Despite reports Tuesday that the Independent High Electoral Commission had postponed provincial elections, Alsumaria reported
yesterday that the commission denied to them that the elections are
postponed, that they need six months notice to prepare for the
elections and that March 17th would be their own ideal figure. They
state that they have not postponed the elections but that the failure
to name the new commissioners or renew the current ones is causing a
delay. So it appears that the provincial elections are postponed but
not by the commission.
The electoral commission is also not responsible for the banning of birds and eggs. Alsumaria reports
that the Council of Ministers banned importing eggs and birds from 18
countries including Cambodia, India, China, Egypt, Vietnam, Japan,
South Africa, Australia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The states reason is
fear of Bird Flu (Avian Influenza). Though Bird Flu is no longer in
the headlines, June 7th, the World Health Organization announced "a new case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus." WHO also passed on:
The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, Hong
Kong, China, has reported a human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus
infection. The case is a 2 year-old male from Guangzhou City,
Guangdong province. He developed symptoms on 23 May 2012 in Guangdong
province and went to a private clinic in Hong Kong, China, on 26 May
2012. He developed febrile convulsion and was transferred to a hospital
on 28 May 2012 and was laboratory confirmed as A(H5N1) on 2 June 2012.
His condition remains serious and he remains hospitalized.
In other medical news, Dar Addustour reports
that six people in Nasiriyah, while undergoing eye exams, were exposed
to some form of bacteria that is still unknown at this time but that
resulted in their being blinded.
A lot of people seem to believe Moqtada al-Sadr has changed his
position. There's nothing he's said that's changed his position. He
appears to be taken the issue of questioning very seriously. And would
appear to be presenting himself as impartial and reluctant. That's been
his position all along. Is Nouri going to appear before Parliament for
questioning? If he follows the Constitution, yes. There's not X
number needed for questioning. He has been asked to appear. Whether he does or not, per the Constitution, he has to. If he does,
per Moqtada's statements, an opinion will be formed based on Nouri's
answers. If the answers are not satisifactory, Moqtada -- with a heavy
heart and great reluctantce -- would have his bloc vote for
no-confidence if the others got their required votes. As Al Mada reports
today, the vote is currently postponed because, among other reasons,
Jalal Talabani remains out of the country (that reason comes from the
Sadr bloc). I know Nouri's lackeys in the US -- non-governmental -- insist this is a
change of position but this has been Moqtada's position since April
28th. I guess not reading Arabic leaves them left out -- and makes them
offer ridiculous comments like the first All Iraqi News article we
linked to? No lawyer for Nouri speaks or is quoted or is referenced in
that article. No matter what an idiot who worships Nouri and is 'buds'
with Jane and Prashant Tweeted. In fact, if Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao
had any sense, they would have Tweeted back, "Uh, learn Arabic, that's
not what the article says." But that's not how a circle-jerk works, is
it? [And here's a helping hand for the idiot -- this is an All iraqi News article where Nouri's attorney speaks. This is.
The one you Tweeted yesterday wasn't. And this article was published
today. Not published when you Tweeted so don't try to pretend you meant
to Tweet something else, you dumb ass.]
the issue is collecting signatures, we can now collect enough. But when
it comes to voting, I don’t know who will vote in favor of the case or
not. Therefore, until the actual voting takes place, we won’t have a
clear view on the issue,” Hussein added.
Sattar Bayati, a senior official from Sadr’s faction in Iraqi
Parliament, confirms their stance on the issue, saying they have not
given up on the attempt to unseat Maliki.
must be removed from office. Whenever 124 votes in favor of withdrawing
confidence are collected, we will add the other 40 votes needed. His
Excellency Muqtada Sadr has already said this.” Bayati said.
Wait! What! The Twittering monkeys were all wrong?
Again and again and again.
I have no idea why so-called 'experts' get to remain billed as such
when they're repeatedly wrong. And it must be very frustrating for
them that they are so wrong so often when me -- not the brightest
person in the room -- has repeatedly avoided the hype. But then,
unlike gas bags, I know how to listen and store information. I also
know how to analyze information (and in that regard, I am ahead of the
curve, only in that last regard).
So in other words, the 'experts' and the reporters and 'reporters' who
passed on their 'wisdom' were wrong. We have been correct what is
taking place in Iraq and we've done mainly by ignoring the 'experts'
and instead relying on friend in diplomatic circles and with the UN.
Alsumaria notes that Iraqiya is stating that the Parliament will beging to set the stage for the questioning of Nouri next week.
Kitabat offers an essay
by Ibrahim al-Zubaidi that postulates Iraq is not a country. What is
it? It's over a million armed forces controlled by Nouri al-Maliki.
It's a land ruled by force despite having a president and a
parliament. Jalal Talabani, the president, is someone who has been
biased towards Nouri from the beginning, he is not neutral despite
repeated attempts to portray himself as such, the essay argues. He
refuses to stand and lead as the president in any other country would,
the essay continues, and Iraq is in a state of anarchy.
Nouri is still eyeing Diyala Province. He's already had nearly 100
people arrested there this week. All 'terrorists,' of course. He's
now threatening that security breaches must be addressed.
In Iraq, there is no let up in the violence. Alsumaria reports
a suicide bomber went into a Mosul shopping mall and blew himself up
also killing 4 other people and leaving twelve more injured. As
ambulances rushed the injured to the hospital, security forces closed
down the area. In addition, Trend News Agency reports a car bombing in Baghdad which left four people injured. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports
that local government official Ali Abdul-Amir's Baghdad home has bombed
resulting in the deaths of his wife and their two daughters while he
and two sons were left injured.
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 88 people killed from July 1st through the 4th.
Kay Johnson and Lara Jakes (AP) observe,
"Part of the problem is the dysfunctional Iraqi government that, so far
this year, has failed to protect its public or settle internal power
squabbles." Which is much better than yesterday when the press floated
that guns were coming into Iraq from Syria (a hypothesis that went
against everything the press and US government had said for months
It is with very deep
regret that the Ministry of Defence has to confirm that Lance-Corporal
Thomas Richard Keys was killed in action in southern Iraq on 24 June
2003 whilst serving with 156 Provost Company, Royal Military Police.
Aged 20, he came from Llanuwchllyn, near Bala in Wales, and was single. He joined the Army in August 1998, initially serving with 1st
Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. He transferred to the RMP and joined
156 Provost Company in January 2002. He had served on operations in
Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland and deployed to Jamaica on exercise. A
popular soldier, Thomas was a fully trained paratrooper and physical
training instructor who played football for the Company. His funeral service, with full military honours, was held at St John's Church in Barmouth on 14 July.
The Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette reports
Pat Long, Keys' mother, is petitioning the court "for a fresh
independent inquiry into her son's death "by a mob of Iraqis at a
police station in Majar-al-Kabir." The British troops had "little
ammunition" and an out of date radio/walkie talkie that "was completely
useless in a built-up area and could only be used in open fileds." ITV explains
the Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond has thus far refused to grant a
fresh inquest and so Pat Long has taken the issue to the High Court.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party candidates and leaders said today that the
Supreme Court's ruling upholding the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA)
should not distract Americans from the demand for real health care
reform -- Medicare For All.
Greens said that Medicare For All (single-payer national health care)
will expand on the beneficial parts of the ACA and extend the guarantee
of quality health care to every American, while solving its
deficiencies, especially the unpopular individual mandate. Greens
support expanded and improved Medicare For All, to include dental,
vision, hearing, nutritional counseling, and proactive medicine, without
co-pays, deductibles, and "doughnut holes."
Medicare For All would cover all Americans, provide full choice of
physician and hospital, and cut costs dramatically: current Medicare
administrative overhead is only 3%, while for-profit health insurance
administrative overhead is as high as 30%. The Green Party also supports
efforts to enact statewide single-payer legislation in many states.
The Green Party is preparing for its 2012 National Convention in
Baltimore, Md., July 12-15. Baltimore has one of the premier hospitals
in the country, Johns Hopkins, but too many Baltimore residents remain
without access to health care. Andrew Straw, Green candidate for the US House of Representatives in Indiana, 2nd District (http://www.strawforcongress.com):
"While many people are celebrating the court's decision upholding the
insurance mandate, we should remember that the mandate is a direct
public subsidy to sustain and enrich the health insurance industry and
maintain its bureaucratic control over our medical system. We urge
Americans to support Medicare For All, which will remove for-profit
insurance companies from the system, along with the excessive profits
and CEO salaries that keep driving up medical costs. The ACA doesn't
give us universal coverage -- at least 26 million people will remain
uninsured. It doesn't control skyrocketing costs and won't stop people
from going into financial ruin because of a medical emergency. The
Court's decision furthermore overruled expansion of Medicaid coverage,
which could push millions more Americans out of coverage. That's why we
need Medicare For All." Audrey Clement, Green candidate for Arlington County Board in Virginia (http://www.AudreyClement.org) and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States:
"We shouldn't forget that the individual mandate is a Republican idea
that the Obama Administration coopted -- along with many other
Republican ideas and goals since his election. The mandate was
introduced by the rightwing Heritage Foundation and promoted nationally
by Republicans during the 1990s. It was the basis of Gov. Romney's
statewide health care reform plan in Massachusetts. President Obama
embraced the mandate idea to win the support of the powerful insurance
lobbies for the ACA and pay them back for contributing record-high
contributions to his campaign. The health care debate has been rigged
all along so that, whether the ACA passed and survived a court challenge
or the GOP succeeded in blocking it, the biggest winners would be the
health insurance bureaucracy and other corporate health care lobbies." Darryl! Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States:
"What we need is a health care system that promotes healthy living from a
holistic approach that includes prevention. The best way to save money
and health care costs is to prevent illnesses in the first place or at
least with proper prevention methods to lessen the severity should an
illness occur. Medicare For All gives government a stake in promoting
prevention and healthy living for all Americans. The Green Party offers
the kind of medicine that we need -- a system that does not depend on
wealthy corporations to provide insurance. It's a system that guarantees
that everyone in the US has the same quality care currently enjoyed by
the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court justices (and their
families) and funded by taxpayers and hardworking people in this
country." Ursula Rozum, Green candidate for the US House in Syracuse, in New York's 24th District (http://www.ursulaforcongress.com):
"We must make health care a right for all Americans. Instead of making
health care a right, President Obama and Congress confirmed the notion
that expanded coverage is only worth pursuing if the profits of
insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other health care
corporations can be guaranteed. That's why health insurance industry
representatives were invited to help write the legislation. The
Affordable Care Act will help many Americans -- but millions will be
left out in the cold. It is ultimately a victory for the idea that no
reform is desirable without an assurance that corporate profits will be
maintained or increased. The Green Party says that human needs must
overrule corporate profits and that for-profit insurance companies must
be removed from our health care system." See also:
"The Green Party urges the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable
Care Act's health insurance mandates, sees a chance for Medicare For
Green Party press release, March 5, 2012 http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=487
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts
"Little Dicky Loves Bad Boys." Little Dicky returns to declare, "Hey
everybody. It's me your old friend Little Dicky. And it's that time
again. Time to vote for the Lord and Master of my wet dreams. Some of
you complain that Barack's killing people -- even children -- with his Drone War.
I say that just gives him a bad boy edge. Me loves the bad boys!"
Little Dicky hasn't appeared in awhile so let's note he previously
appeared here, here, here, here, here, here, here. and here. Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.
Violence continued in Iraq today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes
3 "Iraqi officials" were shot dead today and a Taji roadside bombing
left six people injured while a Zubaidiya car bombing claimed 8 lives
and left twenty-five people injured. AFP notes
the 3 shot dead in Baghdad: "policewoman Ibtisam Ibrahim[, . . .]
police First Lt Ahmed Swadi [and] employee at Iraq's parliament, Farhan
Kadhim Mussa." Alsumaria notes a Baquba roadside bombing injured three people. Yesterday saw violence as well and Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 63 dead and 152 injured on Tuesday.
My worry is that progress is tenuous and reversible. If we were keeping
troops in Iraq past Dec. 31, the chances of Iraq achieving its full
potential would be much greater. As things stand now, the prospects of a
catastrophic failure have gone up. But there is still a chance of Iraq
developing as a model for the "Arab Spring", thereby redeeming the great
sacrifices made by so many to defeat the extremists who threatened its
Violence has increased and has been increasing. But, check our
archives, we said this would happen as well when US forces left. We
said that over and over. As someone opposed to the illegal war and
occupation, I didn't feel the need to lie. I know that's uncommon
because so many in the Cult of St. Barack think they can lie and then
run from their lies. (Such as: "I am against illegal spying! Using
drones to kill innocent people is outrageous!" -- positions they held
when Bully Boy Bush was in office but have set aside, cloaked and hidden
now that Barack is in the White House.) The US installed a puppet
regime. The minute US forces left in any large number, violence would
increase. That's a given. And I'm not psychic for knowing that. It's
the historical pattern. I have no idea why Max Boot feels he's done
something amazing by noting what historically happens over and over.
Next up: Max Boot proclaims, "I was right! The sun did rise this
Max Boot and I are on the opposite side of every issue but if his post
on violence is about his never getting credit for being right, as his
political enemy, I will say Max Boot has been right many times. He's
been more right since Barack became President of the United States and
that's because he no longer feels the need to spin and fawn for an
administration. It's a shame he couldn't have lost that desire when a
Republican occupied the White House. But he has been right about Iraq
many times since he gave up his post in the Court of Bully Boy Bush.
Chair Jason Chaffetz: The State Dept has greatly expanded its footprint in Iraq. There are approximately 2,000 direct-hire personnel and 14,000 support contractors -- roughly a seven-to-one ratio. This includes 7,000 private security contractors to guard our facilities and move personnel throughout Iraq. Leading up to the withdrawal, the State Dept's mission seemed clear. Ambassador Patrick Kennedy
testified that the diplomatic mission was "designed to maximize
influence in key locations." And later said, "State will continue the police development programs moving beyond basic policing skills to provide police forces with the capabilities to uphold the rule of law. The Office of Security Cooperation will help close gaps in Iraq's security forces capabilities through security assistance and cooperation." This is an unprecedented mission for the State Dept. Nonetheless, our diplomatic corps has functioned without the protections of a typical host nation. It's also carried on without troop support that many believed it would have. As a result, the Embassy spends roughly 93% of its budget on security alone. Without a doubt, this is an enormously complex and difficult mission. Six months into the transition, the Congress must assess whether the administration is accomplishing its mission? While the State Dept has made progress, it appears to be facing difficult challenges in a number of areas. The Oversight Committee has offered some criticism based on their testimony today. Including the
Government Accountability Office noting that the State and Defense
Dept's security capabilities are not finalized. The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction states that, "Thousands of projects completed by the United States and transferred to the government of Iraq will not be sustained and thus will fail to meet their intended purposes." The Defense Dept's Inspector General's Office explains that the lack of Status of Forces Agreement has impacted land use agreements, force protection, passport visa requirements, air and ground movement and our foreign military sales program. And the
US AID Inspector General's office testifies, "According to US AID
mission, the security situation has hampered its ability to monitor programs. Mission personnel are only occassionaly able to travel to the field for site visits." Embassy personnel have also told Committee staff that the United States government has difficulty registering its vehicles with the Iraqi government and Iraqis have stood up checkpoints along supply lines. According to one embassy official, the team must dispatch a liason to "have tea and figure out how we're going to get our trucks through." These are just some of the challenges the State Dept is facing in Iraq today. Perhaps as a result of these conditions, Mission Iraq appears to be evolving. In an effort to be more efficient, the State Dept is evaluating its footprint, reducing personnel and identifying possible reductions. This rapid change in strategy, however, raises a number of questions. Are we on the
right track? Are we redefining the mission? What should we expect in
the coming months? And, in hindsight, was this a well managed
The Subcommittee heard about it being impossible for Americans to check
on the various costly projects the US taxpayers continue paying for (so
there is no direct US supervision) and that there was a failure to get
lease agreements so that most of the facilities could be lost. (Only 5
of 14 have land lease agreements, as the US Government Accountability
Office's Michael Courts testified.)) This matters because? It matters
because of the money the US government is spending -- taxpayer money --
in Iraq. US House Rep Blake Farenthold conveyed his displeasure to the
State Dept's Patrick Kennedy over the fact that the Police College Annex
in Baghdad was a US facility that cost US taxpayers "more than $100
million in improvements to the site" only to "be turned over to Iraq for
free" as a result of the US not securing a land lease. And don't
forget that last week, Walter Pincus (Washington Post via Stars and Stripes) reported, "The State Department is planning to spend as much as $115 million to
upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, already its biggest and
most expensive in the world, according to pre-solicitation notices
published this month. Remember, it has been 3 1/2 years since
American diplomats moved into the 104-acre, $700 million facility and
only four months after State Department officials in February talked
about trying to cut back the U.S. presence there."
I'm actually going to do three entries. I thought I could pull
everything in here but that's not the case. So there will be one more
entry from me.
Kitabat reports the central and south Iraq are plagued by dust storms today with predictions that they will continue tomorrow.
As obscured as the physical view is the political view with the crisis continuing. Alsumaria reports that
Nouri has ordered raids and arrests in Diyala Province. Baquba is the
capital and it borders Iran in the north. It is predominately Sunni
with a signficiant number of Shi'ites Kurds and Turkmen. "Home to
every major sect and ethnicity of Iraq," the Institute for the Study of War has noted. The organization also noted:
Shia and Kurdish power blocs saw the organization of the Sunnis into
legitimized security forces in Diyala as a threat to their strategic
interests within a critical province. In response to the IIPs growing
power, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki created the Diyala Support Council
(DSC) in mid-2007 in an attempt to influence Diyala from
Baghdad. Further, Maliki employed the ISF to reduce the strength of
Sunni power bloc in Diyala by arresting hundreds of Sunni fighters and
ejecting Popular Committee leaders from their offices. Lastly, in
February of 2008, Prime Minister Maliki won the approval of the
Government of Iraq to form Tribal Support Councils (TSC) throughout
Iraq. The Diyala TSCs allowed Maliki to check growing Sunni influence
within the province and play one Sunni group off another, effectively
preventing the Sunnis from creating a single, consolidated political
With at least 13 arrested in Diyala today and security sources telling
Alsumaria that 20 more have been arrested in Diyala already this month,
chances are the arrests will be seen as part of Nouri al-Maliki's
continued attack on Iraq's Sunni population.
The arrests come as Diyala official (and Iraqiya member) Nahida Daini is calling
for the Baghdad government to keep their promise regarding the Sahwa
(Awakenings, Sons Of Iraq, Daughters Of Iraq) and integrating them into
the central government's forces. She states that Sahwa's role in
allowing Iraq to function was pivotal and that they must be brought
into the process. This was supposed to happen. It never has.
(Despite Brett McGurk's lies to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
last month.) General David Petreaus credited the Sahwa with helping to
turn things around. At the April 8, 2008 Senate Armed Services hearing when Gen David Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq, was explaining Sahwa.
his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka
"Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over
91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help
Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure
infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed
significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost
because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved
-- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the
US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat
How much lunch money is the US
forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a
minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean
the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to
the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in
vehicles not lost".
Hassan Zaidi remains impisoned. He's a journalist. Nouri, of course,
denied that any journalists are held in Iraqi prisons. A communiy
member in Anbar asked that we note this and notes there is little press
coverage of it. She states that the government keeps promising that
Zaidi will be released shortly. Again, Nouri al-Maliki flat out lied last Thursday when he denied any journalists were in Iraqi prisons. Hassan is imprisoned for 'passport falsification.' Yeah, it sounds like trumped up charges.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari, meanwhile, turns himself into a laughingstock. Dar Addustour reports
that he's declaring all these grand accomplishments that the Reform
Commission will be responsible for including the appointment of a
Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior. Maybe that will
happen, maybe it won't. Probably not a good idea to be promising it
will or to declare that the Reform Commission is a replacement to the
no-confidence vote on Nouri. al-Jaafari was never part of that
movement and can't speak for it with any degree of accuracy.
Dar Addustour notes
that Nouri's also insisting that the tourism sector must be revitalized
in Iraq. The biggest obstacle to that remains Nouri. No one wants to
travel to the land of Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam. But that's Nouri's
That Maliki has an authoritarian streak
has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say.
Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to
be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political
operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over
many of the new democracy's fledgling institutions. In his role as
commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army
commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under
his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies. The
widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki's
office, has frequently been used to move against his political
opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him
of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.
Are not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program
(e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability
Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program
If you meet that criteria, you can apply to the Veterans Retraining
Assistance Program (VRAP). Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee, proposed and championed the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011
adn it is now the law. As part of that legislation, twelve months of
training assistance is available to those who meet the above
qualifications. The program has 45,000 slots and, currently, only
27,080 spots are filled.
the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on the legislation
and how aspects of it were going including VRAP. The VA's Allison
VA and the Department of Labor collaboratively developed
the VRAP application process and the requirements for the information
technology system changes to support this process. To efficiently
leverage existing systems, VA modifided its application for VA education
benefits for use by the VRAP applicatns. The VRAP application is
available online at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW,
a web site developed specifically for portions of the VOW to Hire
Heroes Act. This site can be accessed through eBenefits, the GI Bill
web site, DoL web sites and numerous other web sites. Additionally,
Veterans can visit their local DoL One-Stop Career Center locations for application assistance. Applications can be submitted through VA's Veterans Online Application web site.
To be eliglbe for participation, DoL must determine that the applicant
is unemployed, not enrolled in any federal or state job-training program
and is between the ages of 35 aand 60. VA verifies the applicant's
veteran status and type of discharge, and confirms that the applicant
has no other VA education benefits available for use, and is not in
receipt of compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally
disabling by reason of unemployability. After eligibility has been
established, the applicant identifies his or her intended high-demand
occupation category and applicable training institution. Information
about the high-demand occupations, identified by DoL, is availabe on VA's VOW to Hire Heroes web site as well as DoL's web site.
What will VRAP do? It will provide training for "high demand occupations" as explained in [PDF format warning] this VA report.
There are far too many jobs to list then all but, if accepted in the
program, you can be trained to be a loan officer, to be a retail buyer,
a claims adguster, a real estate appraiser, a substance abuse
counselor, a paralegal, a computer support specialist, a preschool
teacher, a coach, an umpire, a referee, an engineering technician, a
registered nurse, a choreographer, a photorgrapher, a police officer, a
criminal investigator, a firefighter, a pest control worker, an actor,
a pharmacy technician, a barber, a hair dresser or hair stylist, a
manicurist, a carpenter, an electrician, a plumber, a bookeeper, an
accountant, a sheet metal worker, a police/fire/ambulance dispatcher, a
legal secretary, an airline pilot, an air traffic controller, a flight
attendant, railroad conductor, an ambulance driver and much more. The
program isn't about forcing you down a path but about training and
certifying you in a "high demand occupation" that you have an interest
in. And that long list of possible training? Again, that is not the
full list. It's not even a fourth of what's available. Click on the link to review all that is offered.
Again, there are a little less than 18,000 spots open. The program's
actually already started (July 1st). Those slots need to be filled.
If you qualify, you should consider applying:
We are accepting VRAP applications now. Please visit eBenefits
to apply. Remember, to complete the application, you will need to
know your direct deposit information (bank routing number and account
number), the name and location of your school, the program you wish to
pursue, and the applicable high demand occupation. Watch for our VRAP public service announcement (PSA) courtesy of CBS on these programs and dates or watch the VRAP PSA now.
The slots need to be filled. If you qualify, they're going on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee has a video and press release celebrating the Fourth of July.
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!
Much like the Constitution is not just a piece of paper or the flag a
piece of a cloth—the Fourth of July is not just another day of the
What makes the Fourth of July so unique is what it symbolizes to
Americans. At our Founding, America was but just thirteen colonies under
the rule of an imperial power that did not respect the wishes of her
In what is now regarded as one of the most influential moments in
history, a group of subjects who aspired to be free rose up and declared
their independence. Every year, on the Fourth of July we celebrate that
boldness which was required to sign the Declaration of Independence and
the courage needed to fight the war that followed.
The original fireworks display took an Act of Congress—literally—the
display being authorized by Congress and taking place on July 4, 1777,
in Philadelphia, one year after the signing of the Declaration. Early
celebrations also included small gatherings and parades honoring local
veterans of the Revolution. The traditions continue to this day.
It was not until 1870, however, that the federal government declared
Independence Day as a federal holiday. Six years later, America
celebrated the centennial in grand fashion with a three-day celebration
of our Independence.
In 2012, many Americans will undoubtedly spend much of their day with
their families and friends. Many will enjoy fireworks displays and
attend parties, all while feeling pride for our country. These are
customs and traditions of the Fourth of July that have evolved over the
past 200 years.
The way Americans choose to celebrate the Fourth of July is up to
them, but the inspiration to celebrate is universal. It is just as
important to recognize the veterans in your community and take the
occasion to thank them for serving. It is because of them that we are
still celebrating our freedom 236 years later and why America is so
exceptional. – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
The Committee has launched a new Pinterest page to celebrate the Fourth!
Get the latest tips to celebrate Independence Day in style, check out
specials for veterans and servicemembers, learn who has served, and
much, much more! We hope this page will become a special place to share
stories of our veterans and their families. And of course, we welcome
your feedback! Check us out at Pinterest.com/HouseVetAffairs
Kat: How much money does Carole King
need? That's what I wondered (and still do) when she decided to bore
America with a holiday album last November. 11 songs of Christmas and
"Chanukah Prayer" to acknowledge that, yes, she is still Jewish. Why in
the world would anyone need or want A Holiday Carole?
Carole's a great songwriter. She's not the voice of our times. She's
not Sinatra or Streisand, for example. Her cracked, Canarsie twang is
perfect for plaintive laments but, when Christmas rolls around, I'll
stick with Diana Ross' A Very Special Season, thank you very much.
That album came out last year and I wouldn't even be mentioning it
(though I did waste money downloading it last winter) were it not for
The Legendary Demos which Amazon sent me an e-mail about. One of those
'based on your interests in' e-mails. I didn't realize Amazon and I
were e-mail buddies. The Legendary Demos came out at the very end of April and currently you can download the album and the digital booklet for $5.00 at Amazon.
I'd argue it's worth $5.00 just for the first track, Carole performing
"Pleasant Valley Sunday." The vocals and the piano are crisp. Some may
be thinking, "Isn't that the Monkees' hit?" Yes, Carole co-wrote the
song with first husband Gerry Goffin for the Monkees.
All of these songs are her demo recordings from the days before she was a
successful performer. (Carole had early sixties hits with "It Might As
Well Rain Until September" and other songs.) So she and her
songwriting partner -- usually Goffin -- would write the song (Carole
grabbing the music, her partner the lyrics) and then it was time to demo
it so that the song could be shopped around by Aldon Music (Al Nevins
and Don Kirshner's publishing company) to various artists. Bobby Vee
grabbed up "Take Good Care of My Baby" and took it to number one back in
1961. Listening to Carole's demo version, you'll see why.
Various producers and label execs over the years have made a remark
about how they kept Carole's demos. They've been making those remarks
for years and years. And that's because the demos were amazing. This
isn't just a guide vocal for the person who ends up signing. These were
recordings that basically laid out the whole arrangement. For example,
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"? I've always assumed Aretha
and company came up with the backing vocals. Not really. Most of that
is on Carole's original 1967 demo.Another 1967 demo, "Like Little
Children," should have been a hit and, with backing vocals and a driving
rhythm, you wonder why Carole's not released it to radio. It's
probably the album's big surprise.
In 1971, her Tapestry album would put her front-and-center as a
performer and a mega-millions selling artist. The 13 demos are all
recorded prior to that but the demos do include some songs that would
first debut on Tapestry including the title track, the number one
hit "It's Too Late," "Beautiful," "Way Over Yonder" and "You've Got A
Friend." It's interesting to listen to how she chose to demo them
versus how they ended up on Tapestry.
What's more interesting is how much more vital and alive this format is
for Carole than a holiday album. Possibly the reason her four live
albums since 1994 have sold so well is because music lovers know that,
on stage, Carole's going to have to give them the piano. She's resisted
that for so long on studio albums. And it's really all her fans want,
to hear Carole doing an acoustic album of songs.
My idea that she needs to make an album geared around her vocals and the
piano is not a new one. Capitol, in fact, demanded that she do so.
Carole had to be pushed and nudged into doing Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King.
She thought it was old fashioned and out of date. Maybe she was right
but it also brought her up to number 44 on the album charts -- after two
albums in a row that had failed to make it into the top 100. It also
provided her last top forty hit, the number 12 "One Fine Day." And that
despite the fact that Rita Coolidge had recorded it the year before (with Michael McDonald on backing vocals) and taken the sixties hit into the Hot 100 (number 66; also number 15 on the adult contemporary chart).
Maybe that's what we'll miss the most if the destruction of the brick
and mortar stores is followed by the destruction of major labels?
Someone who can say, "Look, this is what you need to do." Because a lot
of artists are their own worst enemies. And certainly someone like
Carole who's structured her entire songwriting around what is commercial
is someone who needs other input.
Another who would benefit from that sort of input is Maria McKee. She has an album due out shortly, a soundtrack to the film After The Triumph Of Your Birth. I'm hearing raves about the soundtrack. Which makes me very happy because I'm a huge Maria McKee fan.
What Carole is on the piano, Maria is on the voice.
Live at the BBC came out in 2008 and has a better set of songs.
That's not just because there are 19 tracks. It's because the album's
made up of two BBC performances she gave while promoting two different
solo albums. So the concerts include some Lone Justice tracks (the band
she hails from) and some tracks from her first two solo albums. She
was promoting tracks from the new album while including Lone Justice
favorites because that's what she was known for.
The acoustic album finds her covering her entire career. And while it's
14 tracks . . . "Belfry" has always been my least favorite Lone Justice
song. In real time, when it showed up on Shelter, I told myself,
"That's what happens when you get too close to U2." And I'm sure there
is a segment that loves the song and that all three were thrilled to
find it on Live Acoustic Tour 2006. Richard Thompson's "Has He Got A
Friend For Me" is a much stronger song (from her self-titled solo debut
album) than "Belfry" but so is every song on Maria McKee and I
think a lot of us -- most of us -- would have preferred an acoustic
version of "Nobody's Child," the song she co-wrote with Robbie Robertson
or any of the tracks she wrote herself on that album.
And that's how I relate this back to Carole. When you sing like Maria,
your base wants to hear you singing songs worthy of your immense
talent. When you play piano like Carole, your base isn't looking for
arrangements heavy on guitar and drums. If/when everyone becomes their
own boss in the music business with their own final say, who becomes the
advocate for the fans? It's a question worth considering when you
grasp how many artists turn on the talents that first drew listeners to
While Live at the BBC has the better set list, Live Acoustic Tour 2006
has the better vocals. And that's really saying something. Long
before she'd gone solo, music critics across the country had agreed she
had pipes and knew how to use them, that she could shade and convey.
And these two 90s concerts that the BBC has put together capture Maria
at what was a peak.
Was a peak.
Though the set list disappoints me on Live Acoustic Tour 2006,
the vocals don't. Maria McKee on this album runs circles around the 80s
and 90s McKee. For example, on parts of "Breathe," she turns her voice
into water. I'm not referring simply to vibrato. She's tossing notes
in the air that circle and flow like nothing you've ever heard. She is
the most gifted American singer. Which makes me very excited about her
upcoming soundtrack (due out this August).
July 3, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the US White House still
has no nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq, the State Dept is asked if
Barack even plans to name a nominee, Iraq is slammed with bombings, Joe
Biden's phone call to Nouri on behalf of ExxonMobil continues to get
attention in Iraq (while the US press continues to ignore it), and more.
Conservative Thomas J. Basile (Washington Times) argues
of Iraq, "The situation is a tragic reminder of just how fragile the
country was when Mr. Obama opted to end any significant involvement in
its future. It also may give Mitt Romney and the Republicans an
opportunity to open an effective foreign policy front against the
administration for leaving Iraq in the lurch and providing an
opportunity for Iran to extend its influence in the region."
Related, who is Peter W. Bodde? Diplopundit noted
in March that he is "a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is
currently the Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition in
Iraq and Coordinator for Minority Issues at the U.S. Embassy in
Baghdad." He was in the news over the weekend. Saturday, the Himalayn News Service reported Peter
W. Bodde had been named the new US Ambassador to Nepal. He's set to to
go to Nepal "in late August" and he'll replace Scott H. DeLisi
Jeffrey is no longer the US Ambassador in Iraq. He stepped down. The
laughable Brett McGurk had been the new nominee but he withdrew his
nomination. At a time when Iraq is seeing so much violence, the White
House still has yet to name a new nominee to be US Ambassador to Iraq
and they're also transferring out people like Bodde who have
experience? Bodde is not going from Iraq to Nepal. Nor should he be
expected to. He has every right to downtime. And the point isn't that
Bodde shouldn't be Ambassador to Nepal. The point is that the White
House is dropping the ball repeatedly.
the ball includes the fact that they're now scrambling to name the
third US Ambassador to Iraq since Barack has been sworn in. Bully Boy
Bush nominee Ryan Crocker agreed to stay on while Barack found a
nominee. That was Chris Hill who was confirmed and didn't make four
years, did he? So then Barack nominated James Jeffrey who, like Hill,
didn't even make two years in the post. Clearly, the White House has
done an awful job vetting people to be US Ambassador to Iraq. This is
the most costly diplomatic or 'diplomatic' US mission in the world.
There should not be this kind of turnover rate in the post. There
should have been a steady hand. Instead, this White House has turned US
Ambassador to Iraq into a revolving door post with each nominee having
about the same longevity of one Larry King's wives.
Where is the leadership?
that the Republican leadership in the Senate has failed to point this
out is rather surprising. They objected to Chris Hill but confirmed
him. When Jeffrey came before them, I really expected to see the
Ranking Member talk about how 'regretabble' it was that less than two
years after Hill was confirmed, they're again having to weigh a
nomination for US Ambassador to Iraq. Maybe if the Ranking Member were
John McCain and not Richard Lugar, something would have been said.
there's no one running the mission currently, maybe the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee -- regardless of political party -- will start
asking the White House some tough questions? Today at the US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland faced some:
QUESTION: On Iraq.
MS. NULAND: On Iraq? Yeah.
Yeah. Iraq has seen a great deal of violence in the last few weeks. It
always – the summer, it goes up. My question to you is: Are U.S.
activities or the State Department or the Embassy's activities in
Baghdad have been curtailed as a result of this spike of violence?
MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, not. But I'm going to refer you to Embassy Baghdad.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Could you also – could you update us on the status of the new ambassador to Baghdad?
MS. NULAND: You mean whether the White House will nominate a new candidate, is that what you're asking?
MS. NULAND: That is definitely a question for the White House, Said.
QUESTION: But surely you can say that they will.
MS. NULAND: Over to the White House for that one.
Well, are you suggesting the White House is not going to name –
nominate someone to be the new ambassador to the White House – I mean,
MS. NULAND: I'm suggesting that consideration on all ambassadorial appointments are the White House prerogative.
QUESTION: Well, are you aware that the Administration is not going to nominate someone to take that position?
MS. NULAND: I'm not aware one way or the other.
Okay. Could you comment on some reports that the relationship between
Maliki and the United States is really quite tense these days?
NULAND: We continue to have the same kind of dialogue that we've had
all along. We maintain an open channel not only with the prime minister
but with all of the major political figures in Iraq. And we use those
channels to encourage them, among other things, to work well together
and to settle their political differences through constitutional
QUESTION: And who is leading that channel in Baghdad from the U.S. side?
MS. NULAND: The mission, at the moment, is led by our charge d'affaires who was the previous deputy.
Nuland loves/lives to be evasive. The name she wouldn't provide is
Robert Stephen Beecroft. And, Nuland tells us, he was formerly the
deputy! Oh so he must have experience with Iraq, right? No. He's not
even been assigned to Iraq for a year yet. He began his first Iraq
assignment July 14, 2011. He's been Charge d'affaires since June 1st.
what position does he hold currently? The number two US official in
Iraq. Since James Jeffrey has abandoned his post -- and that is the
term for it, when Barack Obama was sworn in as US President, Ryan
Crocker agreed to stay on until Barack could find a successor -- and
since this is obviously a very delicate time for Iraq, is it really wise
to take the number two US official out of Iraq at a time when not only
is there no number one US official (that would be a US Ambassador to
Iraq) but the White House hasn't even named a nominee for the post.
the White House thinks they can get away without naming one in the lead
up to the US elections, they are mistaken. The GOP will jump all over
that to remind voters of Barack's indeciveness that characterized his
state legislature career and his Senate career and they will draw lines
between that and his mis-steps and failures once becoming president.
While Barack dithers, Iraq is again slammed with bombings today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes "a series of attacks" in Karbala, Baghdad and Taji. BBC News focuses on a truck bombing in Diwaniya where the death toll has reached "at least 25" with another forty injured. AP notes the truck used in the bombing was a vegetable truck. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains,
"In that attack, some 99 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, a
suicide bomber parked a truck packed with explosives concealed by
watermelons and began calling shoppers to the truck." Alsumaria reports that the center of city has been closed to all traffic. Yang Lina (Xinhua) reports 75 injured in that bombing. Before morning was over in the US today, RT was reporting the death toll in the Diwaniya bombing has risen to 40.
"The blast came just hours after near-simultaneous car bombs targeting
Shiite pilgrims on the outskirts of the central shrine city of Karbala
killed four people." Alsumaria notes
of the Karbala bombing that it hit at the popular market where fruits
and vegetables are sold, it left 11 dead and forty-five injured
(according to police sources) and that millions of Shi'ites are expected
to travel through Karbala this week to celebrate the birth of the
12th or Hidden Imam (9th century). Jamal Hashim and Mustafa Sabah (Xinhua) report, "Karbala's
twin bombings came as hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims have
started to march to the holy city to commemorate the birth of Imam
Mahdi, the last of the twelve most revered Shiite's Imams. Authorities
in Karbala expect that the number of pilgrims from Iraqi Shiite cities
and outside the country, who started to arrive to observe the ritual
ahead of its climax date on Thursday and Friday morning in Karbala will
exceed five millions."
Those weren't the only bombings today. Reuters adds, "Earlier
in the day, two roadside bombs targeting Shi'ite pilgrims killed four
people and wounded 21 near the central Iraqi city of Kerbala, hospital
and police sources said" while AP notes,
"In Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded next to a police patrol in the
Sunni-dominated Ghazaliya neighborhood, injuring three policemen and two
civilians, a police officer and a health official said." In addition,
the Telegraph of London reports,
"Another bomb attack in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad,
killed a policeman and wounded another, an officer and a local doctor
RTT counts at least 50 dead in today's violence. Deutsche Welle points out,
"The bombings were just the latest in a series of such attacks in Iraq
in recent weeks, which have raised fears that the county could be
slipping back into a wider pattern of violence between Sunni and Shiite
Muslims." Sky News notes,
"Security forces appear unable to stop the conflict since US troops
left Iraq last December, after nearly nine years of war."
Antony J. Blinken, the national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., wrote in Foreign Affairs recently
that since President Obama took office, "violence in Iraq has declined
and remains at historic lows -- a trend that has continued since the
last U.S. troops departed late last year."
fact, though, more Iraqis -- civilians and security force members alike
-- have died from attacks in the first six months of 2012 [2,101] than
in the comparable period of 2011 [1,832], according to United Nations
2,101 deaths -- UN figures -- in just the first six months of the year. Where is the security?
Shashank Bengali and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report
point out the Cabinet is missing "the key ministries responsible for
security and military affairs for now, because lawmakers haven't agreed
on who should fill them. There's still no deal, either, on creating a
yet-to-be named strategic council -- a U.S.-backed initiative aimed at
curbing al-Maliki's powers -- which lawmarkers said could be weeks
away." Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) explain,
"Maliki appointed himself acting minister of interior, defense and
national security and said the three powerful positions would be filled
with permanent appointees once suitable candidates have been agreed on."
that's still true today. There are no heads to the security
ministries. Nouri's never nominated people for the posts. He likes to
say ___ is "acting" ____. But there's no such thing as "acting" in the
Constitution. If they are vacant, he controls the ministries. (By
contrast, if he nominates someone and Parliament confirms them, only a
vote in Parliament can remove them. We saw this when Nouri spent months
attempting to get Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq removed from
office. (He failed at that removal.) A real minister doesn't have to
do what Nouri says because Nouri can't fire them. A real minister can
run the ministry in a way that he or she feels best benefits the Iraqi
people. By controlling the security ministries, Nouri consoldiates his
own power which is why Iraqiya (rightly) called this a power-grab back
2010 elections were held in March of that year. The process to form a
government was supposed to last a few weeks. Instead it lasted over
eight months. Why? Nouri and his State of Law came in second in the
elections which meant he wasn't supposed to get first crack at forming a
Cabinet. That should have gone to first place Iraqiya. But the White
House chose to back Nouri. The Barack Obama White House chose to back a
man already repeatedly caught running secret prisons where people were
tortured, a man who attacked the press from his first days in office in
2006, a man who had a track record of no results (his entire first term,
where he failed to meet the White House established benchmarks for
progress that he had agreed to). They backed this nightmare and that's
why Bush starting the illegal war really doesn't matter at this point.
Iraqi people bravely went to the polls and expressed their will. It
wasn't to give Nouri a second term. When the White House chose to
ignore democracy, the will of the people and the votes to back Nouri,
Barack bought into the fate of Iraq. Sherwood Ross (OpEdNews) notes:
Minister Nouri al-Maliki's "harassment and persecution of anyone deemed
a threat to himself or his party has dramatically reduced freedom
throughout Iraq," a noted journalist reports.
more, al-Maliki is presiding over a system "rife with corruption and
brutality, in which political leaders use security forces and militias
to repress enemies and intimidate the general population."
writes former Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent Ned Parker in the
March/April issue of "Foreign Affairs" magazine. His is a rather grim
assessment of life in "The Iraq We Left Behind" or "Welcome to the
World's Next Failed State."
Now Edward R.
Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Parker writes
that al-Maliki, America's favorite, "will keep striving for absolute
power, using fear, intimidation, and cronyism." And he adds that by
turning a blind eye to Maliki's encroaching authoritarianism, "U.S.
officials allowed Iraq's political culture to disintegrate."
some Iraqi officials wonder if the next elections will be free and
fair, Parker writes, "several former U.S. military officers wonder if
the elections will happen at all."
That's who Barack backed. That's who he trashed the election, the votes and any hopes of democracy in Iraq for.
get to vote in two sets of elections -- or are supposed to get to vote
in two sets of elections: Provincial elections and parliamentary
elections. The provincial elections determine the governance of the
provinces. The parliamentary elections determine who sits in Parliament
and are supposed to determine who gets first crack at being prime
minister-designate. Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports
that the Electoral Commission is stating provincial elections will be
postponed until April 2013 and that this is due to both an amendment to a
law being needed and also due to budget concerns. Elections were
supposed to be held January 31, 2013. Budget concerns? Iraq brought in
over six billion in oil revenues last month alone -- and last month was
the worst month for oil revenues in Iraq since February 2011. All Iraqi News reported
yesterday on the lack of an election law and quoted the Independent
High Electoral Commission's Chair Faraj al-Haidari stating that the
elections would not be held on time. Today All Iraqi News reports
that Arshad al-Salehi, Chair of the Turkman Front, met with the UN
Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler and stressed
that all segments of the Iraqi people need to be represented in the
does not effect the Kurdistan Regional Government which holds their own
provincial election. They are currently working on a law regarding the
Christian minority because, as the law reads currently, Christians must
vote for other Christians. Three provinces currently make up the KRG
-- Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. If Article 140 of the Constitution is
ever implemented (Nouri was supposed to implement it by the end of
2007, per the Constitution), Kirkuk might also become part of the KRG.
Someone wants to visist the KRG. Al Mada reports
the National Alliance wants to send a delegation -- with Ibrahim
al-Jaafari mentioned as the possible head -- to the KRG. This would be
an effort to smooth things over for Nouri. Not a smart effort
considering the long standing issues between the Kurds and al-Jaafari.
Haitham Jubouri, attorney for State of Law, states that the withdrawal
of confidence in Nouri is no longer possible.
A lot of people
seem to believe Moqtada al-Sadr has changed his position. There's
nothing he's said that's changed his position. He appears to be taken
the issue of questioning very seriously. And would appear to be
presenting himself as impartial and reluctant. That's been his position
all along. Is Nouri going to appear before Parliament for
questioning? If he follows the Constitution, yes. There's not X number
needed for questioning. He has been asked to appear.
he does or not, per the Constitution, he has to. If he does, per
Moqtada's statements, an opinion will be formed based on Nouri's
answers. If the answers are not satisifactory, Moqtada -- with a heavy
heart and great reluctantce -- would have his bloc vote for
no-confidence if the others got their required votes. As Al Mada reports
today, the vote is currently postponed because, among other reasons,
Jalal Talabani remains out of the country (that reason comes from the
What's the Reform Commission? Nouri's attempt to avoid a national conference.
national conference. To give Nouri his second term as prime minister
and to end Political Stalemate I (the over eight month period of
gridlock after the elections), the US said, "Hey, Iraqiya, Kurds,
everybody, let's all be adults and end this gridlock. Let's figure out
what you want and we know Nouri wants a second term as prime minister,
so let's draw up a contract outlining what your blocs get in exchange
for that. And don't worry, this is a binding contract and we are
backing you and the contract."
was the Erbil Agreement. It allowed Nouri to be named prime
minister-designate in November 2010 and prime minister in December of
that wasn't a gift to Nouri. That was in exchange for his concessions
on certain items. Instead, Nouri trashed the Erbil Agreement, the US
government turned its back on the Kurds (to the point that relations
with the Kurds right now are at an all time low) and on the new Iraqiya
and everyone else.
of the reason that the US has been unable to fix anything, to mediate
successfully, is due to the fact that Barack's White House has ensured
that the US government is not to be trusted by Iraqi politicians.
Kurds were told in January of 2011, told by US officials, "Be patient.
Nouri will return to the Erbil Agreement." He didn't. And by the
summer of 2011, with no support coming from DC, the Kurds demanded Nouri
return to the Erbil Agreement. Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr quickly
joined the Kurds in that demand. This is Political Stalemate II.
December 21, 2011, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqi
President Jalal Talabani began calling for a national conference. Nouri
said no. Then he stone walled. Then he finally went along with
Jalal's call for an April 5th start date. But then he called it off
less than 24 hours before the conference.
28, 2012, efforts began for a no-confidence vote on Nouri. We could go
through all of that but suffice is to say, Jalal met with US officials
after the petition got the needed number of signatures for a vote of
no-confidence (that number was only needed for a floor vote -- there is
no number requirement for Parliament to call for a vote of
no-confidence). US officials pressured the forever-buckle Jalal and he
refused to pass on the petition. Then he fled Iraq for an 'emergency
procedure' in Germany (knee surgery).
hope the US got something out of it because they may have leaned on
Jalal for the last time. Not because Jalal will suddenly find a spine
but because Jalal's actions have seriously hurt his standing in the KRG.
Now we're going back to today's US State Dept press breifing.
Okay. Could you comment on some reports that the relationship between
Maliki and the United States is really quite tense these days?
We continue to have the same kind of dialogue that we've had all along.
We maintain an open channel not only with the prime minister but with
all of the major political figures in Iraq. And we use those channels to
encourage them, among other things, to work well together and to settle
their political differences through constitutional processes.
QUESTION: And who is leading that channel in Baghdad from the U.S. side?
MS. NULAND: The mission, at the moment, is led by our charge d'affaires who was the previous deputy.
so tense these days? ExxonMobil and the KRG signed a contract last
fall. Nouri has repeatedly attempted to kill that contract. As June
drew to an end, he sent a formal letter to the White House demanding
that Barack kill the ExxonMobil contract. Forget that it's the
immensely powerful oil industry and pretend for a moment it was Betty
Crocker and they were planning to send millions of dry cake mixes to
Baghdad. Barack is the President of the United States. There's a lot
of power with that position. But the president of the United States
-- regardless of whom he or she is -- does not control US business,
cannot give orders to US businesses. The United States has no king or
Now let's return to the fact that it is
ExxonMobil, that it is the oil industry. Many have accused the illegal
war of being all about oil to begin with. Former Fed Chairman Alan
Greenspan briefly admitted to that before rushing to deny what he wrote
when there was pushback. (What he had written in his book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
was, "Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of
mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned
about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the
functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically
inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely
about oil.") From SourceWatch:
The public interest group Judicial Watch, in July 2003, "after a protracted court battle with the White House," obtained documents utilized by the controversial Cheney Energy Task Force. It was discovered that the task force "led by Vice President Dick Cheney
was examining maps of Iraq's oil assets in March 2001, two years before
the United States led an invasion to oust Saddam Hussein."
task force had maps which showed "Iraq's oil fields, its major
refineries and pipelines," a list of "companies from countries that were
interested in doing business with Saddam's regime, ranging from Algeria
to Vietnam," details of "oil and gas projects in Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates, and [which included] information on the cost and
status of projects in those countries." 
Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that 'Iraq remains a destabilising
influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle
East' and because this is an unacceptable risk to the US 'military
intervention' is necessary." 
remember when Little Saddam (Nouri al-Maliki) forgot he was a puppet
and thought he could demand that the White House get ExxonMobil to drop
their deal with the Kurds? Silly puppet. Administrations dance for oil
corporations. Dar Addustour reports
that US Vice Presidetn Joe Biden phoned Nouri on Thursday to express
the US government's belief that Nouri needs to stop trying to halt that
deal and that Nouri was informed that the F-16s Iraq 'needs' will not be
supplied if Nouri doesn't stop trying to halt he ExxonMobil deal. It's
amazing. Torture cells didn't bother the White House. Killing gay men
and men suspected of being gay didn't bother the White House.
Attacking Iraqi youths didn't bother the White House. But when a
billion dollar ExxonMobil deal was threatened, suddenly the White House
is ready to pull the F-16s.
Today Dar Addustour columnist As Sheikh explores
the issue and finds Nouri in an embarrassing situation having made a
demand and been not only denied his request but informed that if he
keeps attacking ExxonMobil's deal with the KRG, he won't get the F-16s
he's been insisting he needs. The Thursday night call between Biden and
Nouri is noted and As Sheikh says Joe also threatened to deny a number
of visas to Iraqi officials. As Sheikh feels that Iraqis can't grasp
the power of ExxonMobil in the US and how it can sway an
administration. He may be right.
Turning to the US and political prisoner Lynne Stewart. This week's Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey (first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network) featured an update on Lynne from her husband.
Ford: Lynne Stewart, the New York-based human rights attorney
sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges related to her defense of a
terrorism sdefendant has lost an appeal in federal court. She's
confined at a medical prison near Fort Worth, Texas. We spoke with
Lynne Stewart's husband and fellow activist Ralphy Poynter.
Poynter: When I read the papers, and I read them again, one of the
things that struck me is that they're referring to Lynne as having
disrespect for the law. My reaction to that is, anybody who studied the
history of American law knows it's based in genocide, slavery and the
double standard. And so the only things that we can look to in America
that are positive are those people who disobeyed the law and those
people who fought to right the wrongs, who followed justice rather than
law. I like that better. I am proud of her. I am not saddended -- the
things they said about her give me great pride. We don't have to look
far to see where she was afoul of the law [. . .] supporting immigrant
rights, immigrant children, supporting the Black Movement, And all of
these things oppose the law. So they and those who seek justice are
coming at opposite ends. So I applaud Lynne. She has just had her
operation that she should have had 36 months ago and she was scheduled
to have her operation when the Second Circuit said she must go to jail
immediately because 'she's traveling around the country to law schools
and universities corruption our youth.' So she's just had her
operation. She went to a hospital. She said she had good treatment at
the hospital. But they said it was time to go back. Not according to
medical necessity but according to prison necessity. She was concerned
about going back to a prison that is not hospital clean. But Antoinette
Martinez, an inmate from the Bronx, made sure that the section she went
back to in the prison was as clean as a hospital. And this really
gives me -- Lynne says when she looked and saw it, she came to tears,
that the inmates know who she is and are protecting her. They cleaned.
So here we are. Lynne is fighting for the rights of the people int here
and some of the people inside understand who she is and they're
fighting for her rights the best way they can.
of Stewart's lawyers, Herald Price Fahringer, said that an appeal to
the full appeals court would be made, and that attorneys might
eventually ask for a Supreme Court review. The opinion is a "terrible
deterrent for people speaking out in public," Fahringer said. Another
attorney for Stewart, Jill R. Shellow, said, "Our intent is to pursue
all of the legal remedies available to Lynne to redress her unreasonable
sentence… Lynne was not and is not a terrorist. She was a fine and
dedicated lawyer. She is almost 73, and under the best of circumstances
will not be released from prison until 2018. That's a lifetime, her
lifetime." The vindictiveness of the appellate judges compares
with the inability and unwillingness of any court up to the Supreme
Court to put a halt to the genuinely criminal activities that continue
to be carried out at the Guantanamo Bay prison, not to mention the drone
attacks and other violations of international law by the Obama
administration that provoked the condemnation of former US president
Jimmy Carter this past week.