Saturday, January 09, 2016

The future of the internet

At Third last week, we did "Yahoo Screen is no more" and what really bothers me about that news is the fact that it may say a lot about the changing nature of the internet.

In the mid-00s, Hulu could launch and be a success.

As a free site with commercials.

Yahoo Screen was free as well.

Has that day passed?

Is Crackle going to go under?

Yahoo Screen even had fan favorite COMMUNITY with new episodes and even that didn't let it survive.

Hulu, of course, now is really just worthless unless you have Hulu Plus (I do) and now even that's becoming cut-rate.

So maybe Netflix is the only model for the future of the internet?

That depresses me.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Saturday, January 9, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Basra's a hotspot again (who could've guessed? Uh, anyone paying attention), Haider al-Abadi's talking anti-corruption again, a drone crashes in Iraq and much more.

Starting with terminology.

One definition of "distraction" would be "a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else."  That's the definition we're interested in today.

From December 31, 2015's "Those never-ending victory laps:"

I guess every day is going to be about declaring and celebrating the liberation of Ramadi -- since it was first claimed on Monday and until the day finally comes that it is liberated.
Point of fact, it's still not liberated.
But every day, the limited amount of time the world press spends on Iraq is taken up by tales of Ramadi's liberation.
And so much more gets ignored.
For example?
IRAQI SPRING MC reports counter-terrorism forces in Diyala shot dead a female civilian in front of civilians and Iraqi troops.
Or how about a new flashpoint developing?
IRAQI SPRING MC notes troops being sent to Basra.  This comes as NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes MP Abd al-Salam al-Maliki is calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in Basra arguing the situation there is turning into a crisis.
But by all means, let's all waste another day declaring Ramadi liberated (when it's not).

That's how the year ended -- and with no western press coverage of Basra, to be very clear.

Nine days later?

Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "Fear has become part of daily life amid a surge of violence in Basra, where rampant crime, kidnappings and extortion have become commonplace. Marauding Shiite militiamen drive around in cars with tinted windows and without plates, while local clans wage bloody feuds."

Basra's struggling and, in part, that's said to be because Iraqi forces are being deployed elsewhere in Iraq.

Such as?


See the Iraqi forces are like the western press -- they apparently are small in number and can only focus on one thing at a time.

How does Basra fall off the radar?

Or has everyone forgotten this photo op?

PM Al-Abadi visits West Qurna 2 in Basra and adopts new measures to enhance security for international oil companies
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From the August 22, 2015 snapshot, "Iraq Times reports the reaction to citizens in Basra which was to protest Haider's visit. The activists noted that he traveled all the way to Basra to reassure Big Oil but he did not meet with a single local protester to address the concerns that have had them pouring into the streets for the last weeks.  The report notes that the British and US Ambassadors to Iraq had lobbied Haider to visit Basra to reassure Big Oil.  As Iraq Times also notes, just north of Basra is where a protester -- protesting against Big Oil -- was shot dead by security forces working for yet another foreign oil company in Iraq."

And the protests?  They continue in Basra.  ALSUMARIA reports Friday saw continued protests there against the government's corruption.

Yes, the western press should have been paying attention to Basra last year.

So much gets ignored.

Including the lack of success in Barack Obama's never-ending bombing of Iraq.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Coalition forces used rocket artillery, fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and four ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL weapon caches and three ISIL assembly areas.

-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed 21 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL sniper positions, two ISIL recoilless rifles, an ISIL vehicle bomb facility, and two ISIL weapon caches.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike struck two separate ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL light machine gun.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL-used culvert and an ISIL fighting position.

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.

Jack A. Smith (GLOBAL RESEARCH) goes where the western press fears to tread:

• IN IRAQ, WASHINGTON’S DISASTROUS WAR has lasted nearly 13 years from March 2003 with the exception of two and a half years until returning in August 2014 to fight against the Islamic State (IS) — itself a product of the first war. President Obama propelled the second intervention soon after IS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June 2014. Late last month, after losing much ground, Iraqi forces backed by American air power recaptured the key city of Ramadi, destroying a large portion of the city in the process. The battle to recapture Mosul may take place this year.
However, many sources in and out of Congress argue that only a significant ground war will ultimately defeat the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. This could take many years. Aside from 3,500 U.S. military “trainers and advisers” in Iraq, President Obama is reluctant to engage in a ground campaign in either country, given the Pentagon’s difficulties in actually winning winning a major war in the Middle East. If political pressure doesn’t oblige him to deploy a large number of ground troops against IS this year, there is a likelihood his successor may do so in 2017. Regardless, the Iraq war will become more intense in 2016.
There are several other important problems regarding Iraq, but two stand out.
(1) The Islamic State is a militant Sunni “caliphate” based on Islamic fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine mainly propagated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The IS evidently considers its main enemy to be the Shia branch of Islam, which departed from the Sunni version in the 7th century. Virtually all of the many Sunni jihadist groups follow a form of fundamentalist Wahhabism or the nearly identical Salafism, and most condemn adherents of Shia Islam.  The IS “state” occupies large portions of two Shia-governed countries, Iraq and Syria. Sunni Arabs in Iraq — most of whom do not share fundamentalist views — constitute 15 to 20% of the Iraqi population. But many oppose the Shia controlled Baghdad government. Unless a substantial number of these Sunnis turn strongly against the IS, defeating it will be more difficult.

Kurds make up 17% of the Iraqi population and are described as “mainly secular Sunnis” who seek independence from Iraq in the future to build their own independent state — but at the moment they supply the most effective ground forces against the IS. The Shia represent up to 65% of the population but have long existed under Sunni rule, usually as secondary citizens. It was only after the U.S. destroyed the minority secular Sunni government of Saddam Hussein and his B a’ath Party that the Shia won power in an election. The Bush/Cheney Administration probably knew that regime change in Iraq — Iran’s enemy neighbor to the west — could strengthen the Shia government in Tehran, but since they initially planned to invade Iran (as well as Syria) after Iraq was subdued they ignored the risk. The U.S. sank so deeply in the Iraqi quagmire that it never was able to expand its ridiculous imperialist escapade.

Iraq continues to splinter and fall apart. 

Though the Shia and Sunni divide has garnered the most attention in recent months, there's also the reality that the Kurds, as Smith notes above, seek independence.

The Kurdish Regional Government is in northern Iraq and has been semi-autonomous for years.  The Kurds would like full autonomy.

The Kurds remain the largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland.  

Kurds in Syria and Turkey feel suppressed and both countries have governments that fear an independent Kurdistan in Iraq would increase demands for independence for Kurds in both Syria and Turkey.

Hannah Lynch (RUDAW) wonders if this is the year the KRG sees full independence and notes:

Kurdish president Masoud Barzani has echoed the sentiment of many people that the Kurdish region would fare better on its own.
In the summer of 2014 when ISIS took over large swathes of Iraq’s territory, Barzani asked the Kurdish parliament to set a date for an independence referendum, saying that the Kurds no longer wanted to be part of Iraq’s troubles.
"There might be some negative consequences arising with the declaration of independence in the beginning. We need to be patient because in the end it is worth it, and we can provide a better tomorrow for our people," says Ayub Hassan, a goldsmith in downtown Erbil.

From reality, to fantasy.  Iraq is not just a corrupt country, it is regularly found in the top ten of most corrupt countries  in the world.  On its most recent corruption index, Transparency International ranked Iraq the 170th most corrupt country in the world out of 175 countries.

Anyone remember the protests of 2015?

Let's drop back to the October 5th snapshot:

Haider al-Abadi was installed as the new prime minister in the fall of 2014 in an attempt to reset the clock and pull Iraq back from the brink.
During his year and counting as prime minister, he's accomplished very little but flapped his gums a great deal.
For example, protests started (re-started) months ago.
The spark was the lack of electricity in 100-plus degree days.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Guardian) reports:
More than a decade after the US invasion – and more than $40bn (£26bn) of investment later – Iraqis must still make do with limited electricity. In a country with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, this is a matter of great exasperation for locals.
“People here get a few hours of electricity every day, so when the current comes there is a huge demand: everyone plugs in their fridges and air conditioners, the old network is overloaded and transformers fry and cables melt,” said Faris. “We work three shifts, 24 hours a day, trying to patch up the old network and we can’t keep up.”
When summer temperatures peak above 50C (122F), it’s a matter of life and death – a far more emotive issue than Isis and the sectarian divide. This summer, as temperatures surged and tempers frayed, thousands of people staged a series of protests, pressing into city centre squares to denounce the corruption that riddles the system.

All these months later, all these grand pronouncements from Haider later, and the electricity issue is still not addressed.
But Haider did announce, over the weekend, that he'd accomplished something to meet the demands of the people.
Sunday, AFP reported that Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, declared that opening the Green Zone to the public is part of his fulfilling his promise to the Iraqi people.
Strange, I don't require any signs carried by the protesters in recent months that called for opening the Green Zone.
And, of course, it's not really that open.  As AFP noted, "The measure offers limited access to the vast area, with most streets still requiring a special badge [. . .]"

Haider never met the demands of the protesters.  And the corruption continues.

But do nothing Haider al-Abadi spoke today.  PRESS TV notes:

“2016 is the year of eliminating corruption, there is no such things as acceptable corruption and non-acceptable corruption,” Haider al-Abadi said in a Saturday speech at a ceremony to celebrate Police Day in the capital, Baghdad.
The comments came following a criticism by Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who urged the Iraqi government to reform the current administration and take more serious measures against graft.

Covering the speech, ALSUMARIA notes that he gave a similar anti-corruption speech on September 23, 2015 but that, back then, he likened corruption to terrorism.
Haider al-Abadi's empty words have been useless.

Let's move to rumors.

US helicopters are taking part in attacks in Kirkuk.

ALSUMARIA reports that this rumor is being denied by US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones.

And did a US drone crash in Iraq?  Yes, RUSSIA TODAY reports, "Washington has confirmed that one of its Predator drones deployed in a mission against Islamic State terrorists crashed in Iraq. However, the military denied ISIS militants’ claims that the jihadist group shot the drone down." Lolita C. Baldor (AP) adds, "U.S. Air Forces Central Command says the military lost control of the drone, but the specific cause of its crash is being investigated." And Phillip Swarts (AIR FORCE TIMES) observes, "In the last eight months of 2015, Air Combat Command reported the loss of at least three RPA's -- two in the Middle East and one in Africa."

But what about what happened in Mosul?

ALSUMARIA notes Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erodgen is insisting that Turkish troops defended Camp Ba'shiqah near Mosul from the Islamic State.

But REUTERS notes, "Iraq's joint operations command denied on Saturday that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked by Islamic State or had clashed with the militants, refuting claims by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan."

On that one, it's still unclear what is just rumor and what is fact.

What about those false US rumors about the Iraq War having ended?  Michelle Tan (ARMY TIMES) reported Friday on new deployments, "About 1,300 soldiers will deploy to Iraq this spring to support Operation Inherent Resolve. The other 500 soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel."

So, no, Barack did not end the Iraq War.  Or close Guantanamo . . . Or . . .

We'll note this Tweet:

The Shia cleric al-Sarkhi al-Hasani: "Shias clerics have forgotten about the executions of Sunnies in "

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In some of today's violence, ALSUMARIA reports a south Baghdad bombing left five people (including three children) injured, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Baghdad (shot dead).

Turning to England, Jonathan Owen (INDEPENDENT) reports:

Dozens of cases in which British soldiers are accused of unlawfully killing Iraqi civilians have already been referred to prosecutors, The Independent can reveal, with more than 50 deaths set to be examined.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) has sought advice from the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) on unlawful death cases involving 35 alleged killings, and 36 cases of alleged abuse and mistreatment, it can be disclosed.

This has been a story there for over a week but until now there were many allegations being made to the press.  These are still allegations but they've now been turned over to legal prosecutors.  Lexi Finnigan (TELEGRAPH OF LONDON) adds:

On Friday night MPs and forces chiefs labelled the move to contact 280 soldiers a “despicable witch-hunt”. 
Some veterans have even been handed the letters personally and quizzed on their doorsteps by taxpayer-funded detectives


the telegraph of london

Thursday, January 07, 2016

The story getting little attention

At Third, we were hoping to cover the latest exposed spying scandal.

It broke the last week of 2015 so it did not appear to get a lot of traction.

  • The REAL story isn't the spying on Netanyahu, but the Members of Congress caught prioritizing his interests. Name...

  • The NSA spied on Congress.

    That is outrageous.

    The spy community clearly oversteps its bounds constantly it.

    If it can't be reigned in, it needs to be abolished.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 
    Thursday, January 7, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept continues to act as if it is a wing of the US Defense Dept, Iraq's getting $800 million in weapons from the US but Barack didn't think to put conditions on the deal, and much more.

    Today, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued the following:

    Media/Public Contact:
    Transmittal No: 
    WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2016 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Hellfire missiles and Captive Air Training Missiles, related equipment and support. The estimated cost is $800 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on January 6, 2016.
    The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of five thousand (5,000) AGM-114K/N/R Hellfire missiles; Ten (10) 114K M36E9 Captive Air Training Missiles; associated equipment; and defense services. The estimated major defense equipment (MDE) value is $750 million. The total estimated value is $800 million.
    The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security goals of the United States by helping to improve a critical capability of the Iraq Security Forces in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
    Iraq will use the Hellfire missiles to improve the Iraq Security Forces' capability to support ongoing combat operations. Iraq will also use this capability in future contingency operations. Iraq, which already has Hellfire missiles, will face no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces.
    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 Corporation in Bethesda, Maryland. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
    Implementation of this proposed sale will not require any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives in 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,

    This isn't supposed to happen.

    Laws, the Leahy Amendment, it's all supposed to forbid governments like Haider al-Abadi's receiving weapons.

    The White House got its way but that just means Barack Obama owns this.

    He can be fawned over and fluffed today but, in history, this is tied to him.

    The entire failure is tied to him.

    And it is a failure.

    Over the weekend, Karen DeYoung (WASHINGTON POST) reported:

    The current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, also a Shiite, has given much lip service to inclusion but has made little headway in changing Iraq’s sectarian equation. “All these things have to move in harmony. . . . You can’t simply focus on the military and ignore political factors,” said the senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.
    “Our diplomats are working day in and day out” on Iraqi political reconciliation, the official said, “but in some ways it is even more difficult. . . . These are existential questions that the Iraqis are asking themselves.”

    The diplomats are working very hard, are they?

    So Barack got his Iran deal but didn't think to secure the release of American hostages.

    Meanwhile the Iraqi government does as it damn well pleases despite years of promises to institute reconciliation and Barack just hands over anything to them.

    It's difficult, the official told Karen DeYoung.

    It's not that difficult.

    Iraq wants a weapons sale worth $800 million?

    That's a want.

    The White House then tosses out their want.

    The Iraqi government has to give a little or there's no deal.

    That's what deal making is, that's what diplomacy is.

    In June of 2014, Barack publicly declared that the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

    Yet in August of 2014, he started bombing Iraq.

    He used the US military, his envoy and the State Dept to work on more military means.

    And there's been no progress on the political front.

    None at all.

    Yet he continues to pull State from diplomacy in order to have it work military.

    At the top of today's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson John Kirby declared:

    Okay. I do have just a couple of things at the top additionally. And the Secretary alluded to this, but I wanted to flesh it out just a little bit more.
    As he mentioned, he met today with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter as well as other leaders from the State Department and from the Defense Department here in the building to discuss coordination on all the lines of effort in the counter-ISIL campaign. This meeting today was one of a series of regular meetings between Secretary Kerry and Secretary Carter to discuss synchronization and mutually reinforcing efforts in the counter-ISIL campaign.

    Today’s meeting in particular focused on next steps following continued progress in Ramadi as well as efforts to cut ISIL supply lines between Mosul and Raqqa. They also discussed the strategy to enhance our counter-messaging efforts. We are working to support the Government of Iraq as they continue working to stabilize the city of Ramadi. Our efforts in Ramadi are as much diplomatic and humanitarian as they are military. As the city continues to be cleared of ISIL, stabilization and humanitarian needs will be increasingly pressing on everybody. We are working with the coalition to address those very urgent needs.

    At what point does State work on State issues?

    "Even more difficult" to do diplomacy for the State in Iraq the US official told Karen DeYoung.

    It's got to be difficult when all your time is spent on military issues, getting other countries to join the 'coalition' of bombers dropping bombs on Iraq.

    Who's really being helped?

    Farah, 8, from w/ her teddy bear ‘Aysha’ at a registration centre in Presevo, Serbia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
    Embedded image permalink

    The diplomatic push has been ignored.

    What do the bombings bring to the refugees?

    Ibrahim lives in a camp in . "More than anything I miss my school & my friends”
    Embedded image permalink

    A diplomatic surge might help the refugees.

    But there's no diplomatic surge.

    How long can Iraq wait?

  • What Barack has pursued in Iraq is a failure.

    Yes, each day the Defense Dept can brag about bombing Iraq.  In fact, here they are doing so for today:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Coalition forces, using rocket artillery, fighter, fighter-attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft, conducted 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Baghdadi, two strikes struck an ISIL staging facility and an ISIL weapons cache.
    -- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed 30 ISIL rockets, an ISIL rocket rail, and an ISIL building.
    -- Near Habbaniyah, two strikes destroyed two ISIL staging areas, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL tactical vehicle.
    -- Near Haditha, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit, wounded an ISIL fighter, and destroyed three ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL fighting position and two ISIL vehicles.
    -- Near Hit, two strikes struck an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.
    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL bed down locations, an ISIL tunnel and four ISIL assembly areas.
    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two large ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed 13 ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL heavy machine guns, four ISIL vehicle bomb staging facilities, an ISIL staging area, three ISIL buildings and three ISIL tactical vehicles.
    -- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

    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.

    Barack is repeating the same mistakes Bully Boy Bush did.

    Barack's provided a 'surge' in military power.

    Supposedly, this was supposed to support the government and allow it to work on the political crises.

    The whole point of Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' was that sending more US troops into Iraq would allow them to secure the country and allow the Iraqi government to focus on the political crises.

    The US military did its part of the 'surge' but the political aspect was forgotten.

    Barack's making the same mistakes.

    And the violence includes the bombs dropped from war planes.

    But the violence isn't limited to that.

    Also today, IRAQI SPRING MC reports 2 corpses were found dumped in Baghdad, 1 man and 3 women were discovered dead in a Baghdad apartment (thought to have been killed by Shi'ite militias), 2 corpses were discovered in Diyala (said to be the victims of Shi'ite militias), a bomb south of Baghdad killed 2 people and left six more injured, a Baghdad bombing killed 1 person and left four more injured, a Baghdad bombing near a fish market left 1 person dead and five more injured, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Tarmiya and another was left injured,

    Fanar Haddad explores the climate in Iraq with "Shia-Centric State Building and Sunni Rejection in Post-2003 Iraq" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace):

    Underlying this spectrum of Sunni rejection is a latent resentment toward the post-2003 order that in turn is founded on a deep sense of Sunni alienation, a sense of loss, and a sense of victimhood beginning with regime change in 2003.7 This sense of resentment does not predetermine attitudes and positions; rather, and as with similar societal cleavages characterized by asymmetric power relations elsewhere in the world, people’s attitudes and positions are constantly shifting. Most people are not ideological hardliners—they react to socioeconomic and political conditions and make their choices accordingly. This can be seen in changing Sunni political behavior and participation in the political process over the years: from the boycott in 2005 to violence to participation in 2009 and 2010 to protest in 2013 and back to violence in 2014–2015.8 These shifts have reflected how Sunnis have perceived the permanence or transience of the post-2003 order and the prospects for political progress.
    Shia-centric state building is likewise a spectrum. At its most basic, it involves ensuring that the central levers of the state are in Shia hands (and more specifically in Shia-centric hands) and that Shia identities are represented and empowered. This could range from allowing, or even encouraging, Shia symbolism in public spaces to incorporating the Shia calendar into the national calendar for events and holidays, all the way to attempting to endow the state with a Shia identity.9 Whatever position a person adopts along this spectrum, the essence of it is that the Iraqi Shia are the Iraqi staatsvolk—Iraq’s constitutive people.

    The following community sites updated:

  • Wednesday, January 06, 2016

    Michael Weatherly announces retirement

    whatever happened to hillary diane

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Whatever Happened To Hillary Diane? AKA American Horror Story" above presents a scary look at the future.

    And the future will be without Michael Weatherly.

    At least on NCIS.

    After 13 years playing his part on the show, he is leaving.

    I knew he was getting up there but hadn't realized he was 65 already.

    Happy retirement, Michael.

    He's not 65, FYI, I'm being sarcastic.

    Back when he was on DARK ANGEL, I was a fan.

    Back in 2015?

    Well to look back to that, there are these community pieces:

    "Kat's Korner: 2015 In Music"
    "the 10 hottest hotties of 2015"
    "Ruth's Radio Report 2015"

    Please check them all out.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

    Tuesday, January 5, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the US continues bombing Iraq, more US troops are sent to Iraq, little concern is given to the hardening  perceptions in the Arab world of the US government, and much more.

    Is 2016 the year that we can finally hold US President Barack Obama accountable?

    Will The Cult of St. Barack continue to lie?

    These are questions worth asking.

    Especially as Felecia Martinez (GOOD 4 UTAH -- link is text and video) reports, "53 intelligent soldiers with the Utah National Guard are preparing to deploy to Kuwait and Iraq."

    When Bully Boy Bush was in the White House, those kind of deployments bothered us.


    Apparently not so much.

    Or how about this?  THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL features a photo by Rick Wood of "Sixty-six Wisconsin Army National Guard members stand during a sendoff ceremony in Madison Monday morning."  It's one of eleven photos of the ceremony for the troops who are headed to Iraq and Kuwait.

    US troops are being deployed again.

    Another US soldier died in Afghanistan today with two more left injured.

    Last week, an idiot -- an idiot I know -- an actor Tweeted to praise the success in Ramadi because no US service member had died in this wave of the Iraq War.

    Despite the death of Master Sgt Joshua Wheeler.

  • And he wasn't the first death in this latest wave of war that began in the summer of 2014.  From last August's "Editorial: How many US troops have died in the Iraq War in the last 12 months?:"

    Leo Shane III (Military Times) reported Thursday, "About 3,500 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq, and seven have lost their lives in connection to the new military operations there."

    But people -- like the idiot I consider a friend who's more committed to Barack than truth -- want to pretend otherwise.

    At this late date, that's on them.

    There's no pretending that the media has failed them.

    There's no pretending that the information has been kept from them.

    The Cult of St. Barack made the choice to 'turn on, tune in and drop out.'

    The hopium has been deadly to any real work towards peace.

    Days after Barack Obama won the 2008 US presidential election, the so-called United for Peace and Justice announced it was shutting down, their mission over.

    The Iraq War didn't end in November 2008.

    It hasn't ended today.

    UFPJ was nothing but a front organization for Democrats.

    It wasn't about peace, it wasn't about ending the Iraq War (or the Afghanistan War), it was about creating dissension to Republican rule and when a Democrat is elected to the White House, their 'mission' was over.

    Fakes and fake asses.

    They misled the country, they betrayed the peace movement.

    But at some point, the blame has to spread beyond the liars like Leslie Cagan.

    As we noted this week at Third in "Editorial: Barack's continued Iraq War:"

    But do most Americans even talk about the boots on the ground at this point?
    Seems like the only time any anger is expressed in the US over Iraq, it's to bring up Bully Boy Bush who left the White House in January 2009 and has largely lived under his rock ever since.
    At a certain point, it's not that the media is dumbing us down.
    No, at a certain point, we have to take responsibility for our refusal to recognize reality.

    In the summer of 2014, August of 2014 to be exact, Barack ordered the bombing of Iraq.  These bombings are daily and announced by the US Defense Dept.  For example, today DoD announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Coalition military forces conducted 25 strikes in Iraq using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Baghdadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, cratered an ISIL-used road, wounded three ISIL fighters, denied ISIL access to terrain, suppressed two ISIL mortar positions and an ISIL vehicle bomb, and destroyed an ISIL machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, five ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL vehicle bomb, and five ISIL rocket rails.
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb, four ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
    -- Near Kisik, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Mosul, 12 strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL excavator, four ISIL weapons caches, ISIL engineering equipment, three ISIL heavy machine guns, and 12 ISIL assembly areas.
    -- Near Qayyarah, a strike struck an ISIL-used bridge.
    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and four buildings.
    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed two ISIL machine gun positions.
    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike destroyed 10 ISIL bunkers.

    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.

    That's combat.

    But people wanted to pretend otherwise.

    If you're a US pilot dropping bombs on a country, you are in combat.

    A lot of people kid themselves.

    The White House and the press, for example, with their biased coverage of an execution in Saudi Arabia.

    A secretary for one of Iraq's Vice President (Tareq al-Hashemi), is tortured into a 'confession' and given the death penalty and the White House can't say a word and most outlets -- even after Human Rights Watch repeatedly raised the sentence of Rasha al-Husseini (such as here).

    This bias -- which is swept and away and not even acknowledged in the US -- is part of the reason the US government has so little influence in the region.  They're seen as one-sided -- concerned only with the Shi'ites.  That's how Sunnis tend to see Barack's deal with Iran, his refusal to go to war with the Syrian government (I don't support war on Syria, I'm merely noting the perception among Sunnis) despite the persecution of Syria's Sunnis, etc, etc.

    If you're not getting how one sided the US government and US media's interest is, let's go to Monday's THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER (CNN) and pay close attention to how Elise Labott 'reports' the controversial execution.

    WOLF BLITZER:  Let's begin with a sudden and growing crisis in the Middle East pitting Iran, Saudi Arabia and many of their allies against each other right now. The ramifications are enormous.

    Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is working the story for us.

    Elise, this potentially significantly, damaging impact for the United States.


    Tonight, Saudi Arabia canceled al fights to and from Iran after cutting diplomatic ties over the attack on its embassy. As the region's two biggest powerhouses ramp up their diplomatic standoff, tonight, fears in Washington the fallout could set the entire region on a collision course.


    LABOTT (voice-over): In Baghdad today, protesters chanted "No to Sau" -- as they stormed the Saudi ambassador's residence.

    A similar scene in Tehran, where protesters there returned to the Saudi Embassy after ransacking and torching it over the weekend, what is quickly becoming a crisis that could pull America further into a centuries-old Middle East conflict. Tonight, one of America's most entrenched foes is in a showdown with one of its staunchest allies.

    Iran is promising vengeance after the Saudi government beheaded this cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who it called a terrorist. He, like much of Iran's population, was a Shiite Muslim. And his killing inflamed that country, leading to protests and the brutal attack on the Saudi Embassy.

    ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We will not allow Iran to destabilize our region.

    LABOTT: Tonight, the backlash against Iran is growing. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Tehran. And, today, three Sunni- Arab countries, Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, joined them, severing or downgrading ties with Tehran and recalling their ambassadors.

    AL-JUBEIR: The cutting off of diplomatic ties with Iran is in reaction to Iran's aggressive policies over the years and in particular over the past few months.

    LABOTT: Since the American-led nuclear deal with Iran this spring, tensions between the countries have boiled over, each backing opposite factions in conflicts throughout the region, from Yemen to the bloody civil war in Syria, where Iran's support for Syrian President Assad has fueled Saudi anger.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they grow further apart, if they're not talking, if they're fighting through proxies in places like Syria and Yemen, and they are, it means, unfortunately, that in the next several months, we should expect to see more violence, more dead, more refugees coming out of Syria.

    LABOTT: Tonight, Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to get the countries to talk in an attempt to stave off war between two of the most heavily armed countries in the Middle East.

    JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: What we want to see is the tensions reduced. We want to see dialogue restored and try to get a resolution to these things peacefully, diplomatically and without violence.


    LABOTT: Now, U.S. officials tell me they did voice concern with the Saudis even before the cleric's execution that such a move would inflame tensions in the region.


    Now, the White House pointedly not criticizing the move, only saying it was unhelpful to security and stability in the region. Tonight, officials say they are trying to avoid owning this feed, making it clear to Saudi Arabia and Iran it is up to them to resolve their differences, Wolf.  

    Who, in Iraq, protested the execution?

    Check out Arabic social media because they're noting -- repeatedly -- that the protesters in Iraq are being presented as "Iraqis" -- when, in fact, they are Iraqi Shi'ites.  However, Arabic social media is pointing out that when protests took place in Iraq for over a year, the same US press referred to them as Sunnis.

    So when you're Shi'ite in Iraq and you protest, you're an Iraqi.  But when you're Sunni, you're labeled as Sunni.

    The White House objections to the execution are noted in Arabic social media as well.

    If the Cult of St. Barack can pull its head out of Barack's ass, they might be able to notice what impressions and perceptions have been taking hold in the Arabic world.

    And they might take a moment to ponder the long rage implications.

    Instead of that, in the US, we get pithy little comments about the Saudi government and 9/11.

    They do nothing to speak to the attitude of the Arabic people in the region.

    Or even to address what's taken place or the death penalty itself.

    But it allows us to pretend that, for about 30 seconds, we actually thought about something, right?

    Like CODESTINK pretends like they are appreciated in the Arabic world when they're appalling silence on the persecution of Sunnis in Iraq is noted as well as CODESTINK going all in for the Shi'ite majority country of Iran.

    Perceptions and impressions have been formed in The Age of Obama and they are hardening.

    At some point, Americans might want to take a moment to grasp that and grasp the potential pitfalls that these perceptions and impressions may result in.

    Let's stay with politics.

  • . is a true progressive who championed & opposed the Iraq War. We wish him the very best in retirement!

  • Yes, in 2002, he opposed the Iraq War.

    But, as Janet Jackson noted thirty years ago (it was released January 13, 1986) in her first top ten hit on the BILLBOARD HOT 100:

    I know you used to do nice stuff for me
    But what have you done for me lately?

    He did speak out -- or at least about or ask a question or something -- on the current wave of the Iraq War:

    WASHINGTON, DCToday, The Hill is running Congressman Jim McDermott’s latest opinion editorial.  The piece calls for Speaker John Boehner to invite President Barack Obama to Congress before the end of the 113th session to fully explain U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Syria.
    “Make no mistake, more American sons and daughters will die in Iraq in the coming months, if not the coming years.
    Our nation’s use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is becoming a full-fledged military campaign in Iraq.
    It is now an imperative that Congress hears from the president.
    It is in the American people’s best interest for the president to ask the people’s representatives for a proper authorization for the use of military force.”

    And we might applaud that . . . effort? . . . were it not for the fact that his office issued that press release on December 9th . . .

    December 9, 2014.




    Nothing at all.

    What a brave strong member of Congress!

    It would appear that Jim announced his retirement this week but actually entered his retirement at the end of 2014.

    Still on US politics, Senator Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  He's noted in the following Tweet.

  • elise labott