Monday, June 26, 2017

The Originals

The ratings are in for Friday's broadcast of The Originals -- it was the same as the end of season three.

And season three did not air on the dead night (Friday).

Here's a tip.

If you stream The CW on your TV, you may have trouble with the last segment of the show.

If that happens, stream it on your tablet or laptop and that should take care of it.

It was a great episode.

(I promised Carl I'd not write about this until Tuesday because he's going to be streaming it tonight.)

I'm really excited to see what happens in season five.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, June 26, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues, Brett McGurk says a lot but none of it about diplomacy, and much more.

ALJAZEERA reports:

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters launched a string of counterattacks in a western Mosul neighbourhood, setting off clashes that continued overnight, Iraqi officials said on Monday.
An unknown number of suicide bombers and gunmen targeted the Hay al-Tanak and Yarmuk neighbourhoods, and set fire to houses and cars in Tanak, military officials told news agencies.
The area had been declared free of ISIL in May.
Several people are reported to have died in the attacks, which sowed panic among residents who had returned to the area, and prompted hundreds of families to flee overnight.

Yes, The Mosul Slog continues.

Day 246 of The Mosul Slog.

And, yet again, press reports circulate that it will be over shortly.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports this morning, "The battle to take full control of Mosul from ISIS will be over in a few days, a general said Monday as Iraqi forces searched neighborhoods of west Mosul they retook weeks ago after a surprise jihadist attack on their rear that left several dead."

Searched neighborhoods of west Mosul they retook weeks ago . . .

How it repeats.

Over and over.

Here's the White House's special envoy Brett McGurk, speaking last week, trying to explain ISIS:

So what is ISIS? It is the largest, most sophisticated, and most global terrorist organization the world has ever seen.
Only two years ago, it controlled what was effectively a quasi-state, its so-called caliphate, with territory the size of Lebanon spanning across Iraq and Syria.
It controlled millions of people, entire cities, dual capitals in Raqqa and Mosul, generating revenue through oil and gas, taxes, antiquities trade, hostage taking, of more than a billion dollars per year.
It enslaved thousands of young girls, committed acts of genocide against minority groups, Yazidis and Christians, and sought to destroy our common human heritage, from Palmyra in Syria, to the Ninewa plains in northern Iraq.
It also established franchises, seven in all, from Sinai just to our west, to Afghanistan, Libya, and Nigeria, all with central direction and planning from ISIS’s capital in Raqqa.
And it sought to spread terrorism to all of our homelands, directing attacks from Raqqa … in Paris, Istanbul, and Brussels, and inspiring them from London, to Berlin, to Garland, Texas.
Its manpower at its height in 2015, while hard to pinpoint specifically, was in the upper tens of thousands – hard core fighters, at least.
The figures we can pinpoint are staggering: more than 40,000 foreign fighters, Jihadists, flooded into Syria between 2013 and 2016 from over 100 countries all around the world. The world had never really seen anything like it – the supercharged global Jihad.
General Gilead, many of us in this room, were extremely alarmed by this phenomenon as early as 2013. Many of us in Washington, some of my former colleagues here, were also discussing it with extreme concern.
Foremost attention among many, however, in those years, I think we have to be honest, there was a belief, by some, that this flood of Jihadist fighters could somehow be tamed and contained – after Bashar al-Assad was removed from power. I think that was a false assumption and it carried some tragic consequences.
The flood of extremist fighters and weapons into Syria combined with the crimes of the Asad regime created an explosive environment for al Qaeda, from which ISIS sprung.
ISIS rapidly spread, in 2013, across eastern Syria, killing anyone who sought to confront it. It spread openly into Iraq in early 2014, capturing Fallujah, and laying siege to Ramadi in Anbar province.
Suicide attacks in Iraq nearly all of whom at the time were committed by foreign fighters, people coming from around the world into Syria and Iraq to blow themselves up – rose from five to ten per month in 2012 to sometimes 60 per month in 2014, targeting markets, mosques, soccer games, local officials – mayors, town councils – and security personnel.
In June, 2014, Mosul, a city of nearly 2 million people, fell to ISIS; and its leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi, declared a caliphate from the grand Mosque of Al Nuri in Mosul’s old city. And late yesterday, as Iraqi Security forces closed in on that mosque, about 100 meters away, ISIS blew it up. A mosque which sat there since the 12th century, ISIS blew it up. The last month in Mosul is really telling. Summer of 2014, Baghdadi announces from that mosque that he’s the caliph creating a caliphate—the caliph proclaims his legitimacy by this ability to protect people in his so called caliphate. All of this was a false lie. But that’s what he said in the summer of 2014.
In the last month, as Iraqi Security forces closed in on that last district in Mosul, ISIS has killed any civilian trying to leave. They used a hospital on some high ground, just north of the old city, as a killing tower—with snipers killing any civilians trying to leave. We’ve actually been accused, our forces, of using white phosphorus for example, in Mosul. And I defer to our military professionals, but they use white phosphorus not to target anybody, not to kill anybody, but as a shield to allow civilians to escape. We were somehow declared of using this ammunition which was harming civilians. In fact, we were helping civilians escape as ISIS sat in a tower—a hospital which we did not want to target—and killed anyone that tried to leave. And last night they blew up the mosque in which Baghdadi declared his caliphate, I think it was a very significant moment here in the last 24 hours.
But back in 2014, if you rewind the tape, this announcement of a caliphate accelerated recruitment from around the world, with thousands of men, women, and even children, traveling through Turkey and into Syria through established smuggling networks.
About a month later in July 2014, ISIS broke through the western Iraqi border at al Qaim and approached Baghdad down the Euphrates valley, and also in the north along the Tigris valley.
Near Tikrit that summer in 2014, ISIS terrorists rounded up One Thousand Seven Hundred young Iraqi military cadets, and murdered them one-by-one, and they filmed the scene on YouTube.
I was in Iraq at the time. Newspaper headlines declared Baghdad was about to fall. There were reports of an ISIS “zero hour” in the capital and it was causing a panic among the population. We in fact reduced our embassy personnel and dusted off contingency evacuation plans given the uncertainty.
President Obama early in this crisis asked for my recommendation among others, some that are in this room, Elissa Slotkin among others, about what we should do. And our only response was we had to fight back – and fight back soon because there we had no other choice.
But we had to fight smartly, not with U.S. forces in Iraqi and Syrian towns and villages; but by strengthening local forces – Syrians and Iraqis – to take on the fight themselves, combined with devastating air power, and importantly with a political strategy that empowered people at the local level to secure their own communities, with a government in Baghdad that was responsive to its people.
We had to rally the world – particularly the Muslim world – to take on the fight themselves, combating ISIS’s poison in the mosques and online and in the media 24/7.
We had to ensure that what came after ISIS was more stable, creating the conditions for people to return to their homes and rebuild their devastated communities.
And we had to prepare a campaign that targeted ISIS financing, foreign fighter networks, global affiliates, and propaganda.
In the summer of 2014, that seemed a nearly impossible task –the Iraqi Security Forces had just completely and totally collapsed and we had almost nobody to work with on the ground in Syria--but we got to work.
We built a global coalition against ISIS, that is now the largest of its kind in history with 71 members, including 67 nations, plus NATO, INTERPOL, the EU, and the Arab League.
Early on, we organized this grand coalition around five specific lines of effort, each focusing on a particular aspect of the ISIS problem and pooling global resources to confront it:
First, we provide military support to our partners on the ground;
Second, we work to stop the flow of foreign fighters, by securing the border between Syria and Turkey and severing the international networks.
Third, halting ISIS access to financial support;
Fourth, we address the humanitarian and stabilization in areas cleared of ISIS to allow the population to return;
Fifth, we combat ISIS’s poisonous ideology.
The first airstrikes by our coalition were launched in September, 2014. There have been nearly 30,000 since, it’s been the most precise air campaign in history, and combined with aggressive and innovative global initiatives along each of the lines I just mentioned.

And while this war is far from over, the results to date are promising. 

Are the results promising?

Many observers note the destruction of Mosul.

That's promising?

Brett outlines a now three year program above.

But where's the diplomacy?

Where's the work beyond military?

Nothing has been done.

At some point, you have to argue that this was intentional.

The Islamic State rose in Iraq because then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki was persecuting the Sunnis.

Has that persecution ended?


Even now there are reports -- and photographs -- of Sunni civilians being tortured and killed.

When does that get addressed?

Smart people argued the time to address it was years ago.

But, under Barack Obama, the White House rewarded Nouri.

Even when the voters gave him the heave-ho in 2010, Barack still supported Nouri for a second term and had US officials ont he ground in Iraq negotiate The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri a second term.

ISIS didn't rise in a vacuum.

The conditions that allowed it to take root still exist.

So now what?

Sarhang Hamasaeed and Michael Yaffe (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) offer:

That will require sustained attention to the "Three Rs:" Relief, Reconstruction and Reconciliation, all of which are needed concurrently. Relief means not only continued humanitarian aid but also security assistance to protect reconstruction and reconciliation and to facilitate the return of 3 million displaced people.
Political and social reconciliation, in turn, will be needed to prevent violence and reprisals and make way for sustainable reconstruction. The U.S. should develop a plan to help resolve fundamental national and regional political issues that will allow Iraq's constellation of groups to co-exist in peace.

Already, unity is fraying among forces that stood against ISIS. Sinjar, Tel Afar and Tuz Khurmatu have emerged as flashpoints of incipient conflict. Wrangling between the Kurds and Baghdad over oil, territory and Kurdish independence continues as regional powers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey— as well as Iraqi groups — jockey for influence. Since the ISIS onslaught in 2014, for example, Popular Mobilization Forces militias, most supported by Iran, have established offices all over Iraq — 16 just in one town south of Mosul, Iraqis tell us — in a bid to gain control in areas recaptured from ISIS. As next year's parliamentary elections approach, they'll be well positioned to buy cooperation, exert authority and support to candidates, further solidifying their grip.

Maybe the time to start this sort of work was in 2014 and not in a mad rush to beat the next election?

New content:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Real life is a lot like TV

Do not forget that Friday is the season finale of The Originals on The CW.

Meanwhile, we've got this sitcom to watch.

  1. "Our Brand's Worse Than Trump" Democrats Demand "Toxic" Pelosi Step Aside, Trump Urges Her To Stay

And they're not the only disgraces.

There's also the always ridiculous Rachel Maddow.

Ian56 Retweeted 🕇Sasha ðŸŒ¹
Mad Cow is now trying to blame the Corporate Dems totally corrupt anti America candidate's election defeat on the ...... weather!!!!
Ian56 added,

Friday is the season finale of The Originals, don't miss it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot"

Thursday, June 22, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, the media amplifies ISIS' power with a story choice, and much more.

Day 246 of The Mosul Slog.

Old city map. Before and after (24hrs later).

Day 246 and if you inflate the map so that the tiny area seems much larger, maybe you can fool people into believing major progress is taking place.


Let's move over to what the media has made the biggest story out of Mosul.

The first images of what's left of Al-Nuri Mosque and its minaret in Old City.

BREAKING: Iraqi officer: IS detonates iconic al-Nuri mosque in Mosul where IS leader al-Baghdadi declared the Islamic caliphate.

The moment when detonated Al-Nuri Mosque, footage proves that it was blown up with explosives and not an airstrike.

Islamic State blows up Mosul mosque where it declared 'caliphate': Iraqi military

Iraqi military sources say Islamic State has blown up The Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul

Iraqi forces say IS militants have blown up a landmark mosque in Mosul:

Damning for Iraqi mil footage which proves Nuri mosque minaret in downed by placed explosives, not airstrike

The Iraqi military says Islamic State has blown up the al-Nouri Mosque, but IS say it was destroyed by a US airstrike
Al-Nouri Mosque destroyed
The Iraqi military says Islamic State has blown up the al-Nouri Mosque, but IS say it was destroyed by a US airstrike

fighters in Iraq blew up a historic mosque that stood for more than 840 years.

The US and Iraq say ISIS blew up historic mosque in Mosul that was the ideological heart of the terror group

The Leaning Minaret (Al-Hadba Minaret)1172-1173 A.D Twelfth Century A.D Iraq, Nineveh, Mosul On Wednesday 21/6/2017 9:35 pm

⭕️ The Great Mosque of al-Nuri destroyed! Read “The Mosque of Nur al-Din in Mosul, 1170-1172” by Yasser Tabbaa

Why the outrage over this?

It's historic.

So is much of Mosul but no real tears from the press over other things damages and bombed.

No tears over the hospitals or the homes.

(But then those were bombed by the US government -- is that the reason for the lack of tears?)

History is important.

But if the choice is between concern over people or historic artifacts, sorry, I'll always be more concerned over people.

Which would include the civilians toruted and killed by Iraqi forces in what's supposed to be the liberation of Mosul.

But, again, no tears from the media.

No outrage.

Just a lot of nonsense.

Last night, this story was the top story on GOOGLE NEWS around nine p.m. EST.


As I looked at the non-stop coverage -- which has only continued -- I wondered, "Why is this not an item listed mid-way through other coverage?"

Did ISIS blow it up?

It appears it did.

So why would you make it the most important story?

If ISIS is finally on the ropes in Mosul, why would you make it the story?

If I were a member of ISIS and we got this kind of coverage for blowing up a mosque, I'd start blowing up others so I could go out with a bang.

ISIS cares about coverage.  They have their own press outlets.  They're on social media.

So this kind of stop-the-world-and-look coverage could encourage more bombings before they leave Mosul.

I understand this Tweet.

The most beautiful comment: Mosul without al-Hadba'a is like Paris without Eiffel Tower or London without Big Ben,Thanks aamer.

Paris would still be Paris without the Eiffel Tower.

The people make it Paris.

Their community, their beliefs, their hopes and dreams.

Mosul is a city of culture.

The Islamic State seized it in June 2014.

And it has suffered.

But the structures don't make it Mosul, the people do.

And there's something really sad about the fact that death and torture in Mosul get far less press than a structure being blown up.

But the Islamic State wants to instill terror in people's hearts and the media's made clear in the last 24 hours to ISIS how they can get massive publicity.

Why did they destroy it (if they did)?

If they're getting ready to leave, they may destroy many sites seen as sacred because they consider others to be infidels and that view can argue 'better to destroy it than allow infidels to have it.'

RUDAW reports:

Five million children are in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Iraq after three years of ISIS and conflict within the country.

As violence intensified in the country after the rise of ISIS in 2014, children are the most vulnerable, trapped in an endless cycle of extreme violence and poverty, according to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) assessment released today entitled “Nowhere to Go.”

As Iraqi, Peshmerga and coalition forces have been fighting to defeat ISIS, frequently with the use of heavy weaponry and bombing in densely populated areas, especially in Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi, the battles have been fierce and bloody.

Children have suffered the most during the conflict, many being seriously injured, maimed, and some killed. Children were even direct targets of ISIS snipers seeking deter families attempting to flee conflict areas. Other children have been forced to join ISIS fighting or used as human shields.

It's a shame that news -- important news -- cannot get the same attention.

Even when picked up by print and online publications, it gets very little radio or TV attention.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, BLACK AGENDA REPORT, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and GORILLA RADIO -- updated: