Saturday, September 27, 2014

It's not news

Oh, I could just s**t!  I'm so happy!  I could just s**t!  Couldn't you?  Couldn't you just s**t?  Every time I turned on the TV, the 'news' was that Chelsea Clinton had a baby.

Couldn't you just s**t?

I don't mean to knock her, she's not the one treating this event as if it's earth shattering news.

But come on.

There is real news in the world.

Chelsea isn't it.  Her baby isn't it.

Online, it's the same as on TV:

Chicago Tribune - ‎48 minutes ago‎
Chelsea Clinton has given birth to a baby girl. She posted a message on her Twitter and Facebook accounts saying she and her husband were in awe at the birth of their daughter, Charlotte Clinton. Chelsea Clinton has given birth to a baby girl. She posted a ...
KVUE - ‎6 minutes ago‎
Herald Scotland - ‎8 minutes ago‎
Irish Independent - ‎46 minutes ago‎
NY1 - ‎1 hour ago‎
Christian Science Monitor - ‎1 hour ago‎

In Depth

Dallas Morning News - ‎39 minutes ago‎
Chelsea Clinton holds daughter Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. Chelsea Clinton announced the news of her daughter's birth on Twitter and Facebook early Saturday, saying she and her husband are "full of love, awe and ... - ‎2 hours ago‎
FILE - This June 23, 2014, file photo shows Chelsea Clinton as she speaks at the Colorado Museum of Nature and Science, in Denver. Clinton announced the birth of daughter Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, 1st grandchild of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, ...
SFGate - ‎3 hours ago‎
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton finally have the titles they have long wanted: Grandpa and Grandma. Their daughter, Chelsea, gave birth to her first child — with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky — on Friday ...

Trending on Google+

Again, I don't begrudge any happiness to Chelsea or her family (even Hillary) but this just doesn't qualify as news.  It's a fleeting headline at best.

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, US bombing kills civilians in Iraq, Iraqi military continues to bomb residential areas in Falluja, Barack's 'plan' is a bust the same way the 'surge' was, England wants a piece of it and its not the only country that does, Haider al-Abadi's window of opportunity continues to close, and much more.

Jimmy Carter is the only US president since the start of the 20th century who can't seriously be accused of being anti-Arab.  In actions and words, Carter has done what Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, the George Bushes and so many more haven't.

So earlier this week, when he spoke publicly, we linked to the video and noted that at least he was raising the issue of civilian casualties which put him far ahead of so many observers of the latest wave of the Iraq War.   We also included his comment regarding boots on the ground with Carter supporting them.

I didn't try to mind read, didn't try to minimize, we just included them.

Jimmy Carter's thoughts still carry weight in the Arab world and anyone reading the snapshot could read them and interpret them for themselves.

There's now confusion over the statements.  But not in the Arab world.

The confusion comes in the United States.

In an unsigned 'report' at the Inquisitr (well, would you want to put your name to a pack of lies?), someone (and the outlet) argues (argue) that Carter did call for boots on the ground but he supports Barack's plan.

That is where the confusion always starts n the last six years -- when members of the press attempt to figure out how to sell disagreement with Barack as "agreement."

If Carter wants boots on the ground, and he stated he does, he is at odds with Barack's so-called 'plan.'

Carter is in agreement with some people.  Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, is publicly skeptical of the plan.

But he says he supports it!

Dempsey is one of the few speaking who has to speak in code and carefully.  The term is "insubordination."  His testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee -- in full, not pull quotes -- made clear he does not believe the 'plan' is satisfactory or will achieve.

Robert Gates and Leon Panetta served in the administration as civilians.  Both were Secretary of Defense.  Both disagree regarding boots on the ground.  Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has publicly expressed his belief that the 'plan' requires boots on the ground.

I believe Carter's point is more along what Time's Bobby Ghosh was pointing out (on MSNBC) ahead of Barack calling for bombings -- without US troops there to verify, a lot of people could be hurt with US airstrikes and also some Iraqis could use the airstrikes to kill their political rivals and enemies.

That's what I believe Carter was thinking.


But I didn't try to decipher him when we noted his remarks.

We let them stand for themselves.

But The Inquistr has to bend them, has to reshape them, has to insist that Jimmy is backing Barack's 'plan.'

No, he's not.  If he's calling for boots on the ground -- and he is -- then he's not backing Barack's 'plan' which (publicly) calls for no boots on the ground.

The press repeatedly cannot deal with disagreement with Barack so they repeatedly misinform and outright lie to make it appear it's not taking place.

The press tends to do this to a degree with every president.

It has nothing to do with 'respect for the office' but everything to do with the press being made up of suck ups who quickly learn and instill what gets in print and what doesn't.  Fawning?  Outlets make time for that?  Challenging reporting?  Oh, it's less common than investigative journalism.

Let's hold on a second to describe the 'plan' for anyone not paying attention in the last weeks.  The US military will bomb all over Iraq (and now in Syria as well -- Syria is the new Laos) to 'defeat' the Islamic State -- a group of Sunni fundamentalists who have received some backing (in terms of concealment as well as in terms of aiding in violence) by some Iraqi Sunnis as a result of the oppression of the Sunni community in Iraq which includes but is not limited to, false imprisonment, arrests without warrants, arrests of known innocents (arrested because the police couldn't find the suspect so they arrested a mother, or a wife, or a child, or a . . .), torture and rape in Iraqi prisons, etc.

Barack has repeatedly stated in public that Iraq requires a political solution.

When he makes those statements, he's referring to the need for a government that is inclusive and represents all Iraqis.  He's basically trying to turn the clock back to 2010 when Iraqis had again (see the 2009 election results) expressed a growing belief in a national identity and a rejection of a country made up of warring sects.  Nouri al-Maliki (with the White House's backing) came close to destroying such a possibility.

Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen.

The whole point of that was so that Iraq could get a new prime minister, a new leader, so that people could have hope that maybe a new Iraq was possible.

A hope like that doesn't survive months.

It's either confirmed or it's a fleeting hope that quickly passes.

Sometimes I get that feeling and I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
I get that strong long and then I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
But it passes like the summer
I'm a wild seed again
Let the wind carry me
-- "Let The Wind Carry Me," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Joni's For The Roses

Passes like the summer.

And what's happened in Iraq.

Haider al-Abadi was named the new prime minister.

Despite not having a Minister of Interior (over the federal police) or a Minister of Defense (over the military) in his Cabinet.

Just like Nouri.

Who went four years without filling those slots.  Yes, Americans being asked to support bombings today, Nouri went his entire term without a Minister (Secretary) of Defense.

Unlike Nouri, Haider has nominated people for the posts.  The Parliament's just refused to confirm them.

What else has Haider done?

Well, since the start of this year, back in January, under Nouri's orders residential neighborhoods in Falluja have been bombed killing and wounding thousands of Iraqis.  (Falluja's a Sunni-dominated city.)

Near the start of this month, Haider announced that the bombings were over, he had ordered it.

But . . .

the next day the bombings continued and they continue every day.

So his words may be different than Nouri's words, but the results are the same.

He has retained Nouri in the government.

Even Barack didn't do that.  For all the (accurate) critiques of Barack failing to prosecute Bully Boy Bush and his cronies, Barack didn't make Bully Boy Bush Secretary of State, for example.

But tyrant Nouri serves in Haider's government as one of three Vice Presidents (the other two are former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi).

So Nouri's policies continue, the security ministries continue to remain leaderless and Nouri continues in the government.

Where's the change?

Hope's fleeing.  Joni sings "it passes like the summer."

There are a few new freckles on your shoulders
The hammock swings lower and touches the grass
The apples are ripe and the corn is past
Everyone says summer goes by so fast
And we just got here
-- "We Just Got Here," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Have You Seen Me Lately?

Joni sings it passes like summer, Carly sings summer goes by so fast.

Friday, NINA reported 3 civilians are dead and nine more injured.  In addition, Iraqi Spring MC noted  Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 2 children and eight more people who were injured from last night's bombings of the residential neighborhoods.

And how were Friday prayers in Anbar celebrated?  With more civilian bombings.

NINA reports:

Chairman of Anbar provincial Council Sabah Karhot called army troops to focus on the bombing of the IS sites and not targeting residential areas.
Head of the Council Karhot told the National Iraqi News Agency / Nina / that the city of Fallujah exposed to shelling of rockets and explosive barrels that claims the lives of many innocent civilians.
The city of Fallujah exposed, daily, to the bombing of the explosive barrels and mortar shells and rockets, and about 12 civilians were killed and injured in today's bombing, which targeted residential neighborhoods in Fallujah. 

And NINA notes a Friday Mosul bombing by US war planes killed 4 civilians.

So is Haider al-Abadi a liar or powerless?

A number of people are saying powerless and noting articles like this one at Kitabat which maintains that Nouri is refusing to leave the palace he's lived in since 2006, the housing of the prime minister.  And that even high ranking members of Dawa (Nouri's political party) attempting or persuade Nouri that he must leave and allow al-Abadi to move in have failed.

An image is taking hold.  I'm not surprised.

Right now there's a call on Arabic social media for a massive protest in Baghdad on September 30th against Haider al-Abadi.  If it is large, this will not help his image one bit.

The window for Haider to make a difference, to show he was different from Nouri, is closing.

Who will they look to
So innocent they don't know
Life, life isn't always fair
There's always someone who cares
Who will they look to
In whose hands will their future lie
Whose going to tell them stand up again
Why not, why not give them one more try
Who will they look to
-- "Who Will They Look To," written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, first appears on Ashford & Simpson's Street Opera

The White House spent all these weeks shoring up foreign support for bombings and they did nothing to push on the political scene.

So it's a failure in the same way Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' is a failure.

The 'surge' was an infusion of US forces into Iraq and they would address the violence and this would provide time and space for political reconciliations and progress.

The US military did what they were supposed to.  Their side of the 'surge' worked.  But the diplomatic side was a failure which means the 'surge' was a failure since it was created to address the political issues.

Likewise, Barack's bombings.

I never supported them and I don't support them now.  I didn't support the increase of US troops during the 'surge.'  I could have been wrong both times.

If so, I'd admit to it.

But the 'surge' failed because the US diplomatic effort failed.

And the 'bombings' fail in the end not because they're border-line War Crimes (which they are).  The bombings fail because they sucked up all the White House energy and attention and nothing was accomplished in Iraq on the political end.

Okay, well every day's a new day.  Yes, I know that Diana Ross song as well.

But if you're thinking the White House will get started tomorrow (which is a business day in Iraq) or even Monday, you might want to rethink that.

The Iraqi Parliament has just started a two week vacation.  It's the holy period of Eid.

Nothing's happening.

Or did the White House think that the whole world runs on their calendar?

It's apparently 'sexier' and more 'tough guy' to focus on sending troops and bombings but if you're not going to do the really hard work, what's the point?

That's a question which should have been put to Bully Boy Bush and a question which now needs to be put to Barack.

"Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen," I said above.

You support empire!

I don't support empire, I support the Iraqi people, I support the rule of law.

Nouri did not 'win' the 2014 elections.  He did not even 'win' by the definition of 'winning' he gave before the voting started.  To have become Prime Minister for a third term, he would have needed to form a coalition with others.  The National Alliance, the largest Shi'ite bloc, was filled with leaders who did not support a third term for Nouri -- including cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafarri who is now Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The western press thought the White House was in the bag for Nouri (as they were in 2010) so they didn't report the voting accurately.  You had to go to the Iraqi press, the Arab press and some European press (not AFP!) to learn what happened on the day of voting.

Nouri had already worked to suppress Sunni turnout -- which included bombing Falluja before the vote, during the vote, and after the vote.  But on voting day, Sunnis encountered one problem after another in voting.  They were turned away from outside voting centers by Shi'ite militias or Nouri's security forces (Shi'ite militias, at that point, had become a part of Nouri's security forces).  They arrived at other voting centers which were closed.

Many remained closed all day.

Some, if enough complaints went in to the UN and to the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq, were opened mid-day.  While a half-open polling station is better than a non-open one, a half-day's worth of voters have been lost (more if they've shared with neighbors that they went to vote and a sign declared the polling station would not be opening).

It was not a fair vote by any means.

Even with all of that, Nouri did not manage to win as defined by the Iraqi Constitution.

He squeaked ahead of others just barely -- or his State of Law did -- but that was it.

Per the Constitution and per the Supreme Court decision he sought ahead of the 2010 elections but waited until after he came in second to Ayad Allawi to reveal it, Nouri did not win the 2014 elections.

In 2010, the White House demanded a second term for Nouri after the vote demonstrated the people rejected him.   And after Moqtada al-Sadr's April 2010 vote among Shi'ites demonstrated that even a large number of Shi'ites were rejecting him. (Moqtada's vote was open to all but those voting were mainly Shi'ites.  The turnout was such that it's also true that it was not just Moqtada's followers voting.  Slightly over a million Shi'ites not considered to be Moqtada's followers voted in that special April vote to determine who Moqtada should back for prime minister.)  The White House circumvented the Iraqi Constitution by giving Nouri a second term via a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

That was empire, what took place in 2010.

This time what Barack did was pull US support for tyrant Nouri -- a man known to run secret prisons where people were tortured -- this was documented -- Ned Parker reported on it at the Los Angeles Times (Ned's now with Reuters).  They shouldn't have supported him in 2010 but Barack was smart, in 2014, in pulling the support for Nouri.  I think it will eventually be seen as one of the smartest and most significant moments of foreign policy during Barack's two terms as US President.

There's always been a shortage of leaders in this world overrun with copy cats.  That point was made clear yesterday in England.  Matt Chorley (Daily Mail) reports:

Britain is to join air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq after MPs voted overwhelmingly by 524 to 43 to back military action.
Six RAF Tornados are expected to join war planes from the US, France and Arab nations after Parliament staged a six-hour emergency debate on UK intervention.
David Cameron insisted Britain cannot 'walk on by' in the face of the threat posed by 'psychopathic terrorists'.
But divisions emerged over expanding action into neighbouring Syria, with Labour leader Ed Miliband insisting a UN Security Council resolution should be sought first, even though Russia and China are certain to veto it.

Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) explains, "Parliament was recalled by Cameron for the vote on military action in Iraq, which was approved after lengthy debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Any proposal to expand the strikes to Syria would require additional action by Parliament, according to the motion."

And the vote came after various speeches and columns such as this from Simon Jenkins (Guardian): "Islam’s wars are not Britain’s business. We owe their human victims all the aid we can to relieve suffering. We do not owe them our incompetence in trying to recast their politics. That is a task for the Arabs and their neighbours, not for Britain’s soldiers and taxpayers."

Not all rushed to join Conservative leader David Cameron or centrist Labour leader Ed Miliband in supporting war.  The Scottish National Party refused to support the war.  Michael Settle (Scotland's Herald) reports:

However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to "win the peace" in the Coalition's motion then SNP MPs would vote against it.
He said there was "deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war", given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
He added: "The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution."

And it's not just England rushing to join in senseless bombing, Griff Witte and Rebecca Collard (Washington Post) note "Denmark and Belgium also opted to join the fight."

Margaret Griffis ( reports of yesterday's violence:

At least 102 people and 40 were wounded. Most of the dead were killed in today’s airstrikes, but some of them were killed during a concentrated attack on soldiers in Anbar province last week. Details about that multi-faceted attack have been slow to leak out.

New details have emerged concerning a weekend massacre of soldiers in Anbar Province. Although many questions remain, soldiers stationed at Albu Etha told a discouraging story about being unable to get any help from army commanders or Baghdad before abandoning their post. Fifteen were killed and 40 were wounded. The Anbar assaults also took place in Saqlawiya and Sijr. Both Sijr and Albu Etha have been reclaimed by Iraq forces.

Good thing Barack's got a 'plan,' right.

The 'plan' doesn't address the Iraqi military refusing to follow the prime minister's orders.

And it doesn't address the failure of Iraqi military commanders to provide support.

But it sure does blow up a lot of stuff and a lot of people.

So let's all pretend it's a 'plan' and we can also pretend, at least for a few more weeks, that it's a success.


Friday, September 26, 2014

RT and boxers

I like how RT points out the Pentagon is denying civilian deaths from their bombing of Syria -- denying "so far."

RT notes:

While American officials deny that civilians have been killed, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that the US and its allies should take care to ensure that such casualties are limited, if not avoided entirely.
“I regret the loss of any civilian lives as a result of strikes against targets in Syria,” Ban said at a climate summit press conference in New York. “The parties involved in this campaign must abide by international humanitarian law and take all necessary precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties.”

It's a shame US outlets can't note the same.

So good for RT.

Now for something I hate.

Why do they tape our boxers?

I ripped a new pair today.

Do you know what I'm talking about?

You need some underwear, so you buy a pack of 4 or 5 boxers.  They're rolled up inside the pack.  They've got tape holding them together.

I don't understand why the tape needs to be there to begin with.

And today, trying to pull the tape off a pair I wanted to wear, I ended up ripping the boxers.

Tape on the boxers makes about as much sense as Barack's bombing -- in other words, no sense at all.

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the issue of illegal and toxic weapons in Iraq is raised, a prime minister yells 'fire!' in New York and Paris subways, an activist is killed by the Islamic State, World Can't Wait stays strong, CodePink finally starts to find its voice, IVAW cowers in silence and much more.

Iraq is in the midst of being bombed yet again.  Who knows with what?  As we (re)learned during the early days of the current Iraq War, the US government was more than happy to use illegal weapons in Iraq.  Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following:

Depleted Uranium Coordinates Needed for Clean-Up of Dangerous Sites in Iraq

September 25, 2014, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department on behalf of itself and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) seeking the firing coordinates of weapons used in Iraq that contained depleted uranium (DU). As the US launches new military actions in the Middle East, the groups say getting information about the military’s use of DU in weaponry and its long-term effects is as urgent as ever. According to “In a State of Uncertainty,” a report by the Netherlands-based organization PAX, Iraq has been subject to the largest use of DU munitions of all areas of conflict and test sites, conservatively estimated to be at least 440 metric tons, though the United Nations Environment Programme has estimated an amount up to five times that based on satellite imagery. Iraqi civilians thought to have been exposed to DU and remaining debris have suffered high rates of cancer and birth defects and U.S. veterans report unexplained illnesses.  
“DU is but one example of the toxic legacy left by our wars in Iraq,” said CCR Attorney Jeena Shah. “Veterans who served in Iraq are suffering side effects, while many Iraqis still live surrounded by piles of metal debris left over from the war and with soil and ground water potentially contaminated by DU. The only way to deal with its effects and to ensure it is cleaned up is to have a full accounting of where weapons containing DU were deployed.”
DU is a byproduct of enriched uranium and is used in armor-piercing weapons due to its high density. When DU hits a target, its fragments burn and vaporize into a fine dust. If a person inhales, ingests, or is exposed by radiation to DU, radioactive material can be absorbed into the lungs, bone, kidney, skeletal tissue, reproductive system, brain, and other organs. A report recently published by the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons concluded after reviewing approximately fifty peer-reviewed studies on DU that it is clearly a genotoxic agent, known to be involved in the development of cancer and potentially responsible for genetic damage. Some of the wreckage left behind from the war has entered the unregulated trade in scrap metal, sometimes even made into cooking pots. No safe levels of exposure to DU have been established, and researchers advise that all exposure should be avoided. Iraq and other UN member states have called for the banning of DU and the issue will be before the United Nations in October.
Said Maggie Martin, Organizing Director of IVAW, “Veterans have been fighting for decades to have our injuries recognized by the U.S. government— from Agent Orange to Military Sexual Trauma. We were promised healthcare in return for our service, and we deserve to know if we've been exposed to depleted uranium. This is an important matter of health for over two million veterans and for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who are experiencing the worst of the toxic legacy of war.” 
Laid to Waste,” a report by Wim Zwijnenburg of PAX, details the difficulty of limiting civilian exposure to DU in the absence of reliable information about locations where it was used and the limited efforts to address the issue.
“In addition to regular bombardment, our country and our communities have been left with a toxic legacy from decades of U.S. war in Iraq,” said Yanar Mohammed, President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. “If the U.S. is truly concerned about civilian well-being, it should assist in a full accounting of DU contamination and rigorous study of its health effects by making public the locations where weapons containing DU were deployed.”
CCR and IVAW are seeking this information as part of the Right to Heal Initiative, which they launched together with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq. Visit the website to learn more about the Right to Heal Initiative.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Is there a worse news outlet covering Iraq right now than AFP?

For years, AFP was the most sexist outlet.  Prashant Rao -- apparently aping the John F. Burns Iraq era of the New York Times -- demonstrated little to no interest in covering Iraqi women.

Prashant is gone (for now) but AFP is actually worse.

"US pressures IS with strikes and diplomatic drive."

That's the headline AFP offers.

This morning,  Aziz Alwan, Zaid Sabah and Khalid Al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) reported on the failure of the new Iraqi government thus far to produce a Sunni buy-in:

Iraq Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi assumed power earlier this month promising to build an inclusive government, and has promoted the idea of a national guard that could incorporate Sunni militias. So far, Shiite lawmakers have rebuffed Abadi’s proposed Sunni candidate for defense minister. The national guard plan has also yet to materialize.
“Significant doubts linger over whether Abadi has the political wherewithal to achieve genuine unity,” Jordan Perry, an analyst at U.K.-based risk forecasting company Maplecroft, said by e-mail. 

We discussed how the US government -- including the State Dept -- was too busy focused on bombing and bringing in more countries to bomb Iraq and Syria in yesterday's snapshot and how the clock was ticking down, that the time to show Iraqi people that the change in prime ministers meant a change.

AFP should be embarrassed to claim that a diplomatic drive is going on -- lining up partners to bomb is not diplomacy nor is it the 'diplomatic drive' that will provide a political solution for Iraq.

There is no political solution from bombing.

Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) notes today:

Once again, from the most powerful military in world history, protecting the largest-ever economy, bombs.  As in 24 years of bombing Iraq, 13 of  Afghanistan, like Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Has this done anything to liberate anyone or save lives? These illegitimate, unjust immoral wars of aggression have not.
If by “we,” you mean the U.S. government and its military, NO.  The U.S. military cannot do anything to stop the violence of ISIS.  It can only continue creating the conditions on which it grows: 9/11's all over the region.
Obama owns this ultimate war crime — invasion of a sovereign nation that poses no imminent threat to the aggressor. “We” did not ask for or approve this war.  U.S. attacks always lead to civilian casualties and are fueling — not “degrading” — the spread of groups like ISIS.
NOTHING good can come from U.S. bombing, and we need to say so immediately and widely.  We began Tuesday in NYC, and Wednesday in Chicago and San Francisco.

Are you in?  Write me!

Good for Debra.

Sad for the United States that so few others can speak out.

Is there anything more pathetic than Iraq Veterans Against the War?

Does anyone remember those blustering boys and girls trying to push their way through the front of the peace movement?

Insisting they knew, they were there.

Reality, Jeremy Hinzman didn't need to go to Iraq to know the war was wrong.  Nor did Ehren Watada.

I'm not spitting on the notion of learning from your experiences.

I'm just noting that was IVAW's claim once upon a time.

And today those brave boys and girls say what?

You guessed it!

Not one damn thing.

Having shoved aside many (and a number of IVAW made rude remarks about Cindy Sheehan), they now have nothing to say.

The President of the United States has spoken about Iraq how many times in the last two months?

Yeah, constantly.

They last weighed in on Iraq June 19th?

Remember that when they beg for money.

Remember that when they boast about how important their work is.

What work?


That now qualifies as work?

"Against the War."  It's in their organization's name.

But the little kittens and puppies of IVAW can't stand up against Barack.

It's too hard for them, you understand.

So they cower in their own piss, scared of their own shadows, too cowed to speak up.

Meanwhile it's certainly taken CodePink long enough to get started but they're finally offering something of value.

Let's hope that's not a one time thing or empty talk.

Empty talk is all the White House offers, all the administration offers.

There is no military solution in Iraq, Barack insists publicly, only a political one.

Yet he and others in the administration refuse to pour even half the energy they've used building a 'coalition' of bombers into building up government institutions in Iraq.

If you want to know how poorly the US efforts at diplomacy are, you need look no further than press briefings.

The State Dept's "daily press briefing"?  They haven't done one since September 19th.

Q: Since the -- since the strikes began a few days ago in Syria, have you seen any evidence of Assad forces taking any ground that was previously held by ISIS? And the corollary to that, in Iraq, have -- to what extent has the Peshmerga or the Iraqi forces been able to retake territory because of American airstrikes? If you could just update us on that situation, as well.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I haven't seen any movement by Assad regime forces to move into facilities or infrastructure that we've hit. We've also seen -- not seen a lot of -- to be quite honest, haven't seen much in terms of reaction by ISIL inside Syria as a result of these attacks. In other words, were not seeing a lot of movement or major muscle movement changes by them in just the last couple of days.

In Iraq, the -- I could point to the preservation of Haditha Dam. I could point to their ability to work with Kurds, to retake the Mosul Dam facility. I can point to the town of Amerli, which we prevented with them a humanitarian disaster. We could go on and on and on.

I would also note -- and this gets forgotten a little bit -- that Baghdad is still relatively secure. I mean, there's been a couple of minor IED attacks inside Baghdad, but the ISF, the Iraqi Security Forces, in and around the capital are still defending the capital. And it's not like ISIL hasn't posed a threat there. You may have noticed that some of the strikes that we've taken lately in the last week or so have been south and southwest of Baghdad, because we know they continue to threaten the capital.

That is from a press briefing today.  But it's the Pentagon's press briefing.  Even though the State Dept can't or won't do press briefings so far this week, the Pentagon can.

I guess when you do nothing, you have nothing to talk about?

Does it bother anyone?

And does anyone have a memory or have we all erased our brains?

The US government was supposed to go heavy on diplomacy before.

It was 2007.

Bully Boy Bush called for a 'surge' in the number of US troops.

Anyone remember why?

This was, the White House insisted, to give the Iraqi officials time to work on political solutions.  And the US was going to help.

But all the US government has ever done is supply weapons and utilize the weapons and stir up the violence.

And, just as back then, no one wanted to point out that while the military was doing their part of the surge, the US' diplomatic effort was half-hearted and a non-starter.

As it was then, so it is now.

It's not as if Iraq is dealing with only one political crisis, it's multiple crises.  On today's Fresh Air (NPR -- link is audio and text), Dexter Filkins discussed Iraq with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR and if you're just joining us, my guest is Dexter Filkins. He's a writer for The New Yorker. He covered the Iraq war for The New York Times, won several awards for doing that. He's covered the whole region for many years. He just went to Kurdistan in the north of Iraq from a period of June through August. He made two trips during that period for a total of about a month's time. And now he has a piece in The New Yorker called "The Fight Of Their Lives: The White House Wants The Kurds To Help Save Iraq From ISIS, The Kurds May Be More Interested In Breaking Away." That's the title and subtitle of the piece.
So why did you want to go to Kurdistan for this piece that you just wrote?

FILKINS: Well the - you know, the Kurds are - I mean, when everybody looks at Iraq including me and you just say Iraq, what do you think of? I mean, you think of chaos, and car bombs, and bloodshed, and political strife and stalemate and everything else. And when you go to Kurdistan, this small corner of Iraq, there's nothing - it's nothing like that. And it really struck me when I was there writing the piece earlier this year when I was there doing a piece on Maliki in Baghdad and I was in Baghdad and I wanted to go to Kurdistan. And I had been in Baghdad for about three weeks - and Baghdad in 2014 looks pretty much the way it did in 2004. It's - despite the fact that the Iraqi government is pumping enormous amounts of oil and making tons of money, they're the second-largest producer in OPEC. We're talking tens of billions of dollars, $85 billion a year. There's just not much evidence of that oil money being spent and I think frankly, it's because a lot of it's being stolen. But, it's not a happy story - but, Baghdad's a wreck. I mean, it looks pretty much the way it did during the war.
And then I got on a plane and I flew to Erbil, which is the capital of Kurdistan. And it's like - you know, you feel like Dorothy (laughter) and it's amazing. You know, there's a Jaguar dealership in Erbil and there's sushi restaurant and there's dance clubs. And I remember one night I'd been out of town and I drove back in at 3 a.m. and I found a liquor store open and bought a six-pack of beer at 3 o'clock in the morning in the Middle East. I mean, that's impossible anywhere for a thousand miles. So it's such a shock when you see it. You think, oh, my God, I can't believe I'm still in Iraq. And in a way - and really that's what the story's about - in a way, it's not part of Iraq, not anymore.

GROSS: And they don't want to be part of Iraq anymore.

FILKINS: No, I mean, sort of technically - technically they're part of Iraq, but, you know, they don't want to be and, you know, a de facto way, in a very real way, they're not, they're not part of Iraq. I mean, they're pulling away. And I think they want to make it official and I think probably - I mean, you can never foretell the future in that part of the world - but probably it will be independent, I think, sooner rather than later, although it's hard to tell exactly when.

There are so many problems in Iraq, so many crises, destroying unity and what's the new prime minister doing?

While he's unable to build political unity at this time,   Haider al-Abadi, is willing to make waves internationally.  Kristina Fernandez (China Topix) reports he declared today that Iraq had "credible intelligence" that the Islamic State was plotting an attack on the subway systems in Paris and NYC.

He insisted the information was reliable because it had come from suspects in Iraqi custody.


The Iraq interrogations are known as torture sessions -- they even killed a bodyguard of then-Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi during one of them.

So, at best, whatever al-Abadi thinks or thought he has was most likely the product of torture.

Terry Atlas and Angela Greiling Keane (Bloomberg News) quote White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden declaring, "We have not confirmed such a plot, and would have to review any information from our Iraqi partners before making further determinations.  We take any threat seriously and always work to corroborate information we receive from our partners. We're obviously very focused on the issue of foreign fighters."  The State Dept's Marie Harf went on CNN and suggested maybe it was true.

But as night was coming, even the White House realized how damaging al-Abadi's claims were.  Ann Mercogliano (Pix 11) reported: 

Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bratton, FBI and NYPD officials were at the Union Square Subway Station Thursday to show the subways are safe after Iraq’s Prime Minister reportedly said a plot had been uncovered to attack subways in New York City and in France.

As Haider attracted all the wrong attention, it was left to Anderson Cooper (CNN) to say what so many were thinking:

  • Why is Iraq's new Prime Minister in NY? Shouldn't he be in Baghdad with his sleeves rolled up trying to rebuild his army and country?

  • It's a great question.  And why was the President of Iraq also out of the country to attend the meeting at the UN?

    Do either of them do any work in Iraq?

    All Iraq News notes al-Abadi did repeat his claim -- from two Saturdays ago -- that he had ordered an end to bombings of civilian areas in Falluja.  Of course, the bombings have continued.

    So apparently the new prime minister is powerless over the Iraqi military despite the fact that he's commander in chief of the military.

    Lastly, UNAMI issued the following this morning:

    Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:09

    UN Envoy Condemns Public Execution of Human Rights Lawyer, Ms. Sameera Al-Nuaimy

    Baghdad, 25 September 2014 – “The public execution of well-known human rights lawyer and activist, Ms. Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy, in Mosul, is yet another of the innumerable sickening crimes committed against the people of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”, said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, on learning of the unspeakable way Ms. Al-Nuaimy was seized from her home, tortured and murdered. “My heartfelt condolences are extended to Ms. Al-Nuaimy’s family and to the thousands other victims of ISIL’s brutality,” he added. 

    UNAMI has learned that Ms. Al-Nuaimy was seized from her home by the ISIL group on 17 September 2014, reportedly following posts on her Facebook page that were critical of their destruction of places of religious and cultural significance. She was convicted by a so-called “Shari’a court” for apostasy. She was then held for a further five days during which she was subjected to torture in an attempt to force her to ‘repent’, before she was executed in public. 
    “By torturing and executing a female human rights’ lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul,  ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency”, Mr. Mladenov underlined. “ISIL has repeatedly targeted the weak and defenseless in acts of brutality and cowardice that are beyond description, bringing about unfathomable suffering to all Iraqis regardless of their gender, age, religion, faith or ethnicity”, the SRSG continued. 
    “I call on the Government of Iraq and the international community to resolutely face the life-threatening danger to peace, safety and security of Iraq and the Iraqis from the ISIL and to do all they can to ensure the perpetrators of such crimes are held to account”, Mr. Mladenov concluded. 

    debra sweet
    the world cant wait