Friday, December 16, 2016

Done with Facebook

I'm not really on it that much anymore but I'm done with Facebook.

I don't need my news censored.

I don't need a parent to come in and tell me what is okay to read and what isn't.

Zero Hedge notes that Facebook is declaring some outlets legitimate news organizations.  Others can be flagged by readers.  And:

It gets better: the next step in Facebook's plan to rid the site of fake news involves sending flagged stories to third-party fact-checking organizations, which include Snopes, Politifact, and, which as the recent election showed, are just as biased as the so-called "fake news" sites, however they cover their partiality under the cloak of being objective, which they conflate with being "factual."

Thank you, Hillary Clinton, and your crazy cult, for ruining Facebook.

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

Friday, December 16, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Mosul slog continues, US troops remain in Iraq, there's still no political solution, and much more.

The liberation or 'liberation' of Mosul continues.

Another press briefing by the US State Dept took place yesterday and Iraq was ignored as usual while the obsession over Syria continued.

Iraq: Two Months into Mosul Operations, Over 96,800 Iraqis Displaced

  1. Iraqi Sunnis refugees استمرار العوائل السنيه العراقيه من الموصل بخطه الحشد الشيعي تحت امرة الصفوي بصمت عالمي

Iraqi Sunnis civilians fled from due war

Over 3 million people are displaced in . We're reaching hundreds of thousands with food, water & essential aid, but we want to do more.

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) notes the US government's outrage over Syria contrasted with the US-led mission in Iraq:

The hypocrisy of the US denunciations of the brutal methods employed by the Syrian government and its allies in eastern Aleppo has been underscored by the unfolding of a similarly savage siege being directed by the Pentagon against the far larger urban population of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. As many as 1.5 million people still live in that metropolitan area, which the Iraqi army surrendered to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in June 2014.
With the US-backed offensive against Mosul now nearly two months old, conditions for the city’s residents are growing increasingly desperate, while the number of civilians killed continues to mount.
Scattered reports from media in the region provide a glimpse of the carnage unfolding in Mosul. Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported that an entire family of nine was wiped out on Tuesday in a US drone missile strike against a house in Mosul’s al-Falah district. “Nine family members were killed in the attack,” an Iraqi police officer told the agency.
And The New Arab (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed) reported Thursday: “At least 40 civilians have been killed including women and children and dozens of others injured in air raids and artillery fire in the east of the Islamic State group [IS] bastion of Mosul, local and medical sources have said. The civilians were killed early on Wednesday with many of the injured still trapped under rubble...”

While similar accounts of human suffering in Aleppo have received non-stop coverage in the Western media amid official denunciations of Syria and Russia, reports of the slaughter in Mosul have been effectively blacked out.

  1. Iraqi army crimes عاجل ستشهاد الطفله العراقيه السنيه شمس عمر بقصف الحشد الشيعي الارهابي على الموصل ودفنت مع عائلتها بحديقه منزلهم

Little Angel Shams Omar Iraqi Sunni child killed by Iraqi army Airstrikes on

And Mosul's not winding down.

For those who have forgotten, US President Barack Obama planned on Mosul being his "October Surprise" that would deliver the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton.

Didn't work out quite the way you wanted
How were you to know
Boom town broke down
What a let down
Where did the mountain go?
-- "Chalice Borealis," written by Carole King and Rick Sorensen, first appears on Carole's SPEEDING TIME

Still the slog continues.

And it is a slog.  Despite CNN's 'objective' 'reporter' Elise Labott scream "NO!" in the middle of a press conference in October when a reporter referred to the Mosul operation as a slog.

It's day 60 of the slog.

No end in sight and no plan for what happens after.

Dominic Dudley (FORBES) notes:

Others in Iraq and outside warn that a military defeat will only bring a pause in the phenomenon of Sunni protest and insurgency in Iraq, unless it is accompanied by meaningful political and economic change.
“ISIS did not fill a security vacuum in the country, it filled a political one, where Sunnis in Iraq felt so disenfranchised that they welcomed ISIS with open arms,” said Qubad Talabani, deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), speaking at the Chatham House think-tank in London on December 7.

“Iraqi forces will never be able to hold territory taken from ISIS unless the military track is quickly accompanied by a political track, one that addresses the core Sunni grievances… If, after a military victory is declared, Iraq goes back to business as usual and the world's attention to Iraq dissipates, you can be sure that another bloody insurgency will arise within the Sunni areas of Iraq. Yes, we expect ISIS 2.0 to rear its ugly head.”

Mark Perry (POLITICO) adds, "Centcom commander Army Gen. Joseph Votel, picked to head up Centcom by President Barack Obama because of his special operations expertise, believes the outlook is dark, this same Pentagon intelligence officer told me, and likely to get darker, with the country heading inexorably toward a civil war."

In this week's "The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, Al Qaeda and Beyond," the United Institute for Peace (primary author with assist from The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) explains:

Terrorism is an inherently political form of violence. Counterterrorism is therefore an inherently political endeavor as well. Any counterterrorism program should be sensitive to public opinion at home, in the theater of terror, and in the wider world. Marginalizing extremism requires creating a political environment in which jihadism has less and less appeal over time. In Iraq, for example, the military has made major headway against ISIS, but the government has not brokered a basic power- sharing agreement among the country's diverse Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish, and other communities in the thirteen years since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The military campaign has repeatedly been out of sync with a political resolution. The success of the military surge in 2007 that marginalized al Qaeda in Iraq was followed by a botched political program that only further alienated Sunnis and led to the emergence of a reinvigorated ISIS. Creating stability ultimately requires political and military simultaneity.


And Barack even agreed at one point.  It was June 19, 2014 when he publicly declared the only solution to Iraq's political crises was a political issue.

Instead, he used US money and time to weaponize Iraq with bombings and with guns and fighter planes and even more training.

From the November 6, 2014 snapshot:

Training isn't the issue.

A government worth fighting for is what's needed and what Baghdad has failed to provide Iraqis with.

Hundreds of thousands of foreign troops -- US, UK, etc -- had to spend years on the ground to give the government a chance to do something, a chance to prove it was legitimate.

It failed repeatedly.

Now Barack's making the same mistake Bully Boy Bush made.  Time and again, the focus was going to be political.  The 'surge'?  Remember that failed effort?

Bully Boy Bush said the increased number of US troops sent into Iraq would provide the Iraqi government with space to work towards political solutions.

But it never happened.

The 'surge' was a failure.

Not because of the US military.  The military did all it was asked.

But it did that, in Bully Boy Bush's own words, to create a space for Iraqi politicians to move forward on issues facing the country.

Barack has wasted over a half billion dollars bombing since August 8th and there's nothing to show for it.

Even more money wasted now and there's still no political solution.

Obama pulled troops from Iraq five years ago. They're still there

Five years after Barack Obama withdrew US Troops from Iraq, thousands remain

Harriet Agerholm (INDEPENDENT) observes:

The number of US troops has increased in recent months in anticipation of an attempt to seize the city of Mosul from Isis. The city in nothern Iraq is the group's last major stronghold in the country.
The US has ploughed $10bn (£8bn) into the intervention since it returned to the country to fight the terror group and outgoing US secretary of defense Ash Carter said earlier in this month that it was “certainly possible” that Mosul could fall before Donald Trump enters the White House on 20 January. 

But the deputy commander of the US coalition in the region, Major General Rupert Jones, has called for “patience”, saying more time was needed to minimise the danger to civilians.

US forces remain in Iraq.

The war didn't end.

Elected to end the Iraq War in 2008 and here we are in 2016 with the Iraq War still going.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- UPDATED:

  • Thursday, December 15, 2016

    The Great Indoors

    The Great Indoors just went off on CBS.

    It really is a funny show.

    The guy from Community who played Jeff is the lead character at a magazine that's moved online only and he's the 'old' guy.

    There are a lot of laughs in this show and I like Joel McHale much better on this show than I did on Community.

    I found him smarmy as Jeff but he's kind of cute on the new show.

    And I love the rest of the cast.

    This was probably the best showing for the African-American young guy.  They gave him a 'power.'  Since high school, apparently, he's been able to suss out people's secrets.  This also let the British woman who used to date McHale's character have a good solid moment because she has the same skill but only more so.

    It was funny.

    It's the only comedy show that's new this season that has made me laugh.

    Ava and C.I. called it "TV: The weekly best laugh bet" and they were right.

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

    Thursday, December 15, 2016.  Chaos and violence continues, the Mosul slog continues, a report that Iraq's government is slashing benefits on a woman who may be the oldest person on the planet, and much more.

    Mohammed Tawfeeq ‏@mtawfeeqCNN
    Today marks the end of second month since the #Iraqi-led coalition launched the operation to retake #Mosul from #ISIS on Oct 17,2016.

    It's day 59 of the Mosul operation and the slog continues.

    It's produced War Crimes, this operation.  It's killed civilians.  It's destroyed homes.  The US government has bombed hospitals (War Crime).  But they're not really able to do much more, are they?

    Oh, wait, they have created something: Refugees.

    The number of displaced people from has reached 110,000 civilians, mostly women and children.

    CNN gathers a number of Iraqi voices in a piece by Moni Basu.  This is from the section on Bashir Mohammed Khadir who, along with his wife and their eight children, is now a refugee:

    Khadir gulps his glass of syrupy tea before he launches into a tirade. He blames the 2003 invasion for creating a power vacuum in Iraq that gave rise to extremism. He says the United States abandoned Iraq in its hour of need when it withdrew its troops in 2011.
    But mostly, Khadir resents the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad for playing to sectarian tensions.
    "Iraq can only be one again if we remove the people in power," he says. "The government does not care about the people."
    He mentions a law that bans alcohol. The parliament passed it in October, just days after the Mosul offensive launched. Khadir considers himself a Muslim, but says: "Not everyone in Iraq is a Muslim. Why should there be a ban on alcohol?"
    These are the kinds of things Khadir believes will continue to stoke differences among Iraqis.
    "It's impossible," he says, "for life to go back to normal, for us to live in peace."

    Let's also note Sherzad Mamsari, a Jewish Iraqi:

    "ISIS is not a new phenomenon. There has always been an ISIS for us," he says, referring to years of persecution of minorities in Iraq.
    At one time, there was a thriving Jewish community in Iraq. The New York Times cited a 1917 Ottoman census that counted 80,000 Jews among the 220,000 residents of Baghdad.
    But the community has largely been extinguished through discrimination, persecution and exodus to Israel.
    Mamsani grew up in the Kurdish city of Irbil, the son of a Jewish mother and Muslim father, and recalls his own experience of being forced to study Islam in school and pray in the Muslim fashion.
    He says only 10 Jews are left in Baghdad. Another 50 families are said to be living in the Kurdish areas, but Mamsani believes the real number is higher. He says many Jews practice their faith clandestinely because they are scared.

    "ISIS is not a new phenomenon.  There has always been an ISIS for us."

    It's a reality that many in the west do not want to admit.

    U.S. officials: 75% of ISIS terrorists killed in Iraq, Syria - reports

    Thing is though, they don't know how many members of the Islamic State there are -- let alone how many in states with porous borders.

    Thing is, they can and do make up numbers.

    I'm sure the estimates exist.

    They always do.

    And they're always shaped, as they move up the chain to the White House to convince whichever president is in the White House at that time that things are going wonderfully.

    These aren't facts.

    These are happy thoughts collected.

    And when that's all they have to offer -- 59 days in -- then their mission is going very poorly.

    RT notes:

    US secretary of defense Ash Carter said this month that it is "certainly possible" that the "tough fight" to retake Mosul will occur before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20. Yet, a week prior, Rupert Jones, Britain’s most senior commander in Iraq and deputy commander of the US-led coalition in the region, called for "patience," saying that there is no deadline for establishing control of Mosul as civilian and military casualties continue to mount.
    “They [the US-led coalition] probably realize that the thing in Mosul is not going to be very successful,” retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski told RT last month.
    With a change in presidential administrations on the horizon, Carter has suggested an enduring US presence in Iraq seems likely, even if IS is expelled.
    "But there will still be much more to do after that to make sure that, once defeated, ISIL stays defeated," he said earlier this month at the Reagan National Defense Forum. "We'll need to continue to counter foreign fighters trying to escape and ISIL's attempts to relocate or reinvent itself. To do so, not only the United States but our coalition must endure and remain engaged militarily."
    Since taking office in January 2009, President Obama has overseen a vast expansion of Bush's "global war on terrorism," including targeted-killing campaigns with the use of armed, unmanned drones. In a presidential memorandum released on December 5, the White House said the US military operations around the world are grounded in the October 7, 2001, Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), by which Congress approved military operations and counterterrorism combat operations against Al-Qaeda and vaguely-defined "associated forces" following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Since August 2014, those "associated forces" have expanded to include operations against Islamic State and, more recently, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, among other groups.

    The never ending (illegal) war.

    And Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June of 2014.

    It was over two years later when the Iraqi government finally got the 'will' to try to take the city back.

    Now the slog goes on and on.

    What happens after?

    It's not addressed.

    It's not spoken of.

    Mainly because it's been so awful in all the other areas 'liberated.'

    Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reports on conditions in Iraq today and we'll zoom in on this part:

    In Iraq most jobs are provided by the government, which uses revenue from oil, to pay wages and provide services. Many locals have been loyal to their government because the government is also their employer. However, due to the fall in oil prices and the ensuing deficit in the federal budget, the government has been struggling to fulfil those obligations to salary earners.
    The security crisis caused by the IS group has coincided with this financial crisis, making things even more difficult – especially now, when major reconstruction efforts are needed in places like Anbar and Salahaddin. The Iraqi government says the number of people living in poverty in provinces like Anbar, Salahaddin and Ninawa has risen dramatically and that unemployment is also growing in the wake of the security crisis.

    Locals have returned to their homes nonetheless, given that they had spent uncomfortable months in camps for the displaced. But they have returned to find, not just destruction, but also unemployment and lack of any funds to rebuild. Many had spent their savings while they were displaced and unemployed. And now the government is no longer even able to provide new job opportunities. 

    And it's not going to get any better.

    Last week, the 2017 budget was passed.

    It calls for more spending on weapons and even less on people.

    Small protests have taken place as a result.

    On the internet, these austerity measures may have a face as a result of IN THE NOW.

    Human expiry date? Iraqi government claims 119-year-old is too OLD to be alive!
    Iraqi government claims 119-year-old is too OLD to be alive!

    Let's again note this from the  International Crisis Group's  "Fight or Flight: The Desperate Plight of Iraq's 'Generation 2000':"

    The leadership’s inability to forge a future for “Generation 2000”, which grew up after Saddam Hussein’s fall, has turned it into easy quarry for predators, be they IS, Shiite militias or populists preaching Iraqi nationalism. The potential for mobilising large numbers of young men at loose ends as pawns in violent conflicts has enabled both IS and Shiite militias to gain recruits. In the process, it has compounded sectarian polarisation and widened the divide between street and elites. Fed by fresh pools of fighting-age men, local tensions and conflicts proliferate and escalate, destabilising the country and the surrounding region. The most powerful Shiite militias receive training and advice from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, have an ideological orientation consistent with Tehran’s and can be deployed as proxies outside Iraq as well.
     The familiar expression “youth radicalisation” distorts the reality that an entire generation is adrift, in need of a dramatically new state-led approach. Young Iraqis whose formative years were in the post-2003 turmoil have much more in common than they suspect, whatever side of local conflicts they are on, but they have been increasingly socialised within communal confines and left to the mercy of radical groups that promote dehumanised, even demonised perceptions of one another.
     Before violence engulfed Iraq again, with the rise of IS, youth had attempted to peacefully hold the political class accountable for years of dismal governance. Sunni Arabs staged sit-ins in several towns in 2013, questioning national leaders, including senior Sunnis. They met with repression, leaving scores dead, many more in prison. These events paved the way for IS, which seized Falluja, the Sunni town nearest Baghdad, Mosul and other majority-Sunni towns in June 2014.
      The collapse of the Iraqi army triggered a Shiite call to arms. Militia commanders quickly tapped into youthful disappointment with the Shiite political establishment, turning it into sectarian mobilisation against IS. By summer 2015, IS’s battlefield fortunes had turned, even as it continued to control territory and population. The absence of services, especially electricity shortages in the searing summer, stimulated a popular movement in Baghdad and other majority-Shiite areas reflecting a general sense of frustration with the political establishment.
    Youths flocking to either side of the sectarian divide faulted ruling elites on the same grounds but ended up fighting each other. The political class’ response has been to protect its interests by divide and rule, redirecting anger into fratricidal tensions. Iraq’s external supporters compound the problem by boxing a rudderless generation into distinct categories – fighters, protesters or emigrants – and taking a different approach with each: a military campaign to defeat IS, pressure on the government to institute reforms to undercut demands and an effort to strengthen border controls to keep out migrants. Putting the emphasis on fighting IS, in particular, translates into tolerance of the Shiite militias, whose rise has contributed to sectarian polarisation and empowered a militia culture that compels young professionals to emigrate while boosting commanders’ political ambitions.

    Oil is always a part of the story.  I'll refer you to this post at ZERO HEDGE for what's really going on with oil production in Iraq.  And if you're trying to follow reality in the fake news push to blame Russia, Larry Johnson has three interesting posts up at his site NO QUARTER:



    The following community sites -- plus Tavis Smiley -- updated: