Monday, February 6, 2017

Married to a Democrat

Okay:






  • Cedric and Wally do joint-posts, humorous posts.

    I'm married to Cedric.

    A few e-mails came in regarding my being a Green and what it's like to be married to a Democrat?

    We make it work.

    Our children will be Greens.

    No way anything else is happening.

    But I love Cedric.  Every few months when he's ready to believe again in his corporate party of War Hawks, I indulge him.

    I wait for him to rediscover reality on his own.

    And he always does.

    Always.

    But every now and then he has this hope -- this pointless hope.

    But I just smile and say, "Sure, they've changed this time."

    And I say nothing else until they disappoint him.

    Every day, as a Democrat, he pushes that boulder up the hill.

    And every day it comes rolling back down.

    But I just smile and try to be encouraging while I wait for reality to sink in.

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


    Monday, February 6, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue as click-bait passes for journalism.


    Kimberly Dozier supposedly reports on the International  Committee of the Red Cross (and Crescent) at THE DAILY BEAST but it's really just another way to play a game of gossip about US President Donald Trump and what he might do and how it might be bad.

    It's click bait, it's not journalism.

    (The only reason the headline hooked me was I thought it was going to be a report by Nancy A. Youssef.)

    When Kimberly figures out what she wants to say, will she please let us know?

    This poorly written garbage never would have flown at CBS NEWS.

    More to the point, it shouldn't fly today -- one month shy of the 14th anniversary of the start of the ongoing, never-ending Iraq War.

    Why is the ICRC so in demand in Iraq?

    You'd think after 14 years of war, the truth could be told.

    It's the same reason that, beginning in 2007, the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948 has been Iraq.

    There was more honesty, in many ways, in the early years of the war than there is today.


    The waves and waves of refugees was kicked off by the insistence of the US government that Shi'ite thugs -- who'd fled Iraq decades ago -- must be put in charge of the country.

    The brain drain took place for a reason.

    It was a reaction of Iraq's doctors, professors, etc to the insistence that fundamentalists be put in charge.

    The attacks on science are real in Iraq and they hastened the departure of the medical professionals as doctors in various provinces -- especially female doctors -- were attacked by militias.

    Kimberly was injured in Iraq while working for CBS NEWS and she was lucky to be taken to first rate care.  For the Iraqi people, that's not an option and you'd think that alone would prompt some honesty from Kimberly.

    But apparently she'd prefer to serve up click bait if the alternative is honesty.

    In 2006, Jonathan Steele (GUARDIAN) reported:

    The growing insecurity has set off a massive brain drain, as more and more Iraqis slip away from the country, perhaps never to return. While the fall of Saddam Hussein opened the door for an earlier generation of Iraqi exiles to go home, now the flow is going the other way again. Kidnap survivors are the lucky ones. Hundreds of Iraqi professionals are being murdered in what some Iraqis see as a deliberate campaign to destroy the country's best and brightest. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research says that 89 university professors and senior lecturers have been killed since 2003, and police investigations have led to nothing.
    Iraqi academics have compiled a longer list of up to 105 names of assassinated colleagues. The most recent was Professor Ali Muhawesh, the dean of the engineering college at Mustansiriya University, one of Baghdad's two main campuses. He was shot this week.
    The rate of killing is increasing. Some 311 teachers have been murdered in the past four months alone, according to the Ministry of Education. It is not only Baghdad that is suffering. The medical college in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, has lost nine senior staff.


    A 2013 study found:

     Of the 1,395 Iraqi physicians contacted, 599 responded and 567 were eligible for inclusion. Of these, 202 reside in Iraq and the rest live abroad. Doctors abroad describe better work atmospheres, job satisfaction, and training quality. The majority live in English-speaking countries. Of these, 60 percent left Iraq for security reasons, 99 percent left when they were juniors, and 66 percent of those completed their specialty training and settled abroad forever. Of doctors abroad, 17 percent want to return to Iraq, while 50 percent of doctors in Iraq want to leave. Iraqi doctors' rate of emigration peaked in 2006; these figures have since declined, but remain relatively high. Iraq has lost many of its doctors, and emigration is ongoing. The predictors of emigration shifted from financial issues during the 1990s to security and training concerns after 2003. The mass exodus will impact the health care system in the long term.


    2011 found USAID offering scholarships in an attempt to stop the brain drain:


    In 2008, while working in the Planning and Compliance Department of Iraq’s Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works, Bahija Jwad Ahmed was overjoyed to hear that she had received a USAID/Tatweer scholarship. When she shared the exciting news with her elderly father, he expressed concern for her safety and asked why she was going to Egypt for a master’s degree in public administration when she already had a good job and held other degrees.
    “I am ambitious,” she told him. “I want my country to succeed, and I have been chosen to help lead Iraq to a bright future.”
    Her father gave his blessing, and Ahmed completed the two-year program at the Graduate School of Business at the Arab Academy of Science and Technology in Cairo. Graduating at the top of her class, she soon rose to fill a new position as head trainer of all 15 provincial training centers within the ministry’s human resources department.
    Chosen from over 1,000 applicants, Ahmed is among 120 people from 15 Iraqi provinces representing 23 ministries who have received the highly sought-after USAID-funded scholarship. She is among the first cadre of 26 master’s degree graduates who returned home eager to apply newly acquired skills to rebuilding their devastated country. Other recipients are attending universities in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.
    “The people of Egypt were very friendly and cooperative. But while there, I worried about my family and their security,” Ahmed said. “Then my father died. I went home to Iraq thinking I would not continue. After two weeks, I returned to Egypt feeling my father wanted me to succeed. Everything I learned—human resources administration, strategic planning, leadership and communication, project management—helped me review, then refocus the trainings we give. I even dream of becoming a director general some day.”
    Much has been said about Iraq’s “brain drain”—the flight of its finest minds out of country to seek respite from insecurity and violence. Garnering less, if any attention at all, are the larger numbers that willingly choose to remain in Iraq. Program graduates say that they are driven by a deep desire to not only restore Iraq’s former status as regional leader and driving force of modernization, but also to aid their country’s return to its once prominent international position.

    The return of Ahmed and her fellow scholarship recipients to Iraq is yet another milestone in USAID’s ongoing efforts to build a critical mass of highly trained citizens to drive modernization of Iraq’s public administration.


    And in 2015, Wassim Bassem (AL-MONITOR) reported:

    The conflict between Iraqi forces and Islamic State (IS) militants, who occupied Mosul on June 10, 2014, have further escalated the violent situation Iraqis, young and old, live in today. Youths are again searching for a new place to live in, outside Iraq.
    Social researcher Qassim Mohammad told Al-Monitor that the emigration issue has become a significant concern as “a lot of young people now believe that every war in Iraq gives birth to a new war, and that seeking a future in Europe or the United States is their best option.”
    Luay Hamid graduated from the faculty of agriculture at the University of Baghdad in 2012. He told Al-Monitor, "Thinking about emigrating is not enough. One must have the money for it, [money] that a lot of young people don’t have. … I tried to emigrate to Europe in 2013 after I had saved $4,000. I traveled to Jordan and stayed there to find a way to be smuggled into Europe. … I met two smugglers who asked for $10,000 to get me to Germany or the Netherlands via Istanbul, Turkey. But I had to return to [Iraq] because I didn’t have that much money.”
    According to a 2013 study by the International Organization for Migration in cooperation with the British Foreign Ministry, 99% of young people in southern Iraq and 79% of those in Iraqi Kurdistan wish to emigrate.


    Instead of focusing on realities and reasons like these, Kimberly prefers to file alarmist click bait that notes a situation in Iraq without ever explaining why foreign medical aid is needed in the first place.



    Meanwhile, an unnamed Iraqi military officer tells WORLD BULLETING NEWS that 5 civilians have been executed by the Islamic State today in Mosul.

    Yes, The Mosul Slog continues.

    In June of 2014, the Islamic State seized Mosul.

    Late last year, the Iraqi government suddenly grew interested in liberating or 'liberating' the city.

    112 days ago, the operation to liberate Mosul began.

    All they've accomplished in 112 days is clearing eastern Mosul.  (Though that is already in question.)


    Patrick Cockburn (THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS) offers:


    The offensive against Mosul, the biggest city still held by Islamic State, began on 17 October when Iraqi army troops, with the support of US-led air power, entered the city’s eastern districts. Expectations of a quick victory were soon disappointed when Iraqi soldiers began to suffer heavy casualties as small but highly mobile IS units of half a dozen fighters moved from house to house through hidden tunnels or holes cut in the walls to set up sniper positions, plant booby traps and bury IEDs. Local people whose houses were taken over say that the snipers were Chechens or Afghans who talked in broken Arabic. These fighters were supported by local IS men who also helped hide the suicide bombers who were to drive vehicles packed with explosives. There were 632 vehicle bombs during the first six weeks of the offensive. An IS squad would use a house until it had been pinpointed by Iraqi government forces and was about to be destroyed by heavy weapons or US-led airstrikes. Before the counterattack came they would move on to another house. IS has traditionally favoured fluid tactics, with each squad or detachment acting independently and with limited top-down control. Adapted to an urban environment, this approach allows small groups of fighters to harass much larger forces, by swiftly retreating and then infiltrating captured neighbourhoods so they have to be retaken again and again.
    The Iraqi and US governments had every reason to play down the fact that they had failed to take Mosul and had instead been sucked into the biggest battle fought in Iraq and Syria since the US invasion in 2003. It was only in the second week of January that Iraqi special forces reached the River Tigris after ferocious fighting: with the support of US planes, helicopters, artillery and intelligence they had finally taken control of Mosul University, which had served as an IS headquarters for the eastern part of the city, along with the area’s 450,000 inhabitants. But reaching the Tigris was far from being the end of the fight. On 13 January, IS blew up the five bridges spanning the river. The city’s western part is a much greater challenge: home to 750,000 people, many of whom are thought to be sympathetic to IS, it’s a larger, poorer and older area, with closely packed streets that are easy to defend. Only the aid agencies, coping with the heavy civilian casualties and the prospects of a fight to the death by IS, appreciated the scale of what was happening: on 11 January, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, said the city was ‘witnessing one of the largest urban military operations since the Second World War’. She warned that the intensity of the fighting was such that 47 per cent of those treated for gunshot wounds were civilians, far more than in other sieges of which the UN had experience. The nearest parallel to what is happening in Mosul would be the siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995, in which 10,000 people were killed, or the siege of Grozny in 1994-95, in which an estimated 5500 civilians died. But the loss of life in Mosul could be much heavier than in either of those cities because it is defended by a movement which will not negotiate or surrender and kills anybody who shows any sign of wavering. IS believes death in battle is the supreme expression of Islamic faith, which fits in well with a doomed last stand.

    Figures for wounded civilians in Mosul over the last three months may well exceed those for East Aleppo over the same period. This is partly because ten times as many people have been caught up in the fighting in Mosul, whose population according to the UN is 1.2 million; 116,000 civilians were evacuated from East Aleppo. Of that number, 2126 sick and war-wounded were evacuated to hospitals, according to the WHO. Casualties in the Mosul campaign are difficult to establish, partly because the Iraqi government and the US have been at pains to avoid giving figures. Officials in Baghdad angrily denounced the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq when it announced that 1959 Iraqi soldiers, police, Kurdish Peshmerga and their paramilitary allies had been killed in November alone. The UN was forced to agree not to release information about Iraq’s military casualties in future, but US officers confirmed that some units in the 10,000-strong Golden Division – a US-trained elite force within the Iraqi army whose soldiers get higher pay – had suffered 50 per cent casualties by the end of the year. The Iraqi government was equally silent about the number of civilian casualties and emphasised its own great restraint in the use of artillery and airpower. But the doctors in Iraqi Kurdistan treating injured people fleeing from Mosul were less reticent: they complained that they were being overwhelmed. On 30 December, the Kurdish health minister, Rekawt Hama Rasheed, said his hospitals had received 13,500 injured Iraqi troops and civilians and were running out of medicines. The extent of civilian losses hasn’t ebbed since: the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq said that over two weeks at the turn of the year, some 1500 Iraqis from Mosul suffering from trauma injuries had reached Kurdish hospitals, mostly from frontline areas and ‘with most of these injuries occurring just after the fighting intensified at the end of December’. These numbers only give a rough idea of the real losses: they don’t include the dead, or the wounded in western Mosul who didn’t want to leave – or couldn’t, because they were being used as human shields by IS. The UN says that many people were shot by IS fighters as they tried to escape.



    Fazel Hawramy (AL-MONITOR) adds:

    Many in Mosul have lost everything, including their vehicles and homes in airstrikes, suicide car bombs or during the fighting. People who spoke to Al-Monitor said they hope the government will take responsibility for providing services and compensation so the residents can rebuild their lives. Mosul used to be the center for trade and industry in northern Iraq, and with its close proximity to Syria and Turkey, its economy could revive fast.
    Peace in Mosul is crucial if Abadi wants to see stability in Iraq. Since the 2003 invasion, Mosul has been the strategic center of gravity for terrorist groups and it’s been in a state of rebellion. Until now, by and large the Iraqi security forces and in particular the CTS have treated the people in east Mosul with dignity and respect. However, in recent days, videos have surfaced on the internet that show individuals accused of collaboration with IS being killed on the spot. Other videos show children and adults accused of IS ties or membership being tortured and humiliated. Abadi has ordered a field investigation.
    Mosul residents say that peace is possible in Mosul if the government continues its commitment to prevent sectarianism, provide services and increase transparency in a city where the government and corruption have gone hand in hand for years. But for now, while more than 750,000 people are under siege in west Mosul and await a bloody battle to be liberated, people in the east have different priorities. When asked about the three things the government can do for the residents right now, Abu Salim replied, "[Provide] water, electricity and kerosene."


    Liberating Mosul was supposedly about helping the people of Mosul.
    The city was taken by the Islamic State in June of 2017.
    But the people of Mosul continue to be victimized.
    What's life like for the refugees?  Human Rights Watch's Belkis Wille (ALJAZEERA) reports:
    The people in these camps were terrorised by ISIL and have had to leave their lives behind. Some were separated from family members in the chaos in 2014, when ISIL took over the region.
    Some were separated from family members by accident as they fled recently, and others were separated from the men and older boys in their family for security checks, to make certain they aren't ISIL fighters.
    But none of the camps housing Mosul's displaced allow for free movement, a fundamental right, and only one is allowing family reunification at the moment, as far as I know.
    At least two camps prohibit visitors and ban mobile phones, ostensibly for security reasons. Ghazi's was confiscated as he arrived at the camp's euphemistically named "reception centre", or screening facility. This makes the displaced significantly more vulnerable - those whose loved ones were detained for alleged affiliation with ISIL have no way of reaching out to contacts to help locate them.
    It's very sad and totally predictable.  There was no planning to protect the people. No concern over them.
    Just as there was no concern over the people of Falluja -- before or after 'liberation.'
    The real estate business has been great in Fallujah since September 2016, when families started returning to their homes after the extremists were driven out, confirms Nabil Ibrahim al-Issawi, 50, owner of a real estate agency.
    “People came back and made big decisions,” al-Issawi explains. “I keep getting calls from friends and customers asking me to sell their property, even though they are well aware they will only get half the value of the building if they sell now.”
    “The cities that have been liberated have lost all of the things that made them attractive in the first place,” he continues. “Doctors don’t want to go back, schools have been destroyed and the infrastructure and state services are not back yet either.”


    Why the US media obsession with immigration?

    It allows them to avoid the truth about the so-called liberation of Mosul.


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