Saturday, July 23, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, July 23, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, secret dealings on behalf of Hillary Clinton get exposed by WikiLeaks, questions arise about where the money for the Iraqi people will actually go, and much more.

Presumed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton -- or, as Mike bills her, the repulsive nominee -- is back in the news.

You'll see Hillary in the White House With My Vote—When Pigs Fly! Watch her pander to Blacks at the Convention.

No, not because the War Hawk chose Tim Kaine.

Her cult will look the other way and pretend like Tim Kaine's abortion stance doesn't matter the same way they ignore the way Hillary has chipped away at abortion rights since she first stepped onto the national stage.

No, no one's talking about Tim Kaine because no one -- probably not even his own mother -- has ever found Tim Kaine remotely interesting.

It's WikiLeaks:

RELEASE: 19,252 emails from the US Democratic National Committee

Gee, Bernie Sanders, are you carrying about these "damn e-mails"?

Because you really should.

Theodore Schleifer (CNN) reports:

Nearly 20,000 emails sent and received by Democratic National Committee staff members were released Friday by Wikileaks, with one message in particular raising questions about the committee's impartiality during the Democratic primary.
The revelation threatened to shatter the uneasy peace between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders camps and supporters days before the Democratic convention kicks off next week.
    The leaks, from January 2015 to May 2016, feature Democratic staffers debating everything from how to deal with challenging media requests to coordinating the committee's message with other powerful interests in Washington. 

    Michael Sainato (OBESERVER) points, out, "In its recent leak of 20,000 DNC emails from January 2015 to May 2016, DNC staff discuss how to deal with Bernie Sanders’ popularity as a challenge to Clinton’s candidacy. Instead of treating Sanders as a viable candidate for the Democratic ticket, the DNC worked against him and his campaign to ensure Clinton received the nomination."  Tom Hamburger and Karen Tumulty (WASHINGTON POST) add, "One potential complication is that Sanders’s supporters are crucial to Democratic hopes of retaining the White House in the fall. They bring to the contest both passion and a potentially vast donor base."

    And when not attempting to derail the Bernie Sanders campaign, the e-mails reveal attempts at subverting journalism.

    Queen Bee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for example, cannot handle criticism anymore than she can handle bathing.

    She sees this item in a brief from an MSNBC newsletter (sent to all who sign up for them):

    >>> On Wednesday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski called for DNC Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to “step down” over her handling of this year’s Democratic presidential primary. >>> After playing a clip of Wasserman Schultz, Brzezinski said, “This has been very poorly handled from the start. Ot has been unfair, and they haven’t taken him seriously, and it starts, quite frankly, with the person that we just heard speaking. It just does.” >>> Brzezinski added of Wasserman Schultz, “She should step down.” >>> Brzezinski’s co-host, former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough wondered why Sanders would “get in line” for the Democratic Party, given that they “rigged the entire thing,” and that if he was in Sanders’ position, “I’d say, ‘Go straight to hell, I’m running as an independent.'”

    Wasserman Shcultz then copies that item and fires an e-mail off to Chuck Todd:

    On May 18, 2016, at 9:19 AM, "" wrote: > >> Chuck, see below. I would like to discuss this with you today. Can you reach out to Luis to schedule a call? Thanks. >> DWS >> 

    She titles this e-mail "Chuck, this must stop."

    Todd is trying to spin this as just the normal thing that can happen when you do coverage.

    That's a lie.  There's nothing normal about him declaring this of Mika in an e-mail to Debbie's DNC staffer (Communications Director Luis Miranda):

         I don't know. She can do 180s after these calls. It can't get worse

    Who's paying Chuck Todd?

    I thought it was ComCast but it appears he believes he's being paid by the Democratic National Committee.

    In that e-mail, he's just a little bitch, isn't he?  "She can do 180s after these calls.  It can't get worse."

    So good to know Chuck's got the backs of the other NBC employees.

    He was contacted in his position as the Political Director of NBC News.

    If he's going to sell out employees, he better advise NBC News and ComCast of that decision.

    The media was entirely too close with Clinton and her campaign.  This is Marcia's "Fire Kenneth Vogel:"

    As this report details, POLITICO 'reporter' Kenneth Vogel made a deal with the DNC that they would see his article before he submittted it to his editors and, not only that, he also then asked for their thoughts.
    This is not reporting.
    And who knows how many other 'reporters' made similar deals?
    A pall is cast on all journalism and the only answer is to fire Kenneth Vogel for violating journalistic integrity and ethics.

    Hillary loves to claim the press is against her and her cult loves to make that claim as well.

    But Hillary's always used the press.  Ava and I'll probably address how she got what was coming to her in the 90s after what she did.  It seems history has been forgotten there.

    Turning to Iraq, Hannah Allam (MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS) surveys the scene:

     The news sounded just as good this week as it did in 2007: With U.S. backing, Iraqi forces have pushed savage extremists out of key territories in what seems to be a turning point in the campaign to rout the insurgency.
    The lesson of 2007, however, was that such victories can be fleeting. The jihadist movement that today is known as the Islamic State found fertile ground in areas the U.S. government thought had been pacified.
    Now, diplomats and analysts warn, the same toxic mix of a security vacuum and sectarian governance could threaten the gains against the Islamic State that the Obama administration touted this week at gatherings in Washington of officials from the anti-Islamic State coalition.

    Read more here:

    We've been noting the lack of attention given to a political solution for over two years now.

    The White House is all on board with sending more US troops into Iraq, more weapons there, more everything military.

    That's the only thing they've done.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Rocket artillery, attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL unmanned aerial vehicle, an ISIL mortar system, ISIL-used engineering equipment, an ISIL tunnel system, and two ISIL assembly areas and suppressed and ISIL rocket position.

    -- Near Ramadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Tuz, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Ar Rutbah, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb storage facility.

    -- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL weapons storage facility.

    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 one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    Dropping back to Thursday morning's snapshot;

    Sorry to interrupt the chorus of "We Are The World" but how will it be ensured that the money goes to those in need?

    Kerry's comments included, "The goal of our pledging conference is to raise money to help Iraqis in four priority areas: humanitarian aid, de-mining, immediate stabilization, and longer-term recovery."

    These would have been questions to pursue but Elise Labbot didn't.

    CNN's reporter got the first question -- when you're the State Dept's pet you get those sort of favors -- and immediately turned a briefing on Iraq into Turkey.

    No one was surprised.

    When everyone's whispering -- true or false, I don't know -- that you're sleeping with John Kerry, presumably, you're calling the shots.  He is after all married (to a very good friend of mine, so watch your back, Elise, if the rumors are true and say prayers of thanks that you don't live in China).  And if the rumors aren't true, stop pretending flirting is part of a reporter's arsenal.

    Iraq's attending this conference with government officials.  Presumably their hands are out.

    And Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and has been for over a decade -- see the rankings on Transparency Index.

    Great to meet university students - they're angry at Iraq's politicians for stealing their future.

    Yes, the students are angry, as are the people of Iraq.

    Iraq is an oil rich country raking in billions in oil revenues each year -- billions more than they have millions of people.  Yet government corruption is so great that this oil rich country now has to beg the International Money Fund for dollars.  You don't catch oil rich Saudi Arabia doing that.

    Where is the money going?

    That's an important question also in terms of who benefits.

    It is an important question.

    And it got asked in Friday's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau:

    QUESTION: It seems the State Department did a great job hosting all those international conferences on Iraq.

    MS TRUDEAU: Thank you. We appreciate it. It was a good team.

    QUESTION: No, terrific, and I was very pleased to see the Kurdish – KRG representative was there as well.

    MS TRUDEAU: She was.

    QUESTION: And that was terrific. And you even raised more money – somewhat more money.

    MS TRUDEAU: Over $2.1 billion for Iraq.

    QUESTION: And you said, if I recall correctly, 2 billion was the goal. So you raised more than your goal?

    MS TRUDEAU: That’s correct.

    QUESTION: So I have a question for the next phase.

    MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Because the Iraqi Government’s a – well, it ranks 161 out of 168 countries for corruption in Transparency International’s index, and it’s not known particularly for its honest government. What mechanisms are in place to make sure that this money is spent correctly, and since the Kurdistan region hosts two-thirds of the displaced persons and the refugees from the war with [the Islamic State], to ensure that the Kurdistan region gets its fair share of the – this humanitarian aid?

    MS TRUDEAU: Well, I’d start off by saying that the United States is grateful for each of the countries and organizations who were represented at the conference. As you know, this was a tremendous success, so thanks for recognizing that. These countries and organizations who participated are demonstrating important leadership, and they’re making it possible for Iraqi citizens displaced by [the Islamic State] to return – to choose to return – to their homes, to receive the services they need in order to rebuild their community.
    Speaking specifically about the money, because I do want to discuss that a little, pledges from these international donors will go to four critical need areas in Iraq: humanitarian assistance, de-mining, the UNDP Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization, and the Funding Facility for Expanded Stabilization. The latter, it’s my understanding, functions as a bridging effort between the Iraqi Government and the coalition in areas liberated by [the Islamic State].
    In terms of the Iraqi Government’s work on this, our partnership with the Iraqi Government is deep and it’s strong. This is something that we’ve spoken frequently about in our support of the government as they seek to reform their own efforts in doing this, so it’s something that we’re very closely invested in.
    In your question on what money is going where, the conference just wrapped up, so I’m not going to get ahead of that. What we will say, which we have always said, is that funding and the support will go through Baghdad, but we are very aware of the impact that certain areas of the country have experienced at the hands of [the Islamic State].

    QUESTION: And doubtless you have in mind measures to make sure that Baghdad spends the money appropriately and it doesn’t go into people’s pockets?

    MS TRUDEAU: So that’s one of the conversations that we continue to have with U.S. aid regardless of where it goes in the world.

    Did you notice Trudeau's long, long response which finally boiled down to "I'm not going to get ahead of that."

    She has no answer.

    They held a conference, raised money and are now handing it over with no checks or balances on it to ensure that the money goes where it's needed.

    This is the country Transparency Index ranked Iraq the 161st most corrupt country out of 167 countries.

    RUDAW reports:

    The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is concerned that, while it hosts nearly 2 million internally displaced Iraqis and is a key force on the frontlines in the war against the Islamic State, it will not get its share of the $2.1 billion pledged for Iraq at a conference in Washington this week.
    “We are talking to the international community to respect the great responsibility that the Kurdistan Region is facing regarding the ISIS war and the refugee crisis,” Falah Mustafa, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s foreign relations department, told Rudaw English. 

    In other news, XINHUA reports:

    Islamic State (IS) militants launched bomb attacks targeting civilians fleeing the militant-seized town of Shirqat in Iraq's Salahudin province on Saturday, killing 13 and injuring 19 others, a provincial security source said.
    In one attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest among a crowd of families in western Shirqat, some 280 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, after they left their homes to seek help from the security forces outside the besieged town, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
    The blast left 11 people dead and nine others wounded, most of them women and children, the source said.

        In another attack, a bomb planted on a road outside Shirqat went off near a group of fleeing families, killing two children and wounding 10, the source added.

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

    Could Hillary Be Any Worse? Sure, Add Tim Kaine to the Ticket

    By David Swanson
    Tim Kaine has been consistently ranked as one of the least progressive Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Adding him to the Hillary Clinton ticket would be a kick in the face to Bernie Sanders supporters holding out hopeless hope for some sign of democracy within the Democratic Party.
    Kaine was an anti-environmentalist pro-coal governor of Virginia, a supporter of the "right to work" (for less) law restricting union organizing in Virginia, and he is a supporter of corporate trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and including fast-tracking the TPP. An extremely loyal Democrat, he nonetheless criticized Democrats in 2011 for proposing higher taxes on millionaires.
    Kaine is the anti-Bernie Sanders on policy and on process. He takes his direction from those in power, not from the public. In a poll of over 250 Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention (by the Bernie Delegate Network), only 2.7% of them said they thought Kaine would be an acceptable vice presidential nominee.
    The bulk of what the U.S. government does, financially and in terms of work hours, is wage wars and move troops and weapons around the world. That whole topic, and even the existence of 96% of humanity, is largely absent from election campaigns. Yet war may be the one spot where people hunt for something more progressive than Hillary Clinton in Kaine's record.
    Kaine supported a nuclear agreement with Iran, a diplomatic breakthrough arguably made possible by the departure of supreme militarist Clinton from the State Department. But Kaine backed President Barack Obama on that, as on everything else. To imagine that Kaine has challenged presidential war powers is to misread another part of his record.
    Together with Senator John McCain, Kaine introduced the War Powers Consultation Act of 2014, which some falsely imagined to be a bill to strengthen Congressional war powers. It was not. The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. The War Powers Resolution requires a president who launches a war on his/her own to notify Congress within 48 hours and to end it within 60 days unless Congress authorizes it. The McCain/Kaine bill would repeal the War Powers Resolution, turn Congress into a toothless consulting firm, and arrange for a vote without consequences on "approval" of each war within 30 days of its start. Only if Congress voted down "approval" would it vote on "disapproval." And if it passed "disapproval," nothing would follow from that. This amounts to nothing less than unconstitutionally bestowing the power to make war on the president.
    The idea behind this "reform" is to take a Congress fully committed to allowing and funding every war, and compel it to also formally express its approval, thus strengthening the president's position. Kaine has thus pushed for a Congressional vote, a Yes vote, on authorizing a war on ISIS. He's expressed his view that President Obama lacks authorization. But Kaine has not put a hold on funding bills, has not forced a vote under the War Powers Resolution, has not introduced legislation to deny funding, has not introduced censure or suggested impeachment. He does not object to Obama's wars, he just wants Congress to clearly and publicly back them, so that the president is not the only one sticking his neck out.
    Kaine has proposed authorizing air strikes but not ground troops, or at least he did before there were so many ground troops involved. And he's expressed awareness that some measures can be counterproductive. But his top commitment, followed most consistently, has been loyalty to the Obama White House. A shift to loyal obedience to a Clinton White House would not require much of Tim Kaine. He might have a few more wars to urge Congress to support, but it seems unlikely Kaine would deem that much of an inconvenience.
    David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books includeWar Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
    Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
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    President Obama Signs Senator Baldwin’s Bipartisan VA Reforms into Law


    Senator Tammy Baldwin's office issued this press release Friday:

    For Immediate Release
    Friday, July 22, 2016
      (202) 224 – 6225

    President Obama Signs Senator Baldwin’s Bipartisan VA Reforms into Law

    VA reforms from Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act become law

    Baldwin’s bipartisan VA reforms named for Wisconsin Marine will strengthen opioid prescribing guidelines, put in place stronger oversight and accountability, and provide safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement today after President Obama signed into law bipartisan VA reforms that Senator Baldwin authored in the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act (S.1641). Baldwin’s VA reforms were included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which passed the Senate last week.

    “I’m proud to have worked with the Simcakoski family to introduce these VA reforms. We earned bipartisan support in Congress and I’m very pleased President Obama has signed them into law,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our VA reforms will strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ opioid prescribing guidelines and put in place stronger oversight and accountability for the quality of care that we are providing our veterans. My goal is to prevent Jason’s tragedy from happening to other veterans and their families. We have made these reforms a reality and moved closer to achieving our goal of safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans.”

    Senator Baldwin’s Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, authored in close consultation with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, and the Simcakoski family, focuses on strengthening the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) opioid prescribing guidelines and improving pain management services by putting the following reforms in place:

    ·       Requiring stronger opioid prescribing guidelines and education for VA providers, including stricter standards against prescribing dangerous combinations of opioids with other drugs and for prescribing opioids to patients struggling with mental health issues;

    ·       Increasing coordination and communication throughout the VA with medical facilities, providers, patients and their families surrounding pain management, alternative treatments for chronic pain, and appropriate opioid therapy; and

    ·       Holding the VA system accountable for appropriate care and quality standards through GAO reviews and VA reports to Congress.

    In addition to improving opioid therapy and pain management, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act strengthens the VA’s patient advocacy program by ensuring advocates are independent and truly work for veterans, expands access to complementary and integrative health and wellness, and enhances VA hiring practices to help prevent bad doctors from treating veterans.

    Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation has gained support from: Disabled American Veterans Wisconsin, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans for Common Sense, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), Military Health Project, National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), American Veterans (AMVETS), Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Wisconsin Medical Society, Trust for America's Health (TFAH), Harm Reduction Coalition, and the National Safety Council.

    The legislation signed by President Obama also includes Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan bill with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to make naloxone rescue kits more affordable and accessible to our nation’s veterans by eliminating veteran copayments for naloxone.

    An online version of this release is available here.


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