My FDL
User Picture

Shi’ia Army Retakes Tikrit, Kills 300 Sunni ISIS Raiders, Ignored by Corporate MSM

By: TuffsNotEnuff Monday July 28, 2014 6:16 am
ISIS flag

The corporate media looks the other way as ISIS kills.

There’s two news stories here. The war in Iraq continues unabated, which will surprise no one. Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham controls northwest Iraq while a regular army organized by Major General Qassim Suleimani focuses on actions at Samarra and Tikrit.  A fresh, modern Battle of Tikrit has been underway for the last five weeks. Tikrit is a test point for ISIS military conquest. Meanwhile back here in The West — and despite continuing phone and shortwave radio access to the combat areas — western corporate media press a story line that the Sunni raiders of ISIS are uniformly triumphant against Shi’ia (or “Shia” or “Shiite”) defenders. Actual combat results are missing from news reports.

Reporting foreign wars has been optional at best for MSM. That has been the situation for 25 years, starting with civil wars in the Congo killed 5-million civilians with not one murmur from the corporate outlets. In Central African Republic an ISIS-lookalike operation called Seleka went on an anti-Christian rampage through 2011-2013 that included murdering 30,000 to 50,000 civilians and conquering C.A.R.’s capital city, Bangui, for their leader and not-quite-Caliph Michel Djotodia. In Mali, yet another ISIS-lookalike Salafist coalition — al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) plus Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujwa) plus the smaller Ansar Dine — set up shop in the Southern Sahara, an area called the Azawad Desert. They took Timbuktu, the regional capital, in a raid reminiscent of events at Mosul in Iraq. Literally nothing of these events appeared in western media until the week after a mix of French Foreign Legion paratroopers, their Special Forces, and Marines retook Timbuktu killing an estimated 130 of the Salafist raiders.

When the Nigerian Salafist militia called Boko Haram kidnapped 234 Christian school girls in April, 2014, and then several hundred more in other actions, that got a measure of coverage.  Military responses to Boko Haram have received no coverage at all.

Saudi support for ISIS and its clones follows their Salafi / Wahhabist beliefs. This from Patrick Cockburn:

Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: ‘The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia.’ More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.’

Wiping out these Shia and/or Christians is good sport. On a par with Saudi Jew-hating.

Wahhabists vs. Qods Force

But then the plan for Boko Haram and Seleka and ISIS runs into a professional military operation.

Battle of Tikrit

For the Battle of Tikrit, General Suleimani has replicated tactics that proved effective during the Battle of Qusayr in Syria in 2012. His Shi’ia forces started their action by setting up a 10-kilometer perimeter around Tikrit. This effort helped protect the sprawling Saddam palace and the military hospital and other areas where the ISIS raiders had failed to seize control. All the roads and cross-country transit routes were blocked. This Tikrit perimeter force deploys an estimated 5,000 troops in 24/7 assignments with a substantial logistics infrastructure. Temperatures above 110F every day makes the logistics sustainability problem critical. Then the big drive started counterattacking its way to the western areas of Tikrit, beginning last Wednesday, so the perimeter force had to set up to block ISIS retreat.

 

Obama & Congress Sitting In a Tree, Spending Our Money to Kill Babies

By: Jane Stillwater
Pile of doll heads and parts arranged disturbingly

“Huge black bags of gold, all clearly labeled Dead Baby Fund.”

[Note:  Yes, I know that I should be grateful that John McCain wasn't elected in 2008 because he would have had America in the middle of WW III by now and there probably would have been bunkers and anti-aircraft missile launchers (and also lots of American dead babies) outside my bedroom window instead of just robins, but still...we are already up to our necks in wars, proxy wars and dead babies as it is -- and I'm sick of it.]

President Obama and Congress may hate each other’s guts regarding a whole lot of domestic issues — but with regard to foreign policy, Obama and Congress just can’t kiss each other’s butts fast enough when it comes to agreeing to kill as many babies as humanly possible in as many foreign countries as they possibly can. And ASAP.

Obama and Congress spend American taxpayers’ money on killing babies in foreign lands like there is no tomorrow; as if all our hard-earned money could just magically and automatically replenish itself overnight like some magical ATM that never stops working, an inexhaustible resource that has no limits or end.

“Seven trillion dollars gone forever? No problem. It’ll grow back. The important thing here is to keep producing all those dead babies.” Can’t stop now. There are still a few left alive.

In Haiti, dead babies.  “They all would have died in fifty or sixty years anyway.”

In Ukraine, dead babies.  “But those babies were rebels, clearly red-diaper babies!”

Afghanistan’s dead babies keep piling up like cordwood.  “We thought they were Taliban!  Diapers, not head-cloths?  Nah.”

Dead babies in Iraq, murdered by ISIS, weaponized and trained by Obama and Congress.  “Just collateral damage that got in the way of the oil.  Again.  Pesky babies.”

Dead babies in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and, hopefully, Iran next.  “Those babies possessed WMDs!”

Dead babies in Libya, Egypt, Africa and Palestine.  “Ah, the smell of dead babies in the morning.”  Dead babies in Honduras.  “They won’t be camping at our borders any more — because they will be dead.”

And don’t forget poor bleeding Syria, where Congress and Obama happily released the Kraken, er, ISIS on all kinds of babies that used to be living.  “Those babies were dictators!  They had to go!”

And now Obama and Congress have solemnly shaken hands and agreed that Palestine and Gaza both need more dead babies too. ”The only difference between the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ attack on the USS Liberty and the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ attack on Gaza is that there were no babies on board the USS Liberty. What a waste.”

And even as we speak, Obama and Congress still tirelessly continue to work together, constantly dragging gigantic bags of gold coins over to the Pentagon; hundreds of thousands of black bags that contain over half of all the money that we Americans will ever earn in our lifetimes — huge black bags of gold, all clearly labeled “Dead Baby Fund.”

I want no part of any of this.

Do you?

VIDEO: An Open Letter To Bill Maher on Gaza & Hamas

By: Dennis Trainor Jr Monday July 28, 2014 6:02 pm

Originally posted at PopularResistance.org

Bill Maher should be praised for how efficiently he elucidated exactly what the Israel propaganda machine, with full support and cooperation of the United States government, would have us believe when he took to twitter and remarked: “Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.”

In the same spirit of violating the rules of proportionality Israel violates in waging an asymmetrical war on Palestinians, I’ll counter Bill Maher’s tweet with an open letter.

Dearest Bill:

Like most men who find themselves in the admittedly unenviable position of having a woman trying to kill you I’ll wager that the amount of time you have spent searching your soul for her homicidal motive was not nearly as long as the time you spent cuddling her after you date raped her.

Now, I know what you are thinking Bill – rape is a serious accusation. After all, Hamas was dressed like Jodie Foster in The Accused and she let you pick up the tab at dinner and she was grinding you on the dance floor in between throwing back a half dozen martinis. You have witness who will testify to this in a court of law no less and so clearly, I mean, whose kidding who, right Billy boy: she wanted it. She all but asked for it.

Who could blame you, drunk as you were, for mistaking all the punching and kicking and biting Hamas was doing to you during foreplay as hitting the jackpot in finding such a kinky Saturday night sex partner. I mean, if you didn’t know better, filled as you were with the confidence that this girl Hamas was lucky to even be with you, you might think she were trying to defend herself.

Could that be possible?

Nah, you’ll tone down some of the rougher stuff and have a great story top tell around the Real Time water cooler, right? You may have had some doubts when the sound she made when you penetrated her, or um, occupied her as it were, sounded much more like the moans of a desperately resigned type than the mutual pleasure giving type, but you easily suppressed those thoughts when she passed out, you finished you business and left, top down on the convertible, cruising through the Hollywood Hills completely satisfied with yourself.

So I can imagine your shock Bill, when this crazy Hamas bitch, after she was released from the hospital, started telling people you raped her. I wonder if you can you imagine her shock Bill, when every authority she reported you to told her that- hmm, shoot girl- if the great Bill Maher takes you dancing and buys you drinks and picks up the tab at that trendy and exclusive new Asian fusion place where you can’t even get on the list if you are not a Tosh.O or Kobe Bryant or President Obama (I mean it is that exclusive) than you better be prepared to put out, because, well you owe him?

With no help from the legal authorities, Hamas tried to shame your good name in the press. And you can’t have that, right Bill? I mean, without a good name, what currency can men tread in? And so the world not only stood by, they supported you, as you rained down hellfire missiles provided to you as the only export of a fading global Imperial empire down on that Hamas bitch and everyone member of her family and zip code.

But like the ending to a bad zombie flick, here comes Hamas again, somehow stumbling towards you, shaking off the dust from the rubble and the blood splatter from her now deceased family members from her eyes and her sights are set right on you Bill. She looks crazy. And she wants to kill you. But you are stronger than her Bill, and so you hold her wrists until- in what is surely a compassionate gesture intended to shake Hamas to her senses until she sees and accepts her place in the world, you have to slap her. Not that you want to slap her, we know that Bill.

Over Easy: Some Context for MH17

By: yellowsnapdragon Monday May 2, 2011 1:22 pm
NATO History map

The Ukraine crisis is intimately linked to the history of NATO.

The downing of MH17 is much more important than the any other aviation tragedy in recent history. We all feel compassion for the people on the plane and their surviving friends and relatives. That’s a normal human response. But if we look at the context surrounding the crash, it becomes clear that MH17 is a hugely important geopolitical event with potentially catastrophic ramifications. The 298 civilian deaths over the breakaway republics of Ukraine must be seen as a casualty of the proxy war between Russia and the West fought over the expansion of NATO into former Soviet territory.

As a condition of USSR agreeing to the reunification of its communist satellite East Germany with West Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was assured that NATO would not expand to the east of its position held at that time. That promise was broken by Clinton, and NATO has steadily moved toward Moscow and into many of the states lining the borders of the former USSR.

In spite of the diplomatic breach, Russia’s response to NATO encroachment was initially weak. Russia had more pressing economic and social problems during the 1990′s than fighting NATO expansion, and Boris Yeltsin was compliant in what seemed like a US plan to incorporate Russia into the fold of the “international community” as a junior partner.

Putin has been less accommodating. By 2008, US backed and funded forces destabilized Georgia, and Russia was forced into a brief land war to retain what territory it could while NATO overtook an area near and dear to the Russian identity. It was a step too far for Russia to continue to ignore. Then came Ukraine.

Kiev is funded, trained, and by all rational perceptions wholly politically supported by the US. It will invite NATO into the the land some believe is the cradle of Russian civilization. Novorussians, the Ethnic Russians populating the newly established republics of the East, are either fleeing in droves to become refugees inside Russia or they remain in their homes to be bombed relentlessly by Ukrainian jets. These are civilians, women and children, just like the ones on the Malaysian plane, yet Kiev calls them terrorists.

The Novorussians are supported and funded by Russia, as surely you have heard from western media. This is no surprise (although Russia officially denies it). Russia has a legitimate interest in the outcome of war between Kiev and the breakaway regions. At this point, Russia wants secure borders with a nation that does not host NATO’s nuclear arsenal pointed at Moscow.

So, from the Russian perspective, the war on its border is one deliberately created by the US/NATO for the explicit purpose of moving military within striking distance of Moscow, ready to destroy the country NATO was created to fight. Rather than acknowledge its own role in the conflict, the US has consistently blamed Moscow for interfering in Ukraine as if Moscow had no interest there beyond imperial control. Each and every violent event has been pinned on Russia, while many have been done with American approval if not outright complicity. Additionally, the US has inflicted sanctions on Moscow for pursuing its legitimate interests in Ukraine.

So, when you read in the NYT that Russia is responsible for shooting down the airliner, remember Judy Miller. When CNN reports evidence of pro-Russian rebels firing Buk missiles, think of mobile weapons labs in Iraq. When Ambassador Pyatt tweets satellite images of missiles firing from Russia, remember Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN on WMD, yellowcake in Niger, and the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq that resulted. Then ask yourself why the US is escalating a dangerous situation in Ukraine and what a war with Russia might ultimately mean.

Off topic is welcome and lurkers and newbies are too. Sorry about the lack of links for reference — I need a few hours added to the day to be functional. See you in the comments.

Monday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Monday July 28, 2014 8:53 pm

 

Three marmosets on a branch

Marmoset therapy for your Monday doldrums.

Tonight’s Watercooler is in solidarity with Utah Tar Sands activists who shut down work at the tar sands mine in the Book Cliffs.

About 80 climate justice land defenders enforced a full-day work stoppage at a tar sands mine in the Book Cliffs of Utah July 21, 2014. Multiple technical and non-technical blockades were deployed to keep the peace and prevent further destruction by construction crews.

The proposed tar sands mine area–PR Springs on the East Tavaputs Plateau–was stolen from the Utes last century. Recently US EPA has demanded information from the tar sands company regarding certain toxic waste dangers that will be an inevitable result of the project’s progress, threatening a vital water source to Ute people. The pollution from this project will pose a special threat to the very people from whom the land was stolen.

Tensions with police were high for several hours throughout they day as cops sought to break a series of blockades and restore the violent land scraping and development. Twenty-one people were arrested and several were injured.

Undeterred by aggressive and repeatedly violent acts by the Uintah County Sheriff’s Department and the School Institutional Trust Lands Administration to break the people’s resolve, the series of blockades stopped the company and law enforcement from restoring the violent status quo that day.

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is holding an exhibition of the art and design of protest called “Disobedient Objects.” From The Daily Beast:

Through an extraordinary breadth of innovation, from arm braces that make human blockades impossible to dismantle to giant inflatables that can alter the media coverage of a struggle, Disobedient Objects argues that flashes of inspirational design have often made the difference in the success of a protest.

‘You get a lot of exhibitions that say: “Designs that changed the world,”‘ said Gavin Grindon, one of the show’s curators. ‘These are designs that really did change the world.’

Walking through the show, it’s impossible to miss the trend—virtually all of the innovative, daring pieces of design and art have emerged from left-wing protest groups. The organizers insist this was never the intention, they just couldn’t find any examples from the Right. Grindon told The Daily Beast the realization surprised him, but it seems the Left is more inventive, better at protesting.

[...] The most directly successful object in the show is the lock-on, a metal tube with a bolt through the middle that protesters place their arms inside. Versions of the device were first designed in the late 1980s, allowing protesters to chain their arms to each other or around something in a way that the police could not safely dismantle. You can point to areas of forest that are still standing in New Zealand or roads that were not built in Britain because of the stubborn realization of this simple design.

Other exhibits worked more obliquely, altering the mood of a protest or changing the way a demonstration was later portrayed to the public. Hanging from the exhibition ceiling are two huge inflatable cobblestones. The blow-up props were first used at a protest in Berlin in 2010, where the police and the media were warned in advance that violence was expected after previous events had been marred by cobbled paving stones thrown at police.

‘The police have to decide what on earth they are going to do with this thing. If they throw it back, suddenly they are playing beach volleyball with anarchists…’

This time, demonstrators threw the inflatables at advancing officers. ‘The whole demonstration changes instantly,’ Grindon explained.

Housekeeping notes:

  • Please review our About Us page if you need a refresher on site rules, and
  • We encourage you to use our flag system — if you see an abusive comment, user or post, please flag it rather than replying. We review every flag and take the best action available to us.
  • If you have questions or concerns about Firedoglake-specific issues, please limit their discussion to Watercooler posts rather than starting new posts or making off-topic comments in others. But remember,
  • Firedoglake editors and staff are not allowed to comment on any moderation decisions.

The Watercooler is an open conversation. Ask questions, share links and your thoughts.

Finland

By: cmaukonen Monday July 28, 2014 2:44 pm

Smoke Sauna – flickr creative commons

Since there has been a lot of talk and recent questions appearing lately like “How come we can’t _______ more like the Finns” — fill in the blanks with education, economics, social welfare etc. And that I myself am half Finnish on my father’s side of the family and my largest influence being Finnish culture because of this. As well as according to my mother “I’m going to raise my sun like a Finn.”

I thought I would write a little something on Finland and Finns, just so you know what Finland is all about. Which in and of it self is a bit of a challenge, as Finns themselves are unsure about some aspects.

First of all, the question “Where did/do Finns come from” ? Answer: they didn’t “come” from anywhere. They have always been there is one way or another.

The Finns never ‘came’ to Finland, because Finns, Finnish identity or Finnish language in its present sense have never existed anywhere outside Finland. What now counts as ‘Finnish’ has been formed here, during thousands of years, influenced by many peoples, languages and cultures.

Many Finns have learnt at school that our ancestors arrived from the east (where languages related to Finnish are still spoken) some 2.000 years ago. This was a plausible theory in its time, but not any more: contrary to what was believed in the first half of this century, Finland has been continuously populated ever since the latest Ice Age, that is: our first ancestors lived here already some 9.000 years ago. Of these first people of Finland very little is known: we don’t know where they came from (from the south, of course…) or what language they spoke (it could have been Finno-Ugrian or even some language of a completely unknown ancestry). Of course, even after that Finland has received many cultural and language influences from many directions.

Secondly, where did the Finnish language come from ? [An even more controversial question]

A few decades ago the family tree of the Finno-Ugrian languages was interpreted as a map showing how the FU peoples wandered to their present homes. Modern archaeology obviously does not support such wide migrations. Also recent loan word research has shown very old Indo-European loanwords especially in Finnish and the westernmost (Finnic) branch, which means that some pre-form of Finnish must have been spoken relatively close to the Baltic Sea already quite early.

On the other hand, Finnish is certainly related to languages spoken in Middle Russia and West Siberia. This means either that the area of the Finno-Ugrian (Uralic) proto-language has been very wide, reaching perhaps from the Baltic Sea to the Urals, or that we must find alternative explanatory models to account for the spreading of these languages.

Indeed even this is highly disputed by some. What is known is that Finnish has zero roots in any of the Indo-European languages, which makes it so hard for non-Finns to learn. Not only that, it wasn’t until the 16th century that a written language was developed. This has been very difficult since there are so many vocalizations in Finnish that do not translate well to the Latin based alphabet. Some not at all.

It has been shown that Finns lived isolated from the rest of Europe, which would account for the differences in culture and society. For one thing as many, it not most of European societies and culture are male-dominated. Finnish culture is much less so. Equality of the sexes has been there almost from the first with Finnish women being the first to win the right to vote. These days women make up 40% of the business leaders and government representatives.

We are all aware of the social and educational programs in Finland and other Nordic countries, but you need to be aware this attitude is deeply ingrained in the culture. To take care of one another and what benefits one, generally benefits all — a view not held by many of European ancestry.

Finns tend to be quiet and reserved. Bragging on ones self is considered uncouth and even arrogant. They also expect you to be taken at your word and they at theirs.

Immigrants Offset Population and Workforce Losses in Wisconsin Cities

By: WI Budget Project Monday July 28, 2014 11:11 am

Immigrants are playing a very important role in boosting cities in Wisconsin and across the Midwest, according to a report issued last month.  The recent report, written by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, analyzed 2000 and 2010 decennial census data and found that the arrival of immigrants over the last decade helped reverse a trend of declining populations in cities throughout the Midwest.

Here are some of the highlights of the report, “Growing the Heartland: How Immigrants Offset Population Decline and an Aging Workforce in Midwest Metropolitan Areas,” (.pdf link) pertaining to Midwest metropolitan areas:

  • Over the last decade alone, the region’s foreign born population rose 27.4% (from 3.5 million to 4.5 million).
  • Immigrant population growth accounts for 38% of metropolitan area growth in the Midwest.
  • Only 67% of native-born Midwesterners live in metro-areas, compared to 88% of immigrants.
  • Although this region’s native-born population in the 35-to-44 age group saw a 20.6% decrease between 2000 and 2010, the immigrant population in that age range experienced a 44.2% increase.

The same trends can be seen in the report’s data for Wisconsin cities, shown in the following table.

 
The next table focuses on an especially important part of the workforce, people in the age range of 35 through 44.  It illustrates that Wisconsin cities have had a rapidly shrinking number of people in that age range who were born in the U.S., but the declining native born population is being partially offset by immigrants in that age range.

 
At a time when immigration is still a fairly controversial topic, it is important to note the beneficial roles it plays across the Midwest. Aside from helping to sustain the population, immigration brings young workers into a workforce that is aging quickly. However, in order to fully leverage the benefits of Midwestern immigration, metropolitan areas must work to ease the transition for immigrants into the economy, labor market, and civic processes.

For Wisconsin and its cities to grow and prosper, we need to help immigrants become productive workers, active consumers and engaged citizens.  As the report concludes,

this requires new federal policies and, yes, immigration reform, that fully recognize immigration as an asset, not a burden, to the region.

by Jelicia Diggs and Jon Peacock

If We Dislike War Like We Dislike Cancer

By: David Swanson Wednesday June 8, 2011 11:41 am
Cupcakes with pink breast cancer ribbons

What if ending war was became as important as ending cancer?

War and cancer are among our leading causes of human death around the world. They can’t be strictly separated and compared since war is a major cause of cancer, as is war preparation. (And a small fraction of the U.S. budget for war preparations could fund cancer research well beyond all the money raised by public and private funding and by all the 5-K races for a cure and other activities we’ve become familiar with.) War and cancer, by their nature, also can’t be addressed with the same sort of responses.

Cancer prevention, including possibly radical changes in industrial and energy policies, is fairly off-limits, whereas cancer treatment and the search for a cure is almost certainly our most widespread and publicly visible form of altruistic charity and advocacy  When you see athletes or celebrities marked with bright pink, or a public event packed with pink shirts or ribbons, or — alongside a road — a giant pink inflatable anything, you are now less likely to think “WTF is that?” than “We need to help cure breast cancer.”

War prevention, including radical redirection of our resources and economy away from war, re-education away from the propaganda of beneficial violence, support for nonviolent conflict resolution, and promotion of international law and the prosecution of war makers, is likewise fairly off-limits. But war treatment and the search for a cure for war once begun, seems significantly less useful than the search for a cure for cancer. War is indisputably and entirely human-made. Most of its fatal victims die immediately. Halting a war once begun is immensely more difficult than refraining from starting it, as no one party can control a war’s path, and support-the-troops propaganda convinces people that ending a war is more evil than continuing it. Once a war ends, undoing the resentment and hatred and habits of violence, and the environmental destruction (and the cancer epidemics), and the destruction to liberties and democracy, all adds up to an immense — if not impossible — task compared to that of avoiding wars before they’re started.

So, when we compare a public demand to abolish cancer with one to abolish war, the latter seems to require halting our biggest public program, whereas the former allows us to go on driving our SUVs to Wal-Mart as long as we stick a pink ribbon on the back to indicate that doctors and scientists should continue the great march of progress. And of course they should. We should be investing vastly more in curing cancer, not to mention Alzheimer’s which is as big a killer as cancer but opposed by far less funding (and not a particular threat to that favorite of all body parts: the breast).

But abolishing war may be the more pressing demand. Nuclear weapons could be used intentionally or accidentally and destroy us all. The resources dumped into war are badly needed for the work of averting environmental catastrophe (not to mention curing cancer). What if a campaign to abolish war were to learn a few tricks from the campaign to abolish breast cancer?

Following the lead of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Campaign Nonviolence, World Beyond War, and other peace groups are encouraging everyone to use sky blue scarves and bracelets as symbols of peace and support for ending all wars. What if sky blue symbols became as widespread as pink ones? What would that look like?