Friday, September 11, 2020

2 videos

 Check this out.

That made me laugh.

And check out this from Jimmy Dore.


It made me mad.  I can't wait for this hideous election to be over already.

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

 Thursday, September 10, 2020.  Iraq remains a US designed mess and look who shows up to whine about (some) US troops leaving Iraq.

The big Iraq story remains the drawdown of US forces in Iraq.

When the reduction takes place, it is said there will be 3,000 US troops in Iraq.  Of course, that count won't include US special-ops.

Paul Reickhoff is displeased by the move.  If that surprises you, you're unaware of who Paul is.  He's a bloody War Hawk and always has been.  He's an MSNBC figure and he's that because he supports wars.  When Paul's doing his IAVA work, we tend to ignore his other side.  Our only criticism of him was his repeated need -- for years -- to present himself to the media expert on all topics to do with veterans.  We especially called him out for making himself the IAVA 'expert' for the media on assault in the military.  Paul's never been raped or assaulted.  Most who are?  Women.  But time and again -- because of his macho bulls**t -- he'd try to speak to issues that female veterans should be speaking to.

Again, that's about it when it came to IAVA.  Well, one more thing.  Paul and MSNBC need to be clear on something.  Paul serves on the board of directors of IAVA.  That's really all he does now.  Stop presenting him as the leader of IAVA -- that would be Jeremy Butler and it has been Jeremy since IAVA made the January 29, 2019 announcement.  That's nearly two years ago.  Stop lying.

Outside of IAVA how did the macho pig that we used to call Mommy's Pantyhose because of the ridiculous way he dressed his bald head, how did he conduct himself.

As a War Pig.  For example, he went to any outlet that would have him (MSNBC will always have him) to trash Lt Ehren Watada.  Paul doesn't know the law, not even military law.  Paul was wrong in everyone of his predictions about what would happen legally to Ehren.  

For those who don't remember Ehren, he was an officer who refused to comply with the order to deploy to Iraq.

Lt Ehren Watada took a courageous stand and he is a hero.

Paul is a war monger who has for years tried to speak for women -- shut up, Paul -- and he's now trying to pretend he's still running IAVA.  Poor Jeremy Butler.  Know it all Paul's not going to let him lead IAVA apparently.  

Paul believes that the troops are being used as "props'' by Donald Trump.  Or that's the garbage he spewed on MSNBC yesterday.  Better props than cannon fodder.  He will scream and whine and have his hissy fit over and over.  And each time he does, he will get closer and closer to being outright rejected by IAVA.  Paul's decision to step down as leader wasn't Paul's decision but do we want to go into that?

The US military has accomplished nothing in Iraq.  That's the reality.  Training?  That's what they supposedly do now.  They have been training and retraining the Iraqi forces since 2003.  

Let's drop back to the December 1, 2011 snapshot:

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher: This whole episode in American history is a very disturbing thing to look at.  And I think when people look back, they're going to wonder why the hell did we ever go into Iraq?  And there will be no question, even in our minds today, whether or not the money that was expended and the lives and the blood that was expended there was worth it?  It was not.  And whatever we are spending now should be terminated and as soon as we can get those troops out, the better.  When you find yourself in a bad situation, you don't try to mess around to make it a little bit less bad, you just step over and try to get in a good situation somewhere else where you can accomplish things.


Yeah, some can speak the truth and not shy from it. Rohrabacher was speaking at a hearing yesterday, one about the State Dept's plan to spend or waste billions training the Iraqi police or supposedly training since DoD contracts set the pattern for a lack of accountability that it has now handed off to State. 
"Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program?" asked US House Rep Gary Ackerman yesterday. "Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."
That was Ackerman's important question yesterday afternoon at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing on Iraq.  US House Rep Steve Chabot is the Chair of the Subcommittee, US House Rep Gary Ackerman is the Ranking Member.  The first panel was the State Dept's Brooke Darby.  The second panel was the Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen and SIGIR's Assistant Inspector General for Iraq Glenn D. Furbish.  Chabot had a few comments to make at the start of the hearing.  They often echoed comments made in the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing [see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and other community reporting on the hearing included Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ]. But while Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham made their comments during rounds of questions, Chabot made his as the start of the hearing in his opening remarks. 
Chair Steve Chabot: Unfortunately, these negotiations failed due to, in my opinion, mismanagement by this White House.  Amazingly, the White House is now trying to tout the breakdown and lack of agreement as a success in as much as it has met a promise President Obama made as a candidate. This blatant politicization calls into question the White House's effort to secure an extension.  Fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of American national security  is at best strategic neglect and at worse downright irresponsible.  And the White House tacitly admits this in negotiating an extension in the first place. I fear, however, that our objective is no longer to ensure that Iraq is stable but merely to withdraw our forces by the end of this year in order to meet a political time line. Saying that Iraq is secure, stable and self-reliant -- as Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough  recently did -- does not make it so.  And to borrow a quote from then-Senator Hillary Clinton , It requires "the willing suspension of disbelief" to believe that withdrawing our forces from Iraq at a time when Iranian agents seek to harm at every turn our country and its allies advances our strategic interests.  Although I understand that Iraq is a sovereign country, I believe there is much more we could have done to secure a reasonable troop presence beyond the end of this year.
McCain was wrongly criticized for not grasping Iraq was a sovereign nation in some press accounts. Wrongly.  McCain grasped that fact and acknowledged it repeatedly in the hearing.  Chabot may have wanted all of that at the start of the hearing to ensure that he was not misunderstood.  In addition, Chabot noted the "reports of obstruction and noncooperation on the part of the Department of State during SIGIR's audit.  This is extremely distressing and, to echo the sentiments of several of my colleagues in the other body which they recently expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, the Department of State is legally obliged to cooperate fully with SIGIR in the execution of its mission; jurisdictional games are unacceptable." In his opening remarks, the Ranking Member weighed in on that topic as well.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.
Ackerman went on to note how "the program's objectives remain a mushy bowl of vague platitudes" and how  it had "no comprehensive and detailed plan for execution, there is no current assessment of Iraqi police force capability and, perhaps most tellingly, there are no outcome-based metrics.  This is a flashing-red warning light."

Every thing Gary Ackerman said in that hearing remains true today.  It was true in 2008 and we could quote from multiple hearings we covered -- especially the Petraeus and Crocker hearings -- to back that up.  

Paul can't back up anything because he's an idiot who never does the work required.  ''You need someone to talk about combat rape?  Give me ten seconds to Google it and then I'll go on air!"

There's a reason that IAVA didn't lead on many issues and that reason is Paul.

I'm not going to pretend that Donald Trump's drawdown is a withdrawal -- any more than I pretended that Barack Obama's drawdown was a withdrawal -- but I'm also not going to pretend it's nothing.

If further action follows, we might finally see a withdrawal and that would be something to applaud.

The Iraqi people do not want foreign forces -- that includes US forces -- on their soil.  But in Paul's world, they don't matter because they're not American.  US forces have never had a clearly defined mission after the first few weeks of the war.  They have been tasked with objective that are not military objectives.  The military and the diplomatic side has never gotten along in Iraq.  That's most true when Gen Ray Odierno was the top military commander and Chris Hill was the napping ambassador but it's been true throughout.  (For those who forgot or didn't know, Chrissy Hill threw a temper tantrum at one point, insisting to the White House that Odierno was getting too much media attention and wanted them to order him to 'stand down' in terms of the press so that Chrissy could get some camera time.)  Iraqi forces don't want the US training.  That was obvious in 2007 -- and many US trainers told the press that.  It became more obvious when the US State Dept was supposed to take over the training and the Ministry of the Interior made clear that they didn't want training or help.

Paul's missed all of that.

He has nothing to offer but "boo Donald Trump!"  He's become a really pathetic individual.

Is the US going to stay in Iraq forever?  It's 18 years this March.  Are Americans ever going to get honest about why US forces are kept on Iraqi soil?  Oil?  Well sure.  But more to the point since the invasion, US troops are kept on Iraqi soil to prop up a government that doesn't represent the Iraqi people and never has.

Do you really think that in a country of nearly 40 million, the Iraqi people are never able to find a prime minister who wasn't a chicken?

Every choice that has been imposed on them -- by the US and Iran -- has been someone who fled the country under Saddam.

Would you want to have cowards rule you?

No, no one would.  But time and again, that's who gets imposed.  And we all play dumb in the US and pretend like we don't notice.  

When Mosul was taken by the Islamic State in 2014, the security forces collapsed for the same reason that they did when thug Nouri al-Maliki sent them into Basra in 2008.  You had mass desertion in 2008 because why give your life for a pay check?  That's all it was.  There is no national identity. (Current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is attempting to bring back a day to honor Iraq's national spirit -- but to do so on a day that is not the anniversary of the creation of the Ba'ath Party).

The government does not serve the Iraqi people (something many in the US should be able to relate to).  It rips off the national resources and let's the people suffer over and over.

US forces are needed to protect the Iraqi government (that is what prompted Barack to send many more in back in 2014 -- they were afraid the Green Zone would fall).  The Iraqi government is non-responsive to the needs of the people.  When the people demand their needs be met, the Iraqi government begins wounding and killing them.

There is no point in keeping US forces on the ground in Iraq.  Nothing has been accomplished in the 18 years and nothing is going to be accomplished with 18 more.  The Iraqi people are a young population but they can't be tricked.  At one point, Donald Rumsfeld was convinced that if the US just stayed in Iraq for six years, the Iraqis would be exhausted and embrace the rulers forced on them.  That has not happened and I don't see how it happens.  (Nor should it happen.  If you believe in self-rule, you don't pull stunts like that.)

Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has abolished sectarian considerations in deciding admissions to military colleges and hiring at state institutions.

The move is seen as an attempt by Mr Al Kadhimi to curb sectarian divides and unite the war-torn country.

“The Prime Minister has requested the cancellation of classification of students based on their sectarian affiliation, this will also apply to all state institutions,” the prime minister's office said on Wednesday.

That's one of Mustafa's efforts at building national unity.  I don't see it working in the short term.  There was a time when national unity could have been built.  That was 2010 when the Iraqi people went to the polls and made it clear that they wanted a national identity.  But since the US hadn't been involved in that and since they didn't care about democracy, Joe Biden and the rest overturned the votes of the Iraqi people.

Every time Joe opens his damn mouth with some suggestion that Donald won't accept the results in November, a functioning press would bring up how Joe led the US effort that overturned the votes of the Iraqi people and instead gave a thug a second term.  Nouri's second term is what gives birth to ISIS in Iraq.

Bryan Dyne and Andre Damon have an important article at WSWS.  It would require a snapshot of its own. Maybe we'll do something on it at THIRD.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, September 10, 2020




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

 Wednesday, September 9, 2020.  More troop reductions in Iraq, military suicides continue in the US, Iraq grapples with redistricting, and much more.

The term for the day is "drawdown."  Not "withdrawal."  I wish withdrawal were the term for the day.  But what the press is talking about is a drawdown.  AP notes:

The Trump administration will announce Wednesday that it is withdrawing additional troops from Iraq, as President Donald Trump tries to make good on his campaign promise to disentangle the country from “endless wars.”

A senior administration official discussed the draw-down with reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday night, on condition of anonymity. The official said the administration is also looking to announce the withdrawal of additional troops from Afghanistan in the coming days.

The planned announcements come as the president has been trying to make the case that he has fulfilled the promises he made four years ago as he tries to secure a second term.

CNN reports that it's been announced this morning by US Gen Frank McKenzie that the number will fall from 5,200 troops to 3,000.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) observes, "The decision follows a meeting between Mr Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi in August, in which the two sides discussed the status of the remaining forces in Iraq."  BBC Tweets:

US to withdraw more than a third of its troops from Iraq within weeks, its top Middle East commander says

AFP notes, "British, French and US special forces are expected to remain deployed in undisclosed locations around the country, diplomatic sources said."

Already, there are drive-by e-mails in the public account from Trump supporters insisting this or that.  Donald is reducing the number.  We have noted that.  This is not a withdrawal, it's a drawdown.

I lost respect for Danny Schechter for many things -- including his defense of Ike Turner beating Tina Turner, terrorizing her -- but when he was long past the point of return to sanity, he posted this nutty, long-winded post at his NEWS DISSECTOR site where he defended Barack Obama's drawdown.  He called it a withdrawal and offered all these nutty notions that if Barack went further the CIA would kill him, that the NSA had all this dirt on him, that . . . 

I don't whore for politicians.  I also don't create scripts to justify their actions.  Barack promised to end the Iraq War and bring all the troops home -- he did not do that.  Even when the bulk were removed, special forces remained in Iraq -- and see AFP above for how that will be happening again.  

The number will drop.  I have noted that and he has credit for that.  But the number dropping is not withdrawal.  Nor does it mean that more US forces can't be sent in at any time.

That happened in 2014, remember?  (Actually, it happened in the fall of 2012 -- as Tim Arango reported -- but no one wanted to pay attention then.)  

And keeping 3,000 on the ground may well be the recipe for sending in more should anything go wrong.

I will give him credit for reducing the numbers.  I will not pretend that this is a withdrawal or offer up excuses for why a president of the United States is unable to withdraw troops.

I don't live in the land of crazy, I don't visit it.  But I think we can all see it from our front porch on a clear day.  Matt Yglesias is a permanent resident in the land of the crazy.  He has a new book of slobbering ravings where he fears that China will overtake the US in something.  First off, isn't his book a little late?  Secondly, his solution is for the US population to increase to one billion.

Why in the world would you advocate that?  The earth is already overpopulated.  The US offers no Medicare For All, what remains of a safety net is nearly non-existent.  We're in the midst of a pandemic.  Why would you --

Oh, that's right.  You want cannon fodder.  

Matt pimped the Iraq War and he's ready for the US to go to war with China -- provided it's far enough ahead in the future where he won't have to enlist himself.  People like this should be shunned.  Matt is responsible for the deaths of many.

Ellen Killoran (CRIME DAILY) reports on an apparent death:

An Iraq war veteran reportedly took his own live during a Facebook live video that spread to multiple social media platforms.

Citing the Daily Star, the New York Post reports that 33-year-old Ronnie McNutt fatally shot himself in the head while recording a Facebook live stream on August 31. An online obituary appears to confirm McNutt’s death. According to the obituary, McNutt is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq. He lived in New Albany, Mississippi, at the time of his death and worked at a Toyota plant. He was also involved in theater.

The video of McNutt’s death has reportedly been seen on multiple social media platforms, including TikTok. According to the Daily Star report, some have used social media to warn others who might encounter the disturbing video.

Alexis Tangman Tweets:

IMMINENT TRAUMA/PTSD WARNING: My friend Ronnie McNutt committed suicide via hunting rifle on a FB livestream in front of myself and 200 others. The video is now making its rounds on

. If you see a video of a bearded man at a desk on TikTok, CLICK AWAY AND REPORT IT.

Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh offers his take in the video below.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

David Roza (TASK AND PURPOSE) reports:

The second-most senior officer in the U.S. armed forces on Tuesday called on military leaders to help end an ongoing suicide epidemic by checking in with their subordinates and removing the stigma around seeking treatment for mental health issues.

“There are no negative consequences to your career and only positive results for you personally, for your family and your friends,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, about seeking professional mental health treatment, in a video tweeted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday. 

“It’s important that the US military brings light to this complex issue of suicide because regardless of which uniform we wear, we’re not immune from life’s challenges, including thoughts of suicide," he added.

Though much time has been spent trying to reduce the number of military suicides, the effort has not reached success.  It probably doesn't help, for example, when a service member reaches out for help through a hotline and the son-in-law of a sitting Secretary of Defense -- Timonthy Heaphy whose father-in-law is Eric Shineski -- tries to put him in jail for seeking help.  That happened in 2012.  There are many obstacles but when someone is seeking help, seeking help should never be one of those obstacles.  THE CT MIRROR notes:

Sgt. William Davidson had been struggling with mental health problems since his deployment to Afghanistan. When he didn’t attend at least one of his Connecticut National Guard drill weekends, the Guard declared him AWOL (absent without leave) and discharged him with a “bad paper” separation. Four months after his discharge, Davidson, 24, fatally shot himself.

Davidson, who had two younger sisters, is one among thousands of veterans who die by suicide each year. Despite national goals to prevent veteran suicides, they occur at disproportionately higher rates than in the general population.

More than 78,000 veterans died by suicide between 2005 and 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veteran suicide deaths rose from 5,787 in 2005 to 6,139 in 2017. In the active military, the National Guard, with a suicide rate of 30.6 per 100,000, has the highest rate of any branch, according to the most recent Department of Defense Annual Suicide Report. The overall rate among all active military components was 24.8. This is occurring against a backdrop of rising suicides among all Americans.

“The numbers don’t do anything but grow,” said Davidson’s mother, Donna Chapman of Suffield. “We’re continuing to fail. I’m sick of it. Everyone’s sick of it,” she said.

In Iraq today, the Cabinet of Ministers issued the following:

The Cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

The Cabinet agreed to hold a special meeting early next week to discuss the 2020 Federal Budget which was delayed because of the circumstances and events in the country.

The Cabinet discussed the implementation of the e-government project. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of this project and directed that a progress report be submitted to him within a week.

The Cabinet received a briefing from the Minister of Health on Covid-19 related developments and the ongoing national efforts to combat the coronavirus.

The Cabinet received an update from the Minister of Electricity on the current state of the grid, and on plans to improve the generation and transmission of power in Iraq.

Following discussions, the Cabinet agreed to:

  • Authorise the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to coordinate with the Ministry of Youth and Sports on the implementation of the National Project for Youth Employment
  • Approve the financial conditions of two loans from the Saudi Fund for Development, and to authorise a representative of the Ministry of Finance to sign the necessary contracts for the construction of a silo for wheat storage in Diwaniyah and the Saqlawiya Hospital in Anbar
  • Authorise the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority to negotiate and sign a draft air transport agreement between the Republic of Iraq and the Kingdom of Bahrain, as amended by the State Council

The Cabinet discussed other items on its agenda and agreed a number of measures.

Iraq is planning to hold parliamentary elections in June of next year.  There are new issues coming up.  ARAB WEEKLY explains:

A fierce political battle is taking place in Iraq over electoral districts, which will eventually have to be finalised and documented in the annexes of the election law approved by parliament in an amended form, at the request of the angry Iraqi street, with the aim of preventing the domination of the Shia parties loyal to Iran.

In previous elections, Iraq adopted the proportional representation method while treating each governorate as a single constituency and using the system of closed and open lists, which allowed candidates with few votes to nevertheless win just because the lists supporting them got many votes.

When Iraqis took to the street early October 2019, in the largest popular protests the country has ever seen that lasted several months, one of their top demands was the adoption of a system of multiple districts in the election law, which was actually approved by the Iraqi parliament a few months later.

The multi-district formula stipulates that each governorate be divided into as many districts as the number of its seats in parliament, and the winner of the seat be the candidate with most votes, regardless of that candidate’s ranking on the nomination list.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi has been very busy since last month trying to mobilise the necessary political support for the multi-district formula. However, he faces fierce opposition from prominent Shia political figures and parties, led by the State of Law coalition of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who wants to maintain the single-district formula for each governorate, regardless of the number of its seats.

In the US, the presidential election is scheduled for November.  Luke Savage (JACOBIN) observes of Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate:

Much like Hillary Clinton did in 2016, Biden is aiming to win the presidency by motivating conservative-leaning suburban voters and some Republicans — with more traditional (and liberal- and progressive-minded) Democratic constituencies turning out in sufficient numbers where it counts. The former group was largely the target audience for this year’s DNC, which  pandered endlessly to the sensibilities of anti-Trump Republicans and rich suburbanites. The latter, meanwhile, gets lectures about how they need to be more enthusiastic while young voters get virtual Biden/Harris lawn signs in Animal Crossing instead of Medicare For All.

Centrist Democrats do want the support of young and left wing voters, of course. But they uniformly want it on their own centrist terms.

All this may be a strategic choice on Biden’s part, but it’s also a feature endemic to the faction that controls the Democratic Party as a whole. Biden’s nomination, which party power brokers ultimately did everything they could to ensure, represented a very conscious repudiation of the alternative course offered by Bernie Sanders — one which was decidedly less interested in the votes of suburban conservatives and, perhaps more importantly, which pledged to reject the dictates of the donor class that Democratic elites have long embraced.

As such, there is simply no incentive structure in place to shift Biden from his current course.

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Jessica Krug

 In "3 things -- Jessica Krug, Ed Snowden, UNITED WE FALL," Elaine covered Jessica Krug -- a Jewish woman who pretended to be Black to advance her career.  Ed Morales (CNN) notes:

The irony to Krug's revelation is that she was apparently discovered because several Black Latina scholars questioned Krug's identity after a group discussion about the late novelist H.G. Carrillo, who, after his death this year, was revealed not to be Afro-Cuban, but African-American by his sister. But it was the violence that Krug, who said in her post that she had grown up as a White, Jewish child in Kansas City, had done to her colleagues, peers and students that hurt the most.
The depth of the damage was most poignantly called out by Yomaira C. Figueroa, associate professor at Michigan State who comes from a "working poor" background growing up in Hoboken, New Jersey. In a Washington Post interview, Figueroa said it was "disgusting," and asserted that many in the academic world are "aghast that (Krug) would perpetuate these lies and gain access to the spaces in the academy, the resources."
    Hunter College professor Yarimar Bonilla, who was a fellow at New York's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture with Krug, said on Twitter that Krug employed gross racial stereotypes to build her claim to authenticity, "claiming to be a child of addicts from the hood," and harangued colleagues through a "woker-than-thou" rhetoric that made Bonilla feel like she was "trafficking in respectability politics when I cringed at her MINSTREL SHOW."

    THE GRIO notes:

    “The members of the faculty of The George Washington University Department of History are shocked and appalled by Dr. Jessica Krug’s admission on September 3, 2020 that she has lied about her identity for her entire career,” reads the official statement.

    [. . .]

    Students enrolled in the courses are being provided with different coursework opportunities. The department of history calls for her resignation and recommends the university rescinds her tenure and terminates her appointment.

    She's disgraced the university and done so in an official capacity.  This is not some tawdry affair that came out in the press and branded her with a scarlet A but had nothing to do with her work.  Her lies go to the work she did and the 'authority' she tried to present.  She needs to be let go.

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

     Tuesday, September 8, 2020.  Kamala Harris continues to outshine Joe Biden, Joe picks up an endorsement from a disgraced journalist, a US sailor is missing at sea, and much more.

    HILDA'S MIX went out this morning.  Her question for the week was: If Donald Trump wins re-election who is the big loser, who is the personal big winner?

    I opted to answer the big winner and noted I would explain why in the snapshot.

    If Donald Trump wins re-election, Hillary Clinton is the big winner.

    She is already saddled with losing to a TV reality show star and she failed in not campaigning in important states after she had the nomination.  If Joe Biden loses, with Americans having had four years of Donald, Hillary looks a lot better historically.  She's not the big loser, she's someone who fought hard against a phenomenon.  If, however, Joe Biden beats Donald?  Hillary goes down in history as a lousy candidate who lost to the political equivalent of a freak.

    Or should we say if Kamala Harris beats Donald Trump?  President-to-be Kamala is all over the place these days while Joe continues his Hidin' With Biden strategy.  Yet again, a strong woman has to carry a weak man to the finish line.  I guess we can consider it progress that the person doing all the work won't end up First Lady but instead Vice President.

    "Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead."  That's a campaign slogan they're sporting lately.


    Is that an endorsement of President Kamala?  Because Joe has no best days left.  At 77, the sun is more than setting on him.

    History will not be kind to this run.  Kamala's clearly qualified, clearly doing all the work and she'll only be the Vice President.  If he wins, history will rightly see Joe as the elderly, entitled old man that he is who got to the White House on the back of a person of color.

    Kamala's strong, she's got strong shoulders.  I don't doubt that she can carry Joe to the White House.  I do think it's really sad that someone with Joe's racial history -- that goes far beyond the unfair incarceration rate for African-American males -- will have made it to the White House via two different people of color -- first Barack Obama, now Kamala Harris.

    War Hawk Joe does have his supporters.  Club des Cordeliers notes one of Joe's supporters:

    Judith Miller, the former NYT reporter who planted false stories in support of the invasion of Iraq, promises that a Biden Presidency will result in a return to naked imperial aggression.

    Judith Miller is for Joe Biden?  I believe that's your dead canary in the coalmine.

    At ALJAZEERA, Hamid Dabashi explains he will not be voting for Joe:

    But still, I will never vote for Biden for I believe the function of people like me is entirely different from even those among the American left with whom I wholeheartedly identify. The task of critical thinking at this point is not to rush to declare we are voting for Biden - an unrepentant racist and self-declared Zionist with a frightening record of misogyny who has actively supported the Iraq war. We had a far superior choice in Bernie Sanders, but twice in a row, the Democratic Party made absolutely sure to kill his chances.

    The task at hand is to sustain the course of critical thinking that could not possibly embrace Biden. Voting for Biden is voting for the very foundation of a political culture that has a whole platoon of Trumps and Bidens waiting to surface. If we choose between Trump and Biden today, next time we will have to choose between Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton. This vicious cycle can only come to an end through a sustained and uncompromising course of critical thinking against the very grain of this political culture that demonises the Black Lives Matter uprising, celebrates neo-Nazis, and canonises Hillary Clinton and Biden as God-given salvation against this murderous banality. 

    It was Barack Obama's speech that sealed my decision to never vote for Biden. Up until then, I was thinking to myself that a vote for Biden is not actually a vote for him, but a vote against Trump, alongside other such tall tales and poor excuses. But when Obama took to the podium and began to get emotional and pleaded for people to go and vote for Biden, right there and then, I decided it would be obscene of me to do so, especially with this hypocritical con man on his side.

    Every time Obama starts choking up, I remember him crying in public for children who have fallen victim to gun violence in the US, just before going back to his Oval Office to send even more arms to Israel with which to slaughter Palestinian children, or sell them to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to kill more Yemeni children. Are Palestinian and Yemeni children not children? Every single human being stands for the entirety of our humanity. How could this coward be so openly cruel and callous when it comes to children in Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan and beyond, and still pretend to care deeply about America's children?

    Biden is even worse than Obama in his die-hard Zionism - in his support for the apartheid state of Israel, in his categorical disregard for Palestinians. Voting for Biden means excusing all the times in the past he helped arm Israel to murder Palestinians. Voting for him means, should he become the next president, siding with him every time he signs - and he will undoubtedly sign many - a new arms deal to support Israel and its murderous tyranny. 

    Why would any decent human being want to do anything like that? Yes, Trump is an American monster but so is Biden. People like me have no candidate in this election.  

    If your decision on how to use your vote this election is not to vote, that's your decision.  It's your vote and if no one appeals to you, that's your business.

    But we should note that there are many other candidates.  Howie Hawkins is running on the Green Party ticket, Gloria La Riva on the Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket, Joseph Kishore on the Socialist Equality Party ticket and Jo Jorgesen is running on the Libertarian Party ticket.  

    There are others running -- there's a pedophile running, for example.  We won't name him and we won't mention his campaign but the charges against him -- despite claims in his WIKIPEDIA account -- were not disproved.  His chief supporter these days is Akon.  Rapper and influencer Kanye West will be on some ballots.  He and his running mate Michelle Tidball have qualified to be on the ballot in 11 states and are attempting ballot access in three more.  

    And, of course, there's loser and hypocrite Dario Hunter who will be on the ballot in two states -- Oregon and Colorado.  Lazy ass Dario wanted to be gifted with the Green Party's presidential nomination and he was so lazy that he couldn't even Tweet daily or even twice a week -- the same with FACEBOOK posts.  Third parties get very little media attention, they have to generate interest in their own campaigns.  Dario refused to do so.  When he lost the nomination to Howie Hawkins -- whose campaign Tweeted multiple times a day throughout the primaries, put out statements, put out policy plans, etc -- Dario couldn't accept reality.

    So he went on any podcast or program that would have him and insisted there was a conspiracy to prevent him from getting the nomination and the conspiracy was carried out by Dr. Margaret Flowers and her husband Kevin Zeese.  Kevin just passed away.  Dario who spent the bulk of July and August spreading vicious lies about Kevin and Margaret immediately took to Twitter to offer his sympathies.  No, Dario, it's not that easy.  You're a piece of garbage trash.  Before that Tweet, I thought you were just lazy and little bit nuts, now I grasp you're also a whorish hypocrite.  David Swanson wrote about Kevin here and Kat remembered him here. ANTIWAR.COM notes, " carried many of Kevin’s articles over the years, view his archives. Scott Horton interviewed Kevin many times, listen here."   Howie Hawkins' campaign issued the following:


    September 6, 2020


    Robert Smith,

    Andrea Merida,


    Hawkins Press Secretary and Activist, Kevin Zeese Has Passed Away 

    Kevin Zeese, pictured first on the right, alongside the other Embassy Protectors.

    The Hawkins/Walker campaign is very sad to report that our Press Secretary, comrade-in-arms and brother, Kevin Zeese, passed away last night. He was 64 years old.

    “I lost a friend. All of us lost a prolific, tireless, and principled advocate and activist for peace and justice. My condolences go out to his partner, Margaret Flowers, also a committed activist, his family, and the many people whose lives were enriched by Kevin and his work,” Howie Hawkins said.

    Kevin was a giant in the world of activism, from peace and justice to cannabis legalization to healthcare to independent politics. He was a well-known scholar, attorney, and writer. He was co-editor of Popular Resistance, one of the left’s most popular sources for news and opinion from a left-radical perspective, which he led with his partner, Dr. Margaret Flowers. He served as Press Secretary for the Nader/Camejo campaign in 2004.

    He was most recently in the news as one of the Embassy Protection Collective, one of the last four to protect the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C. against the forces of the illegitimate presidency of Juan Guaidó and the passivity of the secret service and federal security forces of the Trump administration. Kevin, Margaret and others nonviolently resisted the embassy’s takeover by puppets of the United States and tenanted the diplomatic building with the permission of the Venezuelan government for more than a month. Ultimately, they were arrested and after a trial plagued with restrictions against the defense, all federal charges brought by the Trump administration were dropped.

    Kevin was also an active force of solidarity with several Latin American movements, causes and peoples against US imperialism and illegal intervention. He worked tirelessly to denounce US illegal sanctions and covert operations that affect the progressive efforts of the peoples of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, and beyond. His legal background only strengthened his conviction about the illegality of all these US unilateral sanctions that only increase the suffering of millions of Latin Americans.

    “This unexpected loss of a compassionate and hugely intellectual friend is stunning,” commented Angela Walker, the Green Party nominee for vice president.  “My thoughts are with his partner, his family and with all who love him,” she continued.

    “Kevin leaves an enormous hole in his wake. He would want his legacy to be that we filled it by multiplying our efforts to bring about a better world,” Hawkins said.


    In January 2007, Kevin observed:

    The message of opposition to the Iraq War, expressed in the election on November 7th is seen even more clearly in polling since the election. Indeed, the anti-Iraq war viewpoint of Americans is growing stronger. And, there is definite opposition to Bush’s plan to increase troops in Iraq and a desire to see the Democrats take action to prevent the so-called surge. However, there is not a lot of confidence in the Democrats, no doubt if the Democrats “buy” Bush’s war by allowing the surge or approving the supplemental appropriation there will be even less confidence in the Democrats ability to get the country on the right track and end the war.

    The Democrats in Congress -- who controlled both the House and the Senate following the 2006 mid-terms -- approved the surge and approved the supplemental.  Nothing changed but the names.

    The Iraq War continues.  MEMO reports:

    Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi yesterday ordered an investigation into a recent missile attack on Baghdad International Airport.

    “Under the direction of the Prime Minister, the Joint Operations Command is opening an investigation to determine the party responsible for firing three Katyusha rockets at Baghdad International Airport,” the military’s Security Media Cell said in a statement.

    The Ministry of Defence said on Sunday that three Katyusha missiles were fired at Baghdad airport “for the second time in a week.” The ministry added that the rockets were launched from “the Zaytoun area in the Abu Ghraib district”, west of the capital. Noone has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    Margret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) notes yesterday's violence, "At least 10 people were killed, and one more was wounded in the latest attacks."

    Beyond violence?  REUTERS reports, "Iraq is reopening its land border crossings, restaurants, hotels, and bringing back sporting events without spectators, the prime minister said on Monday, three days after it recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus infections."  This as AFP reports on the increase in smuggled olive trees from Syria are flourishing in Iraq, "Raw olives are a staple on Levantine lunch tables, while their oil is both used in cooking and drizzled on top of favourite appetisers like hummus. The oil can also be used to make soap, while the dark, sawdust-like residue from olives pressed in the autumn is often burned to heat houses in the winter."  Crops, like people, require water and there the news is not good for Iraq.  MEMO explains:

     Iraq’s agriculture industry has been hit hard as a result of ongoing Iranian dam projects which reduce the water flow and block major water supplies from two of the region’s main rivers, Middle East Eye reported.

    Farmers in the eastern province of Diyala and the Kurdish region say their livelihoods are under threat as a result of Tehran re-directing the Sirwan and Little Zab rivers to dams in Iran, forcing some Iraqis to leave their towns and villages.

    The two rivers in Iraq are considered the primary sources of livelihood for nearly two million people.

    “In a couple of years, Iran’s dams projects will not only create a catastrophe that will force people to migrate to other places, but will have an impact on farmland, wildlife and tourism,” Director of Iraq’s Darbandikhan Dam Rahman Khani told Middle East Eye

    In other news, AP notes a US sailor is missing:

    The U.S. Navy searched through the night into Monday morning for a sailor who went missing from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz during its patrol of the northern Arabian Sea amid tension with Iran

    The crew aboard the Nimitz sounded a "man overboard" alert at 6:47 p.m. on Sunday, after being unable to find the sailor aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. That was after an extensive search of the Nimitz, America's oldest carrier in active service that carries some 5,000 sailors and Marines.

    The Nimitz, the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton and other 5th Fleet personnel continued their search on Monday, Rebarich said. She declined to identify the missing sailor, citing Navy policy.

    Lastly, REAL CLEAR POLITICS notes

    Iraq War veteran Bobby Henline, who survived injuries so horrifying that his picture has become iconic, speaks out against a Democratic group that used his picture in a web ad attacking President Trump based on anonymous allegations published in The Atlantic this week.

    "FOX News, call me, someone," he said. "So people will know not to use me, not to put my face to whatever they think [Trump] said. It is ridiculous. Stop this shit."

    "You're lowlives, you're scum. Take it down."

    He's referring to Occupy Democrats -- a faux resistance group -- and he's right to call them out for their use of him in their partisan efforts.  They need to immediately and publicly apologize for using his image to promote their politics.


    Monday, September 07, 2020


     It's strange to watch the press musical chairs.  We've long moved from a society where someone starts a job at X and then retires from X.  But it is still strange to me to see the revolving press door.  Borzou Daragahi started covering the Iraq War in the lead up -- he was with ASSOCIATED PRESS.  After the war started, he covered it for THE LOS ANGELS TIMES.  Most recently, he's been at THE FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON and BUZZFEED NEWS.  Now he's at THE INDEPENDENT. He has an important article which opens:

    In a move that has not yet been publicly announced but will be hailed by civil society activists and human rights monitors, Iraq’s reform-minded prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has decided to disband the so-called Baghdad Preservation Forces.  

    The Interior Ministry branch was formed less than a year ago by Kadhimi’s  predecessor Adel Abdul-Mahdi amid a wave of anti-government protests. Its original aim was to “protect” the demonstrators from harm. Instead, it served as a sort of praetorian guard for Baghdad’s political elite, harassing and brutalising peaceful protesters clamouring for change.  

    Kadhimi had said a month ago he was going to restructure the force after a video emerged in late July showing members of the group torturing an adolescent boy, Hamed Saeed, who was among the tens of thousands of protesters who have taken part in nationwide rallies against the corrupt network of political parties and militias that dominate Iraq today.  

    Now Iraqi media outlets are reporting that Kadhimi is going to get rid of the force altogether, and merge its personnel into the regular police. 

    It's an important article -- read on to see how various governments -- US, Iran and France -- are putting pressure on Iraq and how Borzou doesn't feel they're offering Iraq much of anything.  Liz Sly is another journalist covering Iraq who has been at several outlets, Jane Arraf would be another.  Michael Gordon's been at just two: NYT and now THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.  NYT, by the way, has Alissa J. Rubin back over their Iraq coverage.  

    Over at THE NATIONAL INTEREST, Bonnie Kristian notes Mustafa's recent comments regarding US forces not being needed on the ground in Iraq for "support:"

    American policymakers should take notice. After seventeen years of fighting, the war in Iraq is a demonstrable failure—and yet a failure with no end in sight.

    The Trump administration has repeatedly promised to draw down the U.S. military presence in Iraq, but it’s not clear President Donald Trump really wants to leave. Apparently unguided by any coherent strategy, he threatens further escalation as easily as he condemns the initial invasion. His passion for ending “endless wars” is perhaps not all-consuming.

    There are about five thousand American troops in Iraq now, basically the same deployment level as when this administration began. When the Iraqi parliament in January demanded all foreign troops leave their country, the administration rejected the request. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how best to recommit to our strategic partnership,” said the State Department, “not to discuss troop withdrawal.”

    So why are they still there?  When does the war end?  When does a real withdrawal ever take place?

    It's really pathetic how, in the US, we've allowed the issue of the war to vanish and we've been tricked by politicians into believing the war had ended or that it was so minor that it didn't matter.  How many people promised to end the war but didn't?  Include Nancy Pelosi on that list.  Her promise for the 2006 mid-terms was that if the voters gave the Democrats control over just one house of Congress -- just one -- the war would be ended.  The voters gave them control over both houses -- the House of Representatives and the Senate -- and the war continued.

    Yesterday, XINHUA noted, "A security member and a civilian were wounded in a roadside bomb exploded near a convoy of trucks belonging to the U.S.-led coalition forces in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Iraqi military said on Sunday."  "Harm's way" apparently isn't a concern of the US electorate or the US press.

    In other news, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

    Iraqi security forces arrested 13 people late on Saturday who were suspected of carrying illegal arms in operations in Baghdad and Basra.

    For years, the government has faced a major challenge to rein in armed militias and keep weapons under state control.

    “Ten individuals were arrested in Basra, who were suspected of carrying heavy weaponry, after a security operation was launched to raid and inspect various areas in the city,” armed forces spokesman Yehia Rasool said on Twitter. 

    Turning to the issue of Iraq's religious minorities, we'll note this from Qassim Khidir (AFP via TIMES OF ISRAEL):

    Across Iraq, Jewish roots run deep: Abraham was born in Ur in the southern plains, and the Babylonian Talmud, a central text of Judaism, was compiled in the town of the same name in the present-day Arab state.     

    Jews once comprised 40 percent of Baghdad’s population, according to a 1917 Ottoman census.            

    But after the creation of Israel in 1948, regional tensions skyrocketed and anti-Semitic campaigns took hold, pushing most of Iraq’s Jews to flee.

    In the north, the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil was once the heart of the ancient kingdom of Adiabene, which converted to Judaism in the 1st century and helped fund the building of the Temple of Jerusalem.

    Today, Iraqis have fond memories of Jewish friends and neighbors, including 82-year-old Farhadi, whose father owned a shop in a Jewish-majority district of Erbil.   

    Minority Rights notes:

    The population of Iraq is approximately 37,548,000 (UN, 2016). The three largest demographic groups are Shi’a Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds, most of whom adhere to Sunni Islam. Precise demographic breakdowns are impossible to come by, in the absence of recent census data and due to political sensitivities surrounding the issue. According to reliable estimates, 99 per cent of Iraqis are Muslim, of which 60-65 per cent are Shi’a and 32-37 per cent are Sunni. The remaining population is composed of various religious minorities. Prior to the ISIS advance, there were an estimated 350,000 Christians in Iraq, 500,000 Yezidis, 200,000 Kaka’i, less than 5,000 Sabean-Mandaeans and a small number of Bahá’í.

    In terms of ethnicity, Arabs make up between 75 – 80 per cent of the population and Kurds a further 15-20 per cent. Ethnic minorities include Turkmen, Shabak, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Armenians, black Iraqis and Roma. Some Yezidis consider themselves a distinct ethnic group, while others identify as being Kurds.

    A report from the US Justice Dept last year covered various religious minorities in Iraq -- Christian, Yezidi, Sabean-Mandeans, Baha'i, Kaka'i and Jews.  At the end of June, RUDAW reported:

    The presence of militia groups and lack of reconstruction across northern Iraq is a huge barrier to the safe return of religious minorities to their former homes, according to Nadine Maenza, vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

    Speaking to Rudaw's Hiwa Jamal, Maenza spoke of the various obstacles preventing minority groups – including Christians and Yezidis – from returning home, and called on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi to pull back Iran-backed militias present in the area.

    "With the Yezidis and Christians, they are having a hard time returning home. They don't feel safe, they're being harassed," Maenza said.

    "“There aren't the kind of services that they need for their want to feel safe, and this isn't the case in a lot of areas."

    According to Maenza, a lack of security is one of the biggest barriers to safe return, particularly due to the presence of Iran-backed militias in the Nineveh Plains, historically home to various religious minorities including Yezidis, Christians and Shabaks.

    The following sites updated: