Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tweet of the week



  • President Obama now sending more U.S. ground troops into Iraq.


  • Cynthia needs to run for the Green Party's presidential candidate.

    She would make a great nominee in 2016 -- as she did in 2008.

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



    Saturday, March 26, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State launches more attacks in Iraq, more US troops will be heading to Iraq, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits the country, and much more.



    AP reports that the death toll has now climbed to 41 with at least one hundred and five more people left injured from a Friday bombing in Iraq.  AL JAZEERA reports:

    Mobile phone footage widely shared by Iraqis on social media showed players in football kits gathering to collect trophies and footballs as at least one child stood nearby.
    One man throws a new football to the crowd, before the camera shakes violently and the footage ends, at what witnesses said was the moment a bomber in the crowd detonated an explosives belt.

    NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY explains that a bomber blew himself up on the field of a soccer stadium in  Iskanderiyah. Abbas al-Ani (AFP) notes, "The mayor, Ahmed Shaker, was among the dead, as was one of his bodyguards and at least five members of the security forces."  BBC News reports that burying of the dead began today and "Many of the dead were young boys who were in a trophy ceremony hit by the bomber, himself said to be a teenager."  Michael D. Regan (THE NEWSHOUR, PBS) notes that the Islamic State has claimed they orchestrated the attack.



    The attack was condemned by the United Nations via Jan Kubis but more talk on Arabic social media revolved around Kubis' inability to find a suit that fits his body than focused on his words regarding "evil doers."

    The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is in Iraq today and has met with KRG President Massoud Barzani.



    : Ban Ki-moon, WB, IDB Presidents in ,meet President Masoud Barzani, PM Nechirvan Barzani





    The visit was part of an economic effort -- for Iraq or for those who prey on Iraq? not yet clear -- which also featured Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank.  The two held a press briefing with Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, and Ahmed Mohamed Ali al-Madani, president of the Islamic Development Bank.






    Saif Hameed (REUTERS) reports the UN Secretary-General again stressed the need for national reconciliation in Iraq.  This go round, he attempted to tie it in with the efforts to defeat the Islamic State but talk, without pressure or incentive, is just talk.


    Some of today's violence?

    AL JAZEERA reports that the Islamic State sent 10 suicide bombers to attack Ein el-Assad base today resulting in 8 of the bombers being killed by Iraqi forces, 2 of the bombers blowing themselves up and "at least 18 soldiers" being killed.  GULF NEWS explains, "Al Assad airbase, located about 180 kilometres northwest of Baghdad in Anbar province, is one of the largest military installations in the country."


    Meanwhile,  "The secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks."


    This announcement was made by Gen Joseph Dunford at the press briefing he and Secretary of Defense Ash Cater held on Friday.



    Q: The Marines this week in their support of the Iraqi offensive operation, is this something we will see more of, do you think, as time goes on in the fight to get to Mosul? And is -- can you talk about the accelerants that the secretary has talked about before and whether this is a key part of what you want to see the military do more of in Iraq over the next several months?


    GEN. DUNFORD: I mean, Lita, we've talked I guess now for some months about setting the conditions for success in Mosul and -- and facilitating the Iraqi forces and staging around Mosul to begin to isolate Mosul, and as the Iraqis have announced, that has begun. These Marines that were there, the artillery battery that were there were in direct support of that. We put the -- we put the battery there to support the Americans that are there advising the Iraqi forces and also in a position to provide support to the Iraqi forces.

    And from my perspective, this is no different than aviation fires we've been delivering. This happens to be surface fires -- (inaudible) -- artillery. But certainly no different conceptually than the fire support we've been providing to the Iraqis all along.

    And with regard to further accelerants, the secretary and I do expect that there'll be increased capabilities provided to the Iraqis to set the conditions for their operations in Mosul. Those decisions haven't been made yet, but we certainly -- we certainly do expect more of the kinds of things that we saw in Ramadi, albeit a bit different tailored for operations in Mosul. But it's -- but again, the primary force fighting in Mosul will be Iraqi security forces and we'll be in a position to provide advise, assist and enabling capabilities to make them successful.

    Q: It appears to be part of a -- more of a ground combat role than we've seen before.

    GEN. DUNFORD: No, it's not. I mean, we have -- we have -- we have surface fires in Al Asad and other places, as an example, and we've used those in the past. And so this is not a fundamental shift in our approach to supporting the Iraqi forces. This happens to be what was the most appropriate tool that the commander assessed needed to be in that particular location.

    [. . .]
    Q: But General Dunford, we've just heard this week that there are actually 5,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. Why is the Pentagon and senior military leadership reluctant to say that it's more than 3,800?

    GEN. DUNFORD: We're not reluctant, Jennifer. What we track is the number that are in our force management level. That's 3,800. But this is nothing that's inconsistent with what's been going on for the last 15 years in terms of people that are in and out on temporary duty less than a certain period of time, people that are in direct support of the embassy. Those have -- those have not been counted. In other words, there's a consistency in the way we've been counting people that's been going on for the last 15 years.

    And at any given time, we have 3,800 directly in support of the mission. When units rotate, for example, we don't double-count those numbers, so if there's a unit of 200 that's being replaced by a unit of 200 and they both happen to be on the ground at the same time, we don't count that as 400, we haven't in the past 15 years, because that hasn't -- that hasn't counted against our force management level.

    So the accounting of our people has been consistent. We're not denying that there's more people than 3,800; I think you got the numbers from us. But in terms of what we count in the mission, and that's in accordance with the direction that we've been given, the 3,800 is what's against the mission.

    SEC. CARTER: Jim.

    Q: (Off-mic.)

    GEN. DUNFORD: No, I didn't say 5,000 was accurate, I said 3,800 was the force management level and there's some number above that on any given day as a result of people that support the embassy, people at a TDY and people in other categories that don't count against that 3,800.

    SEC. CARTER: Jim?

    Q: I'd like to follow up, if I could, on Lita's questions about the Marines and that fire base. Unlike the previous U.S. military combat positions and fire support, this is an independent base, these are U.S. military only. And by all indications, they are not just defensive, but in this latest movement by Iraqi forces, they provided fire support for offensive operations against ISIS. So why is this not the first footprint of a U.S. combat ground operation there in Iraq?

    GEN. DUNFORD: Jim, the reason they're in a different base is simply a function of geometry. They're designed to support forces in an area called Makhmur. The artillery can't be co-located with the ground forces in Makhmur and provide effective fire support, so this position was selected because of the geometry necessary to support that particular location.

    And with regard to providing support to Iraqi offensive capability, once again, I mean, to me, there's no inconsistency between what this artillery unit did and what our aviation support is doing every single day. I don't draw a distinction with it. In other words, we've said that we're providing enabling support to include combined arms capability to Iraqi forces as they conduct operations, which is exactly what this artillery unit was doing.

    Q: Well, we have all indications that this is a pretty permanent position right now; that after a short period of time, U.S. Army personnel are going to replace the 26 MEU Marine there. And it still has all indications that the U.S. military is directly involved in the ground operations of -- with the U.S. -- with the Iraqi.

    SEC. CARTER: Yes, maybe very quickly just say, even since last week now, as the Iraqis have started to consolidate their positions, the situation on the ground has changed in terms of where the Iraqis are in the relationship to the support, the defense of support they're providing to our artillery unit that's there. So that's already changed, you know, through the course of the week.

    But in all honesty, I just cannot see this being inconsistent with everything that we've been doing over the last several months.

    SEC. CARTER: And let me just add to that, what we'll be doing in coming months. This is our approach to eliminating ISIL from Mosul. The Iraqi Security Forces are the ones who are carrying out the assault, the envelopment, the assault, but we're helping them.

    That's our -- that's been our approach and we'll continue to do that. Started in Ramadi, we'll continue to going up to Mosul. Carla?

    Q: When do you anticipate seeing U.S. American ground forces closer to the front lines as the battle towards Mosul looms?

    GEN. DUNFORD: Jim, one thing that I probably just need to clarify, this position is behind what is known as the forward line of troops for the peshmerga and Kurds. So it's by no means out in front on its own.

    And secondly, what I would say about your question about the future is we have a series of recommendations that we will be discussing with the president in the coming weeks to further enable our support for the Iraqi security forces.

    So again, the secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks. But that decision hasn't been made.

    Nor -- you know, you alluded to decisions that have already been made about Army units replacing the Marine units. All that is pre-decision. There's been no decisions made about what's going to happen to this particular position in the future.

    But it is going to be decided in the context of the broader issue that the secretary will bring to the president again, focused on what it is we need to do to maintain a minimum money campaign and what specifically do we need to do to enable operations in Mosul.



     "The secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks."


    So much for Barack Obama's promise of no boots on the ground and of no US troops in combat.

    Like every other promise, it was just another lie.


    The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68
    And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
    Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
    You laugh he said you think you're immune
    Go look at your eyes they're full of moon
    You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
    All those pretty lies pretty lies
    When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
    Only pretty lies just pretty lies

    -- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on BLUE


    Lies and more lies from Barack.


    And lies have consequences.


    On the 13th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, March, 19, 2016, another US service member died in Iraq.


    Dropping back to Tuesday's snapshot:

    Barbara Starr (CNN) reports, "A U.S. Marine stationed at Firebase Bell was killed by an ISIS Katyusha rocket attack on Saturday. Eight U.S. troops were also wounded in the attack. Three were medivaced to Germany where one is described as having serious injuries a defense official told CNN."  Spencer Ackerman (GUARDIAN) notes of the attack:

    The US marine who was killed in a rocket attack on Saturday died at the first exclusively American base established in Iraq since the Pentagon returned forces to the country in 2014, a spokesman said on Monday.
    The base, whose existence had not previously been public, has come under fire from ever closer range over recent days, an indication that Isis knew about the outpost before the Pentagon announced its creation.



    Dan Lamothe (WASHINGTON POST) offers a photo essay on the new base.


    Barack's sending US troops into Iraq again.

    And this as Iraqi soldiers are still deserting.  Wladimir van Wilgenburg (DAILY BEAST) reports:

    At first, Iraqi soldiers involved in an operation to capture villages close to Mosul on Friday were in good spirits. “Allah Akbar,” Arabic for “God is Great,” they shouted after they hit an alleged Islamic State (ISIS) suicide bomber with US-provided mortars. But just one hour later many of them fled, fearing ISIS would strike back.
    Early in the day, there were already signs of trouble. A sergeant named Hussein from the artillery battalion told The Daily Beast, “There has been some delays in what we expected, but it’s mostly because of their heavy use of sniper fire and of IEDS. We have not been really advancing today, but that is not part of our plan as of yet, but in coming hours, we are planning to move forward.”
    [. . .]

     When their artillery struck something that created a huge explosion inside Nasr, Jibouri and his men shouted with joy. They thought maybe they’d hit an ISIS suicide bomber. General Jibouri looked with his binoculars over the trench to see the result of the artillery, and it seemed he already thought he achieved victory over ISIS militants in the village. 
    Yet one hour later, his men were not so joyful, when most soldiers ran in panic, fleeing in their Humvees, fearing ISIS mortar attacks. Just a few of his men, including the artillery officers, stood their ground.
    This seems to be exactly the biggest problem for the Iraqi army: the lack of morale. One week ago Iraqi soldiers abandoned their base, which forced the United States to send in more Marines in support, and one of them was killed. Again this time, Iraqi army soldiers almost completely deserted their positions, fearing an ISIS response to their artillery when,  in reality, not one mortar shell or bullet hit close to their positions.



    Patrick Cockbun (INDEPENDENT) attempts to address what's going on:



    Without any pubic admission or even telling the families of the US soldiers involved, they sent 200 Marines from the Marine Expeditionary Unit with four artillery units to the by now largely abandoned base. Their arrival was wholly contrary to the impression the Pentagon had previously given that US soldiers in Iraq are limited in number and not engaged in front line combat duties. Though the Marines were within rocket range of Isis ten miles away, they were not added to the official US roster of 3,870 troops in Iraq because they were supposedly there on a temporary assignment.
    The US public may not have known that their soldiers were back in Iraq defending a fire base, but Isis certainly had observed the arrival of the Marines and the artillery. They began firing rockets at the base, one of which hit a bunker on 19 March, killing Master Sergeant Louis Cardin, a 27-year-old Marine from California, and injuring eight other Marines, three of them seriously. Two days later they made a ground attack in which two Isis fighters were killed.  At this point, the Pentagon was forced to become more open about where Sergeant Cardin had been when he died and admit that Marines were not just acting in support of the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga.

    The purpose of sending the Marine unit into such as dangerous place was to revive the morale of the 15th Division and to some extent this was successful. 


    Attempts?

    Where's the subject, where's the noun?

    He writes an overly long article but never names Barack Obama, the president of the United States.  Instead, things just happen, "they" do things.

    As opposed to Barack Obama sending "200 Marines" on the mission.


    Today, the US Defense Dept announced/bragged/boasted/claimed:



    Strikes in Iraq
    Using rocket artillery along with ground-attack, attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft, coalition forces conducted 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units.
    -- Near Hit, five strikes struck an ISIL improvised weapons factory, an ISIL communications facility, an ISIL weapons storage facility and two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.
    -- Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed an ISIL artillery piece and suppressed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar position.
    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, suppressed two ISIL mortar positions, and destroyed two ISIL supply caches and three ISIL assembly areas.
    -- Near Qayyarah, six strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units, suppressed an ISIL mortar position, and destroyed three ISIL mortar positions, an ISIL artillery piece, an ISIL supply cache, an ISIL vehicle, and five ISIL assembly areas.
    -- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun position and an ISIL assembly area.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, destroyed an ISIL fighting position and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    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.


    On the topic of US-led coalition bombings, we'll note this:






  • Reports confirm that about 30 Iraqi soldiers were hit mistakenly by US led coalition airstrike near Mosul.





















  • The ridiculous Rolling Stone

    Rolling Stone used to be a rock magazine.

    Then it became a 'laddy magazine' and it's never recovered.

    It was during that time that it featured the now discredited 'bug chaser' 'report.'

    Back then publisher Jann was still in the closet.

    It took him over 50 years to come out.

    All of that should be factored in when noting that the magazine has now endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

    A middle-aged magazine that's lost its way and that's run by a serial closet case.

    That's probably the best definition of a Hillary Clinton supporter I've yet to come across.




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


    Friday, March 25, 2016. Chaos and violence continue, an operation to retake Mosul begins, Bernie Sanders receives a major endorsement, and much more.



    Thursday, the US Defense Dept announced/claimed:




    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 26 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:


    -- Near Hit, three strikes struck an ISIL weapons storage facility and an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL rocket rail and five ISIL bunkers.

    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL command and control node and an ISIL weapons cache.

    -- Near Kisik, a strike destroyed an ISIL tunnel.

    -- Near Mosul, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL vehicle bomb and six ISIL assembly areas and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck an ISIL communication facility, destroyed an ISIL-used bridge section and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Ramadi, a strike denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, five strikes struck five ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and four ISIL assembly areas.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL mortar position and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Tal Afar, two strikes destroyed an ISIL assembly area and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Hit, a strike destroyed two ISIL staging areas and two ISIL supply caches.


    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.




    In other news, a supposed major move is taking place on the ground.


    |i army starts offensive in region around , according to State TV






    Larisa Epatko (THE NEWSHOUR) explains, "About 2 million people lived in Iraq’s second largest city before the Islamic State, or ISIL, siege in June 2014. Since then, some residents, including Yazidis, Turkmen and other ethnic and religious minorities have fled to other parts of the country."
    The ASSOCIATED PRESS notes, "It was not immediately clear how long such a complex and taxing offensive would take."










  • While Iran's PRESS TV is rah-rah, others are a bit more down to earth.  For example, CBS NEWS offers:


    Indeed, a senior U.S. military official told CBS News that Thursday's advance was a "small operation to liberate some villages near Makhmour and push the foreign line of troops west." A commander of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces characterized the operation in the same way. 

    And Jane Onyanga-Omara and Jim Michaels (USA TODAY) provide this clarity:

    Still, the Iraqi ground operations are preliminary and Iraqi forces are still about 75 miles away from Mosul.
    Iraq's military has yet to assemble enough trained forces needed to seize the city, a complex operation that will exceed anything Iraqi forces have accomplished since the country's military collapsed in the face of an Islamic State onslaught two years ago.


    Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) sees something more than liberating Mosul as the point of the current operation focusing on Makhmour:

    The Makhmur District is also a key to holding oil fields around Kirkuk, and the ISIS offensive is seen by many analysts as part of an effort to ultimately regain control over those lucrative oil fields, and have been “outgunning” the thousands of Iraqi troops in the area.
    Whether they’re trying to save Iraqi ground troops who still can’t stand up to ISIS, or save oil fields, however, the latest escalation puts US troops even further in harm’s way, and has put the war even further afield from the “no boots on the ground” affair initially promised by the Obama Administration.


    The "no boots on the ground" promise is now forgotten.

    As pointed out on DEMOCRACY NOW!:

    The Pentagon is facing increasing questions about the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, following the death of Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin and the revelations of a newly disclosed U.S. base in northern Iraq. Unnamed Pentagon officials told The Washington Post that there are currently about 5,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq—a far higher number than previously reported. The U.S. troop level in Iraq is supposed to be officially capped at 3,870. But U.S. military spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren said, "People come through on a temporary basis and go above and below the force cap all the time."





    On Thursday's THE NEWSHOUR (PBS), Judy Woodruff spoke with Senator Bernie Sanders about the Islamic State:


    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Well, I think it has to be destroyed.
    This is a barbaric organization that is a threat not only to the people in the Middle East, to the people in Europe, but obviously to the people in the United States as well. It has to be destroyed.
    And here is how we destroy it. We do not destroy it by doing what we did in Iraq and getting into perpetual warfare. I voted against the war in Iraq. In fact, Secretary Clinton, when she was in the Senate, voted for that war.
    What we do, as King Abdullah of Jordan has told us, is we work to put together a very effective coalition of Muslim nations who lead the effort on the ground, supported by the United States, the U.K., France, and other major powers in the air and through training.
    Now, in the last year, we have had some success. Ramadi has been recaptured. ISIS has lost about 20 percent of the ground that it controlled. But we have a lot more to do. So, I think what we need is strong coalition.
    And, by the way, Judy — and very few people talk about this — we have got to bring in some of the Gulf region countries who have kind of sat it out, countries like Qatar, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, who are spending $200 billion in preparation for the World Cups in 2022.
    They’re spending $200 billion for the World Cup. Well, they may want to spend some money helping us destroy ISIS. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait are going to have to play a greater role.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Senator, as the United States waits for these other countries to get on board to form this coalition, ISIS is not only strong in its base in Iraq and Syria. It’s now sending, we know, hundreds of fighters into Europe, the AP reporting today 400 trained fighters planing attacks in Europe.
    That’s going on right now.


    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Right, and that raises the other issue.
    First of all, we have got to destroy ISIS. Second of all, we have got to protect the United States from attacks and protect our allies throughout the world. And that means we need to do a much greater job in sharing intelligence. We need to do a much better job in monitoring those young people who are being drawn into terrorism.
    We have got to monitor how they communicate with each other to plan attacks. So, there is a lot of work to be done to protect our country, as well as to protect our allies in Europe and elsewhere, by the way.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: But how do you do that, when there are people right now in Europe, in Belgium, and other countries and presumably here in the United States who are prepared to die for this cause?


    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, Judy, no one ever said that this is going to be simple.
    What we have got to do is work with increased intelligence capabilities, shared intelligence capabilities. We have to work with increased law enforcement, with increased monitoring, with increased tracking of people who come into this country. This is not easy. Your point is right.
    If somebody is willing to blow themselves up and walk into an airport, or walk into a movie theater, you know what? It is tough to defend ourselves against that. But, obviously, we must do everything that we can.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: But I don’t understand how you destroy ISIS, to use your word, when you’re talking about intelligence operations and cooperation and coalitions.


    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: You don’t understand how we destroy ISIS?
    We destroy ISIS because there are millions of soldiers in the Middle East who are under arms right now. ISIS has perhaps 30,000 or 40,000 fighters. Our goal is to bring those countries together, to put troops on the ground to destroy ISIS, not to get the United States involved in perpetual warfare.

    Can ISIS be destroyed? Of course they can. It’s a question of a coalition. It’s a question, as King Abdullah has said, Muslim troops on the ground, not American troops. And, by the way, it is not a question of going to war against a religion, as some of my Republican colleagues would have us do. We’re taking on terrorism and ISIS, not Islam as a religion.



    Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, Tweeted the following:









  • THE YOUNG TURKS Cenk Uygur interviewed Bernie:












  • Rosario Dawson Tweets:






  • And Bernie just keeps picking up endorsements -- including this major endorsement:

    ILWU endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for President


    SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The ILWU’s International Executive Board voted today to endorse U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for President.
    “Bernie Sanders is the best candidate for America’s working families,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “Bernie is best on the issues that matter most to American workers:  better trade agreements, support for unions, fair wages, tuition for students and public colleges, Medicare for all, fighting a corrupt campaign finance system and confronting the power of Wall Street that’s making life harder for most Americans.”
    Many longshore union members have expressed enthusiastic support for Sanders at the local level.
    The ILWU represents approximately 50,000 women and men who work in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii – in addition to ILWU Divisions representing workers in Canada and Panama.













    Thursday, March 24, 2016

    Ralph spoke what everyone sees


    The Hill reports:

    Ralph Nader on Thursday blasted Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton over her ties to Wall Street and other wealthy special interests.
    “Hillary the hypocrite ought to open up on Broadway,” he said during a Vimeo interview with artist and activist itstheGADFLY.


    Hillary is worthless.

    You can't trust her.

    She's corrupt and deceitful.


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



    Thursday, March 24, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the US continues bombing Iraq, the effort to retake Mosul is said to begin, nothing changes on the ground, and much more.



    In the ongoing Iraq War, the US government continues dropping bombs on Iraq.  Yesterday, the US Defense Dept announced/boasted/claimed:




    Strikes in Iraq
    Rocket artillery and attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL front end loader, an ISIL machine gun position, and an ISIL bed down location.

    -- Near Haditha, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL staging areas.

    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL supply cache.

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar position and three ISIL assembly areas.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes struck an ISIL headquarters, an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL used bridge section.

    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL front end loader.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun position and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Hit, two strikes destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL supply cache.

    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.



    These bombings have been taking place daily since August 2014.  They've accomplished nothing.  Which is a good time to note THE DAILY BEAST'S Nancy A. Youssef's Tweet:





  • Overheard at the Pentagon: "The generals use the same playbook for every war. ...Strike from the air, send in SF, train locals."





  • One size fits all?


    That might explain why the US has been unable to end any of the wars it started -- the Iraq War continues, the Afghanistan War continues and the Libyan War continues.


    The US government is far too quick to go to war but when they do go they attempt the same cookie cutter pattern despite the lack of positive results.

    Barack Obama said, when campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008, that he wanted to change the mindset.

    Apparently, that desire -- like his desire to end the Iraq War -- faded shortly after he was sworn in as president during his first term.


    On the topic of bombings, HURRIYET DAILY NEWS reports:"Turkish jets hit outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) camps both inside the country and in northern Iraq as a part of two separate air operations, the Turkish General Staff has announced."


    Though the Iraqi government has voiced displeasure over this round of bombings which have taken place for months now, the US government has repeatedly backed the bombings and insisted that Turkey has a right to 'defend' itself (see US State Dept press briefings if this is news to you).

    But what else would they say when they'[re also bombing Iraq?

    Neither the US bombings nor the Turkish bombings are effective.

    If the US actually addressed the issues causing the strife in Iraq, that would not only be helpful to Iraq, it could be behavior that others could model.

    The Turkish government, for example, would have to address their own attacks on the Kurdish people within Turkey, the discrimination this population faces within Turkey, etc.

    And when that happens, there's no need for the PKK.

    Calling the PKK or the Islamic State terrorists is not addressing the situation.


    The PKK could probably be called rebels.  The Islamic State's attacks on civilians rules out "rebels" as a term for them -- I am referring to the execution of civilians for various 'misdeeds.'  Both groups set off bombs and kill.  Historically, rebels do such things.  But when you are killing individuals in actions that can only be described as torture and worse, you usually do not get the term "rebel" -- even hundreds of years after you've left the earth.


    Most outside of the Middle East don't know about the PKK or the situation around it to form an opinion.


    For example, this exchange took place at yesterday's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Mark Toner.



    QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. In Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani yesterday said in one interview that the PYD and the PKK are exactly one and the same thing. And he also said that Americans know that they --

    MR TONER: I’m sorry, you said the PKK and --

    QUESTION: And PYD.

    MR TONER: And PYD.

    QUESTION: Yeah, YPG.

    MR TONER: Sorry, yeah. Finish. I’m sorry.

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MR TONER: I just wanted to make sure I had the --

    QUESTION: Okay. And he also said that Americans know this very well, but they don’t want to say it, as the top priority is the fight against ISIS, so they turn a blind eye PYD relation with PKK. And this is what your close ally Peshmerga’s leader, Mr. Barzani, said.

    MR TONER: Well – and you’re asking me for my reaction and whether --

    QUESTION: I want to know, what do you know about PKK and PYD relation?

    MR TONER: I mean, we still adhere to what our policy’s been for the past many months, which is that we view the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization. We condemn its – the violence that it carries out against Turkish civilians and citizens. And separately, we have been working with the YPD – or YPG, rather, in parts of Syria as part of a number of groups we’re working with who are actively fighting and dislodging Daesh or ISIL from territory it controls.

    That doesn’t mean we haven’t had disagreements with them when they try to hold territory or not – or declare semi-autonomous self-rule zones. We disagree with them on that and we have frank discussions with them about that.



    PKK?

    YPD?

    Alphabet soup for some outside the region.


    Does it matter to you?

    It should.


    When situations are not addressed but instead are allowed to fester, they consume the world's attention and time.

    The issue in Turkey is starting to become the Israeli-Palestine divide.

    It needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed honestly.

    As for within Iraq, pretend for a moment the bombings were working.

    It still wouldn't matter.

    The root cause has not been addressed.

    Nothing changes until it is addressed.


    |i army starts offensive in region around , according to State TV









    That also doesn't matter.


    Not if they retake Mosul, not if they don't.

    If the root issues are not addressed, none of this matter.


    President Barack Obama understood that at one point which is why in June of 2014 he spoke of the need for Iraq to find a political solution.


    Of course, he also once said American lives would not be put at risk.


    A political solution would address the inequality, the discrimination and the targeting.

    It would take support and/.or sympathy for the Islamic State out of the equation.

    Some fool Tweeted about federalism in Iraq and how it was said -- by the US government -- that it would prevent conflict in Iraq.

    If you want to call what Iraq has federalism -- I'm not sure Vice President Joe Biden would call it that because his idea of federalism was a three region Iraq with the three regions having autonomy -- you're calling it federalism on paper.

    Only on paper.

    In 2010, Nouri al-Maliki lost the election.

    He refused to step down as prime minister.

    For eight long months.

    Although the US government -- the White House -- did not support him remaining originally, they decided (during the long political stalemate) to do so (Samantha Power insisted Nouri would give the US what they wanted).

    So in November of 2010, the stalemate ended the day after The Erbil Agreement was signed.

    The Erbil Agreement was a contract brokered by the US.

    It said Nouri could have a second term as prime minister, that the other major political blocs would agree to it.

    But, in exchange for that, Nouri agreed to a political sharing government, he agreed the winner of the election (Ayad Allawi) would have an independent position over national security, the disputed area of Kirkuk would get a vote, etc.


    Nouri used the contract to get his second term.

    Then he refused to honor the parts he had agreed to.


    And the US suddenly pretended it had never existed.


    But before Nouri trashed it, Barack had issued a statement praising the agreement (November 12, 2010):


    Before I discuss the G20, I want to briefly comment on the agreement in Iraq that's taken place on the framework for a new government.  There's still challenges to overcome, but all indications are that the government will be representative, inclusive, and reflect the will of the Iraqi people who cast their ballots in the last election. This agreement marks another milestone in the history of modern Iraq.  Once again, Iraqis are showing their determination to unify Iraq and build its future and that those impulses are far stronger than those who want Iraq to descend into sectarian war and terror. For the last several months, the United States has worked closely with our Iraqi partners to promote a broad-based government -- one whose leaders share a commitment to serving all Iraqis as equal citizens.  Now, Iraq's leaders must finish the job of forming their government so that they can meet the challenges that a diverse coalition will inevitably face.  And going forward, we will support the Iraqi people as they strengthen their democracy, resolve political disputes, resettle those displaced by war, and build ties of commerce and cooperation with the United States, the region and the world.




    Today, the Iraqi government is still not a power sharing government.

    The current prime minister Haider al-Abadi uses charges of "corruption" on the part of others to try to remake the government.

    He cries "corruption" to alter the government in ways that the Iraqi Constitution does not allow.

    Currently, he's attempting to dismiss his entire Cabinet.

    Moqtada al-Sadr has staged rallies supporting that move.

    But the Constitution does not give him that power.

    If he wants to dismiss a minister in the Cabinet, he's required to get Parliament to vote on it and only if they vote to dismiss the minister would the minister have to go.

    And that's the Constitution of Iraq.

    The one the White House supports sometimes and ignores at other times.

    The government is not a functioning government.

    Iraq remains a failed state.

    No one -- no political observer, no official in the US government -- can honestly explain how ignoring the Iraqi Constitution is going to make things better.

    And no one wants to point out that dishonesty.



    We'll close with this Tweet:




  • Why do Hillary fans say the war was JUST a "mistake" w/such a cavalier attitude? It was a calculated move for political gain.







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