Saturday, May 09, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, May 9, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Barzani liars are exposed as the week comes to a close, we refute the claim that Haider al-Abadi's abuses must be ignored, and much more.

Deb Riechmann (AP) reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani declared "he had not backtracked on his request for the U.S. to bypass Baghdad and directly supply" the KRG with weapons.


It's shocking . . . if you're a useless liar

That would be Huffington Post's  Akbar Shahid Ahmed who refused to rely Wednesday on what Barzani said because it was so much more 'fun' (if not journalistic) to go with what Ahmed really, really wanted Barzani to have said instead.

(See Wednesday's snapshot for what Barzani said as opposed to what liars like Akbar insisted Barzani meant or would have said or should have said.)

Friday,  Rudaw reported:

The United States has reassured Iraq’s Kurds they will have the weapons they need in the war with ISIS, promising the arms will continue to be expedited by Baghdad, a member of the Kurdish presidential delegation in Washington told Rudaw.The official, speaking to Rudaw on background and refusing to be named or directly quoted, said US officials had told Kurdish President Masoud Barzani’s delegation that Baghdad would be courting problems with Washington if it tried to delay weapons funneled to Erbil through the Iraqi central government.

Deb Riechmann quotes Barzani declaring the KRG and the Peshmerga have not seen "a bullet or a piece" of the many arms and weapons the White House has insisted the US government had to supply Iraq with to fight the Islamic State.

These are weapons that were supposed to be distributed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

The one who lied, the one who failed?

That's Haider al-Abadi who has refused to arm anyone but the Shi'ites except for a few token items here and there.

That's the reality of the story.

That's the crux.

That's what it all boils down to.

But whores passing themselves off as journalists have bent over backwards to avoid that reality.

They've attacked the US House of Representatives instead.

They've lied and passed a bill that was voted out of Committee on a vote of 60 for and 2 against as a "Republican bill."

No, that's a bi-partisan bill.

And the fact that whores think they can get away with lying about that bill goes too how deeply troubled the US press truly is because it's decided since 2008 that they were an advocacy organization for then-Senator Barack Obama and not a functioning press.

The White House has refused to address what is going on in Iraq.

That's why the country's in shambles.

Bully Boy Bush invaded in 2003!

Yes, he did.

Is that going to be your excuse forever because you're really going to the well one time too many on that.

Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal.

He's also out of office -- thank heaven for that and for the fact that he can never, ever occupy the Oval Office again.

Bully Boy Bush left the White House in January of 2009.

The country he (and the US Congress) attacked was not 'fixed' or 'safe' or maybe even 'better,' but it hadn't fallen apart to the extent that it has today.

The United States is supposed to stand for democracy.  It's supposed to stand for elections.

It gives lip service to the people having a say.

In 2010, Iraqis went to the polls and voted.  They did so in the face of violence.

They endured checkpoints, they endured threats, they endured making it to a polling station only to be told they couldn't vote there but had to go through checkpoints in the opposite direction and, did we mention, they did this in areas with bans on cars.

They did all of this to make their voice heard.

Few will ever go through so much to have a say in their government.

And for Barack Obama to overturn their votes is not a minor thing and Iraq falls apart as a result.

This was briefly touched on this week on The NewsHour (PBS) when Margaret Warner spoke with Emma Sky, author of  The Unraveling: High Hopes And Missed Opportunities In Iraq

MARGARET WARNER: But, in 2010, after quelling the Sunni-Shia civil war and al-Qaida, the Americans, Sky says, made a fateful mistake, throwing their weight Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after he narrowly lost the 2010 election against a non-sectarian rival.

EMMA SKY: There was a sense of, do we uphold the election results or do we keep Maliki in power? And General Odierno was, we’re Americans, there’s been an election, we must uphold the results.
But there were others who thought, we know Maliki. He will give us a follow-on security agreement. So, that was the debate. And, unfortunately, Vice President Biden came down on the side of, there’s no one but al-Maliki, this is the quickest option, keep the status quo, and we can get an security agreement, and then just really disengage.

Nouri didn't keep the status quo, he made things much worse.  And the US didn't get the new Status Of Forces Agreement that Barack and Joe Biden just knew was going to happen.

The Iraq people?

They got four more years of a despot they voted to get rid of.

2009's provincial elections seemed to suggest that Iraq was resisting sectarianism and moving towards a national identity.  This was born out in the 2010 results.

This was something to encourage, something to foster.

Instead, Barack Obama ripped it apart.

Doing so, he didn't just saddle Iraq with four more years of thug Nouri, he destroyed hope and belief in the democratic process.

How are Iraqis to trust their own votes when they see Barack Obama overrule their intent?

And it only got worse.

To ram through a second term of Nouri, Barack orchestrated The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri didn't win a second term.  The legal contract gave him one -- in exchange for concessions on his part.

But Nouri refused to honor his written, contractual promises after he got his second term.

Which led political leaders -- including Ayad Allawi, Moqtada al-Sadr and Massoud Barzani -- to demand that he honor the contract.

When he refused, they moved for a no-confidence vote to remove Nouri.

This is a legal procedure, one outlined in the Iraqi Constitution.

And they met the legal requirements, they gathered the petition with enough signatures of MPs.

But Barack couldn't leave that alone, he had to have Nouri.  So, in the spring of 2012, pressure was brought on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to bring a stop to the no-confidence vote.

Per the Constitution, the signed petition was handed to Jalal who then, in his ceremonial role as president, had only one duty: formally introduce it to Parliament.

Jalal insisted he needed to verify the signatures.

Not in the Constitution, but people indulged him.

Only he wasn't verifying.

Verifying is making sure the MP signed the petition.

Verifying is not browbeating the MP into saying they wouldn't sign it today.

Didn't matter if they'd sign it today or not, it mattered did they sign it.

But Jalal claimed enough had begged off to him that he was refusing to introduce the petition.

He then claimed a medical emergency and fled to Germany where he actually had elective surgery (on his knee).  Fate and karma don't like whores which is probably how, months later, Jalal had a massive heart attack and/or stroke and ended up in Germany again and how he'd never, ever serve another day as president and how, to this day, he's an invalid who requires 24 hour care.

All of this is Barack, none of this is Bully Boy Bush.

And if we want to tell the ugly truth -- let's tell the ugly truth.

The insipid and whorish US press couldn't have sold the myth of St. Barack as successfully as they did if a large number of the US public wasn't so desperate to believe in it.

How'd that work out for you anyway?

You've got a secret trade pack that sees Barack threatening members of Congress over.

You've got the continued illegal spying which has only increased under St. Barack.

You've got more wars than you did under Bully Boy Bush which includes the never-ending military (and, yes, combat) presence in Iraq.

You've got the war on whistle blowers.

And you didn't even get Medicare for all.  You didn't even get what FDR wanted to give the American people back in the 1940s.  Instead, you're shackled to corporations and if you're working poor you're screwed because you make too much for real assistance and you've have to purchase a policy with some ridiculous deductible like $6,000 before you see any benefits at all.  That's not universal health care and only a lying whore would pretend that it was.

But the US press pretended.

The left didn't get anything out of Barack's presidency. There are 19 more months left -- maybe that's when St. Barack begins delivering miracles.

But thus far, he's failed to live up to all the promises The Cult of St. Barack swore were coming.

What he did with Iraq?

He destroyed it.

In 2011, he could have stood with the Iraqi people as they hit the streets protesting.

He did not.

When Nouri began sending his goons into schools to tell Iraqi teenagers that gay men should be killed that they were vampires who would suck blood from the innocents, Barack could have stood up to the thug but he did not.

When Iraqi women and girls were being wrongly imprisoned by Nouri, Barack didn't stand up.

When Iraqi women and girls were being tortured and raped in Iraqi prisons and jails, Barack didn't stand up.

When Nouri's secret torture chambers were revealed by the press, Barack stayed silent.

When Nouri called peaceful protesters "terrorists," Barack said nothing.

When Nouri began targeting protesters, Barack said nothing.

Then came the major attack, the April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija 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 toll increased to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

And Barack said . . .


Now the useless trash on Twitter obsessed with Dick Cheney or Bully Boy Bush can pretend they're focused on Iraq but they're not.

And the reality is that these types of people weren't misled by the press, they willingly followed the liars because they just didn't give a damn about Iraq.

They prove it by having a meaningless conversation about events ten years ago while refusing to focus on the factors the led Iraq to the current state today.

And this matters now more than ever.

Last month, I was at a hearing where various 'officials' think tankers explained to Congress that pressure couldn't be put on Haider al-Abadi to live up the human rights or even to distribute weapons fairly.

Tamara Cofman Wittes of Brookings,  the RAND Corporation's Dr. Seth Jones and the Institute for the Study of War's Jack Keane (who is a retired US General) are the ones I'm referring to and you can find coverage of that April 30th Congressional hearing in the May 2nd snapshot.

Instead of demanding accountability, these RAND, Brookings types insisted that Haider had to be indulged and challenged because, apparently, Iraq needs a thug and can only respect a thug.

Putting pressure on Haider to follow the law would risk weakening him.

If there's a bigger load of s**t delivered to Congress, I've failed to see it.

But, pay attention, this is what they said about Nouri.

This is why Nouri indulged throughout his second term as things in Iraq only worsened.

The same pack of lies that were used to justify looking the other way on Nouri's human rights abuses and War Crimes are now being used to cover for Haider al-Abadi.

If you care about Iraq and the Iraq people, you need to pay attention.

To right now, you need to pay attention.

You need to reject the notion that the US government can arm and financially aid a government led by a thug who attacks whole sections of the Iraqi population.

Long after Barack's out of office, future generations in the United States will talk about, for example, the Hawija massacre and denounce those Americans who stayed silent in real time, who refused to call it out.

Those on the left will, anyway.

That's what we do.

How could we have gotten in bed with _____?  How could we have looked the other way on ____?

What Nouri al-Maliki did, he did openly.

And The World Can't Wait was too busy attacking this film or that film to call out the slaughter of peaceful protesters.

What Haider's doing, he's doing openly.

There are no more excuses.

At this late date, if you're going to lie about Iraq for Barack at least admit it.

Massoud Barazni never denounced the moves of the US Congress to arm the KRG directly.

But that didn't stop a lot of 'reporters' from pretending otherwise this week.

Turning to violence,

Iraq jail riot leaves up to 50 prisoners and 12 police dead as dozens escape

And Margaret Griffis ( counts 149 violent deaths on Friday in Iraq with 81 more people left injured.

Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  We'll close with this from Bacon's photo essay "Hard Labor In The Organic Potato Field" (gatronomica: the journal of critical food studies, Spring 2015):

Workers in the potato field bundle up against the sun and the heat.

By seven thirty in the morning it is already 80 degrees in a potato field in Lamont, in the southern San Joaquin Valley. By mid-afternoon here it will reach 107. The workers moving up and down the rows are not dressed in shorts and tank tops, though. They wear multiple layers of clothing, including long sleeves and, in the case of women, bandannas that cover their faces, leaving only their eyes visible.

Farmworkers know how to handle heat. They work in these intense conditions every day. ''Clothing is like insulation,'' says Evelina Arellano. ''It actually protects you. And if I didn't wear my bandanna, by the end of the day it would be hard to breathe because of the dust.'' [The names of the workers in the field have been changed-Ed.]

The rows are as long as two football fields, each a deep furrow next to a mound bearing the potato plants. Between the potatoes grow weeds, some spreading out next to the dirt and others growing as tall as the workers themselves. On this day in mid-June the farm labor crew is pulling the weeds.

the newshour
margaret warner


Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty Hears from Veterans in Waterbury about the Dangers of Burn Pits Exposure, Introduces Legislation to Improve Treatment

US House Rep Elizabeth Esty's office issued the following yesterday:

May 8, 2015
Press Release

WATERBURY, CT – Today, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) met with veterans at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury to discuss the consequences of exposure to burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Burn pits are areas on military bases where waste, such as human waste, batteries, and other garbage, is incinerated and toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere. Esty was inspired to introduce legislation, the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, H.R. 2237, after veterans in her district contacted her office to inform her of the negative health consequences they suffered.

“While much attention is rightly paid to the visible wounds of war, our veterans also suffer from numerous less visible conditions that result from exposure to the environmental hazards found in war zones,” said Congresswoman Esty. “I’ve heard from veterans in central and northwest Connecticut who suffer from or who know fellow service members who suffer from respiratory and gastrointestinal issues that were likely caused by exposure to burn pits. This is exactly why I introduced the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act to expand care to those exposed to burn pits. Our veterans deserve real attention and quality care for the full range of health conditions from their service to our country.”

“Burn pits are the Agent Orange of our generation,” said James Rizzio, president of NVCC’s Veterans’ Club. “I was around burn pits a lot and it can lead to very serious medical issues later in life. Getting this legislation passed is the right thing to do.”

Rizzio spent six years in the U.S. Army and served in Iraq from 2009 to 2010.

Military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are exposed to a variety of potentially harmful substances including the smoke produced from the burning of waste on military bases. Items such as plastics, aerosol cans, electronic equipment, human waste, metal containers, tires, and batteries are thrown into open pits, sometimes doused with jet fuel, and set ablaze. Smoke from these open-air burn pits can waft throughout the entire base and even into living areas. Health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits can include cancer, neurological and reproductive effects, respiratory toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity.

The Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act would create a center of excellence within the Department of Veterans Affairs in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions related to exposure to burn pits.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains an Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry for veterans who are suffering from conditions related to exposure to burn pits.
Full text of Esty’s bill, the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act can be found here.

Blumenthal Statement on Senate Passage of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

Senator Richard Blumenthal's office issued the following on Thursday:

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement after the Senate passed, by a vote of 98-1, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015:

This bill gives Congress an appropriate and important role in reviewing and scrutinizing any final diplomatic agreement. The overwhelming bipartisan vote today of 98-1 reaffirms that the legislation avoids impeding or interfering with ongoing negotiations to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. I hope and believe that these negotiations can be successful, and offer the best prospect of achieving our common goal in preventing a nuclear armed Iran and a Middle East nuclear tinder box.”

Blumenthal was an original co-sponsor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

Press Contact

Josh Zembik (DC) – (202) 224-6452
Elizabeth Benton (CT) – (860) 729-3589

Friday, May 08, 2015

Martha Plimpton Rocks Broadway, Raises $40,000 for A Is For & Center for Reproductive Rights at ‘Broadway Acts for Women’

This is from the Center for Reproductive Rights:

Martha Plimpton Rocks Broadway, Raises $40,000 for A Is For & Center for Reproductive Rights at ‘Broadway Acts for Women’

New York, NY (May 7, 2015)—Martha Plimpton and her nonprofit organization A is For rocked New York City on Sunday night with “Broadway Acts for Women,” featuring Broadway’s biggest stars, including Patti LuPone, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and others. Attendees included Josh Charles, Samantha Bee, Josh Hamilton, and more.

Spontaneity was the name of the game, as audience members bid on the chance to have Broadway stars perform the song of their choice, many of which they had never performed publicly. Co-hosted by Plimpton and comedian Seth Herzog, the impromptu nature of the auction and karaoke performances kept the energy high and the audience riveted. In fact, it was Patti LuPone who served as the biggest cheerleader of the night, dancing in the aisles and encouraging audience members to bid higher in support of the cause.

The night raised approximately $40,000, which will go to benefit the Center for Reproductive Rights and A is For.

Labour's betrayals let Tories back in

This is a repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Labour's betrayals let Tories back in

by Charlie Kimber
Published Fri 8 May 2015
Issue No. 2452

Counting votes in Lambeth, south London
Counting votes in Lambeth, south London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The election result is a disaster. It’s a disaster for the NHS, for workers’ rights, for people on benefits, for disabled people and for the battle against climate change.

The Tories will feel they can unleash even sharper austerity, and loot even more from working people to hand over to the super-rich. They will intensify their scapegoating of migrants and Muslims.

They will seek to hand still greater powers to the police and be more ready to wage war abroad as well as at home. We need to understand why the Tories are still in Downing Street, despite all their assaults on workers.

Labour lost because it was too right wing, not because it was too left wing. Look at Scotland. There 
Labour has been the biggest party since 1959. But it was all but eradicated in political earthquake that ran through the country.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) went from six seats to 56 seats. This wholly unprecedented shift happened because the SNP was able to portray itself as to the left of Labour. Its leaders spoke out against austerity, Trident nuclear missiles, war and much else.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander acknowledged, "Scotland has voted to oppose the Tories, but hasn't trusted Labour to do so."

Scottish Labour united with the Tories to save the Union during the referendum. It then bizarrely chose a right wing leader, then humiliated him when he felt constrained to speak out against cuts. Now it has paid the price.


Ed MIliband saw his poll ratings rise when he offered some hope of change—an end to the non-dom status that enables billionaires to avoid tax, a higher tax rate for those grabbing over £150,000 a year and a mansion tax.

But the glimmers of progress and class politics were battered aside by the clunking fist of financial “iron discipline”, “not a penny more” of borrowing, and “cuts in the deficit every year”.

It’s not surprising that people were not inspired by a programme of more attacks on public services, more wage curbs, more jobs lost and a squeeze on health and education.

Labour’s leaders blamed migrants for falling living standards. Ludicrously, they ended up attacking Cameron for “unfunded promises” to spend more on the NHS.

Miliband and his circle have betrayed people by their pallid and right wing campaign. It will be a disaster if the supporters of Tony Blair and others now seek to drive the party even further rightwards.

Some of the best Labour results were in the seats held by the small number of the party’s left wingers. John McDonnell saw his majority rise by 5,000 as he won 60 percent of the vote in Hayes and Harlington.

Among a somber set of results, it was wonderful see Nigel Farage of the racist Ukip party defeated. He failed because Stand Up to Ukip and others campaigned against him.

But the threat has not gone away. Ukip grabbed nearly 4 million votes and came second in 118 parliamentary seats. We will need to keep up the arguments against Ukip and the wider racism and Islamophobia that it thrives on.

Candidates to the left of Labour were generally squeezed by the pressure to vote Labour to keep out the Tories and Ukip. In many areas the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) ran lively campaigns, and were well-received. But it’s hard to turn that into votes.

However, Dave Nellist won 1,769 votes in Coventry, Jenny Sutton took 1,324 in Tottenham and Glyn Robbins secured 969 in Bethnal Green and Bow.


In Belfast West, Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit came second with a tremendous 6,798—almost 20 percent of the vote.

Left Unity’s results were similar to TUSC’s and the election reinforces the need for the left to get it s act together—to campaign together, to organise together and to fight elections together.

The Tories will not have an easy time. They will now seek to impose massive additional austerity with a small majority in parliament. They will have to hold a referendum on European

Union membership that will divide their own party.

They preside over a slowing economy with further troubles ahead. They have no legitimacy in Scotland.

Struggles and political explosions will break out—just as they did after the Tories took office in 1992 and in 2010.

We need to fan every flame of resistance—from strikes to housing campaigns, to the People’s Assembly demonstration on 20 June, to the battles against racism, to the mobilisations over climate change.  We need to challenge the Labour and trade union leaders who have led us to this disaster.
Now the trade union leaders who held back strikes and told people to put their faith in Labour have to be pressured to start fighting. And if they won’t we will have to do it ourselves. We cannot allow austerity to rule unchecked.

We need to understand what happened at this election, to agitate and organise, and to argue stronger for a socialist alternative to capitalism.

the socialist worker

Appellate Court Is First to Rule on the Issue

This is from the ACLU:

     Appellate Court Is First to Rule on the Issue

May 7, 2015

NEW YORK – In a landmark decision, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled today that the NSA’s phone-records surveillance program is unlawful.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the statute the government is relying on to justify the bulk collection of phone records – Section 215 of the Patriot Act – does not permit the gathering of Americans’ sensitive information on such a massive scale. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union in June 2013, immediately after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of the program.

“The current reform proposals from Congress look anemic in light of the serious issues raised by the Second Circuit,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Congress needs to up its reform game if it’s going to address the court’s concerns.”

The government had argued in the case, ACLU v. Clapper, that the court should not consider the lawfulness of the program at all, arguing that the ACLU lacked “standing” to challenge the surveillance and that Congress had “precluded” judicial review except by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,  which meets in secret, rarely publishes its decisions, and generally hears argument only from the government. Today’s decision rejects those arguments.

The ruling aligns with the lower court decision in a similar lawsuit in Washington, Klayman v. Obama, in which U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found the NSA program to be likely unconstitutional. The government’s appeal of that case was argued on November 4. Another challenge to the phone-records program was argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 4.

“This decision is a resounding victory for the rule of law,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Alex Abdo, who argued the case before the three-judge panel in September. “For years, the government secretly spied on millions of innocent Americans based on a shockingly broad interpretation of its authority. The court rightly rejected the government’s theory that it may stockpile information on all of us in case that information proves useful in the future. Mass surveillance does not make us any safer, and it is fundamentally incompatible with the privacy necessary in a free society.”

The ACLU is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services, which, as revealed in The Guardian, received a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court compelling the company to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” phone call details such as whom calls are placed to and from, and when those calls are made. The lawsuit argued that the government’s blanket seizure of the ACLU’s phone records compromises the organization’s ability to carry out its work and to engage in legitimate communications with clients, journalists, advocacy partners, whistleblowers, and others.

“This ruling focuses on the phone-records program, but it has far broader significance, because the same defective legal theory that underlies this program underlies many of the government’s other mass-surveillance programs,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director and lead counsel in the case. “The ruling warrants a reconsideration of all of those programs, and it underscores once again the need for truly systemic reform.”

The court wrote in its opinion, “If the government is correct, it could use Section 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including e‐mail and social media information) relating to all Americans. Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans.”

The attorneys on the case are Jaffer and Abdo along with Brett Max Kaufman and Patrick Toomey of the ACLU, and Arthur N. Eisenberg and Christopher T. Dunn of the NYCLU.

Today’s ruling is at:

The concurring opinion is at:

Isakson Statement on Senate Passage of Measure Requiring Congressional Review of Iran Nuclear Agreement

Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following yesterday:

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999

Isakson Statement on Senate Passage of Measure Requiring Congressional Review of Iran Nuclear Agreement
‘A nuclear-armed Iran is a danger not just to the Middle East but to the peace and security of the entire world’
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today released the following statement on the Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan approval of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (S.615):
“This is the single-most important vote any member of this Senate is going to take in a long, long time,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “A nuclear-armed Iran is a danger not just to the Middle East but to the peace and security of the entire world. Giving the Senate and the House oversight on this agreement is absolutely essential to the American people so they know that they have oversight. We are the eyes, the ears and the conscience of the people we represent.”
The legislation, which requires the president to submit a final deal with Iran to Congress before reducing or removing sanctions imposed on Iran, passed the Senate earlier today by a vote of 98-1. It will now be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Last week, Isakson urged his Senate colleagues to act swiftly to approve this measure. View Isakson’s remarks on the Senate floor here.

Description: Description: cid:image001.gif@01CB9C61.36E8FA70
Press Secretary

131 Russell Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510
phone: 202.224.3643 | fax: 202.228.0724

Kaine Statement On Passage Of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act

US Senator Tim Kaine's office issued the following yesterday:

Kaine Statement On Passage Of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, released the following statement after final Senate passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, 98-1. The bipartisan legislation, of which Kaine is a lead cosponsor, includes significant provisions he negotiated to set up a prompt, deliberate and constructive process for Congressional review of a final nuclear agreement with Iran.

“With passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act today, the Senate has proven it can act in a bipartisan way to assert an appropriate Congressional role on a critical matter of foreign policy - a nuclear deal with Iran. While I strongly support President Obama’s efforts to find a diplomatic path to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Congressional review of a final deal can improve the chances of reaching a transformative result. It has been an honor to work with Senators Corker, Cardin, Graham, Menendez and others to craft such a strong bill that seeks to strengthen the U.S. hand in negotiations, rather than undercut it through partisan politics.

“It’s also my hope that the same spirit of bipartisanship will prevail as we shoulder another clear Congressional responsibility - the need to authorize the ongoing war against ISIL.”

Under the compromise approved today, if a final deal is reached between Iran and P5+1 negotiators and submitted to Congress, Congress would have 30 days to hold hearings and either approve, disapprove, or take no action on giving Iran relief from Congressionally-imposed sanctions.


Jane and Lily are Grace and Frankie

Netflix subscribers, Grace and Frankie is up and streaming -- the new sitcom starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

Iraq -- tanks the British elections, cozies up further to Iran and much more

Let's start with British politics:

trying 2 blame everyone else 4 their shambles. Want the answer?

The results were not pretty.

But they should have been expected.

Over two years ago -- I know the Milliband brothers -- we were noting here that Labour had to step away from Blair if they wanted control of the Parliament.

And they did that.

They took steps.

And their own internal polling demonstrated that was the way to go.

Then they started importing crap from Chicago and telling themselves these guys (and they were all men) knew what they were doing, why, look at the 2008 success that they made for Barack!

They didn't know a damn thing.

And Ed has no excuse of "I put my trust in them!"

The minute they started insisting Tony Blair was an asset that needed to be used for the campaign, was the minute Ed and company should have sent them packing.

From high polling numbers as they rebuked Blair to low polling numbers as they played footsie with War Criminal Tony.

It's all on them.  They were idiots who believed idiots.

(And that's just in terms of the campaigning.  That's before you get to New Labour's hideous lack of messages that addressed the needs of the people.)

So they got cozy with Tony and they lost.

Let it be a lesson.  Tony Blair is a War Criminal and he is toxic.

Equally toxic is the repulsive Hadi al-Ameri.

You may remember Hadi from earlier this week when he issued his public threat of violence against the United States.

The elderly thug has spoken to Iran's Press TV:

“The role of Iran is very important. If it was not for the stance of Iran, Baghdad would be in danger,” Hadi al-Ameri, who is the secretary general of Iraq’s Badr Organization, told Press TV in an exclusive interview.
The commander, who also serves as the current transportation minister of Iraq, added that Iran is “the only country” that has supported the Iraqis since ISIL began hostilities last year.
Ameri also lashed out at the United States over its claims that the battle in Iraq is of “sectarian” nature.

And the thuggery of Hadi al-Ameri and his ilk has led to the mood in Iraq today:

  1. It has come to a point in Iraq that disliking Iran's meddling,or Suleimani's portraits in Iraqi territory automatically makes you pro-ISIS.

And those Shi'ite militias just keep spreading the love.  Rudaw reports, "A clash between the Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units, and residents of the town of Tuz Khurmatu has left at least two civilians and one militia member injured, a security official told Rudaw."

Usually those militias wait until they 'liberate' a town to terrorize it but Hashd al-Sha'bi is proving that they can skip the 'liberation' process and go straight to terrorizing.

Last month, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that they would be arming Hashd al-Sha'bi throughout Iraq -- this as he refuses to honor his promise to the US to fully arm the Kurds and the Sunnis.

But thugs who threaten, bully, loot, steal and kill?

He rushes to arm them.

On the topic of who gets arms, Rudaw reports:

The United States has reassured Iraq’s Kurds they will have the weapons they need in the war with ISIS, promising the arms will continue to be expedited by Baghdad, a member of the Kurdish presidential delegation in Washington told Rudaw.

The official, speaking to Rudaw on background and refusing to be named or directly quoted, said US officials had told Kurdish President Masoud Barzani’s delegation that Baghdad would be courting problems with Washington if it tried to delay weapons funneled to Erbil through the Iraqi central government.


Can someone pick Akbar Shahid Ahmed off the ground?  He was in the middle of putting on his pink panties -- the one with Barack's face on the crotch -- when he heard that news and fell to the floor in shock.

Doesn't help to lie, Akbar.  You were lying on Wednesday, you were distorting the truth and now you're publicly humiliated as liars like yourself should be.

(See Wednesday's snapshot for what Barzani said as opposed to what liars like Akbar insisted Barzani meant or would have said or should have said.)

Lastly, AP reports a Balad Ruz bombing targeting a mosque has left at least 12 people dead.

  • The following community sites -- plus NPR, Pacifica Evening News, Jody Watley and Susan's On the Edge -- updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is

    Thursday, May 07, 2015

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, May 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  reporters killed got a tiny bit of attention from the US State Dept (if their deaths could be used for propaganda), Senator Tim Kaine wants Congress to discuss authorizing Barack's latest wave of war on Iraq, the Baiji refinery is said to be controlled (80%) by the Islamic State, and much more.

    In the US Congress today, Senator Tim Kaine took to the floor of the Senate to weigh in on the still lack of legal authorization for US President Barack Obama's action's in Iraq:

    Mr. President, I rise today to commemorate an anniversary and challenge my colleagues in Congress.
    Today marks the completion of nine months of America’s war against ISIL.  Tomorrow, May 8, starts the tenth month of this war. 
    In the war on ISIL, here is what’s happened so far. We’ve deployed thousands of troops far from home to support military operations in Iraq and Syria—a significant number are from Virginia, including the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, based in Norfolk. We’ve conducted more than 3,000 U.S. airstrikes on ISIL from land bases in the region and also from aircraft carriers. We’ve spent more than 2 billion American taxpayer dollars and counting. We’ve lost the lives of American servicemembers and seen American hostages killed by ISIL in barbaric ways. And while we’ve seen some progress on the battlefield in Iraq, we’ve also witnessed ISIL spread and take responsibility for attacks in Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen.   We’ve seen other terrorist groups, such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram, pledge alliance with ISIL.   We’ve seen acts of terrorism in Europe and now the United States that have been influenced or at least inspired by ISIL.
    All this has happened in nine months. But here is what hasn’t happened, Mr. President.  Congress, the Article I branch, whose most solemn power is the duty to declare war, has not done its job, has not debated this war, has not taken any formal steps to authorize what was started unilaterally by the President 9 months ago.
    As of today, ISIL has no indication whether Congress cares one iota about the ongoing war. Our allies in the region, who are most directly affected by the threat of ISIL, have no indication whether Congress cares one iota about the ongoing war.  And, most importantly, the thousands of American troops serving in the region, serving in the theater of battle have no indication whether Congress cares one iota about this ongoing war.
    In the Senate, there has been no authorization vote or even debate on the floor.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee did report out a war authorization in December, but it died without floor action at the end of the 113th Congress. In the House, there has been no debate or authorization on the floor,  and, in fact, there has been no action in any House Committee in the 9 months of this war.
    The silence of Congress in the midst of this war is cowardly and shameful. How can we explain to our troops, our public or ourselves this complete unwillingness of Congress to take up this important responsibility?
    President Obama maintains that the authorizations voted on by Congress in 2001 and 2002 give him the power to wage this war without Congress. Having reviewed the authorizations carefully, I find that claim completely without merit. The 2001 Authorization allows the president to take action against groups that perpetrated the attacks of 9/11. ISIL was not a perpetrator of the 9/11 attack; it was not formed until two years after the attacks in 2003. It is not an ally of Al Qaeda; it’s fighting against Al Qaeda now in certain theaters. The only way the 2001 authorization could be stretched to cover ISIL is if we pretend that it was a blank check giving the president the power to wage war against any terrorist group. But, Mr. President, that was precisely the power that President Bush asked for in 2001, and Congress explicitly refused to grant that broad grant of power to the president even in the days right after the 9/11 attacks.
    The 2002 Authorization to wage war in Iraq to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein also has no relevance here. That regime disappeared years ago.
    The War Powers Resolution of 1973 does grant the president some ability to initiate military action for 60-90 days prior to congressional approval, but it also mandates that the president must cease military activity unless Congress formally approves it.  Here, we’ve blown long past all of the deadlines in that Act, Congress has said nothing, and yet the war continues.
    So the President does not have the legal power to maintain this war without Congress. And yet Congress, this Congress, the very body that is so quick to argue against President Obama’s use of executive power, even threatening him with lawsuits over immigration actions and other executive decisions, is strangely silent and allows an executive war to go on undeclared, unapproved, undefined and unchecked.
    Nine months of silence leaves the impression that Congress is either indifferent about ISIL and the threat that it poses or lacks the backbone to do the job it is supposed to do. And that is why I rise today—to challenge my colleagues to take this seriously and promptly debate and pass an authorization for military action against ISIL. We should have done this months ago. By now, all know that ISIL is not going away soon. This problem will not just solve itself.
    Mr. President, I am given some hope by recent actions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and this body on a pending matter – the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. On a challenging and important national security issue, because of strong leadership by Senators Corker, Cardin and Menendez, we have shown the ability to act in a bipartisan way to assert an appropriate congressional role in reviewing any final nuclear deal with Iran. We are taking an important stand for the congressional role in matters touching upon diplomacy, war and peace. And we have fought off, thus far, the temptation to play politics with this important matter.
    This gives me some hope that we might do the same with respect to the war on ISIL. Because, Mr. President, the role of Congress in war is undisputable. The framers of the Constitution were familiar with a world where war was for the monarch, or the king, or the sultan or the executive. But they made a revolutionary decision to choose a different path and placed decisions about the initiation of war in the hands of the people’s elected legislative branch. They did so because of an important underlying value. The value is this: we shouldn’t order young servicemembers to risk their lives in a military mission unless Congress has debated the mission and reached the conclusion that it is in the nation’s best interest. That value surely is as important today as it was in 1787.
    So to conclude, Mr. President, I hope we remember that right now, in places far from their homes and families, thousands of members of the American Armed Forces are risking their lives on behalf of a mission that Congress has refused to address for 9 long months.  Their sacrifice should call us to step up, do our job and finally define and authorize this ongoing war.

    With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    Jeremy Diamond (CNN) notes Kaine also took the issue to CNN's New Day:

    Congress has largely dropped the ball since then and Kaine pointed out that the AUMF hasn't made it to either the House or Senate floor for debate.
    But it also took the White House six months to send an AUMF proposal.
    Kaine said both the White House and Capitol Hill shoulder some of the blame for the drawn-out inaction.

    Kaine tells Markus Schmidt (Richmond Times-Dispatch), "There is no power that is more clearly a congressional power than the power to declare war, and yet there has been this strange conspiracy of silence for nine months when Congress hasn't been willing to even have a meaningful floor debate on it, which is so unusual. But it's just the proof of the longer historical tradition in Congress, members in Congress want to avoid hard votes, and there is no harder vote than a war vote."

    We've been noting the threats Shi'ite officials have made, threats of violence, against the United States over a bill in the House which calls for the Sunnis and the Kurds to be armed independently of Baghdad since Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, has failed to keep his promise to distribute the US provided equipment and weapons equally to the Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis.  See yesterday's snapshot and this from this morning especially.

    Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports on the controversy:

    The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and a number of his ministers denounced the plan and some prominent Shiite Muslim figures, such as the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, threatened US interests with violence. The military wing of al-Sadr's supporters organised parades in two southern Iraqi cities in a demonstration of strength. And one of the best known female MPs, Hanan al-Fatlawi, a member of the State of Law coalition previously headed by al-Maliki, said that the US embassy in Baghdad should be closed and the US ambassador expelled.

    [. . .] 
    When al-Abadi took on the Prime Ministership he declared his willingness to form a National Guard in Iraq. Such a force would effectively allow local people to form their own military units and police their own areas and was considered an antidote for the marginalization of Iraq's Sunnis and Kurds that seemed to be one of al-Maliki's central policies.

    Two months after al-Abadi's government formed, the different parties in Parliament agreed that the National Guard should happen, with tens of thousands of members; around 70,000 from Iraq's Shiite-dominated provinces, 50,000 fighters from Sunni-dominated provinces and further additions from the Iraqi Kurdish forces. The plan was to have the National Guard armed and controlled by the Iraqi government, so that all of those currently fighting in, and being paid through, informal militias would be back under state control.

    But that was months ago. 

    From Congress to the State Dept, if you missed it, there's a propaganda war and supposedly ISIS is winning.  Like anyone could ever be better at propaganda than the US State Dept?

    They released the following video to 'honor' World Press Day.

    For those with streaming issues, the piece is basically a silent film -- set to bad music.  It's one screen shot after another with title cards.

    Journalists often put their lives and safety at risk to keep the world informed 

    In Iraq and Syria, ISIS has kidnapped, tortured, and murdered journalists.

    ISIS has used these acts of brutality to terrorize journalists, extort ransoms, and silence reporting on their atrocities.

    Here are some of the Iraqi and Syrian journalists whom ISIS has killed.

    Yasser Faysal al-Joumaili, an Iraqi freelance cameraman who was filming the fighting in the Aleppo province. 

    On 4 December 2013, he was detained and shot by ISIS at the Syria-Turkey border.

    Bashar al-Nuaimi, a cameraman with al-Mosuliya TV. 

    On 24 October 2013, he was shot to death near his home in Mosul. 

    Nawras al-Nouaimi, an Iraqi presenter working for al-Mosuliya TV, covering stories related to women and children. 

    On 15 December 2013, she was shot near her home returning from school

    Employees at the Salaheddin TV station -- cameraman Jamal Abdulnasir; Arabic language expert Ahmed Khattab Omar, newsroom director Raad Yassin al-Baddi; archives director Mohammed Abdul-Hameed and news anchor Wassan al-Azzawi.  

    On 23 December 2013, following a car bomb detonation outside the TV station near Tikrit, suicide bombers entered the station and shot all five before detonating their vests. 

    Al-Mutaz Billah Ibrahim, an anchor with the Sham News Network. 

    On 4 May 2014, he was executed after being held hostage and tortured for over two months.

    Bassam al-Rayes, a freelance cameraman who was shooting footage of the Syrian opposition.

    On 30 June 2014, he was abducted, tortured, and murdered. 

    ISIS Threatens Journalists with:
    Threats against their families

    Under ISIS rule, there is no freedom of speech, there is no truth beyond what they say, and there is no such thing as mercy. 

    Think Again Turn Away

    The State Dept ignored the assassination of Iraqi journalist Thaer Ali last week in Mosul by the Islamic State.  Ignored it all last week -- in one briefing after another.  But then created the video above to pretend to care about Iraq and journalists (and Syria).

    They don't care.  They're little liars.  Ned Parker had to flee Iraq last month due to threats against him as a result of his reporting.  The threats came from Shi'ite militias supporting the Iraqi government.

    They don't care about that, not the State Dept.

    I recognized one of the faces immediately in the slide show video.  Let's drop back to the December 23, 2013 snapshot:

    December 15th, journalist Nawras al-Nuaimi was assassinated.

    This is all the attention AFP gave her when she was killed:

    GUNMEN murdered a female TV presenter in northern Iraq on Sunday, her station and police said, making her the sixth journalist to be killed in the country since October. Nawras al-Nuaimi was shot near her home in Mosul, Al-Mosuliyah TV said, and was the fifth journalist killed in the northern city in the same period.

    Her life was worth a grand total of 55 words to AFP when she died.

    She was the fifth journalist killed in Mosul from October to December 2013 -- but where are the four others?

    Oh, that's right.

    If they were killed by Iraqi forces, for example, or militias, they're not going to be noted in the video supposedly expressing concern for journalists.

    Earlier this week, CNN noted the countries with the most journalists killed since 1992.  Topping the list was Iraq with 166 journalists killed -- more than double the second place county (Syria with 80).

    The issue of Iraq was briefly raised in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:

    QUESTION: Iraq?

    MR RATHKE: Yeah, Iraq and then we’ll --

    QUESTION: Iraq, very quick.

    MR RATHKE: Yes.

    QUESTION: Yesterday at an event at the Atlantic Council, the KRG President Massoud Barzani – I asked him a pointed question about the independent --

    MR RATHKE: I’m sure you did.

    QUESTION: -- Kurdistan. And he said that for sure, it’s coming. 

    Let's put the briefing on hold for a minute because we did note Said and his question in yesterday's snapshot:

    Said Arikat: Are we likely to see the rise of an independent Kurdistan over the next year?  And, if not, why not?  Thank you.

    President Massoud Barzani: I cannot say -- I cannot confirm whether it will be next year or when but certainly the independent Kurdistan is coming.

    Back to today's State Dept press briefing:

    QUESTION: So you guys are fine with that? So we are likely to see an independent Kurdistan and you are likely to support it?

    MR RATHKE: You’ve made several leaps there from the question to our policy. There’s been no change in U.S. policy, as I think we’ve talked about in advance of the visit. We believe that a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq. We continue to support an Iraq that is federal, democratic, pluralistic, and unified, as envisioned by the Iraqi constitution. So there’s been no change in the U.S. view. And I think also – President Barzani spoke to this as well – Iraq’s territorial integrity is under threat from ISIL, and the only effective way to address this threat is for all communities – Sunni, Shia, Kurd – to work together and address these security needs as well as in the political realm. And I think President Barzani also stated yesterday that the fight against ISIL needs to be the priority.

    QUESTION: Well, once that priority is handled and taken care of, or Mosul is liberated and and ISIL is defeated, then the independence of Kurdistan would be fine, wouldn’t it? Would be --

    MR RATHKE: That’s – again, I’m sure you were listening to my answer --

    QUESTION: Are you – okay --

    MR RATHKE: -- but I’m going to repeat it because it’s important: There’s been no change in U.S. policy. We believe that a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq, and we believe in an Iraq that is federal, democratic, pluralistic, and unified, as envisioned by the Iraqi constitution.

    QUESTION: Would you sort of support a more robust autonomy in the northern region of Kurdistan?

    MR RATHKE: Again, we support the Iraqi constitution and an Iraq that is federal, that is democratic, it’s pluralistic. I don’t have any further comment on it than that.

    Baiji is in the news today.  Yesterday, the Washington Post's Liz Sly Tweeted:

  • The Pentagon said Ramadi isn't as strategic as Baiji. Now Baiji is threatened, it says Baiji isn't important either

  • Today, AFP explains, "The Islamic State jihadist group launched a fresh offensive against Iraq’s largest refinery, where a military official says security forces are facing one of their toughest battles." IANS adds, "A refinery site in Baiji city of northern Iraq was captured by Islamic State (IS) militants recently and Iraqi security forces now control only 20 percent of the facility, a senior US official said." CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tweets:

    Pentagon correspondent reports Iraq's huge oil refinery at Baiji is now 80 percent controlled by

    Here for Starr's article which notes, "U.S. and coalition fighter jets have been able to strike ISIS fighting positions and supply routes around the refinery, but are not striking inside, the official said. The reason, in part, is to preserve as much of the infrastructure as possible for the future."

    Oh, that's wonderful -- isn't that wonderful? -- when it comes to an oil refinery, care is taken but when it's bombing areas with civilians, little care is taken to protect either the people or the structures.

     Reuters reports, "American forces are trying to relieve pressure on Iraqi forces at the geographically important Baiji oil refinery, hitting militants with 26 air strikes since Tuesday and helping drop 18 pallets of supplies, the top US general [Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey] said on Thursday."  And Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) notes, "Although the Beiji refinery has not operated in recent months, it's a critical part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure. It also sits along the main route from Baghdad to Mosul, which has been controlled by the Islamic State since last summer’s offensive. Beiji also controls a corridor linking the valleys along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers."

    In other violence, Alsumaria reports 1 corpse was discovered to the north of Baghdad -- cut up into sections, 2 corpses were discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad, 3 corpses were discovered in Rasheed (all three men were shot to death),  assailants in military uniforms kidnapped five people in eastern Baghdad, 1 government employee was shot dead to the east of Muqdadiyah, and a  Radwaniyah home invasion left 6 family members (including two children) dead.  In addition those incidents, Margaret Griffis ( reports 68 violent deaths across Iraq today ("no civilian casualties" are noted in her report so all that Alsumaria noted can be added to her total).

    Lastly, on The NewsHour (PBS) tonight, Margaret Warner had a report on Emma Sky which included:

    But their success was short-lived. As Sky tells it, as the Americans left, rushing to meet an Administration deadline to get all U.S. forces out of Iraq, Vice President Biden threw the U.S. weight behind Maliki remaining as Prime Minister, even after he’d narrowly lost the 2010 election to a non-sectarian party and its candidate Ayad Allawi. With the Americans gone, Maliki reverted to type, instituting a hype-sectarian Shiite rule, pushing Sunni politicians out of the arena, and reneging on his promises to keep Sunnis in the armed forces. After four years of this, Iraq’s 3 sects — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — were so alienated that Islamic State group fighters had no trouble rolling into Iraq and seizing a third of the country’s territory last summer.

    Click here for video and transcript of interview.  And Emma Sky's book published last month is The Unraveling: High Hopes And Missed Opportunities In Iraq

    the newshour
    margaret warner