more than anyone else in this community, repeatedly called it out because she had lived through Mitt Romney bring 'universal' healthcare to her state (by forcing everyone to purchase it).

    But what passes for the left -- and not just Democrats (a lot of Socialists and Communists should be ashamed) -- decided the people of America didn't matter, their health didn't matter,

    Nothing will ever get better until people stop feeling their mission is to act as bodyguards for some politician.

    Politicians are public servants.

    The public's role in that is to demand action on this or that issue.

    When the public makes no demands, nothing happens.

    Look at the Iraq War.

    Those of us on the left demanded an end to it and Democrats knew they could use it to campaign on with a lot of promises.

    But the public failed to demand that these same politicians live up to their promises.

    Which is why the US is still in Iraq.


    And still in combat.

    In case you missed it, the US Defense Dept announced Friday:


    Strikes in Iraq

    Attack, bomber, fighter and ground attack aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL heavy machine guns, seven ISIL fighting positions, and wounded ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Fallujah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Kisik, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL sniper positions, four ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL bunkers, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building, an ISIL weapons cache, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL bunkers, three ISIL assembly areas, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.


    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun position.


    In other violence, Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) notes, "A total of 21 people were killed and 38 others wounded on Saturday in clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq's provinces of Salahudin and Anbar, security sources said."



    Meanwhile the refusal to provide for the people turns even rain pour into violence.












  • Press TV (via Al Bawaba) reports 60 are dead due to this week's flash floods and "The Iraqi Health Ministry said on Friday that most of the victims died due to electrocution caused by flood-related incidents."  AFP adds, "The country's decrepit drainage system is unable to handle heavy rainfall, and parts of Baghdad too have suffered prolonged flooding."


    The deaths were often preventable.

    Had the government done its job and rebuilt the public infrastructure, the death toll would have been lower.

    The flash floods fall under a natural event (or "act of God") but the natural event does not offer cover for the deaths.

    This week, the Iraqi government was yet again trumpeting the arrival and/or impending arrival of weapons and war planes.

    It's always purchased plenty of weapons -- under Nouri al-Maliki prior to Haider al-Abadi -- it's just failed to protect the citizens.

    Unlike the Members of Parliament, the average Iraqi does not have a security team to provide protection.

    Instead, they're left to count on the government that supposedly represents them to . . . represent them.

    But instead the money officials haven't stolen have gone to buy this weapon and that.

    None of which prevent suicide bombers or, for that matter, electrocution during flash floods.

    Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports, "A cholera outbreak in Iraq has spread to neighboring Syria, Kuwait and Bahrain, and risks turning into a region-wide epidemic as millions of pilgrims prepare to visit the country, UNICEF's Iraq director said."



    And when you think things can't get worse . . .





























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