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Thu, 27 Oct 2016
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The Battle for Mosul: Cause for Celebration or Humanitarian Concern?

"The idea that somehow [we] should delay this operation because of others' concern about the humanitarian situation in Mosul; that doesn't make sense."

~ Josh Earnest, White House Spokesman, 22 October 2016
On October 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the beginning of the long-touted military campaign aimed at retaking the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists. The announcement was met with much applause in Western and Gulf State political circles, but there are justified concerns about an imminent humanitarian disaster accompanying the campaign.

The expected atrocities from ISIS have already begun: they have already reportedly executed 284 men and boys in the Mosul area, executed 16 citizens by throwing them off a bridge and forcibly taken at least 550 families from villages around Mosul into the city to be used as human shields.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that more than half a million children and their families face extreme danger following the launch of the operation. In a UNICEF press release, Spokesperson Peter Hawkins said "Mosul's children have already suffered immensely over the past two years. Many could be forcibly displaced, trapped between fighting lines, or caught in the cross fire."


Operation Enduring Chaos: 15+ Years of US Occupation Has Left Afghanistan in Ruins

© AFP/Shah Marai
An elderly father mourns at the grave of his son in Kabul on October 12, 2016.
Flying kites, safe and friendly neighborhoods, women in freely chosen attire attending college, watching movies at the cinema, attending festivities... these are some of the details of happy memories several of my Afghan friends and relatives recall during the 70s. If 15 years ago, the criminal and illegal US invasion of Afghanistan had not taken place, and if it weren't for the invasion of US-trained Mujahideen and if societal, infrastructural, and economic development had continued, the youngest generation of Afghans would today be making similar memories, and perhaps even better ones.

While the consensus in the mainstream media these days is that the Russians cause suffering wherever they set foot, the USSR actually helped build infrastructure (such as universities and dams) in the country before the Mujahideen started to emerge. The Soviets were forced to leave, and the country was left with a growing cancer that was intentionally induced by the West. As current US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, said during an On The Record interview that took place on July 19, 2010:
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan we had this brilliant idea that we were going to come to Pakistan and create a force of Mujahideen and equip them with Stinger missiles and everything else to go after the Soviets inside Afghanistan.

And we were successful. The Soviets left Afghanistan, and then we said; "great, good-bye!", leaving these trained people, who were fanatical, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving them well-armed, creating a mess, frankly, that at the time we didn't really recognize, we were just so happy to see the Soviet Union fall and we thought "fine, we are OK now everything is going to be so much better".

Now you look back. The people we are fighting today, [al-qaeda] we were supporting in the fight against the Soviets.
Those words alone make it clear that the fate of the Afghan population was never a concern, their mission was to get the Russians out of an area that is of geopolitical interest to Clinton and her Western warmongering colleagues.

The mess that they 'mistakenly' created is one that serves their agenda well, because the US never truly left Afghanistan. To this day, the US has rooted itself all over the country and is in charge of most, if not all, military operations under the pretext that Afghanistan would be lost without them and that the situation would worsen if all troops were to be withdrawn. (That's right, Obama's "you can take that to the bank" promise to bring the troops home from Afghanistan was a lie.) A mere glimpse at the results from their 15 year occupation and the conclusion is that the Afghan population would be far better off without US 'assistance'.

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Behind the Headlines: Fake American Democracy, Imperial Hubris Russophobia and Outrageous Lies

Today on Behind the Headlines: the third presidential debate, the Project Veritas expose showing DNC operatives admitting to inciting violence at Trump rallies, Philippine President Duterte's historic visit to China, the U.S./Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul prior to the election at the same time that Russia and Syria begin a temporary ceasefire in eastern Aleppo.

The last week has been jam-packed with news, some horrifying, some entertaining, and even some that provides a tiny ray of hope.

Running Time: 01:55:35

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Clinton Campaign, White House Squirm after Project Veritas Exposes DNC Dirty Tricks

Violence at the Chicago Trump rally, incited by DNC operatives.
First, if readers haven't seen the Project Veritas expose, check it out here: 'Conflict engagement': How Democrat Strategists Plotted to Incite Violence at Trump Rallies.

Trump mentioned the revelations at the third presidential debate. The look on Clinton's face is priceless:

Then she has the chutzpah to criticize the violence at Trump rallies that her own operatives incited. Trump may be wrong about almost everything else, but he's right here.


Twilight of the U.S. Empire gives way to Philippine Rebirth

© Getty Images
China's President Xi Jinping and Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte shaking hands.
The United States is playing the 'confused stalker' after the Philippines President Duterte announced a separation between the two countries during a visit to China on Thursday. Duterte stated: "I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost."

"I've realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines, and Russia. It's the only way," President Duterte said, much to the chagrin of the U.S. empire.

The Russian ambassador to the Philippines, Igor Khovaev, responded in turn: "Formulate your wish list. What kind of assistance do you expect from Russia and we will be ready to sit down with you and discuss what can and should be done." Possibly alluding to the rising problems of terrorism in the Philippines, Khovaev extended the offer of help to "any area, any field of possible cooperation."

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Duterte's statements were "inexplicably at odds with the very close relationship we have with the Filipino people as well as the government there on many different levels, not just from a security perspective."

"It isn't just the United States that is baffled by this rhetoric," Kirby said. "We have heard from many of our friends and partners in the region who are likewise confused about where this is going." Kirby, confused? Imagine my shock!


US Elections and the Bogus Left-Right Paradigm

Veteran Oscar-winning 'anti-American' documentary-maker Michael Moore appears to have lost the plot. Moore recently held a surprise sneak preview screening in NYC of his new documentary Michael Moore in TrumpLand. Recorded over two nights earlier this month in the pro-Trump town of Wilmington, Ohio, the film is much less an exercise in Trump bashing than a tribute to the dubious virtues of Hillary Clinton.

By way of introduction to the recent screening in NYC, Moore told the audience:
"What the country doesn't need is to be told that Trump is a crazy, dangerous psychopath [and] sociopath, all of that. He has written and produced that movie and it appears daily."
Moore's backing of Clinton is surprising given that he has been one of her most outspoken critics. In the run-up to the 2008 elections, he said he was "morally prohibited" from voting for Hillary due to her support for the invasion of Iraq, and as recently as March this year he called her 'Wall Street's paid candidate". Then again, that was when there was a 'Democratic' alternative in the form of Bernie Sanders, whom Moore strongly supported.

When questioned after the screening about his apparent change in opinion, Moore made it clear that he still doesn't like Clinton:
"She has a very close relationship with [Wall Street]. If you've read any of the Podesta emails—or her emails—you can see that she's inclined to that... The fight will continue. The Bernie Revolution on Nov. 9th is critical. If we just leave it up to her, she may tend to side with that which she's become used to. I feel the same way about the Iraq War vote, I don't feel any less passion about her mistake."
While this suggests that Moore has joined the ranks of the millions of Americans who plan on voting for Clinton simply because 'anyone is better than Trump', Moore's reference to Clinton's "mistake" over the Iraq war points to something else going on with the political 'left' in the USA.

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The Health & Wellness Show: Connecting the Dots: Smart drugs in a dumb world

Stressed out college students everywhere are turning to Big Pharma in hopes of making the grade and using apps that claim to make then smarter. Maybe they should go for a hike instead? On this episode of the Health and Wellness Show we'll be connecting the dots in recent health news. How important is 8 glasses a day, how can you increase your emotional agility and -- in what may be disturbing news for all the bone broth lovers out there -- what is the glycine-glyphosate connection? And for all the clown haters out there, this show may give you talking points to justify your hate.

Join us as we discuss these topics and more. And, as always, stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where the topic will be how to treat hot spots, or moist dermatitis in dogs.

Running Time: 01:33:26

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Blue Planet

Russian Actions in Syria Part of Radical Remaking of Global Order: A New World Awaits

While keeping up with the ongoing geopolitical shenanigans between the US and Russia in Syria, I repeatedly note a recurring and glaring omission in every mainstream media report on the situation: a sensible reason why either country is so interested in Syria. There are, of course, narratives, like that both countries are 'fighting terrorism', or that the US is supporting democracy in Syria by trying to overthrow the 'brutal dictator' Assad. But I assume that, at this stage, most people are highly skeptical of those explanations. After all, way back in 2003, in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq, 15 million ordinary people saw right through the political narrative that the invasion was to protect Western populations from Saddam's (non-existent) WMDs and marched on Europe's streets chanting "no war for oil".

Many people knew the real reason for the scramble for Iraq, but do they know the reason for the scramble for Syria? And what about Russia? Is Putin fighting a purely ideological war against terrorists and helping Russia's long-term ally Assad to stay in power? Is that reason enough to launch modern Russia's first-ever large-scale military deployment abroad?

In an October 2015 essay, I outlined the realpolitik behind the war in Syria at that time. It was then, and still is, all about natural resources, specifically oil and especially natural gas. Intricately linked to the development of these two resources, and to the future configuration of the world economy, is Eurasian integration and the 'new Silk Road', i.e. a network of land links between Asia and Europe (more about that below).


U.S. "Pounds" Mosul, Russia Halts Airstrikes on Aleppo

© Azad Lashkari / Reuters
Peshmerga forces walk in the east of Mosul during operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, October 17, 2016.
(Scroll down for updates.)

Continuing our coverage of the Mosul offensive (see: Iraq Launches Major Op to Retake Daesh-held Mosul), the U.S. coalition envoy Brett McGruk says the "steady advance towards Mosul" is continuing. The combined forces of the Iraqi army, Kurds, and PMU are reaching their objectives ahead of schedule, despite some losses on all sides (including a Daesh military commander, Dwud Abdul Wahab, and a Kurdish commander, Fahmi Mohamed Qadir). Despite the fact that most Daesh fighters have already left the city, Obama still says "Mosul will be a difficult fight, and there will be advances and there will be setbacks." We guess that means the coalition will drop a few bombs here and there and pretend they're facing massive resistance on the ground. But there's a point to such rhetoric. Obama is talking up the Mosul offensive in advance of creating 'facts on the ground' through US participation in the offensive itself. The point being, if the US is directly involved in or has a controlling stake in the operation, it will be in a position to influence the future geopolitical game of competing oil and gas pipelines that this entire conflict and ISIS is all about.

The Kurdish Peshmerga cleared nine villages (200 square kilometers), moving the front line 8km closer to Mosul, Iraqi troops retook Nimrud and recaptured 50+ oil wells, and coalition jets hit 17 targets (destroying four explosive-rigged vehicles), the main obstacle being booby traps and "suicide bomber trucks" - vehicles packed with explosives that some brainwashed jihadi deliberately drives towards enemy troops before detonation. One Peshmerga major told AP his fighters are afraid to step out of their vehicles due to the dangers. While the Kurds agreed not to enter Mosul itself, they have apparently been given permission to retain control of the villages they liberate. The spoils of war...

Meanwhile, despite all their bluster, the Turks still haven't involved themselves in the operations. I guess that means Erdogan plans to move to "Plan B", whatever that is.


Iraq Launches Major Op to Retake Daesh-held Mosul - Baghdadi Escapes in Nick of Time! - Suicide Attack Kills 70+ Iraqi Troops

© REUTERS/ Stringer/Files
The U.S.'s most successful export.
The operation to retake northern Iraq's city of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist organization began this morning. Anti-Daesh "coalition" commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said the battle could last for weeks, "possibly longer", and "may prove to be a long and tough battle." An Iraqi military source says it could be completed in two weeks (just in time for the U.S. elections!). CENTCOM says 19 nations are participating, which basically means Iraq, the U.S., and a bunch of hangers-on to cheer lead and maybe ride shotgun during an airstrike or two.

Daesh overtook and occupied the city in June 2014, causing half its population to flee and leaving 1.3 million civilians. The number of estimated anti-Daesh forces ranges anywhere from 30,000 to 65,000 to 80,000, with 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga and 24,000 militiamen, not to mention around 6,000 U.S. troops. (The Kurds have agreed with the Iraqi government not to enter the city, however.) They are set to battle an estimated 3,000-4,500 Daesh militants (according to U.S. military estimates).

Back in February 2015, there were rumors that as many as 30,000 Daesh fighters were in Mosul - a number dismissed by one Iraqi officer as Daesh propaganda, the real number being closer to 12,000 fighters. In March 2016, CNN reported an estimate of "up to 10,000 ISIS fighters" there. And just four months ago, in June, Osama al-Nujaifi, head of United Coalition in Iraq, confirmed that there were 12,000 militants in the city and its suburbs. At the same time, U.S. coalition Col. Christopher Garver said ISIS had "less than 10,000" fighters in Mosul.

In other words, for a year and a half, the number of Daesh militants in Mosul has been estimated by Iraqi and American sources at around 10,000-12,000. Now the Americans are saying there are only 3,000-4500. (And that probably includes the various local Baathists and Sufist Naqshbandi Army insurgents.) By those numbers, that means that anywhere from 5,500 to 9,000 Daesh fighters are MIA. Where did they go?