Closing Thought–06Mar19

We Americans are proud of our rights….especially our freedom of the press thing……but where does the US fall in the grand scheme of freedom of the press?

There is a World Press Index…..

Freedom of the press. 1. Norway 2. Sweden 3. Netherlands 4. Finland 5. Switzerland 6. Jamaica 7. Belgium 8. NZ 9. Denmark 10. Costa Rica 11. Austria 12. Estonia 13. Iceland 14. Portugal 15. Germany ……40. United States……140. China……..(World Press Freedom Index)

Those “socialist” countries of Scandinavia lead the way in freedom of the press……but don’t tell conservatives and the GOP for it will screw up their rhetoric and narrative for decades.

All this is Making America Great Again, Mr. Trump……and you make it great again by attacking one of our best freedoms?

You people, Trump supporters, are a bunch of deluded slugs if you believe a word of the Trump Lie Machine.

So I have said…so I have written!

Turn The Page!

To Help Our Veterans

I have been very critical of our president in the past……I will have to give him his props on one subject…..Veterans.

He has given them lots of lip service in the past but has shown little truly concern for their welfare….that is until yesterday…..

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at stemming a persistently high number of veteran suicides, urging expanded outreach by awarding grants to community programs. The order creates a Cabinet-level task force that will seek to develop a national roadmap for suicide prevention, bringing in state and local organizations to raise awareness among the high-risk group. It directs the task force led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to finalize a plan in 12 months, the AP reports. “Veterans suicide is a tragedy of staggering proportions,” Trump said at a signing ceremony surrounded by military families and veterans’ organizations. “Today we can help end this crisis.”

He said the problem of veteran suicide can only be solved if the entire country works together to build communities that support and protect veterans from the first moment they return to civilian life. “They courageously fulfill their duties to our nation, now we must fulfill our duties to them,” Trump said. Currently, about 20 veterans die by suicide each day, about 1.5 times higher than those who haven’t served in the military. The government says about 14 of those 20 were not under VA care, pointing to a need for improved outreach. According to the White House, the new task force will look to create a grant system similar to the Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing program, which provides funding to state and local programs. The effort, which is being dubbed the PREVENTS Initiative, will also aim to better coordinate research on suicide prevention across agencies, including Veterans Affairs, Defense and Homeland Security. PREVENTS stands for “President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide.”

I hope this is a real effort to help and not some “feel good” order.

I think we can save a bunch of money by admitting that war is the biggest contributor to the causes of vet suicides….end these worthless endless wars and the suicide rate may go down.

But DC will do what DC always does…..stretch this out for maximum cash outlay and issue a report that will not change a goddamn thing.

It’s “Antisemitism” Again

OMG! The House is about to try and bring”charges” up on a member that they accuse of antisemitic words….Rep. Ilhan Omar is once again in hot water with the d/bags that are bought and paid for by AIPAC…..

It’s easy to name the newest member of Congress making the most headlines: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But another freshman lawmaker continues to generate controversy of her own, and it’s about to intensify this week. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somali-American, is again under fire for statements seen as anti-Semitic. And while the Minnesota representative has apologized previously for similar controversies, this time she is doubling down while denying the anti-Semitic allegations. The details of what’s going on:

  • What she said: Speaking last week in reference to Israel and its supporters in the US, Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” reports NPR.
  • The backlash: Critics pounced on that statement as anti-Semitic, including Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League. “Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile anti-Semitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries,” wrote Greenblatt to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • From colleagues: Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs panel, also called it a “vile anti-Semitic slur.” Another Democrat, Rep. Nita Lowey, chair of the Appropriations Committee, called on Omar to apologize, saying she “continues to mischaracterize support for Israel.” Rep. Josh Gottheimer, also a Democrat, likened this to when “John F. Kennedy’s loyalty was called into question simply because he was Roman Catholic,” per the Washington Post.
    Doubling down: Omar is not apologizing. “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman!” she responded to Lowey. “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” She adds that opposing Benjamin Netanyahu “and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic.”
    Possible rebuke: The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a measure that doesn’t mention Omar (at least in its current draft form) but is seen as an “unprecedented public rebuke” of her, per Politico. The resolution condemns anti-Semitism and the “myth of dual loyalty.” Republicans are pushing for more, however, including having Omar removed from the Foreign Affairs panel.
  • AOC defends: Ocasio-Cortez is backing up Omar. “One of the things that is hurtful about the extent to which reprimand is sought of Ilhan is that no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” on the floor),” she tweeted, one of several on the topic.
    Trump weighs in: Omar “is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel,” he tweeted. “Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!”
    Past controversy: Omar apologized earlier this year after asserting that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” and again for a 2012 tweet asserting that Israel had “hypnotized the world.” The “Benjamins” comment led to formal criticism in the House for perpetuating “anti-Semitic tropes.”

All this is so much bullsh*t and a waste of time and energy that should be focused on important issues…I am with Rep. Omar……time for the old farts in the House to admit they are agents of a foreign government…they want to investigate Trump when they may be just as guilty as he.

 

Bin Laden Makes News (Again)

We all remember the name of the bastard that lead the attacks on 9/11…Osama bin Laden…..now that he is dead we should be free of the name right?

NO!

His son is making a name for himself…..Hamza bin Laden…..and the US is offering a reward for information on his location…..a million bucks….kinda low for info on a known terrorist…..

“Submit a tip, get paid,” reads the tweet from the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program. In this case, the US is looking for a big tip—and offering a handsome reward: The US announced it will pay up to $1 million for information leading to Hamza bin Laden, the 30-year-old son of Osama. The State Department describes him as an emerging al-Qaeda leader who has issued audio and video threats against the US and Western nations loyal to it in revenge for his father’s death. The BBC reports that letters found in the compound where Osama was killed in 2011 indicated Hamza was the son he was grooming to take over for him. He was added to the US’ Specially Designated Global Terrorist list in 2017, and he has another familial terror tie: Relatives in 2018 said he had married the daughter of Mohamed Atta, the eldest of the 9/11 hijackers.


As for his general whereabouts, “We do believe he’s probably in the Afghan-Pakistan border [region] and… he’ll cross into Iran. But he could be anywhere though in … south central Asia,” said Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff. NBC News reports the UN took action against Hamza as well on Thursday: Member states are required to freeze his assets and adhere to a travel ban and arms embargo against him. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has made its own move against the young bin Laden: Per the kingdom’s interior ministry, his citizenship there has been taken away, the Independent reports. The Washington Post notes that the revocation actually occurred by royal decree in November; it’s not clear why it’s coming to light only now.

Hamza’s luck is running out……but is he truly a threat or are we just trying to eliminate a problem before it becomes one?

Afghanistan: Is Peace Near?

After 18 years of constant war and multiple deployments the US is looking at the peace process taking shape…..

The US gets bad press worldwide…..the American propaganda machine we call the MSM does not pile on….but the news is not good for America…..like the number of civilian deaths……

According to UN officials, the 2018 civilian death toll in Afghanistan was a record high, with 3,804 killed and another 7,189 wounded. This was an approximately 11% increase over the previous year, and the highest annual figure since the UN began keeping track in 2009.

The report concluded that both an increase in suicide attacks, mainly from ISIS, and a sharp increase in US airstrikes were driving the record deaths, with over 1,000 casualties just from US air operations.

The Taliban were blamed for the largest number of civilian casualties, at 37%, which is in keeping with UN reports of the past. The Afghan government, US, and NATO were blamed for 24%, and ISIS was blamed for a further 20%. This is a huge number of ISIS killings given how comparatively small the group is.

The UN said a particularly concerning fact was that the civilian casualties from US airstrikes were overwhelmingly women and children. This, however, should be unsurprising, as the US tends to define adult men in Afghanistan as “suspects” or “militants” simply by virtue of being in a strike.

(antiwar.com)

With those numbers rising the parties involved are meeting and discussing an end to the hostilities……

A new round of negotiations on Afghanistan has begun on Monday in the Qatari capital city. A delegation of US diplomats and top Taliban figures, including deputy Taliban leader Mullah Baradar, are present for what is sure to be the highest level of talks yet.

18+ years into the US war in Afghanistan, they’ve gone from the Taliban denying negotiations were even taking place, to confirming they are. Progress is now being confirmed by both sides, with a basic framework of a war-ending deal in place.

That deal, specifics not-withstanding, are that the US would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, and the Taliban would ensure that neither al-Qaeda nor ISIS could operate inside of the country in the future.

Having Mullah Baradar and US negotiator head Zalmay Khalilzad sitting across the table from one another only underscores how serious the talks are getting, and this latest round of talks is expected to continue hammering out specific details.

(antiwar.com)

I read dissertation papers that grad students submit and this one covers the “Long War” in Afghanistan and the possibility of a peaceful settlement…..

During the last week of January, the news was awash with stories covering the current administration’s ostensibly unprecedented progress with Special Envoy Khalilzad’s recent talks with the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors in Qatar. In a statement that the U.S. Embassy Kabul released on the last Monday in January, Khalilzad stated that the peace talks had made progress on important issues and that the negotiators had agreed on a framework for further talks in February. In the eighteenth year of a long and stalemated war, there are reasons to be sanguine about these developments, to some degree, simply because this seems to have been the most talk about peace among the belligerents yet in this long hard war. And Mr. Khalilzad is indeed one of the best people to be the U.S. envoy leading the talks given his Afghan origins and years of experience as ambassador in Afghanistan and Iraq

However, there are also reasons for much caution and some alarm about the current progress and the potential for peace in Afghanistan since the deliberations and decisions about many previously intractable issues still require prudence and patience.  These details may potentially augur the gravest consequences for Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the U.S. Several things of great importance have yet to be worked out. There is still much uncertainty in what outcomes these talks will result in, and looming yet elusive peace also brings up questions and concerns about the Taliban’s and their sponsor’s true intentions.

This could be good news….or it could be just a lull in a continuing situation….

light at the end of an excruciatingly long tunnel, the prospect of American withdrawal from Afghanistan now seems to glimmer ahead. Several rounds of negotiation in Russia, Qatar, and elsewhere have produced the outlines of an agreement. Details are unknown, but by all accounts, the accord will be based around a simple deal: the United States pulls its troops out and the Taliban pledges to never again host terror groups.

This would be a most un-American peace deal. Rather than a declaration of victory, it would be a reluctant acceptance of stubborn facts on the ground. Afghans repelled British invaders in the 19th century and Soviet invaders in the 20th. For nearly two decades they have held the United States at bay. By leaving Afghanistan to its fate, we would be admitting failure. This horrifies many in Washington. Americans fervently embrace the illusion that their country can succeed at anything — including crushing mountain fighters thousands of miles away who believe they are patriots resisting a foreigner invader.

https://outline.com/RwCTAB

I wish I could see this as a good thing for the people of Afghanistan….but I cannot….the Taleban when returned to power will revert to their extreme shelf…..a restrictive form of Islam will once again rule the land….

Afghanistan has another worry….the hostilities between India and Pakistan…..there is a possibility that hostilities could spill over into Afghanistan….

Fearing a dangerous spillover impacts from increased tensions between India and Pakistan, war-ravaged Afghanistan has advised its nuclear-armed neighbors to exercise the utmost restraint.

On Wednesday, February 27, the Pakistan Air Force claimed to have shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace, a day after India said it struck hideouts of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group – responsible for a deadly suicide attack in Kashmir– inside Pakistan.

India blames Pakistan-based JeM for killing more than 40 Indian security forces in the troubled Kashmir valley on February 14.

https://thedefensepost.com/2019/02/28/afghanistan-india-pakistan-spillover/

The only good thing is that American troops will come home and get the rest they richly deserve.

Let’s say that a peace plan is negotiated……what does that mean to US troops?

Ongoing US-Taliban peace negotiations, designed to end the 18-year Afghan War, has a new proposal, with the Pentagon having finally offered a formal plan for withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan.

As with the usual Pentagon plans, there seems to be reticence toward actually doing this in a timely fashion. The plan reportedly would have half of the 14,000 US troops leaves Afghanistan within a matter of months, but then the rest would stay for as long as five years.

The end of the five years would see not only all US troops out of Afghanistan, but also NATO troops. It is said to enjoy support within NATO and among administration officials. It’s not clear what the Taliban’s position is, however.

And that might be a tough sell for the Taliban. After resisting a US occupation for 18 years, the Taliban’s demand is to get the US out of the country, and while the logistics of that might take awhile, five years is a very long time.

If anything, such a long time is likely to raise fears that the Pentagon is dragging its feet specifically to give officials time to change their minds and dishonor the deal, and keeping thousands of troops inside Afghanistan means Trump, or his successor, could end up resuming the war.

(antiwar.com)

US troops are the key to any peace deal with the Taleban…..

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban’s political office in Qatar, told reporters in Qatar that the war will come to an end in the country and the Taliban fighters will join the ranks of the Afghan army if the two sides sealed an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

He said talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government is an internal issue and that Taliban is currently carrying out talks with the US about troop withdrawal.

“When the occupation is ended, there is a full withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and there is an Afghan-inclusive Islamic government in the country, I think there is no need for any military operation and war. So, there will be a sustainable peace in the country and all the military people and our people, they will be included in a national army,” said Shaheen.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/taliban-sees-troop-withdrawal-key-peace

Appears as troops are the main condition for peace in Afghanistan….

I say bring ’em home!