The Common Ills


Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, July 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, AP reports on the use of child soldiers in Iraq, Iraq's prime minister objects to Turkey's bombings of northern Iraq, presidential contender Hillary Clinton has no apparent thoughts on what to do about Iraq today, Senator Tammy Baldwin pushes a VA reform bill, and much more.




Let's open with veterans' news.  Senator Tammy Baldwin's office released the following:




For Immediate Release                                                          
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

  (202) 224-6225


Baldwin Announces Growing Support for Major Bipartisan VA Reform Bill


Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act would provide VA with the tools it needs to address the problem of overprescribing practices
Senators Durbin, Franken and Klobuchar join The American Legion, MOAA, AMVETS and others in endorsing legislation


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today announced that support continues to grow for her bipartisan legislation aimed at providing safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act.
 
In just a month, Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation has gained support from: Disabled American Veterans Wisconsin, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans for Common Sense, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), American Veterans (AMVETS), American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), and Trust for America's Health (TFAH).
 
In the U.S. Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Democrats and Republicans: U.S. Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
 
“The sad truth is that the number of veterans taking opioid painkillers is disproportionately high, compared to the general population,” said Senator Durbin. “The VA is exploring different ways to help veterans alleviate their pain. This bill assesses the scope of the issue and recommends ways to help veterans obtain the best and safest care. I commend Senator Baldwin for her leadership on this important issue.”
 
“Unfortunately, our veterans' battles don't always end when they come home,” said Senator Franken. “Too many of our servicemembers return with mental and physical wounds sustained while protecting our freedoms, and I believe we have a special duty to ensure that they get the care and support they need to cope. But we cannot continue overprescribing and over-relying on medications that all too often lead to tragic consequences. This bipartisan bill would help provide our veterans with safer, more effective pain management plans.”
 
“As a former prosecutor, I know the havoc drugs can wreak on families and also that every struggle with drugs is unique—there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in this fight,” said Senator Klobuchar. This bipartisan legislation gives the VA the ability to offer our nation’s veterans a diverse set of proven tools that can help combat addiction.”
 
“Too many of our nation’s veterans have returned from overseas only to fight another battle here at home. Tragically, stories like Jason Simcakoski’s exist all around the country, including in my home state of West Virginia. Far too many young West Virginia veterans have faced the horrors of PTSD and failed to receive the quality of care they deserve. These are heartbreaking examples of the grave magnitude of overmedication, and we must do everything in our power to prevent deadly opioid overmedication in our VA facilities. I am proud to join with Senator Baldwin to strengthen opioid prescribing guidelines and improve pain management services at the VA. This legislation will not only provide our veterans a healthier transition to civilian life, it will save lives,” said Senator Capito.
 
“The American Legion applauds the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act and Senator Baldwin’s efforts to reform prescribing practices for veterans,” said Ian DePlanque, Director of the Legislative Division for The American Legion. “Medications in and of themselves are tools – not necessarily good, not necessarily bad – you want to make sure you’re using the right tools in the right situation. There are other tools that are available. Some complementary and alternative therapy might work better for particular veterans or for veterans that may have circumstances that are particularly exacerbating.”
 
“The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act is an extremely important and timely piece of legislation,” said VADM Norb Ryan, USN-ret., President of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). “MOAA fully supports this bipartisan effort and commends Senator Tammy Baldwin for championing such a critical bill that will keep veterans safe and provide VA with the necessary tools to more effectively manage pain services.”
 
“AMVETS thanks Senator Baldwin for her ongoing support of all American veterans and especially for her leadership in the development and introduction of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act,” said Diane M. Zumatto, AMVETS National Legislative Director. “Once enacted, this legislation will go a long way towards reducing veteran addiction to prescription medications, thereby greatly improving their quality of life, their ability to secure and retain appropriate, living-wage jobs and to continue their service to our great nation.”
 
“AFGE strongly supports the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act and commends Senator Baldwin for her leadership on this critical patient safety issue for our nation’s veterans,” said Beth Moten, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Legislative and Political Director. “This important legislation establishes lifesaving preventive measures that ensure safe opioid prescribing practices while expanding available treatment options consistent with current best practices and research.” 
 
On August 30, 2014, U.S. Marine Veteran Jason Simcakoski died at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a result of mixed drug toxicity. The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act would provide VA with the tools it needs to help prevent this type of tragedy from occurring to other veterans and their families.
 
"This is an opportunity to take all of this and learn from it. We have a chance to create a new path; or we can continue how we currently are and keep making the same mistakes we are today,” said Heather Simcakoski, Jason’s widow. “When I look back at the past, I want to know we made a difference. I want to believe we have leaders in our country who care. I want to inspire others to never give up because change is possible."
 
"This legislation from Senator Baldwin is one of the most important actions we can take to save the lives of our greatest assets, our veterans,” said Marv Simcakoski, Jason’s father.
 
Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation, crafted in close consultation with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, and the Simcakoski family, focuses on strengthening the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) opioid prescribing guidelines and improving pain management services by putting the following reforms in place:
·         Requiring stronger opioid prescribing guidelines and education for VA providers including stricter standards against prescribing dangerous combinations of opioids with other drugs and for prescribing opioids to patients struggling with mental health issues;
·         Increased coordination and communication throughout the VA with medical facilities, providers, patients and their families surrounding pain management, alternative treatments for chronic pain, and appropriate opioid therapy; and
·         Holding the VA system accountable for appropriate care and quality standards through consistent internal audits as well as GAO reviews and reports to Congress.
 
In addition to improving opioid therapy and pain management, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act helps strengthen patient advocacy, expand access to complementary and integrative health and wellness, and enhance VA hiring and internal audits.
 
 
View an online version of this release here.

###






Moving from the Congress to those who want to be president, the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee will be decided by voters in early to mid 2016.  The declared candidates so far are (in alphabetical order): Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Robby Wells and Willie Wilson.


CNN notes of one, "Chafee has struggled to make much traction in the Democratic presidential race. A recent CNN/ORC Poll showed less than 1 percent of democrats surveyed backed Chafee, compared to 57 percent for Clinton."

Chafee was the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the authorization for the Iraq War in 2002.  He then became an independent and is now a Democrat.  Chafee is stressing his vote with regards to press favorite Hillary Clinton who voted for the Iraq War.  David Cook (Christian Science Monitor) covers a Christian Science Monitor breakfast and neglects to record the menu but does note that Chafee stressed the 2002 Iraq War vote:

"I did my homework, I looked carefully to see if there were weapons of mass destruction. I didn't see it," he said. Clinton has said since that her Iraq War vote was a mistake. 
When asked about polls showing voter concerns about Clinton’s honesty and credibility, Chafee said she had suffered “a lot of self-inflicted wounds, unfortunately.” But, he added, after the primary season is over, he and the other Democratic candidates would “certainly unite as Democrats to win in 2016.”


Jonathan Easley (The Hill) also covers Chafee's breakfast remarks and includes this:

“I have a lot of work to do,” Chafee said. “The reality is that secretary Clinton has a huge head start with endorsements and money and the rest of us are scrambling. But I think I have the vision, ethical standards and ideas. There’s still more to be don on fundraising and organization, but it doesn’t discount what I bring to the table.”



Hillary, of course, refuses to discuss Iraq.

She pretends a brief aside in her ghost written book from 2014 'addressed' and 'ended' the issue.  David Lightman (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds:

Clinton said last year she regretted her vote. “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple,” she said in her book, “Hard Choices.”



Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article29110669.html#storylink=cpy


And she does that to the idiotic raves of Maggie Haberman, the New York Times reporter or 'reporter' who is making a career this year of minimizing and justifying Hillary's actions.

Haberman's coverage -- including her Tweets -- border on soft core porn -- you picture her as Brian De Palma's camera for the locker room scene in Carrie before Sissy Spacek gets her period -- was of course ignored by David Brock and other partisan hacks and whores last week as they rushed to insist the New York Times was always unfair to their  crush.



Possibly due to the way the Iraq War vote continues to haunt her, Hillary appears unable to take firm positions today.  Akilah Johnson (Boston Globe) reports on the town hall Hillary held today:


Bruce Blodgett, a software developer and conservative from Amherst, asked for a "yes or no" answer to whether Clinton "as president" would support the proposed pipeline -- an $8 billion project abhorred by environmentalists -- that would transport oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
Clinton sidestepped the question, saying: "This is President Obama's decision. If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question."


Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny (CNN) report Blodgett's reaction to Hillary's response, "I thought she avoided the question completely. Her excuse was she didn't want to step on President Obama while he was still in office.  I just thought that was a very weak answer. I just wanted to know where she stands on it one way or another."

Nancy Pelosi infamously argued that the Congress had to first pass ObamaCare to then figure out what ObamaCare would do ("We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it").  Hillary's taking that even further.  You have to first vote her president and then, after she's in office, she'll decide where she stands on an issue.

This refusal to press a candidate who goes around repeatedly saying "when I become president" is appalling.

She needs to be asked about Iraq repeatedly.

The Iraq War continues to this day.

She helped kick it off with her 2002 vote and her championing of the illegal war once it started.

She only (semi) turned on it after the public had.

US troops are being sent back into Iraq in a steady drip today.  US pilots fly combat missions over Iraq today.  The Iraqi government, instead of coming up with a political solution to the country's problems, remains in gridlock.

Exactly how does Hillary plan to address any of this if elected president?

Hillary and her cult -- which includes the Times' Maggie Haberman -- are perfectly happy to take the position that Hillary doesn't have to answer to any of that unless "it's undecided when I become president."

Meanwhile, last week Ben Jacobs (Guardian) reported:


In Iowa on Thursday, in response to a question from the Guardian about whether the White House should take further steps towards arming Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, the former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic candidate said: “Probably, yes.”
The Obama administration has long hesitated over directly arming Kurdish militias in the north of Iraq, for fear of further aggravating sectarian tensions.
[. . .]

Doug Wilson, a top foreign policy adviser to O’Malley, made clear that the candidate “was not unilaterally proposing that we step up additional arms to the Kurds”. Instead, Wilson said, O’Malley would only do so “if it was determined by the US military that it was appropriate to up the arms to the Kurds”.


Where does Hillary stand on that question?

Oh, that's right, Maggie Haberman thinks Hillary said all she needs to via that ghost-written 2014 book.


Let's note quickly another political party.  Last week, the Green Party held a Presidential Forum:

Friday, July 24, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Presidential Forum with declared candidates for the Green nomination: Darryl Cherney, Bill Kreml, Kent Mesplay, SKCM Curry, and Jill Stein. Co-moderators: David Cobb, 2004 Green presidential nominee, and George Martin of the Green Party's International Committee and Black Caucus. Sponsored by the Green Party's Presidential Campaign Support Committee National Women's Caucus. Location: Provincial House Multi-Purpose Room.


Back to Hillary and Iraq.  What plan -- if any -- does she have for Iraq?

The Daily Sabah notes that Turkish F-16 war planes continue bombing northern Iraq.



In related news, the US State Dept noted today, "There is NO Daily Press Briefing."

Of course not.

No way could they send John Kirby back out to face the press after yesterday's embarrassing performance.

For those who missed it, we noted this in Monday's snapshot, Kirby prattled on and on about the rights of the Turkish government.


Yes, it was embarrassing but, as we noted, what about the rights of the Iraqi government?

Kirby created a 'right' where Turkey can bomb any country in the world.

He just didn't recognize Iraq's sovereignty.



Not everyone plays it so stupid.






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Council of Ministers considers Turkish airstrikes on Iraqi territory a dangerous escalation and a violation of Iraq's sovereignty (1/3)



  • Details
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    The Council stressed commitment not to allow any attack on Turkey from Iraqi territory and called on Turkey to respect good relations (2/3)



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    Council of Ministers also called on Turkey to increase water discharge to Tigris and Euphrates in accordance with bilateral agreements (3/3)




  • Haider al-Abadi is the Prime Minister of Iraq.

    In the US government's rush to embrace the bombings Turkey is carrying out, they forgot (a) that Iraq's supposed to be an ally and (b) that these bombings had previously outraged Iraqis.


    It's a reality we were noting in Saturday's snapshot:

    The Turkish government -- probably like many others -- is using the pretext of the Islamic State to attack Iraq.
    In doing so, it is violating Iraq's sovereignty yet again.
    This didn't work out well before, for any who paid attention.
    The Turkish warplanes, announcements swore, killed 'terrorists.'  Reality, they bombed farming communities and killed civilians.
    This didn't endear them to the Iraqi people.
    There was outrage, naturally.




    The US government is now scrambling to craft a 'position' on the strikes -- hoping to approve of Turkey's bombings while still pretending to respect Iraq's sovereignty.

    And that's why there was no press briefing today.

    But there's a good chance that, had the State Dept held a press briefing today, the press would have ignored the issue of Iraq's sovereignty.


    The press ignored it in Monday's briefing.

    And while we've raised the issue every day (here for Sunday and you can also read Third's "Editorial: Turkey attacks Iraq"), the western press has avoided it.


    Now that the prime minister of Iraq has weighed in publicly, the western press may have to cover this aspect of the story.

    Or maybe not.

    Even Antiwar.com -- apparently too busy sobbing over Rand Paul after months of playing Sheila E singing "Next Time Wipe That Lipstick Off Your Collar" (Justin Raimondo writes a bitter, ex-lover's goodbye to Paul here) -- has failed to note these bombing violate Iraq's sovereignty or that, today, the Prime Minister of Iraq publicly objected to them.

    And, of course, the always worthless Joel Wing has offered 14 posts since Turkey began its re-bombing of northern Iraq and not one even noted the bombings.

    That's because Joel's an idiot who can never take a stand (except to root for despots) and instead waits days and days until a water cooler consensus emerges.

    Laws and treaties never matter to Joel, just the tepid consensus of gasbags and blowhards.

    Until that emerges, he'll remain silent -- except to post about his being 'covered' in media -- because he wants to lead "The Glamorous Life" -- but never will.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 72 violent deaths across Iraq today.


    Turning to the topic of child soldiers, Human Rights Watch has noted:

    Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These boys and girls, some as as young as 8-years-old, serve in government forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls may be forced into sexual slavery. Many are abducted or recruited by force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival. We are working to prevent the use of child soldiers and to hold accountable the people who send children to fight.


    Andrew Shue's Do Something has a list of facts on the issue of child soldiers which includes:



    1. Children who are poor, displaced from their families, have limited access to education, or live in a combat zone are more likely to be forcibly recruited.


    1. Children who are not forced to be soldiers volunteer themselves because they feel societal pressure and are under the impression that volunteering will provide a form of income, food, or security, and willingly join the group.
    2. In the last 2 years, 20 states have been reported to have child soldiers in government, government-affiliated, and non-state armed groups. Additionally, 40 states still have minimum age recruitment requirements under 18 years.
    3. Girls make up an estimated 10 to 30 percent of child soldiers used for fighting and other purposes. They are especially vulnerable when it comes to sexual violence.
    4. A few of the countries who have reported use of child soldiers since 2011 are Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. 



    Amnesty International notes:

    Under international law, the participation of children under 18 in armed conflict is generally prohibited, and the recruitment and use of children under 15 is a war crime. Yet worldwide, hundreds of thousands of children are recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil militia and a variety of other armed groups. Often they are abducted at school, on the streets or at home. Others enlist "voluntarily", usually because they see few alternatives.
    Such children are robbed of their childhood and exposed to terrible dangers and to psychological and physical suffering. They are placed in combat situations, used as spies, messengers, porters, servants or to lay or clear landmines. Girls in particular are at risk of rape and sexual abuse.

    And the United Nations maintains, "Regardless of how children are recruited and of their roles, child soldiers are victims, whose participation in conflict bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being. They are commonly subject to abuse and most of them witness death, killing, and sexual violence. Many are forced to perpetrate these atrocities and some suffer serious long-term psychological consequences. The reintegration of these children into civilian life is a complex process."


    Sometimes the US government expresses dismay or even outrage over the use of child soldiers . . . when they're used by countries the White House is in opposition to.



    Something the US government calls out . . . when used by opponents.

    But something the US government goes along with when it is an ally (permanent or temporary).

    We last noted the use of children soldiers by Iraq's Shi'ite militias on July 23rd when focusing on the United Nations hypocritically condemning the Islamic State for using children soldiers but ignored the use of the children soldiers by the so-called 'Popularization Mobilization Forces;'



     And what would Kubis like to do with regards to the use of children soldiers by the "Popularization Mobilization Foces" (Shi'ite militias)?
    Because they are using children.
    And you can find it all over Arabic media and social media.
    And Haider al-Abadi's remarks about the Islamic State and children soldiers were slammed the minute they were made -- slammed in Arabic media and Arabic social media -- by critics who pointed out the Shi'ite militias use of children soldiers (while on the payroll of the Iraqi government).




    Today, Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report:

    This summer, The Associated Press saw over a dozen armed boys on the front line in western Anbar province, including some as young as 10. Of around 200 cadets in a training class visited by the AP this month, about half were under the age of 18, with some as young as 15. Several said they intended to join their fathers and older brothers on the front lines.



    Salama and Abdul-Zahra explain that the certain forms of military aid cannot be provided to countries using child soldiers per The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and that US "weapons and funding" given to the Iraqi government does continue onto the so-called 'Popular Mobilization Forces.'  They also note:

    When informed of the AP findings, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying the U.S. is "very concerned by the allegations on the use of child soldiers in Iraq among some Popular Mobilization forces in the fight against ISIL," using an alternate acronym for the militant group. "We have strongly condemned this practice around the world and will continue to do so."

    Very concerned?

    They're not concerned at all.

    Arabic social media is not hidden away in Superman's Fortress of Solitude or on Wonder Woman's Paradise Island.

    Arabic social media is available to all throughout the world and that does include the US State Dept -- in and out of Iraq.

    It is there that the use of child soldiers has been repeatedly documented.

    It has also been documented in the Iraqi press.

    There's no way the US Embassy in Iraq was hearing of it for the first time when AP contacted them for a statement.

    But because AP has a major report on the subject, the Embassy issued a weak-ass, do-nothing statement.

    And unless other news outlets follow up on the topic, that statement will be it.

    They will lapse back into their silent cooperation or, worse, silent encouragement.

    The Islamic State is a violent group that resorts to terrorism.

    Their use of children soldiers is not shocking.

    But US officials -- including Samantha Power -- have condemned them for this use.

    The Iraqi government is not supposed to be a terrorist organization.

    Yet US officials remain silent over their use of children soldiers.

    Hypocrisy remains the common thread of US foreign policy regardless of which party controls the White House and/or the Congress.


    Lastly, theme post in the community, Mike's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Stan's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Ruth's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Elaine's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Marcia's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Trina's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Ann's "Barack's biggest disappointment," Rebecca's "barack's biggest disappointment," Kat's "Barack's biggest disappointment" and Betty's "Barack's biggest disappointment" attempted to pin point the biggest disappointment of Barack's presidency.







     iraq



    Posted at 12:26 am by thecommonills
     

    Isakson Pays Tribute to Georgia Marine Slain in Chattanooga Attacks

    Isakson Pays Tribute to Georgia Marine Slain in Chattanooga Attacks

    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following on Sunday:




    Isakson Pays Tribute to Georgia Marine Slain in Chattanooga Attacks
     
     
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today paid tribute to U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Squire K. “Skip” Wells, the 21-year-old Cobb County, Ga., native who was killed during the July 16, 2015, shooting rampage at military sites in Chattanooga, Tenn. Isakson delivered the following eulogy on the floor of the Senate:
     
    “While we have a pause in our business for a moment, I rise to offer a brief but sincere eulogy. At this very moment in Woodstock, Georgia, Skip Wells, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal, is being buried and being worshiped. Thousands of Georgians are at the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, to attend his funeral.
     
    “Skip Wells was murdered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16th while he was doing his duty as a Marine, recruiting people to come into the United States military. Skip graduated from Sprayberry High School just a few years ago, played musical instruments in his church orchestra. He was a great student, had thousands of friends, and was a young man we would all be proud of. His life was taken from us by an enraged person on a religious tear.
     
    “When a young man 21-years-old dies in the prime of life, we ask ‘Why?’ In particular, as one who wears the uniform of the United States Marine Corps, we ask ‘Why?’ It is inexplicable.
     
    “We also know that in the book of Ecclesiastes, it tells us that there is a time for everything; a time to be born, and a time to die. But is there ever really a time for a young Marine's life to be taken? And then it causes us to really think about something.
     
    “As we act in this United States Senate, as we guide our country, hundreds of thousands of young men and women volunteer to wear the uniform of the United States of America, and when they put it on, they never know when that day to die might come. But they have all made the commitment that they are ready, willing and able to die for the country they love, the United States of America.
     
    “To Skip's mother Cathy, to his extended family, to all those that knew Skip, we send our condolences and our best wishes for them to recover over time and heal.
     
    “In Woodstock, Georgia, right now an inscription is being read which I want to read on the floor of the Senate, because these words are comforting, they mean something, and in a time of grief for all of us, I think they are important.
    “Skip's mother wanted this as a part of the ceremony. It's entitled ‘To Those I Love.’
     
    ‘When I am gone, release me. Let me go
    I have so many things to see and do.
    You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears, Be
    happy, we had so many years.
     
    I gave you my love and you can only guess
    How much you gave to me in happiness.
    I thank you for the love you each have shown
    But now it's time I traveled alone.
     
    So grieve a while for me if grieve you must
    Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
    It's only for a while that we must part
    So bless those memories in your heart.
     
    I won't be far away for life goes on
    So if you need me, call and I will come.
    Though you can't see or touch me, I'll be near
    with all my love around you soft and clear.
     
    And then, when you must come this way alone,
    I'll greet you with a smile and ‘Welcome You
    Home.’
     
    “The book of John, Chapter 15, 13th verse says this: ‘Greater love hath no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
     
    “Skip Wells laid down his life for all the people of the United States of America, for his family and his friends. We ask God to bless and bring mercy to his family. We thus ask God to bless the great country that Skip wore the uniform and died for, the United States of America.”
     
    ###

    Description: Description: cid:image001.gif@01CB9C61.36E8FA70
    AMANDA MADDOX
    Press Secretary

    OFFICE OF UNITED STATES SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON
    131 Russell Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510
    phone: 202.224.3643 | fax: 202.228.0724


     






    Posted at 12:24 am by thecommonills
     

    US government supports child soldiers in Iraq

    US government supports child soldiers in Iraq

    Child soldiers, something the world is appalled by.

    Something the US government calls out . . . when used by opponents.

    But something the US government goes along with when it is an ally (permanent or temporary).

    I think we last noted the use of children soldiers by Iraq's Shi'ite militias on July 23rd when noting the United Nations hypocritically condemned the Islamic State for using children soldiers but ignored the use of the children soldiers by the so-called 'Popularization Mobilization Forces;'



     And what would Kubis like to do with regards to the use of children soldiers by the "Popularization Mobilization Foces" (Shi'ite militias)?
    Because they are using children.
    And you can find it all over Arabic media and social media.
    And Haider al-Abadi's remarks about the Islamic State and children soldiers were slammed the minute they were made -- slammed in Arabic media and Arabic social media -- by critics who pointed out the Shi'ite militias use of children soldiers (while on the payroll of the Iraqi government).




    Today, Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report:

    This summer, The Associated Press saw over a dozen armed boys on the front line in western Anbar province, including some as young as 10. Of around 200 cadets in a training class visited by the AP this month, about half were under the age of 18, with some as young as 15. Several said they intended to join their fathers and older brothers on the front lines.



    Salama and Abdul-Zahra explain that the certain forms of military aid cannot be provided to countries using child soldiers per The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and that US "weapons and funding" given to the Iraqi government does continue onto the so-called 'Popular Mobilization Forces.'  They also note:

    When informed of the AP findings, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying the U.S. is "very concerned by the allegations on the use of child soldiers in Iraq among some Popular Mobilization forces in the fight against ISIL," using an alternate acronym for the militant group. "We have strongly condemned this practice around the world and will continue to do so."

    Very concerned?

    They're not concerned at all.

    Arabic social media is not hidden away in Superman's Fortress of Solitude or on Wonder Woman's Paradise Island.

    Arabic social media is available to all throughout the world and that does include the US State Dept -- in and out of Iraq.

    It is there that the use of child soldiers has been repeatedly documented.

    It has also been documented in the Iraqi press.

    There's no way the US Embassy in Iraq was hearing of it for the first time when AP contacted them for a statement.

    But because AP has a major report on the subject, the Embassy issued a weak-ass, do-nothing statement.

    And unless other news outlets follow up on the topic, that statement will be it.

    They will lapse back into their silent cooperation or, worse, silent encouragement.

    The Islamic State is a violent group that resorts to terrorism.

    Their use of children soldiers is not shocking.

    But US officials -- including Samantha Power -- have condemned them for this use.

    The Iraqi government is not supposed to be a terrorist organization.

    Yet US officials remain silent over their use of children soldiers.

    Hypocrisy remains the common thread of US foreign policy regardless of which party controls the White House and/or the Congress.




    The following community sites updated:


















  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.












    Posted at 12:16 am by thecommonills
     

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Monday, July 27, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq objects to Turkey bombing it, the State Dept's John Kirby can't stop defending Turkey, Patrick Cockburn argues that Turkey's US government encouraged efforts may be the "biggest mistake in the Middle East since it invaded Iraq," and much more.



    We devoted Saturday's snapshot to the Turkish government's efforts to use war against the Islamic State as a pretext to bomb northern Iraq in the supposed effort to defeat the PKK -- a group that they had entered into an armistice with.

    The United States government appears to have given a nod of approval on the attacks in exchange for the right to use Turkish air bases.  Tian Shaohui (Xinhua) observes, "Critics, including opposition politicians, have accused President Tayyip Erdogan of trying to use the campaign against the Islamic State as an excuse to crack down on Kurds."




    Patrick Cockburn (the Independent) observes:


    The result is that the US may find it has helped to destabilise Turkey by involving it in the war in both Iraq and Syria, yet without coming much closer to defeating Isis in either country. If so, America will have committed its biggest mistake in the Middle East since it invaded Iraq in 2003, believing it could overthrow Saddam Hussein and replace him with a pro-American government. 



    At today's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson John Kirby attempted to spin what is taking place.




    QUESTION: Can we start with – not the trip, although – you have any questions – about the – what’s going on right now with the Turks? And it seems like a really bizarre situation has unfolded over the course of the past week with them joining the air strikes against ISIS, but at the same time also bombing PKK positions. And there’s been some pushback on the suggestion – I noticed that Brett McGurk tweeted about it – that these are related, and that the United States – he saying that there was no deal done with the Turks, in other words. A lot of people find that really hard to believe. So what exactly is going on here, and doesn’t this just make an even bigger mess out of the situation then you had originally?


    MR KIRBY: I think – so let’s unpack. There’s an awful lot there, so let’s just unpack that. I don’t think that I could say it any better than Ambassador McGurk did. We are grateful for Turkey’s cooperation against ISIL to include now use of some of their bases for coalition aircraft to go against targets – ISIL targets, particularly in Syria. So we’re grateful for that support. The – so separate and distinct from that, Turkey has continued to come under attack by PKK terrorists, and we recognize their right to defend themselves against those attacks. And it was in retaliation for recent attacks by the PKK that Turkey conducted these most recent strikes.
    As for ISIL in Syria, we continue to discuss with Turkey ways at which we can go after this particular threat. Again, we value their cooperation thus far. They have a vested interest, obviously, because of its – it’s their border. And while there’s nothing new to announce with respect to what kind of cooperation may come in the future, we’re going to continue to talk to them about that.
    I understand the coincidence of all of this, but it is just that. The attacks against the PKK were in retaliations for attacks they, the Turks, endured, and what they’re doing against ISIL in Syria I’ll let them speak to. But obviously, we welcome all coalition members’ efforts against ISIL, particularly in Syria.


    QUESTION: All right, well, one: Are you suggesting then that the Turks – the attacks on the PKK are going to – are over now and that the Turks have retaliated enough for the attacks on them? And secondly, are you not concerned that these attacks, while they are directed against a group that you have designated a terrorist organization – the Turks certainly believe are a terrorist organization – and I’m talking about the PKK – are you not concerned that that is going to hinder or hurt the fight against ISIS/ISIL?


    MR KIRBY: I understand the second one. Am I concerned that their attacks against the PKK will detract from the fight against ISIL? Is that --


    QUESTION: Yeah. They’re killing people that are killing ISIL.


    MR KIRBY: The attacks against the PKK.


    QUESTION: Yes.


    MR KIRBY: Okay.


    QUESTION: Right? I mean, am I wrong?


    QUESTION: I mean, the PKK has been very effective against ISIL. They helped rescue Yezidis on Mount Sinjar. They’ve been fighting ISIS in Syria --


    MR KIRBY: Yeah. No. I think I got it.


    QUESTION: So there’s two in there.


    MR KIRBY: Is it over now?


    QUESTION: Have you been assured – or have you been told by the Turks that they’re – that this against the – the strikes against the PKK are limited duration and solely in retaliation for the attacks on them, and are going to stop?


    MR KIRBY: Right.


    QUESTION: And secondly, I mean, how does this not make it a big – it’s – how does this not hurt the fight against ISIS/ISIL?


    MR KIRBY: Okay, so two questions. First of all, is it over now? I don’t know. That’s a question that you have to ask Turkish officials. They retaliated against the PKK for strikes that they received from PKK terrorists. We have long recognized the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization, and we recognize Turkey’s ability – or, I’m sorry, Turkey’s right – to defend itself against this group. So is it over now? I don’t know. And that’s really not a question that we can answer from this podium.
    Two, does it hinder the fight against ISIL? What we’re trying to focus on here is a coalition to go after ISIL, counter ISIL. I recognize that, in some cases, the PKK have fought against ISIL. But they are a foreign terrorist organization. We designated them that, as an FTO. And our fight against ISIL is not in cooperation with, coordination with, or communication with the PKK. Our fight against ISIL is with 62 other nations in this coalition who are helping us go after these guys, and in Syria specifically. And again, DOD is working a train and equip program to get a moderate opposition capable enough to go after ISIL inside Syria.
    So the fight against ISIL will continue. We are grateful for the contributions of Turkey and other coalition members. And the pressure that we are going to put on them, regardless of what Turkey is doing against the PKK or will do in the future, that’s not going to diminish.


    Turkey's right to defend itself?

    Kirby's just another flapping gum US official who has no interest in helping Iraq or what happens to Iraq.

    Turkey is bombing northern Iraq.

    John Kirby can dress that up in all the endless words he wants but that's what's happening.

    And we remember what happened last time -- it outraged the Iraqi people.

    That was then.

    Today?

    Not so different.


    National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    The Vice President of the House of Representatives, Aram Sheikh Mohammed condemned the Turkish indiscriminate shelling on border areas in the Kurdistan region, stressing that the security of Turkey does not take place through the bypassing and breach Iraqi sovereignty and killing innocent civilians and burning and damaging farms without any justification.

    He called on Ankara, in a statement today, not to fail the peace process in Turkey, saying unfortunately the Turkish government again deliberately violated Iraqi sovereignty and bombed Iraqi territory under the pretext of keeping its security and began random and intensified aerial bombardment on the border areas in the Kurdistan region, and as a result of this bombing, a number of innocent citizens were killed and this heinous and provocative act is unacceptable and we condemn that strongly



    And NINA reports:


    MP, of the Iraqi Forces Coalition, Dhafer al-Ani called on Turkey to open a dialogue with the federal government and coordinate with the Ministry of Defence on the subject of bombing PKK's positions.

    Al-Ani said in a statement that there is no doubt that the security of Turkish and its friendly people and its stability concerns us and we are keen on its security and stability as we concern about ours and peace in all countries around us, and it is essential that there should be a regional security effort to hunt down terrorist organizations that infiltrate between the border, but this effort has to be conditional within the official coordination.

    He added that the justifications provided by Turkish officials about their understandings with the Kurdistan Regional Government on the entry of their jets into Iraqi airspace and carry out military strikes to armed groups inside Iraqi territory are not sufficient justifications, as we were waiting for understandings with Baghdad government and coordination with the Ministry of Defense in accordance with the known official formats in order to preserve national sovereignty



    Please note that Kirby could talk endlessly of Turkey's right to do whatever the hell it wanted but he seemed to think Iraq had no right to object to another country bombing it.




    QUESTION: Are you telling the Turks --


    QUESTION: Well, wait, wait. I’ve got just one.


    QUESTION: Are you telling the Turks not to go after PKK in Syria?


    QUESTION: I have – hold on Ros, Ros. Ros, I have one more here. So you’re saying that it doesn’t trouble you at all that the Turks are going after people who have been very – perhaps the most effective on the ground against ISIS/ISIL? You don’t have a problem with that --


    MR KIRBY: First of all, I think I would –


    QUESTION: -- and there’s no coordination, but there – so you’re more comfortable with working alongside Iran in Iraq than you are with the Kurds. And don’t – is that correct?


    MR KIRBY: Matt, we’re not working alongside Iran in Iraq against ISIL. We’ve made it clear there is no coordination on the ground in Iraq with Iran. I would take issue with your characterization that the PKK has been the most effective force against ISIL in Iraq.


    No coordination on the ground in Iraq with Iran?

    That's not true.

    Andrew Tilghman (Military Times) explained today, "The steady growth of Shiite militias in Iraq is making it increasingly difficult for American forces deployed there to determine exactly which Iraqi forces they are supporting, experts say."


    In addition, Iraqi Spring MC notes that the Bard militia grabbed/kidnapped/arrested civilian Hamid al-Samarri in Baquba yesterday and his corpse was discovered today.

    It would benefit Iraq tremendously if the US government could stop supporting the militias terrorizing the Iraqi people.


    Meanwhile John Kirby can take issue all he wants and he can intentionally confuse the issue but the Kurds have been the most effective fighters against the Islamic State.

    It's a point of reality AP's Vivian Salama notes today:

    With the help of U.S. airstrikes, the Kurds have proven to be among the most effective ground forces against the IS group. But their advance across northeastern Syria in recent months has alarmed Ankara, which fears they could revive a decades-long insurgency in pursuit of statehood.




    Again, Kirby can play word games all he wants, reality is reality.




    QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on the effectiveness of the Turkish participation in the fight against ISIL and so on. It seems that it has been scaled back tremendously today, because they are going after PKK positions and villages and so on inside Turkey. They are devoting a great deal of resources and assets to do that, and consequently they scaled back. Do you have any comment on that?


    MR KIRBY: Well, first of all, this is – we’ve said that Turkey has a right to defend itself against terrorists and we recognize that – as do we, as does any country. And I’ll let the Turks speak to how they’re going to go after terrorists inside their borders. I’m loath to give battlefield assessments even of U.S. military. I’m certainly not going to do that for the Turks.


    QUESTION: So you deny the allegation that Turkey basically used its part in fighting ISIS as a ploy just to go after the Kurds?


    MR KIRBY: I’m not going to characterize Turkish motives. We don’t observe a connection between what they did about going after PKK and what we’re trying to do as a coalition against ISIL.


    QUESTION: Then you remain the only one.


    QUESTION: And finally, today there is --


    MR KIRBY: Okay. I’m comfortable with that.

    [. . .]


    QUESTION: John, you said that Turkey’s response to the – Turkey’s bombardment of the PKK hideouts in northern Iraq --


    MR KIRBY: Yeah.


    QUESTION: -- are retaliatory, are in retaliation to what PKK had done. But now there are two questions. First, ISIS – the PKK attack killed only two Turkish officers, but you’ve seen two major ISIS attacks inside Syria. Why haven’t we seen such a retaliation against ISIS from the Turks? Secondly, and the Turkey had --


    MR KIRBY: Before you get to the second one let me just kill the first one.


    QUESTION: Okay.


    MR KIRBY: You’ve got to talk to the Turks. I cannot speak for another nation --


    QUESTION: Well, but because I’m saying --


    MR KIRBY: -- or the decisions that they’re making.


    QUESTION: Do you agree with the Turkish position that it’s in retaliation? One could ask why would you agree with that, with the Turkish assessment that it’s in retaliation to PKK, while ISIS has been killing many more Turkish citizens and that Turkey has done pretty much nothing to --


    MR KIRBY: I think I would – so I’m not going to characterize Turkish motives. They suffered an attack by the PKK; they retaliated. What comes next? That’s for them to talk to. As for ISIL, one of the reasons why we continue to have discussions with the Turks is to explore ways that we can work together with them through the coalition to go after ISIL. This is a country that has a border they’re concerned about, they’ve got 2 million refugees, they’ve allowed – they’ve agreed to host a train and equip site inside Turkey, and now they’ve allowed us to have access to some of their bases to conduct airstrikes and missions against ISIL inside Syria. It’s not like they’re not doing anything, and your question almost implies that they’re just sitting on the sidelines, and that is not at all our assessment.


    QUESTION: They have certainly poured more bombs over the past 24 hours on the PKK hideouts than on ISIS.


    MR KIRBY: Well, look, every day is different in a war like this. I mean, there are some days where our pilots don’t drop all their bombs either. I mean, every day is different and every member of the coalition contributes what they can, when they can, where they can. It’s a coalition of the willing, we’re not mandating it, and the Turks are cooperating and they’re coordinating and they have agreed to do more. And we’re just going to have to see where this goes in the future. As I said at the outset, we’re going to continue to talk with them. We’re going to continue to try to explore areas where that cooperation can improve. And we’ll get there.



    Kirby cannot speak for another nation -- except when he does.

    He conveys the Turkish government's position of events and then, when pressed with an obvious example of the attacks against the Islamic State versus the attacks against the PKK, suddenly Kirby can't speak for another nation.

    Deutsche Welle speaks with European Parliament member Kati Piri about Turkey's attacks:


    So you believe that Turkey's response has been disproportionate?


    It's not just an attack on an organization [the PKK] with, in this case, camps in another country, northern Iraq. We're also talking here about millions of Kurdish people living in Turkey, with whom there was a peace process, although very fragile, during the last two years. There was a truce, a ceasefire agreement between both the PKK and the government. In my view, if [the Turkish government] wants to keep the peace process with the Kurds alive, this full-size attack on the PKK looks a bit, to be honest, disproportionate. What's been happening over the last three days has once again put the peace process very much into question. Is it dead? I hope not, but it doesn't look very alive either. It's very damaging.


    Did last week's attack in Suruc simply give Turkey an excuse to relaunch its campaign against the PKK?


    Let's not forget: Turkey does have the right to self defense. When its officers are killed by an organization which is also included on the European terrorist list, this is totally unacceptable. No one is saying that Turkey should just leave this alone and pretend that nothing has happened. On the other hand, knowing that there is such a delicate peace process going on, then you need to have a proportionate response as well.

    What is much more dangerous to me now is that some politicians from the [ruling Justice and Development party] AKP, along with some politicians from the more right-wing party, MHP, are framing this pro-Kurdish party HDP [People's Democratic Party] now as being directly linked to the PKK, which it is not. [The HDP] has also decried the violence, and [the government] is actually framing the 6 million people who voted for this party as potential terrorists, or terrorist supporters. And this rhetoric is very dangerous for a country which has gone through such a circle of violence.



    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 122 violent deaths across Iraq today.


    Finally, today, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande issued a press release which includes:



    The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, confirmed today that 184 front line health services have been suspended because of the paralysing funding shortfall for humanitarian activities in Iraq. More than 80 per cent of general health programmes supported by humanitarian partners are now shut, directly impacting one million people. “At a time when the people of Iraq need us the most, we are letting them down,” Ms. Grande said.
    The impact is immediate and enormous. Partners estimate that one million sick people, who would have sought primary medical care, will not receive help. Over half a million children will not be immunized, spreading the risk of a measles outbreak and the resumption of polio and contributing to morbidity amongst some of the most vulnerable children in the entire region.
    The most recent cut-backs come on top of cascading closures. In May, food rations for over one million people were sharply reduced. Nearly 30 per cent of water, sanitation and hygiene programmes have closed due to lack of funding and more are set to close by the end of July leaving 1.78 million people without access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene services. Other critical activities are at risk: specialized assistance programmes for one million women and more than 1.2 million girls, many of whom the survivors of brutality and sexual and gender-based violence, are closing. Half of the programmes providing shelter and household support that were providing life-saving help at the start of June will scale back unless additional funding is received.

    “Less than two months ago, on 4 June, we urgently appealed for funding. Humanitarian partners presented the most highly prioritized, pared-to-the bone appeal ever launched in the region. Although some support is coming in, it’s devastating, inexplicable really, that we are being forced to shut-down programmes in a country where so much is at stake and where the international community is so involved,” said Ms. Grande.









    Posted at 03:28 am by thecommonills
     

    Iraq: The minimizers and the abusers

    Iraq: The minimizers and the abusers


    The big Iraq question for the day?

    Is Luay al-Khatteeb really that much of a stupid, ignorant fool or is he just a liar?

    (Secondary question, why did Brookings hire him?)

    He's spewed more garbage.  This time with Omar al-Saadoon.

    Luay is a defender of bullies and abuse and that is also reason to question why Brookings hired him and continues to work with him.





    With Omar al-Saadon, he pretends to write "Iraq's rule of law" but he's only fooling those who never pay attention.

    He starts by telling you that Iraq has a (2005) Constitution and then wonders "why does the Rule of Law in Iraq continue to be an urgent issue" blah, blah, blah.

    No where in the long and worthless piece does he note that many Iraqi officials want the Constitution re-written.

    He writes about the judiciary and the need for it to be independent.

    But fails to note -- let alone explore -- how Nouri al-Maliki spent two terms subverting the judiciary's independence.


    Over and over, this is the worthless story he tells where key details are left out as he pretends to pursue a line of inquiry.


    Meanwhile Andrew Tilghman (Military Times) explores who's controlling the militias in Iraq:


    The chain of command in Iraq has frayed since the Islamic State's battlefield victories last year inspired the creation of the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, a loose-knit patchwork of mostly Shiite militias with scattered loyalties to leaders in both Iraq and Iran.
    The PMF are not part of Iraq's Ministry of Defense, which has close ties to the U.S. military after years of receiving money and training from Americans. Instead, the PMF militias operate — technically — under Iraq's Ministry of Interior, which has direct links to Iran.
    The head of the Ministry of Interior, Mohammed Salem Al-Ghabban, is a Shiite who was imprisoned under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime and later lived and attended a university in Tehran, the capital of Iran. He is a member of the Badr Organization, a Shiite political party with close ties to Tehran.



    Iraqi Spring MC notes that the Bard militia grabbed/kidnapped/arrested civilian Hamid al-Samarri in Baquba yesterday and his corpse was discovered today.

    It would benefit Iraq tremendously if the US government could stop supporting the militias terrorizing the Iraqi people.


    Such as below.


    بالفيديو: كيف تتعامل القوات الحكومية مع سائق سيارة الإسعاف .




    As Iraqi Spring MC notes, above is how the security forces treat an ambulance driver.






    Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Study in Hypocrisy" went up last night.  New content at Third:








    The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.



    Posted at 12:51 am by thecommonills
     

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot


    Saturday, July 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Turkey renews bombing Iraq and the PKK,  the US government looks the other way having gotten what it wanted from Turkey, and much more.








    Holy war
    Genocide
    Suicide
    Hate and cruelty...
    How can this be holy?
    If I had a heart I'd cry.

    These ancient tales...
    The good go to heaven
    And the wicked ones burn in hell...
    Ring the funeral bells!
    If I had a heart I'd cry.
    -- "If I Had A Heart," written by Joni Mitchell first appears on her Shine



    DEBAKA reports:

    The Middle East woke up Friday, July 24, to two new full-fledged wars launched by Jordan and Turkey for cutting down the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as is forces advanced on their borders. The United States and Israel are involved in both campaigns. Jordanian armored, commando and air forces are already operating deep inside Iraq, while Friday morning, Turkey conducted its first cross-border air strike against ISIS targets in Syria. Clashes between Turkish troops and Islamic fighters erupted at several points along the border. Both governments also conducted mass arrests of suspected Islamists. The Jordanian police picked up ISIS adherents, while 5,000 Turkish police detained 250 Islamist and outlawed Kurdish PKK suspects in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Saniurta. Jordan Friday shut down its only border crossing with Iraq.


    But Turkey's not trying to cut down the Islamic State with these attacks.

    It's using the threat or 'threat' of the Islamic State to advance their own interests which is to yet again re-start the war between Turkey and the PKK -- Kurdish fighters who have fought for an independent Kurdish homeland (fought via armed violence) for decades now, since 1984.

    Contanze Letsch (Guardian) points out:


    Turkey launched overnight airstrikes against several positions of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s party (PKK) in northern Iraq for the first time in four years, the country’s government has said.
    The air raids put an end to a two-year ceasefire between the Turkish government and the PKK, severely endangering the already fragile peace process started in 2012 in an attempt to end a bloody conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people over 30 years.



    ITV adds, "The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has said its 2013 truce with Turkey 'has no meaning anymore'."  AP explains, "The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group. The strikes further complicate the U.S.-led war against the extremists, which has relied on Kurdish ground forces making gains in Iraq and Syria."  Zia Weise and Chris Stevenson (Independent) note the shift in their report which includes:



    “With the bombardment, Turkey has ended the ceasefire,” said Zagros Hiwa, a spokesman for the PKK and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) based in the Qandil mountains, told The Independent on Sunday. “It ended the ceasefire and it ended the peace process unilaterally. From now on, we will continue our struggle against all odds.”


    The action of the Turkish government should be immediately and universally called out.

    This is not helping anything.

    The Turkish government -- probably like many others -- is using the pretext of the Islamic State to attack Iraq.

    In doing so, it is violating Iraq's sovereignty yet again.

    This didn't work out well before, for any who paid attention.

    The Turkish warplanes, announcements swore, killed 'terrorists.'  Reality, they bombed farming communities and killed civilians.

    This didn't endear them to the Iraqi people.

    There was outrage, naturally.

    Now the Turkish government uses the threat or 'threat' of the Islamic State to overturn a peace initiative that they clearly never supported and were only waiting for the first chance to void.

    In terms of Turkey, this means the PKK is now engaged in war with them which will mean on the outskirts of Turkey as well as inside.

    This was a stupid decision by the Turkish government.

    The question right now is whether or not the White House approved this assault.

    Did the White House know about it and is that why there's been no major public condemnation of the assaults on northern Iraq from the White House?


    The best they can offer, as the BBC notes, is a minor player with minor words:

    US White House spokesman Alistair Baskey said Turkey had the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks by Kurdish rebels and urged the PKK to renounce terrorism.
    But he said that Ankara should also avoid violence towards the PKK and seek to de-escalate the conflict.


    Jacques Brinon (AP) notes that meek and weak wasn't the response in France where at least a thousand "Kurds and leftist Turks" took the streets of Paris to register their objections to Turkish warplanes bombing northern Iraq with banners decrying the action and some accusing the Turkish government of assisting the Islamic State.


    The bombing raises many questions -- such as did the White House agree to look the other way as part of a deal with Turkey to use a Turkish base?


    Friday on NPR's Morning Edition (link is audio and text), Steve Inskeep discussed the White House's latest arrangement with Deborah Amos:


    INSKEEP: So why is it a big deal the U.S. can use Turkey as a base?


    AMOS: Steve, this is a real estate question. It's all about location. This airbase, Incirlik, is about 200 miles from Syria and ISIS targets. Now coalition jets are taking off from bases in the Gulf. They're flying more than a thousand miles. So what this means is less refueling, more time in the air. And that's a big change. Turkey signing on is also a game changer. Turkey's been frustrated with Washington policy on fighting ISIS. They say that you have to fight Bashar al-Assad in Syria at the same time, but Turkey has been increasingly threatened by ISIS.


    Xinhua offers "Ankara is concerned that Kurds, emboldened by gains in Iraq and Syria, may have an incentive now to ask for a greater autonomy and even independence that risks the unitary structure of Turkish state."

    AFP notes:

    The leadership of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has condemned Turkish air strikes against positions of Kurdish fighters in its autonomous region, echoing the remarks of the leadership earlier.
    Masoud Barzani, president of KRG, spoke to Ahmed Dayutoglu, Turkey's prime minister, over telephone on Saturday and "expressed his displeasure with the dangersou level the situation has reached", according to a KRG statement.
    "He requested that the issue not be escataled to that level because peace is the only way to solve problems and years of negotiations are beter than one hour of war," the statement said.



    Liz Sly (Washington Post) explains, "The targeting of Kurdish militants will also complicate the United States’ air war against the Islamic State, which has relied heavily on a PKK-allied group of Syrian Kurds to make advances in northern Syria."


    And it will complicate things within Turkey.  WSWS offers:

    Originally, Ankara, Washington and its Arab allies worked closely together in undermining the Syrian regime and arming Islamist groups opposed to Damascus. But when ISIS expanded into Iraq and endangered the regime in Baghdad, Washington made a political turn. It bombed ISIS and, much to the dismay of Ankara, aligned itself with Iraqi Kurdish groups. The recent agreement between Iran and the US further undermines the rapidly declining influence of Ankara.
    By joining the war against ISIS and simultaneously escalating the confrontation with the Kurdish nationalist groups, Ankara is trying to win back some influence over the course of events. By doing so, it is escalating the ethnic and sectarian tensions in Syria, Turkey and the entire region, posing a deadly danger for the working class.

    A second, no less important, reason for Ankara’s warmongering is escalating social and political tensions at home. The massacre in Suruç has triggered a wave of terrorist attacks for revenge, in which the PKK killed three police officers and a soldier and two alleged ISIS members. A member of the HDP was killed by an “unidentified murderer.” The Turkish Prime Minister’s Office stated that the government would take “any necessary measures to protect public order and national security.”




    In the US, Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following on Friday:



    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Friday, July 24, 2015
    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777


    Isakson: We Owe Our Veterans 'Nothing Less' than to Hold VA Accountable
    Joins colleagues in highlighting committee action on sweeping VA accountability legislation



    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, spoke on the floor of the Senate regarding the recent committee passage of legislation aimed at increasing accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was joined on the floor by fellow committee members Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., as well as Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
     
    At a markup held Wednesday, the committee approved both the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act of 2015 (S.1082), which gives the VA Secretary greater firing authority over bad actors in the department, and S.627, a bill that prohibits the VA from granting bonuses to underperforming employees. 
     
                Isakson delivered the following remarks on the floor of the Senate:
     
    “As chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the United States Senate, I'm proud to be joined by other members of the committee for a colloquy and a report to the American people on the progress we're making to hold the VA accountable for our veterans and for the taxpayers.
     
    “As all will remember, Phoenix, Ariz., had a terrible tragedy at the VA Hospital in Phoenix last year. Because of missed appointments, erased records and consults that were removed, veterans waiting for services never got them and, in three cases, they died. That was malfeasance in office and brought a great scandal to the VA.
     
    “In January when our committee took hold, we decided to go to the Justice Department and the VA’s Inspector General and say, ‘Go into the VA. Investigate these incidents taking place and if we find criminal wrongdoing or civil wrongdoing we should prosecute these people to make sure it doesn't happen again.’
     
    “Now I'm never happy when anybody is indicted, but I was satisfied that last Friday the first indictment came down from the Justice Department against a VA employee. Unfortunately in my state of Georgia at the VA hospital in Augusta for 50 counts of falsifying medical records, the results of which ended up benefiting the employee and hurting veterans.
     
    “And I promise the American people and the members of the Senate that’s not going to be the last indictment. We're going to see to it that people are held accountable for their actions. We owe nothing less to our veterans than that type of treatment.
     
    “Wednesday, the VA committee met in the Senate and we approved two great bills on our effort to bring about greater accountability. One of those bills was the Rubio-Johnson bill which allows the firing and the holding accountable of VA employees for malfeasance, misconduct in office, or for cause.
     
    “As many people know the VA oftentimes in disciplining people just moves them to another job at the same pay but they can't move them out of the system, so the accountability system never takes place. There is no sense of accountability and veterans are not well served. Thanks to the Rubio-Johnson bill, people who are terminated for cause will have a brief hearing and a chance to justify their case. And if their case is not justified they will be removed from the veterans’ administration health services agency and they will be fired. That's the type of accountability every American who is employed in their job at home has. We think it's the same accountability every Department of Veterans Affairs employee ought to have.
     
    “After that we passed the Ayotte-Cassidy bill, a bill that I was really proud of because Senator Cassidy and Senator Ayotte said the following: ‘You know, it's just not right for somebody who's not doing their job to get a bonus.’ As many people know, bonuses were paid in the VA last year to employees that were in fact being reprimanded for misconduct and bad behavior. You cannot take away a benefit retroactively and this bill does not do that but it says to the VA prospectively, rewards cannot be earned and bonuses cannot be earned for those not conducting their job in the way they should.
     
    “These are the type of accountability measures the people of the United States expect. As chairman of the committee, I always want to brag about the good things our VA employees do and they do a lot of good things. For every one scandal you hear about, there are hundreds of thousands of benefits veterans are receiving because of good, loyal employees. But the best employees in the world are brought down a notch when those who are not good are allowed to continue to stay on the job even if they’re not performing or get bonuses when they're not performing.
     
    “I'm so proud of the Ayotte-Cassidy bill and the Rubio-Johnson bill which say to the American people we're going to have accountability. We're going to pay bonuses for good behavior, not for bad behavior. And if somebody doesn't do their job, they'll be held accountable and they'll lose their job if they're fired for cause and that cause is justified. That's what the American people expect of the Senate. That's what they expect of our committee and I'm proud to report to the Senate today that started.”
     
                You can watch Senator Isakson’s remarks here.
     
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.
















    the washington post
    liz sly



    Posted at 12:02 pm by thecommonills
     

    Murray, Democrats Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT and Women Non-Discrimination Legislation

    Murray, Democrats Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT and Women Non-Discrimination Legislation

    Senator Patty Murray


    Senator Patty Murray (above) is a senior member (and former Chair) of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following today:




     Murray, Democrats Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT and Women Non-Discrimination Legislation

    Jul 24 2015

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined 40 Senators, led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in introducing historic, comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and women.

    “This year, we’ve seen major victories for the LGBT community, but even as we take strides toward equality, we must remember that there is more work to do,” said Patty Murray. “There is no place for discrimination in our country. Yet, far too many LGBT Americans and women remain vulnerable to discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. We need the Equality Act to protect Americans from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, sex, or gender identity, regardless of what state they live in. I’m proud to support this legislation, and I look forward to building on the momentum we’ve seen recently and deliver on our nation’s promise of equality for all.”

    Despite major advances in equality for LGBT Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, in the majority of states, an LGBT couple could be married in the morning and risk being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment in the afternoon. The Equality Act of 2015 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.

    The bill would ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding. The bill would also add protections against sex discrimination in parts of anti-discrimination laws where these protections had not been included previously, including in public accommodations and federal funding.

    The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives by 158 Representatives, led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

    In addition to Murray, Merkley, Baldwin, and Booker, the legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Harry Reid (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

    For further information about the Equality Act:









    Posted at 12:01 pm by thecommonills
     

    More conflict in Iraq

    More conflict in Iraq

    US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter continues his visit to Iraq today.





    : greatest lesson learned from Iraq War is that to achieve lasting victory, it can't be done from outside in 


  • " data-disclosure-type="" data-has-native-media="true" data-card-type="photo">
    : greatest lesson learned from Iraq War is that to achieve lasting victory, it can't be done from outside in                                                                                                                                                                                                                  




    Of the visit, Thomas Gaist (WSWS) observes:

    US military forces in Iraq will take on a more direct combat role once US-backed national and local forces have reconquered territory now controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday during an address to US troops in Baghdad.
    Carter’s visit is part of preparations for another escalation of combat operations in Iraq, relying on an array of proxy forces, in an effort to consolidate Washington’s military grip over the country.



    Who controls the security forces in Iraq?


    Deutsche Welle notes:




    Commanders of Iraqi Shiite militias have said their next focus will be not on Ramadi but Falluja, an adjacent city under insurgent control for more than a year.
    "The government of Iraq has indicated that they have no intention of using the Shiite militia forces as part of the liberation of Ramadi, " [Pentagon spokesperson Col Steve] Warren said Thursday.


    But apparently they have no such concerns about Falluja?

    Or is it just that Haider al-Abadi has no control over the Shi'ite militias?





  • shia militias crime Iraq قبل فترة شيعي يرقص وهو يحرق الشاب عمر القيسي بديالى فقط لان اسمه عمر لحد الان لم يعاقب

  • shia militias crimes burned sunni civilian in Diyala case his name Omer !

  • shia militias crimes من للمستضعفين اخ يبكي اخيه بعد ان احرقته مليشيات الشيعه بالعراق قبل ايام فقط لانه سني

  • shia militias crimes in حرقت قبل ايام مليشات الشيعه سني عراقي بديالى صورة تشرح لك واقع مدمي لسنه العراق

  • shia militias crimes burned sunni civilian in Dyiala so scary crime save sunni civilians in Iraq

  • shia militias crimes جرائم مليشيات الشيعية السيستانية بحق العزل السنه في ديالى من يحمي المدنيين السنه بالعراق



  • shia militias crimes against sunni civilians in Dyiala this militias backed by Iraqi goverment





  • The following community sites updated:



  •  




  •   The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.




    Posted at 11:59 am by thecommonills
     

    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, July 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, War Criminal Tony Blair throws a public tantrum, former US House Rep Barney Frank argues against democracy in the United States, the press continues to treat Hillary's Iraq 'position' as though it's a matter of 2002 when the Iraq War continues to this day, the UN envoy to Iraq is literate enough to read a paper to the UN Security Council -- if not intellectually able to also answer questions, and much more.



    War Criminal Tony Blair is having a Barney Frank of a fit.

    The neoliberal who destroyed the Labour Party by transforming it into the Thatcher-lite New Labour is having a fit over the possibility that Labour might return to its leftist roots and support Jeremy Corbyn as the next Labour leader.

    Matt Dathan (Independent) reports on Tony's latest turn as drama queen:


    John Prescott has told Tony Blair it was his decision to invade Iraq that stops people voting for Labour and not Jeremy Corbyn.
    Lord Prescott served as Mr Blair's deputy prime minister for the entirety of his 10 years in Downing Street but this morning he lashed out at his former boss's attack on Mr Corbyn.

    The BBC adds of Prescott's reaction to Tony Blair's public tantrum:

    Lord Prescott said: "I found that absolutely staggering. I have a lot of respect for Tony Blair, I worked with him for a lot of years, but to use that kind of language is just abuse.
    "The Labour Party is about the heart as well as the head and to suggest somebody should have a transplant if they are making decisions by the heart is totally unacceptable."
    He said Labour had lost a lot of support because of the 2003 Iraq War and said the former prime minister should reflect on that.


    Roy Greenslade (Guardian) notes the coverage of Tony's tantrum:

    If your heart is with Corbyn get a transplant, says Blair” (The Times, across two full pages); “Blair: if Labour votes with its heart, it needs a transplant” (Daily Telegraph); “Blair tells Corbyn backers: if your heart is with him get a transplant” (Daily Express); “If your heart’s into Jez... get transplant” (Daily Star); and “Blair: it’s just plain daft to back Corbyn” (Metro).


    As for Corbyn himself, he appears willing to let Tony stomp his feet in public all by himself.

    He told reporters:


    Well I think it's very unfortunate that people use these kind of remarks.  Why can't we instead focus on the policy issues that are facing the Labour Party, facing the country, the levels of inequality, the levels of poverty, the levels of under-investment and the need to forward rather than dealing with these personal issues?  It's not -- not a good way to do things.

    At his online office, Blair's full tantrum has been posted including this:


    So let me make my position clear: I wouldn't want to win on an old fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn't take it.  
    We should forever stand for social justice, for power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few, as our Constitution puts it.

    But that is not the challenge. That challenge is: how to do it in the modern world.


    For Tony, the way to "social justice" "in the modern world" has been lying and illegal war.

    Standing on this 'higher ground,' he stomps his feet, screams and cries as he throws his public tantrum.

    In his never-ending whine, War Criminal Tony 'forgets' to note Corbyn's blistering criticism of Tony's actions and the illegal Iraq War which include his remarks at the start of the year about "the failure of Parliament in 2003 and since then to hold in account those that took crucial decisions on our behalf, the consequence of which all of us will live with for the rest of our lives and the population of this country and, indeed, of western Europe and the USA are going to live with for many, many, many decades and generations to come.  It was a seminal disaster that happened in 2003."


    While Tony's actions have led to the Arrest Blair For Crimes Against Peace campaign, Corbyn's actions have led to his endorsement by the United Kingdom's Stop the War Coalition:

    LEFT LABOUR MP Jeremy Corbyn, who has been nominated to stand in the Labour leadership campaign, is also the chair of the Stop the War Coalition.
    He has been a supporter since we began back in 2001, has spoken on virtually all of our demonstrations big and small, and has been a consistent anti-war voice in parliament.
    He was part of the major Labour rebellion against the Iraq war in 2003, and was opposed to the intervention in Syria in 2013.
    All of this is great news for Stop the War supporters who can now back him as a principled anti-war and anti-austerity candidate in a contest which was set, until the last minute, to be between three candidates who all espoused a similar message – none of it anti-war.
    As well as central role in Stop the War, Jeremy is also involved in a wide range of other campaigns for peace and social justice, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which he is vice-chair, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
    But Jeremy’s candidacy takes on a much wider significance, because it can be part of rebuilding a left committed to social movements which can provide the antidote to a government committed to pro-war policies and to cutting welfare, including the benefits of some of the poorest in society.
    A mass campaign in support of Jeremy should involve meetings in every town and city which echo the policies which he has always followed: peace and justice for all, an end to widening inequality, and opposition to cuts in welfare, rather than warfare.
    Such a campaign would galvanise large numbers of people who have previously been involved in anti-war and other campaigns, as well as many young people who have protested against austerity in recent weeks.
    The Corbyn candidacy can have the effect of unifying many of the campaigns, and of inserting a clear left voice into the debate about how best to oppose government policies on these questions.
    There is a new movement growing against austerity, determined to oppose the new government’s policies. Stop the War is part of the People's Assembly, which called the huge march against austerity on Saturday 20 June that brought 250,000 protesters on to London's streets.
    We can all help to build Jeremy's campaign, to make sure that a strong alternative voice to war and austerity gets the hearing it deserves. His candidacy for the Labour leadership can only make the movements for peace and social justice stronger.

    How to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Anyone can vote in the Labour Party leadership election, which is now run on the basis of one-person-one vote. The election is not restricted to Labour Party members but open to the new category of Labour supporter. Registration as a supporter costs just £3. Register here » 



    While Tony Blair has his tantrum in the UK, Barney Frank has his in the United States.

    The former member of the US House of Representatives is attempting to be a columnist at POLITICO -- and anyone's who suffered through one of his charm-free TV appearances would strongly encourage him to pursue a career far, far away from any video cameras.


    Barney Frank insisted at POLITICO earlier this week that no one should support Senator Bernie Sanders in his run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

    Why?

    Because it hurts Hillary.

    Barney apparently sees Hillary as the new Judy Garland or at least the latest Britney Spears and insists that the (male) gay community and others should support Hillary -- apparently, support her blindly and support her over the concept of democracy.

    Democracy, Barney forgets, is about public debate, public exchange.

    Democracy is not a coronation.



    He argues against democracy in one statement after another such as this paragraph:

    I know that there is a counter-argument made by some on the Democratic left that a closely contested nomination process will help our ultimate nominee — that Clinton will somehow benefit from having to spend most of her time and campaign funds between now and next summer proving her ideological purity in an intraparty fight, like Mitt Romney in 2012 — rather than focusing on her differences with the conservative she will face in the election. But neither an analysis of the current political situation nor the history of presidential races supports this.

     
    Democracy is the issue, not what benefits Hillary Clinton.


    And someone needs to remind POLITICO that if Americans want to know how to turn their residence into a whore house or the best way to remove pubic lice from fine linens, Barney's the one to go to.  Certainly, he allowed his lover/sex employee to turn his home into a bordello in the 80s and that scandal is what finally forced Barney out of the closet.


    But if America needs lessons in democracy or just advice on it, Barney's among the last people the country would turn to.

    We get it.

    He's very old.

    Hes very ugly.

    His middle-section is, at best, 'thickish.'

    As a member of Congress, he could (mis)use his power and ignore all of that.

    Now he's in the real world, in a youth obsessed country and he's struggling for relevancy.

    So he attempts to turn Hillary into Judy Garland and make a (late)life out of worshiping her.

    In order to do that, he tsk-tsks "the flood of post-Citizen United right-wing money" while failing to note that Hillary's had her own flood of corporate cash for years.  (She has, in fact, probably been the best corporate fundraiser for the Democratic party -- better than Nancy Pelosi, to be sure, but also better than Barack who's reign of raking in corporate dollars only begins in 2007 while Hillary's started in the 90s and has never stopped.)


    He's at his most insane when he attempts to justify Hillary's support for the Iraq War:


    True, not on Iraq. Having myself voted against that terrible mistake, I agree that her position on the war is a legitimate concern for those of us on the left. The question then becomes whether this was a manifestation of a general tendency to support unwise military intervention, or the case of her joining every other Democratic senator who had serious presidential ambitions in voting for a war that the Bush-Cheney administration had successfully hyped as a necessary defense against terrorism. While I wish that she, Joe Biden and John Kerry had not been spooked into believing that no one who voted no would have the national security merit badge required to win the presidency, I regard liberal senators’ support for the Iraq War as a response to a given fraught political situation rather than an indication of their basic policy stance — like Obama’s off-again, on-again support for same-sex marriage. (Yes, I am saying that in deciding whether or not to support a candidate with whom I have disagreed on a fundamental issue, I am more at ease if it was a one-time political accommodation rather than a genuine conviction.) Most relevantly for this discussion, she will clearly be for less military spending and intervention than the Republican nominee.
     


    There's is so much there.

    1) Hillary's support for the Iraq War did not end with her 2002 vote for it.

    And as former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed in his book (Duty), Hillary told him that she only opposed Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' (sending thousands of additional US troops into Iraq in 2007) because she thought it would win her political points with voters -- and that she really had no problem with the actual surge.

    2) This is the same lack of courage and ethics that Frank feels led her to support the illegal war with her 2002 vote.

    Such cowardly behavior, voting for something just to protect your own seat in Congress, is not the stuff of leadership.

    3) She will not "clearly be for less military spending and intervention" than any other nominee -- Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, what have you.


    Barney needs to stop fondling his crystal ball and stick to reality.

    And the Iraq War wasn't "a terrible mistake."

    It was illegal, it is a travesty (an ongoing one) and many other things.

    But calling it "a terrible mistake" is putting it so mildly that it doesn't even quality as an objection.


    Hillary supported the Iraq War repeatedly.

    She needs to answer for it.

    And I don't mean in some ghost-written book.

    She supported the illegal war.

    It continues.

    What, if elected president, would she do to address the ongoing war in Iraq?

    The press is too cowardly to ask her that when they do manage to get some limited time with her.

    And grasp what Barney doesn't, if she won't interact with the press while she's trying to woo voters, a President Hillary would even less responsive to both the press and the voters.


    Granted, we've grown silent as a country as Barack has avoided the press.

    But when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, we cared (as we did in earlier times) when Oval Office occupants refused to go before the press and answer questions.

    And, a reminder, I'm won't vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.  (Or Jill Stein or Donald Trump.)  But that doesn't lead me to argue that anyone should refuse to run.

    Democracy is about multiple voices, from multiple points on the political spectrum, competing in the public square, making their arguments and cases and allowing the people to decide what speaks to them and what direction or candidate they support.





    Jan Kubis is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy in Iraq.

    On Wednesday, he appeared before the United Nations Security Council to read out loud the report Ban Ki-moon had released a week ago.

    As usual, Kubis took no questions from the Security Council.

    As usual, the appearance was pointless and wasted fossil fuel flying him from Baghdad to the US just so he could read, word for word, a report the Security Council -- in fact, the whole world -- already had access to.


    Early on, he read some of the most laughable statements anyone UN envoy to Iraq has ever read to the Security Council:


    Iraq’s political process is moving forward, but without the needed vigour. The Government has achieved many successes, and deserves our acknowledgement and support. Prime Minister Haider al‐Abadi is seeking actively to fulfil the promises of the Government’s programme, but not always with success. Political forces that have backed the Government and its programme often cooperate reluctantly, as if the existential threat of ISIL and economic and social difficulties were already matters of the past. The unity behind the creation of the current Government has not yet fully translated into unity of purpose or action. UNAMI has been actively working with all relevant interlocutors, using its good offices to bring views closer.

    There are signs of a growing understanding that the time has come for comprehensive political agreements, particularly for, as some leaders have described it, an “historic national reconciliation”. Several plans and blueprints have emerged recently, promoted by key leaders and political forces. Also, the National Reconciliation Commission has developed an action plan, an initiative owned and led by the Government. The so‐called Baghdad Document is currently being widely consulted and will benefit from inputs from all Iraqi components, allowing for further ownership of and inclusion in the process. This could provide a starting point for further consultations, including with different opposition groups. UNAMI supports these processes.


    This development is most welcome, although political compromises are urgently needed to accelerate the implementation of the National Political Agreement and Ministerial Programme. In this regard, institutional and legislative reforms remain key to preserving Iraq’s unity, encouraging political reconciliation and defeating ISIL. Regrettably, the absence of consensus has halted the reform process. The national reconciliation legislative package, which includes key bills such as the National Guard, the General Amnesty, and the Justice and Accountability laws, has seen limited progress since my last briefing to the Council. All three bills are currently before the Council of Representatives, but progress has been stalled due to lack of trust between Iraqi communities, and absence of the necessary political will. I have informed my interlocutors in Parliament and in Government that “painful compromises” are needed to ensure these bills are passed, instead of being returned to the Council of Ministers. Iraq and her people do not have the luxury of time. UNAMI continues to stand ready to assist politically and technically to ensure these reforms succeed.


    With or without "vigor," where has Iraq's political process moved forward?


    There is nothing to point to.

    Nothing has been resolved.


    But he wants to pretend it is fair and/or accurate to pretend otherwise?


    Hillary Clinton needs to be asked about the following -- Hillary and every other politician trying to seek the presidency:



    The human cost of the conflict remains far too high. Since I last briefed the Council, UNAMI has recorded a minimum of 1,200 civilians killed and more than 2,000 wounded as a result of armed conflict or terror attacks. UNAMI continues to receive widespread reports of attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced recruitment of children, wanton destruction and looting of civilian property, and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms. Minorities, women and children continue to be particularly vulnerable to the horrors and indignities inflicted by ISIL. The recent terrorist outrage during the Eid holidays near a Shi’ite mosque in Khan Bani Saad in which over 120 civilians were reported killed and some 170 injured is another tragic witness to this.

    Reports are also received of occasional violations committed by elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces and allied groups. The Government and their leaders have reaffirmed that such violations will not be tolerated, and I urge them to continue taking all possible measures to prevent such transgressions and to bring perpetrators to justice.



    If Hillary wants to move beyond her 2002 vote, she can start that process by addressing the realities of Iraq today and explaining to the American people what her 'plan' for Iraq is?

    Kubis also read this paragraph to the UN Security Council:



    With regard to the protection of children, I would like to commend the Prime Minister’s efforts to tackle the issue of child recruitment by ISIL. On 15 June 2015, he held a conference in Baghdad and proposed a series of recommendations, including increased regional cooperation, academic research, the promotion of co‐existence at school, and social media campaigns. He also called upon the Security Council to take a firmer stance on this issue. The UN participated and will be working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister to develop a plan of action.


    Would he like to commend him for that?

    And what would Kubis like to do with regards to the use of children soldiers by the "Popularization Mobilization Foces" (Shi'ite militias)?

    Because they are using children.

    And you can find it all over Arabic media and social media.

    And Haider al-Abadi's remarks about the Islamic State and children soldiers were slammed the minute they were made -- slammed in Arabic media and Arabic social media -- by critics who pointed out the Shi'ite militias use of children soldiers (while on the payroll of the Iraqi government).



    Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 106 violent deaths across Iraq.



    We've already noted Ash Carter's visit to Iraq -- we may note it in the next snapshot.

    We will note the community theme posts of picks for movies to watch in summer:   Stan's "Gone in 60 Seconds," Ruth's "Harper," Elaine's "Salt," Ann's "Sparkle," Kat's "Dr Goldfoot," Marcia's "Star Wars," Rebecca's "the wizard of oz," Trina's "Grease" and Mike's "Short Circuit."


    As Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CRANKY'S CRASHING!" and Cedric's "Once it was alright (Farmer Joe)" note, the polling is not going well for Cranky Clinton (as they've dubbed Hillary) and perhaps that explains Barney Frank's hysteric attack on democracy in that bad POLITICO column?













     



    Posted at 11:55 am by thecommonills
     

    Sneaking Sally Through The Alley

    Sneaking Sally Through The Alley

    Carter just landed in Baghdad, Iraq, and he wants to hear from you at his FB page.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            







    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in Iraq.


    David Lerman (Bloomberg News) reports:

     Ashton Carter made his first visit to Iraq as U.S. defense secretary Thursday to review the military offensive against Islamic State extremists, including a plan to retake the town of Ramadi.
    After arriving in Baghdad, the Pentagon chief was scheduled to meet with top Iraqi officials, U.S. troops and Sunni tribal leaders for what he told reporters would be an “on-the-ground assessment” of the effort to defeat Islamic State.



    David Welna covers the visit for NPR on Morning Edition. Phil Stewart (Reuters) adds:

    Carter said he sought to form "my own on-the-ground assessment of the campaign".

    "I will be doing my own conferring with our military commanders," Carter told reporters ahead of his trip.


    AP covers the visit here.


    Most of the reports note Ramadi and efforts to retake the recently seized city.

    Falluja is overlooked.

    More importantly, where's Haditha?

    Loveday Morris' "This town has resisted Islamic State for 18 months. But food is running low"  (Washington Post) noted this week:


    The people of Haditha, though, are struggling to survive in a town largely cut off from the outside world. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has singled it out as its next target.
    "It’s like we’re not living in Iraq," said one resident, Israa Mohammed, 38, as she waited to receive a rare delivery of food aid last week. "There’s no way in or out. It’s like we are an island in the desert."
    The first group of reporters to gain access to Haditha in more than a year found the besieged city in desperate straits. With gasoline more than quadruple the national price, bicycles are a more common sight than cars on its winding streets.

    Doctors have fled, and medicines are hard to come by. Electricity flickers on for just three hours a day.



    With the Islamic State having stated Haditha is the next target, you'd think it would rate a mention in the coverage.


    More importantly, the never-ending Iraq war?  It's 12 years since the 2003 US-led invasion.


    And Ash Carter has to sneak into Iraq?

    All this time later, US officials still have to dart in and out of Iraq?

    That tells you everything you need to know about the continued lack of security in Iraq.



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