Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

  1. This is what make me happy

Diana Ross is so incredible.  :D

I really am thrilled she won the AMA's Lifetime Achievement Award.  She truly deserved it.  There's not a lot of people you can say that about.

I thought there would be time to write about it more but it's Thanksgiving week and, c'mon, every day you wake up a new attacker is revealed.

I'm not complaining about that -- they need to be revealed.

And there are a lot more to come.

But it can be easy to follow that and forget what I wanted to write about.

In 2004, I started writing about music at THE COMMON ILLS.

I'm doing a thankful, by the way.

I am a photographer.

Not a writer.

I'd always wanted to be more of a writer.

And it's great that people have been kind enough to read.  And kind enough to care and to argue and debate and discuss.

Besides my piece from Sunday, "Kat's Korner: Diana Ross -- a lifetime of great mu...," this is what I've written since 2004:

Carly Simon, Sade, Ben Harper, Tori Amos, Green Day, Prince, the Stones, Drake, Barbra Streisand, Etta James, Wilco, Aimee Mann, Cat Power, the Pretenders, Neil Young, Janis Ian, Richie Havens, Sam Smith, Nick Jonas, Tracy Chapman, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Roberta Flack . . .

So many reviews.  And I got to write about Joni Mitchell.  Which was great.

How much longer is this going on?

I don't know but it's been fun.  For me, it's been fun.  I hope it has for you too.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017.  As many go on holiday in the US, school is still in session for the US State Dept (child soldiers) and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (reality) while the biggest story for Iraq is that the IMF now controls the country.

Currently, Iraq is planning to hold elections in May.  One factor that might influence voting?

Iraq's further loss of sovereignty.

The International Money Fund released the following yesterday:

 IMF Mission on Iraq

November 21, 2017
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.
  • The Iraqi authorities and IMF staff continued discussions on the third review of the Standby Arrangement.
  • Good progress towards reaching agreement on a draft 2018 budget in line with the program.
The Iraqi authorities and the staff of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continued discussions in Amman from November 17 to 21, 2017 on the third review of Iraq’s 36-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). The IMF Executive Board approved the SBA on July 7, 2016 (See Press Release No. 16/321), and completed the second review on August 1, 2017 (See Press Release No. 17/311).
At the end of the mission, Mr. Christian Josz, Mission Chief for Iraq, issued the following statement:
“The Iraqi authorities and IMF staff continued discussions on the third review of the SBA and made good progress towards reaching agreement on a draft 2018 budget in line with the SBA.
“During the discussions, the team met with Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Dr. Ali Mohsen Ismail Al-Allaq, Acting Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Maher Johan, Deputy Minister of Planning, Dr. Qasim Enaya, Financial Adviser to the Prime Minister, Dr. Mudher Saleh, Chairman of the Board of Supreme Audit, and officials from the ministry of finance, CBI and the ministry of oil. The team would like to thank the Iraqi authorities for their cooperation and the open and productive discussions.”

IMF Communications Department
PRESS OFFICER: Randa Elnagar
Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email:

"In line with the program."

Iraq now has to discuss their budget -- get permission from the IMF -- and it has to be "in line with the program."

This is exactly what Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned about.

But Hayder al-Abadi knew better, or thought he did.

He's prime minister.

For now.

He's never been popular.

He's considered a lazy Nouri al-Maliki.

He hasn't ended corruption.

He persecutes the Sunnis.  He persecutes the Kurds.

He's riding a light wave of popularity because the US-led coalition has bombed and bussed -- yes, and bussed -- many of the Islamic State fighters out of Iraq.

Replying to 
We finished [ISIS] militarily in Iraq and liberated our towns and cities. This is an Iraqi victory, made by the Iraqi people. We thank all those who supported Iraq and stood by us during our battles of liberation

And already the wave of popularity is fading.

Now this.

Now the Iraqi people have to see that Hayder al-Abadi sold out the country's future.  And they know the Grand Ayatollah publicly warned about a deal with the IMF.  They know that he warned about it repeatedly, over and over.

But Hayder went through with it.

And now Iraq has to bow before the IMF, Hayder has turned the country into debt slaves.

That's going to be hard to run on.

Nouri still wants to be prime minister.  That's just the sort of thing Nouri can exploit to thin out Hayder's Shi'ite support (at present, Hayder has no support except for Shi'ites and Turkmen).  Even Nouri didn't do that, even he didn't sell out Iraq's rights and future.

This is big news that will become bigger news.

It attacks the reality of Iraq and the image of the Iraqis.  It's a major blow to belief, to pride, to nationality.

Let's go to yesterday's US State Dept press briefing with spokesperson Heather Naurert:

QUESTION: Thank you. The head of Kurdish foreign relations has asked the U.S. to appoint a special envoy to mediate between Baghdad and Erbil. What’s your response to that request?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. So we certainly heard about that idea to appoint a special envoy. We believe at this point that this is an issue that can be worked out internally, that it can be worked out between Baghdad and Erbil and don’t feel that it’s necessary to appoint some sort of United States envoy in some sort of new position to handle this. We have close relationships with the Kurds and with the central Iraqis. We will continue to try to facilitate conversations but we just don’t feel that an envoy is necessary to have – to appoint.

QUESTION: Well, I’m sure the Kurds do, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked, and a point in fact for example --

MS NAUERT: I’m – Laurie, I’m not aware of a formal request to appoint an envoy. I’ve heard of this report. I’m not aware of a formal request. But look, I mean, every nation, every dispute around the world could ask us to appoint an envoy. We think that countries can work out some issues on their own. There’s a very long history here. These folks have lived together, have fought together, have raised families together; we think that they can probably work it out on their own as well.

QUESTION: And one party has committed genocide against the other not so long ago. But yesterday, the Kurdistan government called on the international community to press Baghdad to lift the punitive measures that it has imposed on the Kurds, like the closure, for example, of the Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports. So what have you done in that regard to facilitate the opening of those airports, which is a necessity?

MS NAUERT: Sure. We have lots of conversations to try to facilitate some sort of an agreement on the part of Baghdad and Erbil. Brett McGurk was just there; I believe it was late last week. He met with both Barzani and also with the prime minister, Abadi, both in Baghdad and in Erbil last week. He made calls over the weekend. Secretary Tillerson was on the phone over the weekend. He spoke with both Mr. Barzani and Abadi over the weekend. So, I mean, that’s a very high level of support that we have trying to help facilitate things – for things to improve in Iraq. I don’t know that there’s that much more that we can do. But we call on the governments to sit down and have a conversation together and work this out.

QUESTION: As a result of all that talking, has Baghdad made any commitment on when those airports will be reopened?

MS NAUERT: The last thing that I have on that is just we’re going to work to continue to press for the opening of any remaining airports that are closed.


Great -- and when will they address the blockade Baghad's imposed that prevents medicine from going into the KRG?  Or the attempts to arrest those who supported a peaceful referendum?

Staying with the State Dept, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in the news.  At issue?  Iraq, Burma and Afghanistan getting a pass on using children as soldiers.

The State Department is defending Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's decision to leave three countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq, and BurmA -- off a list of those using child soldiers


The issue was raised at yesterday's State Dept press briefing.

QUESTION: When the Secretary made a decision on whether to designate Iraq, Burma, and Afghanistan as not employing child soldiers, did he do so on a technical basis or on a political one?

MS NAUERT: Yeah, yeah. No, on a technical basis really. He made the decision after considering – let me back up for a second. When these designations are made there’s a lot information that comes in. It’s information that comes in from NGOs, sometimes from post, sometimes from the Intelligence Community, a lot of different – sometimes open source material. A lot of information flows in and we take a look at it all and try to make sure it’s all accurate and credible.
I want to be clear about the importance of using the Child Soldier Prevention Act. And we announced our list earlier this year, in the summer. We all know why it’s in the news. It’s in the news because there was a dissent memo. That’s why it’s in the news today. But essentially this is an incentive – the act is itself – for governments to prevent the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers. No one in the United States Government likes the idea of the use of child soldiers. It is abhorrent, okay? We will not designate to – we will not hesitate to designate any country as ineligible for assistance if a statutory standard for listing would be met in the future. Okay.
In June, the Secretary determined that there were eight countries that met the statutory requirement to be identified under the Child Soldier Prevention Act, and let me list those countries, if I may: Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen. That’s both South Sudan and Sudan. So those countries all were put on that list because we know that they use child soldiers. When it came to looking at Burma and also Iraq and also Afghanistan, the Secretary made the decision to not have those countries on the list because he considered the credibility of all the information that was available to him from all of those multiple sources. He reviewed all the facts and he felt that he made the decision to not have those countries on the list as justified pursuant to law.

QUESTION: Now, as you know – well, maybe I shouldn’t ask this one since it was yours. Did you want to ask this one?

MS NAUERT: Go ahead and follow up before --

QUESTION: Well, just a quick question on the credibility thing.


QUESTION: Both the human rights report issued by the State Department and the trafficking report, I believe, argued that they do use and recruit child soldiers. So why did the Secretary not find his own institution’s reports lacking credibility in this regard?

MS NAUERT: I think part of it has to do with the numbers in the reports, and I’m not going to be able to say much beyond that. There are countries that use lots and lots of children. There are countries where, just as a general matter, where you may have heard from one source, among the many sources that I mentioned, where maybe one source might say that they heard a child had been a border guard. I’m just making that up, but something of that sort. And if we can’t corroborate that information and it is a child who’s listed under a certain government, that government wouldn't necessarily make the list. If we can’t back up that information, if it is a report that only lists one or two, the belief was on the Secretary’s part to not put those types of countries on this list.

QUESTION: Isn’t one too many?

MS NAUERT: It’s a good question. That’s a fair question. Look, I can tell you that he took a technical look at that and that’s the decision he made.

QUESTION: The reason that I asked --

QUESTION: He’s recently visited the three capitals concerned.

MS NAUERT: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: He’s recently visited three capitals concerned, Kabul, Baghdad, and Naypyidaw.


QUESTION: Did he bring up this issue with the leaders of those countries?

MS NAUERT: I think – I’m not sure what – I don’t have the entire readout of the meetings in Afghanistan and also in Iraq. As you well know, I was not there. In the meetings in Burma, there are huge issues to be discussed. Not that this is not important, okay, but some of the things that they have to do is talk about the biggest issues at hand, and that is the more than 600,000 Rohingya who have been forced to flee that country because they’ve been pushed out, because women have been raped, because children have been killed, and all of that. You know the story. Perhaps he did bring it up in some of the conversations; I can’t get into the details of all the diplomatic conversations. But these are the types of things that come up regularly in our diplomatic conversations with various countries around the world.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up, if I may. I asked a question about isn’t one too many not just rhetorically, but according to the memo which we have, which my colleagues obtained and published --

MS NAUERT: Which memo?

QUESTION: The memo unanimously from the State Department staff, including all the clearances on it, said that the statutory standard was that – was met by even one child soldier, and therefore I don’t – if you doubt your own reports, I can’t argue with that, but if you have sufficient credibility in your reports to publish them and to find that there are, in these cases, at least one, and if the statutory requirement, according to your own internal memo, says one is too many and triggers the requirement, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t go ahead and do it, partly because you also have the ability to issue waivers afterwards to spare countries the consequences of it.

MS NAUERT: That’s the President’s decision, waivers are.


MS NAUERT: I don’t have the statutory language in front of me, so I don’t want to quote from that or read that back to you, because I just don’t have it.

QUESTION: But you said that it was a technical decision. So --

MS NAUERT: Yeah, and that was the decision that the Secretary made. Okay.

QUESTION: The question of --

MS NAUERT: Look, I’m not an expert on this matter. Admittedly, I am not an expert on child soldiers, and nor am I a lawyer. I can do the best to give you the information that I have.

QUESTION: The question on this also is that he disregarded the recommendation, I mean, as Arshad said, by essentially all of the bureaus that would have sort of equity in this; they all recommended that these countries be on the list, and he disregarded their recommendations. So what was it that he felt made it worthwhile for him to disregard the recommendations of all the bureaus?

MS NAUERT: Well, I think getting more to the point is that when people disagree here in this building, there is a channel for that, and that is the dissent cable memo. Four or five of them, to my understanding, are issued every year when – and that is where people in the building who have a different point of view than the Secretary can write up, and that information goes into his office, and he can review that and decide to take that into consideration, he can go along with it and agree with it, or he can decide to go his own – or he can decide to make his own decision. The Secretary did that. He made his own decision on this, but it was not without reviewing the information that came from all the various bureaus and individuals. Okay.

QUESTION: Heather, can I just clarify? Are you saying that they were left off the list because they have a smaller number or --

MS NAUERT: I’m not – I’m not saying that. I’m just saying --

QUESTION: -- or is it because they’re making improvements, which was noted --

MS NAUERT: Well, and that’s another thing where improvements can be made. For example, we have a close working relationship with Prime Minister Abadi in Iraq. We were just talking about that. Prime Minister Abadi has taken great strides in not only making the military more and more professional, holding people to account, and trying to ensure or ensuring that there aren’t child soldiers serving in their various militias and militaries. So we look to those governments as taking – as they take better steps in the right direction.

QUESTION: But in the law, it doesn’t say if they’re taking those steps that they can left off the list.

MS NAUERT: Again, I don’t – I’m sorry, I don’t have the law in front of me. I should have it in front of me, and unfortunately I don’t. So -- 

Jason Szep and Matt Spetalneck (REUTERS) report:

 A confidential State Department “dissent” memo, which Reuters was first to report on, said Tillerson breached the Child Soldiers Prevention Act when he decided in June to exclude Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan from a U.S. list of offenders in the use of child soldiers. This was despite the department publicly acknowledging that children were being conscripted in those countries. []
Keeping the countries off the annual list makes it easier to provide them with U.S. military assistance. Iraq and Afghanistan are close allies in the fight against Islamist militants, while Myanmar is an emerging ally to offset China’s influence in Southeast Asia.

One is too many.

But the State Dept is not the only one getting schooled.  US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, also learns that school is still in session.

No, Nikki. The Christian exodus from Iraq had nothing to do with ISIS. By the time ISIS came into being, your neocon allies and their 2003 invasion of Iraq had decimated Christianity in Iraq. You are responsible. Don't pretend to be a savior!

Exactly.  The targeting of Christians in Iraq began long ago and the same militias now roaming Iraq are the same ones who attacked the Christians.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, BLACK AGENDA REPORT, the ACLU, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE GUARDIAN,  LATINO USA and NPR -- updated: