Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A book

Rolling Stone notes:

Carly Simon could have gotten away with just the name-dropping. In her life, she's crossed paths with an astonishing range of famous people, from Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix to Benny Goodman and Albert Einstein. So it's a pleasant surprise that in her compelling new autobiography, Boys in the Trees, she lays out her naked emotions and insecurities, and that she proves to be a supple writer with a gift for descriptions such as "Like some time-bent sailor, he did what he could to steer a course through his own sadness" (a portrait of her father). Simon's lyrical gifts are also featured on the book's companion album — the career-spanning compilation Songs From the Trees: A Musical Memoir Collection — previewed in the video above, a duet with her son Ben Taylor on their new collaborative song "I Can't Thank You Enough." Below are 10 things Boys in the Trees tells us about Simon and her encounters with boldface names.

I'm reading the new book now.  I'm only up the Simon Sisters but I hope to finish it by the end of the week.  I am enjoying it but I am a bit of slow reader.

The Boston Herald covers the book here and the Boston Globe reviews it here.

Again, I'm really enjoying it.

I'm sure it will make the list of the ten best when the community votes next month.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government announces more bombs dropped on Iraq, one service member who died in Iraq is identified while another is remembered by those who knew and loved him, Barack Obama apes John Kerry (not a good thing), and much more.

Russell Hulstine (News On 6) reports on a memorial service planned for today to honor Master Sgt Joshua Wheeler who died in combat last month in Iraq, "The 39-year-old was killed October 22 when he and dozens of U.S. special operations troops and Iraqi forces raided a compound near the city of Kirkuk, freeing approximately 70 Iraqi prisoners."  US Senator Jim Inhofe posted the following to his Facebook page:

Senator Jim Inhofe
Government Official · 28,162 Likes
· November 18 at 7:02am ·
Today at 11AM Eastern, an American hero and Oklahoman will be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery. Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler of Roland, Okla., gave his life in Iraq helping to release 70 individuals that were being held hostage by ISIS. Senator James Lankford and I spoke on the Senate floor in remembrance of Wheeler and shared stories we learned from his friends, family, and fellow soldiers of the selfless life he led in dedication to his country. I hope you will take a moment to watch here:

Mitch De Leon (Gospel Herald) reports on the memorial:

"He was a soldier, but I didn't realize he had all of these accomplishments, all these achievements - it just blows my mind," said Zack, the brother of Master Sgt. Wheeler, during the memorial tribute held in his honor in his hometown in Roland, Oklahoma, according to 5News TV. The mourning family member added, "He's an American hero. That's just how Josh was. He just wanted to take care of people. I just hope his sons know how big of a hero he was."
Master Sgt. Wheeler graduated from Muldrow High School in 1994. He became part of the US Military in May 1995 when he entered as an infantryman. Throughout his career, he garnered some awards for his service to the nation. These included 11 Bronze Stars in which four had been for valor as well as a Purple Heart, which was given posthumously.

Joshua Wheeler's memorial tribute comes a day after another US service member who died in Iraq was identified.  Fox 5 News reports, "A soldier from Fort Drum in northern New York died on base in Iraq last week, according to the Department of Defense.  Pvt. Christopher J. Castaneda, 19, of Fripp Island, South Carolina, died November 19, 2015, in a non-combat-related incident at Al Asad Air Base, the DoD said. He and his unit were in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve."  The office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the following:

Governor Cuomo directed flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, November 24, in honor of a Fort Drum Soldier who died in Iraq on Thursday, November 19.

Pvt. Christopher Castaneda died in a non-combat related incident at Al Asad Air Base. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, of the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. He was a resident of Fripp Island, South Carolina.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend our deepest sympathy to Pvt. Christopher Castaneda's loved ones," Governor Cuomo said. "We are saddened by his loss and join his fellow soldiers, his family, and his friends in honoring his service to our nation."

Governor Cuomo has directed that the flags on all State buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of and in tribute to New York service members and those stationed in New York who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.

While others have dealt with loss, the White House has embraced spin and worse.

Jason Ditz ( observes, "President Obama, in Malaysia as part of his long-planned trip to Asia, was supposed to be focusing heavily on the Pentagon's 'Asia pivot' as the military component of his visit, but instead is finding himself talking non-stop about the ISIS war, eager to defend his existing strategy in the conflict."

So eager that he's launching attacks -- baseless ones.

Josh Feldman (Mediaite) notes Barack declared last week, "I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that's coming out of here during the course of this debate."

So Barack is aware of the power of rhetoric?

Would never know by his refusal to curb John Kerry's ugly, vile mouth.

The Islamic State is most likely not overly upset that the US House of Representatives is currently calling for more safeguards for any refugees from Syria or even if they decide to bar the refugees.

But they probably do take offense to being called "Da'esh" which is seen as a slur.

John Kerry's been using the term for a year now.

At the start of 2015, Joshua Keating (Slate) was pointing out how Barack wasn't joining John in that game. But as Jon Levine (Mic via Yahoo! News) observes, those days are gone.

Paris gets attacked, Barack gets criticized and suddenly he tosses aside his common sense to act like a hysteric.

The immigration issue has no real impact on the Islamic State or on who they recruit.

Barack using the d-word?

Can we say this has no effect?

Last month, Lydia Wilson (The Nation) published the results of her interviews with captured Islamic State members being held by Kurdish authorities in Iraq:

Many assume that these fighters are motivated by a belief in the Islamic State, a caliphate ruled by a caliph with the traditional title Emir al-Muminiin, “Commander of the faithful,” a role currently held by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; that fighters all over the world are flocking to the area for a chance to fight for this dream. But this just doesn’t hold for the prisoners we are interviewing. They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the caliphate. But a detailed, or even superficial, knowledge of Islam isn’t necessarily relevant to the ideal of fighting for an Islamic State, as we have seen from the Amazon order of Islam for Dummies by one British fighter bound for ISIS.
 In fact, Erin Saltman, senior counter-extremism researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, says that there is now less emphasis on knowledge of Islam in the recruitment phase. “We are seeing a movement away from strict religious ideological training as a requirement for recruitment,” she told me. “If we were looking at foreign fighter recruits to Afghanistan 10 or 20 years ago, there was intensive religious and theological training attached to recruitment. Nowadays, we see that recruitment strategy has branched out to a much broader audience with many different pull factors.”
There is no question that these prisoners I am interviewing are committed to Islam; it is just their own brand of Islam, only distantly related to that of the Islamic State. Similarly, Western fighters traveling to the Islamic State are also deeply committed, but it’s to their own idea of jihad rather than one based on sound theological arguments or even evidence from the Qur’an. As Saltman said, “Recruitment [of ISIS] plays upon desires of adventure, activism, romance, power, belonging, along with spiritual fulfillment.” That is, Islam plays a part, but not necessarily in the rigid, Salafi form demanded by the leadership of the Islamic State.
[. . .]
These boys came of age under the disastrous American occupation after 2003, in the chaotic and violent Arab part of Iraq, ruled by the viciously sectarian Shia government of Nouri al-Maliki. Growing up Sunni Arab was no fun. A later interviewee described his life growing up under American occupation: He couldn’t go out, he didn’t have a life, and he specifically mentioned that he didn’t have girlfriends. An Islamic State fighter’s biggest resentment was the lack of an adolescence. Another of the interviewees was displaced at the critical age of 13, when his family fled to Kirkuk from Diyala province at the height of Iraq’s sectarian civil war. They are children of the occupation, many with missing fathers at crucial periods (through jail, death from execution, or fighting in the insurgency), filled with rage against America and their own government. They are not fueled by the idea of an Islamic caliphate without borders; rather, ISIS is the first group since the crushed Al Qaeda to offer these humiliated and enraged young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe. This is not radicalization to the ISIS way of life, but the promise of a way out of their insecure and undignified lives; the promise of living in pride as Iraqi Sunni Arabs, which is not just a religious identity but cultural, tribal, and land-based, too.

Is it hard to grasp reality or have too many just ignored reality for too long?

The Islamic State spreads because of the way Sunnis are persecuted in the region.

The Islamic State spreads and grows because no one will stand up for the Sunnis on the world stage.

Those sympathetic to IS feel Sunnis are being humiliated.

So how the hell is the answer to start using a term that is seen as derogatory to describe a Sunni group?

You want to push those sympathetic to IS even closer to the Islamic State?

Mock the Islamic State.

Let Barack play your basic moron on Comedy Central instead of president, let him go into the gutter and who do you think wins that battle?

Barack acting like a braying ass will help how?

Barack should be trying to maintain dignity while making calm and rationale statements against the Islamic State and its actions.

Doing that will allow him a shot at being heard by those who might be attracted to the Islamic State.

Contrast that with his using the d-word and mocking.

At a time when the driving force for IS recruitment is the persecution and humiliation, in what world is the answer to be seen as bullies talking trash?

Wilson appeared on Democracy Now! last week:

AMY GOODMAN: What drove the ISIS prisoners that you talked to? And describe the setting where you talked to them.

LYDIA WILSON: So, they were prisoners. They had been through due process. They had been found guilty of terrorism for various vehicle explosions and assassinations within Kirkuk. And so, I was given access by the police, and I was interviewing them before they were serving their sentence.
And so, they were quiet, to begin with. And when I gave them a chance to talk and to ask more open-ended questions, it became very clear that they were fueled by a lot of anger, anger primarily against the Americans, but also against their government, that they perceived as Shia, sectarian, and anti-Sunni. They perceived that everybody was against them, that they weren’t given a chance in their own country. And many of them were poor. They were very low education rates—one was illiterate entirely—and big families and often unemployed. So, ISIS was not only offering them a chance to fight for their Sunni identity, but they were offering them money. They were being paid to be foot soldiers. And, I mean, one of them was the eldest of 17 siblings, and his story was that he hurt his back and couldn’t earn any money as a laborer, which he had been doing.

Now, this money was greatly appreciated by them all, but that’s not to say it’s only economic need. There was this driving anger against Americans, against the occupation—but not in terms of this ideology that we see coming out of the ISIS official publications or through social media. It was anger—it was much more personal. It was much more about their own childhoods and adolescences, that they had been blocked from having a normal life because, as they saw it, of the American occupation.


There are some serious issues to address.

John Kerry is clearly not qualified to address them.

Hopefully, Barack is.

He's in the White House until late January 2017.

Hopefully, he can do something during that time.

He needs to.

Guy Taylor (Washington Times) reports:

Key tribal leaders from Iraq’s Sunni Arab population say U.S. officials have failed to work with them in the fight against the Islamic State and assert that Russia is now increasingly eager to fill the void — even inviting influential sheikhs to visit Moscow and air their grievances.
While the Obama administration admits its push for a “Sunni Awakening 2.0” to break the Islamic State’s hold on Iraq has gone more slowly than hoped, the claims made by five separate Sunni tribal sheikhs in interviews with The Washington Times paint a far bleaker picture, one in which Washington appears to have bungled a chance to recreate an approach that worked against the terrorists in the past.

How does this address the perception that no one will stand with the Sunnis?

It doesn't.

It pushes the message that no one cares about the Sunnis.

Certainly Lara Logan didn't give a damn about them on Sunday when she did the report on 60 MINUTES which only acknowledged the Sunnis when speaking of . . . the Islamic State..

Sunni fighters against the Islamic State don't apparently exist -- not in Lara's report.

So Sunnis risk their lives in Anbar Province to fight against the Islamic State and Lara Logan can't even acknowledge them?

And you wonder who's winning hearts and minds.

The United States government has refused -- repeatedly -- to stand up for the Sunnis.

This was most obvious with regards to spring massacre.

The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

The US could have stopped that.

One call to Nouri saying, "Cut it out or we cut the funding."

That's all it would have taken.

But the US government -- the White House -- was still determined to stand with Nouri.

(Hawija is over 98% Sunni.)

Time and again, crimes against the Sunnis were ignored and/or tolerated by the US government.

Barack has a lot of work to do to make up for the impression he's already set.

Mocking the Islamic State to the giggles of various Shi'ite thugs will not help Barack but it will make some Sunnis even more hostile towards those they see as degrading and attacking the Sunni population.

Meanwhile new developments in the war on the Islamic State?  Pacifica Evening News puts it mildly, "Turkish Military Downs Russian Jet, Complicating Global Response to Syrian Civil War."

The US Defense Dept claimed/bragged yesterday:

Strikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Abu Hayat, one strike struck an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Rutbah, one strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb facility.

-- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and wounded two ISIL fighters.

-- Near Habbaniyah, one strike destroyed an ISIL artillery piece.

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

-- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, one strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle, eight ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL house bomb, two ISIL recoilless rifles, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL building, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Hit, one strike destroyed an ISIL bridge section.

Today, they added:

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

-- Near Baghdadi, one strike stuck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL building.

-- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb and three ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL excavator, an ISIL bunker, five ISIL weapons caches, five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL mortar position, an ISIL bomb, an ISIL staging area, damaged three ISIL entrenchments, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed one ISIL fighting position and an ISIL supply cache.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and three ISIL fighting positions.

It's not working.

And it's past time Barack devoted significant resources to diplomacy to work out an actual political solution.

Turning to the arts, Friday, Carly Simon's SONGS FROM THE TREES was released -- Kat reviewed it here (she also reviewed Adele's 25)-- and it's the musical companion piece to Carly's memoir BOYS IN THE TREES which went on sale today.

Boys in the Trees

A Memoir

Carly Simon
Flatiron Books

Simon's memoir reveals her remarkable life, beginning with her storied childhood as the third daughter of Richard L. Simon, the co-founder of publishing giant Simon & Schuster, her musical debut as half of The Simon Sisters performing folk songs with her sister Lucy in Greenwich Village, to a meteoric solo career that would result in 13 top 40 hits, including the #1 song "You're So Vain." She was the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, for her song "Let the River Run" from the movie Working Girl.

The memoir recalls a childhood enriched by music and culture, but also one shrouded in secrets that would eventually tear her family apart. Simon brilliantly captures moments of creative inspiration, the sparks of songs, and the stories behind writing "Anticipation" and "We Have No Secrets" among many others. Romantic entanglements with some of the most famous men of the day fueled her confessional lyrics, as well as the unraveling of her storybook marriage to James Taylor.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Marvel Agents of SHIELD

Is it me or is this season just not cutting it?

The only thing that held my interest in last Tuesday's episode would be the scenes with Ward.

The whole thing just seems too scattered and poorly plotted.

Jemma or Gemma (sp?) wanting to go back to that other universe to rescue the guy she met there, Daisy & company and their search for super humans, Ward's rise of HYDRA . . .

It never really connects and always seems to be an hour of rehearsals that were mistakenly broadcast instead of the actual episode.

That and Colson and his too-cute-delivery where he seems to be in love with himself.

It just gets annoying.

I'm looking forward to the return of Agent Peggy Carter mainly so that Marvel Agents of SHIELD can get its act together.

I still think it did a very lousy job of returning from last season's finale.

The second season was so strong.

And everything fell apart this season.

Maybe it's just me.

But it feels like a chore to watch the show lately.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Saturday, November 21, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, 'liberation' doesn't bring peace in Iraqi cities, the US government finally fesses up to civilians killed in one airstrike, and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq

Bomber, attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 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 three ISIL buildings.

-- Near Bayji, one strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.

-- Near Kisik, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL bunker, and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Qayyarah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache and three ISIL fighting positions. 

-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL command and control facility, 15 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, five ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL recoilless rifle, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL IED facility, an ISIL resupply warehouse, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, and an ISIL checkpoint.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas.

Of course, these are precision strikes.

Not like the Russian air strikes, as a DoD official pompously declared earlier this month.

There are no precision strikes.

BBC News reports:

A US air strike aimed at an IS checkpoint is likely to have killed four civilians, possibly including a child, the US military has said.
On Friday the military released the findings of an investigation into the incident, which took place in March.
Investigators concluded the checkpoint was a valid target and the attack did not violate international laws.
The US has rarely acknowledged civilian deaths in the fight against IS and the announcement brings the total to six.

AFP adds, "It marks only the second such concession since the start of a coalition air campaign in Iraq and Syria - the U.S. military in November 2014 admitted accidentally killing two children during a strike in Syria."

Only the second concession and the first for Iraq.

Lest anyone mistakenly thinks that means civilians have not been dying in Iraq and Syria as a result of the US-led airstrikes,  AirWars estimates that the air strikes have killed between 653 to 2001 civilians.

That's probably a conservative estimate.

But the media always wants to play along with the myth that all these bombs being dropped never land on civilians.

For example, Telesur TV reports, "Turkish warplanes launched airstrikes in Northern Iraq on Friday night, destroying shelters and supply points of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)."  AFP adds, "The military did not give further details but the state-run Anatolia news agency said the operation involved 22 fighter jets and that 23 targets were hit."

But funny thing is, when you leave the press releases from the Turkish government and talk to the actual people where the bombs are being dropped, they talk of farms destroyed, people terrorized and, yes, people (civilians) killed.

Destruction follows 'liberation' as well.  Take Baiji.

    1. Shia militias crimes destroyed hundreds Sunni families houses in Beiji it become a Ghost city
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  •  Baiji was 'liberated' last month.

    Well maybe it's too soon?

    Maybe it needs a few more months?

    There's Jalawla which was 'liberated' a year ago -- November 2014.

    Look how well it's doing . . .

    Oh, wait.

    Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera Tweeted the following this week:

  • The cycle of violence in Iraq appears to continue with 'liberation.'

    That was obvious this week in newly 'liberated' Sinjar.

    We'll drop back to Thursday's snapshot:

    Let's move over to liberated Sinjar and the peaceful Yazidis, so grateful to return to Sinjar that they hugged everyone and prayed.

    Or something.

    On All Things Considered (NPR), Alice Fordham reported on the reaction of some Yazidis.

    FORDHAM: And he directs his anger at the Arab Muslims from his area who he says collaborated with the extremists. Not one of the Yazidis I speak to distinguishes between Arab Muslim families who stayed in ISIS-held areas and ISIS fighters. Some Arab leaders fear widespread revenge killing and looting. South of Sinjar, there's a string of ISIS-held villages mainly populated by Arab Muslims. I ask a Yazidi commander named Badr al-Hajji if there are civilians there.

    And how 'bout this money quote?

  •  Monday, AFP reported that the Yazidis 'celebrated' their return to Sinjar by looting Sunni homes and setting them on fire.

    AFP also reminds, "Rights group Amnesty International documented attacks by Yazidi militiamen against two Sunni Arab villages north of Sinjar in January, in which 21 people were killed and numerous houses burned."

    Today, Isabel Coles (Reuters) visits the area and hears from Yazidis such as one man who she sees loading (stolen) sofas onto his truck and explains, "This is our neighbor's house.  I've come to take his belongings, and now I'm going to blow up his house."
    The circle of violence never ends while so many feel the government does not represent them.
    Thursday morning we noted the use of the Paris attacks to sell war and how that accounted for a great deal of the media attention:

    The horrors inflicted on France -- true ones, a genuine tragedy -- take place every day in Iraq, take place in Libya and in Egypt and in . . .

    And no one gives a damn.

    Our Lady of Salvation Church, to give but one example, is attacked in Baghdad October 31, 2010 and at least 58 worshipers were killed with at least 78 more left injured.

    And it was a headline.

    A minor blip.

    CNN did not go wall-to-wall for even one day -- let alone days.

    When the Islamic State declared war on Christians in Iraq (in a recorded message two days after the attack), this did not result in massive news coverage.

    Nor did President Barack Obama begin to use the term "genocide" to describe how Iraq's Christian population was being persecuted.

    Over 125,000 have been forced to flee.

    The number killed is probably at least that.

    (And killed by more than just the Islamic State.  Shi'ites have targeted the Christian population as well.)

    On the attack, we'll note this from Dirk Adriaensens' 2012 report "Were Iraqi Security Forces Involved in Baghdad Church Massacre" (Truth-Out):

    On 31 October 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church, in Baghdad's central Karrada neighborhood, was attacked by "Al Qaeda." In the deadly attack, gunmen stormed the building and gunned down the priest and worshippers, before exploding their suicide vests. Despite an outcry against attacks on Christians, the targeting of churches in Iraq has been a regular feature since the US invasion of the country in 2003. In all, 68 worshippers died while attending church that day and another 98 were wounded.
    On 2 August 2011, an Iraqi court convicted three people and awarded them the death penalty for their role last year in this siege and underscored the uphill task faced by rulers in protecting religious minorities(65) - which are on the verge of extinction.
    But the Assyrian Christian Community, Iraqi bloggers and even some politicians have openly accused the Iraqi government of mishandling the October 31 attack:
    a) They point out that the terrorists brought explosives and weapons to the church in cars with dark-tinted windows and no license plates that are only available to officials with high-level security clearance. This allowed them to get waved through checkpoints without being stopped.
    b) They also point to the slow reaction of the security forces and the botched handling of the rescue attempt itself. It still remains unclear how many of the victims were killed or wounded by the members of the Iraqi rescue team, who opened fire wildly once they burst into the church.
    c) A senior officer in the Iraqi police, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that for the ten days prior to the attack, the Interior Ministry security forces gradually moved barriers closer to the church, until the terrorists could drive right up in front.
    d) Dr. Duraid Tobiya, who heads the Mosul section of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the largest Christian political party in Iraq, told Newsmax, "I can't accuse the government directly because I haven't seen the evidence. But this is what we have heard from survivors and from eyewitnesses who talked to people who were inside."
    Duraid and other secular Christian leaders interviewed in northern Iraq believe that the Shiite Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which controls the Interior Ministry forces, was complicit in the attack and that the Iraqi police has become the instrument of the ruling party, not the state. He pointed out that right after the church massacre, the Baghdad City Council, which is also controlled by the Dawa Party, passed new laws banning liquor stores, nightclubs and educational associations run by Christians. "Even the universities in Baghdad imposed new dress codes on students and separated classes by sex, like the Taliban."

    Violence and more violence -- and the one who wants violence?  Yes, her.  Thursday, Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy speech calling for more destruction.  We addressed some sections of the speech in that day's snapshot.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) takes the speech on at length but we'll instead zoom in on his coverage of the questions Clinton was asked following her speech:

    In a question and answer period following her speech, Clinton described her policy as “an intensification and acceleration” of the policies currently pursued by the Obama administration.
    “We should be sending more special operators, we should be empowering our trainers in Iraq, we should be…leading an air coalition, using both fighter planes and drones” against a “broader target set.”
    She added that the 3,500 troops that Obama has deployed to Iraq should be given “greater freedom of movement and flexibility,” i.e., they should be sent into combat with Iraqi government units.
    Clinton also advocated stepped-up arming of Sunni and Kurdish forces in Iraq to fight ISIS, with or without the consent of the Shiite-dominated central government, warning, “if Baghdad won’t do that, the coalition should do so directly.”
    She also proposed a policy to “retool and ramp up our efforts to equip viable Syrian opposition efforts,” while virtually in the same breath declaring, “There is not going to be a successful military effort at this point to overturn Assad,” and that regime change now could only be effected through a “political process.”
    In the question and answer period, Clinton said that she disagreed with Obama on Syria, believing that the administration could have done “more earlier to try and identify indigenous Syrian fighters, and adding, “We could have done more to help them in their fight against Assad.”
    In reality, Clinton at the time was warning Congress that US arms sent into Syria could end up in the hands of Al Qaeda. Massive amounts of arms were funneled into these forces by Washington’s principal regional allies—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar—under the supervision of the CIA.
    In a brief moment of discomfort for the Democratic candidate, she was asked to respond to a statement by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that US regime change operations in Iraq and Libya had only created disasters. Her response: “It’s too soon to tell.”
    More than 13 years after then-Senator Hillary Clinton voted for a US war of aggression against Iraq based upon lies about weapons of mass destruction, presidential candidate Clinton insists that the jury is still out on this criminal war, which slaughtered hundreds of thousands and turned millions into refugees.

    Mike Whitney (Global Research) notes:

    Seriously, while regretful Democrats can claim that they never thought Obama would turn out to be the disappointment he has been, the same can’t be said about Clinton.  Madame Secretary has a long pedigree and the bold print on the warning label is easy to read.  There’s simply no excuse for anyone to vote for a proven commodity like Hillary and then complain at some later date, that they didn’t know what a scheming and hard-boiled harridan she really was. Clinton’s hawkishness is part of the public record. It’s right there for everyone to see. She voted for Iraq, she supported the Libya fiasco, and now she’s gearing up for Syria. Her bloodthirsty foreign policy is just slightly to the left of John McCain and his looneybin sidekick, Lindsey Graham. Simply put: A vote for Clinton is a vote more-of-the-same death and destruction spread willy-nilly across the planet in the endless pursuit of imperial domination. It’s that simple. 

    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    Idiot and coward of the week

    So Brian Cloughley offers/asks "Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace" and the answer is fairly obvious.

    Ash Carter is the biggest threat to world peace because Brian Cloughley is another useless punk ass who can't call out Barack Obama.

    What a coward.

    What a weakling.

    It's as though it's 2004 and we're pinning all the blame for Bully Boy Bush War Crimes on Donald Rumsfeld.

    What a coward.

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Thursday, November 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Yazidis fondle their inner revenge demons, Hillary War Hawk Clinton talks more destruction, and much more.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced the following:

    Strikes in Iraq

    Bomber, attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Kirkuk, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Kisik, six strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL weapons caches, 12 ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache and two ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL tactical vehicles, an ISIL tunnel, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL- controlled bridge, an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, an ISIL bed down location, an ISIL staging area, and cratered two ISIL roads.

    -- Near Sinjar, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL tactical vehicle, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    They do a lot of bragging at the Defense Dept.  For example.

    Targets Damaged/Destroyed as of November 13, 2015

    That's a whole lot of bombings.

    Of course, former US House Rep Mike Rogers points out, at CNN, "And we have bombed ISIS in Syria for over a year, yet three of their deadliest attacks have happened in the last three weeks."

    Rogers is making the point as he argues for more war.

    His little pitch for more carnage, however, is likely to go unnoticed since Hillary let her War Hawk wings flutter in a major speech today.

    Hillary Clinton:  This is not a time for scoring political points. When New York was attacked on 9/11, we had a Republican president, a Republican governor and a Republican mayor, and I worked with all of them. We pulled together and put partisanship aside to rebuild our city and protect our country. 

    And, so modest, apparently it was this 'bi-partisan' drive that forced her to vote for the illegal war -- which she did in 2002.

    She pulled together with other War Hawks.

    "This is not a time for scoring political points," she said.  Or, apparently, for common sense.

    Hillary Clinton:  Our strategy should have three main elements. One, defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East; two, disrupt and dismantle the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing arms and propaganda around the world; three, harden our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats.

    I'm sorry when Hillary ran the Pentagon, does anyone remember --

    What's that?

    She was never Secretary of Defense?

    She was Secretary of State?


    I'm confused then.

    Where in the world is her advocating for diplomacy?

    Three main elements and they're all military.

    She didn't learn a thing from all those photo ops.

    She didn't learn much at all.


    Sons Of Iraq (and Daughters Of Iraq).


    Three terms for the same thing.

    Hillary wanted to reference them -- largely Sunni fighters that the US government paid.

    Hillary Clinton:  Ultimately, however, a ground campaign in Iraq will only succeed if more Iraqi Sunnis join the fight. But that won’t happen so long as they do not feel they have a stake in their country or confidence in their own security and capacity to confront ISIS.   Now, we’ve been in a similar place before in Iraq. In the first Sunni awakening in 2007, we were able to provide sufficient support and assurances to the Sunni tribes to persuade them to join us in rooting out Al Qaida. Unfortunately, under Prime Minister Maliki’s rule, those tribes were betrayed and forgotten. So the task of bringing Sunnis off the sidelines into this new fight will be considerably more difficult. But nonetheless, we need to lay the foundation for a second Sunni awakening.

    During Nouri al-Maliki's rule?

    This happened during Nouri al-Maliki's rule?

    Damn that Bully Boy Bush!

    He installed Nouri in 2006.

    This happened because of Nouri.

    If only Iraq could have gotten rid of Nouri.

    The Iraqis even tried.

    He lost the 2010 election to Ayad Allawi.

    But that damn Bully Boy Bush insisted Nouri get a second term and --


    Bully Boy Bush wasn't in the White House in 2010?

    Oh, that's right.

    It was Barack -- and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who disregarded the voice of the Iraqi people, spat on their votes, pissed on the Iraqi Constitution and crafted The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri the second term the Iraqi people wouldn't.

    Hillary's correct that today's divisions were fostered by Nouri.

    He persecuted the Sunnis.

    But his actions were already known.

    Secret jails and prisons he used for torture were already exposed.

    But Barack gave him a second term and Hillary didn't object.

    Now she wants to insist that the same US government must lead -- the one that disregarded the Iraqi voters while hectoring them about 'democracy' -- and they must lead this battle -- the battle the US government started.

    Hillary Clinton:  This is a time for American leadership. No other country can rally the world to defeat ISIS and win the generational struggle against radical jihadism.  Only the United States can mobilize common action on a global scale, and that’s exactly what we need. The entire world must be part of this fight, but we must lead it. 

    The only leadership Hillary's ever offered is leading American's children into wars.

    Let's move over to liberated Sinjar and the peaceful Yazidis, so grateful to return to Sinjar that they hugged everyone and prayed.

    Or something.

    On All Things Considered (NPR), Alice Fordham reported on the reaction of some Yazidis.

    FORDHAM: And he directs his anger at the Arab Muslims from his area who he says collaborated with the extremists. Not one of the Yazidis I speak to distinguishes between Arab Muslim families who stayed in ISIS-held areas and ISIS fighters. Some Arab leaders fear widespread revenge killing and looting. South of Sinjar, there's a string of ISIS-held villages mainly populated by Arab Muslims. I ask a Yazidi commander named Badr al-Hajji if there are civilians there.

    And how 'bout this money quote?

  •  Monday, AFP reported that the Yazidis 'celebrated' their return to Sinjar by looting Sunni homes and setting them on fire.

    AFP also reminds, "Rights group Amnesty International documented attacks by Yazidi militiamen against two Sunni Arab villages north of Sinjar in January, in which 21 people were killed and numerous houses burned."
    Today, Isabel Coles (Reuters) visits the area and hears from Yazidis such as one man who she sees loading (stolen) sofas onto his truck and explains, "This is our neighbor's house.  I've come to take his belongings, and now I'm going to blow up his house."
    Hillary's nonsense today did not address that.
    In other news, Stars and Stripes reports, "A servicemember working with the Combined Joint Task Force directing coalition operations against Islamic State militants died of a non-combat-related injury in Iraq on Thursday, the coalition said."  Reuters adds, "The service member was not identified, and the U.S. military statement offered no other details."

    Lastly, the US State Dept issued the following today:

    Iraq: U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Efforts Save Lives and Build Capacity

    Fact Sheet
    Office of the Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    November 19, 2015 

    The United States has invested more than $280 million in Iraq since 2003 toward the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and excess conventional weapons and munitions. This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term.
    The Landmine /Unexploded Ordnance Challenge
    Communities across Iraq face danger from an estimated 10-to-15 million landmines and pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from conflicts dating back to the 1940s. Numerous large barrier minefields and UXO remain along the Iran/Iraq border as a result of the 1980s conflict between the two nations. The war in 1990-1991 and the conflict that began in 2003 scattered significant numbers of additional UXO, particularly in the south of the country.
    The recent activities of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq have dramatically altered the Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) landscape. As civilians flee large population centers like Mosul, they have become internally displaced persons in areas where they are not familiar with mine and UXO hazards. As families begin to return to their homes, they are confronted with both hazards from the recent conflict, as well as deliberate mining and booby-trapping of homes by ISIL.
    Recent Accomplishments
    During the past year, the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) provided over $23 million to support CWD efforts in Iraq which led to the following results:
    • Safely released and cleared landmines and UXO from more than 65 million square meters (from a total of 752 million square meters) of land across Iraq, which has revitalized economic and agricultural development throughout the nation.
    • Destroyed more than 61,979 pieces of UXO and abandoned or otherwise at-risk munitions.
    • Provided risk education to more than 38,000 Iraqi men, women and children, saving lives and preventing injuries with outreach programs to warn about the potential dangers from landmines and UXO in their communities.
    U.S.-Funded Partner Initiatives:
    • MAG (Mines Advisory Group): State Department funding has enabled MAG Iraq to clear over 34 square kilometers of contaminated land, freeing 300 contaminated sites for productive use and responding to more than 20,000 spot tasks to safely remove and destroy 840,730 landmines and pieces of UXO in northern and central Iraq. In the upcoming fiscal years, MAG plans to begin clearing newly liberated areas for the safe and timely return of IDPs such as the Yazidi population in Sinuni, Zammar, and Rabeea. Additionally, MAG plans to deploy community liaison teams to deliver risk education to an estimated 71,700 civilians affected by ISIL-related violence.
    • Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA): NPA provided technical advisors to the Iraqi Regional Mine Action Center - South in Basrah (RMAC-S) to assist it in fulfilling its role as a regulatory body that is able to coordinate and monitor mine action activities. This project has enabled the RMAC-S to conduct a survey designed to provide a more accurate picture of the mine/UXO situation in southern Iraq. Additionally, NPA’s WRA-funded teams cleared 164,868 square meters in 2014 and found 74 cluster sub-munitions, and 20 other pieces of UXO. In 2015, the same teams have so far cleared 1,732,105 square meters finding 1,086 cluster sub munitions, 157 other pieces of UXO, 22 anti-tank mines, and 7 anti-personnel mines.
    • Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD): FSD’s proposed area of intervention was captured by ISIL and then liberated by Peshmerga forces between July 2014 and February 2015. Subsequently, FSD plans to deploy survey and clearance teams to those areas in late 2015 to increase civilian security for returning IDPs.
    • Danish Demining Group (DDG): DDG will begin conducting survey and clearance operations in southern Iraq as well as assist in developing the program capacity of the RMAC-S in coordination with the Iraq Directorate of Mine Action (DMA). Additionally, DDG hopes to conduct risk education with the goal of reaching 120,000 beneficiaries in northern Iraq.
    • Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP): iMMAP advisors continue to provide operational management, strategic planning, victims’ assistance support, and technical expertise. In September 2015, the DMA, Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), and iMMAP signed a Memorandum of Understanding allowing iMMAP to establish a joint DMA and IKMAA Information Management Database to track humanitarian mine action (HMA) information in areas liberated from ISIL, and facilitate the flow of HMA data among various mine action NGOs assisting in reconstruction efforts.
    • Spirit of Soccer (SoS): Spirit of Soccer continues to implement innovative projects using soccer as a means to promote education and outreach to children about the risks from landmines and UXO. Expanding on these techniques, SoS incorporated trauma training for youth affected by ISIL-related violence, and pursued local league and tournament sponsorships in order to target young Iraqi males at risk of joining extremist groups.
    • Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI): MLI enhanced and refined the 12 Mine Detection Dog teams working with a local Iraqi demining organization. Furthermore, MLI continued the Children Against Mines Program in southern Iraq; linking three American schools to three Iraqi schools to promote mine risk education in schools and provide medical assistance to young survivors.
    • Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD): The 2014 Country Planning Workshop for Iraq, which was facilitated by GICHD in August 2014 in Istanbul, provided an opportunity for key mine action stakeholders to exchange ideas and to explore, consider and assess future options and opportunities for advancing the assessment and management of CWD activities in Iraq. DMA based in Baghdad, IKMAA based in Kurdistan, PM/WRA, and all relevant international non-governmental organizations participated in this workshop.
    The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of efforts to clear unexploded ordnance and landmines. Since 1993, the United States has contributed more than $2.5 billion to more than 90 countries around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war. For more information on U.S. humanitarian demining and Conventional Weapons Destruction programs, check out the latest edition of our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
    For further information, please contact David McKeeby in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at