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The Common Ills


Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 2, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, cowardice continues (Barack's being tricked into doing bad things -- just like Ross on Friends!), bad things including sending more US troops into Iraq, Amnesty International thinks peace is achieved by being one-sided and silent when governments do wrong, Tony Blair wins an award, and much more (much worse?).


We spoke to one professor's three classes today and, after the second one, he asked, "Does this make you feel better or worse?"

He handed me a print out of Tom Engelhardt's "The Escalation Follies."  And the answer?

I'm so sick of this nonsense.

TE writes:

ISIS's urge was undoubtedly to bait the Obama administration into a significant intervention. And in that, it may prove successful. We are now, after all, watching a familiar version of the escalation follies at work in Washington. Obama and his top officials are clearly on the up escalator. In the Oval Office is a visibly reluctant president, who undoubtedly desires neither to intervene in a major way in Iraq (from which he proudly withdrew American troops in 2011 with their "heads held high"), nor in Syria (a place where he avoided sending in the bombers and missiles back in 2013).


Astounding.  If only we had thought to write about that!  Oh, wait, we did.  Some time ago.  Again, welcome to the party, food's all gone but if you ask my housekeeper she might be able to scare you up a sandwich.

The slow to the table nature wouldn't bother me if there was something of value.  Although I was the one who took all the flack for calling out the nonsense of 'The Baghdad Embassy would be flooded! We must bomb in Mosul to save the Embassy from flooding!'  I called it out the minute two friends (engineers) explained to me how the distance, the heat, the state of the ground, et al made Barack's claim impossible.  It was a lie (TE calls it "a lame cover story" -- oh, the bravery of the spineless).  Long after I took the heat for calling a lie what it was (a lie), TE shows up to offer "lame cover story."


But I could get over it gladly were it not for crap like this:

Five and a half years later, the president is once again under pressure and being criticized by assorted neocons, McCainites, and this time, it seems, the military high command evidently eager to be set loose yet one more time to take out barbarism globally—that is, to up the ante on a losing hand. As in 2009, so today, he's slowly but surely giving ground. By now, the process of "mission creep"—a term strongly rejected by the Obama administration—is well underway. 

Shorter Tom: "Mr. and Mrs. Obama, Barack Junior really wanted to go to the bathroom but we were in a hurry so he wet his pants."

That's really what he's saying: Barack is immature and not responsible for his own actions.

In my harshest criticism of Barack, I've never robbed him of his agency.  Maybe because I grasp that would be racism?

(It would be.)

Or maybe because as a feminist I realize the first step in stripping someone of power is arguing that they don't have any?

(Also true.)

Barack will do whatever he wants to do.

A large number of Americans favor single-payer, universal health care similar to what they have in Canada and other countries dubbed "first world countries."  (Iraq has this sort of health care, by the way.)  But that didn't force Barack into pushing that through Congress.  No, Americans were made prisoners of insurance companies -- sheer coincidence, you understand, that the insurance lobby had been big donors to his 2008 campaign.

Time and again, Barack does what he wants -- which is generally move further to the right.

So stop typing up your sexual fantasies of the maiden Barack spirited out the window of his bedroom, tossed over the shoulder of some kissy-faced brute.

They're insulting.  

Barack does what he wants to do.

TE and others repeatedly offer excuses not to be mad at Barack.  A flat out lie becomes "a lame cover story" and Barack's actions of war are things he really, cross TE's heart, didn't want to do.  So don't feel outrage, don't wonder if you should be in the streets.  

Barack is really, really like torn and stuff, he's like really, really not wanting to do this.  So, you feel me, cut him some slack.  Being president is like a really tough job and stuff.


Digging ditches is a tough job.  Scrubbing toilets is a tough job.  Raising kids is a tough job.

Giving four years of your life so you get pension and health care and you and your family get bodyguards for life?  So your wife gets her own pension because you were president?  

These and so many other perks don't go to ditch diggers.  Or maids.  Or stay-at-home parents, day care workers, nannies, etc. 

In addition to the fact that the job should be one of the greatest professional honors any American citizen could have.

So let's all stop supplicating and whining about 'poor Barack.'

He does what he wants to do.

So today what he wants to do is send more US troops into Iraq.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued the following statement tonight:

Today, the President authorized the Department of Defense to fulfill a Department of State request for approximately 350 additional U.S. military personnel to protect our diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad, Iraq. This action was taken at the recommendation of the Department of Defense after an extensive interagency review, and is part of the President’s commitment to protect our personnel and facilities in Iraq as we continue to support the Government of Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). These additional forces will not serve in a combat role.
The President has made clear his commitment to doing whatever is required to provide the necessary security for U.S. personnel and facilities around the world. The request he approved today will allow some previously deployed military personnel to depart Iraq, while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and facilities in Baghdad.
In addition to our efforts to protect our personnel, we will continue to support the Government of Iraq’s efforts to counter ISIL, which poses a threat not only to Iraq, but to the broader Middle East and U.S. personnel and interests in the region. The President will be consulting this week with NATO allies regarding additional actions to take against ISIL and to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners in the fight against ISIL. As part of this effort, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Hagel, and President Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, will be traveling separately to the region in the near-term to build a stronger regional partnership.


  Chelsea J. Carter and Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) report, "The new troops will bring the number of American troops in Iraq to well over 1,000, with most serving either as diplomatic security or military advisers to Iraq's security forces."  Jamie Dupree (WSB Radio, Cox Media Group) adds, "The extra 350 military personnel would bring the total of American servicemembers in Iraq to around 1,300, acting in roles as military advisers or for protection of U.S. diplomats inside Iraq."  Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) offers, "Intentionally or not, Obama has effectively responded to Isis by signaling an intensification of the latest US war in Iraq. Obama has now launched 124 airstrikes against Isis since 8 August, while swearing not to introduce 'combat boots on the ground'."



For all the claims by the government -- repeated so often by the press -- that US troops are not in combat in Iraq, do you believe it?

If so, maybe you shouldn't.  Ford Sypher (Daily Beast) reports:

The role of American Special Operations Forces in Iraq has remained hidden even while the U.S. air war expands. As momentum against ISIS picks up, they may be emerging from the shadows. In a pitched battle on Monday, Kurdish Peshmerga, backed by American airpower and what appeared to be U.S. troops, struck at ISIS positions in the strategic crossroads of Zumar.
Scenes from Monday’s battle provide a tentative but valuable glimpse into the evolving role of special operations troops and how that might be playing out on the ground in Iraq.




The announcement comes as  Steven Sotloff has become the second American journalist killed by the Islamic State (James Foley was the first).  Sotoloff came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki:



MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s a lot of humor --

QUESTION: Both?

MS. PSAKI: -- happening in the front of the room today. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: No --


MS. PSAKI: I think you can interview them – no, just kidding. Don’t worry. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Unfortunately – yeah --


MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Matt.


QUESTION: Unfortunately not a lot of humor right now. Have you seen this purported video of the beheading of Steven Sotloff?


MS. PSAKI: Well, we --

QUESTION: And if you have, are you in any position to confirm it?


MS. PSAKI: Let me share with you everything I can at this point in time. We’ve seen reports of a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff by ISIL. The intelligence community will work as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act taking the life of another innocent American citizen. Our hearts go out to the Sotloff family and we will provide more information as it becomes available.
I don’t have additional information at this point, but go ahead.


QUESTION: Well, I don’t – I mean, I don’t want to waste everyone’s time if you don’t – if you really don’t have anything else to say about this.

MS. PSAKI: I really don’t. Should we do just a couple and see --

QUESTION: Sure.


MS. PSAKI: -- if there are other relevant – go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Well, I just wanted to ask you if you’ve determined the number of Americans that might be held by ISIL.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, as you know, we don’t get into specific numbers for the safety and security of individuals. We’ve said a few. That continues to be accurate.

QUESTION: Jen, what is your last information regarding Sotloff? Was he alive as of last week? What was your last information from him?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any other additional information to provide. Certainly understand the interest.
Go ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, you said you’ve seen reports. Does the U.S. Government actually have the video in its possession, or are you just citing media reports?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the video has been out there through many media outlets. That’s what I’m referring to.

QUESTION: Okay. So the authentication process has begun?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is obviously a process that would have to be undergone by our intelligence community. I don’t know if it’s officially started. But obviously, in any case, that would be happening rapidly.

QUESTION: Just one more on the logistic --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you know when you were made aware of this? Was it before this extremist monitoring group put it out, or do you know if the intel community was aware of it before then?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure there’s more I’m going to be able to say, Matt. I’m happy to take it and see if there’s more we can on that front.
Go ahead, James.

QUESTION: All right. I will defer to James.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Does the Obama Administration consider this an act of war?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly – I’m not going to put new labels on it, James. I would say we certainly consider this act, this reported act, the act of the killing of James Foley, as a horrific terrorist act that we certainly have – has helped – has not helped to, I should say – has been one of the motivating factors in the effort to undergo the creation of international coalition to address this threat.

QUESTION: So now we have on the books two American journalists beheaded by this group. Is there any doubt on your part or the part of this Administration that, in fact, the United States is at war with ISIS?


MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I want to be very careful here, just that we have not confirmed through the proper processes. And I just need to restate that as a U.S. – speaking on behalf of the U.S. Government. I know that wasn’t your intention.
I’m not going to, again, put new labels on it. I think it’s clear that we are concerned about the threat of ISIL to Western interests, to interests in the region. That’s why the Secretary, the President, Secretary Hagel are all going to be working every contact they have to continue to build a coalition to address this threat.

QUESTION: Will this event make any difference in our planning vis-a-vis airstrikes against ISIS?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of factors, as you know, that are taken into account, including the interests of the United States. And I’m not going to read out further what the President will be looking at, but certainly, we look at a range of factors as those decisions are made.


QUESTION: I just want to try to address this one more --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- one more way. A lot of Americans sit at home and they see Americans who are not even combatants but who are journalists being beheaded by this group overseas. And from a sort of common sense point of view, the average American will say to himself, “This group is at war with us. Why does our President or our Secretary of State not recognize that and say, ‘Indeed, we are at war with this group and we will destroy them’”?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think first of all, James, our actions speak for our commitment to this. And this President has authorized more than a hundred strikes in Iraq, as has been confirmed by the Department of Defense. There are a range of reasons, but part of it is to take on the threat of ISIL. Part of the reason we are leading the effort – and the United States has done more than any country in the world, whether it’s humanitarian assistance or other military efforts to take on this threat in Iraq.
So I think any American sitting at home should sit and look at the actions that we’re taking. I don’t think it’s a useful exercise to go back and forth about new terms. What’s important is what we’re doing about it, and the President’s authorization, what the Secretary will be doing over the next couple of weeks, is action in that regard.


The conversation continued.  We'll try to note it here in a morning or afternoon entry tomorrow.




The White House announcement of Barack sending more US troops into Iraq also comes, Justin Sink and Amie Parnes (The Hill) report, as Democrats (such as Senator Bill Nelson and Senator Dianne Feinstein) and Republicans (such as House Rep Mike Rogers and House Rep Ed Royce) are calling for attacks on IS. 


War fever, Barack hopes you catch it!

Amnesty has.

Backing up.

On Monday, it was announced that the United Nations were sending investigators into Iraq.

To investigate the atrocities of the last four years?

Nope.

Not too concerned about that.

They're going in for the more recent actions of the Islamic State.

Ian Black (Guardian) reports Iraq's Minister of Human Rights -- yeah, that's good for a chuckle -- Mohammed Shia al-Sudani told the UN Human Rights Council that he sees Islamic State members "oozing with barbarity."  Reuters quotes him calling IS "a terrorist monster" and notes of UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri:


Pansieri raised concerns that Iraqi government forces had also engaged in acts that may amount to war crimes. She said government-allied militias had opened fire on a mosque in Khanaqin district, northeast of Baghdad, killing 73 men and boys. 

Iraqi soldiers had shelled towns and carried out air strikes killing and injuring dozens of civilians, she added. 



But that didn't result in investigators.  Still, it's one more than anything Amnesty International has recognized.

The organization issued a lengthy press release which opens:

Fresh evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that members of the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities. 
A new briefing, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, published today presents a series of hair-raising accounts from survivors of massacres who describe how dozens of men and boys in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq were rounded up by Islamic State fighters, bundled into pick-up trucks and taken to village outskirts to be massacred in groups or shot individually. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and children, along with scores of men, from the Yezidi minority have also been abducted since the Islamic State took control of the area. 
"The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser currently in northern in Iraq. 
“The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non- Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims.” 


When Iraqi troops set Sunnis on fire repeatedly in the last months -- videos have been all over the internet -- no one was too concerned.  Burned alive, no trial, no jury.

And not a peep from Amnesty.

Today, they offered a one-sided alert that, by pure accident I'm sure, just happens to promote war.

Human Rights Watch issued a press release today which included:

New evidence about executions carried out by the Islamic State (IS) in Tikrit after it seized the city in June 2014 triples the estimated death toll and shows additional execution sites, Human Rights Watch said today.

Information from a survivor and analysis of videos and satellite imagery has confirmed the existence of three more mass execution sites, bringing the total to five, and the number of dead to between 560 and 770 men, all or most of them apparently captured Iraqi army soldiers.
“Another piece of this gruesome puzzle has come into place, with many more executions now confirmed,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “The barbarity of the Islamic State violates the law and grossly offends the conscience.”


More space and we'd note HRW in full.  HRW has called out the Islamic State.  It's also called out the Iraqi government (such as in "Iraq: Civilian Toll of Government Airstrikes").  Unlike Amnesty, they haven't been one side, nor have they been frightened to call out a sitting government.


Amnesty?  They're just a dirty joke, aren't they?

Let's stay on the obscenity beat.  The laughable GQ magazine just became more so.  In England, the UK version handed out a ton of awards to men (and one to a reality TV celebrity female) including one to noted War Criminal Tony Blair for 'philanthropist of the year.'  A few onlookers may have been mistaken and thought Tones was accepting on behalf of Augusto Pinochet whose 2006 death prevented from attending.  Rumors abound that congratulatory telegrams flooded in from various noted despots and tyrant such as Manuel Noriega ("This is how we roll, my man!"), Islam Karimov ("Tony, however many you had to kill ahead of you on the list to take home the prize, it was worth it!  And I can get any Uzebekistan court to back me up on that!"), Dick Cheney ("Ain't nobody got waterboarded that didn't already have it coming!") and Nouri al-Maliki ("Tony, let's celebrate this, get together and kill some Sunnis!").  A dejected Amnesty International announced they had planned to name Tony philanthropist of the year but now that GQ had scooped them they'd probably give their award to Billy Joya. 




Posted at 08:37 pm by thecommonills
 

WhistleBlower Apologizes to Andy Wakefield...

WhistleBlower Apologizes to Andy Wakefield...

I do a lot of charity work offline.  Children's issue mainly, conditions and diseases, autism, etc.  On autism, I have friends who believe vaccines are harmful and friends who believe they are not.  I take no position on the issue, I'm not a doctor, but I am supportive of both sides of the argument, feel that a conversation should take place.  This is an autism issue, what follows below, and it's about someone being discredited apparently wrongly -- I'm not familiar with the players or participants -- so we will make time to note it here and include it.  I only found out about the e-mail a few seconds ago or we would have noted it sooner.  If there's anything in it for you -- even curiosity -- take time to stream.  If it doesn't apply to you, ignore it.  I have seen this issue destroy families that work on the issues of funding and research on autism, I'm not interested in an argument so don't e-mail me one.  




WhistleBlower Apologizes to Andy Wakefield...

Interview at 9:00 PM Tonight on Robert Scott Bell Radio Show...



Opinion by Consumer Advocate  Tim Bolen

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Celia Farber, Editor of The Truth Barrier just a few hours ago, released a
breaking news story titled "BREAKING NEWS: CDC WHISTLEBLOWER TEXT MESSAGESTO ANDY WAKEFIELD: STUDY WOULD HAVE  SUPPORTED HIS SCIENTIFIC OPINION."
You can read her shocking story by clicking on the blue article title just
above.  But, before you do that I want to point out that you can hear MUCH
MORE from Celia Farber on Robert Scott Bell's Radio Show at 7:00PM EST
(today).  If you can't listen to the radio broadcast live, then Robert will
have a recording of the interview available on his website front page.  To
listen to the interview live, or the recording, click on the Robert Scott
Bell's Radio Show and then click on the  "Listen" word in the line just
below the page title.

Here is an excerpt from the telephone text to Andy Wakefield, as shown on
Celia's site. It is a conversation between Andy and William Thompson.

Andy - Is the Press Release real?

Bill -  Yes.

Andy - Thank You.  It was the right and honorable thing to do.

Bill - I agree.  I apologize for the price you paid for my dishonesty.

Andy - I forgive you completely and without any bitterness.

Bill-  I know you mean it and I am grateful to know you more personally.


To read the entire article click on:
http://www.bolenreport.com/autism/Whistlblower%20apology%20to%20Wakefield.htm



Tim Bolen
http://www.bolenreport.com





Posted at 08:26 pm by thecommonills
 

The death of Amnesty International?

The death of Amnesty International?

Did Amnesty International die today?

And, if so, will anyone miss it?

I don't think so.

Amnesty started to hold people accountable -- governments and groups.  By the 70s, when it was first showing up on most people's radars (a decade after the organization began) there was a special need for a body who would call out abusive governments, who would shine a light on political prisoners.

That reputation led many to flock to the organization.  Some to help raise awareness and money -- Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, U2, Sting, etc.  Some to try to use the organization -- which was always up to be used and co-opted -- to improve their own image (see Nike for one example).

Today, Amnesty International is in the news.

They issued a lengthy press release which opens:

Fresh evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that members of the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities. 
A new briefing, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, published today presents a series of hair-raising accounts from survivors of massacres who describe how dozens of men and boys in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq were rounded up by Islamic State fighters, bundled into pick-up trucks and taken to village outskirts to be massacred in groups or shot individually. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and children, along with scores of men, from the Yezidi minority have also been abducted since the Islamic State took control of the area. 
"The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser currently in northern in Iraq. 
“The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non- Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims.” 



The press is running with it, of course.  Fresh evidence!  Uncovered by Amnesty!  Which has no office in Iraq.  Oops, that part's not in the release or in the press.  And they have no one on the ground in Iraq.  That's not there either -- not in the press nor in the press release.

This release is big news.

Why?

I don't doubt that the Islamic State is committing acts of violence.  Brutal ones, inhumane.

I don't doubt it.

They're largely in response to the setting on fire of Sunnis -- Sunnis set on fire, burned alive, by the Iraqi military.  Videos have been on the net for months of that.  The Iraqi soldiers standing around laughing and joking as people are burned alive -- some of the Sunnis may be with the Islamic State, some may not be.

And Amnesty never, ever issued an alert on that.

They did issue a weak-ass statement (so weak that I told Amnesty friend we wouldn't run it) on a recent attack on Sunnis.  Strangely, the press didn't run with that statement.

Why do you suppose that was?

Why do you suppose today you'll find people repeating the Amnesty International statement all over the net, media outlets can't get enough of it?

Maybe because it helps sell war on Iraq and Syria?

Maybe because the same trashy impulse that let Amnesty allow vile corporations to wash their image with a few dollars tossed Amnesty's way is now promoting war?

As someone who donates to Amnesty, who knows Amnesty USA and Amnesty UK board members, I know how difficult it is to get Amnesty to do a damn thing -- even when it's their job.

When Iraq's LGBTQ community was being assassinated, it was like pulling teeth to get Amnesty to respond.  When they finally did it really was too late.

But, look, here they are able to respond in such a way that their response can be -- and will be -- used to sell war.

Let's all pretend it's a coincidence.

For the last two years especially, Amnesty has repeatedly and willingly looked the other way as human rights abuses took place in Iraq -- human rights abuses carried out by a government.

Amnesty is supposed to exist to call those out.

They refused to do so.

And if you pressed hard enough, and I certainly did, you would be told, "We don't have an Iraq office."

Didn't stop them from joining the effort today to sell war, did it?

Amnesty International might not have died today, but maybe it should have.

It's clearly no longer able to perform the job they raise money for.

Most supporters wouldn't give it a damn dime if their slogan was, "Amnesty International: Promoting War for Empire."

(To be clear, the Islamic State should be called out.  This isn't objecting to that.  This is objecting to whitewashing a situation so that only one side is being called out.  That is how you sell war and Amnesty knows that.  They're not chumps, they are active participants in selling war.  Human Rights Watch has called out the Islamic State repeatedly.  Unlike Amnesty International, they've also called out the Iraqi government repeatedly.)

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















 

Posted at 05:57 am by thecommonills
 

'We must protect the dam!' is soooo last week

'We must protect the dam!' is soooo last week

NINA reports:

The American army launched new raids on targets belonging to the Islamic State organization near Mosul Dam in northern Iraq. 
 The Central Command said in a statement that "fighter jets bombed several targets belonging to the Islamic State and managed to damage three trucks and another severely damaged and destroyed armored vehicles and mortars near Mosul Dam in northern Iraq."

The lies that started the Iraq War and the ones that keep it going.

Bombing around the dam again.

After allowing the 'brave' reporters of ABC, et al, to fret on air about how the dam could be blown up by the Islamic State and flood Baghdad!!!!

What a load of crap.

It reminds me of Kay Bailey Hutchison.

She was a US Senator from Texas.  She's no longer in the Congress.

As the Iraq War was starting, she was mocked by other members of Congress in her own party (she's a Republican).  Why?

She wrote a column demanding the administration provide the troops going into Iraq with the protective suits and masks they'd need in case Saddam Hussein unleashed his chemical weapons.

See, even then, most Republicans in Congress knew it was a lie, the WMD excuse for war was a lie.

Her own colleagues found it hilarious that Hutchison had bought the lie.

So here we are with the US military continuing to bomb around this dam they were supposedly so worried about.

This dam the media was so quick to say would threaten the US Embassy in Baghdad.  (As we noted last week, it was good to see Barack stop using that false claim.)



The selling of war never ends.  And, as we can see today, the selling of war is amplified when a Democrat is in office.  The rare voices that might question when a Republican is in office go silent when it's a Democrat.

Getting your arm blown off while a Democrat's in the Oval Office is apparently a good and noble thing and nothing to ever object to.

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










 

Posted at 05:54 am by thecommonills
 

Monday, September 01, 2014
At least 1635 violent deaths in Iraq for the month of August

At least 1635 violent deaths in Iraq for the month of August


A new month, a new round of tabulated death tolls.  UNAMI goes with 1420 dead (minus Anbar).  They issued the following statement today:



Baghdad, 1 September 2014 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of at least 1,420 Iraqis were killed and another 1,370 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence in August*.
The number of civilians killed was 1,265 (including 77 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1,198 (including 105 civilian police).  A further 155 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, and 172 were injured (not including casualties from Anbar operation). 
“In August alone the UN estimates that 600,000 people have been displaced while thousands continue to be targeted and killed by ISIL and associated armed groups simply on account of their ethnic or religious background”, said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov.  “The true cost of this human tragedy is staggering”, he added.
“Despite the difficult conditions, urgent measures are being taken by the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the international community to alleviate the suffering of those fleeing the violence and to secure the return of displaced people to their places of origin in safety and dignity”, Mr. Mladenov added.
CAVEATS: Data do not take into account casualties of the current conflict in Anbar, for which we report separately the figures received from our sources, but which remain unverified by UNAMI.  In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties from conflict areas and areas under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and associated armed groups.  In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents.  In addition to the verified figures provided below, UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of hundreds of casualties along with a large number of reports of civilians who have died from secondary effects of violence, having fled their homes but who perished from lack of access to water, food, medicines and health care in extreme weather conditions.  These cases have not been included in the final tally.  For these reasons, the figures reported are the absolute minimum number of casualties for the month of August - the actual figures could be significantly higher.
Civilian Casualties (killed and injured) per governorate
Anbar excluded, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 857 civilian casualties (246 killed, 611 injured), followed by Nineveh (625 killed, 70 injured), Kirkuk (95 killed, 248 injured), Diyala (140 killed, 94 injured), Salahadin (105 killed, 103 injured).

Operations in Anbar
According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the total civilian casualties in Anbar up to 31 August, inclusive, were 268 killed and 796 injured, with 53 killed and 360 injured in Ramadi and 215 killed and 436 injured in Fallujah.


So with their Anbar figure, that's 1635 violent deaths for the month of August.

They can track many thing but they can't --

Excuse me, they won't.  They won't track the dead civilians killed by the aerial bombings -- not in Falluja or anywhere else.

They can shriek like scared children over deaths they pin on the Islamic State but they look the other way when it comes to the deaths caused by the Iraqi government and its 'helpers' like the US.

Doubt it.

United Nations investigators are going into Iraq.

Did we all collectively mumble 'finally!'?  Pretty much.

Why are they going in?

Ian Black (Guardian) reports Iraq's Minister of Human Rights -- yeah, that's good for a chuckle -- Mohammed Shia al-Sudani told the UN Human Rights Council that he sees Islamic State members "oozing with barbarity."

Yeah, al-Sudani  does sound sexually turned on by the thought, doesn't he?  Like a heroine in a bodice ripper page turner.

In broad daylight, in the Green Zone where I thought I would be safe, I decried the "barbarity" of the Islamic State only to find myself, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, tossed over the shoulder of a barrel-chested, sweaty and swarthy, six-foot man oozing with barbarity who declared, "You will be mine!" My knees shook.


Reuters quotes him calling IS "a terrorist monster" and notes of UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri:


Pansieri raised concerns that Iraqi government forces had also engaged in acts that may amount to war crimes. She said government-allied militias had opened fire on a mosque in Khanaqin district, northeast of Baghdad, killing 73 men and boys. 

Iraqi soldiers had shelled towns and carried out air strikes killing and injuring dozens of civilians, she added. 



But there was never UN investigators sent in over that, of course.  And they certainly didn't rush to hold an emergency meeting over it.

Just like they don't care about today's dead -- civilian dead -- who most likely died at the hands of Iraq and the US.  Alsumaria reports a woman and her daughter were killed while eleven other civilians were left injured as a result of bombs hitting two homes in a village north of Tikrit.  This was most likely bombs dropped by the US. NINA notes the Pentagon announced US war planes bombed "near" Mosul Dam and Amerli.  Alsumaria notes US aircraft dropped leaflets on the city of Mosul -- leaflets from the Ministry of Interior which are seen as the prelude to bombings.  All Iraq News notes "a drone crashed near Sleimaniyah."  It's safe to assume this was a US drone.


The White House issued the following today:

Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution Regarding Iraq

TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
September 1, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
As I reported on August 8 and 17, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces have conducted targeted airstrikes in Iraq for the limited purposes of stopping the advance on Erbil by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), supporting civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar, and supporting operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam. U.S. Armed Forces have also provided humanitarian assistance to the civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar.
On August 28, 2014, I further authorized U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted airstrikes in support of an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the town of Amirli, Iraq, which is surrounded and besieged by ISIL. Pursuant to this authorization, on August 30, 2014, U.S. military forces commenced targeted airstrike operations in the vicinity of Amirli, Iraq. These additional operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli.
I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. These actions are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Iraqi government.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA



The violence continues.  National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Baghdad "riddled with gunshots to the head and chest," an al-Qadisiya bombing left two people injured, and a Mosul roadside bombing left six people injured.  Alsumaria adds 2 car bombings south of Baghdad left 5 people dead and twenty more injured, and 2 people were shot dead in Mahmudiyah.  That's some of today's reported violence.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counted 95 violent deaths for Sunday.




The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan -- updated Saturday and Sunday:






  • New content at Third:


     





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















     

    Posted at 01:25 pm by thecommonills
     

    Miller Statement on VA OIG Review of Phoenix VA Health Care System

    Miller Statement on VA OIG Review of Phoenix VA Health Care System

    US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  Last week, his office issued the following:



    Miller Statement on VA OIG Review of Phoenix VA Health Care System

    Aug 26, 2014


    WASHINGTON Following the release of the VA Inspector General’s review of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, Chairman Jeff Miller released the below statement.


    “The inspector general’s report paints a very disturbing picture. Delays in care that VA officials tried to hide caused harm to veterans. Even though the IG says it can’t conclusively assert that deaths were caused by VA negligence, the report does link 20 deaths to substandard care. Almost as troubling as the report itself is the fact that VA officials sought to downplay it by selectively leaking portions of the department’s response to the review prior to its release. The VA scandal was caused by bureaucrats who chose to whitewash or conceal the department’s problems. The fact that some department officials are still engaging in similar practices underscores the dire need for real accountability throughout the organization. So far, despite repeated requests from our committee, we have seen no evidence that the corrupt bureaucrats who created the VA scandal will be purged from the department’s payroll anytime soon. Until that happens, VA will never be fixed.” –  Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs






    veterans

    Posted at 01:15 pm by thecommonills
     

    Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the President's Authorization of Operations in Iraq

    Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the President's Authorization of Operations in Iraq

    The White House issued the following today:



    The White House
    Office of the Press Secretary

    Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the President's Authorization of Operations in Iraq

    Today, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (WPR), the President transmitted to the Congress a report notifying the Congress that he had authorized U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted airstrikes in support of an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to the town of Amirli, where thousands of Shia Turkomen have been cut off from receiving food, water, and medical supplies for two months by ISIL.
    The United States Air Force delivered aid to the town of Amirli alongside aircraft from Australia, France and the United Kingdom, who also dropped much needed supplies.

    This operation is consistent with the military missions we have outlined to date in Iraq – to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground.

    These operations are limited in their nature, duration, and scope and are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Government of Iraq.


    The Administration will continue to consult with the Congress on the way forward in Iraq and our efforts against ISIL, and we will continue to provide appropriate reports to the Congress consistent with the War Powers Resolution.






    Posted at 01:04 pm by thecommonills
     

    Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Kurdish independence?

    Kurdish independence?

    The Kurds are said to be the largest ethnic minority in the world without a homeland.  The last few years have shown progress for Kurds in Turkey -- not a great deal of progress, not enough progress, but the motion has been to improve (somewhat) life for an oppressed and discriminated against minority.

    The Kurds are throughout the Middle East and they're around the world.

    The closest thing to a homeland currently is northern Iraq.

    The Kurds have three (or four*) provinces in northern Iraq which make up the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    Or four?

    The Kurds claim that Kirkuk belongs to them -- the central Iraqi government out of Baghdad also insists Kirkuk is their province.  Were Kirkuk not oil rich, the debate might not have dragged on so long.

    But the "four*" actually refers to a move the Kurdistan Regional Government made immediately ahead of last April 30th's parliamentary elections -- when they split up a province to create two.

    At the end of 1991, the Kurds won semi-autonomy.  They've remained semi-autonomous.

    An e-mail asked about any thoughts or positions on the Kurds and independence?

    They have every right to move towards full autonomy if that's what they chose.  Some provinces in Iraq, tired of Nouri's corruption and worse, have attempted to declare independence.

    Whether that will continue to be attempted or not, I don't know.

    But my take on it is and has been, if that's what they want, that's what they should go for.

    The only way in which I have opposed independence is when it was imposed 'independence.'

    I don't know that then-Senator Joe Biden's idea was 'nutty' -- Iraq would split into three semi-independent regions (one Shi'ite, one Sunni, one Kurd) and be part of a federation.

    Joe's plan was wrong for one reason -- it was being proposed by the US.

    No.

    Independence is not imposed.

    If this is what is decided in, for example, the KRG by the Kurds, I'm all for it.  I'm for independence and self-rule.

    I am not in favor of the US -- or any country or international body -- declaring this is what will happen.

    Focusing on the Kurds, if they decided to go for full autonomy, I would support it.

    I'm a citizen of a country that declared its independence from England.  Why wouldn't I support an effort at independence by others?


    There are a lot of good questions in the e-mails but I felt this one needed to be addressed by itself because we used to go over it all the time but when it failed in the US Congress (2008), it didn't continue to be as pressing an issue here as it had been.





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






    Posted at 09:26 pm by thecommonills
     

    ‘Young workers are key to fighting poverty wages’ (Cavanugh, Workers World)

    ‘Young workers are key to fighting poverty wages’ (Cavanugh, Workers World)

    This is from Workers World and a strong message for Labor Day:



    ‘Young workers are key to fighting poverty wages’

    By on August 27, 2014
    Cavanaugh is a low-wage worker in Rockford, Ill., and a national leader of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST, fightimperialism.org). He delivered this talk at the Food Is a Right People’s Assembly in Chicago on Aug. 16.



    Tommy CavanaghThe life of a fast food worker is one of constant uncertainty, unrewarding work and sacrifices, poverty wages and bombardment by the bosses and corporate media telling us that we should be grateful for the crumbs they pass down to us. We clock in the earliest hours of the morning or work through the entire night, allowing these stores to make profits 24/7 and never close. We create enormous amounts of wealth through our labor, generating billions of dollars in profit while the bosses pay us wages so low they recommend that we apply for food stamps and second or even third jobs.


    For young workers it’s the same story — only with the extra baggage of age discrimination, trying to receive an education, and the common view that for some reason we do not need or deserve equitable compensation for our labor. Our unemployment rate runs over double the national average, and the poverty rate of youth is over 20 percent. This trend is unlikely to change course as this system, based solely on acquiring more profits, sheds skilled and living-wage jobs, inclining toward automation and part-time workers.


    The youth, those just entering the labor force and those who have been supporting themselves for years, are a huge section of the swollen ranks of the unemployed, which collectively leaves us with few options for getting by. We turn to things like selling our blood plasma, medical testing and activities deemed criminal, landing a tragic amount of young people incarcerated because this system no longer has a place for them.


    As we struggle even to find a job, let alone a job that can support us, we face the austerity of food stamp cuts. Almost half of all food stamp benefits go to people under 18, that being roughly 20 million youth who already struggle with access to food and hunger.


    In this light, we can see that these cuts are an attack not only on the poor and oppressed but specifically on youth, who feel the damaging effects of these cuts. This fact shouldn’t be lost in the course of our organizing and agitation. The youth have a key role to play in the movement. We should be in the forefront of this struggle, displaying all the courage and creativity we have to offer, like we did during the Wisconsin Capitol Occupation and the Occupy Wall Street movement.


    The re-emergence of youth taking a guiding role in the struggle, like they did in the liberation and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 70s, is a desperately needed and positive advancement. That, along with our heavy concentration in low-wage jobs — the new majority of the U.S. working class — puts youth in a position where we can help steer the labor movement in a more militant direction, geared at organizing sections of workers that the unions have previously been unable to organize.


    Even though the corporate media would probably call it my “youthful sense of over-entitlement” or “idealism,” I say with no apologies that it is every person’s human right to have healthy food, that every worker deserves $15 an hour, along with the right to a union, and that these goals are achievable through struggle.


    The bosses will come from every angle to delegitimize, disorient and pacify us and our message. They will lie, cheat and steal to get their way, but that doesn’t mean they will win.


    They can’t make profits if we shut them down. They can’t pit workers against each other if we educate and organize among the workers. They can’t claim we don’t represent mass sentiment when there are thousands of us in the street.


    We’ve started to see the $15-an-hour-and-a-union movement gaining traction, not only here in the U.S. but also internationally. Fast food workers held the first international strike on May 15 around that issue in over 200 cities. Not far from here, the McDonald’s headquarters was marched on, causing a shutdown of the campus. These events have been a big step forward, along with some local victories around the country to raise the minimum wage.


    These have been only first steps, though. The struggle ahead will be long and difficult, but I have no doubt that we will ultimately succeed. A living wage and access to food stamps are a life-or-death struggle for millions of youth across the country, and no court ruling, smear campaign or right-wing politicians can ultimately withstand our strength if we organize ourselves and stand with all those who are exploited and oppressed.


    Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.






    Posted at 09:25 pm by thecommonills
     

    Misty (Cedric)

    Misty

    BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

    WHAT'S CONSIDERED TIMID AND SKITTISH?

    NO, NOT A KITTEN.

    FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O.

    HE'S LIKE A KITTEN UP A TREE.


    FROM THE TCI WIRE:



    We'll start with this Tweet.








    Iraq -- US F-18 fighter jet refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over northern Iraq 






    Thursday, the State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted, "Today in #Iraq, US air strikes against #ISIS terrorists destroyed four armed vehicles, a humvee, tank, construction vehicle, & checkpoint."  AP notes this was the 106th US bombing in Iraq since August 8th.

    Cedric and Wally emphasized the financial cost on Friday noting that a cost of $7.5 million a day means at least $555 million through Friday which would be over a half-billion dollars.

    That's not coming out of US President Barack Obama's pocket, the US tax payer is footing the bill.

    It's a bill that continues to grow.

    The US taxpayer didn't authorize the bill and certainly wasn't consulted about putting more money on the tab.
    They're not even informed what the plan is because there is no plan.  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports:

    Amid conflicting congressional demands, impatient Arab allies, and public concern that he will do too much or too little, President Obama made bluntly clear Thursday why he has not yet implemented a comprehensive U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency that is rapidly spreading across the Middle East.
    “We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said, in response to questions about when he is prepared to begin military action in Syria, and, if not, why not?

    White House spokesperson Josh Earnest has made the media rounds insisting that Iraq is not without a strategy, just Syria.

    That's spin, not truth.

    The White House continues to link Syria and Iraq so, if they have no plan for Syria, then they have no plan for Iraq.

    The White House presents the Islamic State as darting back and forth between Syria and Iraq -- which share a border -- and doing damage in both countries as part of a larger, coherent plan to implement a fundamentalist state.

    Is that correct?

    Who knows.  They've never backed it up.

    Asked why what is taking place is taking place, from the State Dept to the White House, they can't provide concrete answers.  They can talk 'barbaric' and other rhetoric.  They can assert that the entire Middle East is at risk and, more recently, that the US mainland is at risk.

    It's a cute little fear fantasy.

    It dissolves a bit if you apply common sense to it.

    Syria and Iraq share a border.

    Syria also shares a border with Turkey.

    Is the Islamic State somehow intimidated by Turkey?

    Or by Israel or Jordan?

    Syria borders Iraq, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.

    And just off the coast of Syria, to its west, you have the Republic of Cyprus.

    If you were a terrorist group intent on taking territory -- which really seems more like the goal of a group of invaders (and historically we've not referred to such groups as terrorists) -- wouldn't Cyprus be your first target?

    It's small.  It's an island -- meaning you could monitor incoming and outgoing traffic much easier than with landlocked countries.

    It's a bit of a resort island which, for most people, would say 'soft target' -- especially when contrasted with a large country.

    Syria's not responsible for Iraq but the US government has wanted war with the Syrian government for some time.  They wanted it under Bully Boy Bush -- remember the diplomatic tiffs -- and they want it under Barack.


    A connection that Syria and Iraq do have -- that can be established factually -- is that Sunnis and Shi'ites are going into both countries to fight.  In both countries -- and this is what has given IS its power -- Sunnis feel persecuted.

    You can argue whether they are or not.

    That's really pointless.

    The perception is they are being persecuted.

    That perception is strong and growing.




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    Posted at 09:24 pm by thecommonills
     


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