The Common Ills

Thursday, April 16, 2015
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, April 15, 2015.   Chaos and violence, 3 villages fall to the Islamic State as a US official insists momentum is on the US government and coalition's side, Valerie Plame wants to run with the Kool Kids and tosses aside her brain to do so, Buzzfeed doesn't grasp why Haider al-Abadi is insisting there are no "militias," and much more.

Yesterday, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met first with US Vice President Joe Biden and then with US President Barack Obama.  Today, he continued meeting with US officials.

Senator John McCain is the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  His office issued the following statement today:

Apr 15 2015

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on his meeting today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:
“Today, I had a productive meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. I am grateful for his steady leadership at a perilous time for his country. We discussed a range of issues related to our common fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the role and conduct of Iranian-backed militias inside Iraq, political inclusion of Iraq's Sunni population, and the progress and development of Iraqi Security Forces into an integrated multi-sectarian organization. As I discussed with Prime Minister Abadi, in order to defeat ISIL, I believe the United States should provide further military assistance to Iraq and deploy additional U.S. personnel, including forward air controllers to strengthen our air campaign.”

McCain's answer is usually, "Send in the troops."  That's never worked with Iraq so far.

I don't care for McCain and he's being kind of stupid.  I like Valerie Plame but sometimes she's kind of stupid as well.

  • " data-card2-type="summary" data-mentions="Paulwolfowitz">
    Wait. Didn't promise Congress Iraqi oil would pay for everything? Iraqi PM Seeks Billions

    Yeah, Wolfowitz did promise that.

    What's your point?

    That he was wrong?

    Well he's a liar.

    What does that have to do with more millions of US taxpayer dollars being gifted to Iraq right now, the millions Barack announced yesterday?

    Iraq is not Ethiopia.

    Nor is Iraq   one of the world's neediest countries.

    Oh, did oil prices drop?

    So what does that mean for Iraq?  Only 20 billion brought in over the next months instead of $40 billion.  With a population of approximately 30 million people Iraq really doesn't need to be begging.

    Or wouldn't need to be begging were it not for all the government corruption.

    And that's where Valerie's a disappointment.

    Unlike Valerie, I turned down the CIA.

    She went to work for them.  And this is best she can offer?

    An obvious faux fact check of a statement over a decade ago?

    Like I said, I like Valerie but she can be real stupid sometime.

    In future Tweets, she might try using her considerable brain and actually offering something of value.

    Earlier this month, Susanne Koelbl interviewed Haider for Der Spiegel.  The corruption was noted:

    SPIEGEL: Iraq is at war, but it is not the only crisis affecting the country. Many residents of Baghdad use the word "thieves" when they talk about your politicians. How corrupt is your government?

    Al-Abadi: We have problems and the way I am dealing with them is to start by admitting them. Corruption is a huge issue. It has to do with the society, which has changed -- both during the times of Saddam Hussein's regime and after. Also, the sanctions had an adverse effect on society in nurturing this culture of corruption. During the 1960s or 1970s, bribery was very rare in Iraq. The number of government employees was very small and usually they were the elite. But then they incorporated millions of people into the government -- not to better run the state, but to control the people. We are in the process of implementing a number of processes and procedures that aim to curb the extent of corruption.

    SPIEGEL: One of your first actions after you took office was to close the office of your predecessor's son, who is said to have provided huge government contracts to people who were ready to pay the most for them. Young college graduates claim they had to pay officials $10,000 to $20,000 in order to obtain government jobs. Why should Iraqis have any faith in this government?

    Al-Abadi: We need to flip the system. Four years ago, the government tried to stop the corruption at the Passport Office, where people pay $400 to $500 just to get their passport issued. Every day they were arresting so many people and it did not have much of an effect. But if you ease the procedure, for instance making the document available online, it puts an end to it altogether. I don't want to fill our prisons with people who ask for petty cash while we are facing this major terrorist threat to the country. I want to keep these prisons for the actual criminals who are killing people or for people who are stealing vast amounts of money from the people. I want to change how we run the government in Iraq.

    For those who don't follow Iraq closely, the predecessor is Nouri al-Maliki.  His son is Ahmed al-Maliki who was likened to Uday Hussein.  Ahmed was most recently in the news last December when he was reportedly detained in Lebanon -- a country he was visiting after he'd had billions of dollars transferred from Iraq's banks to a Lebanese bank and, when detained, was carrying the US equivalent of $1.5 billion dollars.

    Newsweek (re)posts a problematic column penned by Hardin Lang and Peter Juul.  (Problematic?  Even a cursory read of McClatchy Newspapers reporting from Iraq over the last four weeks would have prevented many of the factual errors in the column.)  We'll avoid their shaky factual ground and instead zoom in on their conclusion:

    One option might be a more formal recognition of the de facto decentralization resulting from the conflict with ISIS. Such an outcome will be hard to engineer in the post-Saddam Iraqi political system. But it is incumbent on Iraq’s allies to help find a solution that gives Sunni Arabs a home in Iraq’s body politic and a solution that gives the state its best chance of hanging together. Abadi’s visit allows the Obama administration to raise these concerns at the highest level.
    Last summer, the Obama administration used the promise of military assistance to remove then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from power. Today, the United States and its coalition partners can use the same leverage to help Abadi rebuild the authority of the Iraqi government and fend off challenges from Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

    The only successful path to an enduring victory over ISIS requires the Iraqi government to survive the forces tearing at it from all sides. Abadi’s visit represents an opportunity for the United States to give his government the leverage it needs to withstand the storm.

    That would be one way of describing a political solution.  In June of last year, Barack said that was the only thing that could solve Iraq's crises.  Yet it's the only thing the White House avoids working on.

    The State Dept issued the following today:

    Today Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to the State Department to brief senior diplomatic representatives from among the 62 members of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. This plenary session was an opportunity for Coalition partners to reaffirm our support for Iraqi-led efforts to reclaim territory from ISIL, and our support for the Iraqi people as they are rescued from ISIL control and forge a more inclusive and durable political order.
    Deputy Secretary Blinken thanked Coalition partners for their extensive contributions toward the Coalition’s goal of degrading and defeating ISIL, echoing President Obama’s assertion that while the fight against ISIL is far from over, the momentum is heading in the right direction. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen briefed on progress across multiple Coalition lines of effort, and provided a readout of last week’s Coalition Small Group meeting in Jordan. Building on those conversations, Coalition partners discussed how to further strengthen, accelerate, and integrate contributions to Coalition efforts.
    This was the third Washington plenary session of Coalition ambassadors.

    Oh, goody.  Another meet-up for war, war, war.

    But no meet-up for diplomacy.

    "The momentum is heading in the right direction"?

    Really because Judy Woodruff declared on this evening's NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, video and audio), "Fighters with the Islamic State group gained new ground today in Western Iraq."

    He made those comments after today's big news was already in the news cycle.

    This morning, Arwa Damon (CNN -- link is video and text) reported on the situation in Anbar Province's Ramadi noting that deputy provincial council head Falih Essawi is issuing "a dire, dire warning" as the Islamic State advances.

    Arwa Damon:  ISIS forces, it seems, early this morning managing to enter the outskirts of the city of Ramadi from the east.  This now means that ISIS is fighting on the east.  ISIS advanced from the north -- taking over three towns from the outskirts there over the weekend.  The routes to the south already blocked off.  The city basically under siege except for the western portion that is still controlled by forces, by government forces, but that is wavering as well.

    Sky News notes the three areas taken, "The militant group took the villages of Sjariyah, Albu-Ghanim and Soufiya, in Anbar province, which had been under government control, residents said." Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) observed:

    Pentagon officials stopped short of saying the city was on the brink of falling. But they didn’t sound confident it would hold, either.
    “The situation in Ramadi remains fluid and, as with earlier assessments, the security situation in the city is contested. The ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] continue to conduct clearing operations against ISIL-held areas in the city and in the surrounding areas of Al Anbar province,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Maj. Curt Kellogg, a said in a statement, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS. The Coalition continues to coordinate with ISF forces and provide operational support as requested.”

    AFP's Jean Marc Mojon and Karim Abou Merhil sound out various Middle East experts about the prospects for victory in Anbar.  We'll note this section:

    “Anbar, and especially Fallujah, is like Asterix’s village,” said Victoria Fontan, a professor at American University Duhok Kurdistan, referring to an unconquerable town in the French comic book series.
    The province is packed with experienced fighters and while some Sunni tribes have allied with the government, others are fighting alongside ISIS or sitting on the fence.
    Local knowledge is seen as key to retaking territory along the fertile strip lining the Euphrates, where ISIS has inflicted severe military setbacks to the police and army since June.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes this takes place as calls for reinforcements of government troops to be sent to . . . Baiji.

    That's in northern Iraq, Salahuddin Province.  These reinforcements are being sent in to protect . . .  Well, not people.  There are people in Ramadi who need protection.  But the government forces going to Baiji are going to protect an oil refinery.

    Saif Hameed, Isabel Coles and Giles Elgood (Reuters) explain:

    The new Anbar campaign was intended to build on a victory in the city of Tikrit, which Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries retook this month.
    But the Sunni jihadists have struck back in Anbar as well as Baiji, where they blasted through the security perimeter around Iraq's largest refinery several days ago.

    Meanwhile, Iraqi Spring MC reports, just to the east of Ramadi, 3 Sahwa have been killed by the Islamic State today.  Also today in Anbar Province, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "In Soufiya, the militants bombed a police station and took over a power plant. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety, said airstrikes were trying to back up Iraqi troops. Iraqi security officials could not immediately be reached for comment."

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 290 violent deaths throughout Iraq today.

    From the factual to the whatever, Hayes Brown (Buzzfeed) is probably a typical American journalist -- over inflated ego and underfed brain.  He makes that clear with the following:

    There are currently dozens of groups fighting against ISIS in Iraq, some of which are committing human rights abuses, but please don’t call them “militias,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Wednesday.
    “Militias, according to the [Iraqi] Constitution, according to us, are the enemy of the state,” he said in a small roundtable with reporters. “Militias are an organization who are outside the state who carry arms, not under the control of the state,” he said. “They are not allowed.”
    (A quick Google search shows that a common definition of a militia is “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.”)

    Hayes is such a dupe and such a stupe.

    Let's drop back to the March 24th snapshot:

    The assault is a failure.  And with MP Shakhawan Abdullah telling Rudaw reports, "At least 30,000 soldiers and military experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq"?
    It really doesn't make Iran look very powerful or able to carry out a ground war.
    And what does it say about thug Hadi al-Ameri?
    He commands the Badr militia.
    But the Shi'ites also an MP and Minister of Transportation.
    Which is confusing because to run for office, political entities in Iraq were supposed to give up their militias.
    But the Badr brigade is run by al-Ameri who somehow (illegally) serves in the Iraqi government.

    Hayes has missed a great deal. To run for office, politicians were told that their political parties had to give up the militias.  (Badr is the militia for the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq led by Ammar al-Hakim.)

    Not to do so would mean they couldn't hold office.

    Haider al-Abadi grasps that -- he's a member of Dawa (not the leader, somehow Nouri remains leader of the party).  He's run in these elections.

    He knows that, as prime minister, if he calls these militias, a lot of people are going to be out of office.  So he rushes to insist that these militias are something other than militias.

    Like Hillary Clinton is something other than Hillary:

  • Betty teamed up with Cedric and Wally for a joint-post today about an idiotic column at CNN that insisted Hillary Clinton should not be called Hillary -- not even by Hillary's campaign or by Hillary herself.

    The idiot guest posting at CNN feels its sexism.  (Is it sexism when we refer to Bill Clinton here as "Bill" or Barack Obama as "Barack"?)

    The columnist has her panties in a wad over this "Hillary" usage.  It would not, she insists, happen to a man.


    Did she think General Dwight Eisenhower's last name was "Ike"?

    Ike was the nickname used in the drafting him to run for president campaign as well as in his successful presidential campaign.  "I like Ike."

    Didn't harm him any.

    I'm far more bothered by pieces that refer to Hillary as "Mrs. Clinton."

    Hillary has name recognition that puts her ahead of every other candidate or potential candidate so far.

    "Hillary" is her brand.

    CNN shouldn't run such idiotic columns.

    Lastly, yesterday the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following statement:

    Anfal Campaign

    April 14, 2015
    U.S. Embassy Baghdad
    Office of the Spokesperson
    For Immediate Release                  

    Today marks the anniversary of the Anfal -- Saddam Hussein’s brutal campaign against the Kurdish people in Iraq in which thousands of innocent Iraqis were slaughtered, and thousands more were wounded, maimed, or expelled from their homes.  We honor those who were killed or injured as a result of the Anfal, and pledge to stand with all Iraqis and the Kurdish people as they strive to build a brighter future for themselves and their descendants.

    arwa damon
    nancy a. youssef

    Posted at 05:58 am by thecommonills

    Reality just slapped Barack in the face

    Reality just slapped Barack in the face

    This morning, Arwa Damon (CNN -- link is video and text) reports on the situation in Anbar Province's Ramadi noting that deputy provincial council head Falih Essawi is issuing "a dire, dire warning" as the Islamic State advances.

    Arwa Damon:  ISIS forces, it seems, early this morning managing to enter the outskirts of the city of Ramadi from the east.  This now means that ISIS is fighting on the east.  ISIS advanced from the north -- taking over three towns from the outskirts there over the weekend.  The routes to the south already blocked off.  The city basically under siege except for the western portion that is still controlled by forces, by government forces, but that is wavering as well.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes this takes place as calls for reinforcements of government troops to be sent to . . . Baiji.

    That's in northern Iraq, Salahuddin Province.  These reinforcements are being sent in to protect . . .  Well, not people.  There are people in Ramadi who need protection.  But the government forces going to Baiji are going to protect an oil refinery.

    Saif Hameed, Isabel Coles and Giles Elgood (Reuters) explain:

    The new Anbar campaign was intended to build on a victory in the city of Tikrit, which Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries retook this month.

    But the Sunni jihadists have struck back in Anbar as well as Baiji, where they blasted through the security perimeter around Iraq's largest refinery several days ago.

    Meanwhile, Iraqi Spring MC reports, just to the east of Ramadi, 3 Sahwa have been killed by the Islamic State today.

    Also today in Anbar Province, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "In Soufiya, the militants bombed a police station and took over a power plant. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety, said airstrikes were trying to back up Iraqi troops. Iraqi security officials could not immediately be reached for comment."

    Yesterday at the White House, US President Barack Obama stood next to Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and declared,  "Thanks to his leadership, as well as the partnership and sacrifices made by over 60 members of an international coalition, we are making serious progress in pushing back ISIL out of Iraqi territory.  About a quarter of the territory fallen under Daesh control has been recovered.  "

    Iraq doesn't like braggarts.

    It never has.

    And anytime some US official starts a wave of Operation Happy Talk, events usually slap the official upside the head.

    Today's news is a big 'owie' for Barack.

    The embarrassment comes as another bit of embarrassing news leaks out: Barack gave away the goodies ("just like his mother," said one State Dept friend this morning on the phone to me).

    He's moving forward with delivering F-16s to Iraq.


    Apparently to grease the path to a deal with Iran.

    Because giving Iraq any US military technology is giving it to Iran.  A point we've made since before 2009 -- our objection on this pre-dates Barack's presidency.

    The following community sites updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is

    Posted at 12:27 am by thecommonills

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi comes begging to DC, a media whore thinks Judith Miller's current embarrassments means he can slink back in, and much more.

    On a day of fakery, it's only fitting that one of the all time biggest US fakes attempted to return to prominence.

    Who are we talking about?

    In April of 2000, Norman Solomon noted this gas bag in a "Media Jeopardy" column:

    Although he represented "the left" for six years on CNN's "Crossfire" program, this pundit identifies himself as "a wishy-washy moderate."

    Who is Michael Kinsley? 

    Yes, we're talking about Michael Kinsley -- Michael "I'm not really a liberal but I played one on TV."

    And he did.  On CNN's Crossfire.

    He faked his way through a lot of things.  At the end of 1999, Norman Solomon awarded Kinsley an 'honor:'

    Take It on Faith Award: Michael Kinsley. In a Time magazine essay, Kinsley -- who works for two of the planet's most powerful communications firms, Microsoft and Time Warner -- sought to persuade readers that the World Trade Organization is a fine institution, despite protests. Kinsley's Dec. 13 piece ended with these words: "But really, the WTO is OK. Do the math. Or take it on faith."

    Norman Solomon, in his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, it was pretty much a requirement that a useless gas bag like Michael be included:

    "The president's ability to decide when and where to use America's military power is now absolute," Michael Kinsey observed as the invasion of Iraq ended in (temporary) triumph.  "Congress cannot stop him.  That's not what the Constitution says, and it's not what the War Powers Act says, but that's how it works in practice."

    Staying with the Iraq War, the Times of London broke the news on The Downing Street Memo.

    And in the US, the response from most news outlets was silence.

    Or in MK's case, ridicule.

    Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) observed in June 2005:

    Maybe now you’ll start to believe the things we’ve said about Michael Kinsley and, by extension, about the fops who are runing our mainstream press corps. In Sunday’s Post (and Los Angeles Times), Kinsley writes an astonishing column about the Downing Street memo. Do a gang of millionaire fops drive our discourse? In case you didn’t know that already, Kinsley sets out to prove it—in spades.
    As noted, Kinsley discusses the famous Downing Street memo; in it, a top adviser to Tony Blair seems to say that President Bush had decided on war with Iraq as early as July 2002 (and was “fixing” the facts and the intel accordingly). The memo appeared on May 1 in the Times of London; concerned citizens have been dissecting it from that day to this, even as the Washington press corps struggled to avoid all discussion. (Panel discussions about Kerry’s grades at Yale were far more germane.) But good news! The great Kinsley has finally read the whole memo! Drink in the sheer condescension as he explains why he did:
    KINSLEY (6/12/05; pgh 1): After about the 200th e-mail from a stranger demanding that I cease my personal coverup of something called the Downing Street Memo, I decided to read it. It's all over the blogosphere and Air America, the left-wing talk radio network: This is the smoking gun of the Iraq war. It is proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq the year before he did so. The whole "weapons of mass destruction" concern was phony from the start, and the drama about inspections was just kabuki: going through the motions.
    At the Times, Daniel Okrent always seemed to think it was beneath his dignity to receive e-mails from the herd, and Kinsley betrays the same condescension, grumping about the effort required to get him to do his job. Only after receiving demands from hundreds of “strangers” did he do what any citizen would; only then did he bother to read “something called the Downing Street Memo,” the locution he uses to show his disdain for the people who asked him to function. And if you don’t find yourself struck by Kinsley’s bald condescension, we hope you’ll find yourself insulted when you read his account of the memo’s contents. “I don’t buy the fuss,” Kinsley writes. Then he starts to explain why that is:
    KINSLEY (2): Although it is flattering to be thought personally responsible for allowing a proven war criminal to remain in office, in the end I don't buy the fuss. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the revival of the left. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes a certain amount of ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the widely shared self-discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it.
    There you start to have it, readers! If you think the Downing Street memo may show or suggest that Bush was determined to invade Iraq early on, you have “a paranoid theory” and “extreme views”—and “the time and energy to obsess about them.” (This distinguishes you from Kinsley, who didn’t have the time or energy to read the memo until forced.) Indeed, throughout his piece, Kinsley keeps saying that you’re an “extremist” with “extreme views” if you’re bothered by this memo’s contents. Maybe now you’ll believe what we’ve told you about this bizarre, fallen man.

    In her book Watchdogs of Democracy: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public, the late Helen Thomas made room for Kinsley:

    Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley decided that the classified minutes of the Blair meeting were not a "smoking gun."  He felt it was nor proof that Bush was determined to invade Iraq a year before he gave the green light.  "I don't buy the fuss," Kinsley said. 

    FAIR issued an action alert on the topic and noted:

    Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley opted for sarcasm over serious discussion, deriding activists in a June 12 column for sending him emails “demanding that I cease my personal cover-up of something called the Downing Street Memo.” Kinsley kidded that the fuss was a good sign for the Left: “Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence.”
    What does Kinsley mean by paranoid? Criticizing the Times for not giving the story much attention would be accurate: Prior to the Bush-Blair press conference, a Nexis search shows one story about the Downing Street minutes appeared in the paper nearly two weeks after the story broke (5/12/05), and that columnist Robert Scheer mentioned it a few days later (5/17/05).
    In fact, Kinsley’s mocking seemed to serve no purpose, since his fallback position is a familiar media defense: We all knew the Bush administration wanted war, so this simply isn’t news. As Kinsley put it, “Of course, you don’t need a secret memo to know this.” As for “intelligence and facts…being fixed around the policy,” Kinsley eventually acknowledged that “we know now that this was true.”

    So, to follow Kinsley’s logic: People who demand more Downing Street coverage have developed a “paranoid theory” that accurately portrays White House decision-making on Iraq. His only quarrel with what he calls a “vast conspiracy” pushing the mainstream media to take the memo more seriously is that the activists think such information is important, and should be brought to the attention of the public, whereas Kinsley–and apparently many others in the mainstream media–doesn’t “buy the fuss.”

    We need to note the realities of the hideous Michael Kinsley but we don't have time to include everyone.  He was widely called out.  One person we'll note is David Swanson who probably did more to raise awareness of the Downing Street Memo than anyone else in America.

    As part of the continued failure of Vanity Fair, they've added Kinsley to their staff.

    Worse, they let him weigh in on Iraq today,

    In many ways, "How the Bush Wars Opened the Door for ISIS" is the sort of crap that any idiot who ignored Iraq for the last 12 years could have churned out in their sleep.

    Any idiot.

    But Michael Kinsley is a special kind of idiot.

    Which is how he manages to write:

    And yes, the number of Americans in Iraq is relatively trivial, but President Obama has already agreed under pressure to increase troop levels, just long enough, you understand, to help wipe out the latest—and, seemingly, the worst—malefactor, the terrorist group known as ISIS.

    Is it trivial to you?

    Was it hard to tear away from your porn and type that sentence?

    In the November 10, 2014 Iraq snapshot, we dealt with Richard Brunt's lies about US troops being out of Iraq:

    Well just because you're letting the precum pool in your pants doesn't mean you need to share your erotic fantasies with the rest of us.

    Brunt's so busy jizzing while moaning Barack, he actually writes, "Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq."


    For example, he brought these two home last month -- in body bags.

    That's Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal (photo from Facebook).   We noted his death in October 25th snapshot.

    That's Cpl Jordan Spears (photo from Marine Corps).  Last month, he was reclassified as the first death in 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'

    [. . .]

    But this week, DoD issued the following:


    Release No: NR-599-14
    December 02, 2014

    DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

      The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
    Capt. William H. DuBois, 30, of New Castle, Colorado, died Dec. 1 when his F-16 aircraft crashed near a coalition air base in the Middle East. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

    For more information media may contact the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at 803-895-2019.  

    Those three deaths?

    They aren't trivial to the service members' family and friends.

    They shouldn't be trivial to the country but Micheal Kinsley's a very busy stooge and he clearly has other concerns.

    A non-trivial press would have noted these three American deaths in Barack's war on the Islamic State.

    And would have noted them today as Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with US Vice President Joe Biden . . .

    Prime Minister Al-Abadi met with Vice President Biden this morning to discuss strengthening of bilateral relations
    36 retweets45 favorites

    and with US President Barack Obama.

    Prime Minister Al-Abadi meets President Obama to discuss efforts to enhance Iraq's capabilities to defeat Daesh
    53 retweets48 favorites

    The whole world knew what Haider wanted out of the meet-up.  From yesterday's snapshot:

    Saturday, Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart (Reuters) broke the news that on his visit to DC, Haider al-Abadi intends to ask for more weapons and needs them on credit.  Dar Addustour adds that Haider intends to ask the US government for money to rebuild areas 'liberated' from the Islamic State.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Haider's wish list includes the White House accelerating the delivery of the Apache helicopters and the F-16 warplanes. AFP notes Haider also intends to ask for more US air strikes.

    And what did Barack want?

    He apparently never defined his wants.  Maybe that's why he so frequently comes out the loser in any negotiation?

    AP reports Haider's getting $200 million in reconstruction funds.

    If there were any strings on that donation/grant, the press hasn't reported on it.

    The only glimmer of hope came at the end of the brief remarks Barack and Haider made to the press:

    Q    But would you give them additional weapons, Mr. President, like Apache helicopters and drones and F-16 that the Prime Minister has been asking?  At least it’s been reported as asking.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think this is why we are having this meeting to make sure that we are continually improving our coordination to make sure that Iraqi security forces are in a position to succeed in our common mission.

    So at least Barack didn't hop directly into the backseat with Haider.

    There may be hope yet.

    Jason Ditz ( observes, "The US has struggled to justify its repeated influxes of military aid to Iraq, both because of the Iraqi military’s tendency to lose billions of dollars worth of advanced US weapons to ISIS control, and because of Iraq’s increasingly checkered human rights record."

    During their brief press conference, Barack spoke far more than Haider.  We'll note this section:

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This is something that we discussed extensively.  I think that, as I’ve said before and I will repeat, we expect Iran to have an important relationship with Iraq as a close neighbor.  And obviously the fact that Iraq is a Shia-majority country means that it will be influenced and have relations with Iran as well.  And at the point in which Daesh or ISIL was surging and the Iraqi government was still getting organized at that point, I think the mobilization of Shia militias was something that was understood to protect Baghdad or other critical areas. 
    Once Prime Minister Abadi took power, once he reorganized the government and the security forces, once the coalition came in at the invitation of and in an agreement with a sovereign Iraqi government, then our expectation is from that point on, any foreign assistance that is helping to defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraqi government.  That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty. That’s how you recognize the democratic government that was hard-earned and is being upheld in the work that Prime Minister Abadi is doing in reaching out to all the various factions inside of Iraq.

    And so I think Prime Minister Abadi’s position has been that he welcomes help, as you just heard, but it needs to be help that is not simply coordinated with the Iraqi government but ultimately is answerable to the Iraqi government and is funneled through the chain of command within the Iraqi government. 

    This did not sit well with everyone.

    Al Mada reports Ammar al-Hakim reacted to those comments by declaring they would gladly take money from DC but they didn't need any advice on the militias.

    Ammar is the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq -- one of the larger Shi'ite groupings.  ISCI has always had close ties to Iran.  Not only did Ammar and his father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim seek asylum in Iran while Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq but Abdul elected to spend the last year and a half of his life (while dying of lung cancer) in Iran where he died on August 26, 2009.

    Ammar's gotten increasingly hostile towards the US government in the last six months or so leading to speculation that he feels wrongly looked over for the post of prime minister. He's been the choice of many in the US intelligence community for some time but he's never managed to pull support from other areas -- Big Oil, the 'diplomatic community,' etc.

    It could also be that Ammar's simply tired of the US government and its overstayed welcome.  It could be that simple.

    But regardless of why, Ammar has clearly soured on the US government.

    Today, Barack declared, "We discussed how we can be supportive of the progress that's being made in shaping an inclusive governance agenda.  I emphasized that the United States’ prime interest is to defeat ISIL and to respect Iraqi sovereignty, and that will continue to be our policy."

    How inclusive is that government going to be without the support of Ammar al-Hakim?

    He's a key Shi'ite figures and represents a large number of Shi'ites.

    So how did the US government ever think it was okay to be estranged from Ammar?

    It appears that all these months of focusing on bombings and getting other countries to send troops to Iraq at the expense of working on actual diplomacy is finally starting to bite the administration in its collective ass.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 160 violent deaths in Iraq today.

    The White House issued the following today:

    Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq

    President Obama welcomed Haider Al-Abadi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, and the accompanying delegation to Washington from April 13-16, 2015.  The President and the Prime Minister met today at the White House to reaffirm the long-term U.S.-Iraq strategic partnership based on mutual respect and common interests and their shared commitment to the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.  The President expressed his strong support for the progress that the Prime Minister and the Iraqi government have accomplished since the two leaders last met seven months ago. 
    Working Together to Destroy ISIL
    President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi reviewed progress in the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  The two leaders honored the sacrifices of Iraqis from all communities in the fight against ISIL and expressed appreciation for the significant contributions of more than 60 partners in the global coalition to counter ISIL.  Over 1,900 U.S. and coalition strikes in Iraq have played a critical role in halting ISIL’s advance and supporting the Iraqi Security Forces in liberating significant Iraqi territory once held by ISIL.  The Prime Minister praised the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces, including the volunteer fighters in the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga forces, and local tribal fighters.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi thanked the President and the American people for the critical support provided to Iraq, including the important work of U.S. service men and women currently stationed in Iraq and the region, and both leaders reaffirmed the core security partnership between their two countries. 
    The President and Prime Minister discussed next steps in the campaign to counter ISIL.  The Prime Minister stressed the importance of stabilizing areas liberated from ISIL control, and ensuring the full transfer of authority to local officials and local police; the maintenance of civil order; the protection of civilians; the peaceful return of displaced residents; and the restoration of government services and the economy.  The Prime Minister emphasized that the Government of Iraq has zero tolerance for human rights abuses and requested assistance from the United States and the coalition to enable immediate and long-term stabilization in areas liberated from ISIL.  The Prime Minister underscored the integral role that local populations are playing in liberating their own areas and, accordingly, stressed the importance of enrolling additional tribal fighters in the fight against ISIL as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces.  President Obama pledged to continue to support Iraqi Security Forces and tribal engagement initiatives with U.S. training and equipment.  He specifically welcomed the recent decision by the Iraqi government to supply thousands of rifles and other equipment to tribal fighters in eastern Anbar province, building on the successful model at Al Asad airbase in western Anbar, where U.S. advisors are enabling tribal operations against ISIL in coordination with Iraqi Security Forces.
    The two leaders underscored the threat that terrorism poses to Iraq, the region, and the global community.  Both leaders emphasized the importance of implementing of UNSC resolutions 2178 and 2199.  They also discussed the critical importance of addressing the sources of extremism and violence, including additional combined efforts in these areas over the coming weeks, and the President noted that the Prime Minister would continue discussions on the military campaign against ISIL in his meetings with the Secretary of Defense on April 15, in addition to the coalition plenary meeting on the same day. 
    Strengthening a Unified and Democratic Iraq
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi updated the President on political developments in Iraq, including his cabinet’s efforts to implement the ambitious national program set forth upon the formation of the government.  He noted parliament’s passage of a national budget, Iraq’s first in years with cross-sectarian support, with key provisions on oil exports and revenue sharing with the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi affirmed his priority remains the passage of legislation that was outlined in the national program.  The President welcomed the progress that has been made to date, and called on all political blocs to make the compromises necessary for full implementation of the national program.
    More broadly, the Prime Minister outlined his vision of a more decentralized model of governance, as called for under the Constitution of Iraq, a model that he asserted was an essential element of the broader strategy for progress in Iraq.  He detailed the government’s program to devolve security and service delivery to the provincial and local levels.  In this light, he noted efforts to empower local government in the stabilization of liberated areas.  He also highlighted the importance of the National Guard in providing more authority over security to the residents of Iraq’s provinces and to ensuring that Iraq’s security forces are broadly representative and close to the communities they are sworn to protect and defend.  The President expressed support for the strategy outlined by the Prime Minister and committed to provide all appropriate assistance and support, as called for in the Strategic Framework Agreement, to strengthen Iraq’s constitutional democracy.
    Enhancing Opportunities for the Iraqi People
    The President and the Prime Minister both noted that our two nations must continue to enhance broad bilateral cooperation under the Strategic Framework Agreement.  The Prime Minister outlined the range of Iraq’s challenges resulting from the global decline in the price of oil, the humanitarian crisis, and Iraq’s fight against ISIL.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi outlined his government’s strategy to shore up the Iraqi economy, including revitalization of Iraq’s energy infrastructure and reforms to mitigate corruption and reduce wasteful spending.  The two leaders agreed that international support for Iraq’s fight against ISIL could be leveraged toward enhancing Iraq’s integration with the global economy. 
    President Obama noted that economic cooperation is central to the long-term U.S.-Iraq partnership.  The President congratulated the Prime Minister on Iraq’s recent record high oil exports, the highest in more than thirty years, and they affirmed that they will work together to expand Iraqi oil production and exports in the future.  The President said he had directed Vice President Biden to convene, on April 16, a Higher Coordinating Committee meeting of the Strategic Framework Agreement to focus specifically on economic issues, including bilateral trade, energy cooperation, private sector reform, and Iraq's fiscal stability.
    President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi both reaffirmed the need to address the humanitarian situation in Iraq, where more than 2.6 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since January 2014.  President Obama noted his recent decision to provide nearly $205 million dollars in additional humanitarian assistance to Iraqis in the region and to support Iraq’s response to the Syrian crisis, bringing the U.S. contribution to help displaced Iraqis to more than $407 million since the start of fiscal year 2014. 
    Reinforcing Regional Cooperation
    President Obama expressed his strong support for increased cooperation between Iraq and regional partners on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs.  The Prime Minister updated the President on his consultations with regional capitals and his efforts to enhance regional diplomatic representation in Baghdad.  The President confirmed the importance of establishing a strong diplomatic presence in Baghdad by all regional Arab states.
    The two leaders agreed that there are no military solutions to the region’s conflicts.  To this end, Prime Minister Al-Abadi welcomed the framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P5+1 and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program as a means towards greater peace and stability in the region.  Both leaders affirmed that a strong U.S.-Iraq relationship was critical for regional security and in the long-term interests of both countries. 

    This visit provides an opportunity to review the important progress that Iraq and the United States have made together and to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation across the full spectrum of the strategic partnership.  The rapid and extensive response by the United States to the current challenges facing Iraq has highlighted the robust and steadfast relationship between our two countries, and the President and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of continuing to strengthen this enduring relationship.

    jason ditz

    Posted at 12:08 am by thecommonills

    FACT SHEET: U.S.-Iraq Cooperation

    FACT SHEET: U.S.-Iraq Cooperation

    The White House issued the following today after US President Barack Obama met with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary

    FACT SHEET: U.S.-Iraq Cooperation

    The strategic partnership between the United States and the Republic of Iraq spans a wide-range of sectors, consistent with the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.  Below is a selection of key areas of cooperation that demonstrates the expansiveness of this important bilateral relationship.
    Defense and Security:  The United States and Iraq are committed to promoting stability in Iraq and the region through an enduring partnership that supports our goal to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, enhances Iraqi defense capabilities, re-establishes the security of Iraq’s borders, modernizes its forces, and supports Iraq’s contributions to regional security.

    • The United States and Iraq have made progress in the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  In the past eight months, more than 1,900 U.S. and coalition airstrikes have blunted ISIL’s momentum in Iraq and degraded its military capability.  As a result of this coordinated effort ISIL has lost control of approximately 25 to 30 percent of the populated areas it had seized in Iraq.  Iraqi forces have retaken critical areas of the country, including the Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, Diyala, Tikrit, and areas near Kirkuk.  In both Iraq and Syria, over 3,200 U.S. and coalition strikes have damaged or destroyed over 5,780 ISIL targets including 75 tanks and 285 Humvees in ISIL control, 1,166 ISIL fighting positions, and 151 oil infrastructure-related targets that ISIL operated.
    • Teams of U.S. and coalition personnel are supporting efforts to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including Peshmerga forces,  in planning military operations, intelligence sharing, integrating air support and land operations, managing logistics, command and control of forces, and communications.  These teams are also assisting the Iraqi government as they train and equip Sunni tribal fighters as recruits into the Popular Mobilization Forces in Anbar and Ninewa provinces. 
    • Since the fall of 2014, the United States has delivered essential equipment to Iraq as a critical component of the coalition fight against ISIL, including: over 100 million rounds of ammunition, 62,000 small arms systems, 1,700 Hellfire missiles, and six M1A1 tanks.  In addition, the U.S. provided to the Government of Iraq 250 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in December 2014 and January 2015, 25 of which were subsequently provided to Kurdish forces in Erbil.  The Peshmerga received 1,000 Anti-Tank Missiles that were delivered through the Government of Iraq.  As of this week, an additional 50 MRAPs with mine rollers will be on their way to Iraq.  In addition to ammunition and vehicles, the United States has also delivered over 12,000 rifles, body armor, helmets, and first aid kits – the equivalent of roughly 5-6 brigades’ worth of individual soldier weapons and equipment.  The United States continues to work with the Government of Iraq to deliver their F-16 fighter aircraft to Iraq, and there are currently 30 Iraqi Air Force pilots in the training pipeline. 
    • Deliveries and donations from coalition countries have also been critical to the equipping effort. The coalition has conducted over 70 flights carrying over 5 million pounds of materiel donated by 17 countries, to support the Government of Iraq’s fight against ISIL. 
    • The $1.6-billion Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) has enabled the United States to provide training and equipment to the ISF, including Peshmerga troops and tribal volunteers, with strong support from coalition partners.  Four Building Partner Capacity sites have been established, in Al Asad, Besmayah, Taji, and Erbil - and almost 6,500 ISF, including Peshmerga, have already completed instruction, with more than 4,900 currently in training.  Additional equipment funded by ITEF has also begun to arrive in Iraq including individual soldier gear and weapons.  Armored vehicles, communications systems, and other equipment and munitions to support roughly 20,000 Iraqi fighters will follow shortly. 
    • Foreign Military Financing (FMF)—grants for the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment, services, and training—will continue to support the long-term development of ISF capabilities.  Since 2013, $771 million in FMF and more than $2.5 million in International Military Education and Training has gone towards the development of Iraq’s military.  FMF has supported ISF logistics capacity building, professionalization and training, platform-specific sustainment, border security, and equipment to support Iraqi counter terrorism forces. 

    Political, Diplomatic, and Humanitarian Assistance: The United States supports Iraq’s efforts to develop an inclusive government that promotes security, prosperity and human rights for all Iraqis, and to enhance ties with its regional neighbors. 

    • The United States is providing an additional $205 million in humanitarian assistance to assist millions of Iraqi civilians – both refugees in the region and internally displaced persons within the country – who have been affected by ISIL attacks and previous instability, providing them with food, shelter, water, medical services, cash assistance, and other essential goods and services.  It will help displaced persons and refugees obtain legal documentation, strengthen child protection, and improve management at IDP camps.  With this new funding, the United States has provided more than $407 million in humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people since the start of fiscal year 2014. 
    • The United States is working closely with Iraq and coalition members to help Iraq develop a plan to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL-control and to identify resources to support Iraqi stabilization efforts and facilitate their delivery.  In March, a team of stabilization experts from the United States joined experts from the coalition and the United Nations in a conference with the Government of Iraq to assess the government’s readiness to address the immediate needs of liberated areas.
    • Strengthening Iraq’s federal system is a key plank of Prime Minister Abadi’s national program, and is a key pillar of the Government of Iraq’s strategy to improve governance and stabilize the country.  The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) Service Delivery Project (Taqadum) supports the Government of Iraq's efforts to decentralize responsibilities for service delivery from three central ministries, which serves as a model from which other national ministries can emulate.  We are also committed to supporting inclusive governance in Iraq and promoting reconciliation.  The State Department is targeting over $17 million in fiscal year 2014 funding for programs which include activities to address human rights and rule of law as well as atrocities prevention and accountability issues – key areas for building reconciliation and contributing to the stabilization of Iraq.

    EnergyThe United States and Iraq are committed to the secure, efficient, resilient, and transparent development of Iraq’s electricity, oil, and gas sectors in an effort to build a strong economy that is capable of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people and bringing greater stability to world markets.

    • The United States and the Government of Iraq, acting pursuant to a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, have developed a Joint Action Plan to address energy cooperation and the protection of critical infrastructure.  In April 2015, the United States and Iraq completed the first phase of the Work Plan for Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection, which prioritizes strategic projects for U.S. and Iraqi collaboration in securing Iraq’s energy infrastructure.
    • The Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program brought together U.S. and international experts to share their natural gas contracting expertise with contract specialists in Iraq’s Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Electricity in March 2014.

    Trade & FinanceThe United States and Iraq support the development of a prosperous and diversified Iraqi economy that is integrated into the global economic system and also efforts to partner on programs to develop Iraq’s economy, expand bilateral trade, enhance macroeconomic and fiscal stability, and protect Iraqi financial institutions from exploitation by ISIL.

    • During the inaugural Trade and Investment Framework Agreement meeting in March 2014, Iraq and the United States addressed trade issues that would improve the U.S. – Iraq bilateral trade and investment relationship.  Iraq committed to improving its business climate, and the United States– through a series of ongoing capacity building and training engagements across Iraq’s relevant Ministries – remains committed to support these efforts.
    • U.S. companies remain actively engaged in Iraq.  U.S. goods exports to Iraq increased by approximately 4.2 percent and U.S. imports from Iraq rose 3 percent from 2013 to 2014. Several U.S. franchises established or expanded branches in Iraq.  The cities of Houston and Basrah have strengthened their bilateral trade as well as their educational and cultural exchanges through the existing Basrah – Houston City Partnership. 
    • In July 2014 the Central Bank of Iraq issued directives to Iraqi financial institutions within ISIL-held territory to cease financial activity. The Department of the Treasury continues to engage with the Central Bank of Iraq to ensure these directives are implemented and restrict ISIL’s access to the Iraqi and international financial systems.
    • In response to a request from the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, the United States is planning to provide targeted technical expertise on public financial management issues pending Congressional approval of funding.  The program will help the Government of Iraq mitigate the fiscal impacts arising from ISIL’s attacks and a precipitous drop in oil prices.
    • The United States and Iraq are eager to spur private sector development in Iraq.  USAID's Administrative Reform project (Tarabot) works with Iraqi ministries to streamline regulations and improve procurement processes in order to better manage resources and create business opportunities. 

    Education and Culture: The United States and Iraq strongly support a strengthened Iraqi higher education system, the preservation and promotion of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage, and expansion of educational, cultural, and professional exchanges between our nations.

    • During the 2013-2014 academic year, nearly 1,500 Iraqi students attended U.S. universities, an increase of 33 percent over the previous year.  The United States continues to work with the Iraqi government to expand its networks of partner institutions and increase its engagement with U.S. universities.
    • Each year approximately 500 Iraqis participate in U.S. government academic, cultural, and professional exchange programs. 
    • From 2010-2014, the Iraq University Linkage Program linked seven U.S. universities with seven Iraqi universities to develop curricula, train faculty, improve English language training capacity, and create career centers to facilitate job placement.
    • The United States returned to the Government of Iraq numerous items of cultural heritage that had been removed unlawfully from Iraq and seized by Department of Homeland Security agents, including the sculptured head in the style of the Assyrian King Sargon II. U.S. funding in support of the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) has provided technical expertise in a variety of preservation areas to Iraqi antiquities specialists from throughout the country. 
    • The United States supported major renovations to the galleries, storerooms, laboratories, and climate control systems of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, which has just reopened to the Iraqi public.   Through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the State Department has invested nearly $3 million since 2010 in emergency stabilization and conservation of the Ishtar gate and other major structures and artifacts in Babylon.

    Posted at 12:07 am by thecommonills

    New Records Reveal Revolving Door for People with Mental Illness in Erie County Jail

    New Records Reveal Revolving Door for People with Mental Illness in Erie County Jail

    The ACLU issued the following today:

    April 14, 2015


    NEW YORK - The New York Civil Liberties Union this morning released the second in a series of reports documenting prisoner conditions at two Erie County jails. The NYCLU won the release of the reports following a two-year legal battle with the county, and the documents reveal that while the county has made considerable progress in its treatment of people in the jails with mental health conditions, the county lacks a strategy to address the revolving door where people cycle in and out of jail because they only get mental health care while they are incarcerated.

    “After years of neglect and abuse in Erie County’s jails, as well as costly litigation, the county has clearly adopted serious reforms to the way it handles the people it incarcerates who have mental illness. But these reports also illustrate the severity of the problem – thousands of people with mental illness are locked up in jail in Erie County every year,” said NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Corey Stoughton. “People shouldn’t have to go to jail to get mental health care, but that’s what is happening in Erie County.”

    For years, Erie County has aggressively resisted investigations and subsequent legal challenges by the state and federal government regarding inhumane and unconstitutional conditions at its two county jails. Investigations and legal complaints initiated by the U.S. Justice Department and the State Commission of Corrections have included allegations of inadequate medical care, violent treatment by prison personnel, and poor efforts to protect suicidal prisoners.

    A two-year investigation by the Justice Department found evidence of staff-prisoner violence and sexual misconduct between staff and prisoners, along with an inadequate monitoring system to prevent suicide at the facilities. Since 2003, 10 inmates have committed suicide at both sites, and at least 16 additional inmates have attempted it.

    In 2012, the NYCLU sued the county for the public release of compliance reports filed every six months following a 2009 lawsuit brought by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The reports are filed by physicians hired to monitor the county’s compliance with reforms to improve conditions at the facilities. The reports released today focus on mental health issues.

    “The county has clearly made significant strides in its response to people with mental illness while they are incarcerated, but that falls apart when they are leaving jail,” Stoughton said. “The reports suggest a lack of investment in discharge planning, and the high rates of mental illness among people admitted to the jails suggests that people suffer from lack of access to services on the outside, are re-arrested, and get locked up again. The bottom line is that jails are an expensive and ineffective way to treat the mentally ill. The county needs to start looking at solutions that divert people suffering from mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into effective treatment programs.”

    To read the first installment of reports, visit

    Posted at 12:07 am by thecommonills

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Haider's in the US, Brett's giddy and wants a sleep over

    Haider's in the US, Brett's giddy and wants a sleep over

    In Iraq, the violence continues.  Press TV reports, "At least 11 people have been killed and 28 others injured in two car bombings and a booby-trap bomb attack in Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad, sources say."  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) adds, "Later on Tuesday afternoon, two car bombs went off simultaneously in Baghdad's southeastern outskirts, in al-Wihda area, killing six civilians and wounding 13, another police officer said."

    Meanwhile Brett McGurk barely got any sleep last night.  Plagued by nightmares over all the dead in Iraq he's been responsible for -- first as Bully Boy Bush's best boy, now as Barack's?


    He was giddy as a Brony on the morning of a My Little Pony convention. 

    He explains in a Tweet:

    Looking forward to big 1st day w/PM Abadi: Breakfast with VP Biden, then POTUS at the WH, followed by Sec. Kerry, and a group of U.S. CEOs.
    16 retweets 15 favorites

    Well as Beck once said, "Get crazy with the Cheese Whiz."

    Former US House Rep Patrick Kennedy (writing at The Hill) feels the visit to DC by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is a chance to reset relations and provide guidelines with regards to Iran:

    If Tehran came away from negotiations in Switzerland with the notion that the US will continue to look the other way on Iran’s domestic abuses and pursuit of regional hegemony, then the Obama administration has a greater responsibility than ever to use Abadi’s visit to pull Iraq away from Iran's sphere of influence. 
    [. . .]
    Engagement with the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism was not a sensible strategy. Obama has been too eager to strike a deal with Iran. In fact, Obama previously declared that he foresaw Iran becoming a “very successful regional power.” Using Abadi’s visit to finally challenge and counteract Iran’s presence in Iraq would clearly communicate to Iran that it cannot continue its aggression with impunity. 

    At POLITICO, Michael Crowley notes that the administration is very frustrated by doubts of success and that the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk began last week with US Vice President Joe Biden's heavily promoted speech claiming success in Iraq.

    Of course, most observers of the speech rightly noted that Joe's claims just didn't hold up.

    The Pentagon's on a big push this morning insisting that there's been huge success in the war against the Islamic State.

    But others may beg to differ.

  • " data-follows-you="false" data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="587941723193667584" data-name="Hayder al-Khoei" data-permalink-path="/Hayder_alKhoei/status/587941723193667584" data-screen-name="Hayder_alKhoei" data-tweet-id="587941723193667584" data-user-id="49133199" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Report that  have beheaded four Hashd Al-Shabi fighters in  today.

    Most importantly, the war against the Islamic State was not what Barack proposed last June.  Back then he insisted the only way to end the current crises was a political solution.  Two months away from a year later and there's still no political solution.

    And yet Haider al-Abadi arrived in the US with a wish list.

    From yesterday's snapshot:

    Saturday, Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart (Reuters) broke the news that on his visit to DC, Haider al-Abadi intends to ask for more weapons and needs them on credit.  Dar Addustour adds that Haider intends to ask the US government for money to rebuild areas 'liberated' from the Islamic State.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Haider's wish list includes the White House accelerating the delivery of the Apache helicopters and the F-16 warplanes. AFP notes Haider also intends to ask for more US air strikes.

    Those wants are a gift to anyone smart enough to use them as leverage to force Haider to move to action on all the empty promises he's been offering.

    As the visit unfolds, various issues may be addressed.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth notes:

  • " data-follows-you="false" data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="587928190666027008" data-mentions="hrw" data-name="Kenneth Roth" data-permalink-path="/KenRoth/status/587928190666027008" data-screen-name="KenRoth" data-tweet-id="587928190666027008" data-user-id="17839398" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Top of agenda when Obama meets Iraqi PM Abadi should be reining in Shia militia abuse:. 

    The following community sites -- plus Z on TV,  Jody Watley and Susan's On the Edge -- updated:


  • The e-mail address for this site is

    Posted at 11:52 pm by thecommonills

    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Monday, April 11, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, threats force Reuters journalist Ned Parker out of Iraq, the country's prime minister Haider al-Abadi arrives in DC with a long list for Santa Claus, and much more.

    J. Dana Stuster (Foreign Policy) notes that the Washington Post's Jason Rezaian has been a prisoner of the Iranian government for eight months now.   The Washington Post's Marty Baron Tweets:

    Our statement on report that faces espionage charges: "product of fertile and twisted imaginations."
    136 retweets 21 favorites

    The linked to report includes this statement from Baron:

    It has been nearly nine months since Jason was arrested.   Now comes word via an Iranian news agency that Jason will face espionage charges. Any charges­ of that sort would be absurd, the product of fertile and twisted imaginations. We are left to repeat our call on the Iranian government to release Jason and, in the meantime, we are counting on his lawyer to mount a vigorous defense.

    J. Dana Stuster also notes:

    Separately, Reuters’ Baghdad bureau chief, Ned Parker, left Iraq this week after credible threats were made against his life. The threats followed a Reuters investigation into human rights abuses in the battle to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State and its aftermath. Parker was threatened on Facebook by people believed to be affiliated with Shia militias operating in Iraq and a television program funded by one of the militias “accused the reporter and Reuters of denigrating Iraq and its government-backed forces, and called on viewers to demand Parker be expelled.” The State Department has reportedly raised the issue of press intimidation with the Iraqi government, but a spokesperson for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the safety of the press “has improved significantly since this prime minister took over” and encouraged members of the press to reach out to police if they are threatened.

    Ned Parker is a journalist who has long covered Iraq.  He distinguished himself first at the Los Angeles Times.  There, among other stories, he broke the news on Nouri al-Maliki's secret prisons. At Reuters, he's continued to break important stories.  

    He also wrote two very important long form pieces in 2014: "Who Lost Iraq?" (POLITICO) and "Iraq: The Road to Chaos" (The New York Review of Books).

    Stars and Stripes notes:
    Three days later, the television station Al-Ahd, owned by the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, broadcast a report on Parker including his photo. The television report accused Parker and Reuters of defaming Iraq and urged viewers demand the reporter he expelled, Reuters said.
    An April 3 report by Parker and two colleagues detailed human rights abuses in Tikrit after government forces and Iranian-backed militias captured Tikrit from Islamic State militants. Reuters said two of its reporters saw an Islamic State fighter lynched by Iraqi national police. The report also described widespread looting and arson in the city, which local politicians blamed on Iranian-backed militias.

    James Gordon Meek (ABC News) adds, "The blatant killing of a prisoner in front of the journalists was one of the most alarming examples of the types of war crimes committed with apparent impunity by Iraqi Security Forces and uncovered in a six-month ABC News investigation that aired in March on "World News Tonight With David Muir." It also comes on the eve of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's White House huddle with President Obama on Tuesday."

    The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted on Haider al-Abadi's arrival.

    Will the issue be raised during the visit?

    Probably not.

    The threats and attacks are not an isolated incident but part of a move to suppress and destroy journalism in Iraq.

    Two Sundays ago, we noted:

    NINA does not publish -- any longer -- violence on the day of.  It publishes reports the next day.  So right now you can't find out about Sunday's violence but come Monday you can.
    What's going on?
    Al Mada's doing nothing.
    It's a ghost of its former self.
    In that instance, it's supposedly agreed to silence its own voice to 'help' the new government.
    Many other outlets in Iraq are 'helping' or under intimidation.

    I've heard about [it] from Iraqis reporting for various outlets and kept waiting to see a major report on it from the west.  Instead, they don't even note it.
    Dar Addustour has been covering in reporting and, last week, columnist As Sheikh also weighed in.  Noting the problems facing the Iraqi press, he called for a fund to be set up to support the press and the freedom it is supposed to have.
    It is amazing that the press which managed to push back against thug Nouri al-Maliki is now a victim of Haider al-Abadi.
    In fairness to Haider, some -- like Al Mada -- are silencing themselves.  They think it's for 'the good' of the country (two different reporters for the paper have e-mailed about that -- they do not agree with the paper's policy).

    And Thursday's snapshot noted Haider al-Abadi's attack on the press -- in a speech the press covered, one he gave in Falluja, but somehow all the outlets covering the speech failed to cover Haider's attack on the press.

    By the 8th, when Ned Parker's picture was being broadcast on TV with a call to kill him, Haider was in Falluja declaring that there were elements of the media working against the struggle.

    The attacks on Ned Parker had already begun, the threats already publicly made and Haider deliberately threw gas on the fire.

    Haider did everything but call Ned Parker a member of the Islamic State.

    Saturday, his office issued this statement:

    Since Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi took office a series of significant steps have been taken to cultivate an environment where free speech is fostered in both local and foreign media. Bans on several networks have been lifted and journalists are encouraged to perform their job with freedom and integrity even when that entails criticising the government. When the Prime Minister's office was informed  of Mr Ned Parker's concerns over certain broadcasts and segments on local channels we immediately ensured that he was safe in his compound which is fortified and guarded by a well equipped Iraqi police force. We requested that Mr. Parker report to the police details of what he believed to be a serious threat on his life and offered him protection. The broadcasts on those channels were primarily directed against the Iraqi government accusing it of being too lenient on Reuters, which, in their view, had reported stories that were not accurate. We staunchly oppose any bullying, intimidation

    towards the media and any attempts to curb and encumber freedom of speech.
    We are committed to developing and bolstering a free press which we will take painstaking measures to protect, and is fundamental to our vision of a free and democratic Iraq.

    More empty words from a US-installed puppet who's accomplished nothing to point to with pride.

    You'll notice he doesn't mention his remarks in Falluja.

    You'll notice that it's the only press release in the last 7 days that he hasn't issued in English.

    Iraq's Ambassador to the US is Lukman Faily.  Today, he took questions online at Twitter.  We'll note this exchange with the Washington Post's Liz Sly.

    . After what happened to can you guarantee journalists won't be harassed/threatened by govt allies?
    15 retweets 9 favorites

    . freedom of expression is paramount to the new Iraq. Ensuring safety of foreign and Iraqi journalists is an obligation
    12 retweets 3 favorites

    . one of the first things PM Abadi did was to drop all pending lawsuits against journalists on behalf of the government
    9 retweets 2 favorites

    What's he doing now?

    Saturday, Iraq Times reported Haider's government has decided to shutter all radio stations and TV stations which are linked to government institutions or ministries.  The reason being given?  It's supposed to be a cost-saving measure.

    At today's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Marie Harft couldn't be bothered with the topic -- remember, the administration must not acknowledge any problems related to Iran, they must keep their mouth shut as they've done forever in order to try and get a deal -- some deal, any deal -- with Iran.  But at today's United Nations briefing,  Stephane Dujarric (United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson) noted:

    •    The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) said that on 9 April a Reuters correspondent was forced to leave Iraq after being subjected to threats against his life on social media. This follows criticism of a report filed by his Bureau on violations against civilians and civilian property perpetrated by pro-Government militias following the liberation of Tikrit from Da’esh.
    • The Mission has underscored that freedom of expression and the right to impart and to receive information underpin democracy and the rule of law. It is incumbent on the Government to do all it can to ensure the protection of domestic and international journalists and media professionals in carrying out their duties, and to send the clear message that threats against media professionals are not acceptable, said the UN mission.

    All Iraq News reports on the United Nations statement.

    No one notes US President Barack Obama's remarks . . .

    . . . because he hasn't made any.

    This despite the fact that US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power Tweeted the following Sunday:

    POTUS: We will continue to speak out not bc we’re interested in meddling but bc we know from our own history it’s approp. for us to stand up
    24 retweets 30 favorites

    We will continue to speak out?

    When does Barack plan to start speaking out?

    Not everyone is so reticent.  We'll note this from The Committee to Protect Journalists:

    The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Iraqi authorities to investigate death threats against Reuters' bureau chief in Baghdad and ensure that journalists are able to work in Iraq without fear of reprisal. Ned Parker was forced to flee Iraq following death threats, Reuters reported on Saturday.

    "Threats aimed at silencing journalists, no matter from where they come, cannot be tolerated. The Iraqi people deserve to know and to share information about the extreme violence and volatility wracking their nation," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, from New York. "We call on authorities in Baghdad to investigate this act of intimidation and hold the perpetrators to account."
    [. . .]
    Journalists in Iraq, particularly local ones, have been under threat as the security situation in the country has deteriorated, according to local press freedom groups including the Journalists Freedom Observatory.

    Saturday, Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart (Reuters) broke the news that on his visit to DC, Haider al-Abadi intends to ask for more weapons and needs them on credit.  Dar Addustour adds that Haider intends to ask the US government for money to rebuild areas 'liberated' from the Islamic State.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Haider's wish list includes the White House accelerating the delivery of the Apache helicopters and the F-16 warplanes. AFP notes Haider also intends to ask for more US air strikes.

    That's quite a list for Santa.

    And we all know Haider's been naughty, not nice.

    So before Barack puts on his Santa suit, he might, for once, realize that the US government is in a position of strength and it can insist that various reforms have to be implemented -- not just given lip service -- before any deliveries take place or any reconstruction funds are given or loaned.

    This is a chance to use the diplomatic tool box. This is a chance to offer the carrot or the stick.

    Barack's not been very good at that.

    He's been good at bombing.

    He especially loves fly over bombings -- which he then tries to pretend are not combat actions.

    But he's not very good at diplomacy.

    Which may explain why there's still no political solution in Iraq.

    Margaret Griffis ( reports 139 violent deaths across Iraq on Monday.  As the assault on Anbar Province continues, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports 1500 families have fled for safety reasons.  They will join the thousands already displaced inside Iraq.

    On the Anbar Province assault, Rod Nordland and Falih Hassan  (New York Times) report:

    Under pressure from American officials here, Iraq has withdrawn Shiite militiamen from the Ramadi area in Anbar Province, and the American-led coalition immediately responded by stepping up bombing raids to support Iraqi forces battling extremists of the Islamic State there, according to Iraqi officials involved in the decision.
    The American ambassador, Stuart E. Jones, met Saturday with Anbar tribal leaders and provincial officials and expressed his dissatisfaction that Shiite militiamen were in the thick of a local offensive against the Islamic State near the Anbar provincial capital, according to two participants in the meeting, interviewed Sunday.

    The same thing with Tikrit, remember?

    Maybe on the visit, Barack could make that an existing condition?  Maybe explain to Haider no bombs dropped from on high when Shi'ite militias are running wild in the area?

    Today, new content finally went up at Third:

    And 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 "GROWERS MOVE TO GUT CALIFORNIA'S FARM LABOR LAW" (Capital and Main):

    When hundreds of people marched to the Los Angeles City Council last October, urging it to pass a resolution supporting a farm worker union fight taking place in California's San Joaquin Valley, hardly anyone had ever heard the name of the company involved. That may not be the case much longer. Gerawan Farming, one of the country's largest growers, with 5,000 people picking its grapes and peaches, is challenging the California law that makes farm workers' union rights enforceable. Lining up behind Gerawan are national anti-union think tanks. What began as a local struggle by one grower family to avoid a union contract is getting bigger, and the stakes are getting much higher.

    The Gerawan workers got the City Council's support and, on February 10, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education passed a resolution that went beyond just an encouraging statement. The LAUSD purchases Gerawan's Prima label peaches and grapes through suppliers for 1,270 schools and 907,000 students. The LAUSD's resolution, proposed by board member Steve Zimmer, requires the district to verify that Gerawan Farming is abiding by state labor laws, "and to immediately implement the agreement issued by the neutral mediator and the state of California."

    Verifying compliance, however, may not be easy.  In mid-March a hearing on Gerawan's violations of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) ended after 104 days of testimony by 130 witnesses.  According to the Agricultural Labor Relations' Board's general counsel, Sylvia Torres-Guillén, and its regional director in Visalia, Silas Shawver, Gerawan mounted an intense campaign against the United Farm Workers after the union requested bargaining in October 2012.  According to the board, Gerawan sought to "undermine the UFW's status as its employees' bargaining representative; to turn its employees against the union; to promote decertification of the UFW; and to prevent the UFW from ever representing its employees under a collective bargaining agreement." 

    Posted at 12:33 am by thecommonills

    Francis Boyle reacts to Hillary's announcement

    Francis Boyle reacts to Hillary's announcement

    From June 14, 2006, that's Isaiah's  The World Today Just Nuts "The Beat of Black Wings, The Screech of the War Hawk."

    Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor of international law.  He's also the author of many books including, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.  Below he offers his reaction to Hillary Clinton's announcement yesterday that she's running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination:

    I came. I saw. He died.” Said Clinton, deliberately mimicking Julius Caesar, then laughing hysterically over Ghadafy being sodomized with a knife,  then  tortured and beaten  to death. Clinton is a Psychopath.
    Francis A. Boyle
    Law Building
    504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.

    Champaign, IL 61820 USA

    Posted at 12:32 am by thecommonills

    Can someone wake up Barack?

    Can someone wake up Barack?

    We'll assume you're again sleeping, Barack Obama.

    You've missed every major moment in Iraq while you've been president so we'll assume you slept through them and that you're not as inept as your record on Iraq would indicate.

    Saturday, Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart (Reuters) broke the news that on his visit to DC, Haider al-Abadi intends to ask for more weapons and needs them on credit.

    See Iraq's in the midst of major money problems right now.

    If you missed the news then, AP is covering it this morningSo is AFP.

    You've missed every moment like this before, so wipe your eyes, drink your coffee, wake yourself up -- slowly if necessary -- and grasp this is a significant moment.

    You don't have to go to war with a country to get concessions.

    Right now, Iraq has a need.

    This is where you can press your needs.

    Last June, you insisted the only solution to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

    There has been no progress there.

    Haider has a want.

    This is where you use that want.

    This is where you say, "We don't give you anything until you . . . "

    This is a significant moment.

    This is where you press for real reform -- not more empty words from Haider.

    Joe Biden tried to spin the political solution in a speech last week.

    He was the joke of the Arab press as a result.

    You might want to wake up and factor that in as you determine your next move.

    The following community sites updated:

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Posted at 12:32 am by thecommonills



    Ned Parker.

    With the Los Angeles Times, he wrote important reports.  With Reuters more recently, he's done the same.

    We've noted Ned hear repeatedly.  Saturday's snapshot included a long section that got pulled  -- that section noted Ned and Tim Arango.  It noted Ned was the most important journalist covering Iraq since 2009.  (It noted Tim was highly important and -- if he had support from the paper -- Jill didn't want Iraq news -- he could have had one scoop after another.)

    At Third, Ned's gotten more "truest statement of the week"s than any other journalist.

    He's a solid reporter who digs for the story and doesn't give up.

    And now he's not in Iraq.

    Reuters explains:

    The Baghdad bureau chief for Reuters has left Iraq after he was threatened on Facebook and denounced by a Shi'ite paramilitary group's satellite news channel in reaction to a Reuters report last week that detailed lynching and looting in the city of Tikrit.
    The threats against journalist Ned Parker began on an Iraqi Facebook page run by a group that calls itself "the Hammer" and is believed by an Iraqi security source to be linked to armed Shi'ite groups. The April 5 post and subsequent comments demanded he be expelled from Iraq. One commenter said that killing Parker was "the best way to silence him, not kick him out."
    Three days later, a news show on Al-Ahd, a television station owned by Iranian-backed armed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, broadcast a segment on Parker that included a photo of him. The segment accused the reporter and Reuters of denigrating Iraq and its government-backed forces, and called on viewers to demand Parker be expelled.
    The pressure followed an April 3 report by Parker and two colleagues detailing human rights abuses in Tikrit after government forces and Iranian-backed militias liberated the city from the Islamic State extremist group. Two Reuters journalists in the city witnessed the lynching of an Islamic State fighter by Iraqi federal police. The report also described widespread incidents of looting and arson in the city, which local politicians blamed on Iranian-backed militias.

    I'm not Reuters, I don't have to be nice or fair or diplomatic.

    The threats against Ned Parker are condoned by the actions of Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

    I am so not in the damn mood to be writing.

    Third may go up tomorrow, I don't know.

    I didn't hear about Ned Parker having to leave Iraq until today.  Ava and I wrote our media piece and Third can post that if they want.  But I'm really not in the mood now to write anything else.  Including anything here.

    But Ned Parker has made a difference with his reporting so I'll try to pull something together here.

    Mainly, what I'm thinking is, "Why the f**k doesn't anyone listen?"

    We've got a track record here.

    We were the ones who wrote about Brett McGurk first, we're the ones who told you Scooter Libby was Judith Miller's source when either no one knew or no wanted to talk, we're the ones who daily charted Nouri al-Maliki's descent into increased thuggery during his second term as prime minister.

    So at some point, if we're noting something, it would be so nice if it could be at least considered as possible.

    Last Sunday's "Hejira" noted the problems the Iraqi press was facing:

    I've heard about from Iraqis reporting for various outlets and kept waiting to see a major report on it from the west.  Instead, they don't even note it.

    Dar Addustour has been covering in reporting and, last week, columnist As Sheikh also weighed in.  Noting the problems facing the Iraqi press, he called for a fund to be set up to support the press and the freedom it is supposed to have.

    It is amazing that the press which managed to push back against thug Nouri al-Maliki is now a victim of Haider al-Abadi.

    In fairness to Haider, some -- like Al Mada -- are silencing themselves.  They think it's for 'the good' of the country (two different reporters for the paper have e-mailed about that -- they do not agree with the paper's policy).

    Thursday's snapshot noted Haider al-Abadi's attack on the press -- in a speech the press covered, one he gave in Falluja, but somehow all the outlets covering the speech failed to cover Haider's attack on the press.

    His office published the attack April 8th -- in Arabic.  It never made it up to the English side of the site.  It's still not up there now.

    Realizing thugs lie, we've posted the press release here.

    Review the Reuters' chronology.

    By the 8th, when Ned Parker's picture was being broadcast on TV with a call to kill him, Haider was in Falluja declaring that there were elements of the media working against the struggle.

    Haider did everything but call Ned Parker a member of the Islamic State.

    This is why people need to pay attention.

    They don't.

    They're off in their pathetic world calling a pizza joint's refusal to deliver pizzas to a wedding "catering" when it's not but delivery.  They're off whoring for Barack in some revisionary manner that pretends nothing ever happened in Iraq after Bully Boy Bush left the White House.

    Or they're doing something else that doesn't matter.

    Iraq matters.

    So we've covered it here.

    We've paid attention.

    When no one offered daily coverage of Iraq, we did.

    So excuse me for being pissed that, yet again, we're telling the world something's going wrong and no one wants to pay attention.

    Haider's attack endorsed the threats against Ned Parker, let's be really clear on that.

    Haider's becoming the new Nouri al-Maliki.

    The US government either demands these behaviors stop now or they an explain in a few years how 'their man' turned out to be yet another thug.

    I'm tired of it.

    I'm tired of an American online world that ignores Iraq unless they feel the need to blame Iraq's current problems on Bully Boy Bush so that St. Barack does not have to take responsibility for his own actions.

    I'm sick of the fact that Ned Parker's been threatened.

    He's everything we supposedly want in a journalist.

    He's determined, he's fair, he's covering issues that actually matter.

    The threat against Ned is part of a threat against journalism that's being fostered and encouraged by Haider al-Abadi.

    The White House needs to demand that Haider make a commitment to fostering a free press.

    And Haider can ensure that his remarks are seen as more than words by launching a full investigation into the assassination of journalist Hadhi al-Mahdi -- who was kidnapped and tortured by Nouri's security forces early in 2011 and was assassinated in his apartment later that same year.

    And Iraqi journalists?

    Their editors need to stop censoring them.

    I'm more than happy to list the outlets that are doing that -- either under pressure from Haider or to curry favor with Haider -- and maybe I soon will.

    But the only thing that saved Iraq in Nouri's second term was a brave and independent Iraqi press.

    They need that press now more than ever.

    And I am a huge supporter of Ned Parker, yes.

    But what's being done to him is being done to journalism in Iraq.

    We need to recognize that and we need to call it out.

    I'm traveling in some vehicle
    I'm sitting in some cafe
    A defector from the petty wars
    That shell shock love away
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

     The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4494.

    That's all I can manage now.  I told Jim I was taking a nap and I might wake up ready to work on Third but otherwise, he can publish whatever without me (or Ava -- when one of us walks, we both walk).  I'm just really not in the mood.

    I don't want to be the Cassandra.

    Yes, it means you were right.

    But it also means that no one listened until it was too late.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Posted at 12:29 am by thecommonills

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