Friday, April 6, 2018

Blackfish City

Sam J. Miller is the author of Blackfish City.  A friend passed on the publisher's galley version and I spent most of the week reading it.  When Jasmine passed it on, she said I wouldn't be able to put it down and I had to tear myself away from it when it was time to go to bed each night.  I finished the book in two nights.  I started it Wednesday and finished it Thursday.  And this is a big book, over 300 pages.

Blackfist City is a great science fiction read. It's in the future and it's a critique of sprawl and the consumer culture.

So there was a climate war and some cities sank.

Qaanaaq is our setting, a floating city around the Artic Circle.

A mysterious woman shows up in the city and she draws together four people -- Ankit, Kaev, Fill and Soq -- who are going to uncover secrets and possibly bring about a new world.  A new world is needed because Qaanaaq not only is flooded with refugees, it also has a diseases running through it (like the breaks which is a sexually transmitted mad cow type of disease).

The four will have connections emerge and the story will grow tighter with each page. 

I was surprised throughout the book.  It's carefully constructed and not obvious.  The twists do make sense and are logical but they are unexpected.

This is a great book that's visual like you wouldn't believe.  You really see, for example, the city of Qaanaaq in your head as you read.

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

Friday, April 6, 2018.  Iraq from above and on the ground.

Starting with NASA:

A stunning work of art or an image of our beautiful planet? The transformative power of water, wind & gravity is on full display in this satellite image of Iraq's Ga'ara Depression. Varied wavelengths identify rock + soil types & detect moisture

NASA notes:

The transformative power of water, wind, and gravity is on full display in Iraq’s Ga’ara Depression. The rim of this large, oval-shaped basin near the Iraq-Syria border rises a few hundred meters along its southern and western edges.
Geologists call the rock at the bottom of the basin the Ga’ara Formation. It is made up of alternating layers of sandstone and soft claystone that formed roughly 300 million years ago, when the area was covered by a shallow sea. Later, types of carbonate rock (dolomite, limestone, and marl) were layered on top of the Ga’ara Formation, and the entire sequence of rock was gradually pushed up into a dome shape by tectonic forces.
The dome achieved its maximum height about 30 million years ago. Erosive forces have since chipped away at this layer-cake of rock. The combined effects of water, wind, and gravity wore through the thin carbonate layers at the top of the dome, and then hollowed out the oval-shaped depression from the soft, crumbly rock of the Ga’ara Formation, leaving behind a rim of tougher carbonates. These steep cliffs along the southern rim have played a key role in widening the basin over time. The regular stream of landslides and rockfalls that tumble down the cliffs have caused the southern rim to continue moving south over the years.

That's Iraq from space.  On the ground?  ALSUMARIA reports an armed attack just outside of Baghdad left three people injured today and, yesterday, security forces killed 7 suicide bombers in Anbar Province before the bombers could detonate, a Diyala sticking bombing left one person injured, and  Nineveh saw the rape of a young girl and the kidnapping of two people.  On yesterday's violence, Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) counts "62 killed or found dead."

And to the realm of pimping war.  Tuesday, the United States Institute of Peace held three panels to push further war in Iraq and Syria.  The third panel was moderated by leaker Stephen Hadley and featured Special Envoy Brett McGurk, US Gen Joseph Vogel (CENTCOM commander) and US AID's Mark Green.

Let's note this segment and, as you read along, grasp the question asked and then Green's response which starts out on a different topic completely and then, mid-way, begins offering nonsense that is little more than definition and has nothing to do with any actual work being done.

Stephen Hadley: [. . .] one gentleman said to us, you know, we've won three wars in Iraq.  One against Saddam Hussein, one against al Qaeda and we're on the threshold of winning one against ISIS but we haven't had an enduring peace.  It was to emphasize -- as you [Mark Green] did and as Gen Votel did -- the importance of the stabilization piece.  Part of that, of course, a mission near and dear to the heart of USIP, is the reconciliation mission, bringing groups -- sectarian groups that are divided by grievances, by history, threats of retaliatory violence -- bringing them together both at the national level and the local level.  Can you talk about what-what the United States and its coalition allies are doing on the reconciliation front in terms of Iraq?

Mark Green: Uh, sure.  Uh, in Iraq, one thing we're doing is help to restore the cultural diversity that has been a hallmark of Iraq.  So in northern Iraq, uh, we're working, again, to help Yazidis and Christian minorities to be able to return home -- to feel secure enough to be able to return home and-and sort of re-establish their communities.  So that's one thing that we're doing in particular.  And, in fact, I know that USIP was at our broad agency co-creation conference when we were working with, uh, a wide range of-of civil society groups -- Iraqi, American, but also from other parts of the world to try to look at this element of, uh, of reconciliation.  On top of that, what we're also doing is strengthening civil society and working with civil society groups. So in addition to having responsive governments and capable governments -- and governments that are capable of delivering services in an equitable way so that groups aren't disenfranchised.  It's also important to strengthen the capability and the role of civil society so that the needs and desires of citizens can be organized and marshalled in their dealings with government.  So, uh, to have effective governance, you have to have an effective government that can deliver.  You also need the cultural ethic and, uh, and community constructs that allow those desires and needs to be organized and pushed forward to the government.  That's part of the work that we're doing there.


It refers to one of the benchmarks that was supposed to be tied to continued US financial and military support for Iraq near the end of Bully Boy Bush's second term.  No progress was ever made and soon it was forgotten.  But reconciliation refers to the Sunnis and the Shi'ites.  Specifically, it refers to overturning Paul Bremer's de-Ba'athification.  That policy stripped most Sunnis of the ability to serve in government.  That policy stripped them of many jobs.  It is thought by many -- including every -- that's every! -- witness who appeared before the UK's Iraq Inquiry -- civilian and military witness -- that Bremer's de-Ba'athification was a disaster which destroyed Iraq.

The benchmarks included reconciliation but nothing was done on it -- even to this day.

Another election will be held May 12th and yet again the Justice and Accountability Commission is screening candidates despite the fact that most people were shocked in 2010 that the commission was still around because it had outlived its mandate.

Asked about reconciliation, Mark Green offered nonsense about Christians and Yazidis.  Asked about reconciliation, Green spoke definitions of governance, he did not provide one single example of reconciliation and he knew that as he spoke, it was all over his face.  The others averted their eyes.

June 14, 2014, then-US President Barack Obama insisted that there needed to be a diplomatic push but, though he soon began bombing Iraq daily, there never was a diplomatic effort.  In the time Donald Trump's been president -- about 15 months -- there had been no real diplomatic effort.

Though reconciliation is the best thing for Iraq, it clearly is not the best thing for the occupation of Iraq.  A reconciled Iraq could work together and could expel the foreigners in Iraq including the US occupiers.  As the US government and the UK government have now spent years admitting that Iraq needs a national reconciliation process but have also spent years refusing to help facilitate that, it is very obvious that the governments do not want a reconciled Iraq -- an Iraq that might take charge of its own destiny.

We've previously noted the US Institute of Peace's Tuesday events in  Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot" and in yesterday's snapshot.

While we're noting Brett, let's offer a note to Gina Chon, Rukmini is the new Judith Miller, yes, but she's also got quite a relationship going with your husband.  Considering that you left your husband for Brett when you were both in Iraq and he left his wife for you, you might want to wall Rukmini off from your husband.

May 12th, Iraq is set to hold parliamentary elections and no one's been bothered by the fact that Ramadan takes place from May 15th to June 14th.   Past elections in Iraq have resulted in many delays -- in the case of the 2010 parliamentary elections, many months -- to settle.  If the post-election process goes even 1/4 as poorly as it did in 2010, Ramadan will only compound that.  Holding the election three days before Ramadan was very poor planning.

Hayder al-Abadi staked his future on the premature claim that he vanquished ISIS in Iraq.  That, of course, hasn't proven to be the case.   ISIS was supposed to be Hayder's big claim to fame.

Nouri al-Maliki was ousted by Barack Obama in 2014 because ISIS had seized Mosul and other spots.  Otherwise, the US would have kept installing Nouri every four years as Bully Boy Bush and Barack had already done.  It's that 'stability' that Cordesman is arguing for.  Forget that Nouri was running secret prisons and torture sites, forget that this had been exposed in the press, forget that he was disappearing people, forget that he was having the military use tanks to circle the homes of members of Parliament that he didn't like, none of that mattered.  Nor did his attacks on journalism and journalists.  His forces kidnapped reporters who covered the protests.  Even after both NPR and THE WASHINGTON POST reported that, Nouri was still given a pass by Barack.

Hayder hasn't been very effective eliminating corruption either.  MEM reported two weeks ago, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi yesterday ordered an immediate investigation into allegations that fake jobs in the public sector were being offered to citizens by political parties in order to win votes in the country’s upcoming general elections.ALSUMARIA reported today that the Badr Organization's Hadi al-Amiri stated they would eliminate corruption.  He stated that they would create needed jobs and punish those who had stolen Iraq's wealth.  Hadi is a militia thug and he's also one of the corrupt -- most infamously, he ordered a plane  to remain on the runway and wait for his spoiled son Mahdi to make the flight but the plane left Lebanon without Mahdi on board so al-Amiri, then-Minister of Transportation in Iraq, refused to allow the plane to land.  It caused quite an uproar -- as CNN noted in real time.

Geneiva Abdo (THE NATIONAL) offers:

As Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi was deciding on coalition partners for his re-election this May, the two operatives in the room were Qassem Suleimani, the notorious commander of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Hadi Al Ameri, one of the most important commanders of the Shia militias in Iraq under Mr Suleimani’s command.
Mr Suleimani pressured the Iraqi prime minister into partnering with Shia militia commanders such as Mr Al Ameri, whom Iran funds and controls. Mr Al Abadi, who is Shia, initially caved under pressure, but reversed his decision two days later and is now in a coalition that includes Sunni Muslim parties in an attempt to show cross-sectarian unity.
That meeting speaks volumes about the state of Iraq’s elections – the first since the defeat of ISIL last year – and the country’s political future. At first glance, Iran appears to still wield enormous influence over Iraqi politics. Indeed, Tehran has been entrenched militarily in Iraq since the United States-led invasion of the country in 2003. It also exercises considerable soft power, in the form of running religious schools and educational programmes. However, there are several changes in the political landscape that make it difficult for Iran to maintain the significant power it has built up. And the Iranian regime appears to be worried.

Other election issues?  Predicting the outcome:

MERI predictions/speculations on Iraq elections: Total Shiite= 169 +/- 11 Total Kurds= 56 +/- 6 Abadi: 46 Hashd: 41 Maliki: 32 Sadir: 29 Hakim: 21 Allawi: 30 KDP: 25 Barham: 10 Gorran: 8 PUK: 7 Kurdistan Islamists: 6 Read full report & political map

Voter cards need to be presented in order to vote and not everyone has received them.

1.7 million people in Nineveh Province have not yet received their electoral voter cards that allows them to vote in the upcoming Iraqi elections in May. So far 531,684 people got their voter cards.

Turning to other problematic areas in the US: Tammy Duckworth.  She's the manliest of the troops in Congress, or thinks she is.

I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft-dodger. —Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D, IL), an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient who lost both her legs in a combat mission

Yes, you will be lectured.   Donald Trump is the president of the United States.  The people and the system have spoken.  As the president, he is over the US military in his role of commander in chief.  You're insults towards him go far beyond disrespect and attest to your own ethical vacancy.  Your insults of people who got deferments go to the fact that you were not raised with manners.  Your parents failings reflect in your behavior.  You're a member of Congress, try conducting yourself as such.  It's raw meat for the knuckle draggers like Bill Morris, but for a lot of others, your insults have crossed a line and go to your own lack of manners and possible derangement.

Considering the lawsuit brought against you for attempting to gag whistle blowers at the VA -- a lawsuit that was settled out of court, not in your favor -- maybe you should learn to seek a lower profile.  It's not surprising that someone as disgusting and vile as you would try to hide abuse of veterans at the VA but it is surprising that after this was known you would still try to play Super Solider and Last Voice of Veterans.  Well, maybe not surprising.  Those raised without manners often were also raised without the ability to feel shame.

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and Jody Watley -- updated:

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