Saturday, January 19, 2019

The real fake news

Another big media report blows up in everyone's face.  BUZZFEED served up another breathless scoop that ended up being fake. It declared that Michael Cohen had told Robert Mueller's office that Donald Trump was planning a Moscow Trump Tower and had asked Cohen (his attorney at the time) to lie about it.  It resulted in hours of triumph from those who have no life beyond I-Hate-Trump.  It was a lie and a non-story.  ZERO HEDGE FUND reports:

Update 2: In an almost unprecedented event - having rarely commented on stories related to the special counsel's investigation - Robert S. Mueller III's office put out a statement firmly disputing the reporting of the news site BuzzFeed reported that the president instructed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his push for a Moscow real estate project
"BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate," the special counsel's office said.
As The Hill reports, BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it "stands by this story 100%," and for his part, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.
President Trump retweeted a few social media reactions...
*  *  *
Update 1: Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has called the BuzzFeed report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie "categorically false." 

Why the story ever got published is a mystery.  It's co-writer is Jason Leopold.  Remember when TRUTHOUT dumped him after his 'report' that Karl Rove was about to be indicted in the outing of Valerie Plame?

Buzzfeed's editors have been eagerly green-lighting Leopold's cockamamie conspiracy articles ever since Russiagate—including claims US & UK Deep State covering up alleged Putin assassinations. Some of us have been calling bullshit on his Russia stories.

They are the fake news.  They need to own it.  Stop pointing fingers at others, they are the fake news.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, January 18, 2019.  A new report from the US military reveals that the US government puts puppets in charge and considers removing them as well.

In Iraq, the same thing is done over and over and always with the idiotic hope that somehow things will turn out differently.  That's never happened.

As 2006 drew to a close, U.S. leaders in Washington and Baghdad grappled with the reality that the transition strategy the U.S.-led coalition had been pursuing for more than 2 years had failed to stabilize Iraq. In the months since the February 2006 bombing of the Shi’a shrine in Samarra, Iraq had descended into a sectarian civil war, with violence worst in the Iraqi capital and its surrounding areas. By mid-October, three successive U.S.-Iraqi operations to tamp down the sectarian attacks in Baghdad had failed, and violence had only increased. The Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) campaign plan had envisioned a reduction of U.S. forces to about 100,000 by the end of 2006. Instead, MNF-I Commander General George W. Casey, Jr. had been forced to cancel unit redeployments, call forward in-theater reserves from Kuwait, and authorize extensions of U.S. units in response to the dire security situation in Baghdad.

That's from "The U.S. Army in the Iraq War — Volume 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007-2011" -- what?  Michael R. Gordon (WALL STREET JOURNAL) broke the news last night:

The Army on Thursday published a long-awaited study of the U.S. war in Iraq that criticizes decisions of some of the service’s most senior officers and outlines some hard-learned lessons from the eight-year-long conflict.
The two-volume study was commissioned in 2013 by Gen. Ray Odierno, when he was serving as the Army chief of staff, and a draft was finished by June 2016.

The Wall Street Journal reported in October that the publication of the history had been stymied, as senior officials worried about the study’s impact on the reputation of prominent officers and congressional support for the service. Some lawmakers urged the Army to make the history public as soon as possible.

"The U.S. Army in the Iraq War – Volume 1: Invasion – Insurgency – Civil War, 2003-2006" and "The U.S. Army in the Iraq War — Volume 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007-2011" are the two reports.

US forces have been in Iraq to support the puppet government the US installed.  That was always the case and that's rather clear in the report:

When Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric S. Edelman objected, questioning whether it was fair to expect Casey to be a military adviser on one hand while demanding he "push" Maliki with the other, Rumsfeld declared, "I don't know who else it would be!" Adamant to put an end to what he saw as a series of "free lunches" enjoyed by Maliki at American expense, Rumsfeld urged Casey to make the Prime Minister understand that actions taken contrary to expressed U.S. interests had consequences -- with troop levels as the most promising lever. "Maybe we should reduce the number of our forces in Baghdad? Maybe you should let him know that you intend to withdraw troops?" suggested Rumsfeld. "Maybe pull a brigade . . . send it after the Iranians and get after EFPs," he added, using the acronym for explosively formed penetrators. Frustrated with Maliki’s sluggishness in reducing sectarian violence in Baghdad, Rumsfeld’s immediate recommendation was to withdraw American troops from the capital.

If the puppet won't do what the US government wants, pull the US troops out of Baghdad.  That was the threat and it was a real threat because Nouri al-Maliki wasn't 'of the people.'  He had fled Iraq decades prior and only returned after the 2003 US-led invasion.  The Iraqi people?  They didn't know him, he didn't know them.  He was installed by the US government based on the CIA profile which found Nouri to be highly paranoid.  This paranoia let him jump ahead of other candidates because it was thought he would be easier to manipulate.

Nouri was nothing but a puppet.  Puppets can be replaced.  And, yes, Bully Boy Bush installed him in 2006 but Bully Boy Bush was fine with uninstalling him.  From the report:

When it came to Maliki’s commitment to stand up to JAM and mitigate its overtly sectarian agenda, the President voiced similar doubts, finding it ironic that the Iraqi Prime Minister seemed to be the principal “roadblock” to a renewed U.S. effort to stabi- lize the country. “How do we give [Maliki] responsibility without causing a disaster?” Bush asked. When Casey mentioned that Maliki “lacked political will,” the President responded, “One option is to find someone else.” In its discussion the following day, the group revisited the possibility of replacing the Prime Minister. Abizaid observed that he had “yet to see Maliki show backbone on anything” and thus saw danger in basing the “new way forward” on the Iraqi leader’s political will. Bush reiterated his desire for something “dramatic” or “game-changing.” The “new way forward”—whatever form it took—would have to “put us in a position where we can win.” He again suggested that it might be “time to choose somebody else,” but Khalilzad and the secretary of state con- vinced him that positioning Maliki for success was the more prudent course.

A puppet is a puppet.  So much is revealed in the report -- so much that we've said here over the years.  We've called Paddy Cockburn's idiotic b.s. and it's called out in the report as well.  He never knew a damn thing about what was going on in Iraq but was treated as some sort of seer.  He's an embarrassment and the report makes it clear to anyone who's followed Patrick's writing.

I have no respect for trash like Patrick Cockburn.  He's anti-Arab and he's a known liar.  He's actually a known groupie of the Iranian government.  He writes love letters to them, fan-fiction about their immense power.

As the report details -- and as we noted in real time -- the US-government backed Nouri in 2010 -- when he lost re-election.  It's July of 2010 when then-Vice President Joe Biden announces in Baghdad that Ayad Allawi will not be prime minister.  The US had then publicly turned on the winner of the election.

Patrick kept insisting it was all Iran, just Iran.  No, it wasn't.  They were part of it -- and certainly they were the ones who silenced Moqtada al-Sadr's objections and brought him in to support Nouri.  Patrick's one-sided devotion to the government of Iran has always been puzzling.  Read the report, recall his 'reporting' and laugh -- laugh often.

Our reporting on the November 15, 2011 hearing and the issues at stake especially are backed up by the report -- see that day's snapshot, the November 16th snapshot and:

At Trina's site last night, Ava covered an exchange with "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," at Rebecca's site, Wally covered economic concers expressed over the use of contractors "The costs (Wally)" and Kat offered a look at various claims about the administration's negotiating goals and what Iraqi leaders supposedly sought with "Who wanted what?"

It was an important hearing and we treated it as such.  The professional media?  They didn't.  They didn't tell you anything except John McCain was cross with Leon Panetta.  They avoided every actual issue -- including why McCain and Panetta had the exchange.

The American people weren't important enough for the press to cover reality.

I would guess the reason that the two reports were buried for so long had to do with the fact that the press had been so compliant and willing to cover for the war -- the illegal war they sold.  It would probably be very confusing for a number of Americans to read these two reports.  They would be faced with realities that no one has bothered to include them on.  Key information has been withheld -- and not just by the government, but also by the press.

Read about Tareq al-Hashemi, for example.  We noted it here for what it was, persecution of Sunni leaders and that's how the report sees it as well.  Because that's what it was.  Imagine a media that refused repeatedly to make that connection in all their 'reporting' on Vice President Tareq?  Imagine if the reality had been actually reported -- and reported loudly and repeatedly?

ISIS never would have come to power in Iraq.  Nouri would have been stopped.  Maybe he would have been stopped by global condemnation, maybe he would have been stopped by the US government standing down and allowing the Kurds, Moqtada, the Sunnis and others to go forward with their no-confidence vote.

What comes through in the report is that the US government was as vested in personality as the media is.  They select a puppet and then they tie the puppet's success to their own.

That's not a strategy.

It is, however, why Barack Obama gave Nouri the second term as prime minister -- the term that nearly destroyed Iraq.

With the US government tying success in Iraq to the prime minister (whomever it is), the US media follows suit -- refusing to tell the truth.  So you get Nouri, for example, going after Sunni politicians and a media playing dumb.  Or worse, actively taking part in demonizing whomever Nouri is attacking at the moment.  From the report:

Almost exactly a year after authorizing the December 2011 ISF raid against Iraq’s most senior Sunni politician, Vice President Tariq Hashimi, Prime Minister Maliki repeated the act, this time against the most senior Sunni minister in his own cabinet, Finance Minis- ter Rafe al-Issawi. Well-regarded by the international community and fellow Iraqis as a non-sectarian, pragmatic technocrat, Issawi had been a tangential target in the Hashimi raids. Both he and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq had seemed to escape the purge by making peace with Maliki in early 2012 despite their vehement criticism of the Prime Minister before that. 
By late 2012, relations between Maliki and Issawi had soured, and the Finance Minister had become Maliki’s biggest political target. On December 19 and 20, Iraqi special operations forces sur- rounded Issawi’s home and offices in the Green Zone as Iraqi Government spokesmen announced the Finance Minister was being sought on the charge of supporting terrorism through his alleged connections to the Sunni militant group Hamas al-Iraq. Issawi took refuge in the home of Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, where he reported in a news conference that 150 of his guards, staff, and family members had been arrested.
The accusation that Issawi was a material supporter of Hamas al-Iraq was a familiar one to U.S. officials, since Maliki had previously leveled it in 2010. At that time, then-USF-I commander Odierno had given the Prime Minister a report from USF-I analysts concluding that the charge was false, and Odierno’s opposition to the charge had helped Issawi survive a potential purge. In December 2012, however, it seemed clear that Maliki intended to use the allegation to sideline yet another senior Sunni leader. U.S. officials had regarded Issawi as a moderate Sunni with whom Maliki could cooperate in 2011, but the push for his removal from the government in 2012 indicated that deeper purges would come.

The report details the rock hurling at Saleh al-Mutlaq, who'd become a Nouri lackey -- a point we made in real time and that Saleh had no real support among Sunnis.  Let's drop back to the December 31, 2012 snapshot:

 The statement al-Mutlaq's office issued can be seen as an attempt by the politician to cover what happened.  Why he was stupid enough to go to a protest is beyond me.  Yes, he is Sunni and, yes, he is in the Iraqiya slate.  But Saleh al-Mutlaq is not popular.  He and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (also Sunni and Iraqiya) were both targeted by Nouri in December of 2011.  While Tareq ended up having to leave the country and being convicted of 'terrorism,' Saleh sailed right through.  In May, Nouri dropped his efforts to strip Saleh of his office.

By that point, there had been months of speculation in the Iraqi press that Saleh al-Mutlaq had cut a deal to save his own ass, that he was now in partnership with Nouri al-Maliki.  This seemed to be even more true when Saleh was seen as undermining efforts to get a no-confidence vote against Nouri as spring was winding down.

Saleh al-Mutlaq is seen -- rightly or wrongly -- by Sunni Iraqis as someone who protects himself and does nothing for other Sunnis (whether they're politicians or average citizens).  His actions on Sunday did nothing to alter that opinion.  Today Dar Addustour observes that Mutlaq was seen as attempting to distract protesters from their legitimate demands for and that his words were seen as throwing shoes at the protesters.  (Remember, throwing shoes is a major insult in Iraq.)  Kitabat adds that al-Mutlaq further insulted the protesters by refusing to get on the platform to address them.

At the most basic level, Americans are denied the realities in Iraq because telling them what's really happening could 'risk' the mission since the entire mission is propaganda -- propaganda targeting Iraqis and Americans.  The US media has repeatedly -- and gladly -- cooperated with that propaganda mission.

Let's turn to a legal agreement.  Here, we've repeatedly discussed the importance of The Erbil Agreement (the US negotiated contract that gave Nouri al-Maliki the second term the Iraqi voters didn't).  It wasn't followed.  The US said they stood by it and Barack even got on the phone with Ayad Allawi to get him back into the Parliament building when Ayad walked out, Barack swearing the contract had the full backing of the United States.

Of course, Barack didn't back it.  He never did a damn thing to make sure it was put into practice.  And it bit him in the ass.  Reading the report, I learned Ayad Allawi refused to give the support in the summer of 2011 that Barack wanted -- wanted and needed.  Why?  Because The Erbil Agreement still hadn't been implemented.  How karmic.  I didn't know of that, it was worth a chuckle to read that Barack needed Ayad for a new Status of Forces Agreement and couldn't get him because of the failure to implement The Erbil Agreement.

I've read the second volume in full and skimmed the first one.  Both are worth reading.  The second volume concludes with these two sentences, "By the end of summer 2014, U.S. forces had begun to return to Iraq to stiffen the ISF and to conduct a new campaign against ISIS, but without the benefit of the military infrastructure the United States had shut down in 2011. The war that had begun in 2003 was far from over."

And it remains far from over.

NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY reports 2 people have been kidnapped in Kirkuk. ALSUMARIA notes 1 person dead and another injured in Hilla from gunfire and three people were arrested in Baghdad when they were discovered hiding the body of a young girl who had been hanged.

In 10 years, humanitarian needs have increased and we have scaled up our response...but our humanitarian principles have remained unchanged ب ١٠ سنين زادت الاحتياجات الانسانية وكبرت معها استجابتنا... ولكن اللي ما تغير هوه مبادئنا الانسانية.

We'll note this from the United Nations:

17 January 2019
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq issued a statement on Thursday rejecting allegations made earlier this week by a non-profit organization  there, alleging that personnel had carried out explosive hazard clearance inside two historic churches in Mosul “in a barbaric and arbitrary manner.”
The allegations, published earlier this week on the website of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO), the Iraqi non-governmental organization in question, accused UNMAS of “crimes no less grievous and insolent than the crimes of [the Islamic State],” and claimed that the clearance was conducted without church authorization, “in a barbaric and arbitrary manner with utter disregard for the holy and religious sanctity” of the two churches, located in the Hosh al-Khan area of the Al Maedan district, in Mosul.
Although UNMAS – and its partner for the clearance project, G4S – were not directly named, UNMAS Iraq said in a statement that it was taking the allegations seriously, open to further investigation of the allegations, and continuing to work closely with the Iraqi Government.
The agency has invited HHRO and officials of the Syriac Catholic Archbishopric in the Nineveh Plains, “as well as other relevant Iraqi authorities, to meet in person to carefully consider the facts relative to their statements and hope they will offer to correct the record when known.”
UNMAS said it was “keen on safeguarding all archeological, religious and historical sites”, from the assessment phase of de-mining and other clearance operations, working “closely with the Iraqi State and religious authorities to ensure this national treasure is secure and safe, to prevent any additional damage to that inflicted by the terrorists and the conflict”.
To date, UNMAS Iraq and G4S teams have cleared and safely removed 53 suicide belts from the church sites, 74 munitions of various types, seven improvised bombs, and assorted ammunition and materials such as home-made explosives. According to the agency, the site and the accumulated debris remain heavily contaminated with explosives and will require further clearance.
The UN’s demining agency further explained that, since it started operating in Mosul in November 2017, over 1,500 clearance tasks have been carried out, resulting in the removal of approximately 48,000 explosive hazards of all types, heretofore without any complaints.
In 2014, the jihadist terrorist group ISIL, known in Arabic as [the Islamic State], occupied Iraq’s second city of Mosul, an historic centre of Christianity in the Middle East for centuries, demanding that they convert to Islam, pay tribute, or face execution. More than 100 churches and other religious sites were destroyed or demolished.
Many other Christian enclaves across northern Iraq, and those of other religious minorities, were overrun and destroyed by [the Islamic State] fighters during more than three years of occupation. 

Still with the United Nations, MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:

The Iraqi government has not fulfilled its promises of providing aid to displaced persons returning voluntarily, compensating them and rehabilitating their homes, a spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said yesterday. No attention has been paid to the humanitarian appeals by the displaced persons, it is alleged.
“International and local humanitarian organisations play a significant role in encouraging the Internally Displaced People [IDPs] to stay in camps because they cut aid as soon as they go home,” said the UN statement. An official called on such organisations to continue with their humanitarian programmes for returning IDPs as they are in “dire need” and require rehabilitation to encourage voluntary return.

In other news, THE JERUSALEM POST reports, "A source in the Iraqi government told the Arabic RT network, a Russian television network, on Thursday that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had informed Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that Washington would not intervene if Israel bombed bases belonging to Shi'ite militias in Iraq."  ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS adds:

Russia Today also reported that al-Mahdi expressed concern about such a move and warned of its grave consequences.
In September, the Reuters news agency reported that Iran had moved missiles to Iraq.

The report quoted three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources, and two Western intelligence sources, all of whom confirmed the transfer of short-range missiles to Iraq over the course of several months.

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

  • Friday, January 18, 2019

    Frances Moore Lappe told us this years ago

    Important article from WELL AND GOOD:

    When it comes to saving the planet, carrying around a metal straw in your pocket isn’t going to cut it. Don’t get me wrong, keep drinking from reusable water bottles and bringing your own tote bags to the grocery store—cumulatively, small efforts can often have a big impact. But if Earth is to remain habitable, we need a global commitment to far-reaching change. In a new report published by The Lancet, an international group of 37 scientists from 16 different countries has revealed the “planetary health diet,” a brand new eating plan three years in the making that boasts substantial evidence to prove its potential effectiveness. In short, they’re describing it as a way to save Earth before it’s too late.
    A team of experts in human health, political sciences, agriculture, environmental sustainability warns that humans, in particular, need to change the way they eat in dramatic form. With the global population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050—3 billion of whom are already malnourished—those changes need to be made now if we’re to prevent food production from “overstepping environmental targets, driving climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution,” reports CNN.

    • By reinventing the way we produce and consume food, society as a whole can begin to cut down on destruction it does to the environment. Food systems are the “main user of fresh water, a leading driver of biodiversity loss, land-use change and cause eutrophication or dead zones in lakes and coastal areas,” explains the EAT-Lancet Commission. By changing people’s diets and how food is produced—especially meat and dairy, which are two of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions—it might just be possible to reduce carbon emissions and stop hurting the planet.

    Those of us who read Frances Moore Lappe's DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET are nodding along -- and possibly wondering why it's taken so long.  I read Frances' groundbreaking book decades ago.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, January 17, 2019.  ISIS is never going to be defeated by a military, the 21st century has a new Thomas Friedman and . . . it's a girl!!!!, and much more.

    Kevin Liptak (CNN) huffs:

    Military commanders warned President Donald Trump on December 26 during his surprise visit to Iraq that -- despite his claims to the contrary -- ISIS was not entirely defeated in Syria. 
    People familiar with the President's reaction said the conversation was eye-opening for a leader who days earlier claimed the terror group was defeated "badly" in the country.

    Despite his claims?  Oh, Kevin you and your ilk are such an embarrassment.  Check out this site in December 2017 and all through 2018 -- despite the media claiming ISIS was defeated in Iraq, we noted reality, it wasn't defeated.

    Remember how the US media repeated the lie over and over -- in part to assure Americans that Hayder al-Abadi was some sort of hero.  They did similar things with Nouri al-Maliki.  The American media was not reporting, it was advancing talking points from the US State Dept -- it wasn't about what was, it was about what the US government wanted you to see.

    Liptak really needs to check his sense of self-importance.  I love the "surprise visit" -- as though every visit hasn't been a surprise one.  King Abdullah II of Jordan's visit this week was a 'surprise visit' with the kingdom denying up until the king landed that he was going to Iraq.  Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bully Boy Bush all made 'surprise visits.'

    Kevin thinks he's sniffed something out -- I'm sure he has and maybe now he'll learn to wipe?

    In the meantime, will all the children please leave the room?  In the meantime, let's try to get honest.  US troops are not going to defeat ISIS.  Not in Syria, not in Iraq, not anywhere.

    ISIS is not a country, it's not a force of a country.  ISIS is a terrorist organization.  They are not defeated in war.  All war aimed at a terrorist organization ever does is recruit more members.

    By declaring war on them, you elevate them.

    When Ed Snowden went to Russia and Barack began his verbal attack on Vladimir Putin, we noted he was elevating Putin.  And he was.  We noted the same thing with regards to ISIS.  But on that one, Barack grasped it.  It's why he made his junior varsity crack.

    Whether you think it's earned or not, the US is hated in many sections of the world.  If it helps you to stop sobbing, there are sections that like -- maybe even love -- the US.  But the country is hated in sections of the world.

    So inflating ISIS automatically creates sympathy for the terrorist organization.  'The imperial devil is against ISIS?  Yea ISIS!'  But more to the point, the US at war against ISIS?

    What likes to think of itself as the lone super power at war against ISIS?

    Do you not get the kind of drama that creates, the kind of support?

    It's Goliath (the US) versus David (ISIS).

    You can't get better recruitment than that.

    ISIS will never be destroyed by war.

    Terrorism is an ideology and it is born from a belief of imbalance.  When that belief is backed up with something like 'The US declares war on ISIS!,' you have recruitment and increased membership.

    Terrorism is a crime.  It needs to be fought as you would fight a crime.  It needs to be arrests and public trials.  Not shipped off to Guantanamo with whispers about what someone may have done.  You fight terrorism with open discourse and debate, with democracy.

    The US military will never 'win' against ISIS.  That's not a job a military can handle.

    Idiots who don't grasp that are like the liars who pretend they don't in order to keep never-ending wars going.

    The smartest thing Donald Trump could do would be to remove all US troops from Syria -- as well as Iraq.  It would be safer for both Americans and Iraqis if that happened.  As it is, ISIS recruits flowed to both countries due to the presence of the US.

    While the children are still out of the world, let's point out another reality with regards to terrorism: when people feel wronged, it would do the larger society good to consider the validity of those claims.

    The PKK is a group that fights for Kurdish rights.  They are labeled a terrorist organization by many (including the US government).  Turkey is happy to bomb northern Iraq (killing and wounding many civilians) while they pretend they are attacking the PKK.  But at what point in our history do we look at the grievances of the Kurds?  When do we examine it for validity?

    PKK actions have always decreased when it appeared that an examination might take place, an honest inventory.  Ten years ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- yes, Erdogan -- reaped a few benefits by giving the impression that an honesty inventory and dialogue was about to take place.  It never did and violence returned.

    Though, of course, the Kevin Liptaks couldn't report it that way.  They had to lie and make it nefarious and complicated and twisted because heaven forbid we ever illuminate basics in foreign relations.  The US government doesn't want you to understand its actions, it only wants you to nod along with whatever they do.

    ISIS will be defeated by law enforcement, by recognizing real injustices and addressing them, by an open dialogue where participants -- even those not belonging to the government of a super power -- feel their voice is heard and the future is something that they have a stake in.

    These are not complicated issues.  Getting someone to buy-into their own future is neither a new nor novel concept.  But the Kevin Liptaks exist to pass along stupidity, not to inform.

    Open the doors, let's allow the children back in and move to another topic.

    : US, Pompeo has no right to meddle in -Iraq ties

    From my point of view, the US government has no business telling the Iraqi government (or any government) who they can be friendly with and, yes, Iran and Iraq sharing a border, it is important that the two nations get along.

    But I do understand why some would disagree.

    This chart gives one reason.

    30 countries receive 82% of all U.S. foreign aid, led by Afghanistan and Iraq, while 121 countries get less than $100 million each

    Afghanistan gets the most US dollars with $5.7 billion.  Second place?  Iraq with $3.7 billion.  When you're taking $3.7 billion, you're really going to be expected to take a few strings with that money.

    Look at the struggling countries above, the non-oil rich ones.  They get peanuts while oil-rich Iraq gets $3.7 billion -- and this while the whole world knows how corrupt the US-installed Iraqi government is.

    The Iraq War hits sixteen in two months.  Sixteen years.  Sweet sixteen.  Will it ever end?

    At THE NEW YORK TIMES' AT WAR blog, Iraq War veteran Russell Worth Parker shares:

    On our return to Camp Lejeune, N.C., we were freed to spend a night with our families. Unable to sleep, I woke my wife at 2 a.m. and made her watch “Napoleon Dynamite,” a movie that so divided my platoon I thought we would come to blows over its absurdities. I wanted her to see and understand something about the previous seven months of my life. I didn’t know how to tell her about a 2-year-old child toddling through window glass shattered by an explosive charge and leaving tiny, bloody footprints on the polished concrete floor of his home. Later that morning, more than a hundred Marines assembled in a final unit formation behind a large brick building immediately across the New River from a demolitions range. Before we were dismissed for the last time as a unified group, some Marines across the river detonated a substantial charge. We all visibly flinched, some of us dropping to the ground, all of us conditioned to dodge the shrapnel and fire that invariably accompanied loud blasts in Iraq. We looked around at one another and slowly stood back up, laughing at ourselves but sharing a level of understanding that has since been elusive.
    Ironically, that common understanding is both the thing we most need from each other as veterans and the thing that keeps some of us from effectively reconnecting with civilians, a critical factor as we become civilians ourselves. Sajer’s notion of remaining separated from the human condition, though he claimed not to feel regret, is nothing less than self-imposed exile. Just as I felt when I stood before that Iraqi policeman, it is my responsibility to say something, to find some sort of connection. I just ask that you not get frustrated or awkward and turn away if the translation comes haltingly, or if the truth proves to be more than you wanted.

    The headline notes that people are ready to share their stories but are others willing to listen?

    A dialogue isn't parallel play.  It requires speaking, listening, debating, thinking, exploring.  Russell Worth Parker wants to initiate a conversation.  Hopefully, it will lead to a lively exchange.

    Maybe even an honest one -- if Max Booty can stay out of it.  Maxie's still high on the wars he never fought in and serving up more garbage at THE WASHINGTON POST:

    It is impossible to say why the Islamic State struck now, except that it could. But there is little doubt that the announced U.S. withdrawal gives the terrorists an inducement to attack. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a colleague of mine at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes about a recent trip to Syria in Foreign Affairs. She notes that the U.S. troop presence in towns such as Raqqa and Manbij was virtually invisible yet highly significant. Two female university students she met in Raqqa told her that the Americans “provided the invisible force field that kept ISIS down and the Russians, Iranians, and Turks at bay.”

    He's referencing the deaths of US troops yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot).  If it's impossible to say why the Islamic State struck, then how can it be possible to state "the announced US withdrawal gives the terrorists an inducement to attack"?  Oh, Maxie, you are as laughable as your online photo.  Do you think look sexy?  You don't.  You look ridiculous.  And what's his name?  Matt Drudge, that's his name.  Matt Drudge should sue you over that photo claiming you're trying to appropriate his look.

    As for the laughable Gayle Tzemach Lemmon?

    I do love how her Wikipedia entry presents her as Diana Prince, formed from clay!  I love that.  It's so novel and so unbelievable.  Where does the "Lemmon" come from?  Per Wikipedia she was apparently sired by her mother and grandmother -- the woman has no father.

    At any rate, she's become the 21st century Thomas Friedman.  He spent how many columns 'exploring' the world via his anonymous cab drivers?  She does it with these female university students she's always stumbling across.

    The notion that these people pop up before Thomas and Gayle and just happen to say exactly what Tommy and Gayle wanted them to say?  That sort of creative license exists for novelists, not journalists.  But them those aren't really about journalism, are they?

    Wait, wait, wait a minute.  As Vanessa might say.

    Gayle is the new Thomas Friedman.  Is Thomas Friedman her father?  No wonder she doesn't list her father in her Wikipedia entry.  No wonder.

    Radio note:

    Usually Diane's weekly show goes up on Fridays.  This one is already up:

    With last October’s confirmation of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade came under greater threat than any time since it became law in 1973. But the movement to erode the protections Roe provides has made steady progress at the state level for years, including in the form of fetal personhood laws.

    A special series by the New York Times editorial board explores what these laws are, how they’ve been used to successfully chip away at Roe v. Wade and why women with wanted pregnancies end up prosecuted under them.
    The series will appear in print on Sunday, January 20th.


    • Lauren Kelley The New York Times Editorial Board, Women and Reproductive Rights Editor              

    You can stream it now at the link.

    The following community sites -- plus NPR music, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and the ACLU -- updated:

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