Friday, November 18, 2016


FANTASTIC BEASTS is pretty to look at but oh, so hollow.

Wish it weren't so.

Wanted to love the movie.

I loved the Harry Potter movies.

Maybe I'm just too old for this?

I don't know.

I did try to read FANTASTIC BEASTS when it first came out but it didn't hook me the way the Potter books did.

So I guess I was probably always going to be left lukewarm by the film.

But it is a very visual film.

I just don't find anything to back up the visuals.

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

Friday, November 18, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, an Iraqi politician announces he is not dead, a state of emergency is declared for several spots in Iraq, war resister Andre Shepherd faces a legal setback, and much more.

A state of emergency has been declared in Baghdad, Hit and Haditha as attacks from the Islamic State are anticipated.

This follows the bombing of a wedding late  yesterday.  BBC NEWS notes the bombing took place in Ameriyat al-Falluja and that it left at least 17 people dead in this area of south of Falluja where locals "have joined a Sunni tribal militia which has been fighting IS [the Islamic State]."

Aftermath of attack targeting a wedding in Amryat Al smood in Al anbar province tonight , 15 killed and tens of wounded civilians.

Alsumaria reminds  Falluja witnessed 2 car bombings on Monday which left 9 dead and twenty-six people injured.  AL JAZEERA updates the death toll from the wedding bombing today to 40 dead with sixty more injured.  BBC also points out, "In June, Iraqi forces declared Falluja 'fully liberated' from IS after more than a month of heavy fighting."  Earlier this week a member of Anbar's Provincial Council spoke with AL MADA newspaper about the situation in Falluja, noting that residents are returning daily but that provision of goods and services had yet to reach a sustainable level.

Which brings us to the slog that is liberating or 'liberating' Mosul -- now on day 32.  AP reveals, "As the operation to retake Mosul enters its second month on Thursday, Iraqi forces are preparing for prolonged, grueling urban combat. "

Iraqi forces recapture key air base near from

Of that effort, Wael Grace (AL MADA) reports that a decision was made on priorities -- taking the airport or protecting the people.  The airport won out.  Military leadership decided that the airport was more important to ensure air cover.

How this makes sense, no one stops to ask.

The Islamic State -- whose highest estimated number in Iraq has been 30,000 -- has no helicopters, has no airplanes.  They do have drones.  But you don't need an airport to handle drones.

Most likely, the airport won out because (a) the lives of civilians are of so very little importance to the government of Iraq (Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June of 2014 and only now, as the year 2016 ends, does the government send in fighters) and (b) with all the desertions in the military taking place during this operation they needed a big (and easy) step that would result in headlines and conceal what a sorry and unsuccessful operation this has been thus far.

While the Islamic State has no war planes, ALL IRAQ NEWS notes that Iraq received four more F-16s from the US.

AFP's W.G. Dunlop Tweets:

Battle for Iraq's Mosul far from over but PM & Kurds already publicly at odds on post-Mosul territorial control

As the slog continues, there is great rejoicing that the Iraqi forces have taken a piece of Tal Afar.

ALL IRAQ NEWS notes that announcement and includes a photo.  Examining the photo of empty space all around, one wonders exactly what was re-taken (a vacant lot)?

Moving to more easily confirmed news, Iraq's Sunni Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi is not dead.  ALL IRAQ NEWS reports that following rumors earlier this week, Osama has had to make a statement announcing that, yes, he is still alive.

On the political front, the largest political bloc is the National Alliance -- a Shi'ite umbrella involving various Shi'ite political groups.  ALL IRAQ NEWS reports that their bloc in Parliament has declared any political settlement will not include those who have blood on their hands or who have been involved in terrorism.  NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY reports that Reform party member Mansour Baaja has stated that Iraqi blood is the red line that will not be crossed in any political settlement.

If you're worried by this talk, you should be.

Any real settlement begins with various outrages forgiven are set aside.

But more to the point for Iraq, vengeance is the fueling principle since the US government put exiles in charge following the 2003 invasion.

It's been one blood bath after another and who started what is often requires a complicated timeline with multiple footnotes.

Shi'ite exiles who flocked by to Iraq following the 2003 invasion and were installed into power, misused their offices to carry out revenge attacks and settled old scores.

That's not what politics is supposed to be about.

But even worse, they didn't do this outright.

Most of their enemies were long gone (because the cowardly Shi'ite exiles had high tailed it out of Iraq decades before).  So they basically used the Sunni people as their punching bag.

This persecution is what fueled the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq.

So when they start talking about who they will settle with and who they won't, the international community should be very concerned.

For those who doubt that, there's always Nouri.

Forever thug and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

He also has weighed in on the topic.

Excluding the above mentioned is not enough for Nouri.

Is any exclusion list ever enough for Nouri?

ALL IRAQ NEWS reports that he is insisting that no political settlement will include (or forgive) those who participated in peaceful sit-ins.

Let's remember just one example of how Nouri dealt with sit-ins.

The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

And that's how Nouri dealt with peaceful protests.

Why did the people protest?

In March of 2010, the Iraqi people voted in parliamentary elections.

The results?

Nouri al-Maliki was no longer prime minister.

The party with the most votes was Iraqiya which was led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi (Iraqiya was a political party which included various sects).

The people voted for inclusion.

But Nouri refused to step down.

(General Ray Odierno had predicted this possiblity ahead of the elections but the White House chose to listen to the idiot Chris Hill, the US Ambassador to Iraq.)

At first, the White House sided with the Iraqi people.

Then, as Nouri continued to refuse to step down, they sided with him.  Nouri would refuse for over eight months.  This would bring Iraq to a standstill.

November 10, 2010, The Erbil Agreement is signed.  November 11, 2010, the Iraqi Parliament has their first real session in over eight months and finally declares a president, a Speaker of Parliament and Nouri as prime minister-designate -- all the things that were supposed to happen in April of 2010 but didn't.

March 7, 2010, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August 2010, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 

Bully Boy Bush installed Nouri as prime minister in 2006.

The Iraqi people suffered.

And in 2010, they went to the polls.

And they voted for something other than Nouri.

Despite his bribery, his bullying, the threats and so much more, they voted Nouri out.

But Barack overturned their votes and insisted Nouri get a second term.

The Erbil Agreement was a power sharing agreement.  Nouri refused to honor it.  He used it to get a second term and then refused to honor it (and his aid would publicly declare it was "illegal" -- this same aid would flee to Qatar a few years later when Nouri tried to blame him on a corrupt deal with Russia that Nouri's son had profited from and been part of).

A year later, the various political blocs -- led mainly by Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Ayad Allawi and Osama al-Nujaifi would move for a no confidence vote in Parliament.  Moqtada would publicly state in the months leading up to this, repeatedly state, that Nouri could stop this move by implementing The Erbil Agreement.

He refused.

As per the Constitution, the participants collected the required signatures needed for a no confidence vote.

Per the Constitution, the president of Iraq then introduces it to Parliament.

This is a mere formality.

But under pressure from the US government, Jalal Talabani created new roles for himself that weren't in the Constitution.

He stated he needed to verify every signature.

Fair enough, possibly.

But when that didn't give him what he wanted -- a way to declare the petition null and void, he then declared he also had the right to ask the signer if they still stood by it?

If not, they could remove their signature -- that they admitted putting to paper -- from the petition.

He then claimed he had enough people saying they wouldn't sign today what they'd already signed.

No, that's not how a petition works.

He refused to say which ones told him they would not sign.

He refused to even reveal an actual number.

All he did was lie that he had a life threatening condition which required immediate surgery in Germany.

He actually had elective knee surgery.

But the lie would come back to him at the end of 2012 when, in a fight with Nouri al-Maliki, Jalal would have a stroke.  The stroke would force him back to Germany -- while the Talabanis denied he'd had a stroke.

He would be left unable to speak or move for over two years.  He'd stay out of the country for over 15 months.  Arabic social media had a lot of fun with a series of photos the Talabani family released where they posed Jalal at a table with people pretending he was carrying on a conversation.  Again, he couldn't speak and he couldn't move.  Arabic social media likened it to the US film WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S.

At this point, the Iraqi people had used the ballot box to change things (and had Barack overturn their votes).  Their leaders had attempted to change things (and had Jalal overturn that).

Before you take up arms, the next step is protesting in the streets.

And that's what they did.

For over a year, they carried out protests -- with most of the US media ignoring it.

The protesters were threatened and targeted.  Some were kidnapped by the police and beaten.

And there were the murders of protesters in public as they peacefully protested.

The Iraqi forces were also going around and grabbing Sunni people.

If they wanted Mohammed Fadel and didn't have an arrest warrant, they didn't care.  They just grabbed him and tossed him in a jail or prison (or secret jail or prison) and he disappeared.

If they were going for Mohammed Fadel and could not find him?  They arrested his brother or his mother or his sister or his daughter or his father or his wife or his child.

This was going on constantly.

All of this is why the Islamic State was able to get a strong foothold in Iraq.

The Sunnis were being persecuted.

The Islamic State presented itself as a protector of the Sunni population.

All of this could have been averted if Barack Obama had honored the Iraqi people's vote and not insisted upon keeping Nouri prime minister for a second term.

Human Rights Watch's Belkis Wille notes what's happening Mosul:

 Many of those fleeing the city are Sunni Arabs, relieved to be free from ISIS, but deeply distressed. Over the last two weeks, dozens of families have told me they are concerned about what will happen to their homes while they are gone.
You would assume that they are concerned that the fighting might destroy their houses, but the fighting is only one of their worries.

In fact, in a previous round of the conflict, between the Peshmerga — the Kurdistan regional government's military, and ISIS in nearby provinces, Arab homes were destroyed largely after the fighting had moved on.
 Our new research, based on visits to villages, interviews with witnesses and analysis of satellite imagery, documents a pattern of unlawful destruction of Arab homes and sometimes of entire Arab villages between September 2014 and May 2016 in areas of Kirkuk and Nineveh governorates as the Peshmerga took back control from ISIS.
In every case, we found no imperative military necessity that would warrant the destruction.

On to a different topic, ALSUMARIA reports on Sarah.  She's a young Iraqi woman who was forced into marriage at the age of 13.  (For those who've forgotten, with no outcry from the US media and no public outcry from the US government, in 2014, then prime minister Nouri al-Maliki tried to lower the age of marriage to 9 or  8-years-old, )  Feminists in Iraq and Sarah are working to get her story out.  She discusses rape and other abuses and the loss of childhood as a result of being forced to marry at 13.

Rape is a problem everywhere -- including the US.  Child marriage in this day and age is nothing but rape.  In this day and age, however, many politicians still have trouble recognizing what rape is.

THE NEW YORK TIMES' Tim Arango re-Tweets:

  1. Document of shame: Ruling party MPs in Turkey put forward motion for amnesty for sexual assailants of minors-should they marry their victims
Aykan Erdemir Retweeted Aykan Erdemir
I saw hundreds of disgraceful amendments during my time in parliament, but this is by far the most nauseating proposal ever.
Aykan Erdemir added,

Yesterday, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, two strikes engaged three ISIL tactical units and destroyed nine ISIL compounds and a command-and-control node.

-- Near Haditha, a strike destroyed inoperable coalition equipment.

-- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged three ISIL tactical units; destroyed six mortar systems, four watercraft, three storage containers, two fighting positions, two vehicles, a bunker, a trench, and an ISIL-held building; degraded two tunnels; and suppressed two tactical units and a rocket-propelled grenade system.

-- Near Rawah, three strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL-held building; destroyed two bunkers, two buildings, a bomb storage facility, and a bomb cache; and damaged another bomb cache.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike engaged an ISIL headquarters building.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a fighting position.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

The bombs drop daily.

And don't worry, while diplomacy is ignored, the bombs will continue to drop.

NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY reports Barack's special envoy Brett McGurk declared that there will be no stopping the Iraq operation when Barack steps aside as president in January and president-elect Donald Trump is sworn in.

He's not the only one making such comments.

US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby declared at yesterday's press briefing in DC, "They will have to make decisions about what they want to prioritize in their foreign policy agenda. All I can tell you is that on the foreign policy agenda of the Obama Administration and the one that Secretary Kerry is committed to continuing to pursue for the remainder of time that he’s in office, obviously the fight against [the Islamic State]  is right up there at the top. And I think you – that there was in Berlin over the last couple of days another counter-ISIL coalition meeting Brett McGurk attended a good, wide-ranging discussion about our progress in that fight and also some of the challenges that remain."

We'll close with the topic of war resister Andre Shepherd.  RT reports, "A Munich court has rejected a US soldier’s plea for asylum six years after his application was filed. The soldier deserted his post in southern Germany after being ordered to return to Iraq, where he feared he would be forced to take part in war crimes."

The November 27, 2008 snapshot noted Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd who self-checked out of the US military while in Germany and held a press conference to explain: "When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing.  I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . . Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders."   The December 2, 2008 snapshot quoted the following from James Ewinger's Cleveland Plain Dealer article:
Shepherd said he grew up on East 94th Street in Cleveland, attended Lakewood High School and studied computer science at Kent State University until he ran out of money.
He enlisted in 2004 with the hope of flying the Apaches, but was urged to become a mechanic first.
Scharf said he doubts that Shepherd's expected order to return to Iraq would, by itself, constitute an unlawful order.
"His best argument would be that Apaches are used to kill civilians," Scharf said, but he still viewed it as a weak case.
Andre sought aslyum in Germany and has been working with the Military Counseling Network and attorneys on that effort.  In February of 2009,  AP's Patrick McGroarty reports that Andre is one of 71 US soldiers who has self-checked out from "European bases in 2008" (actually, he shouldn't be, he self-checked out in 2007) and his case was scheduled to take place before the Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees today where Andre would be stressing "a 2004 European Union directive that established basic guidelines for refugee status within the 27-nation bloc. Soldiers who face punishment for refusing to commit a war crime or serve in an unlawful conflict are to be granted that status, the directive says."
Andre Shepherd: When I speak to the other asylum seekers in the asylum camp and I explain to them my story, they completely understand it however this doesn't make me any better or any worse than anyone else that's there.  We're all there because we can't go home.
Samantha Haque: As an asylum seeker he is currently in a camp in Germany with people from places like Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. All in a similar position to him.  The difference is that Andre Shepherd is a US citizen.  And an Iraq War deserter.  For security reasons, we were not allowed to film in the camp.  Shepherd has a friend, a peace activist, who lives within the restricted boundary he's allowed to move in.  He took us there.
Andre Shepherd: I was working on the Apache helicopter.  Those Apaches won't fly unless we take care of them.  The Apache helicopter is a deadly weapon a lot of people call it a flying tank.  What started my doubts was when I saw the Iraqi people, when they would come and help us, the looks that they gave us weren't the looks of heroes or people that you know were bringing freedom. We looked like conquerors and oppressors.  That really bothered me a lot.  So I started to look into the reasons why we were actually there in Iraq. I thought that what we were doing was a great thing and a positive thing.  That we were actually bringing freedom to people and making them happy but what I found out instead was that we completely destroyed an entire country on a pack of lies.  It started to weigh very heavily to the point where my actions when I was a soldier were starting to deteriorate so as this was going on I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to back to Iraq.
Samantha Haque: None of the criteria that the US military offered for discharge were availble to Mr. Shepherd.  To be a conscientious objector in the US means to be against all wars, something he was not.  While in Germany, he was faced with a second mission to Iraq.  On April 11, 2007 he went absent without leave.  Unable to apply for German residency without official military discharge papers, he decided that applying for asylum was the only way forward.
MCN's Tim Huber: Andre contacted us about a year and a half ago and he asked about asylum  He wasn't the first to ask about asylum but our answer was always the same, we don't know what would happen if you tried aslyum.  We went over the pros and cons of trying it. We noted that we were quite pessimistic that it would actually work, but we said it's an option.
Samantha Haque: His lawyer on the other hand is confident that he will have his application accepted.
Reinhard Marx: It's a specific European law, the so-called directive on qualification of refugees and in this directive it is ruled that deserters of an army who refer to international reasons, refer that the war is conducted in a way which infringes the national law then he has a right to be accepted as a refugee. 
Samantha Haque: His lawyer cites the case of Florian Pfaff, a German officer demoted after refusing to work on a computer program for the US Army in Iraq in 2005.  A federal court overturned his demotion because the Iraq War contravened international law.  But although Germany opposed the war in Iraq and said no to the US resolution backing it, it still allowed its territory to be used as a base for military operations in Iraq.  Here in Heidelberg is the US Army's headquarters in Europe.  There are currently around 51,000 US military service men in Germany If Mr. Shepherd's application for aslyum is accepted, there could be implications for US-German military relations. 
Gas Bag: It would mean that any US soldier in Germany who disagrees with military operations being conducted can basically step out of the base and seek asylum in Germany and that would probably be a situation that would be unacceptable to the US military. 
Samantha Haque: The US is already looking at shrinking its military presence in Germany and possibly moving bases to Europe.
Gas Bag: There is a 60-year tradition, there's many Germans who cherish having the Americans here.  There's also an economic factor, the US bases, particularly in the German southwest provide a lot of jobs.
Samantha Haque: Shepherd is something of a darling for the anti-war movement.  Here at the Miltary Counseling Network, an American center where conscientios objectors go for help, letters of support come in from all over the world.
Tim Huber: He joined for the American dream.  He joined for life, liberty and the pursuit of justice. Suddenly he finds that his pursuit of life, liberty and, most importantly, justice causes him to take a 180 degree turn and walk away from the military.
Samantha Haque: Do you think that there's a danger that Andre's case trivializes the term asylum seeker? 
Tim Huber: Not at all.  I think, if anything, it's causing people to look at the term asylum and put it in a 21st century defenition
Samantha Haque: The US army said that it was aware of the case but that the matter was completely in German hands.  As for Mr. Shepherd it will be some months before he finds out the results of next week's hearing and whether he faces jail in America or exile abroad. 
Andre Shepherd: Not being able to go back?  At this point, that's just something I have to live with if I can make my consc clear then fine that's just a sacrifice I have to make.
RUSSIA TODAY has pointed out the Pentagon claims 5,000 US Army soldiers "are missing from duty" presently and quoted Andre explaining, "When the CIA report came and they said that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, that really made me angry.  I wondered if there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the CIA obvioulsy the Bush administration knew about this, then why did we just destroy Fallujah, completely wiped out the entire city?"
Whether Andre's appeals process is exhausted at this point or not is not known.
What is known is that Barack has not pardoned or offered clemency to any of the war resisters of today's wars.
What is known is that the Cult of St. Barack refused to put such a demand on him.
The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan and Pacifica Evening News -- updated:

  • iraq

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