Friday, May 08, 2015

What ABC's keeping, what they're trashing

After reading Ava and C.I.'s "TV: ABC in shambles, pretend not to notice" on Sunday, I was very curious to see what ABC would renew.

E reports:

CANCELED: Forever, Cristela, Resurrection
RENEWED: Nashville, Marvel's Agent Carter, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, American Crime, Secrets and Lies, Modern Family, The Middle, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, Dancing With the Stars, The Bachelor, America's Funniest Home Videos, Shark Tank, Beyond the Tank, 20/20
Renewed: How to Get Away With Murder, Once Upon a Time, Galavant 
Canceled: Revenge, Manhattan Love Story, Selfie
What's in Limbo: The TasteWipeout, Last Man Standing

I'm glad about Shield and Peggy Carter.

I can't believe the low rated bomb American Crime got renewed.

That's really shocking.

Revenge got higher ratings this week despite being cancelled.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  reporters killed got a tiny bit of attention from the US State Dept (if their deaths could be used for propaganda), Senator Tim Kaine wants Congress to discuss authorizing Barack's latest wave of war on Iraq, the Baiji refinery is said to be controlled (80%) by the Islamic State, and much more.

In the US Congress today, Senator Tim Kaine took to the floor of the Senate to weigh in on the still lack of legal authorization for US President Barack Obama's action's in Iraq:

Mr. President, I rise today to commemorate an anniversary and challenge my colleagues in Congress.
Today marks the completion of nine months of America’s war against ISIL.  Tomorrow, May 8, starts the tenth month of this war. 
In the war on ISIL, here is what’s happened so far. We’ve deployed thousands of troops far from home to support military operations in Iraq and Syria—a significant number are from Virginia, including the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, based in Norfolk. We’ve conducted more than 3,000 U.S. airstrikes on ISIL from land bases in the region and also from aircraft carriers. We’ve spent more than 2 billion American taxpayer dollars and counting. We’ve lost the lives of American servicemembers and seen American hostages killed by ISIL in barbaric ways. And while we’ve seen some progress on the battlefield in Iraq, we’ve also witnessed ISIL spread and take responsibility for attacks in Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen.   We’ve seen other terrorist groups, such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram, pledge alliance with ISIL.   We’ve seen acts of terrorism in Europe and now the United States that have been influenced or at least inspired by ISIL.
All this has happened in nine months. But here is what hasn’t happened, Mr. President.  Congress, the Article I branch, whose most solemn power is the duty to declare war, has not done its job, has not debated this war, has not taken any formal steps to authorize what was started unilaterally by the President 9 months ago.
As of today, ISIL has no indication whether Congress cares one iota about the ongoing war. Our allies in the region, who are most directly affected by the threat of ISIL, have no indication whether Congress cares one iota about the ongoing war.  And, most importantly, the thousands of American troops serving in the region, serving in the theater of battle have no indication whether Congress cares one iota about this ongoing war.
In the Senate, there has been no authorization vote or even debate on the floor.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee did report out a war authorization in December, but it died without floor action at the end of the 113th Congress. In the House, there has been no debate or authorization on the floor,  and, in fact, there has been no action in any House Committee in the 9 months of this war.
The silence of Congress in the midst of this war is cowardly and shameful. How can we explain to our troops, our public or ourselves this complete unwillingness of Congress to take up this important responsibility?
President Obama maintains that the authorizations voted on by Congress in 2001 and 2002 give him the power to wage this war without Congress. Having reviewed the authorizations carefully, I find that claim completely without merit. The 2001 Authorization allows the president to take action against groups that perpetrated the attacks of 9/11. ISIL was not a perpetrator of the 9/11 attack; it was not formed until two years after the attacks in 2003. It is not an ally of Al Qaeda; it’s fighting against Al Qaeda now in certain theaters. The only way the 2001 authorization could be stretched to cover ISIL is if we pretend that it was a blank check giving the president the power to wage war against any terrorist group. But, Mr. President, that was precisely the power that President Bush asked for in 2001, and Congress explicitly refused to grant that broad grant of power to the president even in the days right after the 9/11 attacks.
The 2002 Authorization to wage war in Iraq to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein also has no relevance here. That regime disappeared years ago.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 does grant the president some ability to initiate military action for 60-90 days prior to congressional approval, but it also mandates that the president must cease military activity unless Congress formally approves it.  Here, we’ve blown long past all of the deadlines in that Act, Congress has said nothing, and yet the war continues.
So the President does not have the legal power to maintain this war without Congress. And yet Congress, this Congress, the very body that is so quick to argue against President Obama’s use of executive power, even threatening him with lawsuits over immigration actions and other executive decisions, is strangely silent and allows an executive war to go on undeclared, unapproved, undefined and unchecked.
Nine months of silence leaves the impression that Congress is either indifferent about ISIL and the threat that it poses or lacks the backbone to do the job it is supposed to do. And that is why I rise today—to challenge my colleagues to take this seriously and promptly debate and pass an authorization for military action against ISIL. We should have done this months ago. By now, all know that ISIL is not going away soon. This problem will not just solve itself.
Mr. President, I am given some hope by recent actions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and this body on a pending matter – the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. On a challenging and important national security issue, because of strong leadership by Senators Corker, Cardin and Menendez, we have shown the ability to act in a bipartisan way to assert an appropriate congressional role in reviewing any final nuclear deal with Iran. We are taking an important stand for the congressional role in matters touching upon diplomacy, war and peace. And we have fought off, thus far, the temptation to play politics with this important matter.
This gives me some hope that we might do the same with respect to the war on ISIL. Because, Mr. President, the role of Congress in war is undisputable. The framers of the Constitution were familiar with a world where war was for the monarch, or the king, or the sultan or the executive. But they made a revolutionary decision to choose a different path and placed decisions about the initiation of war in the hands of the people’s elected legislative branch. They did so because of an important underlying value. The value is this: we shouldn’t order young servicemembers to risk their lives in a military mission unless Congress has debated the mission and reached the conclusion that it is in the nation’s best interest. That value surely is as important today as it was in 1787.
So to conclude, Mr. President, I hope we remember that right now, in places far from their homes and families, thousands of members of the American Armed Forces are risking their lives on behalf of a mission that Congress has refused to address for 9 long months.  Their sacrifice should call us to step up, do our job and finally define and authorize this ongoing war.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Jeremy Diamond (CNN) notes Kaine also took the issue to CNN's New Day:

Congress has largely dropped the ball since then and Kaine pointed out that the AUMF hasn't made it to either the House or Senate floor for debate.
But it also took the White House six months to send an AUMF proposal.
Kaine said both the White House and Capitol Hill shoulder some of the blame for the drawn-out inaction.

Kaine tells Markus Schmidt (Richmond Times-Dispatch), "There is no power that is more clearly a congressional power than the power to declare war, and yet there has been this strange conspiracy of silence for nine months when Congress hasn't been willing to even have a meaningful floor debate on it, which is so unusual. But it's just the proof of the longer historical tradition in Congress, members in Congress want to avoid hard votes, and there is no harder vote than a war vote."

We've been noting the threats Shi'ite officials have made, threats of violence, against the United States over a bill in the House which calls for the Sunnis and the Kurds to be armed independently of Baghdad since Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, has failed to keep his promise to distribute the US provided equipment and weapons equally to the Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis.  See yesterday's snapshot and this from this morning especially.

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports on the controversy:

The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and a number of his ministers denounced the plan and some prominent Shiite Muslim figures, such as the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, threatened US interests with violence. The military wing of al-Sadr's supporters organised parades in two southern Iraqi cities in a demonstration of strength. And one of the best known female MPs, Hanan al-Fatlawi, a member of the State of Law coalition previously headed by al-Maliki, said that the US embassy in Baghdad should be closed and the US ambassador expelled.

[. . .] 
When al-Abadi took on the Prime Ministership he declared his willingness to form a National Guard in Iraq. Such a force would effectively allow local people to form their own military units and police their own areas and was considered an antidote for the marginalization of Iraq's Sunnis and Kurds that seemed to be one of al-Maliki's central policies.

Two months after al-Abadi's government formed, the different parties in Parliament agreed that the National Guard should happen, with tens of thousands of members; around 70,000 from Iraq's Shiite-dominated provinces, 50,000 fighters from Sunni-dominated provinces and further additions from the Iraqi Kurdish forces. The plan was to have the National Guard armed and controlled by the Iraqi government, so that all of those currently fighting in, and being paid through, informal militias would be back under state control.

But that was months ago. 

From Congress to the State Dept, if you missed it, there's a propaganda war and supposedly ISIS is winning.  Like anyone could ever be better at propaganda than the US State Dept?

They released the following video to 'honor' World Press Day.

For those with streaming issues, the piece is basically a silent film -- set to bad music.  It's one screen shot after another with title cards.

Journalists often put their lives and safety at risk to keep the world informed 

In Iraq and Syria, ISIS has kidnapped, tortured, and murdered journalists.

ISIS has used these acts of brutality to terrorize journalists, extort ransoms, and silence reporting on their atrocities.

Here are some of the Iraqi and Syrian journalists whom ISIS has killed.

Yasser Faysal al-Joumaili, an Iraqi freelance cameraman who was filming the fighting in the Aleppo province. 

On 4 December 2013, he was detained and shot by ISIS at the Syria-Turkey border.

Bashar al-Nuaimi, a cameraman with al-Mosuliya TV. 

On 24 October 2013, he was shot to death near his home in Mosul. 

Nawras al-Nouaimi, an Iraqi presenter working for al-Mosuliya TV, covering stories related to women and children. 

On 15 December 2013, she was shot near her home returning from school

Employees at the Salaheddin TV station -- cameraman Jamal Abdulnasir; Arabic language expert Ahmed Khattab Omar, newsroom director Raad Yassin al-Baddi; archives director Mohammed Abdul-Hameed and news anchor Wassan al-Azzawi.  

On 23 December 2013, following a car bomb detonation outside the TV station near Tikrit, suicide bombers entered the station and shot all five before detonating their vests. 

Al-Mutaz Billah Ibrahim, an anchor with the Sham News Network. 

On 4 May 2014, he was executed after being held hostage and tortured for over two months.

Bassam al-Rayes, a freelance cameraman who was shooting footage of the Syrian opposition.

On 30 June 2014, he was abducted, tortured, and murdered. 

ISIS Threatens Journalists with:
Threats against their families

Under ISIS rule, there is no freedom of speech, there is no truth beyond what they say, and there is no such thing as mercy. 

Think Again Turn Away

The State Dept ignored the assassination of Iraqi journalist Thaer Ali last week in Mosul by the Islamic State.  Ignored it all last week -- in one briefing after another.  But then created the video above to pretend to care about Iraq and journalists (and Syria).

They don't care.  They're little liars.  Ned Parker had to flee Iraq last month due to threats against him as a result of his reporting.  The threats came from Shi'ite militias supporting the Iraqi government.

They don't care about that, not the State Dept.

I recognized one of the faces immediately in the slide show video.  Let's drop back to the December 23, 2013 snapshot:

December 15th, journalist Nawras al-Nuaimi was assassinated.

This is all the attention AFP gave her when she was killed:

GUNMEN murdered a female TV presenter in northern Iraq on Sunday, her station and police said, making her the sixth journalist to be killed in the country since October. Nawras al-Nuaimi was shot near her home in Mosul, Al-Mosuliyah TV said, and was the fifth journalist killed in the northern city in the same period.

Her life was worth a grand total of 55 words to AFP when she died.

She was the fifth journalist killed in Mosul from October to December 2013 -- but where are the four others?

Oh, that's right.

If they were killed by Iraqi forces, for example, or militias, they're not going to be noted in the video supposedly expressing concern for journalists.

Earlier this week, CNN noted the countries with the most journalists killed since 1992.  Topping the list was Iraq with 166 journalists killed -- more than double the second place county (Syria with 80).

The issue of Iraq was briefly raised in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:


MR RATHKE: Yeah, Iraq and then we’ll --

QUESTION: Iraq, very quick.


QUESTION: Yesterday at an event at the Atlantic Council, the KRG President Massoud Barzani – I asked him a pointed question about the independent --

MR RATHKE: I’m sure you did.

QUESTION: -- Kurdistan. And he said that for sure, it’s coming. 

Let's put the briefing on hold for a minute because we did note Said and his question in yesterday's snapshot:

Said Arikat: Are we likely to see the rise of an independent Kurdistan over the next year?  And, if not, why not?  Thank you.

President Massoud Barzani: I cannot say -- I cannot confirm whether it will be next year or when but certainly the independent Kurdistan is coming.

Back to today's State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: So you guys are fine with that? So we are likely to see an independent Kurdistan and you are likely to support it?

MR RATHKE: You’ve made several leaps there from the question to our policy. There’s been no change in U.S. policy, as I think we’ve talked about in advance of the visit. We believe that a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq. We continue to support an Iraq that is federal, democratic, pluralistic, and unified, as envisioned by the Iraqi constitution. So there’s been no change in the U.S. view. And I think also – President Barzani spoke to this as well – Iraq’s territorial integrity is under threat from ISIL, and the only effective way to address this threat is for all communities – Sunni, Shia, Kurd – to work together and address these security needs as well as in the political realm. And I think President Barzani also stated yesterday that the fight against ISIL needs to be the priority.

QUESTION: Well, once that priority is handled and taken care of, or Mosul is liberated and and ISIL is defeated, then the independence of Kurdistan would be fine, wouldn’t it? Would be --

MR RATHKE: That’s – again, I’m sure you were listening to my answer --

QUESTION: Are you – okay --

MR RATHKE: -- but I’m going to repeat it because it’s important: There’s been no change in U.S. policy. We believe that a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq, and we believe in an Iraq that is federal, democratic, pluralistic, and unified, as envisioned by the Iraqi constitution.

QUESTION: Would you sort of support a more robust autonomy in the northern region of Kurdistan?

MR RATHKE: Again, we support the Iraqi constitution and an Iraq that is federal, that is democratic, it’s pluralistic. I don’t have any further comment on it than that.

Baiji is in the news today.  Yesterday, the Washington Post's Liz Sly Tweeted:

  • The Pentagon said Ramadi isn't as strategic as Baiji. Now Baiji is threatened, it says Baiji isn't important either

  • Today, AFP explains, "The Islamic State jihadist group launched a fresh offensive against Iraq’s largest refinery, where a military official says security forces are facing one of their toughest battles." IANS adds, "A refinery site in Baiji city of northern Iraq was captured by Islamic State (IS) militants recently and Iraqi security forces now control only 20 percent of the facility, a senior US official said." CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tweets:

    Pentagon correspondent reports Iraq's huge oil refinery at Baiji is now 80 percent controlled by

    Here for Starr's article which notes, "U.S. and coalition fighter jets have been able to strike ISIS fighting positions and supply routes around the refinery, but are not striking inside, the official said. The reason, in part, is to preserve as much of the infrastructure as possible for the future."

    Oh, that's wonderful -- isn't that wonderful? -- when it comes to an oil refinery, care is taken but when it's bombing areas with civilians, little care is taken to protect either the people or the structures.

     Reuters reports, "American forces are trying to relieve pressure on Iraqi forces at the geographically important Baiji oil refinery, hitting militants with 26 air strikes since Tuesday and helping drop 18 pallets of supplies, the top US general [Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey] said on Thursday."  And Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) notes, "Although the Beiji refinery has not operated in recent months, it's a critical part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure. It also sits along the main route from Baghdad to Mosul, which has been controlled by the Islamic State since last summer’s offensive. Beiji also controls a corridor linking the valleys along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers."

    In other violence, Alsumaria reports 1 corpse was discovered to the north of Baghdad -- cut up into sections, 2 corpses were discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad, 3 corpses were discovered in Rasheed (all three men were shot to death),  assailants in military uniforms kidnapped five people in eastern Baghdad, 1 government employee was shot dead to the east of Muqdadiyah, and a  Radwaniyah home invasion left 6 family members (including two children) dead.  In addition those incidents, Margaret Griffis ( reports 68 violent deaths across Iraq today ("no civilian casualties" are noted in her report so all that Alsumaria noted can be added to her total).

    Lastly, on The NewsHour (PBS) tonight, Margaret Warner had a report on Emma Sky which included:

    But their success was short-lived. As Sky tells it, as the Americans left, rushing to meet an Administration deadline to get all U.S. forces out of Iraq, Vice President Biden threw the U.S. weight behind Maliki remaining as Prime Minister, even after he’d narrowly lost the 2010 election to a non-sectarian party and its candidate Ayad Allawi. With the Americans gone, Maliki reverted to type, instituting a hype-sectarian Shiite rule, pushing Sunni politicians out of the arena, and reneging on his promises to keep Sunnis in the armed forces. After four years of this, Iraq’s 3 sects — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — were so alienated that Islamic State group fighters had no trouble rolling into Iraq and seizing a third of the country’s territory last summer.

    Click here for video and transcript of interview.  And Emma Sky's book published last month is The Unraveling: High Hopes And Missed Opportunities In Iraq

    the newshour
    margaret warner

    Thursday, May 07, 2015

    America's the homely guy at prom

    Or the fat girl at the prom.

    Or whatever works for you.

    Barack's turned us into that.

    We're so desperate just to have anyone hold our hand in public, that will do anything, put up with anything.

    Haider al-Abadi is the prime minister of Iraq.

    He is a Shi'ite.  It is a Shi'ite dominant government.

    To combat ISIS, Barack has sent weapons and money to Haider's government.

    And Haider's supposed to be distributing the weapons equally among the Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

    But he's refused to do that.

    And instead of standing up to him, Barack's cowered.

    This has gone on for months.

    Which is why Congress is stepping in and attempting a work around that will get weapons to the groups, like the Kurdish Peshmergas, who are actually fighting the Islamic State.

    The idea that it won't all go through Baghdad has the Shi'ite politicians in a tizzy.

    And starting last Friday, they began holding rallies where they threaten violence.


    You read that right.

    They're threatening America with violence.

    The same America they're begging money from.

    And they're threatening us with violence and Barack's okay with that.

    If you'll just please go to prom with him, you can abuse him and kick him and knee him in the groin and whatever!

    Just hold his hand at prom, okay?

    Barack Obama is useless.

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

    Wednesday, May 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Senator Barbara Boxer and Joni Ernst team up on proposed Iraq legislation, Shi'ite officials and leaders continue to threaten violence against the United States and to do so publicly, Barack Obama continues to remain silent on these threats while continuing to send weapons and US tax dollars to the government these Shi'ites dominate, KRG President Massoud Barzani addresses a number of topics including Kurdish independence, another journalist is killed in Iraq, and much more.

    Since last week, many Shi'ite officials in the Baghdad-based government of Iraq hit panic mode over a bill in the US House of Representatives proposing to arm the Sunnis and the Kurds directly since Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has failed to keep his words and supply those two groups with weapons the US government is handing over.

    Perhaps to distract from the refusal of the Shi'ite dominant government to supply Kurds and Sunnis (a characteristic of the previous prime minister Nouri al-Maliki as well), the Shi'ite in government began insisting that arming Sunnis and Kurds directly would split the country into three regions.

    The rhetoric started with Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law (specifically with the statements of State of Law MP Hana al-Fatlawi).  It's hard to tell who was the most vile but a strong case can be made that it was Iraq's Minister of Transportation Hadi al-Ameri -- who is also head of the Badr brigade and led the failed operation against Tikrit (where he insisted US support wasn't needed when, in the end, US airpower was the only thing that allowed the Iraqi forces to enter Tikrit after weeks of being kept out).  On Monday, Hadi al-Ameri threatened violence against the United States and its citizens.

    Most read: leader threatens to mutilate those trying to dissolve
    10 retweets 4 favorites

    Most read: leader threatens to mutilate those trying to dissolve

    His threatening remarks have been made by others starting last week as various Shi'ite officials began holding rallies to threaten the United States.

    Prensa Latina reported on the most recent one,  Following similar demonstrations in Basra, Baghdad, Maysan and Wasit, today the protest took place in Dhi Qar Province.   It was led by cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's followers. Moqtada al-Sadr's political movement controls 34 seats in the Iraqi Parliament.  In Dhi Qar Province today, a parade took place and was followed by a rally at which they insisted they would attack American targets if the bill became law.

    During all of this, the President of the United States, Barack Obama hasn't remained silent.

    He's rushed to assure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that he doesn't support the bill.

    That's all he's done.

    Day after day, elements of the Iraqi government have threatened violence against the United States and the only ones denounced by Barack Obama have been members of the US Congress.

    Instead of standing with the Congress or with the country against threats made by Shi'ite leaders and officials, Barack's rushed to insist he's not a part of that.

    As President of the United State, he is a part of it.

    As President of the United States and an American citizen, he is a part of it.

    And he needs to get off his knees and stand upright.

    America and the world needs to see him address this issue and stop being such a little weakling who gets pushed around on the international stage repeatedly.

    Barack is arming these same factions which are publicly threatening violence against the United States of America.

    And he continues to arm them and continues to refuse to address these public threats to the United States and its citizens.

    That is appalling.  That is shameful.  That is shirking the duties of his office.

    A real leader would have publicly threatened to stop the supply of all weapons if Haider al-Abadi did not publicly rebuke the threats being made against the United States.

    But Barack has done and said nothing except play Eddie Haskell rushing to the Shi'ites to insist, 'Hey, I don't like the Congress either.'

    It is disgraceful and it is shameful.

    In his seventh year as president, he should already know that it is his obligation to rebuke any public threat against the United States.

    He looks like a weak and small coward.  And the problem there is that he represents the United States on the international stage.

    The man who elevated fading Russian leader Putin to a rival -- we warned as it went down that this was happening -- is not afraid to talk smack in some cases.

    But he's a coward with regards to Iraq.

    And American really doesn't have time for him to learn how to stand up.

    History will remember that while one leader of this Shi'ite lawmaking faction and that one held rallies threatening the United States with violence, not only did Barack never object but he continued to supply them with weapons -- including weapons beyond guns, weapons like F-16s which could be used to fly to the United States and attack America on US soil.

    Do I think that's going to happen?

    My guess would be no.

    But I do think when this rhetoric is tolerated by Barack Obama, it increases within Iraq and it puts every US citizen there -- diplomatic, military, business person, journalist, whatever -- at risk.

    And let's note Haider al-Abadi because it's offensive that he hasn't called this out.  Not just bad manners, it's offensive that he has not called out the Iraqi leaders holding rallies threatening violence against the United States as Haider begs the United States  for weapons, US air strikes, and US taxpayer dollars and then turn around and hold rallies threatening the United States with violence.  In fairness to Moqtada, his position has always been that the US needed to get out of Iraq -- I agree with that -- but the others?  Haider al-Abadi came begging to DC last month.  Despite the billions in oil revenues, Haider left with a promise of $200 million US taxpayer dollars to rebuild areas of Iraq.  And yet he can't denounce these public threats of violence to America?

    This is ridiculous.

    Let's move over to the US Senate.  Senator Barbara Boxer and Iraq War veteran Senator Joni Ernst have introduced a bill.  Boxer's office issued the following:

     Tuesday, May 5th 2015

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to provide for a temporary, emergency authorization of defense articles, defense services, and related training directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Other cosponsors include Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The bill would allow the U.S. to provide direct assistance to the KRG, a critical partner in the fight against ISIS. The companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad bipartisan support across the ideological spectrum.

    The legislation provides temporary, emergency authority for the President to provide weapons and training directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The three-year authorization seeks to reduce delays in arming Peshmerga forces to fight ISIS, while in consultation with the Iraqi government.

    “ISIS is deadly and determined, and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces – our critical partner in the fight against ISIS – need U.S. weapons as quickly as possible. This three-year authorization would bolster efforts against ISIS which is critical to maintaining a unified and stable Iraq, and imperative to our national security interests. We simply cannot afford to have future delays at this critical moment in the battle,”Senator Ernst said.

    “The Iraqi Kurds have been a steadfast and capable partner of the United States, and this bill will help ensure they have the support they need in the fight against ISIL,” Senator Boxer said.

    “The United States should empower Iraqi Kurds by providing them with what they need to protect their region from the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists,” Senator Johnson said.

    “Defeating ISIS requires active participation from our allies in the region. I support sending arms to the Kurdish fighters who are providing the vital boots on the ground. This Administration claims they need the legal authority to arm the Kurds. This bill removes any doubt that they have the authority and the renewed encouragement of Congress to provide our Kurdish allies the support they need to continue their fight against ISIS and radical Islam,” 

    Senator Paul said. 

    “The Kurds are some of our closest partners in the Middle East. The Peshmerga are on the front lines of the battle against ISIL and we need to do all we can to ensure they succeed,” Senator Rubio said. 

    Since the First Gulf War, the Iraqi Kurds and their Peshmerga forces have played a vital role in supporting U.S. interests and a free Iraq despite limited means of doing so.  Approximately one million displaced Iraqis and Syrians have taken refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

    Currently by law, the U.S. must provide support to the Iraqi Kurds through the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

    Specifically, the Ernst-Boxer bill would:
    • Provide a three-year authorization for the U.S. to provide weapons directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS.
    • State it is the policy of the United States to provide direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to combat ISIS.
    • Preserve the President’s ability to notify the Iraqi government before weapons, equipment, defense services, or related training is provided to Iraqi Kurdish forces.

    Ensure accountability by requiring a report to Congress on U.S. weapons provided to the Iraqi government which have ended up in the hands of Iranian controlled/supported Shia militias.

    That bill is significant for a number of reasons.

    First, it's always good when two female US senators work together across the aisle.  Women remain under-represented in the US Congress.  Also true, the Senate -- more than the House of Representatives -- remains an "old boys club."  When two female senators come together to work on legislation, it's a good thing.

    Second, Ernst is an Iraq War veteran.  Barbara Boxer was one of the strongest voices in the Senate against the Iraq War.

    For those of us who opposed (or continue to oppose, as I do) the Iraq War, our issue was never 'we hate you! you fought in Iraq!'


    You were deployed.   You did what you were trained to do.

    The objection that those of us -- who aren't idiots -- had was to the Iraq War, was to the leaders who started this war with lies.

    (Idiots?  There are a number of people who we're not noting here anymore.  These were the idiots who attacked Chris Kyle, a dead man, with some of the most vile and disgusting terms.  Chris did not send himself to Iraq.  Once in Iraq, Chris did not decide what he was going to do.  He did what he was trained to do.  If you find it offensive that he was a sniper, you need to take that up elsewhere because that is a job in the military, it's a job people are trained for.  Chris did what he was asked to.  If you have a problem with what he was asked to do, you hold those responsible for making those decisions accountable.  Even the US military brass -- which I'm not as fond of as I'm the rank and file -- does not decide it's time for war.  In the US, we have a civilian government which makes that determination.  If you're not happy with the Iraq War -- and I've been speaking out against it since a month before it started -- your problem is with the leaders making the decisions and calls. If you can't grasp that? Yeah, I do think you're an idiot.)

    Boxer had a principled stand against the Iraq War.  Ernst served in it with valor.

    That the two of them can come together to work on a bill -- let alone one about Iraq -- says a great deal about what the rest of us in this country should be able to.

    Applause to Boxer and Ernst for the example they've set.

    Third, the bill is significant because it goes to the support (which we've been noting -- see my rant on Sunday) for the Kurds (and the Sunnis) in the US Congress.  It's not just Republicans -- that was a nice lie that the press can't let go of even though the House bill passed the Committee on a 60 in favor and two opposed vote -- it's Democrats as well.

    And it's not just the House.

    We report on the bulk of the Congressional hearings I attend (if they're related to Iraq or veterans-- if things were slower, we'd cover a few other topics).  We do that because a friend's adult child was an intern in 2006 and asked if I would note some hearings?  I said sure, send anything and we'll include it.  And then it was explained that hearings were being ignored or misreported.  So I said we'd try to grab some from time to time and let me know if there was anything related to Iraq or veterans.

    We went from dashing in and out of DC while staying at hotels (or a friend's Georgetown brownstone) to getting a house outside DC because we're there so often.

    And what I was told in 2006 was true.  Hearings were either covered of miscovered.

    The budget cuts and financial crises at various news outlets and the tanking economy meant cutbacks. And Congressional reporting apparently no longer mattered.  We have been at subcommittee hearings where not one member of the press was present.  Generally speaking, the Associated Press is the best about covering (full) committee hearings.

    When it's a big moment -- due to witnesses or in a presidential election year due to candidates running for the office -- the press turns out.

    You get numerous outlets showing up . . . for a few minutes.

    They'll stay long enough to hear then-Senator Barack Obama or then-Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator John McCain -- all of whom were trying to become the next president in 2008 -- and then rush out.

    Very few stay for the entire hearing.

    A very important hearing took place in November 2011.  And the press (a) reduced it to harsh words from McCain to then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and (b) fled after that moment to file and missed an hour and forty minutes of the hearing -- during which Senator Kay Hagen was electing testimony on all the US forces that moved from Iraq to Kuwait -- thousands -- and who remained stationed there, during which Leon went over the fact that the US continued to negotiate with Iraq on US forces -- there was so much to that hearing, so much that was important.

    And all the press did was turn it into "McCain was mean to Panetta!"

    So it's not just that they don't show up, it's that when they do they miss everything because they're looking for some cheap gossip to play up as drama.

    Since Barack initiated his bombing of Iraq last August, every hearing I've been at on Iraq has demonstrated the Congress -- both sides of the aisle -- are appalled that the Kurds aren't being supplied with weapons (there also bothered that the Sunnis aren't -- but those most bothered by that tend to be Democrats).

    But the press has tried to turn a House bill into a "Republican bill" and has ignored the repeated attempts by Congress to address Haider's refusal to honor the agreement -- that he would distribute weapons to the Kurds and the Sunnis -- that allowed him to receive weapons from the United States to begin with.

    The Boxer and Ernst bill goes to that attitude that Congress has repeatedly displayed -- in the House and in the Senate -- Democrat and Republican -- on this issue.

    Fourth, it's Barbara Boxer.

    She's not running for re-election and we did our evaluation of her when she made that announcement.  I noted that, in terms of Iraq, she had only one thing to be proud of since Barack became president.  I noted that she moved mountains behind the scene on an issue and had not taken public credit for it but if she did discuss it publicly I would be happy to applaud her for that.

    She still hasn't, maybe she'll write about it in a book (and she should and she should be very proud of what she accomplished on that issue -- I did and do applaud her for that work).

    But she's winding down her career and she's weighed in on one of the most important issues in Iraq right now.

    This goes back to 2008.

    It was April 8, 2008, the afternoon of, that Boxer forced a change in policy via a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.  There were almost 100,000 "Awakenings" (largely Sunni fighters -- not 100% Sunni per Gen David Petraues' testimony to Congress repeatedly that week).  These were fighters being paid (a) not to attack the US and (b) to defend Iraq.

    $182 million was the yearly cost to US taxpayers for the salaries of the "Awakenings."  And Boxer, rightly, wanted to know why the US was paying this,  "why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that program?"

    That question led to the US government transferring the cost to the Iraqi government.

    These were Iraqi fighters, why was the US spending -- in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 -- $182 million a year to pay these salaries?

    The witnesses -- Petraeus and then-US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker -- were stumped and appeared to have never considered the issue.  Crocker assured her that they would discuss it.

    This led to the change.

    It didn't happen in 2009 as the press falsely reported (based on announcements by the US government and Nouri al-Maliki) and it didn't happen in early 2010.

    But the US taxpayers were finally let off the hook for this cost before the end of 2010.

    And Boxer didn't just make that change, she also noted that Nouri al-Maliki was against the "Awakenings" and that this was something to follow -- why was he against them, what did that mean for Iraq?

    Those were important questions and they go to the disintegration of Iraq which took place Nouri's second term.

    So when Barbara Boxer addresses Iraq, it has significance because of her track record.

    "And of course we have also realized and noticed that both President Obama and Vice President Biden," declared KRG President Massoud Barzani this morning, "they are concerned and they also want Peshmergas to receive the right weapons and the right ammunition.  The important point here is the Peshmergas get these weapons.  How they will come and in which way that's not as important as  the fact that the Peshmergas need the weapons to be there. "

    That statement has been distorted -- by not quoting it fully, among other things.

    Barzani did not come out against the House bill -- as liars -- including one at The Huffington Post -- have 'reported.'  He did come out in favor of the 'unity' statements Barack has made.

    He came out in favor of the Peshmerga receiving the weapons they're supposed to receive.

    Too many know too little to write so much about Iraq.

    KRG President Massoud Barazni:  Yes, indeed, we have a new federal government in Baghdad.  And at the beginning of this year, we had reached an agreement which was reflected in the budget law of the region.  Of course, we are from our side, the KRG, is committed to that agreement.  The relationship now between Erbil and Baghdad is much better than what it was under the previous government.  But at the same time, it's not without problems.  We have issues, we have problems, we have difference.  But we believe that there is joint-desire from both sides to address these issues and to find proper solutions for them.  But the spirit is to work together, to cooperate in order to address these issues.  As far as oil is concerned, we have reached an agreement and the KRG is providing and exporting 550 barrels per day as it has been stipulated in that agreement of the budget law.  Our expectation and waiting is that Baghdad as well the federal government in Baghdad, to also honor that agreement.  And also to provide the KRG with its fair share of the revenues.

    This was another statement that led to distortions from those that Huff-n-Puff.

    Barzani said things were "much better than what it was under the previous government" and this is being misread as hearts and flowers to Baghdad.


    Know the history or just don't weigh in.

    Nouri al-Maliki threatened the KRG repeatedly.  He made a deal with the Turkish government allowing the KRG to be bombed (supposedly to attack the PKK but it was small villages that were the targets).  He almost declared war -- he really had to walk that one back -- on Barzani and the KRG when they refused to hand him Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

    Jalal Talabani, then president of Iraq, caved quickly on the issue which is why Tareq went from being Jalal's house guest to having the protection of Barzani.

    We're not done.

    Nouri called the KRG "terrorists."

    Nouri attacked deals that companies made with the KRG.  This included the ExxonMobil deal which included Nouri insisting that the US government (Barack) was going to stop.

    As we explained in real time, in the US, the oil companies are not state-owned.  The government has no say in the business.  (And ExxonMobil isn't a US company -- it's a multi-national corporation.)

    He denied them their portion of federal funds.

    We could go on and on and we could address the pipeline proposal, we could address the issue of produce coming into Iraq, we could address so much more.

    But "much better" isn't praise for Haider al-Abadi.

    It's noting how awful things were under Nouri al-Maliki.

    Barzani was speaking this morning at The Atlantic Council in an event they organized in cooperation with the US Institute of Peace.  Barzani spoke at the event via a translator, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations.

    We're going to note some of his comments following his speech.  The speech focused on the battle against the Islamic State.  We're more interested in some of the other issues he touched on.

    "[. . .]" in the below paragraphs in bold does not mean I've left out his remarks.  It means I've left out questions being asked to focus on his remarks.

    President Massoud Barzani:  There is no question that confronting ISIS needs the unity of all peoples of Iraq.  And of course Kurdistan did play a leading role in that and Kurdistan has been the vanguard in confronting ISIS, they have played the role.  But of course the unity of Iraq depends on the peoples of Iraq, how democratic Iraq would be, how far they would be convinced about peaceful co-existence because that unity is voluntary and not compulsory.  So therefore the important thing is, attempts to be made for  everybody in Iraq to have that conviction that there would be a voluntary union and not a forceful union.
    [. . .]
    Iraq mainly has the three main pillars, the three main components, which are Kurds, Arabs -- the Shia and Sunni a Arabs -- in addition to other national minorities -- we have Turkman, Chaldean, Assyrian and different religions and sects.  Of course when Iraq was established after the first World War on the basis that Kurds and Arabs would be partners in this country.  Unfortunately, we were not able to -- we have not been able to establish that partnership that's required.  We are trying and we will continue our efforts. But that doesn't mean that this would be an obstacle in the way of the people of Kurdistan to exercise their right to self-determination.  That opportunity has to be given to the people of Kurdistan to determine their own future in a referendum.  But that should be away from violence, in a peaceful way,  in a coordinated way and through understanding. But until then, we will do our best and we will continue our efforts in order to do whatever we can to solve and address the issues, the disputes in Iraq so that these problems  will be contained and solved and not to expend further -- escalate further.
    [. . .]
    Those who have been in war, those who have seen war, they do understand  and appreciate
    and how peace is needed and how valuable peace is.

    After those responses, questions came from the audience.

    Barbara Slavin: I wanted to get your view on the big picture in the region.  There are a lot of moving pieces.  How do the Kurds navigate in a situation where you have Saudi Arabia leading a coalition of Arab armies against Iran-backed groups in Yemen?  Where you have a nuclear agreement that looks like it's about to be signed between Iran and the major powers?  Is this going to effect your interests?  And how do you keep from making more enemies?  Thank you.

    President Massoud Barzani: Of course we have a [. . . focus?] which is different from all the issues that you refer to.  But we can't say that it's irrelevant to us.  But, of course, the top priority for us is how could we  achieve a better future for our people?  So we do hope that the current circumstances in the region -- be that the atomic or the nuclear file or the situation in Yemen -- would end through a proper solution and understanding.   But certainly our policy is very clear: That we, as Kurds, will try to avoid being part of any of the disputes which are there in the region.  We have our own agenda which stems from the interests of our people and we do not implement other people's agendas.

    Another exchange focused on independence for the semi-autonomous Kurdistan.

    Said Arikat: Are we likely to see the rise of an independent Kurdistan over the next year?  And, if not, why not?  Thank you.

    President Massoud Barzani: I cannot say -- I cannot confirm whether it will be next year or when but certainly the independent Kurdistan is coming.

    An Al Jazeera correspondent demanded a follow up.

    Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir:  Her question is do you think that you're closer to that goal -- do you think that you're closer to that objective, the Kurdish dream of independence has become closer as a result of the meeting that you had yesterday with President Obama and Vice President Biden and also today with Vice President Biden?

    President Massoud Barzani: Of course it's a process, it's a continued process, it will not stop, it will not step back.  But I do not want to go into details of that.  The main point that I want to stress upon is that this is a continued process but certainly we want that to be not through violence, not through killing but we want it to be through peace, through understanding and dialogue.  And of course we have also realized and noticed that both President Obama and Vice President Biden, they are concerned and they also want Peshmergas to recieve the right weapons and the right ammunition.  The important point here is the Peshmergas get these weapons.  How they will come and in which way that's not as important as  the fact that the Peshmergas need the weapons to be there.

    I'd like to cover more on that event but there's also a hearing I need to try to squeeze in to tomorrow's snapshot as well.

    Turning to violence . . .

    بغداد: مقتل الاعلامي ومقدم برنامج -مال واستثمار- بقناة الرشيد رعد الجبوري في شقته بمنطقة القادسية.
    11 retweets10 favorites

    That's Raad al-Jubouri, the adult in the photo.  He was a journalist.  Was because he's been killed.

    Prensa Latina notes his corpse was discovered in his home, apparent gun shot wounds and an unidentified woman was also discovered shot to death.

    That wasn't the only violence in Iraq today, Margaret Griffis ( counts 132 violent deaths.


    Wednesday, May 06, 2015

    The Simpsons

    As I've noted here more than a few times in the last 2 years, I think The Simpsons has been on a steep upward curve of late.

    In 2009, I would've said, "Cancel it!"

    But it's found new ground and has actually gotten funnier.

    So I'm glad to hear that Fox has renewed it for two more years . . .

    however . . .

    This means 625 episodes.

    That's more than 1 a day for a full year with no repeats.

    Man, 625.

    And there are some that I start watching and I'm half way in before I can remember anything about it.

    I love the one where Lisa does her Little Red Dress Press.

    And I love when Homer wins the Pulitzer ("Finally," he whines :D).

    And I love when Homer is Mr. Burns' prank monkey.

    But there are other episodes I'll watch and not realize immediately what they are.


    New content at Third:

    And here's who worked on it (plus Dallas):

    The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
    Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
    Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
    C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
    Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
    Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
    Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
    Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
    Ruth of Ruth's Report,
    Wally of The Daily Jot,
    Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
    Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
    Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
    Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
    and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

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

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015.  Chaos in violence continue, Canada suffers a major security breach, Barack brings out his bitchery yet again, the Kurds should be offended at the way KRG President Massoud Barzani was treated (dismissed) by the White House today, and much more.

    Starting in Canada where there's been a major security breach related to the Iraq War.

    In what was probably show boating, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- noted War Hawk and ethical coward -- has insisted that the press must not photograph the faces of Canadian soldiers in Iraq because that could put them at risk.

    Now Harper sending them into Iraq has put them at risk.

    But when you can't admit to how dangerous your reckless actions are, you invent 'risks' to 'protect' them from.

    And now Harper's edict has been violated.

    Images of Canadian soldiers have been posted online.

    Harper insisted that images would put the soldiers at risk  of -- among other things -- being kidnapped by the Islamic State.

    And who is responsible for this security breach?

    Steven Chase (Globe and Mail) reports:

    The Prime Minister’s Office has admitted to a major security breach in promoting Stephen Harper’s recent tour of Iraq and Kuwait after it posted two videos to the Internet that may have exposed Canadian soldiers’ identities and made them vulnerable to attack.
    It’s a complete reversal for the PMO, which earlier Tuesday insisted that it violated no security rules when it published PR videos that included the faces of Canadian military personnel on duty in both countries.

    As Vassy Kapelos (Global News) observed, "It’s still unclear why there appears to be two sets of rules for media and the PM when it comes to exposing the identity of soldiers involved in the mission to fight ISIS."

    Canada's due to hold federal elections October 19th.

    Can they wait that long?

    Can they afford to?

    When the prime minister is the one breaching his own definition of national security, that tends to argue he's not up for job.

    Mia Rabson (The Carillon) quotes New Democratic Party member Jack Harris asking, "Why is the Prime Minister's Office breaking rules intended to protect the safety of our forces just to make promotional videos for the Prime Minister, and who over there is going to take responsibility for this fiasco?"

    While Harris speaks publicly, Harper goes into silence.

    He's not even admitted he was wrong.

    Instead, he's had his media team admit that they were wrong.

    That's leadership?

    Moving south from Canada, we land in DC where tonight KRG President Massoud Barzani addressed the US Chamber of Commerce and was warmly received.

    It was genuine.

    Sadly, the same cannot be said of other events today.

    Was Barzani being kind when he spoke of strong support today from US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden?

    Let's hope he was being kind, being a nice guest when using terms like "success" to describe it.

    Because the reality is, Massoud was treated like crap.

    He was treated like something you stepped in and then tried to scrape off your shoe.

    The Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurds should be offended on his behalf.

    Barack was his usual bitchy self.

    By now, don't we all expect that?

    How unimportant was the visit?

    I called a White House friend thinking stuff must have gone into a spam folder and I didn't have time to dig around for it.  Could he send me whatever press releases again?

    Really, there are none.

    There's this which is circulated to the press but so unimportant (or maybe they're taking a page from Haider al-Abadi's book) that it's not even up at the White House website:

    President Obama participated in a meeting at the White House with Vice President Biden and Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They discussed a range of issues, including the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and the status of ongoing political initiatives to address the needs of the Iraqi people and foster cooperation across all communities. President Obama and Vice President Biden reaffirmed the United States' strong and continued support to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the Kurdish people. They also reaffirmed the United States' enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.
    President Obama and Vice President Biden each commended the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga and expressed condolences to the victims of ISIL throughout Iraq. President Barzani thanked President Obama and Vice President Biden for the significant military support that the United States has provided to Kurdish Peshmerga in coordination with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Security Forces, including the military action taken to protect Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan following the fall of Mosul. Both sides agreed on the importance of strengthening relations between Baghdad and Erbil and underscored their continued shared commitment to provide support to the millions of civilians displaced by the violence in the region.

    That's really it.

    "Hell," he told me, "POTUS didn't even put Barzani on the daily schedule."

    This is all Barzani has to show for the visit.

    This lousy little photo that's not even a good one of him, that doesn't even zoom in to frame him in the shot.

    You'll note Barack's mouth is running.

    As usual, he's pontificating about something.

    You'll note in this, the only photo released, the only real document of the meet-up, Barack's not even looking at Massoud Barzani.

    The Kurds were treated with more respect by War Criminal Henry Kissinger when he was selling them down the river years ago.

    This humiliation was done to appease Haider al-Abadi, the man Barack installed as Iraq's new prime minister, as well as various Shi'ite thugs in elected office.

    And Haider can be happy and proud . . . for about three seconds.

    This bitchery?

    That's all Barack can pull off today.

    It's not just that he's lame duck, it's that he's lame.

    Fools whine, "Why can't he work Congress like LBJ did?"

    LBJ was a member of Congress.

    Barack barely served two years before he started his endless campaign.

    He doesn't know a damn thing about Congress.

    His Senate career is as laughable as his legal career.

    He had no cases to point to with pride as an attorney.

    As a Senator he never even chaired a hearing -- not even of the Subcommittee he was over.

    He doesn't know anything beyond show up and smile for the camera.

    And his little stunt today?

    I called a few friends in Congress.

    They didn't find it amusing.

    The KRG has friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle.

    And the humiliating manner in which Barack treated Barzani?

    It's unleashing a lot of ill will.

    Members of Congress were already pissed that the White House refused to call out the threat made against them by Iraq's thuggish Minister of Transportation.

    And now Barack thinks he can insult the leader of the KRG?

    Well he can.

    He did.

    But Barack doesn't get the last word.

    And all his bitchery did was enrage Congressional support for the KRG.

    That shouldn't be surprising.

    The last seven years demonstrate that Barack fails at everything he tries.

    No surprise that his effort to snub Barzani would, in the end, backfire as well.

    No joint press appearance for Barzani, no one-on-one photo op,  and, again, it didn't even make Barack's official daily schedule.

    It gets even worse.

    The photo we posted above?

    It made Joe Biden's Twitter feed.

    It made Brett McGurk's Twitter feed.

    It did not make The White House Twitter feed.

    It did not make the BarackObama Twitter feed.

    This is a huge insult.

    It's a gob of spit hurled onto Massoud Barzani's face.

    It makes as little sense as that ridiculous lime green sherbet like dress Susan Rice wore for a photo op on the White House lawn today.

    Again, the KRG and the Kurds should grasp just how rudely Barzani was treated by the White House today.

    They should remember, yet again, the White House is not their friend and Barack has never been their friend.

    More than anyone else, he used Massoud to sell The Erbil Agreement and that legal contract promised that Article 140 of the Constitution would finally be implemented.

    Barack gave his word.

    The fact that nearly five years later it still hasn't been implemented should have let the Kurds know they can never, ever trust Barack Obama.

    Someone should probably repeat that to Haider al-Abadi as well.

    I haven't seen any press coverage of the statement.

    But, especially in the US, I'm sure stupidity will run free.

    I'm sure it will be, "The White House backs Baghdad!"

    Barack talks out of both sides of his mouth as well as his ass.

    They also reaffirmed the United States' enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.

    A federal Iraq?

    As in a federation possibly?

    And as defined in the Iraqi Constitution?

    Such as allowing Basra to determine whether semi-autonomous or not?

    The Iraq Constitution allows them to do that.

    Currently, the so-called 'independent' election commission is insisting Basra could have that . . . if there was money in the federal budget for a referendum.

    Haider better watch his back.

    Come June, the US Congress is going to want answers.

    Come June, Democrats and Republicans who want to be president are going to want answers.

    Specifically: Where's that political solution?

    Barack's probably going to be looking for a fall guy.

    Hiader better watch his back.

    And I'm no longer the only one giving Haider a failing grade in public.

    At The Hill, former British lawmaker Struan Stevenson offers:

     Abadi took some courageous measures when he assumed office in September last year, including cracking down on corruption in government institutions and the armed forces. Still, he has failed so far to dismantle pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias who continue to commit atrocities against civilians with impunity.
    Abadi has also not pushed through the necessary judicial reforms. Currently, tens of thousands, mostly Sunni men, remain in prison. Most of their sentences are based on information provided by secret informants to judicial officials, or confessions obtained under duress, instead of forensic evidence. The Sunni community of Iraq is wary of joining the armed forces in the war against ISIS as they feel that they would be replacing one form of oppression with another. As long as these crucial issues remain unaddressed by Abadi and his cabinet, national reconciliation will become another pipe dream for the people of Iraq, with far-reaching consequences for the region as a whole.   

    Iraq was noted briefly at the State Dept press briefing today which was moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:

    QUESTION: A very quick question on Iraq.

    MR RATHKE: Yeah.

    QUESTION: KRG president is in Washington. Are there any plans to – I know that the Secretary is not here, traveling, but --

    MR RATHKE: The Secretary is not here, but he will meet with the Deputy Secretary tomorrow.

    QUESTION: So he’s meeting – oh, tomorrow? Okay.

    MR RATHKE: Yes, that’s right. Today, this afternoon, he’s having meetings at the White House.

    QUESTION: Right.

    MR RATHKE: Tomorrow, he will meet at the State Department with Deputy Secretary Blinken.

    QUESTION: What time? Do we know (inaudible)?

    MR RATHKE: I don’t know the time off the top of my head. I’m sure it’ll be in tomorrow’s schedule that we point out.

    Meanwhile Alsumaria has a photo essay on a downtown Baghdad car bombing today which has left at least 3 dead and at least seven injured.  Iraqi Spring MC notes the SWAT forces burned down the fourth floor of Ramadi's General Hospital.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Iraq on Tuesday dispatched reinforcement to Salahudin province to fight IS militants trying to take the country's largest oil refinery, security sources said."

    Corruption in Iraq means that the billions brought in on oil revenues each year just aren't enough.

    Which is why they're flirting with an $800 million loan from the IMF.

    Austerity measures is something the Iraqi people can't take.  The government already fails to provide for them.  But when you get in bed with IMF and the World Bank, austerity measures are usually the outcome.

    Alsumaria reports over 60 doctors are protesting in Dhi Qhar because the government has failed to pay them.

    Want to know why this is especially bad?

    The violence has led waves of people to leave Iraq.  And it's often been the professionals.

    Iraq has a sever medical crisis.

    Which is why, for years, we've advocated for the Iraqi government to offer accelerated government programs for doctors and nurses -- something Nouri only flirted publicly with in his final year as prime minister.

    The doctors protesting?

    All are from Syria.

    Lot of luck continuing to import doctors from outside Iraq when word gets out that those who've traveled to this center of violence are not even getting paid.

    In related news, Al Mada reports that nursing students in Babylon are protesting demanding further education be made available to them and their nursing program (the article notes that the University of Babylon's College of Nursing has over 1,500 students enrolled currently).