Thursday, September 21, 2017

My complaint for the month

I don't have to worry about money and I try to remember that and stress that to myself when I get upset.

But I am ticked off and I'm going to share the story.

A week ago, I broke my glasses -- their frames.

The lenses were fine.

I've been needing to go get new frames ever since but didn't have time until today.

So I go to where I got them.

"You got these two years ago."


The young woman looks at me like I'm crazy, "And you think we still have the frames here?"

I don't know what you have here, little girl, but I do know I was sold a warranty for one year and then mailed a renewal form that I filled out.

She kept trying to push me out the door -- there was no other customer present -- and I kept getting louder.

Finally, someone named Ray comes out from the back.

He at least looks for something that will work.  He finds something.  He puts the lenses in.

I hand him my VISA.

The young woman now sticks her nose back in telling me the frames are over a hundred dollars.

Did I ask her?

All I wanted was frames to put the lenses in.

That's all I needed.

She wanted to argue about their stock.

She wanted to argue about the warranty.

She wanted me to go get a new eye exam first.

She wanted to do every thing but help me.

So that's my complaint for the month.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, September 20, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, efforts continue to derail the planned September 25th vote, Turkey kills at least 3 Iraqi civilians, and much more.

ALSUMARIA reports that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared today that KRG President Massoud Barzani should call off the planned referendum on September 25th or face sanctions from Turkey's government.


Today, Turkish warplanes attacked Dohuk Province and left 3 civilians dead according to ALSUMARIA NEWS.

Is this Erdogan's idea of sanctions?

As we noted in yesterday's snapshot:

Also ANADOLU AGENCY states, "Turkish fighter jets killed at least three PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, the military said in a statement late Tuesday."  And THE DAILY SABAH states, "The counterterror operation was launched upon receiving intelligence that PKK terrorists were planning an attack, the statement elaborated."  Earlier, XINHUA noted another strike, "The Turkish Air Force conducted an airstrike in northern Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least four PKK militants, a statement released by General Staff said."

Two strikes in one day.  Based on the statements of the government who ordered and carried out the strikes.  No one on the ground to check it out.  Nor will there be any follow up.  Most of the time, these strikes kill animals, villagers, farmers.  But, hey, let's just go with what Turkey claims happened, right?  The Turkish government would never lie, right?  No government would ever lie, right?

Well today the Kurdish War Planes killed 3 civilians and injured an untold number.

But they 'forgot' to issue a statement on that.

They killed civilians and where is the condemnation?

They do this over and over and get away with it.

The western press treats it as a non-event and parrots whatever the Turkish government says.

 This Tweet gets it right.

As Erdogan rants against Kurdish independence in the UN, his state is funding terrorists or bombing Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The White House should be condemning Turkey.  Instead, they look the other way.

Nash Naam (EFFINGHAM DAILY NEWS) offers this look at what's going on in Iraq:

The Iraqi government in Baghdad is trying to dissuade Barzani from going ahead with the referendum. Iraq neighbors, especially Turkey and Iran, don’t want this referendum to take place. They are concerned that breaking away of one third of Iraq will destabilizes the already inflamed situation in that part of the Middle East. Even the Trump administration is trying to push Barzani to postpone the vote indefinitely.
But even if the referendum does not go as planned, the fact that the Kurds, who now occupy at least a third of Iraq, and are itching for a measure of independence, will eventually try to establish at least a sort of federal relationship with the Baghdad government. No matter what happens, it seems the winds of change are creating a reality that is vastly different from the Iraq that we knew before.
At one time, former Vice President Joe Biden, then a senator, advocated dividing Iraq into three small countries based on their sectarian differences. Many, including me, scoffed at his remarks. Sadly, now it seems that his vision may be the ultimate solution to the sectarian violence and hatred that permeate this area of the world.

Despite legitimate Kurdish aspirations for statehood, the Sept. 25 vote, in reality, is not necessarily meant to secure total independence. Instead, its goal is to fundamentally reshape the relationship between the Kurdistan regional government and the federal government in Baghdad. Many Kurdish politicians hinted at their satisfaction with something less than total independence, such as confederation between Kurdistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, those opposed to the referendum stage a meet-up.

Turkey-Iran-Iraq meet to discuss referendum at the .


The only time Iraq, Iran & Turkey sit down & have a friendly meeting is when they’re discussing a way to keep the Kurds down.

The Kurds do not trust the Baghdad-based government because it has not acted fairly since 2003 and it has not followed the Constitution (including the refusal to implement Article 140).  RUDAW notes, "Kurdistan emphasizes that the Iraqi constitution allows Erbil to end the “free union” between the two governments because Baghdad has violated at least 55 articles of the Iraqi constitution, including cutting the regional government’s share of the Iraqi budget since early 2014, lack of defense budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Article 140 that concerns the fate of the Kurdistani or disputed areas such as the oil-rich Kirkuk province. "

But the current problems go the larger problems, the historical ones and that's what the western media refuses to talk about in their contemporary coverage of the issue.

From 2006, this is PBS:

After the war with Iran began in 1980, Iraqi troops stationed in the north were transferred to the frontline, allowing Kurdish peshmerga forces to gain in strength and numbers. At the time, Kurdistan, as the area is often called, simmered with revolt, led by the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In the war, both parties actively sided with Iran. By 1987, although Kurdish cities were still controlled by Iraqi troops, the villages of the vast interior were safe havens for the Kurdish rebels. That year, Saddam tapped his cousin, Ali Hassan al–Majid, a man well–known for his brutality, to take charge of northern Iraq. Al–Majid quickly deployed military resources to, in his words, “solve the Kurdish problem and slaughter the saboteurs.” He ordered Iraqi aircraft to drop poison gas on PUK and KDP targets and civilian villages, killing hundreds indiscriminately. The Iraqi regime had become the first in history to attack its own civilian population with chemical weapons. Al–Majid came to be known as “Chemical Ali.”
The Anfal began in earnest in early 1988. A directive from Baghdad ordered commanders to bomb rural areas of the north day or night “in order to kill the largest number of persons present.” The same directive declared that “[a]ll persons captured in those villages shall be detained and interrogated by the security services, and those between the ages of 15 and 70 shall be executed after any useful information has been obtained from them.” There were eight Anfal attacks in all, each following a similar pattern. First, air attacks dropped chemical weapons on both civilian and peshmerga targets. Next, ground troops surrounded the villages, looting and setting fire to homes. Then townspeople were herded into army trucks and taken to holding facilities, the largest being Topzawa, an army camp near Kirkuk. At these camps, men and boys deemed old enough to carry a weapon were separated from women, the elderly and young children. Routinely and uniformly, these men and boys were taken to remote sites, executed in groups, and dumped into pre–dug mass graves. Many women and children were also executed, especially those from areas that supported the Kurdish resistance.
The Anfal military campaign ended in September 1988 when Saddam’s regime announced a general amnesty for all Kurds (although they were not permitted to return to “prohibited zones”). In any case, 90 percent of Kurdish villages had essentially been wiped off the map, and the countryside was strewn with land mines to discourage resettlement. The response from the international community was muted, as many nations, including the United States, had supported Hussein with money and arms during the Iran–Iraq war.
Charges and evidence

Human Rights Watch estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed during al–Anfal; Kurdish officials have put the number as high as 182,000. When presented with this figure, “Chemical” Ali Hassan al–Majid took exception. “It could not have been more than 100,000,” he said. Since the fall of Saddam, mass graves related to al–Anfal have been found in Hatra, near Mosul, and in Samawa, southeast of Baghdad. In some cases, audiotapes document meetings of Ba’ath leaders discussing the campaign. Soil samples taken from bomb craters in northern Iraq show evidence of the use of chemical weapons. Observers expect that Saddam will be tried for his role in al–Anfal following the Dujail trial. He may be charged with genocide.

On Monday, the State Dept's Bureau of Near Easter Affairs acting assistant secretary David M. Satterfield got called on US hypocrisy in the middle of a press briefing.

QUESTION: You talked about the need for an intact, nonpartitioned, independent Syria. What do you then say to the Kurds who, let’s face it, did a lot of the hard fighting for us for the last several years and are now seeing their aspirations for independence being suppressed in multiple parts of the region?

AMBASSADOR SATTERFIELD: Well, we would certainly not agree with that characterization. There was discussion --

QUESTION: Which part of the characterization are you disputing?

AMBASSADOR SATTERFIELD: The suppression of Kurdish desires for independence. There was discussion during this meeting which was focused on Syria – I want to underscore that – but there was discussion of the Kurdish referendum. And I’ll be very clear that there was uniform consensus in the room that now was not the moment for this referendum, announced and advocated as it has been, to proceed. I think there is an international consensus on that point. But frankly, this was a Syria discussion, not a Kurdish-focused discussion. 

Kenneth M. Pollack has moved from Brookings to the American Enterprise Institute -- shedding further light on just how right-wing Brookings actually is.

Today, he yet again claims a 'turned corner' in the Iraq War.

And he's yet again prepared to advise how to move forward (keeping US troops on the ground indefinitely is part of that 'move forward').  He also offers:

Meanwhile, the United States and United Nations should take responsibility for three compelling issues: (1) beginning a national reconciliation process among senior Iraqi leaders – primarily Sunni and Shi’a, but also including other minority groups as well; (2) investigating and possibly reforming Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission to ensure that Iraq’s elections are fair and free; and (3) overseeing talks between Baghdad and Erbil over the status of Iraqi Kurdistan. On this last issue, Iraqi-Kurdish talks should run on two parallel tracks, one focusing on a long-term (5-10 years) process for peaceful Kurdish secession, and a second focusing on Baghdad-Erbil relations in the short term, to include sticky issues like security cooperation, administration of Kurdish occupied territory, oil revenues, and fiscal policy.
The last thing that the Iraqi government will need considerable American assistance in handling is the question of the militias. Because of their domestic power and Iranian backing, these cannot simply be handled by fiat. They need to be slowly integrated into Iraq’s security forces at the individual level. Most of their leaders need to be rewarded for their service and give respectable positions within the Iraqi government or else significant pensions for their service. Any attempt to break them or disband them, let alone punish them, could break Iraq instead. But a key will be to build up the power and popularity of the Iraqi government to the point where its leaders can negotiate with the militia leaders (and the Iranians) from a position of much greater leverage. The best way to do that would be to accomplish all of the other steps on this punch list above.

Today's violence also includes a west Baghdad bombing left 1 person dead and four injured.

Meanwhile, in the United States, despite non-stop coverage and promotion, Hillary Clinton's latest ghost written tome couldn't even sell a half million copies in its opening week -- despite major price slashing at Costco and at Barnes & Noble, despite online prices that amounted to little more than free give aways.

For someone so quick to pass off the 65 million voters as her personal fan club (ignoring just how many held their noses to vote for her), 300,000 is a rather paltry sales figure.

Andre Damon (WSWS) offers his take on the War Hawk's latest book:

Her speeches and the six-figure honorariums she received were, she explains, entirely appropriate.
“My life after leaving politics had turned out to be pretty great,” she writes. “Like many former government officials, I found that organizations and companies wanted me to come talk to them about my experiences and share my thoughts on the world—and they’d pay me a pretty penny to do it. I liked that there was a way for me to earn a very good living without working for any one company or sitting on any boards. It was also a chance to meet interesting people.”
But, she admits, she failed to appreciate that ordinary people, with their limited perspective, might see things otherwise. “I should have realized it would be bad ‘optics’ and stayed away from anything having to do with Wall Street. I didn’t. That’s on me.”
All of Clinton’s supposedly candid admissions of mistakes have the same character. Whether the issue is millions in speaking fees from Wall Street or glib talk about putting coal miners out of work, there was nothing intrinsically wrong about what she did, only her failure to anticipate the response of the ignorant masses.
Clinton admits to two major electoral surprises: the popular support for socialist policies as reflected in the mass backing for the supposed socialist Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, and the collapse of minority working-class support for her campaign on Election Day.
Regarding the primaries, Clinton writes: “Nothing in my experience in American politics suggested that a Socialist from Vermont could mount a credible campaign for the White House.” But Sanders “tapped into powerful emotional currents in the electorate.”
She adds, “When a Des Moines Register poll in January 2016 found that 43 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers identified as Socialists, I knew there could be trouble ahead.”
In one of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, Clinton admitted that she was “kind of far removed” from the struggles of ordinary people because of “the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy.”

While she makes no such frank admission in her book, the above quote perfectly sums up the type of middle-class snobbery that pervades it, including a passage where she equates the aspirations of millions of people for a decent job, health care and retirement savings, expressed in their support for Sanders, with a child’s selfish desire to “get a pony.”

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated:

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Terry Gross helps Hillary lie again

On the awful NPR today, Hillary Clinton lied while Terry Gross fluffled for Hillary who made outrageous statements like this one:

I know what happened to our candidates in 2014, before I ever ran, before I announced that I would run. I was campaigning hard for Democrats in that midterm election, and I saw what the right was doing to really good people — people like Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. People like our wonderful candidate Michelle Nunn in Georgia.

Terry let the lie go unchallenged.  Here's Wikipedia on "wonderful candidate Michelle Nunn:"

Nunn's policy positions during the campaign emphasized her attempt to portray a moderate image and distance herself from the unpopular Obama administration.[54] She declined to say whether she would have voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act had she been in the Senate but said that going forward, some aspects of it should be fixed rather than the whole law being eliminated.[42][55] She criticized Georgia's refusal to accept Medicaid expansion under the act.[42] Following the start-up problems with the associated website, Nunn broke with the Obama administration and said that the individual mandate portion of the law should be delayed.[56] Nunn favored construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline[15] and opposed the Obama administration's proposed cuts to defense spending.[57] On the topic of same-sex marriage, Nunn said she personally favored it, but that the decision should be made on a state-by-state basis.[42] Nunn was endorsed by EMILY's List, a political action committee that assists pro-choice Democratic women with their campaigns.[58]
Nunn's stump speech emphasized an appeal to bipartisanship.[59] She proposed that members of Congress should be forced to pass a budget each year or forfeit their pay, said there was blame on both sides for ongoing Congressional dysfunction, and declined to say whether she would support Harry Reid remaining as Senate Majority Leader.[15][34] Nunn made her father a focal point, staging joint appearances with him at military bases and saying that she would emulate his bipartisan approach to legislating.[57] She received support and donations from former Republican Senators Richard Lugar and John Warner, both of whom were close to her father,[60] and support from former Georgia Senator and Governor Zell Miller, a Democrat who had endorsed Republicans over the previous decade.[61] However, the use by Nunn's campaign commercials of photographs of her with George H. W. Bush drew a series of objections from the former president, who endorsed Perdue.[62][63] Neil Bush neither endorsed nor opposed her candidacy,[14] but did object to some of Perdue's negative ads based upon her time with Points of Light.[64] In all, Nunn raised $14 million during the campaign.[65]

She favored Keystone XL.  She couldn't declare for marriage equality.  

She was also big money's candidate and she raised more than any Democrat or Republican running.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Monday, September 18, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, Hayder al-Abadi and Nouri al-Maliki preach hate, one person dies in Kirkuk as a result, the Baghdad based Supreme Court insists it has jurisdiction over a KRG vote, and much more.

Because they'd always gotten their way, they'd assumed they always would.

So months ago, when the Kurdistan Regional Government declared that they would hold a referendum on independence, the Baghdad-based government made vague mutterings.  Now that the September 25th referendum remains

Come and dig the Koo Koo war
Rumor has it got started cuz our leaders got bored
New toys with a laser teach children 2 kill
Who knows when they're older
Maybe they will

Nothing gained
Paradise lost
Koo Koo's the trip and death is the cost
It's your world
4 a little while

Peace, mother, brother
Peace of mind
We got 2 love one another all the time
Cuz a kiss on the lips
Is better than a knife in the back

-- "Koo Koo" written by Sheila E. and Prince, first appears on her album SHEILA E.

Better than a knife in the back?

Which is all the KRG has gotten historically from the US government.

Let's drop back to the US Congress and the Pike Report. It was leaked to the press and, February 16, 1976, The Village Voice published Aaron Latham's "Introduction to the Pike Papers."  Latham explained:

In 1972, Dr. Henry Kissinger met with the Shah of Iran, who asked the U.S. to aid the Kurds in their rebellion against Iraq, an enemy of the Shah.  Kissinger later presented the proposal to President Nixon who approved what would become a $16 million program.  Then John B. Connally, the former Nixon Treasury Secretary, was dispatched to Iran to inform the Shah, one oil man to another.
The committee report charges that: "The President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped our clients would not prevail.  They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq].  The policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting.  Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise."
During the Arab-Israeli war, when the Kurds might have been able to strike at a distracted Iraqi government, Kissinger, according to the report, "personally restrained the insurgents from an all-out offensive on the one occasion when such an attack might have been successful."
Then, when Iran resolved its border dispute with Iraq, the U.S. summarily dropped the Kurds.  And Iraq, knowing aid would be cut off, launched a search-and-destroy campaign the day after the border agreement was signed.
A high U.S. official later explained to the Pike committee staff: "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

The US government, for all the lies of spreading democracy around the world, has never been mistaken for a missionary.

And last Friday, the Trump administration demonstrated that yet again.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Proposed Referendum

The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intention to hold a referendum later this month. The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas. Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing. We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate.

How is it distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS?

Could someone explain that?

Of course, they can't.  There is no solid explanation for such a claim.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote on September 25th, the Peshmerga would continue to battle the Islamic State as needed.

Turkey has continued to battle the Islamic State, for example.  Even when the government of Iraq has asked that Turkish troops leave the country, Turkey has continued to battle the Islamic State.  (The Turkish government opposes Kurdish independence.)

How is a referendum going to destabilize other areas of Iraq?

ALJAZEERA reminds:

The KRG, which governs the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, has said a pro-independence vote would not trigger an immediate secession.
Massoud Barzani, president of the KRG, said a "yes" result would instead kick-start "serious discussions" with Baghdad.

As for Kirkuk, the disputed area was supposed to be resolved by the end of 2007.

Bully Boy Bush didn't want that because it would hurt war efforts in Iraq.

Barack Obama also refused to support the Iraqi constitution (which demanded the issue be resolved).

Three administrations have now attempted to thwart Kurdish independence.

All have insisted now was not the right time.

When is the right time?

The Iraq War continues.

It continues because the Iraqi government is installed by the US government.

It wasn't elected by the people.

They didn't choose for a bunch of cowards who left Iraq decades ago to return after the US invaded in 2003 and become leaders.

This government has no authority or legitimacy.

14 years on and there's still no legitimacy.

The US military will apparently be in Iraq for hundreds of years -- remember when John McCain presented that as his position and we were all horrified?
Dropping back to the January 7, 2008 snapshot:

Of the GOP candidates, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained today, "In other campaign news, Republican Senator John McCain admitted he would be fine if the United States military stayed in Iraq for a hundred years.  McCain said 'We've been in Japan for 60 years.  We've been in South Korea 50 years or so. . .  As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.  That's fine with me'."  Vote Insane! Vote John McCain! 

Two months later, it was still news.  Ron Clairborne (ABC NEWS) reported at the end of March 2008:

By early February, as it became clear that McCain would emerge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the Democratic National Committee sent out a fundraising letter portraying McCain as favoring "an endless war" in Iraq.
Last week, Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean blasted McCain as "a blatant opportunist who doesn't understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years."
Sen. Hillary Clinton's camp continually blasts him for the 100-year remark. The Democratic presidential candidate said this month McCain "is willing to keep this war going for 100 years." She vows to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. But a year ago, she told The New York Times that as president she would leave some unspecified number of U.S. forces to protect "remaining vital national security interests in Iraq."
The article said: "She declined to estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she would draw on the advice of military officers." That position does not appear to be much different than what McCain was saying in Derry, minus the 100-year quip.
Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said, "We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another 100 years."
[. . .]
 The attacks on McCain aren't coming just from his Democratic opponents. A scathing anti-McCain video posted on YouTube, entitled "No, We Can't," uses select lines from what McCain said to give the distinct impression that he would actually enjoy it if the war went on for 100 years. His words are edited to make him to say: "Make it (or, maybe) 100 years. That'd be fine with me."
Google the words "McCain" and "100 years" and you will be treated to a menu of blogs attacking McCain for wanting to wage war for another century.
Several political analysts said they sympathized with McCain's predicament. They say he tried to give a detailed, textured reply to a serious question and his opponents conveniently dropped the context and qualifiers and used to draw a withering caricature of cavalier warmonger.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said it was clear to him what McCain really meant -- after all, McCain spelled it out at length. His candor gave his opponents a huge opening to portray it otherwise.
"It's his Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright [Obama's controversial former pastor]," Shrum said. "It's his Tuzla [the Bosnian city where Clinton erroneously claimed she had landed in a helicopter under sniper fire]." 

In 2008, it was all so shocking but now that Barack left the White House -- after serving two terms as president -- and the Iraq War still continues, it appears some of the 'shock' over McCain's position was manufactured and that many shared his views.

In fact, today finds Elise Knutsen (VOX) typing matter of factly that "military and political leaders here in Iraq have a blunt warning: The fight against ISIS is far from over, and it may take decades to rout former fighters and their sympathizers from the region. "

Throughout it all, the Kurds keep getting told to wait.

It's their lives and it's their decision.

Strange, isn't it, that the US government has repeatedly insisted they are their to help the people and for democracy but when the Kurds attempt democracy, the US governments has a hissy fit.

TIME magazine reports (in an unsigned article -- those of us who emphasized foreign relations in our poli sci studies should remember what an unsigned TIME article actually is):

Iraq's top court on Monday temporarily suspended the northern Kurdish region's referendum on independence that's due next week, a decision that put further pressure on the Iraqi Kurds to call off the controversial vote.
The Supreme Court in Baghdad released a statement, saying it "issued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures ... until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision."
It was not immediately clear if the local government in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region would abide by the court's ruling.

RUDAW reports the response to the court -- which may not have authority over a KRG referendum to begin with -- has not been to tremble:

Amid numerous calls to postpone next week’s independence referendum and focus on discussions with Baghdad, President Masoud Barzani told a visiting British minister that they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with international guarantees that agreements will be enforced.

British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon called on Barzani to delay the September 25 independence referendum and focus on dialogue with the central government “under the supervision of the international community,” read a Kurdish-language statement from the presidency’s office.

Fallon visited Kurdistan on Monday with UK Ambassador to Iraq Frank Baker and met with Barzani, Vice President Kosrat Rasul, and acting Peshmerga Minister Karim Sinjari.

Responding to Fallon’s request, Barzani said that referendum and dialogue are both tools for independence and that, since no alternative had been presented that could guarantee independence talks and Baghdad’s readiness to commence such talks, the referendum cannot be delayed. 

The United Nations weighed in yesterday on the issue.

U.N. chief: Northern Iraq vote would detract from Islamic State fight

UN chief urges Kurds in Iraq to scrap referendum, arguing it would detract from the fight against ISIL

That would be the same United Nations that waited until six months after the Iraq War started to offer a sotto voiced opinion.  In September of 2004 (six months after the Iraq War started), Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger (GUARDIAN) reported:

The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly for the first time last night that the US-led war on Iraq was illegal.
Mr Annan said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. In an interview with the BBC World Service broadcast last night, he was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: "Yes, if you wish."
He then added unequivocally: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

The UN isn't noted for bravery or for much of anything these days.

Remember, this is the same United Nations that stopped counting the military and police killed in Iraq because the country's prime minister whined and hissed.

Sunday, REUTERS reported that Hayder al-Abadi, Iraq's prime minister installed under Barack Obama, declared that the Kurds were "playing with fire."  Joining Hayder in inflaming tensions is former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.

IRAQ: Vice President Nouri Maliki says a Kurdish state is equivalent of the 'creation of a second Israel in the north of Iraq'

Nouri and Hayder are among those inciting violence.  And the impact of their words can already be seen.  RUDAW reports supporters of the referendum gathered in Kirkuk when shots were fired at the pro-referendum activists leaving at least one dead and two more injured.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Another classic from Tori Amos" went up last night.  We'll close with this from Senator Johnny Isakson's office (Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee):

Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777

Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999

Isakson Delivers Remarks on National Defense, Hurricane Irma Recovery, JSTARS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday to argue for support for the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently being debated in the Senate. The measure seeks to ensure that our military has the resources it needs to carry out its missions, including critical support in the aftermath of recent hurricanes.
Isakson opened his remarks by acknowledging military service members who are helping in recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and by thanking every level of preparation and storm response that has allowed for a speedy response in Georgia, starting with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
“In Georgia, we lost three lives, which is tragic. We’re sorry for each one of them and our hearts go out to those families,” said Isakson. “Our preparation by Governor Nathan Deal and other leaders in the state saw to it that our reaction and our timeliness was excellent. I want to thank Governor Nathan Deal as well as Georgia Emergency Management in coordination with the agency of FEMA who worked to ensure that everywhere we had danger in Georgia, we also had response for our people and for our state.”
Isakson also highlighted the urgent need to pass the National Defense Authorization Actto provide our warfighters with the tools and resources to counter ongoing threats, including continued support for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) mission based out of Georgia.
“JSTARS is an asset of our U.S. military and our intelligence agencies with a capability that is second to none in the world,” said Isakson. “Since the Gulf War and everything that’s happened in the Middle East and ensued since then, [JSTARS] has been invaluable in command and control capabilities on the ground. It is an intelligence capability that is unmatched by any of our military adversaries in the world.”
Isakson noted that he had a visit earlier in the day Wednesday from Heather Wilson, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, who confirmed to him that the branch was considering other ways of delivering JSTARS’ services to military personnel.
He expressed serious concerns about the Air Force’s “inexplicable” consideration of abandoning this proven and successful platform.
“Our country and our soldiers and our warfighters have benefitted greatly on the ground and in the air, from JSTARS’ surveillance capabilities,” Isakson observed.
“I would submit if the Air Force were to decide that rather than recapitalizing the JSTARS program that we’ve been working on for the last few years, they would go to an alternative delivery system, they’re probably giving up security for our country, intel for our men and women on the ground, battlefield coordination you could not replace any other way, and an asset that we’ve taken for granted for far too long in this country,” he argued.
In addition, Isakson committed to supporting the National Defense Authorization Act,and noted the work of Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the bill.
“I came to the floor to say that I’m with you, and I support you,” said Isakson. “But I want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure the JSTARS [program] and the capabilities of that mission are recapitalized for our soldiers in the future and our military in the future. For us to fail to do so… would be bad for our soldiers, bad for our security and bad for our country.”
Isakson’s remarks are available to view here.

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