Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The lunacy never ends at NYT

Ray McGovern has a new column.  THE NEW YORK TIMES is pimping another way of Russia-conspiracy and Mr. McGovern, at CONSORTIUM NEWS, takes on the latest lunacy:

On Friday The New York Times featured a report based on anonymous intelligence officials that the Russians were paying bounties to have U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan with President Donald Trump refusing to do anything about it.  The flurry of Establishment media reporting that ensued provides further proof, if such were needed, that the erstwhile “paper of record” has earned a new moniker — Gray Lady of easy virtue.

Over the weekend, the Times’ dubious allegations grabbed headlines across all media that are likely to remain indelible in the minds of credulous Americans — which seems to have been the main objective. To keep the pot boiling this morning, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt’s daily web piece, “The Morning” calls prominent attention to a banal article by a Heather Cox Richardson, described as a historian at Boston College, adding specific charges to the general indictment of Trump by showing “how the Trump administration has continued to treat Russia favorably.” The following is from Richardson’s newsletter on Friday:

— “On April 1 a Russian plane brought ventilators and other medical supplies to the United States … a propaganda coup for Russia;

— “On April 25 Trump raised eyebrows by issuing a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between American and Soviet troops on the bridge of the Elbe River in Germany that signaled the final defeat of the Nazis;

— “On May 3, Trump called Putin and talked for an hour and a half, a discussion Trump called ‘very positive’;

— “On May 21, the U.S. sent a humanitarian aid package worth $5.6 million to Moscow to help fight coronavirus there.  The shipment included 50 ventilators, with another 150 promised for the next week; …

— “On June 15, news broke that Trump has ordered the removal of 9,500 troops from Germany, where they support NATO against Russian aggression. …”

Historian Richardson added:

“All of these friendly overtures to Russia were alarming enough when all we knew was that Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election and is doing so again in 2020.  But it is far worse that those overtures took place when the administration knew that Russia had actively targeted American soldiers. … this bad news apparently prompted worried intelligence officials to give up their hope that the administration would respond to the crisis, and instead to leak the story to two major newspapers.”

Hear the siren? Children, get under your desks!

The Tall Tale About Russia Paying for Dead U.S. Troops

Times print edition readers had to wait until this morning to learn of Trump’s statement last night that he was not briefed on the cockamamie tale about bounties for killing, since it was, well, cockamamie.

Late last night the president tweeted: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or the VP. …”

Good for Mr. McGovern.  Read the entire column.  It is good to know we have to call this nonsense out.  Too many hear a strand in a lie that they like and so they embrace and popularize the lie.  We would be better off if we would remember that THE NEW YORK TIMES lies -- over and over it lies.  There is a war still taking place in Iraq because THE NEW YORK TIMES lies.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, June 30, 2020.   "Weak" is the word (that you heard) when describing Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Starting with CURRENCY 365.

"What was all of that two and three weeks ago?"

He is correct.  Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi did announce that he had ordered the salaries released a few weeks back.  He got good press for that.  But nothing happened.  And now he's announcing again that he's ordering the government to release the salaries (to pay the employees).  

"What are you talking about?"  the host asks stunned that the national security forces might be put under the supervision of a puppet of Nouri al-Maliki.  "It's getting bad guys.  Mustafa's done," he observes.  

Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq is riding high after humiliating the Iraqi Prime Minister this week. After 14 of its members were arrested and then released it held a victory party burning images of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi and telling pro-Iranian media that it will never give up the “resistance weapons.” This is similar to the way Hezbollah in Lebanon describes its need to have a massive arsenal of weapons and be a state within a state. The Iranian IRGC model now appears to be moving full steam ahead as groups like Iraqi Hezbollah seek to have a parallel armed force.
Kataib Hezbollah is a group of hard core pro-Iranian cadres who support the Iranian agenda. They are also part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) a group of militias that have become an official paramilitary force in Iraq. They are accused of extrajudicial killings and running secret prisons. They fought ISIS but instead of disbanding Iran pushed former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to make them an official force. They are now a cross between Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran. They have fired dozens of rockets at US forces in Iraq, killing three members of the Coalition earlier this year. The US has carried out airstrikes against them.  

They are burning pictures of him, they are "humiliating the Iraqi Prime Minister."  Get why we've focused for weeks now on how weak Mustafa comes off?  

Other news out of Iraq involves a raid.

AFP reports, "Iraqi security forces arrested more than a dozen pro-Iran fighters overnight, in their first raid against those accused of anti-US rocket attacks, Iraqi officials told AFP early Friday.  Elite fighters from Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service raided a headquarters in southern Baghdad used by Kataeb Hezbollah, a pro-Iran faction also identified as Brigade 45 of the Hashed al-Shaabi military forces." Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) adds:

 Jaber Al Jaberi, an Iraqi member of parliament, told The National that the CTS raid on Kataib Hezbollah was an attempt to exert state authority and a test to see what the reaction might be.

“Indeed the reaction by the so-called axis of resistance was strong, where their armed and hysterical response revealed a lot about them, their capabilities and their non-compliance with the laws of the state,” Mr Al Jaberi said.    

Al Jazeera's Simona Foltyn, reporting from Baghdad, said Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service seized at least 10 rockets during the operation, which was "carried out an in effort to pre-empt an impending rocket attack on the Green Zone and Baghdad International Airport, both of which house US troops".

"Subsequently, dozens of armed Kataib Hezbollah fighters arrived in the Green Zone and laid siege to one of the buildings belonging to the Counter Terrorism Service, demanding the release of the detainees, claiming they were arrested illegally without an arrest warrant," she said.

And now some are released.  AP notes, "The officials offered varying accounts of the number of detainees who had been released. A militia official said 11 among the 14 arrested on Thursday were released on bail and three suspects remained in custody. Two government officials did not specify the number and said some were released on bail. One government official said all were released except one prime suspect."  Arabic social media insists that those freed were freed due to former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) offers:

Iraqi law prohibits local militias from receiving directives from abroad. Since their establishment, pro-Iranian militias in Iraq have committed war crimes, violated Iraqi law, and become a threat to the security of the state and its citizens.

The “Hizbullah Brigades” issued a statement accusing Mustafa al-Kadhimi of cooperating with the United States and that while he served as Iraqi intelligence chief, he helped the United States assassinate Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The brigades promised that they were lying in wait for him for his deeds.

Even before he was appointed prime minister, Kadhimi denied these accusations, and he met with Lebanese Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah in order to receive a “Kosher certification,” which would allow him to be appointed Iraq’s new prime minister.

Let's note a US House Rep who's bought into a whisper campaign ('officials -- unnamed -- say') from THE NEW YORK TIMES.  US House Rep Jackie Speier:

If true, the report that Putin put bounties on US servicemembers' heads is an act of war & demands a proportional response. The fact that POTUS has still NOT been briefed is unbelievable. Remember when 1 US contractor was killed in Iraq? Trump demanded Soleimani’s assassination.

We're not going to run through the loon's conspiracy plagued mind.  We are going to note the last two sentences.  First off, 1 US contractor was killed.  Second, many were injured.  Third, it wasn't one attack.  It was a series of attacks that led to the attack where one died.

What exactly would Jackie Speier have done?  

She clearly thinks Donald Trump was wrong.  So what would she have done?  Probably nothing.  She's so stupid that she doesn't even realize it was a series of escalating attacks.

And those attacks?  They actually qualify as "an act of war."  Does the idiot not get that?

I know, I know, Soleimani peed rainbows and roses grew out his butt.  Because Donald Trump assassinated him, the knee jerk reaction for the left -- faux and otherwise -- was to rush to defend the 'poet.'  He was a terrorist.  Iraq's LGBT community suffered severely because of him.  I'm sorry, Jackie, that you're too damn stupid to do the work required before you rush in to take the opposite of whatever stand Trump takes.  

Soleimani was evil. He terrorized Sunnis in Iraq.  Should he have been killed?  We can debate ethics and international law, if you'd like.  But that was requires brains and education.  Much easier to scream, "Bad Trump! Bad Trump!"

That's not a defense of Donald Trump or a defense of assassination.  While I won't cry that Soleimani is dead, I don't think the rules of engagement were followed and I don't believe international law was either.  (Supporter of Donald would point out -- rightly -- that the US rarely follows international law when engaging in armed conflicts.)

What I'm saying is that the discussion is far too complex for the idiots who've tried to take the lead on it.  And I've been saying that since the fairy tale of Soleimani sprouted in the hours after his death -- you'll note that I pruned the link list on the side and we stopped noting a number of left -- genuine left, not faux left -- people because of their need to spread lies about how amazing Soleimani was.

He wasn't.  And I won't abandon the Iraqis who suffered, certainly not Iraq's gay community.  He terrorized them.  

Jackie's only the latest idiot.  I used to expect so much more from her.

But, remember, America, at election time, Jackie Speier is okay with attacks on American forces and American contractors (both were under repeated attack).  That's what her Tweet makes clear.  It also makes clear that she stands with terrorists.  That's what Soleimani was.

Jackie's such an idiot that while she's running for re-election, she Tweets something so stupid that her opponent (Ran Petel) could easily make an issue of.

Idiots?  I love the idiot defending the Turkish invasion of Iraq online who keeps hectoring people that what they don't know is that the PKK started in Iraq and it's a new group and other garbage that flaunts the man's ignorance.  He really needed to stop Tweeting but he (wrongly) felt that he had so much to share.

Here are the basic facts on the PKK as . Aaron Hess (INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST REVIEW) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

Turkey is currently bombing Iraq and has sent ground soldiers in --- this is a violation of international law and this is a violation of Iraq's national sovereignty.  Mustafa's inability to call this out has also led to him looking weak in the eyes of the Iraqi people.

it doesnt matter why turkey is in iraq that isnt how a state is suppose to act, turkey invites hamas leaders all the time to turkey should israel invade turkey? its a stupid argument.


Congressional pressure is building to reprimand Turkey for its military campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

The Turkish military is carrying out two offensives—Operation Claw-Eagle and Operation Claw-Tiger—aimed at rooting out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The operation has struck rural PKK hideouts as well as populated areas, including the Makhmour Refugee Camp and the Yazidi community of Mount Sinjar.

“I strongly condemn the Turkish air strikes & ground operations near Kurdish & Yazidi civilian areas,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D–N.Y.) announced in a Friday statement. “This type of reckless endangerment of civilian lives is unacceptable, especially for a NATO ally.”

Engel, the outgoing head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop the operation “immediately.”

Rep. Jim Cooper (D–Tenn.) added on Saturday that he was “disturbed” by the operation. Cooper represents Nashville, a city with a large Kurdish community.

The lawmakers’ comments came after a widely-shared video showed an alleged Turkish bomb striking a lake while a family played nearby. Local journalist Jîl Şwanî claims that the video showed his brother and nephew in Kunamasi, a town in Sulaymaniyah Governorate.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, appointed by Congress to investigate human rights worldwide, condemned the offensive for its effects on Yazidi genocide survivors.

In 2020 alone, the country has played host to a cascade of domestic militia rocket attacks, a spike in US-Iran tension that brought the wider region to the brink of war, and economic debilitation caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of global oil prices, in part by long-term state economic mismanagement.

To make matters worse, Turkey launched an air campaign dubbed Operation Claw-Eagle on June 15, striking suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories of northern Iraq. It launched ground invasion Operation Claw-Tiger two days later, putting Turkish commando boots on Iraqi ground.

A day after Turkish airstrikes began, Iran struck areas of the Kurdistan Region close to its border, targeting suspected positions of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and PKK. Media affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reported that the Turkish and Iranian airstrikes were conducted with coordination.

Iraq’s government released a statement last week calling on Turkey to end its operations. Turkish ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz has been summoned twice by Iraq's foreign ministry to answer for his country's air and ground campaigns. The Iraqi government has yet to release a statement condemning the violation of sovereignty by Iranian artillery, though it did summon the Iranian ambassador to answer for the strikes on June 18.

Despite condemnations of foreign operations by the governments of federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, the strikes have the consent of both, Iraqi security analyst Husham al-Hashimi told Rudaw English on Friday.

“Baghdad and Erbil have both given Turkey and Iran the green light to conduct airstrikes,” Hashimi said.

The following sites updated:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Joe Biden can't stop lying

Saagar Enjeti outlines how Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden cannot stop lying.  He was the one who brought up the Logan Act.  He was behind the whole nonsense and now he lies about it.  He is just a liar.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, June 29, 2020.  Who is running Iraq -- or is it: who's ruining Iraq?

Where is the prime minister of Iraq?

It's a question that needs to be asked as all the problems continue in the country.  In July, he'll be in the US meeting with President Donald Trump.  Will Iraq still exist?

As the coronavirus rages in Iraq, THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE reports:

Iraqi authorities said Sunday 13 doctors have succumbed to coronavirus in the country since February.

A further 775 doctors have contracted the virus, Abdulalameer al-Shimmary, head of Iraq's Doctors' Association, told Anadolu Agency.

Hundreds of #Iraq's medical staff are now infected with #COVID19. Those doctors are risking their lives and their families' lives in order to contain the catastrophe with minimum resources. Many have died after getting the virus.
1:30 PM · Jun 24, 2020Twitter Web App

As a result, the government has made a move.  THE NATIONAL notes:

Men sit at a traditional cafe in the historic city of Shaqlawah, about 48 kilometres northeast of Erbil, in the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region. AFP

Iraqi authorities ordered medical students to volunteer at the country’s hospitals after a sharp increase in coronavirus deaths was reported.

The National Security Council made the decision during a Saturday session chaired by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, state media said.

Fifth and sixth-year medical students will be “directed to volunteer to work at hospitals” to support health staff “in the confrontation against the coronavirus pandemic”, the council said.

The 'volunteer' term is an issue.  Will they be paid or not?  This is an issue and it's a serious one.  Iraq cannot find paying jobs for their citizens.  The government has noted earlier this month the decision to stop paying some workers.  You're ordering students to volunteer -- are you paying them?  Are you paying them a living wage?

Authorities in Erbil province announced a total lockdown on late Sunday as the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise. Meanwhile, Kurdistan Region health officials reported 139 new cases and six deaths due to the complications related to the disease over 24 hours.

A ministry statement detailed that among over 1,400 coronavirus tests given in the past day, 139 returned positive. It also said the total number of infections had risen to about 5,700.

The statement noted that six more patients had passed away due to the highly contagious disease and added that, since the beginning of the outbreak, 186 people in the Kurdistan Region had succumbed to the virus.

Firsat Sofi, governor of Erbil, informed Rudaw that the provincial lockdown will begin on Tuesday, rather than on Monday as previously noted in a statement

The order will now be put in place between Tuesday, June 30, at 6:00 am and 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 4.

All civilian movement will be prohibited, including vehicle traffic.

Residents will be allowed to purchase essentials at their local bakeries, supermarkets, groceries, and pharmacies, which will remain open during the lockdown, according to the issued order. No hours of operation have been specified for the essential businesses.

This morning Djhword Tweets:

Stop Turkey from bombing the Kurds in Iraq | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-
Lets get it to 100,00 signatures #TurkeyIsInvadingKurdistan

Yes, another problem the prime minister of Iraq should be addressing.  Turkey is in violation of international law and Iraq's sovereignty by bombing Iraq and by sending ground soldiers into Iraq. Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) reports:

There are growing concerns about Turkey’s military operations in northern Iraq, two weeks after Ankara began bombing areas of the country claiming it was “fighting terrorists.”Turkey began operation “Claw-Tiger” on June 17 and it seems to come in the context of Turkey launching new military attacks every month in different countries to distract from failures at home by Ankara’s leading party.
Turkey has had almost a year of near-constant new conflicts and militarist saber-rattling.Last spring and summer it threatened to invade eastern Syria, threatening US troops and the Trump administration in the process. The US tried to appease Turkey by having its anti-ISIS partners on the ground remove obstacles to Turkey’s invasion. It wasn’t enough, in October Turkey told Washington it would begin bombing the region and US troops must move.

That alone was already disturbing.  But now Orhan Coskun (REUTERS) is reporting:

Turkey plans to set up more temporary military bases in northern Iraq after stepping up its strikes against Kurdish militants there, a senior Turkish official told Reuters, saying the effort would ensure border security.
[. . .]
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said on Wednesday that Turkish and Iranian military interventions violated Iraqi sovereignty. The UAE and Turkey in opposition on several fronts, including in Libya where they back rival sides.  

The spokesperson for the Iraqi military laughably declared weeks ago that ISIS was vanquished.  That's never happened.  ISIS remains active in Iraq and continues to carry out attacks.  It's an issue the prime minister needs to seriously address.  THE NEW DELHI TIMES notes:

The resurgence of the Islamic State can be attributed to a weakened Iraqi government along with an administrative and security vacuum in the country.

The Islamic State (IS) has carried out a series of attacks in recent times which has led security studies analysts to take note of the resurgence of the terrorist and extremist groups in Iraq. According to a May 2020 report by the Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC), there has been a surge in attack activities in the second half of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
The number of reported Islamic State attacks increased from 1,470 in 2018 to 1,669 in 2019, with 566 reported attacks in the first quarter of 2020 alone. As per the CTC report, the number of areas with active attack cells seems to nearly double, from an assessed 27 areas in December 2018 to an assessed 47 areas in May 2020. The IS attacks have taken place in the provinces of Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. The IS has also plenty of fighters at its disposal.

In May 2020, assessments from the U.S. Central Command, the Defence Intelligence Agency and the U.S.-led coalition, shared in a report by the Defense Department Inspector General, claimed that the IS as a group was still operating mostly on the margins, both in Iraq and Syria and the terror group lacks the capabilities to sustain that pace over several months. However, many security experts contend that the U.S.-led coalition is unable to see key changes on the ground.

The most recent U.S. estimates put the terror group’s force strength in Iraq and Syria at anywhere from 14,000 to 18,000 fighters. Further, despite the U.S. raid that killed former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October last year, IS has maintained command and control under new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.

Let's close with this:

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Meet Your On the Issues Host: Dr. Michele Goodwin is a frequent contributor to Ms. magazine and on MsMagazine.com. She is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine and also serves on the executive committee and national board of the ACLU. Dr. Goodwin is a prolific author and an elected member of the American Law Institute, as well as an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Hastings Center. Her most recent book, Policing The Womb: Invisible Women and The Criminalization of Motherhood, is described as a "must read."

Tune in Tuesday, June 30 for the first episode of On the Issues with Michele Goodwin—Policing in America: A Tale of Race, Sex and Violence. Professor Goodwin and her guests will ask critical questions like: where are the women in the field of policing? And why does it matter?

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