Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tom Hanks is full of s**t

Tom Hanks is full of shit.  I’m using the term because it needs to be used.  I’m not censoring it because I’m using it intentionally.  I am censoring it in the title because the title of this post will appear at THE COMMON ILLS and others on their link lists and I don’t want them to be not work safe because of that.
But Tom Hanks is full of s**t.
What's the significance of this story today?
When you're not just celebrating the nostalgia of history, it comes down to human behavior. And human behavior never changes. It's always the same. Vanity of vanity, nothing new under the sun. The Nixon administration tried to stop the story from being published. They took on the First Amendment by saying: "You can't tell that story, and if you do, we're going to threaten you." That is going on, of course, right now.
In what way?
There's a number of ways that you can assault the First Amendment. Back in 1971, it was done in such a boldfaced way that a newspaper, The New York Times, was stopped from publishing a story. And it was threatened; anybody who was going to try to publish that story was going to go to jail for treason. Treason, my friend. That's the stuff that goes on with tin-pot dictators and communist tyrants and third-world banana republics. [But] I'd have to say, as Steven Spielberg said: "The truth is making a comeback."
Attacks on the press?
He’s concerned all the sudden about it.  Back in November he couldn’t have imagined it? 
Who has Donald Trump threatened with prison?
I’m asking because I know who Barack threatened.

In the annals of national security, the Obama administration will long be remembered for its unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers. Since 2009, it has employed the World War I–era Espionage Act a record six times to prosecute government officials suspected of leaking classified information. The latest example is John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer serving a thirty-month term in federal prison for publicly identifying an intelligence operative involved in torture. It’s a pattern: the whistleblowers are punished, sometimes severely, while the perpetrators of the crimes they expose remain free. 
The so-called 'war on terror' wounds another democratic institution.   Mark Sherman (AP) reports that his news organization's phone records for April and May 2012 were seized by the US Justice Dept.  Sherman quotes a statement from Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt: 

 There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.

 Revelations of the seizure emerge ten days after World Press Freedom Day. The news also emerges after AP won their 51st Pulizter Prize -- last month photo journalists Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen were honored,  and it emerges after AP photo journalist David Guttenfelder was awarded the Infinity Award for Photojournalism only days ago.  167 years ago this month, the Associated Press began as "five New York City newspapers got together to fund a pony express route through Alabama in order to bring news of the Mexican War north more quickly than the U.S. Post Office could deliver it. In the decades since, AP has been first to tell the world of many of history’s most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul."  Over 30 correspondents have died in those years in the pursuit of news stories. The story of the Associated Press is the story of changing technology, "AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years. In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire. A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994. In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world."

So what led to the US government's assault on the First Amendment?  The AP believes it is this report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo from May 2012 which opened with, "The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press has learned."

What's the problem with the story?  That the government didn't want AP to cover it for another 24 hours.  At the start of the month a year ago, AP learned of this story -- presumably from US government sources.  The report ran May 7th, a day before the administration planned to grab headlines with a news conference announcing the foiling of the plot.  (As Goldman and Apuzzo noted in their original report, the White House and the CIA knew AP would be reporting this and AP delayed the story for a week at their request.)  Though this appears to fall into what has already been established in Brave New Films' documentary War On Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State, the US Justice Dept insists in a statement that they have done nothing wrong.  They tell the Australian Business Insider:

We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations.  Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media.  We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.  Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.

TAPPER: Ruth, it is true that the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act --

MARCUS: Absolutely.

TAPPER: -- more to go after whistleblowers who leaked to journalists not just than any previous administration, but then more than all previous administrations combined. So, the argument that Ellsberg makes that it's a different environment than the '70s might be accurate, no?

MARCUS: Well, I think there has been an excessive use of the whistleblower -- excessive use of power against whistleblowers.

Since Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009, his government has waged a war against whistleblowers and official leakers. On his watch, there have been eight prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act – more than double those under all previous presidents combined.


As President Barack Obama soared into office eight years ago, he promised, on his first day in the White House, to launch “a new era of open government.”
“The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in a Jan. 21, 2009 memorandum.
Obama was urging the attorney general to issue new guidelines protecting The Freedom of Information Act. “In the face of doubt,” Obama proclaimed, “openness prevails.”
Notably, Obama’s transparency pledge came on the heels of President George W. Bush’s administration, which kept state-sponsored torture of alleged enemy combatants, a nascent drone assassination program, and covert eavesdropping of American citizens hidden from the eyes of the American public.
[. . .]
As for Obama’s record, here’s what history will show: In his eight years in office, the Obama Justice Department spearheaded eight Espionage Act prosecutions, more than all US administrations combined. Journalists were also caught in the crosshairs: Investigators sought phone records for Associated Press journalists, threatened to jail an investigative reporter for The New York Times, and named a Fox News reporter a co-conspirator in a leak case. In Texas, a journalist investigating private defense contractors became the focus of a federal prosecution and was initially charged for sharing a hyperlink containing hacked information that had already been made public.

ONE OF THE intellectual gargoyles that has crawled out of Donald Trump’s brain is the idea that we should “open up” libel laws to make it easier to punish the media for negative or unfair stories. Trump also wants top officials to sign nondisclosure agreements, so they never write memoirs that upset the boss. Trump is so disdainful of free speech that he has even vowed to use the Espionage Act to imprison anyone who says or leaks anything to the media that displeases him.
Actually, that last bit is made up; Trump hasn’t talked about the Espionage Act. Instead, the Obama administration has used the draconian 1917 law to prosecute more leakers and whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. Under the cover of the Espionage Act and other laws, the administration has secretly obtained the emails and phone records of various reporters, and declared one of them — James Rosen of Fox News — a potential “co-conspirator” with his government source. Another reporter, James Risen of the New York Times, faced a jail sentence unless he revealed a government source (which he refused to do).
Obama has warned of the imminent perils of a Trump presidency, but on the key issue of freedom of the press, which is intimately tied to the ability of officials to talk to journalists, his own administration has established a dangerous precedent for Trump — or any future occupant of the Oval Office — to use one of the most punitive laws of the land against some of the most courageous and necessary people we have. One section of the Espionage Act even allows for the death penalty.
How about THE NEW YORK TIMES?  James Risen, December 30, 2016:

If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.
Mr. Trump made his animus toward the news media clear during the presidential campaign, often expressing his disgust with coverage through Twitter or in diatribes at rallies. So if his campaign is any guide, Mr. Trump seems likely to enthusiastically embrace the aggressive crackdown on journalists and whistle-blowers that is an important yet little understood component of Mr. Obama’s presidential legacy.
Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.
Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.
I could do this all day.  So Tom Hanks, if you’re concerned about what you say you’re concerned about, where were you when all of this was going on?
Tom Hanks is full of s**t.

He’s an overrated fading movie star who has aged out of cute and has nothing more to offer.

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017.  Twitter censors the prime minister of the KRG, AP reveals many more civilians have been killed during the battle of Mosul than the governments have revealed, Burn Pits 360 explains how the government is still not helping veterans, and much more.

The effects from burn pits?  An issue we have covered since Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  And in all the time since, the US government still cannot address the issue despite a lot of pretending otherwise.  BURN PITS 360 has issued the following:
5 Reasons the VA Doctors' Guide to Burn Pits is Totally Inadequate

In March 2016 – a full seven years after burn pits were discontinued in Iraq and Afghanistan - the Department of Veterans Affairs published a guide for VA doctors meant to inform them of the potential health effects of exposure to burn pits. But the “Clinician’s Guide to Airborne Hazards” conveniently leaves the phrase “burn pits” out of the title and fails to give doctors the information that might actually help them evaluate patients with burn pit-related illnesses.

Want to see for yourself? Check out the VA’s “Clinician’s Guide to Airborne Hazards” here.  There are at least five reasons this four-page “Clinician’s Guide to Airborne Hazards” packet just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the information doctors really need to help veterans exposed to burn pits.
  1. The Clinician’s Guide does not say what a burn pit is.
That’s right. The guide to airborne hazards and open burn pits does not even describe what burn pits looked like, how large they were, or the wide variety of items burned in the pits. The VA’s only ‘explanation’ of the burn pits is as follows:

The use of burn pits was a common waste disposal practice at military sites overseas, exposing thousands of service members to potentially harmful substances, including elevated levels of particulate matter (PM). 

Without an idea of the sheer size of burn pits and the way they were tended, doctors would not be able to appreciate the extent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ exposure.  Ten pounds of trash burnt in an open barrel produces as much smoke pollution as a modern incinerator burning 400,000 pounds of trash per day. So the amount of smoke produced by a football field-sized open pit burning several hundred tons of unregulated waste per day certainly warrants at least a sentence in a guide meant to help doctors evaluate the significance of potentially toxic exposure.

Additionally, the guide does not mention any of the items burned in the pits. Listing (or simply mentioning) these items – which include plastics, metals, ion batteries, human feces, and much more – would give doctors information about the types of chemicals to which veterans may have been exposed. This brings us to our next point…
  1. Besides particulate matter (PM), the Guide does not list any chemicals or toxins detected in burn pit smoke.
The Department of Defense (DoD) measured levels of particulate matter (PM) that exceeded limits set by U.S. agencies. The VA Clinician’s Guide acknowledges this and briefly notes that toxicology research has already linked high PM levels to cardiopulmonary effects.
However, the VA neglects to mention any of the hundreds of chemicals detected in burn pit smoke.  The chemicals – many of them known carcinogens – include dioxins, the same potent toxin found in Agent Orange.  These chemicals are scientifically known to be hazardous on their own, but likely have even greater, “synergistic” effects when burned together.
  1. The Guide does not include important aspects of particulate matter (PM) and its toxicity.
Even on the subject of particulate matter, the Guide provides little helpful information.  The size of the PM - which is not included - is important information for doctors because the smaller the PM, the deeper the particles are able to travel into the lungs.
Additionally, the particles act as carriers of harmful chemicals in the air, so the toxicity depends on the composition of the particulate matter itself.  Without information about the chemicals carried by the PM, doctors’ ability to gauge the severity of the exposure is diminished.
  1. The Clinician’s Guide does not provide any specific information about the rare conditions (such as constrictive bronchiolitis) that are occurring at higher rates in veterans exposed to burn pits.
Illnesses such as constrictive bronchiolitis and eosinophilic pneumonia are mentioned only as examples of the self-reported “unexpected conditions.”  Though the Guide devotes a whole page to conducting an initial evaluation and deciding if a specialty consultation is warranted, neither section mentions these conditions by name.
This is a dangerous omission given that constrictive bronchiolitis can be fatal and often goes undetected until it has progressed too far.  Constrictive bronchiolitis can only be diagnosed with a lung biopsy.  So the spirometry and bronchodilator tests, which the Guide recommends to assess pulmonary function, may not indicate a problem when there is a very serious one.
  1. Directions on how doctors can view a veteran’s Burn Pit Registry self-assessment and how to document an evaluation using the Registry are buried in an unrelated section of the Guide.
The Clinician’s Guide spends almost the entire first page talking about the purpose of the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry and how medical support staff will explain it to veterans.  Intuitively, it doesn’t make much sense for this information about the Registry and the role of Medical Support Assistants and Environmental Health Coordinators to take up such a large and prominent space in the packet.  Especially while the two-paragraph section about research on the health effects of burn pit exposures is the very last section and takes up about a third of the page.

But most perplexing is the fact that the Registry information actually relevant to clinicians is hidden on the last page (which otherwise does not discuss the Registry).  At the bottom of an unrelated box called “Talking to Veterans about Exposure Concerns,” there is a small note.

The note tells doctors how to access a veteran’s self-assessment from the Burn Pit Registry.  Such information can be used by doctors to get a more complete understanding of a veteran’s proximity to the burn pit, their health concerns during deployment, and other important information that might not be covered in-person.

The note also tells doctors how to document a burn pit-related medical evaluation.  This information is critical because burn pit exposure is such a new phenomenon.  If VA doctors do not track the symptoms and illnesses their patients are experiencing, there is no way to see if trends are emerging or if certain treatments are more effective than others.

The Guide instructs clinicians to “rely on their own evidence based knowledge, expertise, and skills.” But without the facts – the size and scope of burn pits, the items burned, the chemicals released, how to diagnose the related illnesses – doctors are simply unable to apply even the most basic knowledge or skills to the issues their patients are experiencing.  Given the very serious medical conditions at play and the need for more detailed information about the effects of exposure, the VA’s Clinician’s Guide to Airborne Hazards is, frankly, irresponsible.

This article was written by Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick.  CCK is on the cutting edge of burn pit and other toxic chemical exposure issues that veterans face.  CCK has extensive experience helping veterans win their VA disability compensation claim appeals.  Contact CCK for help if your VA disability compensation claim has been denied.  Visit CCK onlineor by phone at 844-291-8569 for more information. 

Burn Pits 360 News

Research:  The Burn Pits 360 Registry is a research study collecting data on burn pit exposures and related illnesses.  The goal is to prove the connection between burn pit exposure and illness.  Before now, this information was only available to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.  So far, over 5,000 individuals have participated.  Your data will enable Burn Pits 360 to advocate and lobby on behalf of the veterans’ community for VA benefits, policy change, and specialized health care. Join the Burn Pits 360 Registry research study.  To participate, visit us on our website.

Outreach:  Burn Pits 360 team is building a new website to better serve you.  The new site will launch in 2018.  We’ve also been busy preparing for the grand opening of our Burn Pits 360 Warrior Support Center.  The grand opening will be in early 2018.  Stay tuned for more details!

Advocacy:  Burn Pits 360 recently requested a Congressional hearing on the use of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.  On December 1, we received a letter denying our request.  Burn Pits 360 plans on writing an open letter to the President of the United States regarding this issue.  We will continue to fight on behalf of veterans suffering from the invisible toxic wounds of war.  Support our cause here. 
Legal Help for Veterans

Disability Benefits:  If VA has denied your disability compensation claim, assigned you the wrong impairment rating, or if you are entitled to an earlier effective date, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for assistance.  CCK is also experienced at helping eligible veterans get VA benefits for special monthly compensation (SMC) or total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU).  Contact CCK toll free at 844-291-8569 or visit CCK online at
Take Action to Prove the Connection Between Burn Pit Exposure and Illness by Participating in the Burn Pits 360 Registry Research Study

The Burn Pits 360 Registry is a research study, collecting data on burn pit exposures and related illnesses.  The goal is to prove the connection between burn pit exposure and illness.  Before now, this information was only available to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.  So far, over 5,000 individuals have participated.  Your data will enable Burn Pits 360 to advocate and lobby on behalf of the veteran community for VA benefits, policy change, and specialized health care. To participate, visit us on our website here.
Burn Pits 360 Needs You! 

The success of our mission depends on the generosity of individuals like you.  We ask you to consider a monthly donation to help us advocate for our community and its needs.
Connect with Burn Pits 360 on Facebook

Burn Pits 360 is community of veterans with burn pit-related illness, their families, and advocates with the common goal of exposing the harms of toxic burn pit exposure and obtaining benefits and policy change.  Join us onFacebook!
Meet the Burn Pits 360 Team

Founder: CPT (Ret.) Le Roy Torres
Executive Director: Rosie Torres
Secretary: Tammy McCracken
Program Manager: Will Wisner
Legislative Liaison: Cindy Aman
Director of Development:Daniella Molina

Rocio Alvarado (California)

Diane Slape (Texas)

Advisory Board
Ret. Colonel David Sutherland
Dr. Steven Coughlin
Ret. Lt. Col Gregg Deeb
Dr. Robert Miller
Ret. Lt. Col. Brian Lawler
Kerry Baker 

Copyright © 2017 Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you submitted your contact information via the Burn Pits 360 website.

Our mailing address is:
Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization
P.O Box 1475
RobstownTX 78380

Turning to Iraq . . .

A second day of anti-government protests in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region has killed at least six people and injured over 70

Security forces kill at least five demonstrators in a rally against the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq


The Iraqi government could remove the Kurdistan Region leadership following violent anti-government protests over the past two days, a newspaper reported, quoting presidential sources.
Saudi newspaper Okaz, quoting “trusted sources” at the Iraqi presidency, said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is mulling various options to address the crisis in the autonomous, northern Iraq region, including the removal of Nechirvan Barzani’s cabinet based on the 78th article of the constitution, which empowers the prime minister to appoint and remove ministers after parliament approval.

Abadi, speaking during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, urged Kurdistan’s government to “respect the peaceful protests” as the region closed a second day of violent protests decrying delayed employee payments and poor services.

It's interesting to hear a prime minister of Iraq claim the need to "respect peaceful protests."  It was Hayder al-Abadi's predecessor Nouri al-Maliki who was responsible for the Hawija massacre.  The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Though there have been annual demonstrations to remember those killed, Hayder al-Abadi has never commented on this massacre.  Hayder, after all, is a member of State of Law -- Nouri al-Maliki's political coalition -- and he is a member of the Dawa Party (Nouri's political party).

Suddenly, he's concerned about "peaceful protests"?

And how does what's taken place qualify as peaceful?  The offices of political parties are being set on fire.

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani Tweeted the following:

My message to the protesters These are challenging times for our region. Your frustrations are understandable, and I hear them. Peaceful expression of views is of course a legitimate and democratic right...
پەیامم بۆ خۆپیشاندەران ھەرێمەکەمان لە ئێستادا بە دۆخێکێ ھەستیاردا تێپەڕ دەبێت. من لە داواکارییەکانی ئێوە تێدەگەم و ھاوسۆزم لەگەڵتان. دەربڕینی ئاشتیانەی بیروبۆچوون مافێکی شەرعی و دیموکراسییە. بەڵام توندوتیژی ھیچ کاتێک پەسەند نییە...

Use the second link.  The first link takes you to this: – this shortlink has been disabled. It was found to be violating our Terms of Service. Click here and here for more information about our terms and policies respectively.


An official statement from an elected leader is found to be violating the Terms of Service?

That was rat f**king and that's all it was -- disabling the link.  It was targeted with complaints so that it wouldn't be accessible to those who read English only.

Here's the statement that Twitter will not currently link to:

My message to the protesters
These are challenging times for our region. Your frustrations are understandable, and I hear them. Peaceful expression of views is of course a legitimate and democratic right.
But violence is never acceptable. ​I call on all of you to conduct your protests peacefully.
We must also remember that we still live in a violent and fragile region. Just in the last day our Peshmerga have fought a skirmish with Daesh terrorists. Of even more concern is that we are tracking movements by Iraqi forces in Makhmour.
We are stronger when we are united. I appreciate your resilience and patience in this difficult period. We have got through much worse in the past, and I still believe that, together, we will build a better future.

Again, censoring a statement by an elected leader -- just on the face of it -- is wrong.

But read over the above and ask how that got censored?

The answer?

Complaints to Twitter.

About actual content?

No, just a mass of complaints made with the knowledge that it would get the link disabled (at least temporarily).

There's a great deal going on here.

And in social media, it's being noted that it's awfully lucky for some that the Kurds are facing this.  Who benefits?  The age old question is asked and the answer most often given is the US government.

In part because the US government has (again) turned its back on the KRG.  In part because the moves of the political party Goran appear to increase turmoil (and Goran was fueled by CIA seed money).

Gorran (change) movement (second largest group in parliament) and Islamic Group (fifth largest group in parliament) withdraw from the Iraqi Kurdish regional cabinet.
The change movement will also leave top regional parliament position and suspend it's 'strategic' agreement with the PUK.
Replying to 
When have they contributed for the sake of KRG? Let these traitors go to Baghdad parliament. With their violent terror protestors.

These ‘protestors’ are not hungry for bread, but for blood. These are the that sold . Now they want whole and follow their master . Hope the forces will teach and educate them, because their parents forgot to do that.

The protestors may be genuine but there are some who question that and those questioning may have reason to do so.

Hey, you know what! Let’s protest and riot against KRG and their leadership for not giving salaries. Let’s chant Abadi’s name.

The weird thing is; they riot against KRG for salaries, but everyone knows Abadi has cut the money for this. Still they chant his name. Besides, ISIS, Iraqi army and PMU are attacking Kurdistan. This all happened in last 2-3 days. Betrayal of 16 october is still pending...

If this protests contain any outside elements, it's most likely as key instigators.

The salary issue is genuine.  It has been going on for some time.  Whether it is being used by certain forces to manipulate is the question.  And the answer may very well be: No.  It may be that this is Kurdish-grown and no outside influence is shaping it.  But the question is being raised repeatedly.

The Kurds have other pressing issues to deal with.

Among them?

Reports that the Islamic State continues to battle in Iraq.

Our gallant repelled an offensive in Makhmour, who left 8 bodies behind.They were morethan 30 . Although are ever prepared to defend Kurdistan, this indicates instability and insecurity in Iraq, despite Iraqi PM’s announcement of ISIS defeat

And there's also the continued threat from the Baghdad-based government of Iraq.

Region’s Security Council warns of Iraqi military buildup outside of city, and around Makhmour.
Iraqi military buildup in and around Makhmour, South West Erbil, has continued for over a week. In this position, armored vehicles and Humvees have been deployed.

As noted above, the Peshmerga is still fighting the Islamic State.  That news is troubling -- especially when you factor in Iraq's Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi's repeated claims of victory over ISIS.

Kamal al-Ayash (NIQASH) reported on the 13th:

Last week the Iraqi government declared victory over the extremist group known as the Islamic State. But, according to locals and military personnel living in the Anbar province, that declaration was premature.
“I have seen no genuine indications that this province is rid of the Islamic State group,” says Ayad al-Nimrawi, a 43-year-old who runs a restaurant in the Kilo area, about 160 kilometres along the road between Baghdad and the Syrian-Jordanian border. “I still see commercial trucks accompanied by security details when they come along here. Even the security forces cannot travel down here alone, they require extra protection.”
“I will only feel that we have won the final victory when I see life returning to this road as it was before the Islamic State came. We used to travel here at night without any fear of armed groups but today this international road is almost completely closed. As soon as dusk falls, this road is a death trap.”  

Equally troubling is the victory dance Hayder's been doing when you consider what the so-called victory has cost.

AP reports:

An Associated Press investigation has found that between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians died in the final battle to drive Islamic State extremists out of the Iraqi city of Mosul. 

That’s a civilian casualty rate nearly 10 times higher than what has been previously reported.  The deaths are acknowledged neither by the coalition, the Iraqi government nor the Islamic State group’s self-styled caliphate. 

On civilian casualties, Belkas Wille (Human Rights Watch) writes:

In its latest civilian casualty report, the US-led coalition in Iraq said that after reviewing “available information” there was insufficient evidence to find civilians were harmed in an April 2017 airstrike it carried out on the Sakkak neighborhood in Mosul. Yet Human Rights Watch previously documented that the strike killed 13 civilians.
I wondered what the “available information” reviewed had been. I wrote on behalf of Human Rights Watch to the coalition’s media contact, asked the question, and offered to share our information – the contact for an eyewitness to the strike, a man who personally knew the victims, and the names of the 13 civilians who he told us were killed.
A spokesperson emailed back and – without taking up our offer of information – claimed they had considered “all reasonably available evidence.”

The email pointed to abuses by ISIS and “the Russian-backed regime” in Syria, noting that “unlike ISIS, the Coalition works extensively to reduce the risk to civilians on the ground.”
Yes, the coalition is clearly more transparent. But since when is ISIS the standard against which coalition countries measure their actions?

The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT --  updated: