Tuesday, November 30, 2021


Returning to the topic of "Where's the NBA's LaBitch James?," Jackson Richman (Mediaite) reports:

CNN posted an odd tweet on Sunday that read: “Waukesha will hold a moment of silence today, marking one week since a car drove through a city Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring scores of others.”


A car did not drive itself through the parade, of course. A person, Darrell Edward Brooks, rammed a car into a crowd, killing six people and injuring more than 40 others on Nov. 21 in the Wisconsin town. People, not cars or guns, kill and are charged and put on trial. The car or gun is only the mechanism that the perpetrator uses to carry out their violent acts.

That tweet is not the only example of media reporting so poorly on the incident. The press on both sides of the ideological spectrum has failed to properly cover the tragedy – a tragedy in it of itself.


Similarly to CNN, The Washington Post tweeted that the tragedy was “caused by an SUV.” The tweet has since been deleted. “We’ve deleted a previous tweet for this story that included language that was changed after publish,” tweeted the Post. At least the Post did the right thing, while CNN has yet to delete its tweet or any other coverage blaming an inanimate object for a crime with a perpetrator.

NBC News called what transpired in Waukesha an “accident” even though it wasn’t. Brooks, according to the criminal complaint filed against him, deliberately rammed his car through the parade after fleeing a domestic incident and Brooks refused police orders to stop when he drove his car in the vicinity of the parade.

“It continued to drive in a zigzag motion. It was like the SUV was trying to avoid vehicles, not people,” said one witness, according to the complaint. “There was no attempt made by the vehicle to stop, much less slow down.


 Read on to see more examples.  It's an important column.

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


 Tuesday, November 30, 2021.  Still no final voce count released in Iraq, still no one arrested for the assassination attempt or 'attempt' on Mustafa al-Kahdimi, don't call it progress.

Hassan Ali Ahmed (AL-MONITOR) emerges from the steno pool to type:

Iraqi national security adviser Qasim al-Araji appeared at a press conference on Nov. 29 to unveil the first report prepared by a special committee tasked with investigating a drone attack on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's residence earlier this month.

The committee, headed by Araji, was formed a day after the Nov. 7 drone attack to investigate and find the party behind the attack that was widely condemned by the international community.

The members of the committee consist of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, deputy commander of the Joint Operations Command Gen. Abdul Amir al-Shammari, head of the National Security Service Hamid al-Shatri, deputy of the intelligence service Majid al-Dulaimi and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.

The report revealed new details on the attack.

Araji disclosed that two explosive-laden drones packed with Composition C-4 targeted the prime minister's residence in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad in the early hours of Nov. 7. Initially, the first drone aimed its explosives at the flat roof, only to be followed by the second drone immediately targeting the entry of the courtyard. 

This style of attack was intended to strike Kadhimi with the second drone while he was fleeing the scene through the entry, the report noted. 


Generally, the only ones who can tell you what was intended are the culprits themselves.  What's Araji confessing to?

This garbage that AL-MONITOR has run is exactly why Iraqis have never bought into the notion that this was a real attack.  Per AL-MONITOR, the investigating body can mind read but they can't figure out who pulled it off?  

It's more garbage.  That's all it is.  It's not making the attack or 'attack' look real.  Everyone's fully aware that this is the last day of November and that the alleged attack took place at the start of the month.  They want high drama and yet the reality is that if an attempt was made on Mustafa's life, ther should have been arrests long ago.  The fact that this didn't happen backs up the beliefs of many that the whole 'assault' was staged and staged to create sympathy for Mustafa.  

Was the 'attack' real?  I have no idea, I wasn't there.  But I do understand people in Iraq rolling their eyes over this nonsense.  Were the attack real, that would mean an assassination attempt took place.  And yet approximately one month later no arrests??  If there was an assassination attempt, that's not the normal response.  

The whole thing has felt suspicious from the start and it's now, as one Shi'ite noted on Arabic social media this morning, just looking desperate.  

Where are those election results?  Still not in.  Can't count ballots, can't catch killers, what can Mustafa's government do?

The electoral Committee is handing complaints over to the judiciary.  That's where it stands now.  

Jeanine Antoinette Hennis-Plasschaert heads the United Nations' mission in Iraq.  She's done a miserable job.  Last week, she spoke to the UN Security Council and lied.  SHe lied.  The October 10th election -- that we still don't have a final tally on -- was free and fair.

She deserves the bad reputation has in Iraq.  We've ignored a lot of her problems because, with that position, we largely cover what they 'testitfy' to while appearing before the United Nations.  But, to recap some of her greatest hits,  she oversees a staff who told a man 'just don't burn yourself in front of our mission.'  He walks in and explains his problems and how the UN is not addressing them and that he's going to set himself ablaze.  And the UN response -- her staff -- is fine, just don't do it in front of our building.

Then there was the man who was assassinated in public and Jeanine's refusal to meet with the mother.  The mother had to protest and more before the press on this got so bad that Jeanine had to get off her lazy ass and meet with the mother.  

Now there's all the issues regarding Israel  that would take multiple snapshots to cover but we'll just note that she's seen as a supplicant to the government of Israel and not a represetnative of Iraq.

With that baggage and so much more, she shows up to the UN Security Council and lies that these were free and fair elections.


When you disenfranchise, they aren't free elections.  And many groups were disenfranchised but let's just note the most obvious one.  A week before the election, on Mustafa's orders, the electoral commssion announced that a segment of the militias -- those publicly opposed to Mustafa -- would not be allowed to vote the Friday before the election.  They couldn't vote on Sunday.  They were being deployed around the country to protect polling stations.  That was the entire reason for the early vote.  And most of the security forces got to early vote.  But not all.  

That is discrimination and that is disenfranchisement.  In addition, Layal Shakir (RUDAW) notes, "Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the pro-Iranian PMF militias, met with the head of the United Nations mission in Iraq earlier this month and said he presented her with evidence of electoral fraud."

Jeanine's a liar.  She's not an honest broker.  

Back to the assassination attempt or 'attempt,'  ALJAZEERA reports:

Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, an Iran-backed armed group under the Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella, had long denounced the blame as well as the election results.

In a televised speech on Sunday, al-Khazali said the investigation committee must “provide tangible and real evidence” instead of “allegations from the media and Facebook”.

Telegram channels affiliated with pro-Iran armed groups charged ahead with their campaign against al-Kadhimi, spreading unsubstantiated claims that the prime minister staged the attack to blame it on the armed groups.

Well when you fail to do the most rudimentary of forensics on the alleged crime scene, apparently all you have for 'evidence' is social media.

In other news, the PUK did poorly in the election.  Hiro Talabani is upping her game after the election and has begun deploying her son Bafel to make public statements calling out 'the government'  for the way protesters in Sulaymaniyah are being treated.  Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

The head of Sulaimani’s ruling party on Tuesday apologized to students for a violent crackdown on last week’s protests, two days day after he met with a group of students. 

“I am deeply saddened by the unjust violence that has been executed against a number of students. I sincerely ask for pardon from my sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers who walk towards a glimmering future with hope,” read the statement from Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) co-chair Bafel Talabani on Tuesday. 

He pledged to make “immense changes” and “resolve the shortcomings,” adding that they “will work closer with the youth and students.”

Student protests began a week ago at the University of Sulaimani and were met with a crackdown as police used electric batons to disperse the crowd. But the protests continued, growing in size every day and spreading to other cities and towns across the Kurdistan Region over the week and security forces used tear gas and water cannons to quell the demonstrations. There were also reports that forces used live ammunition. 

We'll wind down with this from Black Alliance for Peace:

Black Alliance for Peace Statement on Venezuelan Elections

The news out of Venezuela related to the elections is that there is no news. All attempts to attack and delegitimize the process failed and the people of that beleaguered nation once again chose independence and dignity over surrendering to the imperialist gangsterism of the United States and their white supremacist, European colonial allies.

For the first time in four years elements of the political opposition participated in elections that saw nearly 70,000 candidates representing 37 national political parties and 43 regional organizations for 23 governors, 335 mayors, 253 lawmakers, and 2,471 councilors.

Demonstrating once again that it is committed to open, fair, and clean elections, the Consejo National Electoral (CNE), the governmental body responsible for organizing elections in the country, issued credentials to over 300 international observers from 55 countries and institutions such as the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the Carter Center.

The result?

The “Great Patriotic Pole” (GPP), a coalition of parties and social movements organized by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), won overwhelmingly including 20 out of 23 key governorships in the sub-national election.

According to BAP National Organizer Ajamu Baraka, “The support of the Venezuelan people for their process demonstrates once again, like what we just saw in the Nicaraguan elections and the failed revolt in Cuba on the 15th, that the white supremacists do not understand that when a people have tasted freedom, reconnected with their pre-colonial cultural traditions of knowledge production and independence, they become immune to the political, ideological and material attempts to drive them back into subordination.”

The elections in Venezuela and Nicaragua, the abandonment of reactionary forces in Cuba by the Cuban people, and the solidarity from progressive forces globally in support of the struggles for national liberation and self-determination in the Americas, represent the upsurge of popular opposition and the growing weakness and fragility of U.S. and European imperialism.

They all forcefully affirm that the colonial realities are being reversed. It is a victory for all oppressed, colonized, and working-class peoples when a people, working to build a new society for themselves freed from the dehumanizing effects of the colonial/capitalist system, are able to withstand the systematic assaults on their democratic process and national sovereignty. BAP stands firmly with all of these attempts and proudly salutes the people of Venezuela.

No compromise, no retreat! 

The following sites updated:

Monday, November 29, 2021

That shameful Hillary


Hillary Clinton just gets more disgusting.  She's had her time and she needs to fade away.  All she does is blame everyone else.  It's gotten very old and very tired.






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


Monday, November 29, 2021.  Is an arrest about to take place in Iraq and what's the Democratic Party's White House hope in 2024?

Columbia University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs Tweets the following:

Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg could agree to run together in 2024 if Biden does not run again, giving the Democratic Party a very strong ticket that would seem like a natural continuation of Biden's first term, writes . | ow.ly/elwQ50GW4tp


And gaijinggirl2004 Bronx Progressive responds:

This is EXACTLY what I predict the Dem establishment is going to try to stuff down our throats. And that Harris will be an incumbent (with PB as Veep) - the primary cancelled, and all opposition deflected with charges of racism, sexism and homophobia. Slightly frowning face

Pete and Kamala are largely charisma free.  I don't like Kamala personally -- and I've noted that here for years.  Our mutual friend, Willie Brown, tells me I've never given her a real chance -- maybe he's right.  But though I don't like Kamala personally, I've thought she could handle her own in court -- yes, I've known her that long and I thought she projected likeability.  

And maybe she does for those of us in California.  But for whatever reasons, that has not been the case nationwide.  And that goes back to her campaign for the presidential nomination and through her term as vice president.

Her image is now established.  Sorry.  Unless you're Tina Turner -- and few of us are -- you get one shot at an image.  She can't be re-invented -- not while in office -- and attempts at image rehab while she's a Vice President are not going to take.  

People know her.  They have formed their opinion.  And it's not a good one.  To combat that, you'd have to have a nation filled with people willing to admit that they could be wrong.  And I don't think we live in that country.  I could be wrong.

All known examples and studies would predict that it's too late for her to change her image.


He didn't connect with voters and he got graded on a curve because the media loved him.

"Magic Negro"?  Remember that?  When Barack Obama was running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, David Ehrenstein contributed that column to THE LOS ANGELES TIMES (March of 2007).  And it ran.  It was satire and it was a critique.  (For the record, I have encountered David and I do not care for him.  I disclose that because I'm not going into too much detail about that column or David's writing because I doubt I will be fair.)  David's 1/4 African-American and he was noting how Barack Obama wasn't presented as an actual person by the media but as the supporting character who does for you what you need.  

That column ran and ran without huge controversy.  

I mention that because Dale Peck wrote a piece about Pete in 2020 for THE NEW REPUBLIC that his campaign (Liz, chiefly) immediately jumped upon and sent out the bots leading THE NEW REPUBLIC to disown the column and immediately remove it.

It was censorship plain and simple.  THE NEW REPUBLIC should be ashamed of itself but considering it's entire history -- especially with regards to the Iraq War -- the publication is clearly not capable of shame or thought.

Pete is gay.  And his lunatic celebrity supporters (I'm thinking of Jane Lynch especially), gave the appearance that the LGBTQ community was at one in their opinion of Pete and all behind him.  Nope.  Dale Peck was addressing issues with regards to Pete and issues with regards to the LGBTQ community.  

This was ignored in the bot storm Liz created.  The bot community really came into its own during Barack's run for the presidency.  It was created in 2004 -- I was present -- to address the debate coverage.  They targeted soft commentators -- soft meaning that they could go either way int heir analysis and, if they were Democrats, were likely to lean to the right to be 'fair.'  Dana Milbank was one of the targets and I'm surprised to this day that he has never written about this.  He had triple the e-mails after the first debate that he usually got at his work e-mail account.   He had a snit fit about it.  The e-mails came mainly from 100 people with several accounts who were paid to write them as various people.  In 2007, Barack deployed the bots -- a larger force by then -- and the press was both mute and moot as a result.  I explained to an editor friend at THE NEW YORK TIMES in 2008 what was going on -- again, I was present when this bot community was thought up and budgeted for back in 2004 -- and they started checking the ISPs on, for example, the comment thread to a live debate and found that the 100s of 'people' were usually about 120 people posting as one person and about 100 people posting as 500.  

When the lies of Russia-gate emerged, I saw a lot of projection from various Democratic activists.  I wasn't at all surprised when they finally went after bots -- insisting Russia was using individuals who posed as multiples to influence on the internet -- something the Democratic Party started paying for in 2004 but that reality was left out.

The point is that the bot community cannot protect Pete in another go around.  

Dale Peck's article, if published today, would seem well worth exploring.

Especially after MAYOR PETE (Ava and I covered it in "TV: You can learn a lot from documentaries -- more than they intend to teach").  

The larger community is more aware today and the LGBTq community now know Pete and aren't likely to see him as the poor victim of the press again.  You can, for example, look at how Tucker Carlson's commentary against Pete -- one that people tried to create a controversy over -- didn't succeed.  (And as Ava and I argued in "Media: A Little More Conversation     ," it really seemed -- Tucker's 'critique' -- a plea to his own wife to give him more nipple play during sex.)

To watch MAYOR PETE really should make a lot of the people who bought into the attacks on Dale Peck grasp he was making solid points.  What does it mean to be gay?  What does it mean to be a later0in-life come out?  

I hope Pete's a better person now than he was in the documentary.  I hope Chasten's had some impact on his life since then.  I think he has and I think Pete's using paternity leave was in response to some demands -- needed ones -- that Chasten made.

However, that paternity leave is also a problem.  During an ongoing pandemic, you don't take weeks of leave -- maternity or paternity.  And when you do and supply lines become an issue and you are Secretary of Transportation, you have a serious problem that is not going away if you try to seek higher office.

I know how this works, I've been in that room (no longer, life is too short and I'm not in the mood to fool myself anymore that me insisting that we tell the truth and stop trying to manipulate means I'm fighting for truth).  Pete's gay.  Kamala's half0Black.  They're going to be the dream ticket.  That really never happens.  The Democratic Party honchos have farmed that out over and over and it's never really worked.  At one point, they farmed it out to Texas because they knew they stood no real chance of winning.  So they used Texas as a test ground and ran some idiots -- Ron Kirk among them -- and called it "the dream team."  And?  It didn't work.  They knew it was going to be a loss ahead of time, the point was to see it raise the votes in a way that could be measure.  A closer loss, if you will.  It didn't work out.  They saw a boost in turnout for the groups that the candidates represented -- but just for those candidates.  The dream ticket actually didn't lift anyone.  

I have no idea if it was why Hillary went with Mr. Bland as her running mate -- Id walked out of that room by that time -- but it's been proven not to not be a winning strategy.

If you ran actual leaders from those communities, it might work.  Instead, corporate whores are run (hello, Ron Kirk! are you being held accountable yet for the destruction of your city's pension from when youy were mayor or is it still a few years down the line before that's really noticed).  But corproate whores are really all the party has to offer at this point.  

So Kamala is damaged and there's no real recovery for her.  Pete's not vice president so he's been lower under the radar.  He also distanced himself from Chasten while running for the presidential nomination in 2020 so he might have the opportunity of being rehabbed.  Chasten next to him on the couch as Pete discusses how he's grown comfortable in the fact that he's a gay man and saying he's not there to hide or accept half-measures could rehab Pete.  But Pete can't rehab Kamala.

That dream team strategy benefitted Kamala once.  Stacey Abrams came awfully close to being Joe's running mate in 2020.  Joe favored her.  It was explained by various honchos in the party, explained to Joe, that she was "too Black."  And, of course, when compared to Kamala who's half Indian (her mother is from India), Stacey is 'Blacker.'  But they thought, the ones advising Joe, that they'd see the rejection of the ticket with Stacey on and that Joe needed to go with a 'whiter' person of color.  Which is why Kamala got the nom.  Up until 16 hours before that was announced, Joe was still saying Stacey would be a better choice.  Would she have been?  I don't know but I think it's fair to say her poll numbers would be higher than Kamala's are.

"He now has more than 350,00 deaths on his watch.  He used to say that Trump got all these people killed because he didn't know what he was doing.  So now we have 350,000 plus something coming over the ocean  that we don't know anything about.  So in every possible way, Joe Biden's presidency is slipping away."

Turning to Iraq, MEMO reports:

The Secretary-General of Iraq's Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq movement, Qais Khazali, warned on Sunday of "attempts" to accuse what he called "resistance factions" of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. According to Khazali, such allegations are likely to drag the country into a major crisis.

In a televised address, he called on Iraq's Supreme Shia cleric, Ali Al-Sistani, to intervene as the situation "has reached dangerous levels" in the country.

"The targeting of the prime minister's house [on 7 November], if true, is serious and cannot be tolerated at all," said Khazali, adding that Al-Kadhimi refused the participation of two "resistance factions" — militias — in the investigation into the attempted assassination. "We send a message to the committee charged with the investigation… You must provide concrete evidence and real proof, not allegations."

If true.  And if carried out by Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq.  That's not a slam at the group.  I don't like them -- or the other militias in Iraq.  But there is serious skepticism among the Iraqi people over what happened or didn't happen at the prime minister's home all those weeks ago.  

Western outlets have wrongly ignored this skepticism.  I have no idea what happened.  I don't pretend I do.  But I do know the skepticism was there from the start and that it has only increased.  All by itself, that's a story.  But when we get into the possible reactions to an arrest, this mood really becomes important.

Many believe the attempt or 'attempt' was nothing but a stunt to try to make people rally around the inept Mustafa al-Kahdimi.  The current prime minister is reviled and seen as a failure.  They were not moved to rally around him.

In the weeks since the attempt or 'attempt,' you've seen rallies and demonstrations around the country -- none hgve been by Mustafa supporters.

The US government backed Mustafa and they were the original suspect in the attempt or 'attempt.'  Most Iraqis on Arabic social media feel it was an attempt carried out by the US government that was never meant to harm but that was meant to provide sympathy for the Iraqi people.  Many compare it to September 2005 when 2 UK soldiers were arrested.   The incident did rec3ive some US coverage (mainly THE NEW YORK TIMES) but the Iraqi people know it well.  Two UK soldiers were arrested when Iraqi police found them acting suspicious and with explosives and wigs in their vehicle.  They were to pose as insurgents and conduct violence to cause unrest.  They were taken to a Basra prison and the UK responded by attacking the prison.

It was a big deal in Iraq -- and should have been around the world.  Arabic social media has made that incident a major topic since the attempt or 'attempt' on Mustafa's life.

If someone is charged -- all this time later -- the popular mood willnot surprise those of us paying attention.  

We'll deal with the UN rep in Iraq tomorrow.  She's worthless and she's amde herself that.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Documenting Joni's epic talents live" went up this morning.  The following sites updated:

Friday, November 26, 2021

Where's the NBA's LaBitch James?

You know LaBitch James, right?

The uneducated fool who is a nightmare off the court but thinks he has something beyond basketball to offer the world?

The one who mocked a kid for crying at a trial?

Well, LaBitch, where's your mockery of Darrell E. Brooks?  Who?  This man:

Police say the man accused of plowing into a Christmas parade in Wisconsin and killing six people was arrested in Union City earlier this year.

Police say Darrell E. Brooks, 39, drove his SUV through a parade in Waukesha last weekend. Five adults and an 8-year-old boy were killed and at least 60 other people were injured.


Heavy notes:

On November 23, 2021, in a Waukesha County court hearing in which Brooks sobbed and hyperventilated as some victims’ families watched silently, a court commissioner set his bail at $5 million. There was heavy security at the courthouse.

“I have been doing this for almost 40 years, and the nature of this offense is shocking,” Court Commissioner Kevin Costello said, setting the bail. He said that two detectives who tried to stop Brooks’ car believe he was intentionally trying to hit people; he was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicides, and a sixth charge is now expected.



No mocking of  cold-blooded killer Brooks?

LaBitch James really is a bitch.  He's no hero -- on the court or off.

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


Thursday, November 25, 2021.  A US veteran is dead and it's not because he's crazy but it may because the system failed him, protests continue in Iraq, the Australian government tells the world to please abuse Australian citizens, and much more.

Rose L. Thayer (STARS AND STRIPES) reports:

Ian Fishback, a former Army officer who in 2005 raised concerns about the treatment of detainees in the Global War on Terror, died Nov. 19 at an adult treatment facility in Michigan. He was 42 years old.

In a statement posted with Fishback’s obituary, the veteran’s family thanked his hometown community in Newberry, Mich., for the support provided Fishback in “recent difficult times.”

“He faced many challenges and many of us felt helpless. We tried to get him the help he needed. It appears the system failed him utterly and tragically. There are many questions surrounding his death and the official cause of death is unknown at this time. We can assure you that we will get to the bottom of this. We will seek justice for Ian, because justice is what mattered most to him,” according to the statement.

Fishback’s mental health had declined recently and he struggled to get access to medical and mental health care from Veterans Affairs, said his longtime friend Justin Ford.

For those who knew Fishback, his friend said that his actions regarding the inhumane treatment of detainees came as no surprise. He always had a strong moral and ethical compass and held tightly to those principles, Ford said.

“Standing up for what you believe in is never easy. And it wasn't easy on him,” he said. “He paid a price.” 

THE NEW YORK TIMES had a story on Ian Fishback.  We didn't note it.  

Ian Firshback did something heroic when others didn't.  He could have looked the other way, as many did. He could have focused on something else.  But he knew right from wrong and was raised to stand up for what was right.  

To me, THE TIMES story read like 'crazy man kills himself -- more mental illness help needed at VA.'

He wasn't crazy.  

I don't know that you could even call him mentally ill.  And be careful with that term if your goal is to help veterans.  Don't just apply it because you survived viewing a season of Jerry Springer programs and you think that's the equivalent of a hospital residency.  

We say "Post-Traumatic Stress" here and we have used that forever.  That condition is a coping condition.  You are in volatile and violent environment and your body and your mind respond by making you hyper-vigilant.  A veteran with PTS has a coping mechanism and now that she or he is back in civilian life, they need some help adjusting, re-orienting their body, mind and soul to a calmer world that they do not have to be hyper-vigilant in order to protect themselves and others.

When you stigmatize something, you make it harder for people who need some coaching, counseling or assistance to get it.  Retired Gen Peter Chiarelli got that and was part of the move towards changing the term to PTS.  

"Disorder" at the end of that is a shaming term that will result in fewer service members and veterans seeking assistance.  

Words do matter.  And THE NEW YORK TIMES report was appalling.

Crazy man kills himself -- more money to VA so the crazies can help!

That is how it read.

A brave person did a heroic thing.  It wasn't easy to do it at the start and you can be sure it was hard to live with.  Revealing what was happening didn't undo the damage.  It didn't undo what was done -- those tortured were not magically untortured.  And the horror that Ian felt that moved him to expose what was happening remained inside him.

That's sadly very normal.  No one should have that in their head.  We would all struggle with that.  It is normal.  We recoil from horrors for a reason.

The system clearly failed Ian.  But Ian wasn't crazy.  He was sent by our government into a war and he experienced very troubling things as a result.  You go deep diving, you need to decompress.  You experience what Ian did, you need something more than, "Thanks for your service."

And to be really clear, I'm not advocating for returning service members to be kept in some sort of isolation for weeks.  When they return, they should be able to return to their loved ones.  I am saying that services need to be made available.  That's counseling with trained medical professionals, absolutely.  That's also religious counseling -- that's chaplains and others.  There should be a huge range of people to talk to and you should be encouraged to check in with some of the resources available.  

If a veteran is feeling suicidal, it is great that there's a toll free number where they can serve assistance -- 800-273-8255 -- and it's sad that Eric Shinseki's family worked to make the use of that number questionable.  But that the service is so needed goes to the fact that there are so many gaps in care.  

And there were way too many gaps on the part of the US government with regards to Ian.  He was abandoned in many ways.

He did a heroic and courageous thing.  The US government did not honor that action.

There needs to be an award for people who show true courage and character by coming forward like he did.  He received no special decoration from the US government.  If he had, that could have eased some of his stress.  If the government had officially recognized the strength of his actions, that could have made a real difference.

In Iraq, protests continue:

🎥🛑In #Iraq police respond with force as #Sulaymaniyah student protest enters third day

Ayub Zangana Tweets:

On the #16DaysofActivism against violence against women I'm sharing these photos of brave women who are brutally attacked and beaten by security forces of #sulaymaniyah for demanding their rights. KRG is only against violence if it's not done by them.

MRT explains:

The protests, in principle to ask that scholarships be restored to university students, highlight the economic crisis that the autonomous government is going through. Significantly, 80% of Iraqis trying to reach the European Union from Belarus come from this region of northern Iraq.

In view of the complaints, the Kurdistan regional government has decided to allocate a budget to help students of universities and institutes, according to an official spokesperson quoted by the information network Esta. It is not clear if that promise will be enough to calm the spirits of young Kurds, whose protests have been harshly repressed according to local media.

The Kurdistan government suspended student stipends in 2015, due to the economic crisis caused by falling oil prices, the fight against the so-called Islamic State and the wave of internally displaced people who arrived from other areas of the country. Until then, university and high school students received between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqi dinars (between 18 and 61 euros) a month. Now, young people consider that the circumstances that led to the interruption of aid have already been overcome.

Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

Half a dozen men, some of them heavily armed, wrestle a young man to the ground where one of the men kicks him hard in the head. The young man is then hauled to his feet and led away, all the while taking blows from the men’s fists. This is the scene in a video that appears to have been shot from a nearby rooftop during a student protest in Sulaimani. The clip sparked outrage online. 

The protests began on Sunday at the University of Sulaimani and were met with a crackdown as police used electric batons to disperse the crowd. But the protests have continued, growing in size every day and spreading to other cities and towns across the Kurdistan Region.

The internal security forces (Asayish) issued a statement on Wednesday about the video “in which someone hurts a protester in an illegal and inappropriate way.” They said they have made an arrest in connection with the incident. 

The protests began with students demanding restoration of a living allowance. The government used to pay a monthly stipend of 40,000 to 100,000 dinars ($27 - $67) per student. It was one of the expenses the government cut when it introduced austerity measures like salary cuts to cope with the financial crisis caused by the war with the Islamic State (ISIS), low oil prices, and budget disputes with Baghdad. Without the funds, some students have problems buying food or paying for accommodation. 

But the allowance is just the start of a long list of grievances.

“The allowances was basically the match that starts the fire. We are demanding better services. We are demanding the removal of political influence from university affairs. We are demanding a better education system,” Ahmed*, one of the protesters, told Rudaw English on Wednesday. 

Student representatives on university councils are often picked based on their affiliation with political parties. Classes are often overcrowded or frequently interrupted because teachers go on strike over unpaid salaries. 

In Iraq -- yes, even in the KRG -- the government response is always to attempt attacks on reporters to discourage coverage.   Again, even in the KRG this happens:

Four journalists detained during protests in Sulaymaniyah

AL-AHAD TV notes:

Our correspondent in Sulaymaniyah: The media cannot approach the gate of Sulaymaniyah University for the fear of getting arrested. #Iraq

The 'brave' Kurdish forces are attacking reporters and they're attacking students.  This is outrageous.  Where are the Barzanis and the Talabanis -- the two Kurdish family dynasties?  Why aren't they publicly speaking up?  Because they're in charge of the government and they approve of these actions?

Actions like the ones Nozheen Murad notes below:

“…security forces locked up about 20 girls in one of the university dormitories of the University of Sulaymaniyah and fired tear gas inside the hall”
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Euro-Med Monitor in Iraq Flag of Iraq
The security forces’ repression of demonstrators in #Kurdistan is a grave attack on freedom of opinion and expression, and the freedom of peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution in Article 38. euromedmonitor.org/a/4749
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I thought Hiro Talabani was many things.  I did not think she was stupid until right now.  Is there a reason she hasn't deployed all her sons in front of TV cameras to denounce what's going on?  To pin it on the Barzanis?  That would elevate her family.  Not much else will at this point.  I thought she was smart enough to seize every opportunity.  Guess not.  Or maybe her sons are all in the US right now?

As for the Barzanis, they need to grasp that the Talabanis rode high for years and didn't think that would ever end.  It has ended.  Election after election demonstrates that.  And that could easily be the Barzanis fate next if they don't start addressing real concerns and stop using security forces to threaten and abuse the people.

Speaking of failed governments, will Australia ever defend their own citizens?  They refuse to stand by journalist Julian Assange who remains threatened and abused by the US and UK governments.  In addition, they refuse to defend another citizen who's being held in an Iraqi prison.  Christopher Knaus (GUARDIAN) reports:

Australian engineer Robert Pether has penned a handwritten note to Scott Morrison from his Iraqi jail cell, pleading for the prime minister to intervene and warning he is effectively being held hostage.

Pether has been behind bars for almost eight months after being lured to Iraq and arrested in relation to a dispute between his firm and the Central Bank of Iraq over the construction of its new Baghdad headquarters.

In August, Pether was sentenced to five years in an Iraqi jail and fined $US12m over allegations his firm, CME Consulting, spent money that should have gone to an architect and a subcontractor.

The sentence devastated his Ireland-based family, including his wife, Desree, and three children, who say Pether has been punished for what is effectively a contractual dispute that belongs in civil courts.

Pether said he’d been tricked into signing a confession – written in Arabic – in front of a judge after being told it was a routine court record.

“Two months later I learned the document was my alleged confession,” he wrote. “The first time I saw a translation of this document was four months after this date and it was nothing like the statement I had given during the interrogation process.”

Australia's 60 MINUTES filed a report a few weeks ago.

Winding down, yesterday's snapshot noted Hunter Biden's latest scandal.  Yesterday evening, a friend told me Jonathan Turley had weighed in.  We had problems yesterday getting the snapshot up so I missed that -- I did go in an add a note and a link.  If you missed his column, here's the opening:

I previously wrote a column on the one year anniversary of the Hunter Biden laptop story that marveled at the success of the Biden family in making the scandal vanish before that 2020 election. It was analogized to Houdini making his 10,000-pound elephant Jennie disappear in his act. The Biden trick however occurred live before an audience of millions. Now, in an encore, a new major story on Biden’s Chinese dealings has surfaced. Once again, poof!

The media has made the story disappear except for a couple of the usual outlets. Even with the New York Times reporting on the story, the disclosure of Biden’s role in securing one of the world’s largest cobalt mines for China (a key component to electric battery production) has been ignored by the major networks and many other print outlets. Once again, ABC. NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and other media just cannot see the elephant.

What is most amazing about this continuing trick is that the story has all of the elements that the media longed to confirm during the Trump Administration on the financial dealings of the Trump children. The son of the President was involved in a successful effort to handover a strategically vital natural resource to the Chinese that would guarantee their dominance in one of the most important new industries of the “Green economy.” This occurred during a period when Hunter Biden and his uncle were accused of running a global influence peddling operation with foreign powers that cashed in on the Vice Presidency of Joe Biden. Then there is the fact that the story appears to contradict denials of continuing ownership in such foreign interests by the Bidens.