Saturday, December 30, 2017

Some science

AP reports that the starfish are making a comeback.  You might remember that  millions died off the west coast (2013 to 2014).
Staying with the sea, Aaron Mamitt (TECH TIMES) reports:
A new discovery revealed that the sea creature referred to as the giant Pacific octopus is actually made up of two different species.
The new giant octopus species was hiding in plain sight for so many years until an undergraduate student took a closer look at the eight-armed aquatic animal.
Scientists have long suspected that the giant Pacific octopus was an umbrella name for the sea creatures that covers more than just one species. The hunch has now been confirmed by Alaska Pacific University undergraduate student Nathan Hollenbeck, who focused his senior thesis on studying the giant octopus.
Hollenbeck spent time with Alaska's shrimp fishers, who made a living by lowering pots with bait into the water to catch shrimp. Sometimes a giant octopus crawls into the pots to eat the shrimp and perhaps also out of curiosity.
I really would prefer to write about science all the time because it’s so interesting.
And let me give some praise to Donald Trump before the year runs out.  I’m glad the US will do more Moon missions.  I love Curiosity, I love Mars.  But the Moon is right there and I really do think there is more we can discover.  I also think it’s a natural first step if we are ever going to attempt colonizing elsewhere.  

So no huge fan of the president but on the issue of the Moon, I will give him credit.  (Hopefully, he will follow through.)

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, December 29, 2017.  Iraq is largely absent from the national conversation and the few times it pops into the exchange it's tightly controlled.

This is your government.

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

US special operations troops are secretly harboring and training former fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at the remote American base in Al Tanf, Syria near the strategic nexus of the country’s borders with Iraq and Jordan, according to a report issued by the Russian military command.
The charge was made Wednesday by General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s general staff and deputy defense minister. He said that Russian drones and satellites had detected brigades of ISIS militants in and around both Al Tanf and another US military base near the Kurdish-controlled city of Al-Shaddadi in the country’s northeast.
“They are in reality being trained there,” Gerasimov said in an interview with the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. “They are practically Islamic State,” he added. “But after they are worked with, they change their spots and take on another name. Their task is to destabilize the situation.” The Islamist fighters, he indicated, are being re-branded as the “New Syrian Army.”

He also notes Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati's BBC report about how the US and UK aided the Islamic State in departing Iraq:

Abu Fawzi and dozens of other drivers were promised thousands of dollars for the task but it had to remain secret.
The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared.
But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part.
Has the pact, which stood as Raqqa’s dirty secret, unleashed a threat to the outside world - one that has enabled militants to spread far and wide across Syria and beyond? 

In the Arab world, the accusation has long been that the US government created and sponsored the Islamic State.

This was due to a number of US actions in the region and around the world including the fact that the US empowered the Taliban (don't forget to include Mika's nasty father -- and nasty is right, so many women spoke of his actions towards them -- on the blame list).

But it also included strange moments that would appear to question where the loyalties were.

It's very strange that the BBC can report on Raqqa but the US press will ignore it.

Because the BBC reports it doesn't make it true.  But when the US response is silence, it certainly makes it appear true.

When does the American media cover these topics?

If they can put it in the mouth of the 'enemy.'  So, last June, Tom O'Connor (NEWSWEEK) writes about how the Iranian government claims it has documents which demonstrate that the US government has been backing ISIS.

Now when, earlier this month, Amnesty International documented the fact that ISIS was using US-made weapons, CNN did cover it.  But there was Jim Michaels (USA TODAY) to the rescue, days later, to explain that the weapons "fell into the hands" of ISIS.  The press then dickered over whether they were stolen or sold by non-US actors (usually Syrian 'rebels' were cited).

But we're never to consider what so many in the Middle East believe: That the US government has been backing ISIS all along.

None of the above means that the US funded/created/supported/one-or-all-of-the-above the Islamic State.  The point is this topic is discussed around the world, in traditional media and on social media, but the corporate media in the US will not have the conversation, will not allow it.

That, more than anything else, lends credence to the rumors and allows them, over time, to be accepted as truth.

The question isn't do governments lie, it's do they ever tell the truth?


Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa on Wednesday accused External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for blocking him on Twitter for raising the issue of 39 Indians missing in war-torn Iraq.
Bajwa tweeted, “Is this the way to run external affairs ministry? Does it behove the office of Sushma Swaraj Ji to block a Member of Parliament for asking tough questions on 39 missing Indians in Iraq?” and shared a screenshot that read “@SushmaSwaraj blocked you.”
[. . .]
The Punjab Congress president Bajwa has been accusing the Foreign Minister of misleading the House on 39 Indians missing in war-torn Iraq.

The 39 Indians have been missing since June of 2014.  In June of 2016, the editorial board of THE HINDUSTAN TIMES observed:

Perhaps it is this optimism that guides the families of 39 Indians who are missing from Mosul (Iraq) for the past two years. In June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) was capturing town after town and taking civilians (especially foreign nationals and minorities) hostage. In Mosul, 40 Indian construction workers, mainly from Punjab, were captured, and one person managed to escape. The whereabouts of the 39 is unclear. The government has maintained that it has credible intelligence that the hostages are alive, while media reports state that they have been executed.

Meanwhile, violence continues in Iraq.

A group of unknown gunmen on Thursday night launched a rocket attack on an |i military convoy, and five members of the Hashd al-Shaabi were wounded in two roadside bomb explosions in the latest string of incidents to rock .

And XINHUA reports:

Unidentified gunmen shot dead three family members inside a house early Friday morning at a village in Iraq's central province of Salahudin, a police source told Xinhua.
The attackers broke into the family house in the town of Es'haqi, some 60 km south of the provincial capital Tikrit, and opened fire on the family members, killing three men, wounding two women and two children, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Also on violence,  Chatham House's Micah Zenko makes some important points:

Pentagon never acknowledged contractors were in Syria. Dept of Labor just revealed 2 DOD contractors died there last year; 6 injured.
In total, 55 DOD contractors died in war zones (Afghan, Iraq, Chad, Syria, Somalia) in FY2017. 2017 will be 8th year in a row that more DOD contractors died in US wars, than US troops.
You will never know the names or circumstances under which they died. Or, even if they were US citizens (roughly one-third of DOD contractors are Americans).
  • Because contractors are barely acknowledged and have no identities, their expanded use under 3 presidents makes US military footprint appear artificially smaller.
  • Hope someday defense analysts and journalists recognize the essential, enabling capabilities contractors provide when writing about US wars. As is, "contractor" is a dirty word or an after thought. END

    And the big question this morning -- bigger than who will pay for the rebuilding of Iraq --  comes in a Tweet from Tim Anderson:

    How many used their voices to speak out against these wars? , , , , , . All driven by , all on false pretexts.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated: