Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mel Gibson

Tonight, we weren't in the mood for the game or reruns (or CBS), so we ended up searching for a film we could all agree on.

It was finally BIRD ON A WIRE -- because we can all always agree on Goldie.

It's a cute action adventure film starring Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson.

She's a high powered attorney, he's someone in FBI witness relocation.

Years before, they'd been a couple but that ended when he 'died.'

So now they meet up and have to deal with David Carradine and other baddies.

As always, Goldie was perfect.

But, after, we wondered about Mel.

Specifically, did he deserve to be iced out the way he's been?

At best, he's a stupid person.

He's made some hideous statements.

But did it warrant the cold shoulder?

And my brother pointed out that if Mel had gotten plugs and a face lift, maybe he wouldn't have been iced out so quickly and so completely.


By BIRD ON A WIRE, he was handsome.  I think the gorgeous may have bled out.

But I'll leave that to others.

Still, he was incredibly handsome in the film.

And part of the rejection -- over vile statements, yes -- may have resulted from the loss of the good looks.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Thursday, November 26, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi is still not liberated, the US continues bombing Iraq, UK Prime Minister David Cameron insists only bombing can keep the UK safe, the Defense Dept Tweeted what?, and much more.

Thanksgiving was celebrated today in the United States and Canada.  The US government celebrated by dropping bombs on Iraq.  The Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq

Bomber, fighter, attack, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 23 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, one strike destroyed two ISIL rocket positions.

-- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and five ISIL bunkers.

-- Near Mosul, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and an ISIL checkpoint and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL building.

-- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL mortar, two ISIL structures, an ISIL boat, an ISIL front-end loader, cratered an ISIL road, suppressed an ISIL vehicle’s movement, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun, two ISIL fighting positions, damaged an ISIL vehicle, suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun, and wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.

Bombings have gone on since August of 2014 and haven't solved a thing.

Isn't this almost verbatim what Tony Blair told us in 2003?

Photo published for David Cameron says bombing IS in Syria will make UK 'safer' - BBC News

Bombing the Islamic State, David Cameron insists, will make Iraq safer?

What safety has come from all these bombings?

ARUTZ SHEVA notes, "The US has been bombing the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria since mid-2015, accounting for the vast majority of the coalition's air strikes."

Nothing's come of it, the Islamic State continues.

Iraq's being destroyed as a result.

Who knows what environmental damage is being done.

The US government's previous use of depleted uranium has resulted in massive birth defects who knows what these bombings will result in?

Right now, it's just supposed to be a wonderful gift -- bombs falling on your country.

That's not all the US government is doing in Iraq though.

For example, US President Barack Obama sent US troops into Iraq to train or 'train.'

The Defense Dept Tweeted the following confusing item today:

  • I'm sorry, who is that US Marine training?

    I don't see training in that photo.

    I see a US Marine standing guard.

    Back in July, Hope Hodge Seck (MARINE TIMES) reported on Al Taqaddum Air Base and how 400 troops were there.  Of course, their presence doesn't really go to the airy training Barack insisted was going on.

    So many lies, so many deceptions.  This week, the US Embassy in Baghdad announced the following:

    On November 22-23, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Iraq to discuss a range of political, security, and economic issues with government officials. While in Baghdad, Deputy Secretary Blinken met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri, and other senior officials. During his meetings, Deputy Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S.-led Coalition’s continued support to Iraq and praised the recent successes of the Iraqi Security Forces- including the Peshmerga and Popular Mobilization Forces – in the campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat Da’esh.  Deputy Secretary Blinken also announced $38.7 million in additional economic assistance to Iraq, which will support government reform initiatives as well as post-conflict stabilization efforts.
    Deputy Secretary of State Blinken also traveled to Erbil, Iraq, for meetings with Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, and other senior leaders in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.  During his visit to Erbil, the Deputy Secretary also met with internally displaced persons from various parts of Iraq, in both camp and non-camp locations, underscoring the United States’ ongoing commitment to working with its international partners, the Government of Iraq, and the Kurdistan Regional Government to facilitate humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees.‎

    On this topic, National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    It is said that Anthony Blinken visited Iraq last Sunday to discuss a range of political, security and economic issues with government officials.

    During his stay in Baghdad, he met Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri and other senior officials.

    He also visited Erbil and held meetings with the President of the Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and other senior leaders in the region

    Nearly $39 million for reforms?

    What reforms?

    What has Haider al-Abadi done that's a reform?

    I guess he eliminated the positions of vice president, right?

    RT reports today:

    Turkey could bring the world to the brink of the next global conflict, Iraq’s vice President Nuri al-Maliki said in the wake of the downing of a Russian bomber by Turkish air forces.
    "Erdogan's double standards and aggressive policies are threatening a new world war," al-Maliki said in a statement as he criticized the policies of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AFP reported.
    The Iraqi politician, who is a former prime minister of the country, also accused Turkey’s leader of hypocrisy as he commented on Turkey’s claims of a short violation of Turkish airspace by the Russian warplane which was downed by the country’s air forces.

    Here's the AFP report and they also refer to thug Nouri as "vice president."


    It was mere months ago that Rudaw reported:

    In an effort to implement a series of political reform Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi decided Sunday morning to eliminate the post of Vice President and other high-ranking positions, and reduce the excessive number of official bodyguards.

    A statement from Abadi’s office read that “The posts of Vice President and deputy prime minister would be eliminated immediately,”

    Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reported it this way:

    After weeks of protests demanding better government and a call by leading Shi'ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for tougher action, Abadi proposed cancelling Iraq's multiple vice president and deputy prime minister positions, currently shared out along sectarian lines.
    Iraq has three vice presidents, two Shi'ites and a Sunni, and three deputy prime ministers, a Shi'ite, a Sunni and a Kurd. Critics say the set-up say hands high office to unqualified candidates and encourages corruption.
    Mounting public anger at the state of politics, expressed in protests in Baghdad and several southern cities, risks hampering Abadi's efforts to rally support for the fight to push Islamic State militants from territory in the north and west.
    One of the vice presidents, Nuri al-Maliki, who stepped down as prime minister last August after eight years of what critics said was ethnically divisive rule, backed the proposal.
    Wait, what was that last part?

    Maliki, who belongs to the same party as Abadi and still wields significant influence, said Saturday evening -- before Abadi outlined his plan publicly -- that he supported the reform drive.
    So Abadi's big reform was sacking the three posts of vice president?
    And Nouri al-Maliki agreed with that?
    But the three remain vice president -- including Nouri?
    Guess that $38 million of US tax dollars -- for support of non-existent reforms -- won't be wasted.

    Violence continues, as always.  THE JOURNAL OF TURKISH WEEKLY notes, "Twelve people were killed and another 42 injured late Wednesday in separate attacks in Iraq’s Baghdad, Anbar and Diyala provinces, according to local police sources."

    Tuesday, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following statement:

    November 24, 2015

    The U.S.-led Coalition has consistently encouraged the Iraqi Security Forces to liberate Ramadi as soon as possible, and will continue to provide devastating air power in support of Iraqi ground operations against Da’esh in Ramadi and elsewhere in Iraq. Media reports suggesting that the Coalition has delayed or placed conditions on the Ramadi liberation operation are completely inaccurate.  As Coalition military spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren has repeatedly said, “All the elements are in place to liberate Ramadi.”

    April 15th, Ramadi was seized by the Islamic State.

    It's still not liberated all these months later.

    Press TV says areas are being liberated.  Isn't that sweet.  At this rate, Iraqi forces will be able to 'liberate' Mosul in 2017 or 2018, right?

    Lastly, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Hillary Ready" went up earlier today.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015

    Home for the holidays

    I've got Carly Simon's new memoir BOYS IN THE TREES.

    I haven't opened it yet.

    In fact, my mom's reading it right now.

    I plan to read it on the plane ride back.

    But I'm home in Atlanta -- or my folk's home -- for the holidays.

    And, no offense, but I've gotten so lazy.

    Flying here?

    I'm not Supergirl or Jessica Jones.

    I get here by a plane, not my own physical strength.

    But I was just so, "I don't want to spend hours on the plane" -- just whining.

    I don't know.

    I guess I'm getting old.

    Don't get me wrong, I want to see my folks and my sisters and my brother.

    I just want to see them down the street in California.

    Or me back in Atlanta.

    (Which wouldn't happen because my kids love California and my job is there.)

    Maybe some day in the future we'll be able to teleport?

    Either by genetic mutation or via a device and then we'll be able to instantly go home for the holidays.

    But, even if that happens, they'll probably be some Betty like me in the future whining, "I don't want to spend seconds teleporting home!!!"


    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, November 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government announces more bombs dropped on Iraq, one service member who died in Iraq is identified while another is remembered by those who knew and loved him, Barack Obama apes John Kerry (not a good thing), and much more.

    Russell Hulstine (News On 6) reports on a memorial service planned for today to honor Master Sgt Joshua Wheeler who died in combat last month in Iraq, "The 39-year-old was killed October 22 when he and dozens of U.S. special operations troops and Iraqi forces raided a compound near the city of Kirkuk, freeing approximately 70 Iraqi prisoners."  US Senator Jim Inhofe posted the following to his Facebook page:

    Senator Jim Inhofe
    Government Official28,162 Likes
    November 18 at 7:02am
    Today at 11AM Eastern, an American hero and Oklahoman will be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery. Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler of Roland, Okla., gave his life in Iraq helping to release 70 individuals that were being held hostage by ISIS. Senator James Lankford and I spoke on the Senate floor in remembrance of Wheeler and shared stories we learned from his friends, family, and fellow soldiers of the selfless life he led in dedication to his country. I hope you will take a moment to watch here:

    Mitch De Leon (Gospel Herald) reports on the memorial:

    "He was a soldier, but I didn't realize he had all of these accomplishments, all these achievements - it just blows my mind," said Zack, the brother of Master Sgt. Wheeler, during the memorial tribute held in his honor in his hometown in Roland, Oklahoma, according to 5News TV. The mourning family member added, "He's an American hero. That's just how Josh was. He just wanted to take care of people. I just hope his sons know how big of a hero he was."
    Master Sgt. Wheeler graduated from Muldrow High School in 1994. He became part of the US Military in May 1995 when he entered as an infantryman. Throughout his career, he garnered some awards for his service to the nation. These included 11 Bronze Stars in which four had been for valor as well as a Purple Heart, which was given posthumously.

    Joshua Wheeler's memorial tribute comes a day after another US service member who died in Iraq was identified.  Fox 5 News reports, "A soldier from Fort Drum in northern New York died on base in Iraq last week, according to the Department of Defense.  Pvt. Christopher J. Castaneda, 19, of Fripp Island, South Carolina, died November 19, 2015, in a non-combat-related incident at Al Asad Air Base, the DoD said. He and his unit were in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve."  The office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the following:

    Governor Cuomo directed flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, November 24, in honor of a Fort Drum Soldier who died in Iraq on Thursday, November 19.

    Pvt. Christopher Castaneda died in a non-combat related incident at Al Asad Air Base. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, of the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. He was a resident of Fripp Island, South Carolina.

    "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend our deepest sympathy to Pvt. Christopher Castaneda's loved ones," Governor Cuomo said. "We are saddened by his loss and join his fellow soldiers, his family, and his friends in honoring his service to our nation."

    Governor Cuomo has directed that the flags on all State buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of and in tribute to New York service members and those stationed in New York who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.

    While others have dealt with loss, the White House has embraced spin and worse.

    Jason Ditz ( observes, "President Obama, in Malaysia as part of his long-planned trip to Asia, was supposed to be focusing heavily on the Pentagon's 'Asia pivot' as the military component of his visit, but instead is finding himself talking non-stop about the ISIS war, eager to defend his existing strategy in the conflict."

    So eager that he's launching attacks -- baseless ones.

    Josh Feldman (Mediaite) notes Barack declared last week, "I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that's coming out of here during the course of this debate."

    So Barack is aware of the power of rhetoric?

    Would never know by his refusal to curb John Kerry's ugly, vile mouth.

    The Islamic State is most likely not overly upset that the US House of Representatives is currently calling for more safeguards for any refugees from Syria or even if they decide to bar the refugees.

    But they probably do take offense to being called "Da'esh" which is seen as a slur.

    John Kerry's been using the term for a year now.

    At the start of 2015, Joshua Keating (Slate) was pointing out how Barack wasn't joining John in that game. But as Jon Levine (Mic via Yahoo! News) observes, those days are gone.

    Paris gets attacked, Barack gets criticized and suddenly he tosses aside his common sense to act like a hysteric.

    The immigration issue has no real impact on the Islamic State or on who they recruit.

    Barack using the d-word?

    Can we say this has no effect?

    Last month, Lydia Wilson (The Nation) published the results of her interviews with captured Islamic State members being held by Kurdish authorities in Iraq:

    Many assume that these fighters are motivated by a belief in the Islamic State, a caliphate ruled by a caliph with the traditional title Emir al-Muminiin, “Commander of the faithful,” a role currently held by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; that fighters all over the world are flocking to the area for a chance to fight for this dream. But this just doesn’t hold for the prisoners we are interviewing. They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the caliphate. But a detailed, or even superficial, knowledge of Islam isn’t necessarily relevant to the ideal of fighting for an Islamic State, as we have seen from the Amazon order of Islam for Dummies by one British fighter bound for ISIS.
     In fact, Erin Saltman, senior counter-extremism researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, says that there is now less emphasis on knowledge of Islam in the recruitment phase. “We are seeing a movement away from strict religious ideological training as a requirement for recruitment,” she told me. “If we were looking at foreign fighter recruits to Afghanistan 10 or 20 years ago, there was intensive religious and theological training attached to recruitment. Nowadays, we see that recruitment strategy has branched out to a much broader audience with many different pull factors.”
    There is no question that these prisoners I am interviewing are committed to Islam; it is just their own brand of Islam, only distantly related to that of the Islamic State. Similarly, Western fighters traveling to the Islamic State are also deeply committed, but it’s to their own idea of jihad rather than one based on sound theological arguments or even evidence from the Qur’an. As Saltman said, “Recruitment [of ISIS] plays upon desires of adventure, activism, romance, power, belonging, along with spiritual fulfillment.” That is, Islam plays a part, but not necessarily in the rigid, Salafi form demanded by the leadership of the Islamic State.
    [. . .]
    These boys came of age under the disastrous American occupation after 2003, in the chaotic and violent Arab part of Iraq, ruled by the viciously sectarian Shia government of Nouri al-Maliki. Growing up Sunni Arab was no fun. A later interviewee described his life growing up under American occupation: He couldn’t go out, he didn’t have a life, and he specifically mentioned that he didn’t have girlfriends. An Islamic State fighter’s biggest resentment was the lack of an adolescence. Another of the interviewees was displaced at the critical age of 13, when his family fled to Kirkuk from Diyala province at the height of Iraq’s sectarian civil war. They are children of the occupation, many with missing fathers at crucial periods (through jail, death from execution, or fighting in the insurgency), filled with rage against America and their own government. They are not fueled by the idea of an Islamic caliphate without borders; rather, ISIS is the first group since the crushed Al Qaeda to offer these humiliated and enraged young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe. This is not radicalization to the ISIS way of life, but the promise of a way out of their insecure and undignified lives; the promise of living in pride as Iraqi Sunni Arabs, which is not just a religious identity but cultural, tribal, and land-based, too.

    Is it hard to grasp reality or have too many just ignored reality for too long?

    The Islamic State spreads because of the way Sunnis are persecuted in the region.

    The Islamic State spreads and grows because no one will stand up for the Sunnis on the world stage.

    Those sympathetic to IS feel Sunnis are being humiliated.

    So how the hell is the answer to start using a term that is seen as derogatory to describe a Sunni group?

    You want to push those sympathetic to IS even closer to the Islamic State?

    Mock the Islamic State.

    Let Barack play your basic moron on Comedy Central instead of president, let him go into the gutter and who do you think wins that battle?

    Barack acting like a braying ass will help how?

    Barack should be trying to maintain dignity while making calm and rationale statements against the Islamic State and its actions.

    Doing that will allow him a shot at being heard by those who might be attracted to the Islamic State.

    Contrast that with his using the d-word and mocking.

    At a time when the driving force for IS recruitment is the persecution and humiliation, in what world is the answer to be seen as bullies talking trash?

    Wilson appeared on Democracy Now! last week:

    AMY GOODMAN: What drove the ISIS prisoners that you talked to? And describe the setting where you talked to them.

    LYDIA WILSON: So, they were prisoners. They had been through due process. They had been found guilty of terrorism for various vehicle explosions and assassinations within Kirkuk. And so, I was given access by the police, and I was interviewing them before they were serving their sentence.
    And so, they were quiet, to begin with. And when I gave them a chance to talk and to ask more open-ended questions, it became very clear that they were fueled by a lot of anger, anger primarily against the Americans, but also against their government, that they perceived as Shia, sectarian, and anti-Sunni. They perceived that everybody was against them, that they weren’t given a chance in their own country. And many of them were poor. They were very low education rates—one was illiterate entirely—and big families and often unemployed. So, ISIS was not only offering them a chance to fight for their Sunni identity, but they were offering them money. They were being paid to be foot soldiers. And, I mean, one of them was the eldest of 17 siblings, and his story was that he hurt his back and couldn’t earn any money as a laborer, which he had been doing.

    Now, this money was greatly appreciated by them all, but that’s not to say it’s only economic need. There was this driving anger against Americans, against the occupation—but not in terms of this ideology that we see coming out of the ISIS official publications or through social media. It was anger—it was much more personal. It was much more about their own childhoods and adolescences, that they had been blocked from having a normal life because, as they saw it, of the American occupation.


    There are some serious issues to address.

    John Kerry is clearly not qualified to address them.

    Hopefully, Barack is.

    He's in the White House until late January 2017.

    Hopefully, he can do something during that time.

    He needs to.

    Guy Taylor (Washington Times) reports:

    Key tribal leaders from Iraq’s Sunni Arab population say U.S. officials have failed to work with them in the fight against the Islamic State and assert that Russia is now increasingly eager to fill the void — even inviting influential sheikhs to visit Moscow and air their grievances.
    While the Obama administration admits its push for a “Sunni Awakening 2.0” to break the Islamic State’s hold on Iraq has gone more slowly than hoped, the claims made by five separate Sunni tribal sheikhs in interviews with The Washington Times paint a far bleaker picture, one in which Washington appears to have bungled a chance to recreate an approach that worked against the terrorists in the past.

    How does this address the perception that no one will stand with the Sunnis?

    It doesn't.

    It pushes the message that no one cares about the Sunnis.

    Certainly Lara Logan didn't give a damn about them on Sunday when she did the report on 60 MINUTES which only acknowledged the Sunnis when speaking of . . . the Islamic State..

    Sunni fighters against the Islamic State don't apparently exist -- not in Lara's report.

    So Sunnis risk their lives in Anbar Province to fight against the Islamic State and Lara Logan can't even acknowledge them?

    And you wonder who's winning hearts and minds.

    The United States government has refused -- repeatedly -- to stand up for the Sunnis.

    This was most obvious with regards to spring massacre.

    The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    The US could have stopped that.

    One call to Nouri saying, "Cut it out or we cut the funding."

    That's all it would have taken.

    But the US government -- the White House -- was still determined to stand with Nouri.

    (Hawija is over 98% Sunni.)

    Time and again, crimes against the Sunnis were ignored and/or tolerated by the US government.

    Barack has a lot of work to do to make up for the impression he's already set.

    Mocking the Islamic State to the giggles of various Shi'ite thugs will not help Barack but it will make some Sunnis even more hostile towards those they see as degrading and attacking the Sunni population.

    Meanwhile new developments in the war on the Islamic State?  Pacifica Evening News puts it mildly, "Turkish Military Downs Russian Jet, Complicating Global Response to Syrian Civil War."

    The US Defense Dept claimed/bragged yesterday:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Abu Hayat, one strike struck an ISIL staging area.

    -- Near Rutbah, one strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb facility.

    -- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and wounded two ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, one strike destroyed an ISIL artillery piece.

    -- Near Kisik, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Mosul, one strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle, eight ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL house bomb, two ISIL recoilless rifles, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL building, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Hit, one strike destroyed an ISIL bridge section.

    Today, they added:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, one strike stuck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL building.

    -- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb and three ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL excavator, an ISIL bunker, five ISIL weapons caches, five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL mortar position, an ISIL bomb, an ISIL staging area, damaged three ISIL entrenchments, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed one ISIL fighting position and an ISIL supply cache.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and three ISIL fighting positions.

    It's not working.

    And it's past time Barack devoted significant resources to diplomacy to work out an actual political solution.

    Turning to the arts, Friday, Carly Simon's SONGS FROM THE TREES was released -- Kat reviewed it here (she also reviewed Adele's 25)-- and it's the musical companion piece to Carly's memoir BOYS IN THE TREES which went on sale today.

    Boys in the Trees

    A Memoir

    Carly Simon
    Flatiron Books

    Simon's memoir reveals her remarkable life, beginning with her storied childhood as the third daughter of Richard L. Simon, the co-founder of publishing giant Simon & Schuster, her musical debut as half of The Simon Sisters performing folk songs with her sister Lucy in Greenwich Village, to a meteoric solo career that would result in 13 top 40 hits, including the #1 song "You're So Vain." She was the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, for her song "Let the River Run" from the movie Working Girl.

    The memoir recalls a childhood enriched by music and culture, but also one shrouded in secrets that would eventually tear her family apart. Simon brilliantly captures moments of creative inspiration, the sparks of songs, and the stories behind writing "Anticipation" and "We Have No Secrets" among many others. Romantic entanglements with some of the most famous men of the day fueled her confessional lyrics, as well as the unraveling of her storybook marriage to James Taylor.

    Sunday, November 22, 2015

    She saw it coming

    Barack's free falling again.

    The polls are not good for him.

    And that's probably why Hillary Clinton's made the biggest break with him so far.

    Polling is Hillary's Bible.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

    Saturday, November 21, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, 'liberation' doesn't bring peace in Iraqi cities, the US government finally fesses up to civilians killed in one airstrike, and much more.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq

    Bomber, attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government: 

    -- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL buildings.

    -- Near Bayji, one strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.

    -- Near Kisik, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL bunker, and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Qayyarah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache and three ISIL fighting positions. 

    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL command and control facility, 15 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, five ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL recoilless rifle, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL IED facility, an ISIL resupply warehouse, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, and an ISIL checkpoint.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas.

    Of course, these are precision strikes.

    Not like the Russian air strikes, as a DoD official pompously declared earlier this month.

    There are no precision strikes.

    BBC News reports:

    A US air strike aimed at an IS checkpoint is likely to have killed four civilians, possibly including a child, the US military has said.
    On Friday the military released the findings of an investigation into the incident, which took place in March.
    Investigators concluded the checkpoint was a valid target and the attack did not violate international laws.
    The US has rarely acknowledged civilian deaths in the fight against IS and the announcement brings the total to six.

    AFP adds, "It marks only the second such concession since the start of a coalition air campaign in Iraq and Syria - the U.S. military in November 2014 admitted accidentally killing two children during a strike in Syria."

    Only the second concession and the first for Iraq.

    Lest anyone mistakenly thinks that means civilians have not been dying in Iraq and Syria as a result of the US-led airstrikes,  AirWars estimates that the air strikes have killed between 653 to 2001 civilians.

    That's probably a conservative estimate.

    But the media always wants to play along with the myth that all these bombs being dropped never land on civilians.

    For example, Telesur TV reports, "Turkish warplanes launched airstrikes in Northern Iraq on Friday night, destroying shelters and supply points of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)."  AFP adds, "The military did not give further details but the state-run Anatolia news agency said the operation involved 22 fighter jets and that 23 targets were hit."

    But funny thing is, when you leave the press releases from the Turkish government and talk to the actual people where the bombs are being dropped, they talk of farms destroyed, people terrorized and, yes, people (civilians) killed.

    Destruction follows 'liberation' as well.  Take Baiji.

    1. Shia militias crimes destroyed hundreds Sunni families houses in Beiji it become a Ghost city
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  •  Baiji was 'liberated' last month.

    Well maybe it's too soon?

    Maybe it needs a few more months?

    There's Jalawla which was 'liberated' a year ago -- November 2014.

    Look how well it's doing . . .

    Oh, wait.

    Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera Tweeted the following this week:

  • The cycle of violence in Iraq appears to continue with 'liberation.'

    That was obvious this week in newly 'liberated' Sinjar.

    We'll drop back to Thursday's snapshot:

    Let's move over to liberated Sinjar and the peaceful Yazidis, so grateful to return to Sinjar that they hugged everyone and prayed.

    Or something.

    On All Things Considered (NPR), Alice Fordham reported on the reaction of some Yazidis.

    FORDHAM: And he directs his anger at the Arab Muslims from his area who he says collaborated with the extremists. Not one of the Yazidis I speak to distinguishes between Arab Muslim families who stayed in ISIS-held areas and ISIS fighters. Some Arab leaders fear widespread revenge killing and looting. South of Sinjar, there's a string of ISIS-held villages mainly populated by Arab Muslims. I ask a Yazidi commander named Badr al-Hajji if there are civilians there.

    And how 'bout this money quote?

  •  Monday, AFP reported that the Yazidis 'celebrated' their return to Sinjar by looting Sunni homes and setting them on fire.

    AFP also reminds, "Rights group Amnesty International documented attacks by Yazidi militiamen against two Sunni Arab villages north of Sinjar in January, in which 21 people were killed and numerous houses burned."

    Today, Isabel Coles (Reuters) visits the area and hears from Yazidis such as one man who she sees loading (stolen) sofas onto his truck and explains, "This is our neighbor's house.  I've come to take his belongings, and now I'm going to blow up his house."
    The circle of violence never ends while so many feel the government does not represent them.
    Thursday morning we noted the use of the Paris attacks to sell war and how that accounted for a great deal of the media attention:

    The horrors inflicted on France -- true ones, a genuine tragedy -- take place every day in Iraq, take place in Libya and in Egypt and in . . .

    And no one gives a damn.

    Our Lady of Salvation Church, to give but one example, is attacked in Baghdad October 31, 2010 and at least 58 worshipers were killed with at least 78 more left injured.

    And it was a headline.

    A minor blip.

    CNN did not go wall-to-wall for even one day -- let alone days.

    When the Islamic State declared war on Christians in Iraq (in a recorded message two days after the attack), this did not result in massive news coverage.

    Nor did President Barack Obama begin to use the term "genocide" to describe how Iraq's Christian population was being persecuted.

    Over 125,000 have been forced to flee.

    The number killed is probably at least that.

    (And killed by more than just the Islamic State.  Shi'ites have targeted the Christian population as well.)

    On the attack, we'll note this from Dirk Adriaensens' 2012 report "Were Iraqi Security Forces Involved in Baghdad Church Massacre" (Truth-Out):

    On 31 October 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church, in Baghdad's central Karrada neighborhood, was attacked by "Al Qaeda." In the deadly attack, gunmen stormed the building and gunned down the priest and worshippers, before exploding their suicide vests. Despite an outcry against attacks on Christians, the targeting of churches in Iraq has been a regular feature since the US invasion of the country in 2003. In all, 68 worshippers died while attending church that day and another 98 were wounded.
    On 2 August 2011, an Iraqi court convicted three people and awarded them the death penalty for their role last year in this siege and underscored the uphill task faced by rulers in protecting religious minorities(65) - which are on the verge of extinction.
    But the Assyrian Christian Community, Iraqi bloggers and even some politicians have openly accused the Iraqi government of mishandling the October 31 attack:
    a) They point out that the terrorists brought explosives and weapons to the church in cars with dark-tinted windows and no license plates that are only available to officials with high-level security clearance. This allowed them to get waved through checkpoints without being stopped.
    b) They also point to the slow reaction of the security forces and the botched handling of the rescue attempt itself. It still remains unclear how many of the victims were killed or wounded by the members of the Iraqi rescue team, who opened fire wildly once they burst into the church.
    c) A senior officer in the Iraqi police, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that for the ten days prior to the attack, the Interior Ministry security forces gradually moved barriers closer to the church, until the terrorists could drive right up in front.
    d) Dr. Duraid Tobiya, who heads the Mosul section of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the largest Christian political party in Iraq, told Newsmax, "I can't accuse the government directly because I haven't seen the evidence. But this is what we have heard from survivors and from eyewitnesses who talked to people who were inside."
    Duraid and other secular Christian leaders interviewed in northern Iraq believe that the Shiite Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which controls the Interior Ministry forces, was complicit in the attack and that the Iraqi police has become the instrument of the ruling party, not the state. He pointed out that right after the church massacre, the Baghdad City Council, which is also controlled by the Dawa Party, passed new laws banning liquor stores, nightclubs and educational associations run by Christians. "Even the universities in Baghdad imposed new dress codes on students and separated classes by sex, like the Taliban."

    Violence and more violence -- and the one who wants violence?  Yes, her.  Thursday, Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy speech calling for more destruction.  We addressed some sections of the speech in that day's snapshot.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) takes the speech on at length but we'll instead zoom in on his coverage of the questions Clinton was asked following her speech:

    In a question and answer period following her speech, Clinton described her policy as “an intensification and acceleration” of the policies currently pursued by the Obama administration.
    “We should be sending more special operators, we should be empowering our trainers in Iraq, we should be…leading an air coalition, using both fighter planes and drones” against a “broader target set.”
    She added that the 3,500 troops that Obama has deployed to Iraq should be given “greater freedom of movement and flexibility,” i.e., they should be sent into combat with Iraqi government units.
    Clinton also advocated stepped-up arming of Sunni and Kurdish forces in Iraq to fight ISIS, with or without the consent of the Shiite-dominated central government, warning, “if Baghdad won’t do that, the coalition should do so directly.”
    She also proposed a policy to “retool and ramp up our efforts to equip viable Syrian opposition efforts,” while virtually in the same breath declaring, “There is not going to be a successful military effort at this point to overturn Assad,” and that regime change now could only be effected through a “political process.”
    In the question and answer period, Clinton said that she disagreed with Obama on Syria, believing that the administration could have done “more earlier to try and identify indigenous Syrian fighters, and adding, “We could have done more to help them in their fight against Assad.”
    In reality, Clinton at the time was warning Congress that US arms sent into Syria could end up in the hands of Al Qaeda. Massive amounts of arms were funneled into these forces by Washington’s principal regional allies—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar—under the supervision of the CIA.
    In a brief moment of discomfort for the Democratic candidate, she was asked to respond to a statement by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that US regime change operations in Iraq and Libya had only created disasters. Her response: “It’s too soon to tell.”
    More than 13 years after then-Senator Hillary Clinton voted for a US war of aggression against Iraq based upon lies about weapons of mass destruction, presidential candidate Clinton insists that the jury is still out on this criminal war, which slaughtered hundreds of thousands and turned millions into refugees.

    Mike Whitney (Global Research) notes:

    Seriously, while regretful Democrats can claim that they never thought Obama would turn out to be the disappointment he has been, the same can’t be said about Clinton.  Madame Secretary has a long pedigree and the bold print on the warning label is easy to read.  There’s simply no excuse for anyone to vote for a proven commodity like Hillary and then complain at some later date, that they didn’t know what a scheming and hard-boiled harridan she really was. Clinton’s hawkishness is part of the public record. It’s right there for everyone to see. She voted for Iraq, she supported the Libya fiasco, and now she’s gearing up for Syria. Her bloodthirsty foreign policy is just slightly to the left of John McCain and his looneybin sidekick, Lindsey Graham. Simply put: A vote for Clinton is a vote more-of-the-same death and destruction spread willy-nilly across the planet in the endless pursuit of imperial domination. It’s that simple.