I'm in Boston, my home, we hear all the gossip about John Boy.
Biggest talk for months now has been about his infatuation with CNN sex worker Elise Labbot.
Teresa Heinz is well liked.
And she's also not healthy.
So these rumors are more scandalous than the normal: So and so's cheating.
He's being likened to John Edwards -- Edwards, of course, got a mistress and got her pregnant while his wife was dealing with terminal cancer.
Equally sad is John's tenure as Secretary of State.
If you had told me, when John was in Congress, that he would be this awful, I would not have believed you.
Though War Hawkish, he played as though he believed in diplomacy.
Yet the hallmark of his four years will have been his inciting remarks, his insults, his constant calls for and threats of war.
He has disgraced himself.
He's damn lucky Senator Ted Kennedy didn't live to see what John Kerry became.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, December 28, 2016. Chaos and violence continue, the US bombs a bridge in Mosul, journalist Afra Shawq al-Qasi remains kidnapped and so many reporters make clear that they don't give a damn, ISIS will be cleared from Iraq in three months . . . or maybe two years . . . or something, and much more.
Place your bets, place your bets.
Isis 'will be eliminated from Iraq in three months', says Prime Minister
Place your bets, place your bets.
Isis 'will be eliminated from Iraq in three months', says Prime Minister
The Islamic State will be eliminated from Iraq in 3 months per Hayder al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq.
And earlier this week, Kimberly Dozier (DAILY BEAST) reported:
The general commanding coalition forces in Iraq predicts it will take two years of hard work to clear the so-called Islamic State from its twin capitals of Mosul and Raqqa, and then to burn out the remnants that will likely flee to the vast empty desert between Syria and Iraq.In a Christmas Day sit-down with The Daily Beast at his headquarters, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend would not put specific timelines on the battle. But he mapped out a grinding campaign that he thinks is going slowly but as well as can be expected, considering how much time ISIS had to prepare and how brutal its fighters are willing to be.
The Islamic State will be eliminated from Iraq in two years says US Lt Gen Stephen Townsend.
So which is it?
Have you seen a greater indication that no one knows?
And they probably don't know because no one knows what to do.
Hold that thought while we break into yet another chorus of Mosul Dam Is Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down, Mosul Dam Is Falling Down . . .
Dexter Filkens (NEW YORKER) writes:
On the morning of August 7, 2014, a team of fighters from the Islamic State, riding in pickup trucks and purloined American Humvees, swept out of the Iraqi village of Wana and headed for the Mosul Dam. Two months earlier, ISIS had captured Mosul, a city of nearly two million people, as part of a ruthless campaign to build a new caliphate in the Middle East. For an occupying force, the dam, twenty-five miles north of Mosul, was an appealing target: it regulates the flow of water to the city, and to millions of Iraqis who live along the Tigris. As the ISIS invaders approached, they could make out the dam’s four towers, standing over a wide, squat structure that looks like a brutalist mausoleum. Getting closer, they saw a retaining wall that spans the Tigris, rising three hundred and seventy feet from the riverbed and extending nearly two miles from embankment to embankment. Behind it, a reservoir eight miles long holds eleven billion cubic metres of water.
A group of Kurdish soldiers was stationed at the dam, and the ISIS fighters bombarded them from a distance and then moved in. When the battle was over, the area was nearly empty; most of the Iraqis who worked at the dam, a crew of nearly fifteen hundred, had fled. The fighters began to loot and destroy equipment. An ISIS propaganda video posted online shows a fighter carrying a flag across, and a man’s voice says, “The banner of unification flutters above the dam.”
The next day, Vice-President Joe Biden telephoned Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdish region, and urged him to retake the dam as quickly as possible. American officials feared that ISIS might try to blow it up, engulfing Mosul and a string of cities all the way to Baghdad in a colossal wave. Ten days later, after an intense struggle, Kurdish forces pushed out the ISIS fighters and took control of the dam.
But, in the months that followed, American officials inspected the dam and became concerned that it was on the brink of collapse. The problem wasn’t structural: the dam had been built to survive an aerial bombardment. (In fact, during the Gulf War, American jets bombed its generator, but the dam remained intact.) The problem, according to Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American civil engineer who has served as an adviser on the dam, is that “it’s just in the wrong place.” Completed in 1984, the dam sits on a foundation of soluble rock. To keep it stable, hundreds of employees have to work around the clock, pumping a cement mixture into the earth below. Without continuous maintenance, the rock beneath would wash away, causing the dam to sink and then break apart. But Iraq’s recent history has not been conducive to that kind of vigilance.
Someone at the magazine slapped this title onto the article: "A bigger problem than ISIS?"
Maybe it is -- if only metaphorically.
The dam's built on shaky ground.
Just like Iraq's government.
Shi'ite exiles spent decades in other countries after they fled from Iraq because they were too scared to stand up to Saddam Hussein.
While the cowards were hiding out, life went on in Iraq. Millions of people remained.
But when the cowards convinced the US to go to war on Iraq, the US also decided the answer was to install these same cowards into leadership.
It's must be very embarrassing and, yes, shameful for many of these middle aged to elderly men to realize that they're only back in Iraq because of the US-UK-Australia alliance.
It must be humiliating, as they sit in power, to know deep down inside that when they, grown men, could have fought for their country, they instead fled to Iran or Syria or Jordan or England or -- anywhere.
Cowards do not make good leaders.
Not just because there's always the chance that they'll run again.
But also because they know their cowards.
A Nouri al-Maliki, for example, knows he's a coward.
He knows it and he fears others do as well.
That's part of his paranoia -- and the US government knows that because the CIA analysis of his character documented that at the start of 2006, months before the US installed him as prime minister.
And a Nouri, even as prime minister, carries that knowledge and worries that those looking at him are thinking it to, "Coward!"
So he overcompensates which is how you get the brutality against the Sunnis that was the hallmark of both of Nouri's two terms as prime minister.
He couldn't stand up to Saddam Hussein, but Nouri was happy to punish innocent Sunnis.
That's why cowards never should have been installed.
(Installed by Bully Boy Bush -- kept by Barack Obama, see the 2010 Erbil Agreement.)
They came back to Iraq not just with grudges but also with huge chips on their shoulders.
Their inability to let go of the past doomed them to it.
Or as Edith Ann's therapist once told her, "To get back is to go back."
And, as we've pointed out for over a decade now, who wants to be ruled by exiles?
Millions of Iraqis remained in Iraq.
Some were no doubt happy.
Some were indifferent.
Some loathed Saddam.
But they all stayed only to see the US-led invasion oust Saddam Hussein and then the US government install exiles.
What a slap in the face to the Iraqi people.
Being ruled by cowardly exiles is no honor.
Yesterday, the US Defense Dept announced:
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, and fighter aircraft conducted four strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Bashir, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL-held buildings, an observation post and a weapons cache.
-- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit; destroyed four vehicle-borne bombs, two vehicle-borne-bomb factories, a mortar, an ISIL-held building, a tactical vehicle and a front-end loader; damaged an ISIL-held building, a tunnel and eight ISIL supply routes; disabled a bridge; and suppressed a mortar and an ISIL tactical unit.
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 one 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. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.
And these bombings have been taking place daily since August of 2014.
What are they accomplishing?
To someone that's good news?
How many thousands of civilians remain in Mosul?
Guess they won't be using that bridge to leave.
AP explains, "Activists from inside Mosul published pictures Tuesday night of the metal bridge, known as the Old Bridge, showing its twisted girders sinking into the water as boats were seen ferrying the residents from both banks. The bridge, which was built during the reign of King Ghazi in the 1930s, is considered one of the city's iconic landmarks."
As we noted in yesterday's snapshot, Iraqi journalist Afra Shawq al-Qasi.
MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:
Iraq’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that it had formed a team to look into her abduction.
The gunmen took Al-Qaisi from the predominantly Sunni southern Saydiya district of the capital where she lived with her family, according to Ziyad Al-Ajili, head of the Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory.
“They separated the children from their mother after forcefully entering the house and took money, jewellery, laptops and her car as they left,” Al-Ajili said, explaining how the journalist was not only kidnapped but her home was pillaged by the militiamen.
Her husband was away at the time and the assailants broke into the house after Al-Qaisi refused to open the door.
Dominic Ponsford (PRESS GAZETTE) adds:
On Monday, she published an article in a local media outlet criticising an interior ministry officer who badly beat a school principal in front of students and teachers for refusing to punish a pupil who quarrelled with the official’s daughter.
The abduction is a reminder of the dangers reporters face in a war-torn country where authorities have struggled to maintain security.
Carrie Fisher died yesterday. I'm sorry she died. I knew her for many, many years. Until the last ten when she repeated a lie and put it into print -- a known lie, she knew she was lying - and that lie hurt a friend of mine -- someone she herself claimed as a friend though they were not friends -- we probably had the only harsh exchange we've ever had. I even defended her when she made the choice to go off her meds. I have no idea why she had a heart attack.
I do know that her family is hurting -- and I feel for them, especially Todd.
And the syfy fans are of course mourning.
But this is not George Michael. This is not someone who went out of their way to help others. I'm amazed that certain people are even pretending to be upset.
I know one female artist who isn't at all upset because she got screwed over by Carrie.
And considering the lawsuit Carrie was facing, this might have been the time to go. (She apparently promoted a shoddy product that may or may not have led to the deaths of others. I have no opinion on that and don't know all the particulars, nor do I care to.)
Her death, like all deaths, is a loss.
But crap like this . . .
Dear all beloved, influential, artists- please stay in a super safe place until January 1st, 2017. With love, Your Fans
Don't worry, Alyssa, the grim reaper isn't taking C-list talents right now, you're safe.
What a load of s**t.
Let me first state that Alyssa's not concerned with all people.
She could care less if Republicans were dropping like flies.
By the way, Alyssa, Carrie was very tight with Republicans -- especially gay ones. She had many gay Republican friends -- suddenly Alyssa wants to delete her Tweet.
The notion that Carrie or anyone is above others? Grow the hell up.
It would be one thing to Tweet for 2017 not to take anymore lives -- apparently Tweeting is now prayer -- but this 'please don't take our celebrities!'
Grow the hell up.
I have mocked Alyssa Aleppo Milano for being a tool of empire.
She's not even a good tool.
She pretends in one Tweet to care about the children of Syria and in her latest she's whining to a higher power not to take away her celebrities!!!!!
What an embarrassment.
But there are so many embarrassments including among alleged grown ups in the press.
Loveday Morris, what happens if you get kidnapped?
Are we supposed to give a damn?
If so, why?
You can't even Tweet about Afra Shawq al-Qasi.
So if you're kidnapped while reporting, you want us to follow your example and just ignore it?
WG Dunlop, should we do the same with you?
In fact, why is it that no AFP journalist covering Iraq currently -- or Prashant Rao who covered it for years -- can Tweet about this woman?
Forget actually file a report, just a Tweet or reTweet?
You really are pathetic.
Loveday's jumping around about her outlet announcing they'll hire more people.
But she's not concerned that a journalist was kidnapped (by a Shi'ite militia, most likely).
She's not concerned at all.
As so many Tweets make clear, Twitter does not require great thought or originality.
So it's not like it would be taxing them to Tweet about Afra.
It is, however, very clear that they are choosing not to.
Should something happen to them, they better pray others are more humane and caring than they are.
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