Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Boxer, Ernst Introduce Legislation to Arm the Kurds in Support of Fight Against ISIS

That's Senator Barbara Boxer with legendary activist Dolores Huerta.  Senator Boxer and Iraq War veteran Senator Joni Ernst have introduced a bill and Boxer's office announced it yesterday (we will discuss the significance of the bill in the snapshot later tonight):

 Tuesday, May 5th 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to provide for a temporary, emergency authorization of defense articles, defense services, and related training directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Other cosponsors include Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The bill would allow the U.S. to provide direct assistance to the KRG, a critical partner in the fight against ISIS. The companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad bipartisan support across the ideological spectrum.

The legislation provides temporary, emergency authority for the President to provide weapons and training directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The three-year authorization seeks to reduce delays in arming Peshmerga forces to fight ISIS, while in consultation with the Iraqi government.

“ISIS is deadly and determined, and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces – our critical partner in the fight against ISIS – need U.S. weapons as quickly as possible. This three-year authorization would bolster efforts against ISIS which is critical to maintaining a unified and stable Iraq, and imperative to our national security interests. We simply cannot afford to have future delays at this critical moment in the battle,”Senator Ernst said.

“The Iraqi Kurds have been a steadfast and capable partner of the United States, and this bill will help ensure they have the support they need in the fight against ISIL,” Senator Boxer said.

“The United States should empower Iraqi Kurds by providing them with what they need to protect their region from the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists,” Senator Johnson said.

“Defeating ISIS requires active participation from our allies in the region. I support sending arms to the Kurdish fighters who are providing the vital boots on the ground. This Administration claims they need the legal authority to arm the Kurds. This bill removes any doubt that they have the authority and the renewed encouragement of Congress to provide our Kurdish allies the support they need to continue their fight against ISIS and radical Islam,” 

Senator Paul said. 

“The Kurds are some of our closest partners in the Middle East. The Peshmerga are on the front lines of the battle against ISIL and we need to do all we can to ensure they succeed,” Senator Rubio said. 

Since the First Gulf War, the Iraqi Kurds and their Peshmerga forces have played a vital role in supporting U.S. interests and a free Iraq despite limited means of doing so.  Approximately one million displaced Iraqis and Syrians have taken refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Currently by law, the U.S. must provide support to the Iraqi Kurds through the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

Specifically, the Ernst-Boxer bill would:
  • Provide a three-year authorization for the U.S. to provide weapons directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS.
  • State it is the policy of the United States to provide direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to combat ISIS.
  • Preserve the President’s ability to notify the Iraqi government before weapons, equipment, defense services, or related training is provided to Iraqi Kurdish forces.

Ensure accountability by requiring a report to Congress on U.S. weapons provided to the Iraqi government which have ended up in the hands of Iranian controlled/supported Shia militias.

Revolution In Thought -- $100 Trillion Remix

Revolution In Thought - $100 Trillion Remix

Michigan Greens Applaud 'NO' Vote on Proposal 1, Offer Policy Ideas for a Better Plan

 The Green Party of Michigan issued the following:

Green Party of Michigan

Iraq: Another journalist killed, more threats against the US made publicly

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
In flames our prophet witches
Be polite
A room full of glasses
He says "Your notches, liberation doll"
And he chains me with that serpent
To that Ethiopian wall

Anima rising
Queen of Queens
Wash my guilt of Eden
Wash and balance me
Anima rising
Uprising in me tonight
She's a vengeful little goddess
With an ancient crown to fight
-- "Don't Interrupt The Sorrow," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Last week it was Thaer Ali the world ignored.

The journalist was executed by the Islamic State in Mosul and the world yawned.

The death took place in the midst of the US State Dept's laughable "Free the Press" propaganda.

A wordy and useless press release insisted, among other things:

As in years past, the Department will profile on a daily basis journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, disappeared or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting. The purpose of the campaign is to speak out for reporters who otherwise cannot; to call on governments to protect the right to free expression; and to emphasize our own commitment to promoting free expression here in the United States and around the world.

But they didn't 'profile' Thaer.

They were more than willing to use the executions of two American journalists as war propaganda, remember?

But Iraqi journalist Thaer is put before a firing squad in Mosul and it's during "Free the Press" but the State Dept can't be bothered with noting it.

Don't interrupt the sorrow, indeed.

Thaer's death was also ignored by The Committee To Protect Journalists -- or The Committee To Protect Some Journalists.

بغداد: مقتل الاعلامي ومقدم برنامج -مال واستثمار- بقناة الرشيد رعد الجبوري في شقته بمنطقة القادسية.
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That's Raad al-Jubouri, the adult in the photo.  He was a journalist.  Was because he's been killed.

Prensa Latina notes his corpse was discovered in his home.

Will anyone else bother to note the death?

Or how about the parades denouncing and threatening America that various Shi'ite militias are staging in Iraq.  Presna Latina's article zooms in on Moqtada al-Sadr's militia and their threats.

Is the US government, under a timid and weak White House, really in the business of providing arms to a Shi'ite government whose factions are now publicly holding ceremonies to threaten the US with violence?

Is that how it works now?

Is Barack so damn weak that he'll hand over the lunch money to avoid taking a shiner?

And might he need to consult with the people of America, the ones he's supposed to work for, the ones who are the boss in a democracy, about his desire to continue arming thugs who hold rallies and marches to threaten -- to great cheers -- violence against the American people?

Can someone explain at what point the President of the United States calls out public threats against the United States and its citizens?

Or is that part of the job Barack doesn't think he signed up for?

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is

    Tuesday, May 05, 2015

    Iraq snapshot

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015.  Chaos in violence continue, Canada suffers a major security breach, Barack brings out his bitchery yet again, the Kurds should be offended at the way KRG President Massoud Barzani was treated (dismissed) by the White House today, and much more.

    Starting in Canada where there's been a major security breach related to the Iraq War.

    In what was probably show boating, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- noted War Hawk and ethical coward -- has insisted that the press must not photograph the faces of Canadian soldiers in Iraq because that could put them at risk.

    Now Harper sending them into Iraq has put them at risk.

    But when you can't admit to how dangerous your reckless actions are, you invent 'risks' to 'protect' them from.

    And now Harper's edict has been violated.

    Images of Canadian soldiers have been posted online.

    Harper insisted that images would put the soldiers at risk  of -- among other things -- being kidnapped by the Islamic State.

    And who is responsible for this security breach?

    Steven Chase (Globe and Mail) reports:

    The Prime Minister’s Office has admitted to a major security breach in promoting Stephen Harper’s recent tour of Iraq and Kuwait after it posted two videos to the Internet that may have exposed Canadian soldiers’ identities and made them vulnerable to attack.
    It’s a complete reversal for the PMO, which earlier Tuesday insisted that it violated no security rules when it published PR videos that included the faces of Canadian military personnel on duty in both countries.

    As Vassy Kapelos (Global News) observed, "It’s still unclear why there appears to be two sets of rules for media and the PM when it comes to exposing the identity of soldiers involved in the mission to fight ISIS."

    Canada's due to hold federal elections October 19th.

    Can they wait that long?

    Can they afford to?

    When the prime minister is the one breaching his own definition of national security, that tends to argue he's not up for job.

    Mia Rabson (The Carillon) quotes New Democratic Party member Jack Harris asking, "Why is the Prime Minister's Office breaking rules intended to protect the safety of our forces just to make promotional videos for the Prime Minister, and who over there is going to take responsibility for this fiasco?"

    While Harris speaks publicly, Harper goes into silence.

    He's not even admitted he was wrong.

    Instead, he's had his media team admit that they were wrong.

    That's leadership?

    Moving south from Canada, we land in DC where tonight KRG President Massoud Barzani addressed the US Chamber of Commerce and was warmly received.

    It was genuine.

    Sadly, the same cannot be said of other events today.

    Was Barzani being kind when he spoke of strong support today from US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden?

    Let's hope he was being kind, being a nice guest when using terms like "success" to describe it.

    Because the reality is, Massoud was treated like crap.

    He was treated like something you stepped in and then tried to scrape off your shoe.

    The Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurds should be offended on his behalf.

    Barack was his usual bitchy self.

    By now, don't we all expect that?

    How unimportant was the visit?

    I called a White House friend thinking stuff must have gone into a spam folder and I didn't have time to dig around for it.  Could he send me whatever press releases again?

    Really, there are none.

    There's this which is circulated to the press but so unimportant (or maybe they're taking a page from Haider al-Abadi's book) that it's not even up at the White House website:

    President Obama participated in a meeting at the White House with Vice President Biden and Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They discussed a range of issues, including the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and the status of ongoing political initiatives to address the needs of the Iraqi people and foster cooperation across all communities. President Obama and Vice President Biden reaffirmed the United States' strong and continued support to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the Kurdish people. They also reaffirmed the United States' enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.
    President Obama and Vice President Biden each commended the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga and expressed condolences to the victims of ISIL throughout Iraq. President Barzani thanked President Obama and Vice President Biden for the significant military support that the United States has provided to Kurdish Peshmerga in coordination with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Security Forces, including the military action taken to protect Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan following the fall of Mosul. Both sides agreed on the importance of strengthening relations between Baghdad and Erbil and underscored their continued shared commitment to provide support to the millions of civilians displaced by the violence in the region.

    That's really it.

    "Hell," he told me, "POTUS didn't even put Barzani on the daily schedule."

    This is all Barzani has to show for the visit.

    This lousy little photo that's not even a good one of him, that doesn't even zoom in to frame him in the shot.

    You'll note Barack's mouth is running.

    As usual, he's pontificating about something.

    You'll note in this, the only photo released, the only real document of the meet-up, Barack's not even looking at Massoud Barzani.

    The Kurds were treated with more respect by War Criminal Henry Kissinger when he was selling them down the river years ago.

    This humiliation was done to appease Haider al-Abadi, the man Barack installed as Iraq's new prime minister, as well as various Shi'ite thugs in elected office.

    And Haider can be happy and proud . . . for about three seconds.

    This bitchery?

    That's all Barack can pull off today.

    It's not just that he's lame duck, it's that he's lame.

    Fools whine, "Why can't he work Congress like LBJ did?"

    LBJ was a member of Congress.

    Barack barely served two years before he started his endless campaign.

    He doesn't know a damn thing about Congress.

    His Senate career is as laughable as his legal career.

    He had no cases to point to with pride as an attorney.

    As a Senator he never even chaired a hearing -- not even of the Subcommittee he was over.

    He doesn't know anything beyond show up and smile for the camera.

    And his little stunt today?

    I called a few friends in Congress.

    They didn't find it amusing.

    The KRG has friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle.

    And the humiliating manner in which Barack treated Barzani?

    It's unleashing a lot of ill will.

    Members of Congress were already pissed that the White House refused to call out the threat made against them by Iraq's thuggish Minister of Transportation.

    And now Barack thinks he can insult the leader of the KRG?

    Well he can.

    He did.

    But Barack doesn't get the last word.

    And all his bitchery did was enrage Congressional support for the KRG.

    That shouldn't be surprising.

    The last seven years demonstrate that Barack fails at everything he tries.

    No surprise that his effort to snub Barzani would, in the end, backfire as well.

    No joint press appearance for Barzani, no one-on-one photo op,  and, again, it didn't even make Barack's official daily schedule.

    It gets even worse.

    The photo we posted above?

    It made Joe Biden's Twitter feed.

    It made Brett McGurk's Twitter feed.

    It did not make The White House Twitter feed.

    It did not make the BarackObama Twitter feed.

    This is a huge insult.

    It's a gob of spit hurled onto Massoud Barzani's face.

    It makes as little sense as that ridiculous lime green sherbet like dress Susan Rice wore for a photo op on the White House lawn today.

    Again, the KRG and the Kurds should grasp just how rudely Barzani was treated by the White House today.

    They should remember, yet again, the White House is not their friend and Barack has never been their friend.

    More than anyone else, he used Massoud to sell The Erbil Agreement and that legal contract promised that Article 140 of the Constitution would finally be implemented.

    Barack gave his word.

    The fact that nearly five years later it still hasn't been implemented should have let the Kurds know they can never, ever trust Barack Obama.

    Someone should probably repeat that to Haider al-Abadi as well.

    I haven't seen any press coverage of the statement.

    But, especially in the US, I'm sure stupidity will run free.

    I'm sure it will be, "The White House backs Baghdad!"

    Barack talks out of both sides of his mouth as well as his ass.

    They also reaffirmed the United States' enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.

    A federal Iraq?

    As in a federation possibly?

    And as defined in the Iraqi Constitution?

    Such as allowing Basra to determine whether semi-autonomous or not?

    The Iraq Constitution allows them to do that.

    Currently, the so-called 'independent' election commission is insisting Basra could have that . . . if there was money in the federal budget for a referendum.

    Haider better watch his back.

    Come June, the US Congress is going to want answers.

    Come June, Democrats and Republicans who want to be president are going to want answers.

    Specifically: Where's that political solution?

    Barack's probably going to be looking for a fall guy.

    Hiader better watch his back.

    And I'm no longer the only one giving Haider a failing grade in public.

    At The Hill, former British lawmaker Struan Stevenson offers:

     Abadi took some courageous measures when he assumed office in September last year, including cracking down on corruption in government institutions and the armed forces. Still, he has failed so far to dismantle pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias who continue to commit atrocities against civilians with impunity.
    Abadi has also not pushed through the necessary judicial reforms. Currently, tens of thousands, mostly Sunni men, remain in prison. Most of their sentences are based on information provided by secret informants to judicial officials, or confessions obtained under duress, instead of forensic evidence. The Sunni community of Iraq is wary of joining the armed forces in the war against ISIS as they feel that they would be replacing one form of oppression with another. As long as these crucial issues remain unaddressed by Abadi and his cabinet, national reconciliation will become another pipe dream for the people of Iraq, with far-reaching consequences for the region as a whole.   

    Iraq was noted briefly at the State Dept press briefing today which was moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:

    QUESTION: A very quick question on Iraq.

    MR RATHKE: Yeah.

    QUESTION: KRG president is in Washington. Are there any plans to – I know that the Secretary is not here, traveling, but --

    MR RATHKE: The Secretary is not here, but he will meet with the Deputy Secretary tomorrow.

    QUESTION: So he’s meeting – oh, tomorrow? Okay.

    MR RATHKE: Yes, that’s right. Today, this afternoon, he’s having meetings at the White House.

    QUESTION: Right.

    MR RATHKE: Tomorrow, he will meet at the State Department with Deputy Secretary Blinken.

    QUESTION: What time? Do we know (inaudible)?

    MR RATHKE: I don’t know the time off the top of my head. I’m sure it’ll be in tomorrow’s schedule that we point out.

    Meanwhile Alsumaria has a photo essay on a downtown Baghdad car bombing today which has left at least 3 dead and at least seven injured.  Iraqi Spring MC notes the SWAT forces burned down the fourth floor of Ramadi's General Hospital.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Iraq on Tuesday dispatched reinforcement to Salahudin province to fight IS militants trying to take the country's largest oil refinery, security sources said."

    Corruption in Iraq means that the billions brought in on oil revenues each year just aren't enough.

    Which is why they're flirting with an $800 million loan from the IMF.

    Austerity measures is something the Iraqi people can't take.  The government already fails to provide for them.  But when you get in bed with IMF and the World Bank, austerity measures are usually the outcome.

    Alsumaria reports over 60 doctors are protesting in Dhi Qhar because the government has failed to pay them.

    Want to know why this is especially bad?

    The violence has led waves of people to leave Iraq.  And it's often been the professionals.

    Iraq has a sever medical crisis.

    Which is why, for years, we've advocated for the Iraqi government to offer accelerated government programs for doctors and nurses -- something Nouri only flirted publicly with in his final year as prime minister.

    The doctors protesting?

    All are from Syria.

    Lot of luck continuing to import doctors from outside Iraq when word gets out that those who've traveled to this center of violence are not even getting paid.

    In related news, Al Mada reports that nursing students in Babylon are protesting demanding further education be made available to them and their nursing program (the article notes that the University of Babylon's College of Nursing has over 1,500 students enrolled currently).