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Parents weep in Florida to stop rash of standardized school tests promoted by Jeb Bush and Common Core. Parents across all spectrums say tests are destroying children and society. Miami-Dade Supt. says tests threaten fabric of real accountability-NY Times

11/9/14, “States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F,” NY Times, Lizette Alvarez, Royal Palm Beach, Fla.

Florida embraced the school accountability movement early and enthusiastically, but that was hard to remember at a parent meeting in a high school auditorium here not long ago.

Parents railed at a system that they said was overrun by new tests coming from all levels — district, state and federal. Some wept as they described teenagers who take Xanax to cope with test stress, children who refuse to go to school and teachers who retire rather than promote a culture that seems to value testing over learning.

My third grader loves school, but I can’t get her out of the car this year, Dawn LaBorde, who has three children in Palm Beach County schools, told the gathering, through tears. Her son, a junior, is so shaken, she said, “I have had to take him to his doctor.” She added: “He can’t sleep, but he’s tired. He can’t eat, but he’s hungry.” 

Where once these frustrations were voiced in murmurs, this year not only parents but also educators across Florida are rebelling. They have joined a national protest in which states have repealed their graduation test requirements, 
postponed the consequences of testing for the Common Core — 
national standards in more than 40 states — and rolled back the number of required exams.
In August, Education Secretary Arne Duncan added to the chorus when he wrote in a blog post that “testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and that teachers needed more time to adapt to new standards and tests.
Last month, state school chiefs and the heads of large city districts were the latest to express their concerns by committing to review the panoply of tests students must take.
In Florida, which tests students more frequently than most other states, many schools this year will dedicate on average 60 to 80 days out of the 180-day school year to standardized testing. In a few districts, tests were scheduled to be given every day to at least some students.
The furor in Florida, which cuts across ideological, party and racial lines, is particularly striking for a state that helped pioneer accountability through former Gov. Jeb Bush. Mr. Bush, a possible presidential contender, was one of the first governors to introduce high-stakes testing and an A-to-F grading system for schools. He continues to advocate test-based accountability through his education foundation. Former President George W. Bush, his brother, introduced similar measures as governor of Texas and, as president, embraced No Child Left Behind, the law that required states to develop tests to measure progress.
The concerns reach well beyond first-year jitters over Florida’s version of Common Core, which is making standards tougher and tests harder. Frustrations also center on the increase this year in the number of tests ordered by the state to fulfill federal grant obligations on teacher evaluations and by districts to keep pace with the new standards. 
The state mandate that students use computers for standardized tests has made the situation worse because  
  • computers are scarce and easily crash….
School districts across Florida have started to pare back the number of district-mandated tests. Palm Beach County announced recently that it would cut dozens of tests this year.
“This is the proverbial perfect storm of testing that has hit not only Florida but all the states,” said Alberto M. Carvalho, the influential superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools, the fourth-largest district in the country, who was named the 2014 national superintendent of the year.
Mr. Carvalho has joined other superintendents and school board members in the state in calling for a delay in the use of new tests, including the not yet validated Florida Standards Assessment — a Common Core variant, with tougher standards than the last assessment used — to grade the state’s schools, teachers and students.
Despite continued support in the Republican-dominated State Legislature for high-stakes testing, there are signs that Florida is headed for a showdown with opponents of an education system that many say is undermining its original mission: to improve student learning, help teachers and inform parents.
Responding to the growing outcry, Gov. Rick Scott in late August called for Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to investigate standardized tests, many of them state-mandated.
Robert A. Schaeffer, the public education director for FairTest, a standardized-test watchdog organization, said, “The numbers and consequences of these tests have driven public opinion over the edge, and  
politicians are scrambling to figure out how to deal with that.”
Much has changed this year in Florida. As part of the federal Race to the Top grant obligation, the state will require end-of-the-year tests for every subject to help evaluate teachers whose pay and job will be tied to scores. In Miami-Dade County, there are 1,600 courses. School districts are obligated to write the course exams, but the Legislature did not give them money for the task, so districts are far behind in developing them.
On top of routine classroom tests, students face an increase in district-led diagnostic tests to keep tabs on student progress. Some teachers are testing children biweekly. This is in addition to high school Advanced Placement, SAT and ACT tests.
But there is another requirement that has made testing more difficult in Florida.  
The state ordered all students, including those in elementary school, to take standardized tests on computers as of this year. But again, the state did not give districts extra money for computers or technology help.
Because schools do not have computers for every student, tests are staggered throughout the day, which translates to more hours spent administering tests and less time teaching. Students who are not taking tests often occupy their time watching movies. The staggered test times also mean computer labs are not available for other students.
The overlay of this year’s tougher Common Core-like standards which has led to drops in test scores in cities like New York — also has students in a panic over falling grades. Teachers, too, are worried about how the scores will affect their evaluations.
In Florida, students who fail the test can be held back in third grade or fail to graduate from high school.
The frustration over testing has spilled across the state. The Lee County School Board led the charge in August when it voted to opt out of state-mandated standardized testing during an emotional meeting in Fort Myers.
  • It rescinded the vote shortly after it learned of the penalties the district would face.  
Miami-Dade just canceled one set of district-ordered interim exams to allow teachers and students more time in the classroom.
In Gainesville, one kindergarten teacher, Susan Bowles, explained to parents on her Facebook page that she would refuse to give state-ordered diagnostic reading tests. The kindergartners were obligated to take the tests one by one on a computer. After the first go-round, Ms. Bowles calculated it would eat up three weeks of teaching time.
Her public stance galvanized even more parents and educators. Not long after her posting, Ms. Stewart, the education commissioner, suspended that particular test for younger pupils. Parents and teachers across the state began to air their grievances, detail by detail.
The emotional effect on students, teachers and parents has been damaging; the manifestation of sadness and frustration is real,” Mr. Carvalho said of the headlong rush into more tests. “And the state should pay attention to it.””

California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer intervenes in Florida election, opens 21 offices in hope of defeating Republican Gov. Rick Scott by making CO2 in China wedge issue in Florida -NPR

In Florida alone, (Steyer’s) NextGen runs 21 field offices and has spent $12 million.”…
 
10/23/14, “Democratic Climate Activist Is Election’s Biggest Donor — That We Know Of,” NPR.org, Peter Overby

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has spent an astonishing $58 million this election cycle, more than any other donor in the traditional, fully disclosed part of the political system. He recently gave $15 million to a superPAC.

This latest contribution, like most of Steyer’s others, went to NextGen Climate Action. It’s pretty much Steyer’s personal superPAC; he’s supplied 70 percent of its money….

Put more bluntly, the superPAC is using climate change as a wedge issue in battleground states.

Its biggest fight is the gubernatorial race in Florida. Republican incumbent Rick Scott is seeking a second term. NextGen calls him “a climate change denier.” And — as in six states where NextGen is involved in Senate races it links Scott to billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch.”…

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Super PAC NextGen Climate Action Fund

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10/27/14, Greens to spend record $85M in midterms,” The Hill, Laura Barron-Lopez

“Environmental groups are on track to spend more than $85 million on key races this year, more than ever before, according to an internal memo.

The record spending comes as green groups are worried about the fate of the Senate and the future of President Obama’s climate agenda, which they say is crucial to helping the U.S. and other nations curb greenhouse gas emissions and stave off disastrous climate impacts. 

A memo circulated among five of the nation’s top environmental organizations, and provided to The Hill, summarizes in detail the plan hatched by the groups to put climate change on top as a key issue.

The five green groups

the Environmental Defense Action Fund,
the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund,
the League of Conservation Voters,
the Sierra Club and
billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate — 

shared spending plans in the internal memo, which was first reported on by The Washington Post. 

The memo states the climate groups have worked to execute a “high level strategy” to “raise more money than ever before” for pro-climate candidates, reach more voters than ever before and spend in targeted races. 

“We are on track to spend more than $85 million overall including more than $40 million in just six Senate races,” the document states.

Out of those six Senate races, the groups have spent the most in Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) reelection bid, totaling roughly $12.1 million. They have spent the second most in Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D) Senate bid in Iowa, totaling $7.2 million. 

The groups have also spent $6.6 million on Rep. Gary Peters (D) in Michigan, $4 million on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in New Hampshire, $2.4 million for Sen. Kay Hagan’s (D) reelection in North Carolina and $1.9 million on Sen. Mark Begich (D) in Alaska….

NextGen Climate spokeswoman Heather Wong told the Post that the group, founded by Steyer in 2013, has spent a little over $50 million in both state and congressional races as of Oct. 20.

That puts NextGen in front as the biggest spender among the climate groups this election cycle. The League of Conservation Voters comes in second as it is poised to spend $25 million on campaigns.

In the document, the groups described the climate push this year as the “biggest and most sophisticated electoral effort ever” for pro-climate organizations.

“The era of climate science denial will soon come to a close, and voters will demand leadership from their elected officials on this pressing threat,” the document states.”….

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In 2012 alone, $1 billion a day was spent on the notion of human caused global warming. EurActiv

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In 2013 hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer was a favorite to be named Obama Energy Secretary:

Tom Steyer, a top Democratic donor and head of Farallon Capital Management, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund, has emerged as one of the early favorites to replace (departing Obama Energy Sec.) Chu.”…

1/8/13, Obama looks to fill out Cabinet, The Hill, Justin Sink

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4/4/13, Obama gas guzzling SUV outside home of California billionaire pal Tom Steyer

4/4/2013, “Irony? Here’s POTUS SUV outside home of billionaire climate change activist #Keystone opp Tom Steyer @Jeff Elder pic.twitter.com93nHc3rGlo,” Carla Marinucci twitter

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“Climate” protesters in Oakland, Ca., Sept. 2014:

9/23/14, “Climate Movement Drops Mask, Admits Communist Agenda,” Zombie, PJ Media

Communists along with a few environmental groups staged a “People’s Climate Rally” in Oakland, California on Sunday, September 21, in conjunction with the larger “People’s Climate March” in New York City on the same day.

Wait — did I say communists? Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration? well, no. [Note in picture below, “Free Mumia” poster at left of “Socialist Action” banner.]

At the New York event, many people noticed that gee, there sure are a lot of communists at this march. But in Oakland — always on the cutting edge — the entire “climate change” movement at last fully, irrevocably and overtly embraced communism as its stated goal. Any concerns about “optics” or operating in “stealth mode” were abandoned.

The “climate change” “crisis” is now nothing but the latest justification for “total revolution” and getting rid of capitalism forever.

Yes, capitalism itself is the problem. The primary message of the People’s Climate Rally was this: Climate change is caused by capitalism, and merely attempting to reform capitalism will not stop global warming; it is impossible to work within the existing system if we want to save the planet. We must replace it with a new social and economic system entirely.

Until recently, those attacking the capitalist system as the cause of global warming were intentionally a little vague as to what will replace it if we are to solve the problem. But on Sunday in Oakland, that curtain was drawn back and the new system was finally revealed: Communism. Or at least hardcore socialism as Marx defined it — the necessary transitional phase before true complete communism (i.e. no private property, no families, no individualism). Most countries we tend to think of as “communist” actually self-defined as “socialist”: The USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for example, was (as its name reveals) socialist. I point out this detail in case anybody reading this article thinks that the “socialism” advocated at the rally was merely some kind of squishy soft-hearted semi-capitalism; no, it is the same type of socialism one finds in places generally thought of as communist.

Below you will find irrefutable proof that communist ideologies, organizations and phraseologies have completely moved to the forefront of the “climate change” movment.  (I was originally tempted to say that the communists, as they are wont to do, have merely “co-opted” environmentalism. But that would imply that the goal of global warming scaremongering was something other than “destroying capitalism” in the first place. At this point I now know that destroying capitalism has always been the goal; the only thing that changed on Sunday is that the mask was dropped.)”…

NY Times still reports that White House intruder overpowered Secret Service agent, but no longer reports that the Secret Service agent was ‘female’

On 9/29/14 The NY Times originally reported the White House intruder overpowered “a female Secret Service agent.

As of 9/30/14, The word “female” has been removed from the sentence. Now it says the intruder overpowered a Secret Service agent.

No corrections are listed at the end of the article.

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Original NY Times report:

9/29/14, “White House intruder got farther than first reported, NY Times, Michael D. Shear via Boston Globe

WASHINGTON- “A man who jumped the White House fence this month made it far deeper into the president’s home than previously disclosed, overpowering a female Secret Service agent inside the North Portico entrance and running through the East Room before he was tackled, according to a congressional official familiar with the details of the incident.”…

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Screen shot of original report for the record:

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Revised NY Times article with “female” excised:

9/29/14, “White House Intruder Got Farther Than First Reported, Official Says,” NY Times, Michael D. Shear

“An armed man who jumped the White House fence this month made it far deeper into the mansion than previously disclosed, overpowering a Secret Service agent inside the North Portico entrance and running through the ceremonial East Room before he was tackled, according to a member of Congress familiar with the details of the incident.”…

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Screen shot of revised NY Times article showing “female” excised: (As of 2:48am Sept. 30, no corrections are listed to the NY Times article).

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CO2 not dangerous after all. Atmosphere relieved of CO2 effects by vast oceans and saltiness. Salt drags heat down to deep ocean, explains “pause” in global warming, Science study-Int. Business Times

8/22/14, Global Warming Pause ‘Due to Atlantic Ocean Carrying Heat Deep Down’, IBT.com, by

“The Atlantic ocean could be contributing to the ‘pause’ in global warming by drawing down heat by nearly a mile, according to a new study.

The research from the University of Washington shows that heat from the surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic, affecting the balance between incoming heat and heat radiated back into the atmosphere. The study is published in Science.

Recent measurements of ocean temperature made by thousands of buoys and observations of Earth’s radiative energy by satellite instruments have shown that the Earth is warming up. In fact, Earth’s heating rate increased between the 1985-1999 and 2000-2012 periods.

But this increased heating has not directly corresponded with surface warming - and apparently, the answer could be found deep in the Atlantic.

The temperature at the Earth’s surface depends upon where the heat is deposited in the oceans. If the upper levels warm, so too will the atmosphere above it. However, if ocean circulations cause more heat to be drawn down to deeper depths, then surface temperatures will cool.

Ka-Kit Tung, a University of Washington professor of applied mathematics and co-author Xianyao Chen of the Ocean University of China, observed deep-sea temperatures from Argo floats that sample the water down to 6,500ft (2,000m).

The authors say that fluctuations in surface temperature are part of a cycle involving ocean circulation responses to changes in how dense the upper Atlantic Ocean layers are - ie, how saline they are.

The cycle starts when saltier, denser water at the surface northern part of the Atlantic, near Iceland, causes the water to sink, taking heat down with it. This changes the speed of the current in the Atlantic Ocean that circulates heat throughout the planet.

Recent observations at the surface in the North Atlantic show record-high saltiness, Tung said, while at the same time, deeper water in the North Atlantic shows increasing amounts of heat.

The cycle switches naturally between warm and cool because of tropical water being carried to the North Atlantic, warming the surface and deep water and causing ice to melt. In turn, this makes the surface water there less dense and after a few decades will set off the cooling phase.

After 30 years of warming, the researchers say we are now in the ‘cool’ phase.

The pause in global warming has been attributed to many environmental factors, with another recent study from ETH Zurich citing climate fluctuations like El Nino and solar irradiance. The team also said that global warming would continue once these natural fluctuations settle down.

“”Oceans which constitute more than three-quarters of the earth’s surface play a key role in regulating the climate.(Reuters)” Caption

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Comment: Author says recent observations in the North Atlantic show record-high saltiness.Where in the North Atlantic? How long have records from these locations been kept? Who has taken the measurements? Where have the measurements been stored?

Genocide almost complete in Iraq, dogs eating dead bodies, 70% of refugees are dead including many children, all will be dead in 1-2 more days-UK Telegraph, J. Krohn, from Iraq helicopter, first Western journalist on scene

On Thursday alone, up to 100,000 Iraqi Christians fled their homes.”

8/10/14, “Iraq crisis: ‘It is death valley. Up to 70 per cent of them are dead’, UK Telegraph, By Jonathan Krohn, aboard an Iraqi Army helicopter on Mount Sinjar

“On board Iraqi army helicopter delivering aid to the trapped Yazidis, Jonathan Krohn sees a hellish sight”

Mount Sinjar stinks of death. The few Yazidis who have managed to escape its clutches can tell you why. “Dogs were eating the bodies of the dead,” said Haji Khedev Haydev, 65, who ran through the lines of Islamic State jihadists surrounding it.

On Sunday night, I became the first western journalist to reach the mountains where tens of thousands of Yazidis, a previously obscure Middle Eastern sect, have been taking refuge from the Islamic State forces that seized their largest town, Sinjar.
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I was on board an Iraqi Army helicopter, and watched as hundreds of refugees ran towards it to receive one of the few deliveries of aid to make it to the mountain. The helicopter dropped water and food from its open gun bays to them as they waited below. General Ahmed Ithwany, who led the mission, told me: “It is death valley.  Up to 70 per cent of them are dead.
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Two American aid flights have also made it to the mountain, where they have dropped off more than 36,000 meals and 7,000 gallons of drinking water to help the refugees, and last night two RAF C-130 transport planes were also on the way. However, Iraqi officials said that much of the US aid had been “useless” because it was dropped from 15,000ft without parachutes and exploded on impact. 
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Handfuls of refugees have managed to escape on the helicopters but many are being left behind because the craft are unable to land on the rocky mountainside. There, they face thirst and starvation, as well as the crippling heat of midsummer.Hundreds, if not more, have already died, including scores of children. A Yazidi Iraqi MP, Vian Dakhil, told reporters in Baghdad:We have one or two days left to help these people. After that they will start dying en masse.” The Iraqi Army is running several aid missions every day, bringing supplies including water, flour, bread and shoes. The helicopter flights aim to airlift out refugees on each flight, but the mountains are sometimes too rocky to land on, meaning they return empty. Even when it can land, the single helicopter can take just over a dozen refugees at a time, and then only from the highest point of the mountain where it is out of range of jihadist missiles. Barely 100 have been rescued in this way.The flights have also dropped off at least 50 armed Peshmerga, Kurdish forces, on the mountain, according to Captain Ahmed Jabar.

Other refugees have made their way through Islamic State lines, evading the jihadists to reach safety, or travelling through Kurdish-controlled sections of Syria to reach the town of Dohuk. So far the Yazidi refugees left behind have survived by hiding in old cave dwellings, drinking from natural springs and hunting small animals, but with families scattered across Mount Sinjar, a barren range stretching for around 35 miles near the border with Syria, there are fears aid will not reach them all unless the humanitarian relief operation is significantly stepped up. 

Hundreds can now be seen making their way slowly across its expanse, carrying what few possessions they managed to flee with on their backs. Exhausted children lie listlessly in the arms of their parents, older ones trudging disconsolately alongside while the sun beats down overhead.

The small amount of relief the peshmerga militia can bring up into the mountain is not simply enough.

One pershmerga fighter, Faisal Elas Hasso, 40, said: “To be honest, there’s not enough for everyone,” he said. “It’s five people to one bottle.” 

The refugees who made it out described desperate scenes as they awaited help from the outside world. 

“There were about 200 of us, and about 20 of that number have died,” said Saydo Haji, 28. “We can live for two days, not more.”

Emad Edo, 27, who was rescued in an airlift on Friday at the mountain’s highest point explains how he had to leave his niece, who barely had enough strength to keep her eyes open, to her fate. “She was about to die, so we left her there and she died,” he said.

Others shared similar stories. “Even the caves smell very bad,” Mr Edo added. According to several of the airlifted refugees, the Geliaji cave alone has become home to 50 dead bodies. 

Saydo Kuti Naner, 35, who was one of 13 Yazidis who snuck through Islamic State lines on Thursday morning, said he travelled through Kurdish-controlled Syria to get to Kurdistan.

He left behind his mother and father, too old to make the rough trip, as well as 200 sheep. “We got lucky,” he said. “A girl was running [with us] and she got shot.” He added that this gave enough cover for the rest of them to get away.

Mikey Hassan said he, his two brothers and their families fled up into Mount Sinjar and then managed to escape to the Kurdish city of Dohuk after two days, by shooting their way past the jihadists. Mr Hassan said he and his family went for 17 hours with no food before getting their hands on some bread.

The Yazidis, an ethnically Kurdish community that has kept its religion alive for centuries in the face of persecution, are at particular threat from the Islamists, who regard them as ‘devil worshippers’, and drove them from their homes as the peshmerga fighters withdrew.

There have been repeated stories that the jihadists have seized hundreds of Yazidi women and are holding them in Mosul, either in schools or the prison. These cannot be confirmed, though they are widely believed and several Yazidi refugees said they had been unable to contact Yazidi women relatives who were living behind Islamic State lines.

Kamil Amin, of the Iraqi human rights ministry, said: “We think that the terrorists by now consider them slaves and they have vicious plans for them.”

Tens of thousands of Christians have also been forced to flee in the face of the advancing IS fighters, many cramming the roads east and north to Erbil and Dohuk. On Thursday alone, up to 100,000 Iraqi Christians fled their homes in the Plain of Ninevah around Mosul.

Refugees said the American air strikes on IS positions outside Erbil were too little, too late. They said they felt abandoned by everyone – the central government in Baghdad, the Americans and British, who invaded in 2003, and now the Kurds, who had promised to protect them.

When the Americans withdrew from Iraq they didn’t protect the Christians, said Jenan Yousef, an Assyrian Catholic who fled Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town, in the early hours of Thursday. “The Christians became the scapegoats. Everyone has been killing us.” 

The situation in Sinjar has irreparably damaged the notion of home for the Yazidis. For a large portion of them, the unique culture of the area will never return, and they will therefore have nothing to go back for.

“We can’t go back to Sinjar mountain because Sinjar is surrounded by Arabs,” said Aydo Khudida Qasim, 34, who said that Sunni Arab villagers around Sinjar helped Islamic State take the area. Now he as well as many of his friends and relatives want to get out of Iraq altogether. “We want to be refugees in other countries, not our own,” he said.”

Image above: “Displaced Yazidi people rush towards an aid helicopter Photo: RUDAW,” from UK Telegraph

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Image above: Sat., 8/9/14, “Thousands of Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains as they fled from Islamic State (IS) are rescued by Kurdish forces,” getty

US taxpayers provided weapons and armored vehicles used by genocidal Islamists to defeat peaceful Kurds who had been Iraq’s lone success story-AP

8/9/14, Kurdish pleas for weapons may finally be heard, AP, Ken Dilanian

For years, Kurdish officials have beseeched the Obama administration to let them buy U.S. weapons. For just as long, the administration has rebuffed America’s closest allies in Iraq.

kurdsSaveourchildrenWhiteHouseDemoAug92014AP

U.S. officials insisted they could only sell arms to the government in Baghdad, even after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki broke a written promise to deliver some to the Kurds. Their peaceful, semiautonomous northern region had been the lone success story to come out of the 2003 U.S. invasion.

The U.S. has resisted arming the Kurds because Washington’s aim is to keep Iraq united. A strong Kurdish army could hasten independence for the Kurds.

Now, the Islamic State group, which some American officials have branded “a terrorist army,” has overpowered lightly armed Kurdish units, threatening the Kurdish region and the American personnel stationed there.

President Barack Obama said Saturday that the U.S. had increased military aid to the Kurds, though he did not elaborate. White House officials said Friday that Baghdad had sent the Kurds some weapons, a first after years of ill relations between the Kurds and the central government.

“The United States and the Iraqi government have stepped up our military assistance to Kurdish forces as they wage their fight,” Obama said.

Among the 300 military advisers the Pentagon sent to Iraq in June, dozens are operating out of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, which is now within 25 miles of fighters from the Islamic State.

In a bitter irony, the extremists used American armored vehicles and weapons they had seized from the Iraqi military to defeat Kurdish fighters who were blocked from acquiing just such equipment, U.S. and Kurdish officials said.

The U.S. sought to halt the extremists’ advance toward Irbil with airstrikes, but Kurdish officials also say Washington has promised to begin sending them arms. Pentagon officials say their policy hasn’t changedthey will only sell arms to Baghdad.

That raises the question of whether the CIA has begun providing weapons in secret to the Kurds, something U.S. officials will not confirm nor deny. The CIA declined to comment on whether it was sending arms.

But whether or not a covert program is underway, a growing number of voices are calling for the U.S. to begin openly and speedily arming the Kurds.

“If Baghdad isn’t supplying the Kurds with the weapons that they need, we should provide them directly to the Kurds,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

“The only way to confront this threat is to arm Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces, and yet we’re doing nothing to support either one of those,” said retired Gen. Michael Barbero, who used to run the mission training the Iraqi military. “It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s an existential threat, so why we are not in there at least equipping and arming them?

Karwan Zebari, spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdistan region in Washington, said in an interview that U.S. officials have assured him that guns and ammunition would be forthcoming.

“Last night, they said, ‘We will be moving expediently with providing you some military assets,’” he said Friday.

The U.S. has not wanted to stoke the Kurds’ desire for, and Baghdad’s fear of, an independent Kurdish state. Officials tried to steer some of the military aid it has given the Iraqi government to the Kurds, but Maliki didn’t cooperate.

Under the Pentagon’s foreign military sales program, some $200 million worth of American weapons that was supposed to be earmarked for the Kurds by the Maliki government  

was never delivered to them, Barbero said.

“This policy of one Iraq, everything goes through Baghdad, ignores the reality on the ground,” Barbero said in an interview.

Zebari and Barbero said Kurdish forces have been outgunned by ISIL troops driving in armored American Humvees and firing American machine guns seized from the Iraqi army.

“It’s not that the peshmerga forces are scared or not willing to fight,” Zebari said, referring to the Kurdish militia. “They are coming at us with armored Humvees and we’re throwing these AK-47 bullets at them. It doesn’t do anything. At some point you run out of bullets.”

The Kurds have some tanks and armored vehicles, but not in Sinjar, a city far from the Kurdish seats of power in Irbil and Suliminiya. That city fell swiftly to an onslaught from Islamic State fighters, leading thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority to flee to a mountaintop, where the U.S. has airdropped supplies to stave off deaths from hunger and thirst.

Many of the peshmerga soldiers defending Sinjar had just six magazines of ammunition, said a former CIA official with close ties to the region who spoke on condition of anonymity because he got the information in confidence.

U.S. airstrikes are not “the endgame,” Zebari said. “What has changed for the peshmerga on the ground? the ground? Nothing. We still need that military equipment.””

Image: “Kurdish demonstrators gather in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. For years, Kurdish officials have beseeched the Obama administration to let them buy U.S. weapons. For just as long, the administration has rebuffed America’s closest allies in Iraq. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)”
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US Gen. Michael Barbero quoted in the AP article served in Iraq until 2011. In Nov. 2013 he was in Baghdad as a business consultant. 1/9/14, “Who lost Iraq? It’s Complicated.” Politico Magazine, Ned Parker

 

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25,000 Iraqi children facing execution by Islamists flee to mountains, now dying of thirst and starvation. UN offered water and food for children but Iraq gov. hasn’t ‘asked for help’-Washington Post. If US can save Central Am. kids not facing beheading, why not Iraqi kids who are?

25,000 children…are now stranded in mountains.” “U.N. agencies have offered the Iraqi government technical assistance with airdrops but have yet to be asked for help. 200,000 facing execution have already fled.
 
8/5/14, “Iraqi Yazidis stranded on isolated mountaintop begin to die of thirst,” Washington Post, Loveday Morris

“Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands descend and risk slaughter at the hands of the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst.
 
Humanitarian agencies said Tuesday that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians remain trapped on Mount Sinjar since being driven out of surrounding villages and the town of Sinjar two days earlier.

But the mountain that had looked like a refuge is becoming a graveyard for their children. Unable to dig deep into the rocky mountainside, displaced families said they have buried young and elderly victims of the harsh conditions in shallow graves, their bodies covered with stones. Iraqi government planes attempted to airdrop bottled water to the mountain on Monday night but reached few of those marooned.

There are children dying on the mountain, on the roads,” said Marzio Babille, the Iraq representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “There is no water, there is no vegetation, they are completely cut off and surrounded by Islamic State. It’s a disaster, a total disaster.”

Most of those who fled Sinjar are from the minority Yazidi sect, which melds parts of ancient Zoroastrianism with Christianity and Islam. They are considered by the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State to be devil worshippers and apostates.

The dramatic advance of the extremist Sunni fighters has torn the ethnic and religious fabric of the country, with Christians and Shiites also uprooted from cities and towns.
The Islamic State’s takeover of Sinjar, the first major setback for Kurdish forces protecting the country’s north, sent about 200,000 people fleeing, according to the United Nations. Some 147,000 have arrived in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, flooding refugee camps.

Most of those stranded on Mount Sinjar had run out of battery life on their cellphones by Tuesday, but the few that still could communicate gave grim updates.

On Tuesday, 10 children and one elderly woman died, while on Monday, seven children had perished, said 23-year-old Shihab Balki, who was trapped with his mother, sister and four brothers. “I saw their bodies with my own eyes.”

He later texted the news of another casualty: a young man who had died of thirst, leaving his wife and five children behind. UNICEF said that 40 children had died after being displaced from their homes in the area in the 48 hours ending Monday night, including an unknown number on the mountain. The agency did not have figures for Tuesday.

In Baghdad, parliamentarians complained bitterly about the plight of the displaced, their discussions temporarily overshadowing wrangling over the nomination of a prime minister.

“Children have died because of dehydration and lack of food,” Vian Dakheel, a Yazidi parliamentarian from Sinjar, said through tears. “My people are being slaughtered,” she continued, referring to reports of mass killings of those who had stayed behind.

The ancient and secretive Yazidi sect, whose members number no more than 600,000 across Iraq, has suffered persecution for centuries.

8/3/14, Iraq, fleeing genocide, ap

Islamic State (ISIS) posted the first pictures of its capture of Sinjar on social networking sites on Tuesday. One showed six men lying face-down in a field, a pistol pointed at the backs of their heads.  “Kill them wherever you find them,” read the caption.

Salem al-Sinjari, a 45-year-old teacher, said he’d seen around 25 bodies piled in the streets as he fled Sunday, leaving early enough to catch a ride to the Kurdish region. His mother, five brothers and two sisters wound up besieged on the mountain. He said he last spoke to them Monday before their last cellphone battery died.

Iraqi Kurdish security forces known as pesh merga are attempting to secure a road from the mountain to the nearby city of Rabia, but the process involves clearing villages where locals are sympathetic to the militants, said Majid Shingali, another local parliamentarian, who left Sinjar on Saturday.

Kurdish factions in neighboring Syria say they are entering Iraq to assist this country’s Kurds as they face Islamic State along a 650-mile front.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a terrorist organization by the United States for its armed struggle against the Turkish state, also called for all Kurdish factions to unite against the Sunni extremists.

Babille, UNICEF’s Iraq representative, said that U.N. agencies have offered the Iraqi government technical assistance with airdrops but have yet to be asked for help. At least 15 to 20 flights would be needed just to provide those stranded with enough water and supplies to survive for a week, he said.

“We need to get them out,” he said. “If we don’t, it would be catastrophic.””

Top image: “A Yazidi woman cries in Dohuk in Kurdistan, where she and others are taking shelter. Tens of thousands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority sect have fled the town of Sinjar to escape violence at the hands of Sunni extremists. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)”

Second image:This image made from video taken Aug. 3 shows Iraqis from the Yazidi community arriving in Irbil in northern Iraq after Islamic militants attacked the towns of Sinjar and Zunmar. (AP) The ancient and secretive Yazidi sect, whose members number no more than 600,000 across Iraq, has suffered persecution for centuries.”

Last 3 images posted 8/4/14 by ISIS, NYNWA News
Linked on Washington Post

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8/5/14, “40 Yazidi children reported dead after Iraq attack,” AFP, via Daily Star-Lebanon News, Baghdad

Forty children from northern Iraq’s Yazidi minority are reported to have died as a result of a jihadist attack on the Sinjar region, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Tuesday.

“According to official reports received by UNICEF, these children from the Yazidi minority died as a direct consequence of violence, displacement and dehydration over the past two days,” a statement said.

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) jihadist group, that controls much of northwestern Iraq took over Sinjar Sunday, which had been under the control of Kurdish troops….

“Families who fled the area are in immediate need of urgent assistance, including up to 25,000 children who are now stranded in mountains surrounding Sinjar and are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including drinking water and sanitation services,” UNICEF said.”…
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