Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Arrow does the better cross-over episode

"Arrow" tonight wrapped up the cross-over episode.

It did it much better.

It was good to see Diggle, Oliver and Felecity back to adult drama after the Scooby gang hijinks of "The Flash."

They were back to acting like adults.

And good news, Diggle proposed and is getting married.

(To the mother of his daughter Sarah -- named after Canary who is now dead.)

Barry (Flash) looked whiney and immature throughout the episode.

Which almost made you forget Roy and how that character needs to be gone from "Arrow."

Laurel and Thea suffered due to all the buddies Barry brought with him.

But it was clear that Oliver was leading the show and not babycakes Barry -- that alone made for a better episode than Tuesday's "The Flash."

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, December 3, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, John Kerry lets down the administration, Barack won't pay compensation for civilian deaths, and much more.

Today, CENTCOM announced, "In Iraq, four airstrikes near Mosul destroyed five ISIL bunkers, two ISIL-occupied buildings, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL fighting position and two heavy weapons. In addition, those airstrikes also struck a large ISIL unit and a tactical ISIL unit. Near Ramadi, two airstrikes destroyed four ISIL vehicles. Near Tal Afar, an airstrike destroyed an excavator and struck a tactical ISIL unit."

The US-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State has killed many and, though the US government would like to pretend otherwise, that includes many civilians.  Chris Woods (Foreign Policy) reports:

 The United States is not planning to grant compensation for civilians killed in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Foreign Policy has learned, despite claims by credible groups that at least 100 noncombatants may already have died in the 16 weeks of U.S.-led bombings.
The decision, confirmed by a senior spokesman for U.S. Central Command (Centcom), the military command organization in charge of the air war, marks a significant departure from recent conflicts, in which payments have regularly been made to civilians negatively impacted by U.S. military actions.  

What a proud moment for Barack Obama.  Even Bully Boy Bush's administration compensated some for Iraqi civilians killed by US military actions.

Let's stay with the US government for a bit.  At the State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson Marie Harf noted, "The Secretary [of State John Kerry]  is on travel in Europe today. This morning in Brussels he participated in the Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at NATO, had meetings with EU High Representative Mogherini and Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi, participated in a meeting on Libya with European foreign ministers and the EU, a meeting on the U.S.-EU Energy Ministerial, and he held a press availability which I’m sure many of you saw. Tonight he arrives in Basel, Switzerland for meetings at the OSCE, the first of which will be with Swiss Foreign Minister Burkhalter."

That Counter-ISIL Coalition meeting?  John Kerry wandered around the topic in public remarks to the press today in Brussels:

Secretary John Kerry:  [T]oday was an opportunity for representatives from about 60 members of the anti-ISIL coalition to come together, share their views, receive updates on coalition efforts, make suggestions about the roadmap ahead, and discuss as carefully as possible the pluses and minuses of the strategy engaged and what needs to be done to accomplish our goals going forward.
It was absolutely clear in the comments of everybody, particularly the prime minister of Iraq and his team, that we have made already significant progress in two and a half months. But we also acknowledge there is a lot more work yet to be done. Daesh is still perpetrating terrible crimes, but there was a consensus that the momentum which it had exhibited two and a half months ago has been halted, that it has been forced to modify its tactics – and some of those modifications severely hampering their ability to operate in the way that they were, certainly – that their hold on territory has been challenged already, and their finances have been strained, and in almost every media market that exists, and certainly within the region, their message is being denounced. Their message of hate is being challenged in public meeting places, in mosques across the globe. This clearly represents a multifaceted effort, which is precisely what we defined in the earliest days of suggesting that we would build a coalition and the coalition would take on Daesh.
Now, while airstrikes may capture the headlines – and there have been more than 1,000 of them thus far – this is far more than simply a military coalition. And it will not be successful, we all agree, if it were to rely on military alone, which it does not. Destroying Daesh is going to require defeating the ideology – the funding, the recruitment, and the devastation that they’ve been able to inflict on people in the region. And these are the areas that were really the primary focus of today’s discussion.
During this morning’s meeting, we reviewed the progress in each of our five lines of effort and came together in issuing a joint statement, all countries signing on, that underscores our unity and our firm support for our partners and our absolute determination to succeed. Participants noted the gains that we have made across all of the lines of effort – defeating ISIL on the battlefield, restricting its finances, enacting laws to restrict the flow of foreign fighters, and countering its toxic ideology.
The long-term success of the effort in Iraq is key to the success of the coalition. And today we heard directly from Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi, whose government yesterday revealed and reached a long-sought agreement, a landmark oil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government. The prime minister also provided an update on the fight against Daesh in Iraq and on his broader reform agenda, including an executive order that he just issued to begin important changes in the criminal justice system of Iraq. Nothing will do more to defeat Daesh than an Iraq that is united and has more representative and effective security forces.
Now, obviously there’s a lot more work ahead. But the prime minister has taken steps to unite the country, including outreach to Sunni tribes. He has taken steps to root out corruption and to reform the Iraqi Security Forces and to take on the threat that Daesh represents. I think it’s fair to say that all of the foreign ministers, ambassadors, representatives who were there today came away impressed by Prime Minister Abadi and by what he has accomplished today, which is the down payment on the roadmap that he laid out for the future.

I like John Kerry -- supported his presidential run in 2004 -- but sometimes he's just too pathetic for words.

Should of been his crowning moment of the year today.  It's been a bad year for John.  Not like when he was in California and shot off his mouth thereby destroying any hopes of a 2008 run for president.  That was weeks of bad.  Weeks of embarrassment.  2014 has just been him forgetting he's Secretary of State and not of Defense.

He's gone crazy trying to play administration tough guy.

Today, he finally did something that was actually a job for the Secretary of State.

Despite the press traveling with him, the foreign ministries meet-up today received very little attention from the press.

And that's his fault.

When he had the microphone today addressing the press, he couldn't stay on topic.

I don't give a damn what he thinks about Libya or China.  We didn't include it.

I used to think, "Some day John will find the self-confidence to stop trying to show off and just focus on the task at hand."  The closer he gets to death, the less likely he'll ever arrive at a moment of self-confidence or self-awareness.

He has the world's attention for one brief moment and can speak for the administration and finally note something on the diplomatic front with regards to Iraq but that's for people who want to do their job.

It's not good enough for a John Kerry who wants to overwhelm you.

He killed his own moment.

That's on him.

He let down the administration because he couldn't stop strutting.

His task today was simple, to stay on topic (Iraq) and assure the world that the US had a diplomatic plan -- something in the works that would help bring Iraq to the "political solution" that Barack Obama has repeatedly said was the only answer for Iraq.

That was what was needed from the Secretary of State.

Kerry couldn't pull it off because he couldn't stay focused.

His failure to sell it made those covering it -- the few -- even less likely to pretend a 'plan' exists.  The editorial board of the Daily Star, for example, offered:

The coalition has bombed the jihadis in Iraq since August and in Syria since September, yet the militant group – which most of the world had not even heard of a year ago – still holds swaths of land in both countries, maintains large financial reserves and continues to terrorize vast civilian populations.
Meeting Wednesday, the allied foreign ministers admitted that the battle against the group would likely take years, and, conceding they were in it for the long haul, agreed to continue holding such conferences every six months.

Lara Jakes and John-Thor Dahlburg (AP) report:

 Under an agreement issued by the coalition Wednesday, foreign ministers representing coalition nations will meet at least every six months in what all agree will be a years-long campaign against the Islamic State. In addition to supporting the Iraqi government and urging access to humanitarian aid in Syria, it also called for greater help to countries in the region that have been saddled with millions of refugees from the battle zone.
As he headed into the meeting Wednesday, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said the global coalition has made significant headway against the Islamic State, including stemming its financial support. Most importantly, he said, the militants’ deadly march across the region has been halted.

The following countries took part in the meet-up:

Republic of Albania
Sultanate of Oman
Republic of Iceland
Republic of Poland
Republic of Austria
Republic of Iraq
Portuguese Republic
Kingdom of Bahrain
State of Qatar
Italian Republic
Republic of Korea
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Republic of Bulgaria
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Republic of Kosovo
Republic of Serbia
Republic of Croatia
State of Kuwait
Republic of Singapore
Republic of Cyprus
Republic of Latvia
Slovak Republic
Czech Republic
Republic of Lebanon
Republic of Slovenia
Republic of Lithuania
Federal Government of Somalia
Arab Republic of Egypt
Republic of Estonia
European Union
Republic of Finland
Republic of Turkey
French Republic
United Arab Emirates
Kingdom of the Netherlands
Federal Republic of Germany
New Zealand
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland
Hellenic Republic
United States of America
* Greece does not recognize The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia under a name other than its provisional as stated in UNSCR 817(1993).

At Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's website, the prime minister's speech was posted in full:

Ladies and Gentlemen thank you very much
Thank you, Secretary Kerry, for convening this meeting to discuss how the international community can respond to the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Because it is not Islamic, not a state, and not worthy of a formal name, I will call it simply by its Arabic acronym – DAESH.
I thank you all for attending this meeting and for everything that your countries are doing to support Iraq and its people. And I thank NATO for hosting this event here at your headquarters.
As the attendance at this meeting underscores – some 60 foreign ministers from countries around the globe – the world has woken up to the fact that DAESH threatens not only the nations and peoples of the Middle East and North Africa but everyone, everywhere who refuses to accept its extremist views and barbaric practices.
On behalf of the people of Iraq who have suffered so much for so long, I can tell you that DAESH perpetrates indiscriminate inhumanity.  DAESH’s beheadings, mass executions, and enslavement of women and children have been directed against people from every ethnic background and religious confession, regardless of national borders.
For those of you who represent nations in North America and Western Europe, it is well-known that DAESH recruits and trains, among others, battle-hardened western fighters. It is only a matter of time before these highly-trained terrorists will be sent back to the societies from which they came to commit murder and mayhem.
As you are demonstrating by your presence today, defeating DAESH is our common cause. It requires our collective efforts, regionally and globally. I am here today to reaffirm to you that the government and the people of Iraq are committed to doing our part.
We are grateful for the support of the United States and every other member of the coalition. But we know that, on the ground, this is first and foremost our fight. And we understand that, in Iraq, while military action is necessary to defeat DAESH, we also need governmental reform, national reconciliation, and economic and social reconstruction.
Our newly-elected government is undertaking all these tasks – all at once. And our efforts are already beginning to show results.
Following free and fair national elections last April, and with the support of every ethnic, regional, and religious group, I have formed a new government that includes representatives of all Iraqi political and social blocs.
Our government is successfully meeting its pledges for the first three months, and we are also making progress on the programs that we proposed for the first six monthsto fulfill all our commitments to the Iraqi people.
Ahead of the pace from previous years, the Council of Ministers has reviewed the budget and should forward it to parliament for approval very soon.
We are working for national reconciliation on several fronts. We are forging cooperative relationships with the tribes of Salahudeen, Al-Anbar and Ninawa that are based in areas under the control of DAESH. These tribes are being armed and are currently fighting alongside Iraqi security forces.
We are also working on amending the Accountability and Justice Law, which provides for de-baathification, to ease the reintegration of a large number of former government employees who have not committed crimes against the Iraqi people. Our goal is to address the concerns of every segment of society.
This week I have signed a decree requiring our security forces and the Ministry of Justice to safegaurd the constitutional and human rights of detainees inIraqi jails. This includesthe establishment of a central record of all detainees and the legal reason for their arrest including a timescale for their detention and presentation to the courts.  
We have reached an interim agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government that will pave the way for a long-lasting agreement on Iraq’s natural resources. This is an important first step in the right direction, and both we and our Iraqi Kurdish brothers are committed to doing more to put the disagreements of the past behind us.
We have begun to rebuild our security forces in a professional manner, having removed about two dozen generals as part of our efforts to root out corruption and re-energize the military leadership. In order to involve more Iraqis in our common defense, we have made progress on the establishment of a National Guard force. And we are working with the United Nations in order to benefit from the experiences of other countries that utilize similar structures so we can ensure the right solution for Iraq.
In order to guarantee respect for the rule of law, we are working to ensure that all armed groups are brought under state control. Where possible, some individuals from these groups willbe integrated into the Iraqi Security Forces or the National Guard. We affirm our constitutional commitment not to allow any armed group or militia to work outside or in parallelto the Iraqi Security Forces. No arms would be permitted outside the control of the Iraqi Govenment.
As DAESH threatens us all, we see the government of the Kurdistan Region as an essential partner in our struggle, and fully support efforts to train and equip the Kurdish forces to ensure that they can work seamlessly with the Iraqi Security Forces. We will continue to ensure that there are no delays or hold ups in this process and there has never been intentional or procedural delays on our part in this matter.
In addition, we are working with the United States and our international partners to train and equip tribal fighters, while incorporating the Popular Mobilization Units into the Iraqi Security Forces.
Now let me be clear: Our security forces are in need of comprehensive training and armament. We will need significant support from our friends and partners in these endeavors, and you may rest assured that your assistance will be put to good use, becausewhen we fight back against DAESH, we are fighting not only for the people of Iraq but for all the peoples of the world.
With support from the Coalition and with closer coordination with the Kurdish Peshmerga and every segment of our society, the Iraqi Security Forces and their partners are pushing forward. Together, we have recaptured strategic roads and other locations and liberated entire towns.
We have made this solemn promise to all our people: We will move ahead in our fight to free every inch of our territory and every segment of our citizenry. We will expel the DAESH gangs from our precious land. And we will bring life back to the liberated cities.
On the diplomatic front, we are strengthening our relations with all our neighbors, so that, together, we can more effectively combat our common enemy – DAESH.
In recent weeks, we have established very warm and functioning high level contacts with all our neighbors:Prime Minister and Emir of Kuwait, President Rouhani of Iran, King Abdullah and the Prime Minister of Jordan in Amman, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davuto─člu and the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Baghdad.
We reachedagreements on strengthening our security and intelligence cooperation to defeat DAESH, as well as deepening our relations in economics, oil, investment, trade, and border control.
Working with these countries and other neighbors, we are developing a common defense against DAESH and a new strategy to address the regional problems that give rise to transnational terrorism.
From reforming our government to reconciling our society, resisting DAESH, and restoring our relationships with our neighbors, Iraq is making every effort to protect its democratic gains.
But the challenges that we face are greater than any nation can address alone. We are combating one of the best-funded, best-organized, and best-equipped transnational terrorist organizations on the face of the Earth. So my message to all of you is: We are doing our part – and we need your help.
On the military front, we need air support, training, armament and capacity-building for Iraq’s security forces. We also need our neighbors and allies to support our struggle to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. For your sake as well as ours, Iraq must not become the training-ground for terrorists who come from, and will return to, every trouble-spot on Earth.
DAESH receives not only its fighters but also its funding from all across the world. We need the international community, including its financial institutions, to freeze the funding of DAESH and call a halt to the free movement of money and munitions to these transnational terrorists.
Violent extremism is inspired by vicious ideologies. We need our neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa to counter the ideological underpinnings of DAESH.
And we need the world community to help us address the humanitarian crisis that DAESH has caused, so that the refugees from terrorism do not themselves become recruits for yet another round of violent extremism.
The terrorism of DAESH and the civil war in Syria have displaced nearly two million people who are now within our borders. We are in need of humanitarian aid to meet their needs, particularly with winter approaching.
Meanwhile, the areas that we have liberated and those that we will liberate from DAESH need to be rebuilt quickly. In order to encourage the residents to return to their homes, to create jobs, and to tackle some of the causes of the rise of DAESH, we need to establish a reconstruction fund.
Unfortunately, Iraq is in short supply of funds because our oil revenues have declined, due to the fall in oil prices and the end of exports from the North since DAESH took over Mosul. We have dedicated sizeable funds from our budget to these refugees and The United Nations has also carried some of the burden of the humanitarian work. But we need the entire international community’s help to house and heal the wounds of the victims of this violence.
Only by rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq in a secure and stable Middle East can we defeat the transnational terrorists who draw upon discontent and feed on failure. Just as DAESH is our common enemy, defeating DAESH must be our common endeavor.
In this great struggle, the government and people of Iraq are doing everything that we can. And, from your presence and participation here today, I am encouraged that you will, too.
Today, we will exchange ideas. Tomorrow and for as long as it takes, we must translate our words into actions.


The decisions included a call for an international commitment to support Iraq and the efforts of the new Iraqi government.

At least someone took the meet-up seriously.

The State Dept's Brett McGurk did Tweet a photo.

The State Dept release he links to is the one we noted early this morning and it's just more embarrassment.  Specifically this section:

 Participants noted with great alarm the systematic and widespread human rights abuses committed by ISIL/Daesh including, inter alia, crimes against religious and ethnic minority groups and other vulnerable populations. In this regard, participants noted ISIL/Daesh’s systematic use of sexual and gender-based violence in its campaign of terror, and encouraged international efforts addressing these crimes.

I'm sorry, I can't understand the US government when it talks out of its own ass.

What are they saying, human rights abuses?  Gender-based violence?  Campaign of terror?

But the United States government had a chance to stand for human rights and rule of law yesterday but yet again failed that test.  We're referring to the government of Lebanon kidnapping Saja Al Dulaimi and her child.

The woman is/was said to be one of the wives of Islmaic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi whom the US government has placed a $10 million wanted-dead-or-alive bounty on.  Was/is?

Her identity was already in doubt less than 24 hours after she's made the news cycle (and today would be the 11th day of her and her son being held hostage by the military of Lebanon).

The woman is still said to be an Iraqi citizen.  But the government of Iraq is saying she's the sister of Omar Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi whom they already have in custody.  Al Arabiya quotes Saad Maan, spokesperson for Iraq's Ministry of the Interior , stating that al-Baghdadi has two wives and "there is no wife in the name of Saja al-Dulaimi."

The rule of law was broken and the US government said nothing.
Now details are starting to emerge that the US government wasn't just silent, it was complicit.  The woman was seized with the help of the CIA.
You can't lead anyone to ethical ground by breaking the the basic conventions of human rights.
The Daily Star is reporting that it is not one child being held but three children.

AP was gloating today:

But if she is indeed al-Baghdadi's wife, she could serve as a bargaining chip with Syria-based militants holding some 20 Lebanese security forces captured in a cross-border raid in August. Beirut has been under intense pressure from the families of the captured men to negotiate their release.

Could she be a bargaining chip?
And the child or children as well?
What a proud moment for the rule of law.
Jehtro Mullen (CNN) contributes this:

Not everyone was convinced she would provide a treasure trove of insight into ISIS, though.
Expressing skepticism, a former senior U.S. military official told The New York Times that in the Iraq war, the Americans captured a wife of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader or al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS' forerunner.
"We got little out of her, and when we sent her back, Zarqawi killed her," the unidentified official told the newspaper.
And since al-Dulaimi was reportedly seized more than a week ago, what intelligence she carried may already have passed its sell-by date.
It's a disgrace as is the silence around it.
As the silence continues grasp that it's easy today to decry what was done to, for example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  It's always easy to decry something 10, 20, 30 years in the past or more.
But to speak out when an outrage and an injustice is ongoing?
Too many are scared.
She's married to a terrorist!
I don't care if she is or not.  
Show what's she has done or let her go.
That's how the rule of law works.
And real governments do not hold people as "chips" to trade.
Not only have they failed to prove who she is, they've failed to follow the rule of law.

And how dare they take DNA tests on her children or anyone's children without permission from the parent.

It's easy to stay silent.  It's easy to be a coward.

Look around you, there a ton of them around you right now.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 110 people killed in violence in Iraq today with another sixty-seven injured.

Lastly, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:

IAVA to deliver 57,000+ petition signatures to Senator Reid calling for immediate Senate vote  

Gretchen Andersen
Press Secretary
Tel: 212-982-9699

WHAT: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, will hold a day of action on Capitol Hill, calling for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to immediately bring the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill to the Senate floor. IAVA veteran members will deliver a petition of more than 57,000 signatures urging Congress to help reverse the trend of 22 veterans dying by suicide every day.

Media is encouraged to attend the press event, which will begin at noon at the Upper Senate Park Fountain before delivering the petition to Senator Reid’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Since early 2014, IAVA has led the fight for lawmakers to address veteran suicide and improve access to mental health care. According to IAVA’s 2014 Member Survey, 47 percent of respondents know at least one Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has attempted suicide, while 40 percent of respondents know someone who has died by suicide, up three points from 2013.

WHO: IAVA Legislative Director Alex Nicholson
Post-9/11 veterans

WHEN: Thursday, December 4, 2014 at noon

WHERE: Upper Senate Park Fountain, between Delaware Ave., NE, and Constitution Ave.

Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.


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