“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Iraq Takes Kirkuk - The Kurds' Peshmerga collapsed Immediately

US military rushes to defuse looming crisis in Kirkuk after Iraqi army advances

US commanders actively trying to mediate between two sides in the oil-rich city after forces loyal to the government in Baghdad seized control on Monday

Iraqi forces patrol in the streets after they retake the control of the city center from peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday.
Iraqi forces patrol in the streets after they retake the control of the city center from peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday. Photograph: Uncredited/AP

US military commanders are scrambling to stop a conflict escalating between two forces they arm and train, after the Iraqi army seized the contested, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, from Kurdish peshmerga.

The Pentagon sought to play down the scale of clashes between the two sides, after forces loyal to the central government in Baghdad rapidly took over nearly all the cityon Monday, and Kurdish forces abandoned their positions, retreating to nearby oilfields. Video footage showed streams of Kurdish refugees leaving Kirkuk in cars.

Baghdad’s move came three weeks after a referendum on Kurdish independence included the ethnically diverse oil city – a contentious move that Baghdad viewed as an effective annexation.

The peshmerga withdrawal delivered decisive military and political gains to Baghdad and a devastating blow to the Kurdish region’s de facto president, Massoud Barzani, who had staked much of his legacy on the referendum and aimed to use it as a stepping stone to consolidate Kurdish autonomy.

Col Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, described the takeover, as “coordinated movements, not attacks” and said an exchange of fire that is reported to have resulted in several casualties was “an isolated incident”.
“We have not seen levels of violences suggested in some of the media reports,” Manning said, urging both parties to focus on the “common threat” of the Islamic State. “This is certainly not helpful and again we encourage both sides to not fight each other.” 

He added that US commanders in the region were active in trying to mediate between the two sides in the city.

“Coalition leaders at all levels are engaging with their counterparts in the Iraqsecurity forces to encourage dialogue and de-escalation,” Manning said.

Speaking at the White House, Donald Trump said: “We don’t like the fact that they are clashing, but we’re not taking sides.” 

... but what did Trump say in 2015?

But the US embassy in Baghdad declared its support for Iraq’s reassertion of sovereignty in Kirkuk. “We support the peaceful reassertion of federal authority, consistent with the Iraqi constitution, in all disputed areas,” the embassy said in a statement. 

The confrontation with Kurdish forces is a serious threat to US efforts to focus its allies’ efforts against Isis, an effort in which Kurdish forces have been Washington’s most effective partner. 

There was also concern in Washington over the role of Iran in the move into Kirkuk. The Iraqi army advanced alongside mostly Shia Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), which are Iranian-backed.

“I am especially concerned by media reports that Iranian and Iranian-backed forces are part of the assault. Iraqi forces must take immediate steps to de-escalate this volatile situation by ceasing their advances,” Senator John McCain said in a written statement. 

“The United States provided equipment and training to the government of Iraq to fight Isis and secure itself from external threats – not to attack elements of one of its own regional governments, which is a longstanding and valuable partner of the United States.”

Manning said the Pentagon had been assured by the Iraqi government and security forces that they would use US equipment “in accordance with US law and our bilateral agreements”.

“If we receive reports that US-origin equipment is being misused or provided to unauthorized users, we engage the Iraqi government in conjunction with the US embassy to address any confirmed issues – up to the highest levels, if necessary,” Manning added.

He also said he was not aware of any direct Iranian involvement in the Kirkuk operation though the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds force, Gen Qassem Suleimani – and PMU officials loyal to Iran’s supreme leader – are reported to have directed the offensive. 

Iraqi children step on a Kurdish flag as forces advance towards the centre of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters on Monday.
Iraqi children step on a Kurdish flag as forces advance towards the centre of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters on Monday. Photograph: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior foreign policy adviser to the Iranian supreme leader, praised the Iraqi army’s move to capture Kirkuk, framing it as a blow to Israel’s strategic ambitions.

“With the defeat of the Kurds in Kirkuk, Barzani’s conspiracy against the region’s security was foiled. Barzani’s aim and Israel’s covert aim were to seize Kirkuk’s oilfields to serve the Israeli interest. In the Kurdistan region, they raise the flag of Israel and this means if Kurds gain independence in Iraq, we will share a border with Israel,” Velayati said, according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news.

The Kirkuk governor, Najmladin Karim, has gone into hiding according to a former state department official, David Philips, who spoke to Karim on Sunday night at the time of the offensive.

“This was an attack by Shia militias under an Iranian commander,” Philips, who is now director of Columbia University programme on peace-building and rights. “The PMU is an entirely Iranian construct,” he added. “This operation was about Iran against Kurdistan.”

Philips pointed out that the US special envoy for the anti-Isis coalition, Brett McGurk, was in Baghdad over the weekend for talks with the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.

“I would like to know what he and Abadi talked about,” he said. “The long history of links to the Kurds didn’t seem to matter when it came to crunch time.”
In a statement on Monday, Abadi said: “We have only acted to fulfil our constitutional duty to extend the federal authority and impose security and protect the national wealth in this city, which we want to remain a city of peaceful coexistence for all Iraqis.”

Kirkuk was seized by the Kurds in the summer of 2014, after Iraqi forces fled their positions following an Isis attack on nearby Mosul. At the time, peshmerga units beat Isis militants in a race to control installations and oilfields. 

Ever since, Erbil has tried to strengthen its claim on the city, which comprises Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen and is the epicentre of regional oil production. 

Kurdish officials had set up a pipeline from Kirkuk to Turkey, through which they had been selling crude oil – amid bitter opposition from Baghdad.

The withdrawal of Kurdish forces underscores a deep rivalry between two political blocs in Iraqi Kurdistan, which came to a head in the past three days as Iraqi forces and allied Shia units stalked Kurdish forces from south of the city. 

Some leaders of the PUK bloc, based in the region’s second city, Sulaymaniyah, had viewed the referendum as a partisan move by Barzani to consolidate domestic control. The veteran leader had instead insisted that the ballot represented a defining moment in Kurdish history, which he hoped would transcendhelp overcome longstanding disunity.

Divisions, however, were on stark display, as the peshmerga units capitulated, shocking even members of the two feuding parties. The general command of Kurdistan’s peshmerga slammed the PUK for what it described as a “major historic betrayal”. 

In contrast, Iraqi leaders, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Haidar al-Ameri, both senior commanders of the Popular Mobilisation units – a conglomerate of largely Shia forces, arrived in Kirkuk mid-afternoon to witness the Iraqi flag being raised at the governor’s office.

The decision to hold the ballot had drawn strident criticism from Iran, Turkey, Baghdad and the US. Baghdad and Tehran have blockaded the Kurdish north for the past two weeks, closing air space and partially suspending trade.

Shia units pressed into Kirkuk’s southern outskirts early on Monday and civilians started leaving the city en masse. Aziz Ahmed, an aide to the Erbil-based security tsar, Masrour Barzani, said rival security officials of the PUK bloc, had “betrayed Kirkuk and [the people of] Kurdistan, conceded to Iran and withdrew from frontlines without a fight”.

Peshmerga units loyal to Barzani remain in control of two oilfields north of Kirkuk and said they had no intention of surrendering them. But the remaining Kurdish forces appear to have little chance of holding back a bigger and better armed foe, should the central government choose to attack.

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  1. Why do I have visions of pallet-loads of cash stowed on US military transport planes?


    "We had really well-respected security, intelligence veterans saying this was a 'cyber 9/11' in the sense it was a direct attack on our institutions," Clinton said at the London Literature Festival. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
    Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called Russian interference in the 2016 election a "cyber 9/11" on Sunday.

    "I think there a lot more connections that have yet to come to light," Clinton told a London audience. Clinton added that if she had been elected, she "would have called for an independent commission to get to the bottom of it."

    "We had really well-respected security, intelligence veterans saying this was a ‘cyber 9/11' in the sense it was a direct attack on our institutions," Clinton said, according to BuzzFeed. "That may sound dramatic, but we know that they probed and tried to intrude into election systems, not just the social media propaganda part of their campaign."

    Clinton said Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to destabilize Western democracies, and warned that the Russians are "not done" and are still an "ongoing threat."

    The speech was given at the Southbank Centre's London Literature Festival, where prominent British figures such as former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson also spoke.

    President Donald Trump has referred to the ongoing Russian interference investigations as a "hoax", and has called it the Democrats' excuse for losing the election.

  3. The only thing destabilized is the alcohol-addled mind of Hillary Clinton.

    1. Poor Hillary stumbled on the stairs and broke her toe.

      I am calling for a period of mourning, comrades.

    2. ...carrying a cup of coffee.

    3. I thought Huma carried her coffee, and water, etc.?

    4. I'm not sure who is more delusional, Hillary or Nancy P.

  4. Ron Paul
    Like This Page · 21 hrs ·

    President Trump goes full neocon on Iran. Will war follow? My latest column:

    President Trump Beats War Drums For Iran

  5. The Trump Administration Just Stabbed the Kurds in the Front

    Good article on why we should support Kurdish independence.


    1. Yes, backing Kurdish independence would make life more complicated for the United States in the Middle East than it already is.

      A good reason that is given for the US to not support dismantling Iraq.

    2. Actually, Draft Dodger" Mr Totten did not provide a single reason or way that supporting an independent Kurdistan would advance US national interests.

    3. Self Confessed War Criminal, your reading comprehension is, as always, zero.


    4. Your analysis is not at all correct, Robert "Draft Dodger"Peterson, that is why I privided a quote from the piece ...

      And you did not.

    5. Self Confessed War Criminal, your reading comprehension is, as always, zero.

      Here's an idea - why not stay away from me ?

      I think everyone would appreciate it, as it got old years ago.

  6. .


    The current fighting in Iraq was inevitable with or without Barzani's push for independence.

    In the past, we have had those who have simplistically called for Iraq to be divided into three parts along sectarian lines as if it would be as simple as drawing lines on a map a la Sykes-Picot, as if it would ever actually happen without fighting and civil war. Even crazier, they have argued that it should be the US that 'should partition' Iraq into separate countries. Were they thinking rather than just spouting off, they might look at the British experience in Palestine pre-1948.

    Post Saddam and the US invasion, the fighting in Iraq has been about the allocation of power and resources, primarily oil. Kirkuk has always been a point of contention since the Kurds took over governance of it after the ISIS invasion. The fight was always going to come eventually. The independence vote by the Kurds simply pushed the timetable ahead a bit.


    1. If the fight was always going to come eventually, and who can doubt your insight on such things - after all it is proven to be much better than that of SCWC - wouldn't it have been better if we had divided the place up into three while we were there ?

    2. No, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, it would not have been better for US interests to have dismantled Iraq.

      According to Mr Trump, it would have been best to not have been involved in Iraq, at all.

      Certainly there is no reason to get involved in internal Iraqi politics, now.

      No reason to throw good money after bad.

      Mr Trump is making the right call.

    3. .

      No, Bob! Absolutely not!! We have already destroyed the country once why leave our lasting imprint on it?

      Damn, Bob, try doing a little reading. You look at a video of Kurdish women in military dress and automatically say 'Damn, what an enlightened people, they deserve their own country.'

      The Kurds aren't a nation, they are a people, spread over 4 different countries in the ME with all of those countries opposed to an independent Kurdistan and more importantly each of those countries more powerful than their Kurdish populations. You are talking dozens of different political parties all with different governing philosophies from democratic to communist. Perhaps the most influential leader in all Kurdistan is Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK. He isn't calling for independence. He's not looking for a separate state. He looking for full autonomy for the Turkish Kurds. Ocalan is also currently in prison, has been for years.

      You talk about the US dividing up Iraq like it would be the simplest thing in the world. That action would have resulted in civil war. In order to prevent it, the US would have had to maintain a force of 150,000 men in the country with the resultant deaths of American servicemen something you never seem to consider. And in the end, as soon as the US pulled out which we would have had to do eventually there would be civil war.

      It's all about resources. It's all about oil. Most of the oil is in the Shia south along with about 60% of the Iraqi population. The rest of the population is pretty much divided between the Kurdish north and the Sunni east. The Kurds have some resources but likely not enough. The Sunnis have little.

      As soon as you divide the country along sectarian lines, you will have a massive persecution and displacement of minorities in the newly formed countries. The disputes over the allocation of resources will continue as will the terrorism and fighting. Hard to say how it will all end up in the end but it won't be pretty. Look at Israel over the past 70 years.

      The fighting is going to be there regardless. No need for the loss of more American lives promoting a fool's errand.


  7. Jesus Campos, Vegas security guard shot before rampage, appears to have vanished

    What a story....and as of yet Police say they have no motive.

  8. Bombshell: FBI Found Russia Bribery, Extortion Plot In US Nuclear Industry — In 2009
    ED MORRISSEYPosted at 8:41 am on October 17, 2017

    Call it the original Russia collusion case, only it came long before the 2016 election. According to The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann, the FBI began to piece together a Russian operation designed to advance Vladimir Putin’s control of nuclear materials in 2009 that involved both bribery and extortion. The discovery predated two key decisions that gave Moscow control over a significant portion of the US uranium market, including the Uranium One deal that put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Bill Clinton’s pockets:

    Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

    Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

    And guess whose charitable foundation benefited from this, according to one FBI witness and documentation gathered by the FBI?..........

    Anyone want to take a guess whose charitable foundation benefited from this ?

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.


  10. More Rat Doctrine success

    American-backed forces said on Tuesday that they had seized the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, a major blow to the militant group, which had long used the city as the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate.

    The apparent rout of the last Islamic State fighters touched off celebrations in Raqqa, where residents had lived under the repressive rule of militants who beheaded people for offenses as minor as smoking. Fighters could be seen cheering and firing celebratory gunfire in the streets, according to residents reached by phone and text message.

    ... A White House spokesman, Michael Anton, said, “We are still trying to confirm the truth here.”

    But officers with the Syrian Democratic Forces were emphatic in phone interviews and public statements that they had finally wrested control of the city from the militants after a monthslong campaign. “The military operation is over,” said Talal Salo, a commander reached by phone at the group’s headquarters in Hasaka.

    ISIS routed ...
    No US ground troops required

    1. .

      The loss of ISIS ability to control territory has been inevitable since day one. The idea of a caliphate run from the back of a pick-up truck brings up visions of unicorns.

      ISIS fate in Syria was sealed when Russia entered the fray and started taking out ISIS oil convoys. The American military equipment they captured in their initial push has been degraded or destroyed over the past 3 years. ISIS might have thought of themselves as a conventional force for a while but their was nothing about the caliphate that was sustainable against modern arms and modern states.

      That, of course, in no way implies ISIS is dead and can't cause considerable harm to their enemies. But the idea that they were ever some kind of existential threat to the US was/is absurd. Unfortunately, the hype continues. They are used as the bogeyman, the trump (Trump?) card, used by every right or alt-right nut job out there to promote their agendas.



    2. Give us a break. Obama had made very little progress against ISIS. The Kurds had done more. Then Trump turns it over to the generals and they are dissolving.

      WHO are the alt right nut jobs ?

      Bannon ?

      I haven't heard Trump blowing a ram's horn over ISIS. He's not getting into Syria and and it's not looking like he'll even help the Kurds, the one bright spot on the whole dark canvass.

      I think every nut job out there uses Trump to promote their agendas, although admittedly in your case it's hard to know what your agenda might be.

    3. I'll tell you what Quirk's agenda is.....

      It's love for free, or as he puts it, free love.

      He said he picked up on it back in the 60's.

    4. O'bozo's doctrine was don't shoot unless you are shot at first.

    5. Quirk was a gentleman about it.

      He'd just never pay for anything.

    6. .

      WHO are the alt right nut jobs ?

      Bannon ?


      Hard to say with Bannon. He provided a platform for the alt-right when he was at Breitbart the first time. And while he recognizes that the alt-right has racist, white-supremacists and anti-Semitic groups that identify with it, he 'says' he thinks these people will disappear over time and that he is simply looking for a square deal for the middle class and protection of Judeo-Christian values. It's hard to see whether he is simply naïve, bullshitting or truly believes what he says.

      It should become more evident as he becomes more public and more clear as he proceeds with his campaign to sabotage the GOP establishment.

      No, I was thinking more along the lines of you and Pam and Robert.


    7. .

      As for ISIS, I see Trump was taking full credit for 'defeating' them today much to the amusement of most observers.

      As you point out, Trump turned the war over to his generals. That was a smart move; however, all the generals did was continue the strategy Obama had already set there. You are right about the half measures Obama employed for the first part of the struggle; however, once he was totally embarrassed by Russia's performance there when compared to his, he eased the ROE and took a more aggressive posture. The only thing Trump has done since becoming president is add a couple thousand new US 'trainers'.


    8. .

      I think every nut job out there uses Trump to promote their agendas, although admittedly in your case it's hard to know what your agenda might be.

      My agenda is simple, I merely wander in the wilderness with my faithful dog by my side carrying my lantern and searching for and honest man.

      Trump's agenda is also clear. He will do whatever it takes, shifting responsibility, passing the buck, scapegoating, whatever, in an effort, obviously destined to failure, to try to not look like a fool.


    9. .

      That is, honest man...


    10. Look upon your own self, Sir.

      There you will behold an honest advertising man !


      (heh heh heh)

  11. Trump revokes the Iran Deal on Friday, Iran moves on the Kurds on Monday.

    They have Erbil in their sights.

    I hope they are stopped.

    The Donald doesn't seem to want to bite the bullet.

    1. What is happening now ...
      Directly attributable to the Independence Referendum

      Stand Tall

  12. Both McCain and Trump are making fools of themselves blasting one another at cross purposes.


  13. Neither Repealed nor Replaced

    Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal that would extend payments to insurers under ObamaCare that President Trump said he was ending last week.

    The deal would extend the payments to insurers for two years and give states more flexibility to change ObamaCare rules.

    The negotiations had been aimed at stabilizing insurance markets.

    Trump, who was holding a press conference with Greek's prime minister as Alexander spoke with reporters, said what had been negotiated represented a "short-term" deal


    1. Two years ... That makes ObamaCare neither repealed nor replaced for the first three years of the Trump Tenure


      Does not look like it.


  14. Piss on him.

    A New Jersey man is suing United Airlines, claiming he was urinated on by a heavily intoxicated passenger sitting next to him.

    Daniel Card was on flight 1871 back home from Los Angeles when he says an extremely drunk passenger boarded the flight and sat next to him.

    As the cross-country flight prepared for takeoff to Newark Airport, Card alleges in the suit, filed on Wednesday, that the inebriated man next to him in row 24 “took out his penis and aimed it at Card and proceeded to urinate all over Card’s leg, while Card was confined to his seat due to an imminent departure of the flight.”

    Card said he tried to wake up the passed out passenger, who smelled strongly of alcohol, but could not. He then alerted the airline crew, who according to the suit, “refused [his] request to relocate his seat.” After several requests, Card says he was finally moved from the urine-soaked seat, but was “forced to endure the remainder of the flight to Newark/New Jersey while remaining in his urine drenched clothing.”

    1. That would piss a person off.

      I'd hire a lawyer too.

  15. O Humanity !

    Air Force Space Chief Sees Final Frontier as Battleground....

    1. Musk will protect us on Mars.


    2. powered robowarriors.

    3. Musk can have Mars.

      I'm going to Titan.

      Confession Of A Planetary Scientist: 'I Do Not Want To Live On Mars'
      October 16, 201712:44 PM ET

      Enlarge this image
      A composite image of Saturn's moon Titan taken by the Cassini spacecraft.
      I am a planetary scientist and once astronaut candidate finalist (read: space nerd).

      But I have something to confess: I do not want to live on Mars.

      While certainly interesting scientifically (e.g., seasonally-varying polar caps; transient methane plumes; permafrost), Mars is not particularly compelling as a long-term human destination.

      But there is another place in our solar system where conditions are right for a self-sustaining, long-term human settlement: Saturn's moon Titan.

      Why Titan?

      To start with, let's make clear that Titan is a moon that, in many ways, acts more like a planet. It has a thick atmosphere, with about 1.5 times the surface pressure of Earth's atmosphere. None of the 177 other moons in the solar system has such an atmosphere. Plus, Titan is the only place in the solar system, other than Earth, with stable surface liquids: Titan has lakes and seas on its surface. So Titan is a remarkable, and very Earth-like, world.

      Titan's thick atmosphere is beneficial, because it means that you don't have to wear a bulky pressure suit while you're out and about on Titan. But the main reason I like it is simple: Titan's atmosphere will help us stay alive. Out in space, radiation is deadly.....

    4. Titan has lakes and seas on its surface.

      It's Titan for me. I am thinking about the fly fishing.....

    5. Seas, Doug, seas....

      You might be able to surf....

    6. Dang, I didn't read far enough.

      Because it's so cold on Titan, all the water is frozen — the lakes and seas are composed of liquid methane and ethane.

      I'll stay in the northwest USA.

    7. There is after all no place like Mother Earth -

      16 October 2017
      Whales and dolphins have rich ‘human-like’ cultures and societies

      Dolphins have rich ‘human-like’ cultures and societies due to size of their brains
      Whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects – much like human societies.

    8. Dr Kieran Fox, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, added: “Cetaceans have many complex social behaviours that are similar to humans and other primates. They, however, have different brain structures from us, leading some researchers to argue that whales and dolphins could not achieve higher cognitive and social skills. I think our research shows that this is clearly not the case. Instead, a new question emerges: How can very diverse patterns of brain structure in very different species nonetheless give rise to highly similar cognitive and social behaviours?”

    9. Why do different noggins and noodles give rise to the same behaviors ?

    10. Because only certain behaviors trend towards long term survival ?

  16. Shock Poll: Republican Ed Gillespie Now Leads Virginia Governor Race

    ....Tuesday’s Monmouth poll has Gillespie at 48 percent and Northam at 47 percent, with Libertarian Cliff Hyra at three percent, and three percent undecided. Monmouth’s September poll showed Northam ahead of Gillespie by five points, 49 percent to 44 percent, and most polls similarly indicated Northam had a healthy lead over his Republican opponent.

    Gillespie recently rolled out new ads targeting Northam for being weak on crime and illegal immigration, and 40 percent of responders said they only trust Gillespie on crime. Just 24 percent of responders said the opposite, that they only trust Northam on crime.

    “This has never been more than a five-point race in Monmouth’s polling, and that means either candidate has a very real shot at winning this thing,” Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said....


  17. 325-pound woman accused of killing 9-year-old girl by sitting on her

  18. Top 10 funny church signs:

    1. Hipster Jesus loved you before you were cool.
    2. Experts made the Titanic, Amateurs made the Ark.
    3. Stop, Drop, and Roll doesn't work in hell.
    4. God, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.
    5. Santa Claus never died for anyone.
    6. I hate this church - Satan
    7. Staying in bed screaming 'Oh, God' does not constitute going to church.
    8. God expects spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
    9. Do not criticize your wife's judgement. See whom she married
    10. What is missing from ch ch. u r

  19. .

    Russian Nuclear Deal

    FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

    Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin's atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

    Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

    They also obtained an eyewitness account - backed by documents - indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

    The racketeering scheme was conducted "with the consent of higher level officials" in Russia who "shared the proceeds" from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

    Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin's commercial nuclear ambitions...

    Long article...


  20. .

    Another last-ditch effort to overhaul Obamacare stalled within hours of its release

    ...The compromise offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday proposes authorizing those payments for two years in exchange for granting states greater flexibility to regulate health coverage under the ACA. Those payments help offset deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers who obtain insurance through the law; critics of Trump’s decision said eliminating the subsidies would cause insurers to back out of marketplaces across the country.

    The measure presented congressional Republicans with an uncomfortable choice between helping sustain coverage for many Americans and making good on a long-standing campaign promise — and paying the consequences — by allowing the ACA to falter.

    Senate Republican leaders did not immediately endorse the proposal. Influential House Republicans panned the blueprint and the White House offered conflicting reviews...

  21. .

    I've been watching the Ken Burns series The Vietnam War on PBS.

    Anyone who needs to up their cynicism about the crap we are fed by our leaders should view this film ever so often.


  22. People can't handle the truth:

    Swiss investor Marc Faber has doubled down on racially charged remarks he made in an October newsletter, suggesting that the U.S. would be in a qualitatively different state if it had been colonized by black people instead of whites.

    “I am not saying it would be better,” Faber told MarketWatch in an interview on Tuesday. “I am just saying that progress would not have been the same.”

    Asked why “progress” would be worse, Faber had this to say: “Europeans brought science to America. They brought technical skills.…I am not sure the Africans would have done that.”

    Faber’s remarks to MarketWatch came after the prominent investor early Tuesday sparked a backlash from Wall Street and its participants related to similar statements that surfaced in his popular newsletter The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, dated Oct. 3.