Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Down that Rabbit Hole

Curiouser and curiouser - and somebody's getting paid to keep us safe?

The US 'suffered' another mass shooting last week. In their penchant for such things, it was described as 'the single greatest mass-killing by a lone gunman in US history'.   While it may be one for the record books, it is not a singularity in US history,  nor is it probably THE ultimate. For along with the normal three-day hoo-haw about 'who dunnit' and the seven-day mourning period for the victims, this incident is no different from any of the others - in that the essential condition which gave rise to it - the 'right' to bear some heavy-duty firepower - runs on, untroubled, to the gun shops and shooting ranges.  The US Senate refused to impinge, even slightly, on America's 'Gord-given' right to have an arsenal at home.

Perhaps obfuscating any change were the details.  While the Americans killed were possibly a cross-section of normal Americans, they didn't represent many of the true believers who hold America's best interests hostage to their own. They were for the most part gay, and for the other part largely Hispanic.  The shooter himself is being told-off - aside from the blatted 'pledging of allegiance to ISIS' - as a possible self-loathing  sodomite, or someone unlucky in that kind of love and looking to take a 'harem' with him.  He certainly succeeded killing and wounding well over 150 people in a two hour period when he wasn't holed up in a toilet, or trying to get through to 911.   One has to wonder what his 'load out' was,  as he walked, or flew,  or morphed  past the off-duty officers on duty as security guards.  Something went-off the rails there, for  not only did he have a long gun, a pistol and a knife, he also had  a significant amount of ammunition. And we're told he'd bought it all only days before. And he carried it all, unremarked,  into a closing time crowd.

                                            SWAT squad load-out. The battle of The Pulse

It's sad, really, that the shooting is remarkable only for a spate of the standard 'bolshoi' that seems to be the 'blffftsplk cloud' around all such sad events.

First there was the saga of the authorities having had him 'on their radar' but not being able to 'get the goods on him', or stop him.  His wife is facing charges of failing to stop him because she failed to notify authorities that she had been trying to talk him out of something that might have involved his new guns - if she knew about those. But when we hear about some of the 'terrorists' that authorities did stop, one has to wonder if they aren't relying far too much on paid informants  and mapping-out their own 'terror scenarios' to entrap some poor schmuck into doing them?

Nine terrorists who were stopped.

Then there are  the knee-jerk reactions and generalized stupidity that follows such outrages.  Somebody had his bank account frozen after after writing his dog's name 'Dash' on a cheque to the dog-sitter. Either the dog-sitter has a threatening Arabic name,  or somebody at Chase Manhattan was in 'Dwight Smoot'  mode and thought he had meant to write 'Daesh'.

Puppy dog tales 

In an even more humorous anecdote Homeland Security got involved when somebody created a money transfer to a buddy to pay for a night out  and memorandized it with the guilty phrase "ISIS beer funds".  Obviously that electronic communication was flagged in some 'trapment warehouse' and along with the nude selfies, 'sent up' for the attention of operatives with better skill sets.  This was the sort of thing that, possibly,  'soured' Snowden on America, one  might imagine, but the official follow-up was the work of morons and a waste of valuable security resources - considering a real terrorist shot up a gay bar and killed 70 people. .

This Bud's 4 U

And then there's that need to take some action. If you can't shut down a gun shop, or 500, well you can stop them jihads sending messages that make people want to grab an assault rifle and a passel of  ammo and go  wreak a cowardly killin' somewhere.  Facebook and Twitter are to blame for wrecking America if  the 'Allahu Akbars', 'salaam''s  and 'inshallah''s aren't curtailed.

Cutoff my nose to spite my face.

And lastly,  a truly sad commentary on the effects of it all.  This story is about a 3 year-old practicing her 'lock down' skills -  hiding in the bathroom and acting out what she might need to do if a bad man with a gun came to her school - stand on the toilet so he can't see your feet when he looks.

Peek a boo. Bang!

What's interesting is the response to the story.   Practical suggestions for further training for a wide array of emergencies at school and elsewhere.  The standard 'bleeding heart' criticism of the anti-gun population. Even a reminder that sanitation is important when hiding from a gunman. I'm surprised that nobody mentioned good etiquette. There were  reminders of how effective armed teachers might be - they'd certainly get those drills down pat ( Mr.  Woloshowinsky will be pretending to be the shooter to-day - his gun will remain unloaded.) .  Somebody recalled the good old days when hiding under a desk wasn't really going to save anyone from a nuclear bomb, (nobody wanted to frighten the kids by telling them that) . But it was used to do something in kids about 'Russians'.  A fear that many still hold in their essential being to this day and transfer, ever so easily, to whatever boogey-men are selected for their paranoic consideration.

As long as somebody suffering some delusion, or a bigger hate,  has access to a gun, kids in schools - or people in churches , theaters, libraries or simply on the street  are still going to get shot in America the Armed.

It's like dogs biting people - we'll ban breeds one by one, up the fines and punishments  - but we won't make the beggars, all of them, wear a muzzle if they're out in public.  Like muzzles on all dogs the answer to gun violence in America is glaringly obvious too.

No guns, no gun violence.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Fallujah - the Third Time Round

The third Battle of Falljuah (Iraq) seems to be coming to a close as forces of the Iraqi government close in on whatever ISIS forces are holding on to the city. Concerns are being expressed for civilians trapped in the city and yesterday morning it was reported that ISIS was killing those who were trying to leave. That seems to be a fairly standard report coming out of these things.

Yesterday i happened to find a report on YouTube from a Vice News reporter traveling with an  Iraqi Army special forces unit, 'the Golden Division',  as they moved in on Fallujah.  The parts of the operation depicted involved the 'liberation of two outlying towns just north of Fallujah.

Fallujah is no stranger to danger in the mess that is modern Iraq.  It first became a news item, for civilized people, when the denizens of the place killed three American 'contractors' back in the days when Bushco's 'mission accomplished' was starting to derail itself. They killed, burned and strung-up the corpses and, for their pains, received the gentle ministrations of a US Marine regiment. The first assault just seemed to annoy the locals - at least those who weren't killed - and they 'forced' the Marines to do it all over again,  bigger and better, a few months later.  Fallujah was pacified, and largely flattened.

When the town was rebuilt,  it was as some kind of 'model' for what civilization was going to look like in Iraq. The centre of the city was a fortified FOB to protect government and police buildings. It was hoped that the surviving Sunnis would 'see sense' and, like many other Sunnis,  accept Uncle Sammy's gratitude. They did and they and started hunting down "AQ terrorists" for him.

Things were looking good until the Americans decamped,  leaving a lightly-armed Sunni Anbar facing the Shia-dominated, and American-armed  Iraqi government.  It didn't take long for an 'insurrection' to occur.  The Sunnis re-staked their  claim on Anbar and fought the Shia forces to a stand-still.  The Sunni revolt was still underway when ISIS came driving down from the north and captured the place,  two years ago in November.

After the Iraqi Army was  routed so badly the US had to form a new coalition to help and returned to Iraq.  Now the US-backed Iraqi government, after training and re-equipping,  is poised to hit back.  What seems apparent is that the Sunnis of Anbar are about to get the 'comeuppance' they were 'due' five years ago. And because they've been lying-down with the devil, they're going to  get the Shia version of Islamic, and Iraqi,  justice - in spades.

One of the things that is most noticeable about the clip attached, is the eminent humanity displayed by the unit commander,   who,  although he's pretty convinced he's dealing with some bad dudes, shooting at him, he's also pretty sure some are hiding among the civilians he takes.  But he, repeatedly hectors his men,  'Don't hit them!'.  At least on camera and, incidentally, after they do.

 Given the 'injustice' we are told America rescued Iraqis from, most of the men we see sitting captive will be lucky if all they get is a good hiding.  In one scene the commander's mask slips as he goes, in person, to arrest a family who, he was told denounced a woman's son to ISIS.  "I'll break your teeth."  seemed a mild promise of worse to come as a man and his three sons were frog-marched off for 'investigation'  in Baghdad.

But if the commander is not as good as the good guys might hope, he closes the report by warning that the forces following behind him are real villains.

 Yesterday a news story reported that the assault on Fallujah was being 'delayed'  because of 'communications problems' in the attacking units.  I would bet that that problem is the one the fighting commanders have to deal with when the rievers, rapists and real killers show up. I'm pretty sure everybody knows this operation will either make peace, or set Iraq up for another decade of  sectarian violence.   Or the drift into sectarian statelets with continued strife.

Just like the neocons' plan for that  'New American Century' in west Asia foretold.