Friday, November 28, 2014

Iraq: Continued violence, corruption and no budget still

Al Jazeera reports fighting continues in Anbar Province and:

The Iraqi army says it has held off a fierce assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the city of Ramadi.
The claim comes amid an announcement by the Iraqi government that it will triple its defence budget in an effort to defeat the group. 

Ramadi is one of the last major urban areas in the crucial Anbar province under Baghdad's control. ISIL holds thousands of kilometres of territory across Iraq, posing a threat to Kirkuk, Diyala and Salahuddin besides Anbar.


About tripling the defense budget, Michael Gregory (Reuters) reports that Minister of Finance Hoshyar Zebari has stated that the military will take up about 23% of the proposed budget for 2015 and he's also calling "for deep-rooted reforms to stamp out corruption in a military that collapsed in the face of an Islamic State advance."

Yes, by all means, put nearly a quarter of your annual budget into a military machine known for its corruption.

All Iraq News reports Speaker of Parliament Saleem al-Jobouri states the budget should be received by Parliament on Saturday.  This is the fourth time he's announced that, for those keeping track.

In addition, Parliament has still not received the 2014 budget.

National Iraqi News Agency adds, "MP, of the Citizen bloc , Hashim al-Moussawi said the House will extend its legislative term in the session of the House of Representatives session will be held on Saturday." al-Moussawi believes that they will receive both the 2015 budget and the 2014 one.

Violence continues in Iraq, not surprising.  However, one act of violence yesterday is rather shocking.  All Iraq News reports:

The Representative of the Supreme Religious Authority, Ali al-Sistani,and the headmaster of the Jaafariya Religious School in the Pakistani Capital, Islam Abad, was killed by the criminals of the terrorist Jaish Sahaba organization.


When Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's representatives are being killed, it's both shocking and usually a sign that violence is about to increase significantly.


Mike and Marcia updated last night:



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    xx

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Corrine Brown"





    Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "Corrine Brown."  As US House Rep Corrine Brown struts past, US House Rep Loretta Sanchez declares, "Corrine looks a little different.  Has she lost some weight?"  US House Rep John Conyers explains, "Nah, she just can't stop preening since she stole the Ranking Member post."   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.








    Jim Webb, Chuck Hagel and Eric Shinseki

    Martha T. Moore (The Clarion Ledger) reports Jim Webb has "formed an exploratory committee Wednesday with a video announcement."  Webb's being pimped by a number of people including the ridiculous Molly Ball.

    Is he how the press transitions from their love affair with the Democratic Party back to their love affairs with the GOP?

    Webb isn't qualified for the office.

    The only reason to give him the Democratic Party's presidential nomination is for the Democrats to lose the White House.

    Webb has a paper trail of xenophobia via those bad 'novel's he wrote.  Not only are they xenophobic, but they're also highly sexist.

    More to the point, Webb is a former one-term US senator.

    One -term.

    He didn't seek re-election and he didn't seek it because he couldn't carry his own state as the polling repeatedly demonstrated.

    He attacked the offering of benefits to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.

    More than anything else, that pissed veterans off.  You can argue it was the final straw.  But even before that, veterans were appalled by Jim Webb's actions.

    The Democratic Party has already burned veterans.  They did so by allowing Nancy Pelosi to force Tim Walz out of the race for Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee so that she could install the highly unqualified Corrine Brown.

    This was despite the fact that Walz, a veteran, had the support and endorsement of veterans groups.

    The next two years will be hard enough for the Democratic Party with Corrine Brown embarrassing them in one House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing after another.

    On top of that, they want to run Jim Webb whose hostility and 'frugality' was applied to veterans repeatedly?  There was a feeling that Webb was happy to spend any amount on wars but didn't want to pay for the damage the wars did to veterans.

    Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are also aware that he kept the burn pit registry buried in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  It's only after Webb is out of Congress that the measure finally sails through the Congress.

    A lot of idiots were caught by surprise when Webb didn't run for re-election.  They were shocked and puzzled.  But each year, as his own polling showed, he lost more and more support among the veterans community and he could no longer carry the state.

    Someone who couldn't even get re-elected to the Senate is now the person to be the next Democratic Party presidential nominee?


    Chuck Hagel is being pushed out as Secretary of Defense.  We'll again note  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America statement:


    Washington D.C. (November 24, 2014) – Today, President Obama announced Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Chuck Hagel has resigned. Hagel was sworn in as Secretary in early 2013. IAVA released the following statement:
    “IAVA members appreciate Secretary Hagel’s exceptional dedication to the veteran community,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “As the first Vietnam veteran and former enlisted soldier to lead the Department of Defense, Secretary Hagel was a tremendous advocate for us inside the Pentagon and the Administration. Secretary Hagel was a leader on issues of military mental health, suicide prevention and military sexual trauma, he was always open and receptive to our ideas for reform. He was someone we could always count on to have the backs of our veterans. IAVA members worldwide thank him for his leadership and wish him all the best in whatever he chooses to do next.”
    Rieckhoff continued: “The veterans community has had no stronger advocate in Washington than Secretary Hagel. On fighting suicide especially, he’s always had our back. But as Secretary Hagel exits, we look to the President to finally solve a problem that has eluded all previous secretaries: the establishment of a truly seamless health record system between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. This is a critical need for servicemembers and veterans transitioning out of the military and seeking access to mental health care. We look forward to working with the White House and Congress to find a replacement to lead at the Pentagon and strongly support our community in the critical years to come.”


    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.


    E-mails have come in about his possible replacement and about his legacy.

    On his replacement, I really don't care.  It's a two-year-post, it has very little power -- thanks to Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes (and thanks to Barack's own inherent weakness).  Some e-mailers are appalled at the thought that Michele Flournoy might be Secretary of Defense.


    1) I believe she's taken herself out of the running.  Granted, she could accept the post tomorrow and say, "The President asked me to serve and, as a patriotic American, how can I say no" -- or some such nonsense.  But, as of now, she's not in the running for the post.

    2) That's mainly because she realizes how minor the post is now.  It's the public face to decisions made by others.  And some may still have hope on the appointment.  I don't.  In the first term, I could still believe that there was a chance someone like Ann Wright could be nominated for either Secretary of State or Defense.  Someone like her.  Not her.  Five months into his first term, it was already obvious just how sexist Barack was.  So a man like Ann Wright was a possibility, I thought (probably wrongly), if the left would just apply pressure and stop worshipping him as a false god.  By now, there's no way in the world that Barack's nominating anyone an honest leftist could applaud.

    3) Anyone accepting the post now is either a fool or a liar if they don't know they'll be doing little more than supervising ongoing wars.

    I'm just not very interested in the post.  I don't see anyone worthy of applause from the left being nominated and the post is no longer important or significant.

    In terms of Hagel.

    I wasn't surprised by the increased warfare under him.  I didn't buy the supposed spine and strength his supporters just knew he'd bring to the job.

    As Secretary of Defense, he was exactly like he was as a senator.  He made speeches against certain proposals as senator and as SoD he made comments against certain proposals but when it was time to vote in the Senate he'd vote to go along -- just like he went along with every White House proposal after voicing his objections.

    That's how we saw him when he was nominated, that's why we opposed the nomination.

    That said, I do praise him for doing something that surprised me.

    For years and years, the DoD and the VA were supposed to be moving forward on the electronic, seamless records which would allow a record to be created for a service member and then easily follow them into civilian life.

    The idea pre-dates Barack being sworn in as president.  Years were already spent -- and millions of millions of tax payer dollars -- on this before Barack was sworn in back in January of 2009.

    Once sworn in, he said this was a priority.

    But nothing happened on it.

    When Robert Gates was Secretary of Defense, we noted VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was the problem.

    No one else wanted to get in on that, the press turned a blind eye.

    Then Leon Panetta became Secretary of Defense.  Shinseki was still the problem.

    Then Chuck Hagel became SoD.  And I asked several members of Congress why there was no progress and why they weren't asking Shinseki.

    To explain no progress, the first step for such a record to be created was for a computer system to be decided upon and then implemented.  None had been implemented.

    Finally, Congress asked Shinseki what the problem was.  As I told friends in Congress, he will blame Hagel.

    Because Shinseki was a little s**t.  He fooled a lot of people, but he never fooled us.

    Sure enough, Shinseki lied to Congress (again).  This time he lied that it was Hagel.  Hagel had just become SoD and so he wasn't ready to help select a system.

    This ignored the reality that a system had been agreed to by Gates and then by Panetta and Shinseki had never moved forward.  Both men told Shinseki they'd trust his judgment, they just wanted to get moving on it, so pick whatever system he thought was best and they'd back him.

    The block was always Shinseki.

    But after he lied to Congress, Hagel got mad.

    He didn't appreciate being blamed for something that wasn't his fault.  This was made clear to the Oval Office and finally Barack got in on the issue and a system was quickly decided upon.

    Hagel stood up to Shinseki and I'll give him credit for that.

    The following community sites updated:








  •  


  • And Isaiah's latest goes up in a few minutes.


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























    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US gears up to provide more weapons to Iraq, this despite the fact that the Iraqi military continues to bomb civilians in Falluja, and more.

    Victoria A. Brownworth (SheWired) offers:

    We are still at war in Afghanistan. Last week  the Obama Administration quietly announced, to almost no media fanfare, that it was continuing that war, when it was supposed to be ending at the beginning of next year. President Obama is also sending  more troops back into Iraq. This too was met with a shrug by Americans.
    Revving up America’s two longest wars has not spurred a single protest march in this country, but the failure of a grand jury to indict Darren Wilson on even the charge of involuntary manslaughter has brought thousands into the streets, from Ferguson itself to New York, LA, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston and beyond. Record numbers of tweets have gone out over Twitter, which many consider responsible for drawing attention to the case of Michael Brown and subsequent events in Ferguson after his killing.

    The breadth of the protests versus the crickets over Afghanistan and Iraq makes cleat that the real war America is fighting, the one that many of us feel threatened by, is the fight between marginalized communities and law enforcement. 


    Interesting but inaccurate.

    Black Agenda Report has been calling for action the minute the grand jury released their findings.  The Center for Constitutional Rights has weighed in repeatedly.  Activists have been working overtime on this issue -- United For Peace and Justice, CodePink, on and on.

    There's been an enemy named -- the White police officer Darren Wilson -- a focal point to fuel anger.

    Whereas, with Iraq, these same people haven't done a damn thing.

    In fairness to Black Agenda Report, they've at least called Barack out.

    But they haven't led on Iraq.

    As Iraqis have been killed in Falluja for 11 months straight now, I've not seen Black Agenda Report object once to the bombings of the residential neighborhoods in Falluja -- despite the fact these bombings are War Crimes.

    Where has anyone in the US been when it comes to calling these out?

    It didn't start yesterday.

    It started in January.

    For eleven months now, residential neighborhoods -- that's where people's homes are -- in Falluja have been bombed by the Iraqi military.

    It is a legally defined War Crime to attack civilians for the actions of fighters in an area.  It's known as Collective Punishment -- the US, all of Europe, most of the world recognizes Collective Punishment as a War Crime.

    Where is the outrage?

    September 13th, Iraq's new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the bombings were over.  But let's drop back to September 14th:




    Third's "Editorial: The bombing of civilians continues in Iraq" notes Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered an end to the military bombing civilian targets on Saturday -- or that al-Abadi said he gave that order -- yet Falluja General Hospital was bombed today.
    Iraqi Spring MC notes the bombings of residential neighborhoods in Falluja also continued today with 6 civilians left dead  and 22 more injured.
    A very important question needs to be asked:  Did al-Abadi give the order he said he did?
    If he didn't, he lied.
    If he did, the military is not listening to the new prime minister.
    The media needs to be asking was it a lie or is the military refusing to obey orders?
    This is why the media exists in the first place.
    Either is a story but the military refusing orders would be a huge story.  (While a politician lying would be seen as typical behavior.)



    But there was no interest in that either.

    Iraqi forces are attacking civilians.  US President Barack Obama wants a waiver so he can violate the Leahy Amendment (which bars providing weapons and aid to governments who carry out attacks on civilians).

    He wants.

    He hasn't gotten it yet.

    But he wants it.

    Despite not getting the waiver, the US government's announcing more arms to Iraq.  Aaron Mehta (Military Times) notes, "The State Department has approved an $800 million sustainment deal for Iraq's fleet of C-130E and C-130J cargo aircraft, the government announced Tuesday."


    The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued the following notice:

    Media/Public Contact: 
    pm-cpa@state.gov
    Transmittal No: 
    14-46
    WASHINGTON, Nov 26, 2014 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for C-130E/J sustainment and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $800 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.
    The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale for a five-year sustainment package for the C-130E/J fleet that includes operational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance, spare and repair parts, support equipment, repair and return, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $800 million.
    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner. This proposed sale directly supports the Government of Iraq and serves the interests of the people of Iraq and the United States.
    The proposed sale of a C-130E/J sustainment package would allow the Iraq Air Force (IAF) to continue operating its C-130E/J aircraft beyond 2015. The IAFs limited maintenance capability necessitates the need for continued contractor logistics support. The continued support will assist the IAF in continuing to use the aircraft to provide humanitarian relief operations in various locations.
    The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
    The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
    Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Iraq.
    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
    This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
    All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, pm-cpa@state.gov.
    -30-



    Where's the outrage?

    Even Senator Patrick Leahy doesn't speak out.

    What happened to Michael Brown is very sad and, yes, an outrage.

    It doesn't need to be 'spruced up' with lies and misinformation to make it an issue of concern.

    When you lie to advance an argument, people stop supporting you.  Stop lying that he was shot in the back. There is more than enough reason to see the events as tragic and to debate whether or not the grand jury made the right determination.  When you tell lies or just repeat them to advance your side of an argument, people start to think you must have a weak case or you wouldn't result to lying.

    Equally important, grasp the lesson everyone should have already known.

    When someone has a loaded gun, you shouldn't try to grab it -- but if you do try to grab it you better pull it from the person holding it.

    Forget the two people involved, replace them with generic Smurfs.  If someone tries to grab a loaded gun, it is highly doubtful that the situation ends peacefully.

    For me, my  opinion only, feel free to disagree, the minute a gun was pulled (by the police officer), violence became a very real possibility.  Might have been one even if Michael Brown had, at that moment dropped to the ground and put his hands behind his back.

    People want to talk racism.

    One reason is because racism is real and it exists and it's a serious problem in the US and all around the world.

    Another reason?  These days it's easy to 'contribute' when you know nothing about an issue by just insisting 'racism.'

    Racism is an iffy thing to prove.

    If Michael Brown's family wants justice, they need to focus on the gun.

    Why was the gun pulled?

    Because of racism?

    Maybe but you most likely won't be able to prove it.

    What you can prove is a climate where citizens are no longer citizens but potential threats.

    I was shocked, doing research for a project, in 1990 and 1991, to observe police trainings in several different cities where officers were told that everyone was a threat and blah blah blah.

    We think the police are there to help.

    But that's not what they're always being trained for.

    A gun was pulled.

    An examination of the trainings the police officer participated in should reveal if this was the case for the officer.  It would also explain to the country that something's gone seriously wrong and police officer or peace officers are being trained not to resolve issues but to approach citizens as potential threats.


    This can be demonstrated in court.  You can subpoena the trainers, the training material and much more.

    The press always prefers the 'a few bad apples' storyline to a truer narrative that would indict the system itself.  But when people are being killed, like 12-year-old Tamir Rice for the 'crime' of having a toy gun, the problem is the system itself.

    But making that argument is too much for our so-called left leaders who'd rather abandon efforts at real change to instead try to get rage to boil over into violence.

    In fact, any real work is too much for our so-called left leaders.

    Instead of doing real work, they scan the horizon for any craze or event that they can latch onto and pretend to be a movement -- on they started and fostered.

    That's why they latched onto Barack, it's why they latch to everything.

    They're too lazy to do the work required

    So they rush here and there, where ever they think a media spotlight is and latch on like a leech.

    For six years now, Barack has carried one war after another and most of the so-called leaders can't even call him out.

    He spends the second half of this year sending more troops into Iraq and there's no leadership from so-called peace leaders in the US.

    They can't call him out.

    They can't call out the War Crimes against the civilians in Falluja.

    They can't do much of anything.


    You'll find more criticism of Barack's 'plan' coming out of Iraq than out of the US.  For example, Press TV reports:

    “The airstrikes cannot defeat ISIL and liberate the cities. We hear that in some places the warplanes drop weapons for ISIL... What we know is that the victories achieved on the ground are done by the Iraqi army and volunteers,” Iraqi State of Law Coalition MP Hanan Fatlawi told the Press TV correspondent in Baghdad.
    On October 22, the US admitted that one of the weapon airdrops intended for Kurds fighting in the Syrian town of Kobani was almost certainly intercepted by ISIL terrorists.


    I'm no fan of State of Law, as the archives establish, but they're right that the air bombings are not accomplishing much of anything -- except physically destroying Iraq and intimidating and terrorizing the people.

    Since this summer, Barack has repeatedly said Iraq requires a political solution but little has been done to facilitate anything political.  Instead, the US government has overseen two major meet-ups of defense ministers and has spent forever recruiting other countries to take part in the air bombings of Iraq and, less successfully, to send troops into Iraq.

    How's that creating a political solution?

    It's not.

    Today's Zaman reports:

    Foreign ministers from up to 60 countries forming the US-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants will hold their first meeting next week in Brussels, US officials said on Wednesday.
     
    The Dec. 3 meeting, chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, is expected to review progress in the fight against ISIL and to discuss how coalition members will coordinate politically in future.


    It's taken months for them to plan the above.  Hopefully, it's not too late for a meet-up like the above to make a difference.


    We were noting State of Law earlier.  It is the political slate of thug Nouri al-Maliki who was prime minister of Iraq until a few months ago and who is now one of Iraq's three vice presidents.  Of Nouri, Ya Libnan reports:


    In an unprecedented development the Iranian Foreign Ministry adviser, Mohammad Ali Sobhani, yesterday blamed the Iraqi regime of  Nouri al-Maliki, and the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad for the creation of the islamic State of Iraq  and Syria  ( ISIS)
    In an interview with a local Iranian website «telltale News» Sobhani said  the sectarian policies during the reign of former PM Maliki   led to the formation of an incubator for the«Daash» or ISIS  organization .

    Sobhani said that the economic and social problems that plagued Iraq, in addition to sectarian policies practiced  by the al-Maliki  regime led to the formation of a popular base for the emergence of ISIS  in the region.

















    Mike Gravel Advises Mark Udall on How to Make Torture Report Public

    Mike Gravel is a former US Senator and he spent many of the previous years explaining how Congress could easily stop funding the illegal war on Iraq.

    David Swanson (War Is A Crime) now speaks with him about the issue of the torture report.


    Talk Nation Radio: Mike Gravel Advises Mark Udall on How to Make Torture Report Public

    http://davidswanson.org/node/4597
    https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-mike-gravel-advises-mark-udall-on-how-to-make-torture-report-public

    Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel explains how he put the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and gave them to the media in 1971, and how outgoing Senator Mark Udall could answer the growing public demand and do the same with the long-censored torture report. A petition urging Udall to act is here.

    Total run time: 29:00

    Host: David Swanson.
    Producer: David Swanson.
    Music by Duke Ellington.

    Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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    --
    David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.

    Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.  

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