Monday Reads

Owl reading

Good Morning!!

There’s not a lot of good news to report this morning except that the Miami Heat lost the NBA championship last night, cementing LeBron James’ reputation as a choker. He couldn’t win in Cleveland, and he can’t lead in Miami. He’s just all about LeBron.

The situation in Iraq is getting more dire. I’m sure you heard about the reported mass executions of Iraqi troops by ISIS militants yesterday. From The New York Times:

BAGHDAD — Wielding the threat of sectarian slaughter, Sunni Islamist militants claimed on Sunday that they had massacred hundreds of captive Shiite members of Iraq’s security forces, posting grisly pictures of a mass execution in Tikrit as evidence and warning of more killing to come.

The possible mass killing came as militants cemented control of the city of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, after two days of fierce clashes with Iraqi troops, residents and senior security officials said. The city came under mortar attack, sending residents fleeing toward Sinjar in the north, which is under control of Kurdish pesh merga troops. Residents said the militants freed dozens of prisoners.

BAGHDAD — Wielding the threat of sectarian slaughter, Sunni Islamist militants claimed on Sunday that they had massacred hundreds of captive Shiite members of Iraq’s security forces, posting grisly pictures of a mass execution in Tikrit as evidence and warning of more killing to come.

The possible mass killing came as militants cemented control of the city of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, after two days of fierce clashes with Iraqi troops, residents and senior security officials said. The city came under mortar attack, sending residents fleeing toward Sinjar in the north, which is under control of Kurdish pesh merga troops. Residents said the militants freed dozens of prisoners.

Lovely. “War Crimes” hardly seems strong enough to characterize such horrendous acts.

In an atmosphere where there were already fears that the militants’ sudden advance near the capital would prompt Shiite reprisal attacks against Sunni Arab civilians, the claims by ISIS were potentially explosive. And that is exactly the group’s stated intent: to stoke a return to all-out sectarian warfare that would bolster its attempts to carve out a Sunni Islamist caliphate that crosses borders through the region.

The sectarian element of the killings may put more pressure on the Obama administration to aid Iraq militarily. In fact, the militants seemed to be counting on it. A pronouncement on Sunday by the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had a clear message for the United States: “Soon we will face you, and we are waiting for this day.”

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CNN reports that some U.S. embassy staff in Iraq have been moved to another location.

The Iraqi air force struck back at the militant group ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, killing more than 200 militants, Iraqi state TV reported Monday morning. The air raids took place in Saqlawiyah, northwest of Fallujah, according to a graphic run by state TV.

ISIS has been ruthlessly fighting to take control of Iraq and has apparently posted chilling photos on jihadi Internet forums seeming to show the executions of Iraqi security forces.

ISIS, an al Qaeda splinter group, wants to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, that would stretch from Iraq into northern Syria. The group has had substantial success in Syria battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces.

According to The Washington Post, the insurgents have captured American equipment and may be in possession of “advanced radios” that would make them much more effective.

Iraq’s security forces, propped up by American equipment and weapons, have been routed by a contingent of insurgents bent on extending their territory from strongholds in Syria deep into Iraq. As Mosul and other cities fell, the West saw a host of images of once-American Humvees and helicopters firmly in the hands of its enemies.

Outrage followed shock, as years of effort in Iraq by the U.S. military seemed to unravel in a coup-de-grace that played out over the Internet. Analysts speculated that the newly seized weapons and vehicles could turn fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria into an even stauncher foe.

Yet, among the towed Black Hawk helicopters, Howitzer cannons and Humvees plastered all over social media lies an unseen weapon that could make the ISIS fighters exponentially more lethal if employed properly: advanced radio equipment.

Read more at the link.

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Iran is sending in troops to aid the insurgents, according to CNN.

What’s happening in Iraq now has all the makings of a civil war — and a full-blown foreign policy crisis. The United States is mulling direct talks with Iran while it boosts security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad with military personnel.

Why Iran? In recent days, Iran has sent hundreds of troops to fight alongside Iraqi government security forces in Diyala province, a senior security official in Baghdad told CNN.

The article summarizes the latest events on the ground as of early this morning. Finally, an editorial in The Independent UK states bluntly that

The outside world, starting with the United States, cannot hope to reverse the course of events in Iraq by intervening on the ground, and President Barack Obama was right to rule out US troops going back there.

However, that doesn’t mean taking up an observer’s seat as the region descends into ever greater chaos. Washington should encourage the tentative rapprochement between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, both of which are starting to see just how dangerous the Sunni-Shia power struggle is becoming to each of them. We should do our utmost to shore up the defences of vulnerable but still stable states in the region, such as Jordan.

Western countries could also afford to be more generous in helping to address the humanitarian aspect of the latest crisis. Britain has so far offered an extra £3m to help tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the advance of Isis, most of whom are now camping in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq. It goes without saying that they do not have access to things like the best survival backpack or basic nutrition, it hardly seems an adequate gesture.

With any luck, the Sunnis in Syria and Iraq will at some point turn against their self-styled deliverers in Isis. In that case, it is vital that the Shia-dominated regime in Baghdad comes under pressure to keep the door open to talks about some kind of federal option for the Sunnis, and for the Kurds. It is late in the day for Iraq even to try to play with the federalisation option, but just possibly some kind of gossamer-thin state can be salvaged from the current mess. Right now, none of the options looks good, but despair is not the answer.

In other news,

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Chelsea Manning has broken her silence with an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times in which she harshly criticizes the methods used by the military to control press coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and–presumably–the U.S. media’s acquiescence to that control. For example,

If you were following the news during the March 2010 elections in Iraq, you might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers. The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.

Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality.

Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed.

Read much more at the link.

Speaking of media co-option, the NYT has an interesting op-ed by long-time reporter David Carr about the media’s failure to anticipate Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat in Virginia’s primary last week.

It’s now clear why the primary defeat of the House majority leader,Eric Cantor, came so completely out of the blue last week: Beltway blindness that put a focus on fund-raising, power-brokering and partisan back-and-forth created a reality distortion field that obscured the will of the people.

But that affliction was not Mr. Cantor’s alone; it is shared by the political press. Reporters and commentators might want to pause and wipe the egg off their faces before they go on camera to cluck-cluck about how Mr. Cantor, Republican of Virginia, missed signs of the insurgency that took him out. There was a lot of that going around, and the big miss by much of the political news media demonstrates that news organizations are no less a prisoner of Washington’s tunnel vision than the people who run for office.

All politics is local, which may explain why The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Chesterfield Observer both took David Brat’s Tea Party challenge to Mr. Cantor seriously, but few of the publications inside the District that follow the majority leader’s every wiggle and wobble sensed that he was leaving the home fires dangerously unattended….

The same forces that keep politicians penned up within a few blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue work on journalists as well. No one wants to stray from the white-hot center of power for fear of being stuck in some forsaken locale when something big happens in Washington — which is why it has become one of the most overcovered places on earth.

This problem is compounded by the “diminution” of regional newspapers. Read more at the link.

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I haven’t had time to work through the whole thing yet, but Alec MacGillis has a long profile of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that seems worth a read: The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker: A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star.

I’ll end with some exciting science news from The Boston Globe: Boston-Led Team Developing ‘Bionic Pancreas’ for Diabetics.

Scientists have made big progress on a ‘‘bionic pancreas’’ to free some people with diabetes from the daily ordeal of managing their disease. A wearable, experimental device passed a real-world test, constantly monitoring blood sugar and automatically giving insulin or a sugar-boosting drug as needed, doctors said Sunday.

The device improved blood-sugar control more than standard monitors and insulin pumps did when tested for five days on 20 adults and 32 teens. Unlike other artificial pancreases in development that just correct high blood sugar, this one also can fix too-low sugar, mimicking what a natural pancreas does.

The device was developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University. Results were featured Sunday at an American Diabetes Association conference in San Francisco and were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

More from NPR: Father Devises A ‘Bionic Pancreas’ To Help Son With Diabetes. Very interesting!

I have a few more links that I’ll post in comments.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.


32 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    An open letter to George Will:

    An OB/GYN writes to George Will about college rape

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Maureen Dowd has begun her campaign against Hillary Clinton with an absurd column:

    When Will Hillary Let It Go?

  3. dakinikat says:

    It seems we may have to deal with Iran to help end the slaughter by ISIS. Isn’t that ironic? Good piece by Juan Cole.
    http://www.juancole.com/2014/06/myths-radical-advance.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

  4. RalphB says:

    I’ve been totally taken over by the World Cup. The only news I’ve got so far is that Germany is a freaking powerhouse, even better than expected. The US plays Ghana at 5:00 today central time.

    All the Hillary bashing, by he usual suspects, sucks but it’s to be expected. Hopefully she will pay it no mind.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Nothing is more fun and exciting than getting caught up in a big sporting event.

    • RalphB says:

      USA, USA, USA, USA!!! First time the US has won it’s first game in the World Cup since 1930. Changed the status a lot for who comes out of our Group of Death.

  5. NW Luna says:

    On the same page as that definitely concerning article about insurgents’ use of ex-US radio equipment this article caught my eye, with a pic of Hillary and Elizabeth Warren:

    The problem? Almost all of the most recent data suggests that Clinton doesn’t have any real problems on her left flank. Indeed, she’s actually stronger with liberals than she is with more moderate Democrats. And very, very few liberals have anything but nice things to say about her. ….

    And while the idea of Clinton getting a liberal primary challenger like Warren is tempting theater for political analysts like The Fix, we all seem to be projecting the internal GOP squabbles on to the Democratic Party, and it just doesn’t quite fit. The numbers right now just don’t show anything close to a gaping hole on Clinton’s left flank.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/16/hillary-clinton-doesnt-have-a-problem-with-liberals-not-hardly/?tid=trending_strip_2

    • RalphB says:

      As a candidate, this is good news though I don’t like this as a polling idea. May be trying to get Obots pissed at her, if that’s still easy,

      CNN: CNN/ORC Poll: Clinton tops Obama on every issue

      … “That’s helpful to her chances of actually getting elected if it holds up through 2016,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “It suggests that the President’s low marks on most issues might not drag Clinton down if she runs for the White House again.” …

      • NW Luna says:

        Hahaha! I don’t think Obama’s low marks are going to hold Hillary back. I think Obots are less easily pissed-off, but that could be my wishful thinking.

  6. NW Luna says:

    The Supreme Court has left in place a court decision that said public high school graduations in a church adorned with religious symbols violated the separation of church and state. ….

    In 2012, the federal appeals court in Chicago found that a giant cross on the wall of Elmbrook Church and other religious symbols that were visible during graduation ceremonies conveyed a message that government was endorsing a particular religion. The district no longer holds graduations there.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2023857174_apxsupremecourtchurchgraduations.html

  7. Fannie says:

    Little 3 year old girl who was bitten by a bull dog was told that she had to leave the because her facial scars. I called the location, Meadowbrook Drive, in Jackson, Ms. The manager said nothing has been proven, and the case is under investigation. I asked him if he was familiar with the Americans Against Disabilities Act? I reminded him that this law is their to protect the rights of our citizens, including children.

    I hope somebody’s get their ass fried.

    • RalphB says:

      That little girl looks cute, not scary to me. I hope they get fried to,

    • NW Luna says:

      What a disgusting — and illegal — thing to do to a 3 yr-old and her family. What happened to that child could happen to any one of us in the future (both the trauma causing scars and the discrimination).

      Good for you, Fannie, for putting heat on that manager.

  8. bostonboomer says:
    • RalphB says:

      I second that emotion but Clint Dempsey ain’t a slouch either! Brooks is one of Juergen Klinsman’s “finds”, a young player in his first game on the national team. Klinsman has a habit of finding great young players. Thomas Mueller, who scored a hat trick today against Argentina for Germany, was one of his finds when he coached the German world cup win.