Friday, January 01, 2016

Year in review

Okay, C.I.'s year-in-review piece just went up.  Here's the year pieces at THE COMMON ILLS:

  • 2015: The Year of the Ass
  • Kat's Korner: 2015 In Music
  • the 10 hottest hotties of 2015
  • Ruth's Radio Report 2015

  • 2016 in Books (Martha & Shirley)

  • I wasn't going to sleep until C.I.'s piece went up because I'm part of the reason for the delay.

    My piece?

    It was a mess.

    And the more I fixed it, the worse it got.

    Then I realized I had forgotten all about TUSK -- remember, I said I'd include that.

    So I thought maybe that's why it sucked.

    So I rushed to include TUSK and that only made it worse.

    I had 35 pages, seven drafts, of junk.

    None of it coherent -- not even remotely.

    It was two in the morning when I turned it over to C.I. and asked for help.

    She had been writing her piece in long hand and was up to the part where Robin Morgan comes in -- so about two-third through.

    And she put it on hold to make sense of my incomprehensible look back at the year.

    She edited it and pulled it into shape -- thank you! -- so when it was finally done I wasn't going to go crash.

    I figured I'd just wait and post as soon as her piece was complete and posted.

    So now that it is?

    I'm off to sleep.

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

    Thursday, December 31, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, US veterans and contractors may get justice over burn pits after all, Basra emerges as a potential new hotspot, Hillary Clinton tries to overcome being a War Hawk, and much more.

    2015 ends today and 2016 starts tomorrow.

    While West/Apostates fill the skies with million dollar fireworks, skies of Iraq/Syria are filled with Jets & Bombs.
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  • Happy New Year to all in , & the world, hoping an end to sufferings of 2015. 2016 to be a great year for all & end of

  • The end of the year brings good news and bad news.

    On the good news side, Tara Copp (STARS AND STRIPES) reports, "A federal district court on Jan. 21 will consider the scope of a lawsuit alleging soldiers’ exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan led to serious respiratory illnesses and deaths and whether government contractor KBR, Inc. is responsible for the way the pits were operated."

    The burn pits?

    "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units," L. Russell Keith explained to the Democratic Policy Committee November 6, 2009. Keith worked for KBR in Iraq at Joint Base Balad from March 2006 through July 2007. Like many service members and contractors, he was unnecessarily exposed to toxins which put his life at risk.

    The Chair of the DPC, Senator Byron Dorgan, noted at the start of that day's hearing, "Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health. We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke."

    At that day's hearing, Lt Col Darrin Curtis was among the witnesses and we'll note this exchange he had with Senator Dorgan.

    Chair Byron Dorgan: Mr. Curtis, why did you decide to write the 2006 memorandum? And did anyone else at that point share your concerns about the health impact of burn pits?
    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, Senator, they did. The Chief of Air Space Medicine had the same concerns I did. The memo was initially written so that we could expedite the installation of the incinerators. From my understanding, there were spending limits of monies with health issues and not health issues so I wanted to write the report to show that there are health issues associated with burn pits so that we could hopefully accelerate the installation of the incinerators.

    Chair Byron Dorgan: Of the type of burn pit you saw in Iraq in 2006 -- that's some while after the war began and infrastructure had been created and so on except without incinerators -- if something of that nature were occurring in a neighborhood here in Washington DC or any American city, what are the consequences to them?

    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: At least fines and possibly jail.

    Chair Byron Dorgan: Because?

    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Of the regulations that are out there today.

    Chair Byron Dorgan: Because it's a serious risk to human health?

    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, sir.

    Chair Byron Dorgan: You say that when you arrived in Iraq an inspector for the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine -- which is CHPPM -- told you that the Balad burn pit was the worst environmental site that he has seen and that included the ten years he had performed environmental clean up for the Army and Defense's Logistic Agency. And yet in your testimony, you also say that CHPPM has done this study and says adverse health risks are unlikely. So you're talking about an inspector from CHPPM that says 'this is the worst I've seen' and then a report comes out later from CHPPM that says: "Adverse health risks are unlikely. Long-term health effects are not expected to occur from breathing the smoke." Contradiction there and why?

    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think any organization, you're going to have people with differences of opinion. But at CHPPM, I'm sure that was the same-same outcome there. Cause I don't know if that individual --

    Chair Byron Dorgan: (Overlapping) Do you think that CHPPM -- do you think CHPPM assessment that's been relied on now is just wrong?

    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: (Overlapping) I think -- I think -- Senator, I think the hard line that there is no health effects is a -- is a very strong comment that we don't have the data to say. Do we have the data to say that it is a health risk? I don't think we have that either. But I do not think we have the data to say there is no health risk.

    Chair Byron Dorgan: You are a bio-environmental engineer what is -- what is your own opinion? Without testing or data, you saw the burn pits, you were there, you hear the testimony of what went in the burn pits, you hear Dr. Szema's assessment. What's your assessment?

    Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on.

    And a lot of people have gotten sick and a lot of people have died.

    In October of 2010 the GAO (US Government Accountability Office) released a report [PDF format warning] entitled "AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ: DOD Should Improve Adherence to Its Guidance on Open Pit Burning and Solid Waste Management." The report opens with:

    The military has relied heavily on open pit burning in both conflicts, and operators of burn pits have not always followed relevant guidance to protect servicemembers from exposure to harmful emissions. According to DOD, U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq generate about 10 pounds of solid waste per soldier each day. The military has relied on open pit burning to dispose of this waste mainly because of its expedience. In August 2010, CENTCOM estimated there were 251 burn pits in Afghanistan and 22 in Iraq.
    [. . .]

    Lawsuits have been filed in federal court in at least 43 states in which current and former servicemembers have alleged, among other things, that a contractor's negligent management of burn pit operations, contrary to applicable contract provisions, exposed them to air pollutants that subsequently caused serious health problems. The contractor has moved to dismiss the suits, arguing, among other things, that it cannot be held liable for any injuries that may have occurred to service personnel because all its burn pit activities occurred at the direction of the military.

    Today, the victims and their loved ones have a chance at justice.

    A chance at justice.

    The federal district court decision to hear the case is big news.

    On the bad news side for veterans?

    Homeless veterans still exist in the United States.  That's news today -- news for being yet another broken promise.

    As David Greene (NPR's MORNING EDITION) noted last week, "The Obama administration says it wants to end homelessness among veterans by the end of this year. Well, that is not going to happen."  Anjali Shastry (WASHINGTON TIMES) explains, "Despite five years and billions of dollars, President Obama failed to meet his goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, though officials say they have cut the rate by 36 percent and made progress with better care for veterans in communities across the country."

    Where to next?


    Must every day be about the media insisting that Ramadi -- today for sure! -- has been liberated at last.

    Even though it's still not liberated?

    Every day, the limited amount of time the world press spends on Iraq is taken up by tales of Ramadi's liberation.

    And so much more gets ignored.

    For example?

    IRAQI SPRING MC reports counter-terrorism forces in Diyala shot dead a female civilian in front of civilians and Iraqi troops.

    Or how about a new flashpoint developing?

    IRAQI SPRING MC notes troops being sent to Basra.  This comes as NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes MP Abd al-Salam al-Maliki is calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in Basra arguing the situation there is turning into a crisis.

    Instead of that we get more nonsense on Ramadi supposedly being liberated.

    Mosul is supposed to be next for liberation.

    Mosul is what Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared.  But Ahmed Rasheed and Stephen Kalin (REUTERS) note Falluja is in Anbar Province (as is Ramadi) and that it's closer to Baghdad than Mosul.  The two report, "Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for the Hashid Shaabi - a coalition of mostly Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias set up to fight Islamic State - said Falluja would likely come before Mosul.

    At GLOBAL INSIGHTS today, the question is "Can Iraq's Prime Minister Al-Abadi hold on?" and the analysis notes the Shi'ite tensions al-Abadi faces:

    It is unclear how far this can placate the Shia anti-Western hardliners. He recently met with the senior Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who voiced support for Iraq’s embattled PM. Sadr has deep ties with Iran’s Qom establishment and, as one of the few Shia leaders who stayed in Iraq during the years of Saddam’s rule, is popular within the poor Shia community. The Sadrist Movement supports disbanding of the Popular Mobilization Forces and the integration of Shia militias into the national army.
    On the other hand, the Badr Brigades – a Shia militia – is a central part of the Popular Mobilization Forces and its leader, Hadi Al-Amiri, has close ties to the Iranian leadership. Al-Amiri is highly critical of the Prime Minister and will continue to use his resources to counteract his authority. The Badr Organization has powerful influence in Iraq’s military and has even commanded units of the national army on the front lines against IS.

    Those Shi'ite militias make a lot of threats.  For example, Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) reports:

    On Dec. 1, the Hezbollah Brigades threatened to pursue and target US forces in Iraq, as "they refuse the help of US forces in the war against IS.”
    On Sept. 22, some factions of the Popular Mobilization Units, namely the Hezbollah Brigades, the Badr Organization and the League of the Righteous, issued a joint press release warning that a return of US troops to Iraq would be viewed “as renewed occupation of Iraq by the United States.” They further called on the Iraqi government “not to seek help from US forces.”
    Hezbollah Brigades spokesman Jaafar al-Husseini told Al-Monitor, “US soldiers are not welcome in Iraq, either as consultants or as members of the international coalition, because to us such troops are hostile and must be opposed.”
    Husseini denied any coordination between the Hezbollah Brigades and the international coalition and the Iraqi government.
    The threat of targeting US troops in Iraq was not limited to Hezbollah; the head of the Badr Organization and second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units, Hadi al-Amri, issued a press statement Sept. 30 that read, “I informed [Prime Minister] Haider al-Abadi that the United States should only back Iraq with weaponry and refrain from participating in combat operations, because we reject their presence on the ground.”

    Along with being a challenge to democratic rule as well as Haider al-Abadi's leadership, these thugs are threatening the population.  Bill Roggio and David Daoud (LONG WAR JOUNRAL) report:

    The Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), the command assigned by the Iraqi government with organizing militias to fight the Islamic State, has exceeded the scope of its mission by attempting to impart changes in society and culture through threats and force.
    This month, the PMF began harassing Christians in Baghdad by suggesting women wear the hijab, or veil, and instructing the religious minority not to celebrate Christmas.

    The PMF erected posters in several Baghdad neighborhoods with large numbers of Christians in mid-December, calling for women there to wear the hijab, multiple witnesses said according to Qenshrin. The posters were plastered on “churches and monasteries” in the neighborhoods of “Al Karada, Karadat Maryam, Al Kathmiyeh, Al Sayyideh, Zeinouneh, and Al Ghadir,” the news service reported.

    Turning to the US, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Governor Martin O'Mally and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are vying for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination.  Jeffrey Frank (NEW YORKER) notes Hillary's floundering at the most recent debate:

    But after serving four years as Secretary of State, facing some of what might be in store for the forty-fifth President, her foreign-policy positions often seem confused, most notably when it comes to dealing with the Islamic State and the politics of the Middle East. You heard that during the pre-Christmas Democratic debate, when ABC’s Martha Raddatz tried to pin down Clinton’s advocacy of a no-fly zone in Syria. “ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaeda doesn’t have aircraft,” Raddatz pointed out. “So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?” Clinton’s reply was that “I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting air space.” When Raddatz persisted—“But isn’t that a decision you should make now?”—Clinton said that she favored the no-fly zone “because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians.” She sees the dilemma but seems unwilling to deal with it. Without mentioning Iraq or Libya, Sanders put it clearly when he said, “I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change, and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be…. You’ve got to think about what happens the day after.” Clinton didn’t really have a response.

    That Democratic Party debate may have had few viewers but it offered tremendous insight.  Ava and I addressed that debate two Sundays ago with "TV: The Hillary Clinton Rules:"

    Is it really too much to expect that debate moderators will impose rules?

    Or that when one chat hog won't shut up, that they cut her off?

    And if she continues yacking after she's been cut off, that they only get firmer?

    "Secretary Clinton," Raddatz asked at one point as Hillary was refusing to answer the question and attempting to distract by going to a different topic, "could we stick to gun control?"

    Could we?

    Stop her.

    Shut her down.

    Shut any candidate down who cannot follow the rules.

    If you're not up to that, you're not up to being a debate moderator.

    They're supposed to impose the rules but Raddatz and Muir let Hillary Clinton walk all over them.

    "We have to abide by the rules," Muir insisted at one point, before refusing to impose them -- then or at any other time.

    In their half-assed way, however, Muir and Raddatz may have provided a public service: Letting the American public see just what a blow hard and ego maniac Hillary has become.

    Better they know while there's still a chance to defeat her in a primary.

    Today, Sanders met with the press.  Kevin Hardy (DES MOINES REGITSER) reports:

    "How many hours do we have? I don't want to take you into the new year," Sanders joked. "How do I answer that? What was the most important vote cast in the modern history of America on foreign affairs? Yeah, it was Iraq," Sanders said. "What does Hillary Clinton have to do to convince you that she has significant foreign policy judgment? She cast a vote for the war. I cast a vote against the war."
    Sanders, who in a November debate in Des Moines called the Iraq war "one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of the United States," often paints Clinton's vote to authorize the war as a major distinction between the two leading Democratic candidates. In her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton said that the vote was based on faulty intelligence information from the George W. Bush administration and that she wanted to end the war, but she stopped short of saying she regretted the vote  She has since called the vote a mistake.

    War monger Hillary Clinton also met with the press today.  Daymond Steer (CONWAY DAILY SUN) reports:

    Conway Daily Sun Publisher Mark Guerringue asked about her vote to support the Iraq War and her actions as secretary of state during the attacks on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 that led to the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, two of which were with the CIA.
    "With Iraq I have said numerous times that it was a mistake to give George Bush that authority, and I certainly believe as secretary of state I more than represented the best interest of our country," Clinton said. "There is nobody who is 100 percent right on every foreign policy call, and I think my record is one I'm very proud of."

    Bernie Sanders supporter H.A. Goodman (SALON) comes up with a list of reasons why he can't support War Hawk Hillary and Iraq is at the top of the list:

    1. Why is Clinton more capable of leading our nation than Sanders, if it was Vermont’s senator who voted against Iraq and predicted its outcome, while Clinton calls her vote a “mistake”?

    Sorry, the Iraq War can’t simply be referred to as a “mistake.” Too much carnage and global instability have resulted from Iraq to ignore Clinton’s Iraq War vote. In addition, Hillary Clinton visited Iraq with John McCain in 2005. During the visit, not only did Clinton say that the insurgency was failing, but also that Iraq was“functioning quite well.”
    In reality, Clinton was again wrong. Iraq was already in a devastating civil war before 2005. According to Iraq Body Count, a total of 23,861 civilians had died in Iraq before Clinton’s visit in 2005; a great many the victims of gun violence that Clinton is fervently against.
    In contrast, it was Bernie Sanders, not the New York senator, who warned, “Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country?” Sanders was able to predict Iraq’s devastating civil war in 2002, while Clinton was still echoing Cheney’s talking points linking Al Qaeda to Saddam.
    As The New York Times wrote in 2007, “Clinton’s linking of Iraq’s leader and Al Qaeda, however, was unsupported by the conclusions of the N.I.E. and other secret intelligence reports that were available to senators before the vote.” Yes, many Democrats forget that Hillary Clinton, like George W. Bush, once linked Saddam Hussain to Al Qaeda.

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    No one takes hypocrite Mia Farrow seriously

    So old hag Mia Farrow -- still unable to get an acting job -- took to Twitter:

    1.   Retweeted
      So happy to live in a society where all it takes to get the legal system moving against powerful men is testimony from more than 50 women.
    2. What's this about Bill Cosby and Woody Allen?
    3.   Retweeted
      The editorial on Cosby's arrest:
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    4.   Retweeted
      Prosecutor: "These charges stem from a sexual assault" that occurred at 's house outside of Philadelphia.
    5. Cosby charged with sexual assault in 2004 case
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    Since we're all aware that there is a convicted offender she could Tweet about -- her own brother -- her stupidity is oozing out her pores.

    Or have we all forgotten this:

    Mia Farrow's Brother Sentenced for Child Sex Abuse | NBC4 ...
    Oct 28, 2013 - The brother of movie star Mia Farrow will spend the next 10 years in prison for sexually abusing two boys in Maryland. John Charles Villiers-Farrow, 67, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison, with 15 years suspended.

    Mia Farrow's sex abuse silence -
    Feb 4, 2014 - In October, right around the same time of Maureen Orth's glowing story ofFarrow's “triumph,” Farrow's brother John Charles Villiers-Farrow ...

    Mia Farrow: Where is Her Outrage Over Her Own Brother, A ...
    Feb 2, 2014 - Mia Farrow has waged a war against Woody Allen, claiming he's a sex offender, for 22 years. Allen has never been charged with anything.

    John Villers-Farrow: Mia Farrow's brother jailed for sexually ...
    Daily Mail
    Oct 28, 2013 - Mia Farrow's brother was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of two young boys over an eight-year period.

    She's a fraud.  It's really past time for people to tell her to shut up already.

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

    Wednesday, December 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the effort at liberating Ramadi is still incomplete, tensions rise between Turkey and Iraq, two people vying for their parties presidential nomination note Iraq today, and much more.

    Saif Hameed and Ece Toksabay (REUTERS) report, "Iraq's prime minister accused Turkey on Wednesday of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troops from the country's north and its foreign minister said if forced, Iraq could resort to military action to defend its sovereignty."

    This month found the government of Iraq objecting to the fact that Turkish troops were deployed to and stationed near Mosul.  They were formally asked to leave.  Xinhua notes, "Baghdad has insisted that the Turkish troops have no authorization from the Iraqi government and thus demanded their withdrawal, while Ankara called the troops only a routine rotation of the trainers."

    When they refused, the Iraqi government appealed to the US government, the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League.

    Last week, a body weighed in with a ruling.  SPUTNIK reported, "Turkey must withdraw immediately all its troops from Iraq without any preconditions, a statement unanimously adopted by members of the Arab League said Thursday."  AFP noted:

    The Turkish deployment "is an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to Arab national security," they said in an Arab League statement after meeting at the pan-Arab bloc's Cairo headquarters.
    Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Heli read out the statement at a press conference, in which he added that the Turkish troops "increased tumult in the region."

    SPUTNIK reports:

    On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Turkey had not honored a commitment to withdraw its troops from the region.
    Abadi said in a statement that a Turkish delegation to Iraq promised to announce, upon returning to Ankara, that Turkey would withdraw its troops, "but the Turkish government has not respected the agreement and we request that the Turkish government announce immediately that it will withdraw from Iraqi territory."

    And Turkey's response?  Al Arabiya News reports:

    Speaking during an interview on NTV, [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu acknowledged there had been "miscommunication" over the troop deployment. He said that Ankara respected Iraqi sovereignty but added that Baghdad is not in control one third of its own territory.

    Turkey announced earlier that it had begun withdrawing troops in a bid to soothe a bitter row with Baghdad and following a call from U.S. President Barack Obama.

    And we'll note these two Tweets:

  • BOOM! 's FM: we can resort to military means to expel turkish troops if all peaceful means are ineffective!

  • Ouch! After Iraq threatened to use force against Turkish base in N.Iraq, Turkish PM Davutoglu:If Iraq has such military, it shd use on ISIS

  • So a country asks foreign troops to leave its borders and the second country refuses.  How does this happen?  SPUTNIK offers:

    The US-led coalition’s arrogance towards the ongoing anti-terrorist operation in Syria encouraged Turkey’s similar behavior in Iraq, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

    Lavrov thus described the US-led coalition's position on what is going on in Syria and Iraq: “Well, the Iraqis invited us to move in and we like Iraq, but we are still trying to tell them what is right and what is wrong…  As for Syria, it is a dictator, its days are numbered and we’ll keep bombing it without asking for permission from anyone. This is exactly what the Turks are now saying too,” he told the Moscow-based Zvezda television channel in an interview.

    Turning to Ramadi which is still in the process of liberation or 'liberation' . . .

  • Sorry bad news: the (i) army has not taken over and the majority of the city remains beyond its control

  • This morning, CNN offered Jethro Mullen and Nima Elbagir's "After retaking most of Ramadi from ISIS, Iraq sets sights on Mosul."

    Two days after the misinformation began to be released as news and Ramadi still has pockets controlled by the Islamic State.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) calls out a NEW YORK TIMES editorial rah-rah-rahing over the 'liberaton' of Ramadi:

    What the Times editors choose to cover up is the fact that the Iraqi flag was raised over a city that has been largely reduced to rubble by a protracted siege and at least 630 air strikes by US and allied warplanes. There were no crowds to hail Ramadi’s supposed liberation and there is, as yet, no indication of how many civilians have been killed in this military operation. One can assume that the death toll is high, however, given the massive scale of the destruction.
    The retaking of Ramadi will hardly go down as one of history’s great military feats. When the city fell to ISIS in May of 2015, about 600 ISIS fighters routed an Iraqi government force ten times larger. The insurgents were even more greatly outnumbered this time around, with at most 350 fighters thought to be in the city, meaning the Pentagon launched roughly two air strikes for every armed member of ISIS.

    On the destruction of Ramadi, Thomas Fessy (BBC News) notes:

    Ramadi is a city that has been sacrificed in battle. The scale of destruction is enormous, delaying the prospect of return for those who lived in areas that have been liberated.
    "We hope to go back as soon as possible, but we heard on the news that it has been so destroyed I know it's not going to happen any time soon," lamented Mr Najm.
    The UN says it will be essential to ensure conditions are in place for people to return in safety. 

    Little if any attention has been paid to the citizens of Ramadi or the destruction to the city via the 'liberation' effort.  Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) does note the destruction:

    Gen. Mahlawi said operations in Ramadi were paused for today because of the weather, and estimated that ISIS still controls about 30% of the city, such as it is. This is a surprising admission, as Iraq claimed total victory in the city days ago.
    Defense Minister Khaled Obeidi, meanwhile, told the cabinet Ramadi had been turned into a “ghost town,” and that 80% of the city is effectively destroyed. The Education Ministry said 260 schools were destroyed in the fighting, and would cost $500 million to rebuild by themselves.

    In the corporate media, little attention has been paid to exactly what the goal for the US government is.  The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE  is rightly skeptical of all the "crowing" over Ramadi and raises a few points including the following:

    The issue then becomes why America is doing this, nearly 13 years since its initial invasion of Iraq and four years after President George W. Bush agreed with the Iraqis that the United States would withdraw its forces.  

    Despite the attention the American media have given the re-taking of Ramadi, deeming it a triumph of President Barack Obama’s strategy for sustaining the Abadi government and combating the Islamic State, Americans don’t care who holds Ramadi. They would like to see a definitive end to the risk of U.S. lives and expenditure of U.S. assets in Iraq.

    When does it end?

    Why isn't that being asked?

    Oh, that's right, the so-called 'leaders' of the peace movement can't call out -- let alone question -- Barack Obama.  Whores whore.

    Meanwhile ABC News Tweets:

    First fighter jets take off from the USS Harry S. Truman to combat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter, attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike damaged an ISIL trench system.
    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL assembly area, an ISIL bed-down location, 20 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL tunnel.
    -- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units, wounded an ISIL fighter, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb, three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL rocket rail, an ISIL building, an ISIL homemade explosives cache, an ISIL front-end loader, two ISIL fighting positions, and four ISIL heavy machine gun positions.
    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, suppressed an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL sniper position.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb storage facility.

    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 a 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.

    Turning to the US race for president, Senator Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

  • Our foreign policy has failed the American people and led to wars like the war in Iraq which we should never have gotten into.

  • We need to invest $1 trillion to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create up to 13 million decent-paying jobs.

  • Business person Donald Trump is running for the GOP presidential nomination.  Today, he spoke in South Carolina -- BLOOMBERG NEWS posted video of the speech.  Among other things, he noted the ratings for the debate (Republican debates have been big draws for viewers).  We'll pick up where he's leading into Iraq.

    Donald Trump:  'Mr. Trump, you have thirty seconds, what would you do about ISIS?' Oh, great. Thank you.  And by the way, that question I hate those questions. You know why? Because I want to be unpredictable.  I don't want to tell ISIS what I'm going to do to knock the hell out of them. I hate it.  I hate it.  Remember, I said very strongly: Keep the oil for, what, four years. Four years.  I mean you've been watching.  Four years.  Get the oil.  Get the oil.  Because who's going to get the oil?  Iran is taking over Iraq.  We made a deal for Iran done by some of the dumbest people on earth on our side.  We gave them everything.  We don't even get our prisoners back. And now Iran wants to start negotiating seperately for the [release of the prisoners].  Can you believe it?  I go crazy.  We would have gotten them back.  All we had to do is say, "We want them back."  They would have said "no"?  I would have said, "I want them back. You don't understand me.  I want them back."  They would have said, "No, we won't do that"?  I would've said, "Bye-bye."  And I would've left.  Then I would have doubled up the sanctions.  And I guarantee you -- I guarantee you that within 24 hours they would have called back and they would  say, "You've got your prisoners, let's talk."  And I would have never given them 150 billion -- I would never have given them the money.  I would have never given them.  And they're using the money.  They don't have to make nuclear?  They can buy it, why do they have to make it?  And we have the nuclear where they have self-inspections.  How about the area,  the big area?  They don't want us there.  Oh, I wonder why? They don't want us there.  So they self-inspect.  Then they have the 24 day inspection.  But the self-inspection is the beauty: "We think you're making nuclear weapons here.  Well let us go check, Mr. President, we'll check.  No, sir, we're not making nuclear weapons.. Uh, no, nobody, we would never do a thing like that."  These are people that have lied to us, they've deceived us.  They are a terrorist state.  And I used to say it's the worst deal that I've ever seen negotiated.  And by the way, just to finish, prisoners.  So they come back, we get our prisoners but then when I hear the other day that now this deal is done, it's all done.  And now I hear, they want to negotiate to get the [prisoners].  And what did they say?  They said very strongly, they said, 'We are going to want a lot for the prisoners.'  We're staring off [with Iran saying] we're going to want a lot.  Now we've already taken off the sanctions.  They're already rich as hell.  What-what's going on there?  That's why I say -- Some people say it's worse than stupidity, there's something going on that we don't know about.  I mean honestly.  And you almost think -- I mean, I'm not saying that, And I'm not a conspiracy person.  [Referring to a member of the audience] She said, "We are! We''re saying it!"  Half the people in this room are saying it.  I'm trying to be -- like -- I'm just hoping they're stupid people.  Okay?  Which they are.

    bill van auken
    bloomberg news
    bbc news