Saturday, December 03, 2016

Iraq and the Mosul slog

An hour ago, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack and fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted two strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Mosul, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL-held building, damaged eight supply routes, and suppressed a tactical unit.

-- Near Rawah, a strike destroyed a vehicle bomb factory.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

Since August of 2014, the US has been dropping bombs daily on Iraq.

It hasn't ended the war, it hasn't accomplished much at all other than killing civilians and destroying Iraq (most recently, a health clinic was bombed).

The US-led coalition is losing a member.  THE NEW ARAB notes, "Denmark is withdrawing its fighter jets from Syria and Iraq, and will instead contribute training and analysis teams to the anti-Islamic State group coalition."  Nicolas Boeglin (GLOBAL RESEARCH) adds:

Denmark and Belgium, as well as France, The Netherlands and United Kingdom are the only European countries engaged in airstrikes operations in Syria and Iraq of the so called “coalition against ISIS“. It is the first time that a European country decides to suspend its engagement in this kind of military operations. However, it is no the first time that airstrikes in Syria and Irak are suspended by a State: last February 22,2016, Canada officially suspended all operations consisting in bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, ending a controversial action inherited from Prime Minister Harper administration (see pressnote).

Meanwhile it's day 47 of the operation to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul.

No end in sight.

Sorry, foolish Elise Labott -- it is a slog, guess you got that wrong too, you embarrassing fool.

In the real world, far from CNN's Elise Labott, the Iraqi forces are committing War Crimes.

Iraqi army cut off heads! Cruel and barbaric This army or Gangs ???? shocking This army backed by barbaric Iran Gov.

Iraqi army crimes الحشد الشيعي الارهابي يقطع رؤوس السنه العراقيون بذرائع كاذبه وهي اباده علنيه تتم بتواطىء مخزي

Despite these War Crimes, the White House continues to back the forces even though US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby insists the Leahy Amendment would stop them from doing so if War Crimes were being committed.

How to pull that off?

Pretend the War Crimes don't exist.

And the US government is teaching the Iraqi government all about tricks.

On the first day of this month, the UN released the death toll numbers in Iraq for November.  Mohammed Tawfeeq, Salma Abdelaziz and Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) report:

Iraq's military has disputed UN figures indicating that nearly 2,000 Iraqi troops were killed across the country in November, saying the number was "not accurate and much exaggerated."
Iraq's Joint Operation Command did not give CNN any numbers Saturday, saying it was not obliged to publish casualty figures while the battle against ISIS was ongoing.

The figures didn't please the Iraqi government and they want the toll reporting to be discontinued so that they can present whatever lie they want.

As a result, the United Nations is backing down.  RUDAW notes:

The UN mission in Iraq, UNAMI, will stop publicizing military casualty figures after the Joint Operations Command of the Iraqi military complained the UN’s figures for November were “much exaggerated.”

Democratic principles lose out again.

What a great lesson Barack's imparted on Iraq.

New York State Releases Cuomo's Human Rights Blacklist

This is from the Center for Constitutional Rights:


December 2, 2016, New York – Today, New York State released Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Blacklist of institutions that participate in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestinian human rights. Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order in June calling for the Blacklist and ordering all state agencies to cut financial ties with blacklisted institutions.  Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response:

Governor Cuomo’s Blacklist of institutions that support non-violent boycotts for justice for Palestinians is a stain on the State of New York.  As the Supreme Court has made clear, the U.S. Constitution protects participation in political boycotts as a form of expression. Boycotts have been used throughout U.S. history―from the Boston Tea Party, to the Civil Rights Movement, to the anti-South African Apartheid movement―to challenge injustice and promote social change.  Boycotts advancing Palestinian rights are no different, yet they are singled out for censure by the Executive Order based on false and inflammatory accusations by Governor Cuomo and right-wing Israel advocates, much in the same way that civil rights boycotts were vilified by defenders of the status quo.
Governor Cuomo’s Blacklist has revived a dark tactic of the McCarthy era.  It is an attempt to label those who disagree with the Governor’s views on the critically important question of Israel-Palestine as enemies of New York State and to punish them financially.  A fundamental principle of a democratic society is that the government cannot use its power to silence and penalize those who disagree with it.
Today’s Blacklist, to be periodically updated and supplemented by the State, singles out companies for their decisions to engage in protected expression by divesting from Israel’s military occupation.  Moreover, Governor Cuomo proposes to blacklist any institution that even promotes BDS as a means to advocate for change in Israeli government practices.  Given the ugly stigma attached to it, Governor Cuomo’s Blacklist may well achieve its unconstitutional aim: to intimidate faith, labor, human rights, and other groups from using well-established and constitutionally-protected boycott measures to protest social injustice.
As the country prepares for the inauguration of a president who has expressed contempt for the First Amendment and political dissent, guardians of our democratic values must protect the basic First Amendment principles that enable social activism to challenge injustice wherever it occurs.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Isakson, Perdue, Carter Applaud Army Announcement for Fort Stewart



Senator Johnny Isakson is the chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and his office issued the following Wednesday:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Contact: Isakson Press Office, 202-224-7777
Perdue Press Office, 202-224-3521
 Carter Press Office, 202-834-0386

Isakson, Perdue, Carter Applaud Army Announcement for Fort Stewart
Fort Stewart’s 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team to be converted to Armor Brigade Combat team
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter, R-Ga.-01, today applauded the decision by the U.S. Army to create a new Armor Brigade Combat Team at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga.
The Army will convert 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team to an Armor Brigade Combat team. The conversion is set to begin in summer 2017. This will be the second Armor Brigade Combat team located at Fort Stewart. Currently there are nine active duty Armor Brigade Combat Teams and five National Guard Armor Brigade Combat Teams stationed throughout the United States.
“The addition of another Armor Brigade Combat Team to Fort Stewart’s 3rd Infantry Division continues to highlight Georgia’s role in our nation’s ability to project power and provide security assurance to our allies,” said Isakson. “This decision by the U.S. Army underscores our ability to host critical strategic assets capable of deterrence around the world.”
“The Army’s announcement is great news and exhibits a continued commitment to our nation’s defense capabilities in Georgia,” said Perdue. “The additional armored brigade at Fort Stewart provides us with a more lethal army, increasing our ability to counter the rise of Russian aggression against our European allies as well as other threats around the globe. This is a testament to the proficiency and growing capability of all the dedicated military and civilian personnel at Fort Stewart.”
“This announcement is great news for our community as well as our national security as it strengthens the capabilities of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart,” said Carter. "As the threats we face around the world continue to increase and evolve, the additional Armored Brigade Combat team will be critical in addressing them. Without question, this decision is a direct reflection of the great work of the fine men and women on post. Fort Stewart remains one of the premier Army installations in the nation, and I will continue to work to ensure Fort Stewart keeps growing.”
As the security situation in Europe continues to deteriorate, the U.S. Department of Defense is reassessing its posture and ability to respond to those threats. Due to basing decisions and budget constraints, the U.S. no longer has permanent armor assets, such as tanks, stationed in Europe.
To accommodate for this deficit, Regionally Aligned Forces were established to provide the United States and our allies with additional security assurance by rotating forces through Europe and other areas of the world. The 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart recently returned home from the Regionally Aligned Forces mission in October where they participated in joint exercises with NATO partner nations in response to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine.
Growing threats from near-peer adversaries in Europe and elsewhere around the world have increased the demand for additional armored units to defend U.S. interests and our allies. The Army’s conversion of the Armor Brigade Combat team at Fort Stewart brings the total number of Armor Brigade Combat units located throughout the United States to 15.

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 2, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS uses psycho babble to white wash greed, Senator Tammy Baldwin hosts a roundtable on veterans issues, and much more.

Starting with nonsense.  Rabbi Michael Lerner.

At this late date no one needs you.

If you can't tell the truth, just stop it.

We don't need you on Iraq, you haven't done a damn thing on Iraq and your recent garbage post at FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS is so bad I'm thinking of pulling the link that they had asked for.

What's wrong with the article?

Bully Boy Bush started the illegal war because Saddam Hussein (supposedly) tried to kill his daddy?

I'm so sick of people trying to ascribe motive based upon whispers.

And it's especially dishonest of FPIF to publish the rabbi's nonsense.

From PROJECT CENSORED, the eight most censored story of 2010:

JUDICIAL WATCH, July 17,2003
Title: Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oilfields
Author: Judicial Watch staff

Title: “Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy:Procuring the Rest of the World’s Oil”
Author: Michael Klare

Faculty Evaluators: James Carr, Ph.D., Alexandra Von Meier, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Cassie Cypher, Shannon Arthur

Documents turned over in the summer of 2003 by the Commerce Department as a result of the Sierra Club’s and Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, dated March 2001, also feature maps of Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the project’s costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date.
Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, “These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.”
When first assuming office in early 2001, President Bush’s top foreign policy priority was not to prevent terrorism or to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction-or any of the other goals he espoused later that year following 9-11. Rather, it was to increase the flow of petroleum from suppliers abroad to U.S. markets. In the months before he became president, the United States had experienced severe oil and natural gas shortages in many parts of the country, along with periodic electrical power blackouts in California. In addition, oil imports rose to more than 50% of total consumption for the first time in history, provoking great anxiety about the security of the country’s long-term energy supply. Bush asserted that addressing the nation’s “energy crisis” was his most important task as president.

That's an excerpt.

You'll note PROJECT CENSORED notes FPIF covered this in 2004.

Now in 2016, they let Lerner scribble whatever he wants and they publish it.

Want to talk about Fake News?

Stop your damn lying.

It was about oil.

When Alan Greenspan admitted that on live TV (DEMOCRACY NOW!) you could tell he didn't think he was saying anything shocking -- the former Chair of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006) had recently stepped down from his post and was promoting his book THE AGE OF TURBULENCE: ADVENTURES IN A NEW WORLD.

In the book, he writes, "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows -- the Iraq war is largely about oil."

From September 24, 2007's DEMOCRACY NOW! broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: Alan Greenspan, let’s talk about the war in Iraq. You said what for many in your circles is the unspeakable, that the war in Iraq was for oil. Can you explain?

ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. The point I was making was that if there were no oil under the sands of Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have never been able to accumulate the resources which enabled him to threaten his neighbors, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. And having watched him for 30 years, I was very fearful that he, if he ever achieved — and I thought he might very well be able to buy one — an atomic device, he would have essentially endeavored and perhaps succeeded in controlling the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, which is the channel through which 18 or 19 million barrels a day of the world 85 million barrel crude oil production flows. Had he decided to shut down, say, seven million barrels a day, which he could have done if he controlled, he could have essentially also shut down a significant part of economic activity throughout the world. The size of the threat that he posed, as I saw it emerging, I thought was scary. And so, getting him out of office or getting him out of the control position he was in, I thought, was essential. And whether that be done by one means or another was not as important, but it’s clear to me that were there not the oil resources in Iraq, the whole picture of how that part of the Middle East developed would have been different.

Less noted was that Greenspan had made the same public statements in a September 17, 2007 interview with NBC's Matt Lauer.

The Iraq War has dragged on for over 13 years.

We don't have any more time for nonsense.

At this late date, for Lerner to pretend that the oil maps never existed and pin the war on 'daddy issues' is embarrassing.  Even more so since FPIF has previously addressed these oil maps.

Also embarrassing is how Barack gets a pass yet again.

He is mentioned in only one sentence by the bashful rabbi, "Perhaps worst of all, when people voted for a president who boasted that he opposed the war and the torture, President Obama declined to prosecute anyone who had been involved in the legitimating of torture."


Bully Boy Bush presided over the Iraq War for five years.

Barack has presided over it for eight.

Barack overturned the results of a democratic election which is how Nouri al-Maliki got a second term as prime minister and was able to send Iraq further into turmoil and give rise to the Islamic State.

Barack looked the other way when Nouri's secret prisons were exposed.

Barack looked the other way when Nouri used Shi'ite militias and the federal police to attack the LGBTQ community in Iraq.

Barack looked the other way as the federal police was sent into Iraqi schools to incite children and teens against gay people and encouraged to attack and kill anyone even suspected of being gay.

We could go down the list -- it's endless.

Rabbi Lerner is no help to anyone with his lies.

In Iraq, the slog continues.

Yes, it is a slog.

As Elaine noted last night:

Elise is such a joke.


The Iraqi government's assault to retake the city of Mosul could take months, prompting more and more civilians to try to flee to avoid being trapped between frontlines, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross told Reuters.

[. . .]

"Elise Labott of CNN making like she was at a county fair pig hollering contest by hollering "NO!" in the midst of an October State Dept press briefing when a reporter offered that it was a slog."

[. . .]

Elise Labott speaks on behalf of the government in a press briefing and no one cares?

She shoots down another reporter?

She's so unprofessional.

It is a slog.

It was always going to be one.

Elise Labott is an idiot.

And Mike observed:

 Another fine mess on the part of Barack.

Mosul offensive takes toll as Iraqi casualties soar

Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June 2014.

Don't tell me that in two plus years of planning for the current 'liberation' effort no one factored in the refugees?

Don't tell me that they just forgot about the refugees.

The reality is that they didn't care about the refugees.

Not the Iraqi government.

Not the US government.

They didn't care.

And, boy, does it show right now.

I was in high school when this war started.

I've gone on to college and law school.

This war apparently will never end.

The war has dragged on forever -- 13 years and counting.


The Islamic State has occupied it since June of 2014.

The liberation or 'liberation' effort began 46 days ago and still continues.

Turning to the US . . .

Senator Tammy Baldwin: Families like the Simcakoski family who we are so grateful to have here today have told a story that needs to be heard -- a tragic story of loss -- a son, a father, a husband, a brother -- a tragic story of a sacred trust that has been broken -- a trust we should have always with our veterans and their families.  Their story is how that trust was broken when they -- and Jason, in particular, didn't receive the VA care that he had earned.  I was proud in June of 2015 and, frankly, so many weeks and months since to stand with the Simcakoski family and I was inspired to act to fix what was broken.  That's why I worked with Jason's family, also with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, to offer solutions.  Our goal was to enact meaningful reforms to prevent Jason's tragedy from happening to other veterans and other veterans families.  Our reforms strengthen the Dept of Veterans Affairs opioid prescribing guidelines, they put in place stronger oversight and accountability and provide safer and more effective pain management services for our nation's veterans.  Now with today's event, we will discuss how to realize the goals of Jason's law and also receive an update on the VA's progress in addressing opioid prescribing practices and critical health care needs of veterans that Congress should be focusing on in the upcoming year.

July 22, 2016, US President Barack Obama signed into law The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act.  Senator Baldwin was speaking at Wednesday's roundtable which included members of Jason Simcakoski's family (father Marv Simcakoski and widow Heather Simcakoski), US House Rep Gus Bilirakis, Warren Goldstein with The American Legion, Dr. Yngvild Olsen of The American Society of Addiction Medicine, David Riley with the Disabled American Veterans and Carlos Fuentes with The Veterans of Foreign Wars as well as VA official Dr. Carolyn Clancy and Josh Rising of The Pew Charitable Trust.

Marv Simcakoski stated in his opening remarks,  "I mean the reason everybody's here is because they want to make it better for our veterans.  My son didn't have that chance but I know now -- and I see what's going on all over and I'm just proud to be a part and so is my family of something like this that's really taking place and there is big changes being made."

Heather Simcakoski declared, "I know change takes time.  As Marv mentioned, we're starting to see some change.  But I really can't wait for the day that we look and know we've made a difference and see drastic improvements in the amount of people that are addicted to opioids or doctors that are prescribing opioids. It seems like every day I open the news or a newspaper and read that another doctor over-prescribed something to somebody and that they've overdosed. It's definitely time for that to stop.  I know Jason would be extremely proud and his gratitude for every person in this room that's helped make this happen, I know that he would just be extremely proud of where we are today."

We'll note this section where they are discussing patient advocates -- they are their to advocate for the veteran and help them.

Carlos Fuentes:  Josh, if I may, I just want to add having someone -- as a veteran, having someone that listens to me and is working for me improves my satisfaction and, in turn, improves the quality of care that I receive. That is an invaluable aspect of the patient advocacy if it works appropriately.  And unfortunately for Jason, it didn't work appropriately.  For Matt O'Reilly, it hasn't worked appropriately and for so many other veterans.  And if we're able to get that to work well, you're going to see an increase in satisfaction, you're going to see an increase in the quality of care the veterans receive.

Warren Goldstein: I couldn't agree more.  I think Marv hit the nail on the head here when he said that the patient advocate needs to feel empowered to help or serve their client and their client is the veteran -- not the medical center director or their boss.  So I couldn't agree with you more when you said that the patient advocate needs to be sort of independent on their own working for their client which is the veteran, not the medical center director. 

Marv Simcakoski:  And one other thing I liked to mention, for David Riley, you know, to go in and get a prescription refilled and just to be said "no" -- I mean, that's crazy.  If any doctor's know anything about pain meds and that you can't tell somebody "no" cold turkey because, you know, all it's going to lead to is a withdrawal.  And that's just painful and, I guess, to me that-that tells me that who ever was in charge didn't know anything about prescriptions and how they effect the patient so I feel for you there.

Heather Simcakoski: One thing I want to ask is that, you know, all of the changes are hopefully really wonderful.  But how are we really going to measure the success of the patient advocacy?  One of the questions I asked when I was in Tomah [Wisconsin] was what their goals are for their patient satisfaction and they gave me a goal.  And I said, "Well is that a standard across all VAs?" And, from what I understand, there's really not a standard of quality care .  And it would be nice to see that there are goals and customer satisfaction that all VAs are kind of held to the same standard and we're measuring that across the board because there wasn't, from what I understand, to measure what is success at one location might not be success at another.

Dr. Carolyn Clancy: So could I just respond to that?  Uhm. We use the same metrics and tools that the rest of healthcare does.  In fact, our -- actually, for access, our overarching goal is what the veterans tell us -- it is a patient satisfaction, patient experience survey, that we take out some of the items and basically say 'in the last six months, when you needed care, urgently or right away, could you usually or always get it?'  Same thing for routine care and we break that up by primary care and specialty care and so forth.  But that is the goal rather than wait times which can mean a whole lot of different things and different circumstances.  The question of how do we map that onto managing pain and the issues that we are talking about today, I think that is really interesting so I will take that back.  But we actually are comparing ourselves a lot to some of the best in the private sector and we do actually make a lot of this information publicly.  We need to do a much better job of making it understandable, that's very high on our list but we take that very seriously. 

Josh Rising: And I think a related question I heard too was assessing the performance of the office of the patient advocacy in terms of how well that that office was doing in terms of meeting the goals that had been set out.  So that's also a kind of --

Dr. Carolyn Clancy:  Yes.

Josh Rising (Con't): -- challenge.

Dr. Carolyn Clancy: I think that's going to be a very big challenge in sort of setting this up in making sure that we've got a consistent approach.  Uh, our facilities will all be having community meetings as they do on a regular basis and raising this issue for the veterans and so forth in their communities as well because I think we'll get some ideas because that is the essence of the chain of command issue, right? And what you need is an approach that doesn't just work sometimes because with one leadership team it worked great but you know when people change and rotate out so some of our facilities have the patient advocate report up through those who worry [?] and are in charge of quality and safety and so forth -- which makes a lot of sense.  If you've got a gifted person in that role, you know, that works very well.  If you have a person who is not as skilled, it probably wouldn't work so well.  So what we need to get and arrive at is a consistent approach because I think you said that -- right? -- how do we know that this is working well?  Ultimately part of how we know is going to come from the veterans.  And Secretary [of VA]'s approach means that we are testing a variety of ways not only to use standard surveys because those are part of the healthcare landscape now but also trying to get more real time data.  Believe it or not, like many other spheres of life, veterans have a lot to say on Twitter, in Facebook and so forth.  And the really great news is we can learn a great deal from that if we're -- and translate what we're hearing into actions to address the problems.

Does anyone see the problem?

The VA's Dr. Clancy seems to think it's her meeting.

Throughout she tries to dominate.

To impart wisdom?

No, just to flap her gums.

She misunderstands what Heather says and yet goes on and on.  Josh Rising nicely redirects her and she's still yammering away.

The VA needs to start coming to roundtables and hearings to listen.

It might be really great if officials were just instructed to listen.

In a roundtable, they could speak at the end.

But clearly Dr. Clancy isn't able to listen and pay attention.

ADDED 12/2/16 at 4:27 pm EST: A number of e-mails are expressing interest in the roundtable.  I'm adding the video:

The following community sites updated:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, December 1, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the death toll mounts, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL fluffs Hayder al-Abadi, and much more.

Starting in the United Kingdom,  Jessica Elgot and Heather Stweart (GUARDIAN) report:

Labour MPs turned out in force on Wednesday to help defeat a parliamentary motion calling for Tony Blair to be held to account for allegedly misleading parliament over the Iraq war by 439 votes to 70, after a sometimes angry debate.
The motion, tabled by the Scottish National party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Alex Salmond, was backed by MPs from six other parties, and called for parliamentary committees to investigate and take appropriate action against the former prime minister.

Some reaction on Twitter:

  1. Millions of people know that Tony Blair deceived Parliament and the country about Iraq, MPs as usual think they know better.

Any decent person knows Tony Blair and his devotees did wrong with Iraq. Labour MPs needs to stop defending the indefensible.

Here's the damning evidence from leading academic based on that makes the case that Blair misled on

And there's a larger message as well.

Defending Blair over Iraq is not going to persuade exLabour voters to return to the fold. Today's vote greatly harms their election chances

Labour has fallen from power and lost repeatedly.

The Iraq War is not forgotten.

As we've been documenting since months before Gordon Brown was toppled, voters want Labour to distance themselves from Tony Blair.  (Rebecca even wrote about her being consulted on that as a personal favor.)

They won't pull the trigger already and they continue to suffer.

They can try to wait this out and might be successful but they could easily return to power immediately if they would disown Tony Blair.

That has US implications as well.

In 2008, after admitting that the Iraq War was a "mistake" (finally admitting), Hillary Clinton (War Hawk supporter of the Iraq War) still lost the Democratic Party primary to Barack Obama who campaigned for the presidential nomination by (falsely) insisting he was always against the Iraq War.

But somehow, in 2016, idiots thought this would be forgotten.

Despite the fact that Libya proved just how War Hawk she really was.

Despite the reality that she can never be wrong in her mind so she took to adding to her 'mistake' claim that her mistake was trusting Bully Boy Bush would put the right number of troops on the ground.

So she walked back her 2008 'mistake' to insist that it wasn't a mistake to support the illegal war on the grounds of WMD that were not there, it was just a mistake for her to think that Bully Boy Bush would put X number of troops on the ground.

Whether Donald Trump was against the Iraq War before it started or months or years later, the reality for many Americans was that Hillary wasn't really against the Iraq War despite her dubbing it a 'mistake' -- that yet again, she'd say anything to get what she wanted.

New topic: What the hell are they smoking at THE WALL STREET JOURNAL -- can't be pot -- marijuana doesn't lead to psychotic delusions.

Yaroslav Trofinmov writes (apparently after swallowing Hayder al-Abadi's seed):

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi seemed on the ropes just a few months ago. Protesters stormed and sacked his office in Baghdad’s Green Zone amid talk of a revolution. Parliament fired his top ministers. It appeared only a matter of time before the British-educated engineer would be ousted too.

All this now seems a distant memory. Donning black military fatigues instead of his usual ill-fitting suits, Mr. Abadi has managed to harness the long-awaited campaign to free Mosul from Islamic State, reinventing himself as a victorious war leader. 

This is exactly why the MSM can't lecture or hector others about 'fake news.'

They can't even tell the truth.

Let's forget the growing anger in the Sunni community for just a moment.

Among the Shi'ites alone?

The Popular Mobilization Forces are publicly mocking Hayder on social media.

Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the State Of Law coalition -- has denounced Hayder repeatedly -- in Iraq and in Iran -- and Nouri wants back in as prime minister.

Ammar al-Hakim is said to see it as his destiny to become prime minister and to 'heal Iraq.'

His followers, he's the leader of the  Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, make clear that Hayder needs to go.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, former prime minister, has publicly groused about Hayder repeatedly.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has made clear to his followers that the protests are about to start back up.

(Moqtada's the one who stopped the protests -- not Hayder.)

And that's just the Shi'ites.

Let's leave sects for a moment.

The most common them on social media by all Iraqis about Hayder al-Abadi?

How short he is.

How ridiculous his short, fat body looks every time he puts on military clothes.

Now let's zoom in on the Sunnis.

Hayder's back a law which outlawed alcohol -- Sunnis sold alcohol.

And he's pushed for the Parlaiment -- which just did -- to make the Popular Mobilization Forces part of the armed forces legally.  These are Shi'ite militias.

The law is so outrageous that even Moqtada -- a Shi'ite -- is saying that at the very least it needs to be fine tuned.

The western press has largely ignored this for days.

That's changing.

Mainly because of . . .

Landed in for week of consultations on op & longer-term efforts to support 's stabilization after 's defeat.

Yes, things are so bad that, with only about seven weeks left in his presidency, Barack Obama is sending special envoy Brett McGurk back to Iraq.

Stephen Kaplin (REUTERS) reports:

But the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi knows that even if it defeats Islamic State it needs to bring the Shi'ite militias under greater control. Iraqi and Western officials alike say episodes like the one in Balad raise serious questions about Abadi's ability to do that.
The militias came together in 2014 after Islamic State seized a third of the country. Officially, the militias form a government-backed popular fighting force called the Hashid Shaabi, which has been instrumental in protecting Baghdad and pushing back Islamic State.

But the militias have also created headaches for the government. Many of them have ties to Iran and have amassed vast military and political influence. Sunni Iraqis and human rights groups have accused some of them of rights violations, torture and murder.

At AL JAZEERA, Michael Knights argues that the militias should be allowed in the battle of Mosul but then, after the Islamic State is defeated, the militias should be demobilized:

This is why Iraqis need to closely watch Iraq's budgets to make sure the PMF do not get direct control of the resources that can turn them into a permanent anti-democratic, Iranian-controlled power base. This is why it is safest and best to demobilise the PMF into the existing ministry armed units.
If the PMF are allowed to grow out of control, it will be a sad corruption of their heroic stand in 2014 and could become yet another bitter memory for Iraqis. But if demobilisation occurs, the PMF will be proudly remembered as Iraq's "Dunkirk moment".

RUDAW notes:

Although there was no hint in McGurk’s comment that he was in Baghdad to discuss the resolution inducting the Hashd al-Shaabi into the army, the US has been consistent in its opposition to the Iranian-backed force, which has been taking part in the anti-ISIS offensive in Mosul. 

The Pentagon said on Tuesday it has not changed its position regarding the Hashd, which is also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and that it is not providing support to the group in the Mosul campaign.

"We're not providing support to the PMF at this time,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said on Tuesday. “We're going to continue to provide support to the Iraqi security forces, and that has not changed," he added in response to a comment about some of the forces in the PMF being implicated in the anti-American insurgency that followed the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Asked whether the US position will change once the Iraqi parliament’s resolution is implemented and the Hashd are formally inducted, Cook said he would have that conversation once the move has been carried out.

"We have stated clearly in the past that we will not support those PMF forces.  If there's a change in the structure, that's a determination that the Iraqis will make on their own and we'll have that conversation at a later time.  But at this point, our position has not changed," he said.

The battle to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul continues.

It's day 45.

Today, UNAMI issued the following:

Turning to the US, there was a veterans roundtable yesterday.  We may include it in tomorrow's snapshot -- if not, I'll cover it in the gina & krista round-robin.


Above isSenator Tammy Baldwin and her office issued the following yesterday:

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
   (202) 224 - 6225
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Gus Bilirakis Host Roundtable with Veterans Care Stakeholders and Simcakoski Family
In July, bipartisan VA reforms named after Wisconsin Marine veteran Jason Simcakoski were signed into law by President Obama
“Realizing the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act” roundtable addresses the opioid crisis and quality pain care for veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) led a roundtable dialogue titled “Realizing the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act” to address the opioid crisis and quality pain care for veterans.
Senator Baldwin and Representative Bilirakis were joined by members of the Simcakoski family, as well as officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), The American Legion, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
The roundtable addressed veterans’ opioid safety and pain management, including the implementation of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act that was signed into law in July as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Key stakeholders discussed the VA’s progress in addressing opioid prescribing practices, the critical health care needs of veterans that Congress should focus on in the upcoming year, and how to realize the goals of Jason’s law: meaningful access to high-quality care, including more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans; improved patient advocacy to give veterans and their families a stronger voice in their care; and enhanced hiring practices at the VA to ensure that the best health care providers are treating our veterans. 

An online version of this release is available here.


The following community sites updated: