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The Common Ills


Saturday, October 25, 2014
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, October 25, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, a US Marine is killed in Baghdad, thug Nouri tries to push through legislation destroying the right to protest, judgments on new prime minister Haider al-Haidi are forming, were chemical weapons used in Iraq recently, and much more.



The numbers on Barack Obama's kill list just keep growing.  Add another American to the list.

Yesterday, the Defense Dept released the following:


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: NR-539-14
October 24, 2014

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty


  The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal, 19, of Riverside, California, died Oct. 23, in Baghdad, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command, whose headquarters element deploys from Camp Pendleton, California.
For more information, media may contact the I Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at (760) 763-7039 or after hours at (760) 207-5865.



Well, of course, he didn't die in combat.  Hasn't US President Obama insisted US troops would not see combat in Iraq?  And hasn't the press gone along with that lie?


However he died in Baghdad, Lance Cpl Sean P. Neal died in Baghdad.

And Barack's the one who sent him there.

Hey, hey, BHO, how many people did you bury below?

Barack sent Neal and many others into Iraq.

Any deaths are on Barack's hands.

Hey, hey, BHO, how many people did you bury below?

And the deaths of Iraqis are on his hands as well.

Especially the ones killed by Iraqi forces.

Barack hopped in bed with previous prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and is in bed with current prime minister Haider al-Hadi.  Under both, civilians have been terrorized by Iraqi forces throughout Iraq.

This includes, but is not limited to, the ongoing bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods -- a legally defined War Crime.  One that has been taking place since January of this year.

Hey, hey, BHO, how many people did you bury below?


Will this awaken the so-called peace 'leaders' in the United States?

Or will they continue to direct their outrage at Bully Boy Bush -- a man who left the White House in January 2009?

Maybe they'll continue to obsess over Hillary Clinton?

Anything to avoid growing the hell up and calling out the person running the wars today.


Lance Cpl Sean P. Neal's death is on Barack's hands but never forget CodePink, Win Without War and so many other fake ass organizations are culpable in Neal's death and the deaths of so many Iraqis.


Hey, hey, BHO, how many people did you bury below?


Reason notes US Secretary of State John Kerry has declared he's looking into "extremely serious" charges "that IS [Islamic State] attacked Iraqi police officers with chlorine gas last month."  Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) adds that Kerry stressed the allegations had not been confirmed.

The issue was also raised in Friday's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki.




QUESTION: I know that the --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: -- Secretary was asked about the reported chlorine attack against Iraqi forces in the past month. Is there any thinking in this building or in consultation with the Pentagon about how this affects the way that the coalition tries to deal with ISIL fighters? Does this change the strategy? Does this change the training of Iraqi forces to deal with any sort of NBC attack – nuclear, biological, chemical?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question, Roz. I think the most appropriate place to pose it is probably to the Pentagon. Not that I have been briefed on. As you – the Secretary noted this morning, we’re certainly aware of the alleged attacks. We take them very seriously, as we do any allegations. We can’t confirm the details. We’re seeking additional information. Obviously, the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon is an abhorrent act. In terms of what it would in term – of training, I would point you to my colleagues at the Pentagon.



Qassim Abdul-zahra (AP) writes, "The use of chlorine gas as a weapon adds a new concern to the turmoil in the country."

For reals?


The US government is responsible for birth defects in Iraq resulting from the illegal use of White Phosphorus, depleted uranium and other substances.  At Global Research this month, Dahr Jamail noted:

Contamination from depleted uranium (DU) munitions is causing sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq, according to numerous Iraqi doctors.
Iraqi doctors and prominent scientists believe that DU contamination is also connected to the emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.
There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah during 2004, and Basra during the 1991 US war on Iraq.

It is estimated that the United States used 350 tons of DU munitions in Iraq during the 1991 war, and 1,200 tons during its 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation.



Earlier this month, Amabedl Karoub (Michigan Daily) reported on a public presentation on this issue:


Muhsin Al-Sabbak, a physician at Iraq’s Basra Maternity Hospital, and Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist who resides in Ann Arbor, presented a one-hour lecture centered on their research, which links the increase in congenital birth defects in Iraq over the last two decades to the use of U.S. and coalitions force weapons there.
Al-Sabbak referenced his study that found a 17-fold increase in children with birth defects between the years 1995 and 2003, a jump from 1.37 birth defects per 1,000 children to 23 per 1,000. By 2008, the number had increased to 48 per 1000, and in 2014 it was 37 per 1000.

Savabieasfahani attributed the spike to an increase in pollutants caused by U.S. weapons and the presence of military bases.


Thomas Gaist (WSWS) spoke with Muhsin al-Sabbak:


“Birth anomaly rates will likely continue to rise,” Al Sabbak told the WSWS.
“Another assault is coming to Iraq, by both ISIS and those who created ISIS. More fighting will increase toxicity levels in the population,” he added. The well-documented support of the US and its allies for armed Islamist militias like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the war for regime change in Syria has been followed by the use of ISIS’s spread across Iraq as the justification for another imperialist war in the region.
“I am not even political,” Al Sabbak added. “I just want to reverse the spread of this catastrophe. I am tired of hearing mothers ask whether they should even try to have another child, and not knowing the answer myself.”

Dr. Al Sabbak is visiting the US as part of an effort to bring to the attention of both the US scientific community as well as the broader public the horrific impact of decades of US war in terms of the surge of genetic anomalies and disease in Basra. He cited data showing that the Iraqi city experienced a 17-fold increase in child birth defects between 1995 and 2003.


Though the US government yet again mounts the high horse, there's no higher ground for them to scramble to.  If the Islamic State used chemical weapons -- if -- they've yet to use them on the scale that the US government has.

But the Iraqi government, the new Iraqi government, surely they have some ethical ground to stand on.



: احد الجرحى الذين اصيبوا جراء القصف العشوائي المتعمد من قبل الجيش الحكومي على منازل المدنيين في الفلوجة. 







Is the new government's ethical ground embedded in the wounds of that child?


It was Iraqi forces that left that child wounded this week.

The child's crime?

Living in Falluja.

The Iraqi forces began bombing residential neighborhoods in January of this year.  This is "collective punishment" and it's a legally defined War Crime, recognized as such by the international community and, yes, by the United States government.


When Nouri al-Maliki began it, the US turned a blind eye and unofficially took the position of being-a-bystander-means-we-can-stay-silent.  They weren't a bystander, the US government was supplying Nouri with weapons -- weapons he used on the Iraqi people.

But now Haider al-Abadi is prime minister and now the US government has sent the US military into Iraq to aid and assist the Iraqi military.  That makes the White House complicit in War Crimes.

And the continuation of Iraqi forces targeting -- killing and wounding -- Iraqi civilians for the 'crime' of living in Falluja gives the Iraqi government little higher ground to take to and finger point from.

September 13th, Haider declared these attacks were over.

They didn't stop.

Nouri al-Maliki brought in Shi'ite militias and these militias, still loyal to Nouri, refuse to follow Haider's orders.


That's a reality the western press has attempted to ignore.

On the new prime minister, Gulf News argues:

Haider Al Abadi has not started well in his tenure as the new Prime Minister of Iraq. It has been just over six weeks since he was appointed and his cabinet is an unfortunate gathering of the same old faces. There is no sense of any new inclusive spirit, which was hoped would replace Nouri Al Malilki’s legacy of a country torn apart by sectarian violence with Sunnis facing discrimination, arbitrary arrests and violent crackdowns by government forces supported by Shiite militias.

US President Barack Obama was grasping at straws when he gave Iraq’s new leader a ringing endorsement after they first met in September and he described Al Abadi as “the right person” to lead Iraq as it was under attack by the militants of Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Obama was speaking of his hopes and not the reality when he went so far as to say that Al Abadi had “reached out systematically to all the people of Iraq”. 


The time was always limited, the brief chance for Haider al-Abadi to demonstrate that he was different from Nouri al-Maliki.  Instead of expending efforts to help him do that, Barack has focused all efforts on attacks that do nothing to stem the reasons for the popularity (or at least acceptability) of the Islamic State.  The only thing that stops the Islamic State, is pulling the reasons for their existence.  They represent one of the few responses to the targeting of Sunnis in Iraq (as well as Syria but our focus is Iraq).

For four long years, Nouri was allowed to target the Sunnis.  He was allowed to kill Sunni politicians and get away with it, he was allowed to attack their homes, to have their homes surrounded by tanks.  And this was what he did to the elected Sunni leaders.  What he did to the average Sunni was far worse.

And this is what created an environment in which the Islamic State could publicly walk into knowing that many Iraqis would either welcome them or stay silent because there was no other defense for the Sunnis in Iraq.

Nouri's forces illegally arrested them.  That's illegal due to a lack of arrest warrant but it also goes to if Nouri wanted Sunni X arrested and his forces showed up at Sunni X's home and Sunni X was not present, Nouri's thugs grabbed the wife, or mother, or father, or child, or grandparent, or sibling.

And these grabbed persons were then tossed in jails and prisons.

Despite no arrest warrant and despite being charged with nothing, they rotted in jails and prisons.

This is what Nouri got away with.  This is what whores like Jane Arraf stayed silent about.  This is what the White House was willing to go along with.

For four years.

The Islamic State did not spring up overnight.

And Barack can bomb forever and a day and that will not change a damn thing in Iraq, not for the better.

You want to end the Islamic State?  Pull the reasons which support their very existence.

There was a chance to do that with a new prime minister, if the prime minister acted quickly and made a few grand gestures.

Instead, Haider's done damn little.

Again, the most important thing he could do write now is publicly appeal the (illegal) conviction of former Iraq Vice President (from 2006 to this year) Tareq al-Hashemi.  He could note that no trial should have taken place because, as a member of Parliament, al-Hashemi had immunity.  (To be tried, the Iraqi Constitution requires Parliament strip him of his immunity first.)  He could note that before the trial started, the Baghdad judges held a press conference announcing Tareq's guilt.  He could point out that one of Tareq's bodyguards was tortured to death by Nouri's forces (and, up to his death, refused to lie and claim Tareq was guilty).  He has a whole host of reasons to call for the conviction to be overturned or ignored, he can also issue a pardon to put the matter rest.

That would be a grand gesture.

And grand gestures were needed over a month ago.

Now, with Haider seen as so ineffectual, grand gestures are required for the Sunni population to believe there's a chance that their new prime minister really does believe in an inclusive government.


The alternative to a political solution?

More of the same nonsense Barack tries to pass off as a plan.

Arab News notes:


US and allied aircraft have flown nearly 6,600 sorties in the air war against the IS group and dropped more than 1,700 bombs, the American military said Thursday.
The flights for “Operation Inherent Resolve” include thousands of mid-air fueling runs, surveillance sorties and 632 air strikes in Iraq and Syria, according to US Central Command.



And it's done nothing, if people are honest.  The bombing has accomplished nothing.  The Journal of Turkish Weekly quotes US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel declaring Thursday, "We believe that our strategy is working. There will be mixed and various outcomes daily. But this is not a daily measurement; this is an overall, strategic, longer term measurement of how well they’re doing."

While Hagel may be confident, others pointedly are not.  Iraq Times notes that the US forces have been carrying out air strikes for over two months now and that doubts are growing about both how effective these efforts and how serious they are as well.  The paper notes this week's drop of weapons to security forces with one of those drops landing in the hands of the Islamic State and the US government's efforts to spin and lie about it.  The paper also notes the lack of end date on the part of the US government and statements that it could last years or decades which do not inspire confidence and suggest a kind of meandering, try-anything approach to the 'effort.'


Why are people joining up or supporting the Islamic State?  Kjell Anderson (Arab News) explores the possibilities while reminding, "It is satisfying, but ultimately misleading, to believe that perpetrators possess certain inborn pathological traits. Rather, their motivations are not so different from our own: The desire for community, respect, and security, and the fear of standing apart from the crowd."  A basic reality on the topic is noted in Alice Fordham's report for Morning Edition (NPR, link is text and audio) from Abu Ghraib:


The Islamic State may be unpopular among many local residents, but so too is the Iraqi Army. The Iraqi military is being supported by the United States, but it's not winning over all the local people.
"They put military garrisons among us, they stormed our house in the night. Who gave them permission?" says a furious Khadouja Sihel, a local resident.
Her daughter is with her, plump and pretty in pink lipstick, carrying a tray of eggs.

Ignoring the soldiers standing a few feet away, Sihel says, "I've got seven daughters, and they harass them in a filthy way. Why are they doing this? Aren't we Iraqis like them?"


Abu Ghraib is not just an area outside of Baghdad, it is also home to an infamous torture prison -- run first by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and then later by the US government.  It's the second manager that's in the news.  Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff (AllGov.com) report:


  A federal judge has given the Obama administration less than two months to explain in detail why 2,100 photographs depicting torture by U.S. agents and others should be kept hidden from public view.

A deadline of December 12 was set by Judge Alvin Hellerstein in the aftermath of his ruling (pdf), in August, denying the government’s claim that it is legally allowed to bar release of the photos. Those images are reportedly of detainees tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at other U.S. detention centers during the George W. Bush administration.



In other news, rabid dog Nouri al-Maliki may be out of the prime minister post but he remains in the presidential palace refusing to leave and he continues his efforts to strip Iraqi citizens of their rights.  A rabid dog, if not put down, at least needs to be caged behind bars (for life) or run out of the country.  Sadly, Nouri's been made one of Iraq's three vice presidents instead.  In that post and as a member of Parliament, Thug Nouri is attempting to continue his attacks on protesters.  Al Mada notes he's reintroduced his October 2012 bill insisting that protests in Iraq should be of limited duration.  Such a move would impact continuous protests -- like those against Nouri which kicked off in December 2012 and ran through January 2014.  The bill specifically targets civil disobedience such as sit-ins and hunger strikes.  Al Mada explains that people are also concerned about the wording in the bill such as demonstrations must meet "public morals" and how these loose words go undefined as does the issue of who would determine this and how.

It's interesting that this bill is even being discussed.  It was introduced in October 2012.  It died in the previous Parliament.  Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has not sent the bill to the Parliament.

Yet when thug Nouri was prime minister, he repeatedly stated -- and a whorish western press backed him up -- that only his Cabinet had the authority to write and introduce bills.

He lied, and the whorish press backed him up, that Parliament couldn't write or introduce bills, they could only vote on bills that were introduced to them by the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

It was a lie.

I'm not a liar.

I won't now say, "Nouri can't do this!"

Of course he can.

Any member of Parliament can introduce a bill.

But, unlike Thug Nouri and the whorish western press, I said that when Nouri was prime minister.

Nouri's a thug and a liar and belongs behind bars.  I'm sure the rumors of his sexually transmitted disease are just rumors but they are also understandable on Arabic social media because he is a vile and disgusting man who has harmed and killed thousands, so it's only natural people would wish he would be plagued with a disease.




Meanwhile, when not playing Inspector Clouseau as Chemical Inspector, John Kerry likes to do meet-ups.  Friday, he and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with the Republic of Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo in DC and, following the meeting, issued a statement which included:

Acknowledging the grave humanitarian situation in Iraq, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to assisting the people of Iraq against the threat of ISIL and Foreign Terrorist Fighters. The United States thanked the ROK for its recent commitment of an additional $4 million in humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Both countries condemned the brutality of ISIL, underscoring that their actions violate the basic norms of humanity and civilization, and expressed their support for the international community fighting against the threat of ISIL. 




Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration. We'll close with this from Bacon's "CENTRAL AMERICAN CHILDREN WILL CHANGE US - Part 1" (Social Policy):



"When I heard Father Romero was killed I began to weep," Bishop Bobadilla told me.  "I saw that the forces of evil had won. He wanted change, but not through violence.  The bitter truth today, though, is that in Guatemala we are still living the legacy of that violence."
 
Rodolfo Bobadilla was the bishop in Huehuetenango when I last saw him.  During the civil war he'd been a hero to poor Guatemalans in the indigenous Qanjobal and Mam towns where the worst massacres took place.  He was a friend of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in San Salvador, when Romero headed the church at the beginning of El Salvador's civil war.  When Romero denounced the death squads and called on soldiers not to obey orders to violate human rights, members of the U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion charged into a hospital chapel where he was celebrating mass, and gunned him down.   

























  • Posted at 01:18 pm by thecommonills
     

    VFW Election Day Advice

    VFW Election Day Advice

    This is from the VFW:



    VFW Election Day Advice

    Remember those who vote for war but not the warrior


    WASHINGTON — The House and Senate overwhelming passed an emergency funding package in late July to help the Department of Veterans Affairs overcome its nationwide crisis in care and confidence. H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, was passed in the House by a vote of 420-5, and in the Senate by 91-3.


    With federal midterm elections just weeks away, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States wants America to remember the names of the eight legislators who voted against disabled veterans: Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas), and Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Not on the Nov. 4 ballot are Kingston and Stockman, Coburn, because he is stepping down, and Corker, whose six-year term doesn’t expire until 2018.


    The hypocrisy of the “no” votes, according to VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, is that between 2003 and 2010, five of them voted to approve more than a half trillion dollars in supplemental war funding with little regard to corresponding offsets or spending oversight, yet in July they would vote against $16 billion to improve the care and services the VA provides to wounded, ill and injured veterans. The three not in office at the time of those war funding votes are Crawford, Sanford and Stockman. Sanford, however, was the governor of South Carolina from 2003-2011, a state that experienced tremendous active, Guard and Reserve deployments, as well as combat casualties.  


    “By voting no, those eight members failed to stand with America’s wounded, ill and injured veterans,” said Stroud, a retired Air Force first sergeant from Hawthorne, Nev. “Failing to support America’s veterans is inexcusable, and I hope every voting constituent in every home district and state remembers that, because the VFW will do our best to remind them,” he said.  


    “The VFW has a long memory when it comes to remembering those who vote for war but not the warrior, and though we will never tell our members and supporters who to vote for, we will always tell them who in Congress does — or does not — support veterans, service members and their families.”  


    The 13 members of the House and Senate who were not present to vote on H.R. 3230 — for reasons their constituents should ask — are Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.), and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).   



    Along with Kingston and Stockman, Hanabusa will not be on the November ballot, nor will Senator Harkin. The three representatives lost their Senate primary challenges, and Harkin is retiring after serving five terms in office.












    Posted at 01:17 pm by thecommonills
     

    Joan Haskins Honored With Operation PAVE Champion Award

    Joan Haskins Honored With Operation PAVE Champion Award

    This is from Paralyzed Veterans of America:

    Joan Haskins Honored With Operation PAVE Champion Award



    Operation PAVE counselor Joan HaskinsJoan Haskins’ role as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Operation PAVE program (Paving Access for Veterans Employment) enables her to do what she likes to do most—serve veterans, those who need employment information, counseling, direction, and focus so they can make realistic decisions for themselves.  It is that passion and commitment, juxtaposed with her skill as a Masters-level, certified vocational rehabilitation counselor, which has earned her the very first “PAVE Champion Award.”


    The new award recognizes the PAVE employee who best embodies the principles of compassion, professionalism, initiative and spirit, while paving access for veterans’ employment. Sherman Gillums, deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America, presented the award to Haskins during Paralyzed Veterans Golf Open (PVGO), which raises money to support the PAVE program. “The PAVE Champion Award signifies excellence in opening doors of opportunities for the underserved veterans and caregivers who access our services,” said Gillums. “Joan has demonstrated by her example that economic self sufficiency and vocational fulfillment are possible for virtually anyone who turns to PAVE for our cost-free, customized, one-on-one services."


    It is a lifelong stewardship for Haskins.  For more than 35 years, she has worked steadily in the field of vocational rehabilitation. She was a vocational rehabilitation counselor for two counseling practices before opening her own in 1980, and has served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Social Security. 


    In 2009, Haskins was recruited by Paralyzed Veterans to serve as vocational rehabilitation counselor in the Long Beach, Calif. chapter. Since then, she has utilized her extensive knowledge and experience to champion veterans in the workplace, and forged strong relationships with civilian and federal hiring authorities in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. Her tireless advocacy has helped hundreds of veterans secure meaningful positions or jobs.  She is an asset to the PAVE team, an invaluable resource to disabled veterans, and a worthy first recipient of the Operation PAVE Award of Excellence.


    Congratulations to Joan Haskins for her accomplishments. Paralyzed Veterans of America deeply appreciates her contributions to our mission.


    Learn more about Operation PAVE







    Posted at 11:04 am by thecommonills
     

    My opponent is smearing me so I need your help (Alan Grayson)

    My opponent is smearing me so I need your help (Alan Grayson)



    US House Rep Alan Grayson's done many things in his political career.  For this site and community, he's stood out as a strong voice against the ongoing Iraq War.  So we'll note this from his re-election campaign.







    My opponent has just rolled out a disgusting attack website, proclaiming that I'm "without honor." Her dirty gutter-site spews out utterly specious attacks on my personal life and my professional experience, in lieu of anything resembling an actual discussion of issues.

    What does my opponent's smear-site say about jobs? Nothing.

    Healthcare? Nothing.

    Education? Nothing.

    Foreign policy? Nothing.

    The budget? Nothing.

    The gap between rich and poor? Nothing.

    Taxes? Nothing.

    Just trash, slime, muck, crud and scuz. What President Clinton called "the politics of personal destruction." 

    My opponent is wrong on the issues. She's done nothing to help the voters. So all she can do is denigrate me and vilify me, dragging my name through the mud.

    So help us fight back. Please - help us fight back. 

    The great majority of my opponent's dreck-site is just slanderous swill about my personal life. But once in a while, something resembling an actual issue insinuates itself into the stream of calumny -- in a very revealing way.

    Here are a few more things that my opponent's sewer-site chastises me for:

    My call for stricter campaign finance laws (which she argues makes me "hypocritical," apparently because we have so many small donors).

    My successful battle to prevent crooked contractors who cheat the taxpayers and the troops from getting new federal contracts (because this supposedly constitutes an attack on "small business").

    My support for a new Planned Parenthood clinic in my district (because she says that it supposedly would "target Hispanics for destruction"; in the GOP lexicon, a pap smear is "destruction").

    My sympathy for the 80,000 people in my district who are undocumented (because, according to my very confused opponent, all Hispanics are "legal US citizens").

    My statement that the Army's failure to take responsibility for huge increases in cancer and other serious health problems near a base where it tested unconventional weapons was "illogical and cruel" (because the Army denies any responsibility).

    Yes, I wish that sewer money would get the hell out of politics. Yes, I think that war profiteers should be punished, not rewarded. Yes, I think that women should have full health coverage. Yes, I feel for the undocumented who live in the shadows. Yes, I believe that the military should accept responsibility when it ruins the lives of innocent Americans.

    And for that, my opponent is condemning me. 

    Look, it's showtime. The election is just 10 days away. We cannot let my opponent's lies defeat our truth. Please contribute to our campaign today, so that we can set the record straight. 

    Courage,

    Rep. Alan Grayson




    Posted at 09:43 am by thecommonills
     

    VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship

    VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship

    This is from the VFW:



    As veterans return home, they face numerous obstacles as they transition back into civilian life, including finding a career. In 2013, Sport Clips proudly partnered with the VFW to expand the focus of our national "Help A Hero" fundraising campaign to introduce the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program. By providing scholarships for use at post-secondary schools, including trade schools, our goal is to continue our strong support of the military, while making the transition from military ife to the civilian workplace a little easier.

    Help us provide the gift of scholarships to our nation's heroes and reach our fundraising goal of $600,000! Donate to Help A Hero at Sport Clips locations nationwide now through Veterans Day, November 11. And, make your haircut count on Veterans Day, when Sport Clips will donate $1 from every hair care service to the program. To donate online, click here

    Although our scholarship recipients' career aspirations vary, these men and women all share a common desire to make a difference - this time, as civilians - and succeed for themselves, their families, and their country.

    To learn more about the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program, including details on eligibility, click here


    In addition to supporting Help A Hero, many Sport Clips locations will offer free haircuts to active-duty U.S. service members and veterans on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11, 2014, with valid proof of service. For a list of participating stores, cliick here. Please contact your local Sport Clips for more information.





    Posted at 09:41 am by thecommonills
     

    OBAMA PLEDGED GOVERNMENT "TRANSPARENCY" BUT THREATENS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS By Sherwood Ross

    OBAMA PLEDGED GOVERNMENT "TRANSPARENCY" BUT THREATENS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS By Sherwood Ross









    OBAMA PLEDGED GOVERNMENT "TRANSPARENCY"
    BUT THREATENS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS

    By Sherwood Ross


    President Obama, who pledged to run a "transparent" White House, instead is threatening reporters with trial and imprisonment if they don't reveal the identities of officials who leak information about government wrongdoing. 


    "I've felt the chill first-hand," Pulitzer Prize-winner David Barstow of The New York Times says. "Trusted sources in Washington are scared to talk by telephone, or by email, or even to meet for coffee, regardless whether the subject touches on national security or not."


    He told "The Nation" (Oct. 27, 2014) magazine that the "vindictive" efforts of the Bush and Obama regimes, by trying to force New York Times reporter Jim Risen into betraying his sources, "has already done substantial and lasting damage to journalism in the United States."


    Not only is Obama out to punish reporters for writing up his regime's failures but he is threatening any Federal employees who talk to the press with termination or worse. Sally Buzbee, the AP's Washington Bureau Chief, said Transportation Department (DOT) employees are telling her reporters they will be fired "if they're caught talking" to AP. Recently, Obama's snoopers illegally tapped the phones of AP reporters.


    Obama has also created the "Insider Threat" program, which The Nation co-authors Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler write is "insidious" as it "pressures federal workers to monitor and report fellow employees suspected of ideological or attitudinal deviance." Not surprisingly, The Nation reports, "An atmosphere of fear has intensified inside government." Their magazine article is titled, "The Government's War on Whistleblowers."


    The lightning rod of the regime's wrath is Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who revealed the vast scope of illegal secret domestic eavesdropping in his 2006 book "State of War." A New York Times reporter who had covered the CIA, the Agency might just be angry at him for exposing its flawed intelligence work when it slipped nuclear documents to Iran it hoped would screw up their alleged nuclear ops.


    What's more, on July 6, 2004, Risen's NYT article, "CIA Held Back Iraqi Arms Data," showed the CIA likely had the data to show Saddam Hussein's regime no longer had any plans to develop WMDs. "But the CIA kept mum about those findings, even as the Bush White House continued to proclaim that invading Iraq was necessary due to its purported WMD's."


    "All too frequently, the government claims that publication of certain information will harm national security, when in reality, the government's real concern is about covering up its own wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment," Risen told The Nation. Risen currently is under subpoena and faces possible jail time for his courageous reporting. Another Obama target was John Kiriakou, a CIA analyst and case officer.  His crime, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, was to blow the whistle on secret CIA torture. A true pro-democracy president would have given him a medal. Instead, Kiriakou got 30 months.


    "To date," the magazine said, "The Obama administration has charged nine people with violating the 97-year-old Espionage Act---far more than all other administrations combined." As Barstow of the Times observed, "My fellow investigative reporters commiserate about how we're being forced to act like drug dealers, taking extreme precautions to avoid leaving any digital bread crumbs about where we've been and who we've met."


    Some people, Risen says, “don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”


    While the views of reporters may be subjective, considering they are being harassed and threatened, the results of an objective global survey by Reporters Without Borders also finds Obama grossly deficient.  Under Mr. Obama, press freedom in America this year plunged to an unenviable 46th in the world from 32nd. Some 180 countries were measured on how free reporters are to report.


    Yet another blast against Obama's handling of the press comes from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Rather than improving transparency, Obama's waged an unprecedented fight to contain leaks and control his administration's image, CPJ found


    Overall,the press record of Obama's presidency doesn't resemble transparency as much as tyranny. #


    (Sherwood Ross formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News, wire services, and holds an award for his civil rights coverage. To contribute to his Anti-War News Service, which depends on publishers and public support, reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com)







    Posted at 09:38 am by thecommonills
     

    AP's addiction to propaganda

    AP's addiction to propaganda

    The Associated Press was specifically targeted by the current administration.  For those who've forgotten, let's drop back to the May 13, 2013 snapshot:



    The so-called 'war on terror' wounds another democratic institution.   Mark Sherman (AP) reports that his news organization's phone records for April and May 2012 were seized by the US Justice Dept.  Sherman quotes a statement from Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt: 

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

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

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




    Of course, attacks on press freedoms are encouraged by the press itself when they refuse to use their power appropriately and, instead, whore it out.

    Case in point, the AP's nonsense today about the 'new life' in the Iraqi military.


    Is there new life?

    Why, yes, according to a group of people AP speaks to like this one:

    "We've seen them start to act like an army," one official said Thursday in a lengthy exchange with a group of Washington reporters who were invited to U.S. Central Command headquarters for the command's most extensive briefings on operations in Iraq and Syria.


    Nothing says 'trust me' quite as much as a US official making claims but refusing to be quoted by name.

    None have names, AP explains, because "The officials, who were not authorized to be quoted by name in discussing details of the U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Syria, made it clear that no large Iraqi counteroffensive was imminent or even feasible for the time being."

    They're lying.  That's why they're not quoted by name.

    This isn't news, it's propaganda and AP willingly goes along.

    There is no need to hide these officials.  They're spinning and lying on behalf of the administration.  They're not whistle blowers, they're just flunkies.

    There's also no need to treat claims as reality.

    Phil Stewart (Reuters) was at the same press junket but his report emphasizes the months and months the same unnamed officials insisted it would take for Iraqi forces to stand up.

    The claims AP treats as facts are ridiculous and they're also refuted by events this week.  From yesterday's snapshot:



    Leaving what's around the corner to take a look at what's on the road now, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) notes, "The Pentagon says Iraq's new defense minister says his troops will go on the offensive against Islamic State militants who have taken over large sections of the country."

    They'll go on the offensive, will they?


    Anytime soon?

    Sunday, World Bulletin noted the Iraqi military's efforts to retake Baiji ended when a bomb blew up "an armored vehicle" killing 4 Iraqi soldiers and leaving seven more injured.  The military insists the vehicle blown up was driven by a member of the Islamic State and that the military mistook it for one of their own vehicles and, most importantly, they'll try again to retake Baiji.  Real soon.  But still not yet, not as of today.

    And today Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report that the Islamic State seized Zauiyat albu Nimr Village in Anbar Province and that, during the battle, the Iraqi military began escaping via a helicopter.

    They're going on the offensive when?

    Do they understand what "offensive" means?




    It's really hard to defend a victim who not only refuses to defend his or herself but who also keeps taking the abuse.

    The American people have repeatedly stood up for the press throughout the country's history.  It's a shame that the press itself has had far less backbone and far less dedication.

    After their initial role in selling the ongoing and illegal war, you'd think, if nothing else, guilt and shame would prevent them from continuing to churn out propaganda.


    The following community sites -- plus Susan's On the Edge and Antiwar.com -- updated:










  •  


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


    iraq










    Posted at 08:59 am by thecommonills
     

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot


    Thursday, October 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government and the Turkish government clash, Mount Sinjar is not a White House success, and much more.






    Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the President of Turkey and he's in the news cycle.  Hugh Naylor and Brian Murphy (Washington Post) report, "Turkey’s president sharpened criticism of U.S. airdrops to aid Syrian Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State, but promised on Thursday that Kurdish reinforcements would soon arrive in the embattled border town of Kobane. [. . .] Erdogan also amplified his criticism of U.S. airdrops to help the Syrian Kurdish fighters, claiming it was blatant interference in Turkish affairs."

    In what may have been a retaliation for criticizing the White House publicly,  David Cohen went on the attack against Turkey today.  James Reinl (Rudaw) reports Treasury Undersecretary Cohen declared today that US sanctions will be slapped on Turkey and any "Kudrish middlemen" caught trafficking in 'terrorist' oil.  Cohen stated, "Last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey.  It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey."

    Cohen made his remarks/allegations/threats while speaking at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace.  In his remarks, he also outlined how the US government believes the Islamic State makes money:


    Before turning to the specific steps we are taking, let me take a moment to detail these sources of revenue.
     
    First, ISIL has raised a significant amount of its money – many millions of dollars – from selling oil it extracts from fields in Syria and Iraq. 
     
    Our best understanding is that ISIL has tapped into a long-standing and deeply rooted black market connecting traders in and around the area. After extracting the oil, ISIL sells it to smugglers who, in turn, transport the oil outside of ISIL’s strongholds.  These smugglers move oil in a variety of ways, from relatively sizeable tankers to smaller containers.
     
    We also understand that ISIL controls oil refineries of various sizes and output capacities, and earns some revenue from the sale of refined petroleum products. 
     
    So who, ultimately, is buying this oil?  According to our information, as of last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey, who then transported the oil to be resold.  It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey.  And in a further indication of the Asad regime’s depravity, it seems the Syrian government has made an arrangement to purchase oil from ISIL. 
     
    It is difficult to get precise revenue estimates on the value to ISIL of these transactions in light of the murky nature of the market, but we estimate that beginning in mid-June, ISIL has earned approximately $1 million a day from oil sales. 
     
    There are good indications, however, that recent coalition military efforts have begun to impair ISIL’s ability to generate revenue from oil smuggling.  Airstrikes on ISIL oil refineries are threatening ISIL’s supply networks and depriving it of fuel to sell or use itself.  Moreover, our partners in the region, including Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government, are committed to preventing ISIL-derived oil from crossing their borders. Last week, the International Energy Agency reported that ISIL’s ability to produce, refine and smuggle oil had been significantly hampered.
     
    Second, ISIL also kidnaps innocent civilians to profit from ransoms paid to obtain their release.
     
    ISIL did not pioneer kidnapping for ransom – it has been around for thousands of years.  And other terrorist organizations, including al Qa’ida’s affiliates in Yemen and north Africa, also rely on ransom payments as a key revenue source.  As I have said before, kidnapping for ransom is one of the most significant terrorist financing threats today.  For ISIL, these ransom payments are irregular, but each one can be a significant boon.  This spring, ISIL released captured journalists and other hostages from several European countries.  In return, according to press reports, ISIL received several multi-million dollar payments.  All in all, ISIL has taken at least $20 million in ransoms this year. 
     
    Third, like its predecessor, al Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), ISIL raises money – up to several million dollars per month – through a sophisticated extortion racket.  In Iraq and Syria, ISIL extracts payments from those who pass through, conduct business in, or simply seek to live in the territory where it operates. 
     
    In the Iraqi city of Mosul, for instance, accounts have surfaced of ISIL terrorists going home-to-home, business-to-business, demanding cash at gunpoint.  A grocery store owner who refused to pay was warned with a bomb outside his shop.  Others who have not paid have seen their relatives kidnapped.  Religious minorities have been forced to pay special tributes.  We’ve also seen reports that when customers make cash withdrawals from local banks where ISIL operates, ISIL has demanded as much as ten percent of the value. 
     
    Make no mistake: This is not taxation in return for services or even for real protection.  It is theft, pure and simple.  The money ISIL pilfers is being exchanged not for a guarantee of safety but for the temporary absence of harm.
     
    Fourth, ISIL also profits from a range of other criminal activities.  They rob banks.  They lay waste to thousands of years of civilization in Iraq and Syria by looting and selling antiquities.  They steal livestock and crops from farmers.  And despicably, they sell abducted girls and women as sex slaves. 
     

    Finally, as I mentioned earlier, ISIL derives some funding from wealthy donors.  Even though ISIL currently does not rely heavily on external donor networks, it maintains important links to financiers in the Gulf, as a spate of Treasury designations last month made clear. 


    Cohen's accusations against Turkey don't detract from what Erdogan stated today.  On that, Anatoul Agency adds:


    Turkey criticized the U.S. for its military aid to the outlawed Kurdish Democratic Union Party on Monday, saying that would mean arming "terrorists," Erdogan recalled at the press conference.
    "Why is Kobani so important? Where were the rest of the world while Daraa, Idlib, Hama or Homs was burning?" Erdogan asked.
    "There are no civilians left in Kobani, only about 2,000 PYD fighters," he added, using an abbreviation for the Kurdish party. 
    The Kurdish Democratic Union Party is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long separatist fight with the Turkish army. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.


    For Turkey, the Kurdish question has long been an issue.

    Internally, Turkey has a long history of suppressing Kurds and while Erdogen has made overtures in recent years, the oppression continues.

    Along with overtures to Kurds in Turkey -- many of whom want their own country, Erdogen has also, with Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani, formed a working partnership with the KRG.

    The KRG is the closest thing Kurds around the world have to their own country.  The KRG is a group of provinces in northern Iraq which border Turkey.  Many Kurds in Iraq would prefer that the semi-autonomous KRG become fully autonomous.

    For years, this has been a fear -- a big one -- for the Turkish government which has worried that should the KRG become fully autonomous it would lead the Kurds in Turkey to strengthen their demands for autonomy.

    On the Turkish government, Con Coughlin (Telegraph of London) explains:


    The Turks’ reluctance to get behind the military effort against IS is based on two concerns, both of which put Ankara fundamentally at odds with the objectives of its Nato partners. The first is Turkey’s aim in Syria’s brutal civil war to see Assad overthrown and replaced by an Islamic government with a similar outlook to that of its own President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Until last year this was not a problem, as Britain and America and Ankara shared a common goal regarding Assad. But the West’s priorities have changed dramatically since the heady days of late August 2013 when President Obama and David Cameron made their ill-fated attempt to garner support for air strikes against Damascus.
    These days, the West’s priority is to defeat the Islamist militants who oppose the Assad regime. Claims that the Turks are actively supporting IS fighters with arms and training indicates that there now exists a sharp divergence between Turkey’s priorities in the conflict and those of the western powers.
    The plight of the Kurds is the other bone of contention between Turkey and Nato. Denying Kurdish aspirations for full independence is hard-wired into the DNA of Ankara’s political establishment, to the extent that the Turks, as shown in Kobane, would prefer to see a town overrun by IS rather than have the Kurds prevail.


    While obstacles remain there, the US Defense Dept wants everyone to know they are shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraq.  Via spokesperson Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon released the following today:


    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke via telephone with the Iraqi Minister of Defense Khaled al Obeidi today. Secretary Hagel congratulated the newly-appointed Defense Minister and underscored his support for the Minister's counterterrorism pursuits.
    Secretary Hagel emphasized the importance of rebuilding the Iraqi Security Forces in a way that engenders trust and confidence among the armed forces personnel and the Iraqi people.
    The two talked about ways to train, equip and prepare the Iraqi Security forces for upcoming offensives against ISIL and Minister Obeidi expressed his appreciation for U.S. advisors and airstrikes. Both Secretary Hagel and Minister Obeidi promised to continue to work closely together to pursue mutual security objectives.






    As Barack Obama's nonplan continues in Iraq, there are whispers of another plan (a post-mid-term election one).   Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported yesterday that the White House thinks it has another 'plan' for addressing the Islamic State in Iraq.  This one would be termed a "battle plan" and a sure sign of its weakness can be found in the belief that it will take place "gradually."  DeYoung explains:


    The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces­ do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.

    It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Obama has said repeatedly that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.

    You can be sure that the "may"s will disappear after the start of the next month when Barack will no longer have to worry about the immediate voter fallout.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) offers:

    And, as for Obama’s promise about no “ground forces,” this term is used in a manner that does not apply to special operations troops, advisers and other smaller units, but rather to the deployment of full combat brigades.
    The announcement that the topic was discussed by US and Iraqi officials almost certainly indicates that preparations are being made to substantially increase the number of US military personnel deployed in Iraq, which, according to official figures, now stands at over 1,400.



    Leaving what's around the corner to take a look at what's on the road now, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) notes, "The Pentagon says Iraq's new defense minister says his troops will go on the offensive against Islamic State militants who have taken over large sections of the country."

    They'll go on the offensive, will they?


    Anytime soon?

    Sunday, World Bulletin noted the Iraqi military's efforts to retake Baiji ended when a bomb blew up "an armored vehicle" killing 4 Iraqi soldiers and leaving seven more injured.  The military insists the vehicle blown up was driven by a member of the Islamic State and that the military mistook it for one of their own vehicles and, most importantly, they'll try again to retake Baiji.  Real soon.  But still not yet, not as of today.

    And today Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report that the Islamic State seized Zauiyat albu Nimr Village in Anbar Province and that, during the battle, the Iraqi military began escaping via a helicopter.

    They're going on the offensive when?

    Do they understand what "offensive" means?


    They just might be as confused as Valerie Jarrett who, two Sundays ago on NBC's Meet The Press, declared Mount Sinjar to be an important "success." Today,  Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) also report, "U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on IS in Iraq in August, citing the duty to prevent an impending genocide of minority Yazidis at the hands of the jihadist insurgents who attacked them around Sinjar Mountain."


    Air strikes on Mount Sinjar.  Just like the latest wave started August 8th.

    What's really changed since then?

    Nothing.

    And I keep waiting for US Senator John McCain to haul out his whack-a-mole talk from the previous administration and point out that any minor victory in X leads to a loss in Y.


    Mount Sinjar came up in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by Jen Psaki:



    QUESTION: Can you confirm reports or do you have any comment on the fact that Yezidis are once again trapped on Mount Sinjar and requesting help, expecting an assault again by ISIS fighters?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, as you know, we had taken recent action, relatively recently I should say, over the course of the summer. I don’t have anything new to predict for you. We remain committed to addressing humanitarian crises as we see them and to continuing to assist those who are impacted by the threat of ISIL. But operationally, I would point you to DOD to see if there’s anything they would want to preview about anything they’re planning.

    QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, the Administration has said repeatedly that, for example, Kobani in a city of itself doesn’t have a lot of strategic import in the overall fight. I’m wondering if you have any idea what ISIS’s – what their aim is in trying to get Sinjar. Why? Do you have any idea why Sinjar is such a prize? They keep going back to it, so --

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think – I know this is not what you asked, but even on Kobani I can’t tell you why – we can’t tell you why, aside from their desire to have a propaganda victory, that they are focusing there either. The reason --

    QUESTION: Well, the border. They could control the border there.

    MS. PSAKI: But in terms of their focus on Sinjar, I don’t know that I have analysis on why strategically ISIL is going after it more.

    QUESTION: But the reason that you undertook the action in the first place is because you thought that ISIS was trying to launch a genocide against the Yezidis.

    MS. PSAKI: Right. That’s right.

    QUESTION: So aren’t you still concerned about that?


    MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly remain concerned about any group that’s threatened by ISIL, and we’ve taken action in the past. I have nothing to preview for you in terms of future operations, as would be typically the case.





    Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report, "U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on IS in Iraq in August, citing the duty to prevent an impending genocide of minority Yazidis at the hands of the jihadist insurgents who attacked them around Sinjar Mountain."  But AFP reports, "Islamic State group jihadists besieging Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq have killed a commander of forces from the Yazidi religious minority defending the area, a fighter said yesterday. The commander, Al Sheikh Khayri, had returned from Germany, which has large Yazidi community, to fight, and was killed on Wednesday night, Khalaf Mamu said by telephone."


    And the Yazidis are only one group targeted.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweets:


  • " data-has-cards="true" data-item-id="525448570519158784" data-name="Missy Ryan" data-screen-name="missy_ryan" data-tweet-id="525448570519158784" data-user-id="31173062" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">

  • " data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="525444526966837248" data-name="Kenneth Roth" data-screen-name="KenRoth" data-tweet-id="525444526966837248" data-user-id="17839398" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    US & support for Sunni tribe trying to resist turns out to have been non-existent.

    Lastly, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following yesterday:


    CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org

    New York, NY (October 22, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today announced director, producer, actor and writer Peter Berg – who recently wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated, blockbuster hit, “Lone Survivor” – will join the organizations’ Board of Directors this fall. 
    Director Pete BergBerg, a loyal veteran advocate and son of a Marine, received IAVA’s 2014 Leadership in Entertainment Award this past May at the Heroes Celebration in Los Angeles, CA. 
    “IAVA is honored to have Pete Berg join our board and lead the effort to support and empower the New Greatest Generation of veterans,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “In 2014 and beyond, we look forward to working with Pete in fighting for critical veterans issues. “Lone Survivor’s” success elevated a national conversation on the sacrifices of our veterans and servicemembers over the past 13 years.  As the son of a Marine, Pete is a staunch supporter of post-9/11 veterans and the military community. In the past few months he has met with IAVA members and veterans in both New York and Los Angeles. We are excited to bring him on board as we begin to celebrate our 10th anniversary and prep for Veterans Day 2014.”
    In addition to “Lone Survivor,” Berg is also known for his fierce portrait of high school football in the 2004 film adaptation of Buzz Bissinger’s bestseller, “Friday Night Lights.” The film's success, both in theaters and on DVD, spawned the acclaimed TV series of the same name, which aired for five seasons and garnered multiple Emmy nominations and wins. In addition to serving as the series' executive producer, Berg also directed several episodes of the show, including the 2006 pilot, for which he earned an Emmy nomination as Best Director. As one of the series' writers, he also shared a Writers Guild nomination for Best New Series.
    As an actor, Berg's recent film work includes roles in “Lions for Lambs,” “Smokin' Aces,” and "Collateral.”
    In addition to directing the 2012 film "Battleship," the New York native (and son of a Naval historian) also develops projects under his Film 44 banner. Berg has also directed “Hancock” and “The Kingdom,” among other feature films. Most recently, Berg was an executive producer and directed several episodes of the HBO series "The Leftovers," starring Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler.
    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership. 
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.
















    Posted at 09:34 pm by thecommonills
     

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, Blackwater employees get convicted, Iraqi Christians remain targeted, 'trend stories' continue, Iraqi Christians remain targeted, and more.



    Blackwater is in the news again today and it's due to the infamous September 16, 2007 attack in September 16, 2007.  From the September 17, 2010 snapshot:


    Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory."  


    Blackwater was a US-based company run by Erik Prince which employed people as mercenaries.  They were sent around the world and within the United States.  But their actions in Iraq garnered the most attention.

    The fallout from the September 2007 assault was so bad that Blackwater began a series of name changes. 

    Today, the four Blackwater employees were convicted in a federal court.  Michael Winter (USA Today) reports, "Nicholas Slatten, who fired the first shots in crowded Nisoor Square, was found guilty of first-degree murder. The three other guards -- Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard -- were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations."  Eliott C. McLaughlin (CNN) notes, "Among those killed were a doctor, a used car salesman, a truck driver, a businessman, an Iraqi soldier, a gardener, a taxi driver and an aspiring doctor taking his mother to an appointment, according to prosecutors."

    Dow Jones explains, "Mr. Slatten faces a life sentence for the murder charge while the three defendants convicted on manslaughter charges could face at least three decades in prison. The four defendants were largely motionless as the charges were read. Lawyers for Messrs. Heard and Liberty said they plan to appeal." AP adds, "One of the government witnesses in the case, Blackwater guard Jeremy Ridgeway, had pleaded guilty to killing the driver's mother, who died in the passenger seat of the white Kia next to her son."
     

    The verdict came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.


    QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq --


    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- and the last war? Four former workers for Blackwater were --


    MS. HARF: Yes.


    QUESTION: -- convicted today, three of manslaughter, one of murder. What message does this send to those in Iraq, those across the greater Middle East, about the U.S. being able to hold people accountable for their bad behavior overseas?


    MS. HARF: Well, we certainly respect the court’s decision in this case. And as you all probably know, but following the tragedy there, the Department took a number of steps to strengthen oversight of private security contractors, such as moving quickly to improve investigative policies and strengthening procedures for use of force and less-than-lethal force by security contractors. So again, aren’t going to have more comment on the court’s decision other than we respect it.


    QUESTION: But in terms of the U.S.’s reputation, obviously, Nisour Square was a huge hit for the U.S.’s reputation. Is this verdict something that this building can point to when engaging with other countries on – look, if people do something wrong, they can and will be held accountable?


    MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think the verdict per se, but the process and the judicial process we have in this country that we believe gives everyone access to a fair trial; they are innocent until proven guilty. And without speaking to the specific outcome in this trial, I do think that that is a very important tenet of what we do here.


    QUESTION: Has anyone from this building spoken to anyone in the Iraqi Government about the verdict?


    MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check.


    QUESTION: In the aftermath of that attack, the Iraqi parliament passed laws that limited the number of foreign PSDs that were allowed in Iraq and limited their weapons access, permits, all of that. Now that this verdict has come back, do you envision a scenario where the State Department could ask the Government of Iraq to loosen some of those restrictions?


    MS. HARF: I can check, but obviously, it’s a very, very different situation today.


    QUESTION: It is, but I mean, there are still all sorts of NGOs, journalists who need PSDs and weapons --


    MS. HARF: Let me check.


     There was enough to convict without using questionable evidence.  Questionable evidence leads to rulings.  On appeal, any charge could be struck down.  Hopefully, the prosecution didn't cut corners or else the justice many feel was handed out today could be at risk of being pulled away.

    It should also be noted that the four weren't rogue.

    They were acting in a manner Blackwater encouraged, in a matter the US government encouraged.  

    This is not to say the four are innocent or that they should have walked.

    This is to note that the guilt didn't stop with the four convicted today.

    Mark Ruffalo Tweeted:


  • " data-has-cards="true" data-item-id="525133770232324096" data-name="Mark Ruffalo" data-screen-name="MarkRuffalo" data-tweet-id="525133770232324096" data-user-id="47285504" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in 2007 Iraq Killings Erik Prince should have probably been on trial as well.


    It should also be pointed out that the government official being 'protected' in the attack remains a mystery.  

    His or her name or names should have been revealed long ago.


    And trend stories should have died long ago.  

    The media loves them -- loves them enough to create them.  

    Susan Faludi documents this very well in the journalistic classic Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.  

    One of the most famous examples in the book is Faludi taking on Newseek's 'trend story' about how women of a certain age were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married. The 'support' for that story? It was a comment a reporter made and that was enough to kick off a trend story -- a lie spread around the world.


    Faludi notes:


    The trend story, which may go down as late-20th-century journalism's prime contribution to the craft, professes to offer "news" of changing mores, yet prescribes more than it observes.  Claiming to mirror public sentiment, its reflections of the human landscapes are strangely depopulated.  Pretending to take the public's pulse, it monitors only its own heartbeat -- and its advertisers'. 
    Trend journalism attains authority not through actual reporting but through the power of repetition.  Said enough times, anything can be made to seem true.  A trend declared in one publication sets off a chain reaction, as the rest of the media scramble to get the story, too.  The lightning speed at which these messages spread has less to do with the accuracy of the trend than with journalists' propensity to repeat one another.  And repetition became especially hard to avoid in the '80s, as the "independent" press feel into a very few corporate hands.


    Husna Haq is the latest unable to resist the bait of 'ISIS recruits!'  To Haq's credit, there is no nonsense of trying to turn this into a 'young girls are joining IS!' nonsense we've already seen.

    But this paragraph in the Christian Science Monitor article gets at all that is wrong with these 'trend stories:'

    According to CIA estimates, about 2,000 Westerners have traveled to Iraq and Syria (many via Turkey) to join ISIS. Of these, more than 100 have come from the US, at least 500 from the UK, and more than 700 from France, according to estimates from authorities in those countries.


    Oh my goodness!

    100 Americans!

    That's like a tenth of the country!

    Because we only have 1,000 people in the whole country, right?


    No, there are 316.1 million people in the United States.  

    So that's 316,100,000 people and of that huge number 100 have joined the Islamic State.

    Are you getting how useless these stories have been?

    There is no trend story here.

    And with the numbers so small you really could profile everyone in a report.

    But it might not carry the alarm and create the frenzy trend stories live to do.


    Even worse, she and her dopey guests pretended that the Islamic State thickens its media as a result of a social media.

    No.

    They may get a message out via media but what has thickened their membership is attacks on the Sunni population -- in Iraq, where they are the minority, and in Syria, where they are the majority.

    Stop the persecution of the Sunnis and you end the need for anyone to get behind a group that argues it can protect the Sunni population.

    It's an obvious point so many miss.  Take the State Dept's Brett McGurk.





    That's not addressing anything.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth points out:


  • Details
  • " data-item-id="525086458118291458" data-name="Stars and Stripes" data-screen-name="starsandstripes" data-tweet-id="525086458118291458" data-user-id="9130702" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">

  • Details
    " data-item-id="525081585658634240" data-name="Kenneth Roth" data-screen-name="KenRoth" data-tweet-id="525081585658634240" data-user-id="17839398" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    More US military advisers won't help defeat ISIS until Baghdad reins in Shia militia still killing Sunnis.







  • Meanwhile, religious minorities remain under attack in Iraq.




    Crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $1 million for Iraqi Christians
    0 replies 24 retweets 17 favorites



    The crowdfunding campaign will run from Oct. 14-Nov. 24, and can be found on Indiegogo, which is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world. Almost $5,000 of the $1 million goal has been raised so far.

    “We invite all of our brothers and sisters in Christ to join us and contribute, from as little as $10, to the crowdfunding campaign that we have initiated,” stated Eduardo Paz, co-founder of La Filotea Productions.

     
    How bad are things?  Ghassan Rifi (Al-Monitor) speaks with Ghattas Hazim, the Greek Orthodox Bishop for Bahgdad:


    Hazim revealed shocking figures to As-Safir about the Orthodox presence in Iraq. He said only 30 families out of 600 remain in Baghdad; the rest were displaced following the invasion of Kuwait, and there are fewer than 10 families left in Mosul.
    In Iraq’s Basra, all the Orthodox families have been displaced after members of the families were killed or threatened. Indeed, over 90% of the Orthodox Christians in Iraq have been displaced due to the security chaos which has prevailed over the country for the past generation. Hazim hopes that Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, would be a haven for Christians since it looked like a promising region due to the size of the economic and trade investment, and since it “welcomes our sons who move there from all over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” Hazim said.
    “The Orthodox confession is recognized in the Iraqi law and constitution,” Hazim said. “Our situation there is similar to our situation in Lebanon and Syria. We have two churches, a school, which is considered one of the most prominent schools in Baghdad, in addition to a retirement home and an orphanage, a center for sports, cultural and educational activities.”
     

    Iraq's Christians are targeted from all over -- including from within their own ranks.  Roxana Popescu (San Diego Union Tribune) reports:

    San Diego Chaldeans are pushing back against the suspension of a local priest by Chaldean patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako in Baghdad. The priest, Noel Gorgis, was reprimanded for not returning to Iraq as commanded by the patriarch, months after the majority of Iraq’s Christians fled because of the brutal religious persecution they faced by terror group Islamic State.
    The patriarch reminded the priests and monks in his decree of their vow of “obedience to the superiors” without reservations.


    And it's not just one priest.  Megan Burks (KPBS) reports:

    Just 14 priests serve the tens of thousands of Chaldean Catholics who have emigrated from Iraq to the Western United States. A church leader in Iraq has suspended seven of those priests, including the Rev. Noel Gorgis in El Cajon.
    Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the church, wants the Iraqi-American priests who fled violence in Iraq to return home or leave the church.
    San Diego County Chaldeans oppose that and say they will appeal to the Vatican to stop it..


    Finally, the Ashraf community in Iraq remains targeted.  The Iranian dissidents take their name from Camp Ashraf which was their home for many years.  They were forced to resettle at Camp Liberty.  Today, US Senator John McCain's office issued the following:


    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to raise concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty, whose lives are increasingly at risk as the security situation in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate.


    “I am writing you to follow-up on the response I received in August to my previous letter concerning the ongoing refugee resettlement process and to discuss my continuing concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty,” writes Senator John McCain. “As you are aware, due to the increasingly dangerous threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the resettlement process has stalled, and many fear that the people at Camp Liberty could be at grave risk if the security situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate. For this reason, the Administration must move more quickly to find safe, permanent, and secure locations for Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq. I was encouraged to hear about Albania’s willingness to temporarily host some Camp Liberty residents for purposes of identifying individuals for relocation to the United States. But, I fear that this effort is insufficient to adequately safeguard the security of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty. … Again, I urge you to continue to push for the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty and to expedite the refugee resettlement process. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.”


    The signed letter is here and the text of the letter is below.

    October 22, 2014
    The Honorable John Kerry
    Secretary of State
    United States Department of State
    2201 C Street N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    Dear Secretary Kerry,
    I am writing you to follow-up on the response I received in August to my previous letter concerning the ongoing refugee resettlement process and to discuss my continuing concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty.
    As you are aware, due to the increasingly dangerous threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the resettlement process has stalled, and many fear that the people at Camp Liberty could be at grave risk if the security situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate. For this reason, the Administration must move more quickly to find safe, permanent, and secure locations for Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq. I was encouraged to hear about Albania’s willingness to temporarily host some Camp Liberty residents for purposes of identifying individuals for relocation to the United States.  But, I fear that this effort is insufficient to adequately safeguard the security of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty.
    Given deteriorating conditions in Iraq, I believe our current efforts should focus on the 2,700 residents whose lives are at stake in Camp Liberty. Some recent events call into question the Iraqi government’s commitment to uphold its agreements to ensure the safety and well-being of these residents. In August 2014, the National Council of the Resistance of Iran accused the Iraqi government of blocking deliveries of food, fuel, and water to the Camp and making it difficult for residents to seek medical assistance.  And according to statement made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Iraqi Minister of Justice stated that if Iran asked for the extradition of the residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq would deliver them.  As you know, transfer to Iran could amount to a death sentence for these committed opponents of the tyrannical regime in Tehran, which has repeatedly attacked and murdered them inside of Iraq, as recently as last year. This is especially troubling in light of the appointment of Interior Minister Mohamed al-Ghabban, who has ties with Shiite militia groups that are openly hostile to residents of Camp Liberty and loyal to Iran.
    Clearly, actions need to be taken to ensure the continued safety of the residents of Camp Liberty. With this in mind, I appreciate your responding promptly to the following questions:
    1.         The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and U.S. Embassy Baghdad staff have resumed their visits to Camp Liberty. Since they have resumed their visits, has there been any concern about the living conditions at Camp Liberty?  Please explain your answer.
    2.         Has the Administration investigated allegations that the Iraqi government has placed harmful restrictions on Camp Liberty and is denying its residents food, water, and medical aid?  If so, please explain the Administration’s findings.  If not, why not?
    3.         If the violence in Iraq continues to escalate, what further actions will be taken to ensure the safety of the residents?
    4.         What actions are being taken to ensure that the residents will continue to have access to food, water, and the basic necessities?
    5.         What is the current status of the refugee resettlement process for the residents of Camp Liberty and when will it be completed?
    6.         Does the Administration require renunciation of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) as a pre-condition before an individual may be considered for resettlement in the United States?
    7.         What is the status of U.S. efforts to settle some of the Camp Liberty residents in the United States?
    Again, I urge you to continue to push for the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty and to expedite the refugee resettlement process. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.
    Sincerely,
    John McCain
    United States Senator
    ###





    iraq

     pbs
    the newshour
    margaret warner

     

    Posted at 09:47 pm by thecommonills
     

    The long goodbye

    The long goodbye

    Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports the White House thinks it has another 'plan' for addressing the Islamic State in Iraq.  This one would be termed a "battle plan" and a sure sign of its weakness can be found in the belief that it will take place "gradually."

    DeYoung write:


    The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces­ do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.

    It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Obama has said repeatedly that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.

    You can be sure that the "may"s will disappear after the start of the next month when Barack will no longer have to worry about the immediate voter fallout.

    As for letting Iraqis suffer for months while the Iraqi military tries to learn to stand and take baby steps?  Shashank Joshi (Gulf News) reminds everyone of the current state of the Iraqi forces:


     However, those local forces were, and remain, so inept, so weak and so demoralised that this was always going to be a Herculean task. In June, four entire divisions of the Iraqi army disintegrated in the face of the Daesh advance, despite the militants’ relatively feeble numbers. A team of US advisers concluded that just half of Iraq’s 50 brigades were “reputable partners”.

    Apparently, when Barack was talking about this being a long operations, the biggest time extender was the time needed to (once again) train the Iraqi forces.

    (Title of entry a nod to the Robert Altman film classic.)

    The following community sites -- plus Black Agenda Report -- updated:









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







    Posted at 01:11 pm by thecommonills
     


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