Thursday, May 04, 2017


East Texas community members had a very scary weekend.

9 tornadoes hit in the area.

As someone who grew up in California, I know earthquakes.

Earthquakes don't scare me -- except for all the talk of 'the big one' that California is long overdue for.


They scare the hell out of me.

THE WIZARD OF OZ made me thing they were cute and friendly.

Then I grew up.

And traveled.

At some point, I saw the film TWISTER and thought, "Those people are crazy!"

The ones chasing tornadoes.

Eric London (WSWS) has a really strong report on tornadoes which opens:

A new study published by the Regional Science and Urban Economics journal reveals the degree to which social inequality and poverty determine the likelihood of being killed by a tornado.
The study, titled “Double danger in the double wide: Dimensions of poverty, housing quality and tornado impacts,” is written by Michigan State University academics Jungmin Lim, Scott Loveridge, Robert Shupp and Mark Skidmore.
It was published in April, as tornado season begins in the United States. Last weekend, tornadoes and floods left at least 15 dead, including many children, across impoverished parts of East Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
The number of people crushed to death or swept up and killed by tornadoes is staggering. Between 1980 and 2014, 2,718 people were killed and 39,635 injured by tornadoes in the world’s wealthiest country. In a three-day period in April 2011, 351 tornadoes killed 316 people.
The study’s authors explain, “While it is clear that some places are simply more prone to tornadoes due to climatic reasons, this does not fully explain the difference in fatalities across the region.”
The report notes that “poor people tend to cluster in high tornado risk areas” across the Midwest and South. For the most part, the wealthiest Americans live in major coastal cities where tornadoes do not occur. Those who remain in “tornado alley” do so in part because the risk of tornado is factored into the lower cost of living. A 2016 study revealed that half of Americans cannot afford the cost of a $400 emergency expense like travel, hotel and meal expenses during a storm evacuation.
But this “does not fully explain the differences in fatalities across the regions,” the study says, because “the areas with relatively high tornado fatalities do not necessarily match up with the areas with the highest tornado intensities.” The study’s conclusion is that areas with higher poverty and inequality are more vulnerable to deaths during tornadoes due to a large number of people living in mobile homes and a lack of infrastructure and government programs.
Poor and working class residents of tornado-prone areas are less likely to evacuate in the face of tornado warnings, “mostly due to constraints placed by a lack of transportation and affordable refuge options,” the study’s authors write, citing an earlier study. In addition, even if families had money saved to evacuate, many workers simply cannot afford to take time off work, even to escape a tornado.

I have only been in one serious tornado warning/watch (whichever is more severe, I always forget which one it is).  I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

And we went to this safe room in the hotel.

And I could see how poverty could effect you because where do you go?

Do you want to get out in the tornado?


So you're not going to travel far.

And for some people that's all they have -- support in a distance.

And imagine, you're in a trailer or even a wooden house on pier & beam.

Where are you going that's really safe?

Like I said, tornado's scare the hell out of me.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, May 4, 2017.  The Mosul Slog continues -- despite a lack of interest from the corporate press.

Day 197 of The Mosul Slog.

And here's what the mainstream press runs with.

Iraqi forces open front in west Mosul, aiming to squeeze ISIS after earlier push is stalled

Iraqi forces launch new operation northwest of Mosul


Day 197.

Maybe Day 197 should be in the headline.

The original plan was this would take just a few weeks, remember?

Dropping back to the August 1st snapshot:

POLITICO asserts that US President Barack Obama is planning an October Surprise to influence the outcome of this year's presidential election.

For those late to the topic, refer to Robert Parry's reporting on the 1980 October Surprise at CONSORTIUM NEWS.

POLITICO'S Mark Perry reports that Barack is planning to start the battle to retake Mosul in early October and, "If Mosul is retaken, it would both mark a major political triumph for Barack Obama and likely benefit his party’s nominee at the polls, Hillary Clinton, undercutting Republican claims that the Obama administration has failed to take off the gloves against the Islamic State."

Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June of 2014.

Barack's 'answer' since August of 2014 has been to drop bombs on Iraq daily.

That was the plan.

Of course, Iraq's Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi couldn't pull it together enough to even get it started in early October.

Even if he had, the notion that Mosul could be retaken in a matter of weeks shows just how out of touch the Iraqi government and the White House was with reality on the ground in Iraq.

And out of touch also describes the press.

Elise Labott screamed "NO!" in the middle of a press conference  when another reporter, Said Arikat of AL QUDS DAILY, referred to the Mosul operation as a slog near the end of October.

Elise works for CNN.

QUESTION: Okay. Can we stay on [the Islamic State] and the battle of Mosul?

MR KIRBY: Sure, sure.

QUESTION: Okay. Is it turning out to be like a slog, or how are things moving? How are they progressing?


MR KIRBY: Elise, do you want to come take the podium?

QUESTION: Not today.

Elise's little outburst shocked even then-spokesperson John Kirby.

But that's how the western media has played it -- denial, denial and more denial.

Yesterday, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of 39 engagements against ISIS targets:
-- Near Mosul, four strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and a sniper team; destroyed two fighting positions, two artillery systems, a heavy machine gun, a medium machine gun, and an ISIS staging area; and suppressed nine mortar teams.
Additionally, three strikes were conducted in Iraq on May 1 that closed within the last 24 hours:

-- Near Mosul, May 1, three strikes destroyed three vehicle bombs and three ISIS fuel tankers, and suppressed three mortar teams.

These daily strikes having been going on since August of 2014.

A fact the corporate press also tries to bury.

Of the strike last month which killed 100s in Mosul, Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) notes:

Witnesses and survivors of the US strike say the whole US story about ISIS putting them in the homes never happened.
Rather, they insist airstrikes had been leveling houses in the area for days, and ultimately everybody ended up collected into just three houses close together, hundreds of people from scores of families, when major US airstrikes came and brought the buildings down on top of them.
Indeed, the whole reason the houses had been so popular with fleeing civilians is that they were relatively far away from the fighting, and they assumed there’d be no reason for them to be attacked, since they were small and isolated. The Pentagon has yet to respond to the eyewitness accounts, which radically differ from their own version of events.

Also noting that reality is Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera:

No & no human shields say survivors & witnesses of deadliest coalition bombardment in battle

From Monday's snapshot on an AP story by Susanna George:

As for national reconciliation, dropping back to Friday's snapshot:

THE BAGHDAD POST reports that MP Mohamed al-Ja'fari has said that the reconciliation is "doomed to failure."

This is just one opinion, right?


He's a member of State Of Law.

State Of Law is the political coalition created by Nouri al-Maliki to avoid running with his political party (Dawa).  So State Of Law is making clear that they remain opposed to reconciliation.

And Hayder al-Abadi, the current prime minister?

He's also a member of Nouri's State Of Law coalition.

Which explains why he does nothing to bring about reconciliation either.

So get ready because the never-ending Iraq War is never going to end.

As long as the government persecutes a group, some organization will rise up -- it's the basic reaction to persecution.

But don't worry, George tells us, with money, there will be reconciliation.

Remember that lie?

Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House, it was 2007.  And Iraq promised reconciliation.


To keep getting billions.

They never met the benchmarks then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki signed off on.

But they kept getting money, remember?

And arms.

And no strings attached.

Even though, remember, Nancy Pelosi, failure to live up to the benchmarks was supposed to result in pulling all funding.

Monday, Peter Van Buren (ANTIWAR.COM) weighed in:

Iraq’s Foreign Minister this week asked the United States to develop a financial plan for the reconstruction of the country after ISIS, similar to a program developed for Western Europe after the Second World War.
In discussions with Special Presidential Envoy to the Coalition Brett McGurk, Ibrahim al-Jaafari stressed the need for “collective support from the international community to contribute to the reconstruction of infrastructure after the defeat of terrorism.” Jaafari suggested “the adoption of a project similar to the Marshall Plan which contributed to rebuilding Germany after the Second World War.”
Iraq will need billions of dollars to rebuild after ISIS. Large portions of major cities were destroyed in the war, infrastructure was neglected under ISIS, villages are riddled with mines and booby-traps. The deputy governor of Anbar estimated that his province would need $22 billion alone for reconstruction.

Um, never mind invoking the Marshall Plan. What needs to be cited here is that the United States already spent billions to reconstruct Iraq, from 2003-2010. I know. I was there. It was my job to help spend some of those billions. We accomplished less than nothing. In fact, our failure to reconstruct Iraq then lead in a direct line to the Iraq of now. I cannot believe I am writing this. Again.

See, in fact, I wrote a whole book about it: We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, in 2011. 

At some point, you'd expect the corporate press would be required to note these basic details -- even if only for context.

But proper context is the one thing the corporate press no longer wishes to convey.

It's all about opinion and personalizing these days.  Hotheads distracting the American people from the real issues.

The Mosul Slog will soon hit 200 days and that alone is news.

Equally newsworthy is how little has been accomplished.

The operation, for those who've already forgotten, was supposed to be about rescuing the citizens of Mosul, improving their lives.

But they are the ones who have suffered the most during this operation.

An estimated 118,000 (35%) of IDPs from are -age - -

Maybe someday the corporate media will do its job?

The following community sites -- plus GORILLA RADIO and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated: