The Common Ills

Sunday, July 08, 2012
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Want Four More Years"

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Want Four More Years"

I Want Four More Years
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "I Want Four More Years."  Barack declares, "Our mission isn't just to put people back to work -- it's to rebuild an economy."  An onlooker points out, "And, in 2009, he said if he didn't fix the economy in 3 years he didn't deserve a second term."  Little Dicky erupts, "He has been working very hard! Nobody fund raises like my president!"  Little Dicky hasn't appeared in awhile so let's note he previously appeared here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere and here.  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Posted at 11:05 pm by thecommonills



Good for Jezebel in trying to highlight women in Iraq.  Bad for BuzzFeed and Michael Jordan that they felt the need to lie.  It's really embarrassing.

First off the video clip?  Don't call four minutes a "documentary" -- though Brand Jordan has the nerve to, insiting Rise Above is a four minute documentary series.  Drop back to the March 19th snapshot.  We've got the transcript to The State We're In covering the American University in Sulaymaniyah's women's basketball team.

The four minute documentary can't even tell you that you're in the KRG (but AUIS is on the jerseys and that is American University in Sulaymaniyah).  Funny, isn't it, how Michael Jordan's money reduces a team to one woman -- and the one who's already profiled but we'll get to that. Contrast that with someone concerned with something other than making money and improving their 'brand,'  Jonathan Groubert on The State We're In focused on very real issues.

Instead Michael Jordan's company serves up lies.  "In spite of long standing gender inequality in her land . . ." host Amy K. Nelson prattles away not knowing a damn thing she's talking and caring even less.  That's because the spot's not about Iraqi women it's about glorification.

Iraq was the most advanced Middle Eastern country in terms of women's rights before the illegal US war kicked off in 2003.  So Nelson and Jordan are wrong right there.

If they want to argue that they are a sports spot and therefore were speaking of sports, Iraq has a long history of women's sports.  How ignorant is this supposed sports spot?

Iraq even had a national women's basketball team.  Saddam Hussein ended that.  Basketball teams with women continued.  There just wasn't the national team.  One of his sons attempted to bring it back and there was some success with that -- only some because of the torture athletes who did not win were targeted with and because he didn't like it when the women performed well and the men didn't.

This period is reported on in Chrstine Breenan's April 2004 report for USA Today where she speaks with Iman Sabeeh who had been named to the National Olympic Committee of Iraq and was also heading the Iraqi Women's Sports Federation:

But she is perhaps most significant in Iraq as one of its most beloved and respected national sports heroes, a hybrid of, say, Chris Evert, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Donna de Varona, the living image of what sports once were before the despised Uday Hussein took over and athletes who displeased him reportedly were thrown off bridges or tossed into vats of raw sewage.
Sabeeh, who came to Washington this week as part of a delegation to meet with President Bush and Congressional leaders, among others, was such a force in her country in the 400 and 800 meters in the 1980s that she still holds the national records in those events. Her times were respectable for her day, although they were several seconds off the world's best marks.
That her records have not been eclipsed speaks to her national prowess, but also to the fact that Uday did not want female athletes to represent his country. So for nearly two decades, girls and women in Iraq rarely took up sports.
In 1984, with the Olympics looming in Los Angeles, Sabeeh had her heart set on going until Saddam Hussein put his son in charge of the Olympic movement. "Once he took over sports," she said, "he never let women travel again."
But Sabeeh still thrived inside Iraq, for a while. She was voted the most popular female athlete in the nation from 1980-87, each year confounding Uday more and more. "He didn't want people to be more famous than he was," she said.

Michael Jordan is not a human being, he's a brand and as a brand he markets feel-good.  Feel-good is lying to the American people and telling them that girls and women can now play sports in Iraq for the first time ever!!!

It's a damn lie and it renders invisible women like Iman Sabeeh who didn't just use their natural talents to compete but relied on bravery.  Read Breenan's article and find out about how Sabeeh tells Uday Hussein "no."  That's an important story and it's one that the propaganda from Michael Jordan's company renders invisible.

What Brand Jordan just 'discovered' is already a documentary film entitled Salaam Dunk that won awards in the Chicago International Film Festival, the Nashville Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival.  And who was the star of that documentary?  Why Layla.  The start of the four minute spot.  A four minute spot with footage that looks idential to that in Salaam DunkSalaam Dunk's weakness -- and why it didn't do well at other film festivals -- was its reliance on an American to provide context.  The man, a coach, didn't know anything about Iraqi women's sport history but they didn't stop him from trying to give the camera history lessons.  The result was that many Iraqi-Americans -- men and women -- began objecting to that film.  And that's what endedup hurting it on the film festival circuit.

April 19, 2008, Kimi Yoshino reported on women's basketball in Iraq for the Los Angeles Times.  And please note, they are playing other women's teams in Iraq.  In 2011, Nahro Farid (Ishtar TV0 reported, "Akkad Ankawa's women's basketball team won the Iraqi Women's Basketball League on Thursday beating Sennacherib 61 - 48 in its final match on Thursday.  Winning its seventh title since 1999, the team's head coach Ali Mohammed and assistant coach Nahla Solaqa bursed into joy as the final seconds ticked off."  And that women's basketball team?  Established in 1992. 

Brand Jordan has shoes to sell.  To do that, it needs feel-good.  It doesn't need truth.  And clearly the Rise Above 'documentaries' refuse to let truth weigh them down.

There's something very sad about a multi-billionaire who pimps propagnada.  There's something very pathetic about a society that allows an overpraised man to render hundreds and hundreds of brave Iraqi women invisible to sell war-is-good propaganda.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name
New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this.  The e-mail address for this site is

Posted at 11:02 pm by thecommonills

Friday, July 06, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Friday, July 6, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue,  Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a major speech on Iraqi television, Osama al-Nujaifi calls out the slander State of Law's tossed at him, and more.
Starting with peace.  In the US, the Iraqi & American Reconciliation Project is planning a dinner to honor Iraqi-American Sami Rasouli who has done much work for and in Iraq.  As the director of Muslim Peacemaker Teams, he has worked in Iraq with Iraqi refugees.  The dinner in his honor is planned for July 17th at the Crescent Moon banquest hall in Minneapolis.  And you can click here for a January 2010 interview with Sami Rasouli that Matthew Rothschild did for Progressive Radio.
Still on peace, Joe Carter (Christianity Today) reviews Logan Mehl-Laituri's new book Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism & Conscience which explains how, in the military, he has a spiritual awakening against all forms of war, "applies to be a noncombatant conscientious objector, leaves the Army after his request is granted, and travels to Israel with a group of Christian peace activists." Mark Johnson (Fellowship of Reconciliation) shares:
Logan Mehl-Laituri spoke to us on March 16, 2007 from the front of the National Cathedral where some 3000 of us had gathered to hear testimony before walking through the snow to the White House to protest the Iraq War, in its 5th year. He describes the evening toward the end of his testimonial tracing his crystallization of conscience and journey as a Conscientious Objector, released today, July 4th 2012, because of a confirming epiphany he had in the Cathedral that evening, before the fresco of Jesus's Resurrection. Wandering the Church prior to the ceremony, at which he was asked to read the words of another recognized conscientious objector, Joshua Casteel, he had stumbled upon and fresco and recognized with full and final force the call to forgive one's enemies and serve God. As with much of the book, the scene is painted vividly with characters in the fresco coming to life and being transformed into Iraqi soldiers and families. We can feel Logan's body quake and see the tears streaming down his face.
The just released book is available at InterVarsity Press ($12 in soft cover currently). Retired Army colonel and retired State Department diplomat Ann Wright says of the book, "Following your conscience while in the military can put you at odds with its own 'institutional conscience' and with specific missions and wars overseen by civilian politicians. Logan Mehl-Laituri's journey from combat soldier to conscientious objector to seminary student is a powerful story of recognizing one's conscience and then following it to the remarkable places of witness in our world."  Camile Jackson (Duke University's Duke Today) noted Tuesday:
This morning he shared his views in an interview with the Armed Services Radio Network, which broadcasts to military service members and civilians overseas.
He was a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and helped organize, After the Yellow Ribbon project with Milites Christi, an emerging Divinity School student group that helps churches and military groups "heal the unseen wounds of war."
In an interview posted at Patheos, Logan Mehl-Laituri states, "The need I am addressing is the lack of firsthand hope-filled tales of contemporary combat that deal seriously with the cruel reality of evil in war. Churches have no lexicon through which to narrate war for those in their congregations who have suffered therein as perpetrators of collective violence. The acts soldiers commit are not their own, but they are tragically forced to interpret and internalize them without much meaningful guidance from religious leaders. There is a moral dyslexia about war that multiplies the suffering our military members endure."  Click here for Logan's profile at Iraq Veterans Against the War and click here to read blog posts and articles by him at Sojourners.
Turning to Karbala. As noted in yesterday's snapshot:
Jaber Ali (Middle East Confidential) explains, "There are fears that the trend will continue, especially on Friday. Analysts believe that the Shiite pilgrims will be the principal targets of bombings and security is being beefed up around Karbala." Press TV reports that 40,000 security forces will provide security within Karbala and that security forces are also deployed "around the central city."
AFP reports Shi'ite pilgrims "gathered in the central shrine of Karbala to commemorate Imam Mehdi's birth, with children lighting 1,179 candles, representing the number of years since the birth of Shiite Islam's so-called 12th imam." Sammer N. Yacoub (AP) notes the skies of the city of Karbala were filled with 14 police helicopters and all non-security vehicles were banned.  Hassoun al-Haffar (AKnews) estimated 4 million pilgrims had visited this week by Thursday alone and explain, "Twelver Shi'a believe that al-Madhi was born in 869 and did not die but rather was hidden by God in 941 and will later emerge with Jesus Christ in order to fulfill their mission of bringing peace and justice to the world."
There has been violence targeting the pilgrims throughout the week with the worst taking place Tuesday:
AFP observes, "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."
Reuters notes a Ramadi car bombing claimed 7 lives and left twenty people injured and quotes an unnamed police officer stating, "Bodies were scattered everywhere and some houses were destroyed."   Alsumaria reports 1 person was shot dead outside his Baquba home by an unknown assailant using a machine gun and police shot dead a supect on a highway leading into Baghdad from the south.  Anwar Msarbat (AK News) reports a Hit car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left six people injured. All Iraqi News reports on the Hit bombing but insists it was a roadside bombing.  In addition, AK News reports that Shahla Omar Aziz set herself on fire Thursday night, buring 70% of her body, after learning her husband had sold their home to pay of a debt.
The political crisis continues in Iraq.  As a result, Moqtada al-Sadr gave a major address today at 8:00 pm Baghdad time and it was carried by satellite TV.  al-Sadr is a Shi'ite cleric whose followers include 40 MPs in Parliament. He has has had a long and difficult relationship with both the Bush White House and the Barack White House.   
All Iraqi News reports he declared that three presidencies should be limited to two terms.and that this is needed to ensure that Iraq does not experience another dictatorship.   The three presidencies are the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.  Such a limit would mean Jalal Talabani, current Iraqi President, would be done as would Nouri al-Maliki.  Only Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi would be elegible for another term.  When the Arab Spring swept through the MidEast in early 2011, Nouri al-Maliki swore that he wouldn't seek a third term.  A day later, his spokesperson modified that statement to insist he wouldn't seek a third term if he had not achieved in his second term.  Then, almost a year later, his attorney declared there is nothing preventing Nouri from seeking a third term.  Moqtada stressed that the Iraqi people need security and that means there needs to be a Minister of Defense, Minister of National Security and Minister of Interior (the article actually says Intelligence but it is Interior and this second article makes that point clear).    Nouri was supposed to nominate people to be heads of the security ministries and have them confirmed by the end of December 2010.  Instead, Nouri has failed to do so and with violence continuing to rise, that's a serious failure.  Moqtada also discussed how Iraqis need electricity they can count on and water they can drink and jobs, they need jobs.   Those are three demands Iraqis made when they protested in the streets in February 2011.  For those who have forgotten, this is not just when Nouri announced he wouldn't seek a third term but also when he announced that, if Iraqis would give him 100 days, then he would address these issues.  Moqtada asked his followers to give Nouri the 100 days.  After 100 days, Nouri failed to deliver and pretended as though he'd never made the promises.
In addition, Moqtada spoke about Iraq needing to get along with neighboring countries.  Nouri has alienated Turkey -- in fact, Nouri's constant verbal attacks and constant lies about Turkey have resulted in the Turkish government becoming much closer to the Kurdish Regional Government and more and more distant from the Baghdad-based government.  He's alienated the Arab neighbors and this was on display during the Arab League Summit.  Dropping back to the March 30th snapshot:
There are 22 countries in the Arab League.  Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Yussef Hamza (The National) offers, "Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different story."  That's reality.
 And let's deal with reality such as when people talk about things that they don't know s**t about.  Social Media Queen Jane Arraf Tweeted with her male followers about the speech:

#Iraq- Muqtada #Sadr giving statesman-like speech, calls for joint operations center to improve security, job creation, focus on electricity


#Iraq's Muqtada #Sadr in wide-ranging speech calls for two-term limit for prime minister, parliamentary committee to fight corruption.

 That second one?  If you click "expand" you'll find a man (of course, Twitter's nothing but online dating apparently who ridicules Moqtada's idea about a corruption.
He has to ridicule it because, see, he wrote an 'analysis' that was published today and it turned to s**t the minute Moqtada started speaking.  Again, these so-called 'experts' really aren't experts.  They don't what they're talking about, I have no idea how our world got so screwed up that these people get to speak.
But did Moqtada say what Jane says he did?
Jane, you should embarrassed and ashamed of yourself. 
The fact that you have X number of characters in Twitter is no excuse.
What Moqtada stated about corruption was that it needed to be addressed with a full government assault -- including executive orders, including judicial committees, including Parliament and new bodies that are not about partisanship, ethnicity or ideology. 
I'm sorry that someone offered masturbation in text form and it was published today and that their hypothesis about Moqtada -- not "theory," theories can be tested with certain expected results -- turned out to be trash.  And if you'd own that, I wouldn't even be mentioning it. I saw that piece of garbage this morning and chose to ignore it. But if you're going to make little jokes implying that Moqtada doesn't know what he's talking about, you're begging for someone to say you're full of s**t.
And Jane Arraf did an awful job in 'reporting.'  This was a major speech.  We'll be returning to it on Monday.  Two Tweets?  That's embarrassing.  That the second one leaves the wrong impression, distorts what he said, that's bad journalism.
In other political news, Karwan Yusuf (AK News) reports that rumors of Saleh al-Mutlaq replacing Ayad Allawi as the leader of Iraqya have been called "baseless" in a statement Iraqiya sent out which notes that the false rumors are meant to weaken Iraqiya.  The rumors never should have had traction.  Allawi is Shi'ite.  al-Mutlaq is Sunni.  Iraqiya is a mixed slate but with the crisis in Iraq having a Shi'ite as a leader gave them a credibility with other blocs that al-Mutlaq wouldn't have.  In addition, al-Mutlaq was not allowed to run in 2010 because Nouri's Justice and Accountability Commission was calling him a Ba'athist.  (His name was only cleared at the end of 2010.) Saleh al-Mutlaq as a leader could easily be dimissed as he unfairly was in 2010.  As we've noted many times before, Nouri's State of Law excells at rumors.  Little else.
They use rumors to attack and distract.  From yesterday's snapshot:
We haven't covered this but, as usual, State of Law tries to distract.  So they've got a 'movement' to question Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi who they have spread rumors about (specifically he allegedly has millions -- over 20 million dollars -- and they want to know where it came from).  That they want to distract with.  And they may succeed.  Nouri has a lot of enablers in the press and certainly in the United States.  But you really don't expect to see the always screaming-their-heads-off-about-what-Nouri-just-did-to-them Communist Party rush to prop up Nouri.  This is truly a very sad moment but it does explain why the Communist Party is and has been meaningless in Iraqi politics.  'They opposed Saddam Hussein!'  Yes, they did.  With the same sort of weak-spined opposition they've offered Nouri.  They apparently exist solely to mislead the Iraqi people into believing there is a token of opposition in the country.
First off, it's twenty billion, not twenty million, I was wrong.  This evening All Iraqi News reported that Osama al-Nujaifi's office has issued a statement calling out the slander and distortions about him and that he may resort to the court to stop malicious slander.  All Iraqi News notes he did not identify what the slander was.  He may be referring to the twenty billion rumor.  He may be referring to something else.  State of Law has a made a point to spread one rumor after another about their political rivals.
The last weeks have seen some achievements for Iraq on the world stage.  Zakaria Muhammed (Kurdish Globe) reports Ahmed Maeed, whose professional name is Ahmed Rambo, now holds the post of president of the World Amateur Body Building Association branch of Iraq.  Muhammed explains:
Majeed, 37, began lifting weights in 1988.  He didn't tell his parents who had taken a dim view of the sport, regarding it as alien to Kurdish culture and tradition.  Within two years, Majeed had won gold in the Iraqi Bodybuilding Championships in the 75 kilo category.
By this time, he had earned his nickname for resembling Sylvester Stallone and wearing bandanas on his head like the American actor's Rambo character.
Majeed left Iraqi Kurdistan in 1995 to escape the bitter Kurdish civil war, but continued to compete successfully in Germany.  He returned in 2004, and led a group of Kurdish bodybuilders to the 2009 Asian Bodybuilding Championships in Thailand.
That's one.  The second is Shene Ako.  Rudaw notes, "Last week, Shene Ako, 19, was crowned Miss Kurdistan 2012 at Erbil's Rotana Hotel.  Chosen from 12 contestants."  Rudaw has the first interview with Shene Ako.

Rudaw: What do you want to tell Ranya and its women?


Shene: To all women in Kurdistan, not only those in Ranya, I want to say that we are very pretty and smart women. Don't hide that. Step forward. Care about your beauty but also care about your inner self. If you are beautiful inside, then you will look beautiful on the outside as well. Everybody is beautiful.


Rudaw: Do you feel that Kurdish women cannot advance because of tradition? What do you tell parents who do not allow their girls to step forward?


Shene: I want to say I am very proud of my parents because they allow me to do many things. I want to open the road for Kurdish girls because I know that, if the road is opened for them, they will feel proud about their parents and advance.


Rudaw: Have you had any plastic surgery?


Shene: No. There was a plastic surgeon at the contest (judge panel). But I have not had any plastic surgery, and I believe if I'd had even a small amount of surgery, I wouldn't have won.

Al Bawaba observes, "Beauty pageants have been absent from Iraq for decades.  During the time of the monarchy, which was overthrown in 1958, they were held in social clubs, especially in the southern port city of Basra."
Going back to the United States, Saturday, Austin, Texas will see a parade.  Tara Merrigan (Austin American-Statesman) reports, "The parade, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Congress Avenue Bridge and end at the Capitol, will include the 36th Division Infantry Band from Camp Mabry, a Reserve Officers' Training Corps color guard from Westwood High School, motorcycle clubs, muscle car clubs and a roller derby club. The event will feature veterans from the Iraq War and previous wars."  This will be followed by a veterans jobs fair.  The following day it's Portsmouth, New Hampshire's turn.  Laurenne Ramsdell (Foster's Daily Democrat) notes, "The Welcome Home Parade will proceed from Junkins Avenue onto Pleasant Street, then onto State Street, Wright Avenue, Daniels Street and then through Market Square. The parade will continue onto Congress Street and Fleet Street before it loops back toward Junkins Avenue."  This Sunday parade will also be followed by a jobs fair, held in "the lower parking lot at City Hall."  These are among the many parades that have been taking place across the country.  If you know of one in your area, feel free to note in an e-mail and it will be included here.  A parade in Alabama did not go so well recently and it's thought that one of the reasons was lack of awareness that it was taking place. 

Posted at 06:58 pm by thecommonills

Signs that the Reform Commission may not be for real?

Signs that the Reform Commission may not be for real?

In Iraq, the political crisis continues.  Karwan Yusuf (AK News) reports that rumors of Saleh al-Mutlaq replacing Ayad Allawi as the leader of Iraqya have been called "baseless" in a statement Iraqiya sent out which notes that the false rumors are meant to weaken Iraqiya.  The rumors never should have had traction.  Allawi is Shi'ite.  al-Mutlaq is Sunni.  Iraqiya is a mixed slate but with the crisis in Iraq having a Shi'ite as a leader gave them a credibility with other blocs that al-Mutlaq wouldn't have.  In addition, al-Mutlaq was not allowed to run in 2010 because Nouri's Justice and Accountability Commission was calling him a Ba'athist.  (His name was only cleared at the end of 2010.) Saleh al-Mutlaq as a leader could easily be dimissed as he unfairly was in 2010.  As we've noted many times before, Nouri's State of Law excells at rumors.  Little else.

Nouri is currently pushing a Reform Commission.  Is it for real?  Well Nouri is still facing a potential no-confidence vote in Parliament.  In the past, when Nouri was pushed into a corner and made 'concessions' what happened?  Nothing.

Like an angry toddler, he dug in with his tantrum and exhausted the patience of all around him.

That's been true with regards to his demands to have a second term as prime minister (causing the eight month Political Stalemate I), that's been true of his refusal to stick to the Erbil Agreement, that's been true of his attempt to diffuse the protests last year with his "give me 100 days and I will address corruption," . . .  On and on, it's his pattern.  Lie, make a false promise for some point in the future to diffuse the current anger and never keep your promise.

All Iraqi News reports that the National Alliance is saying that the Reform Commission doesn't need Nouri's word or permission for changes because this is a Constitutional issue.  Have these people never met Nouri al-Maliki?

Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that Abbas al-Bayati, part of Nouri's State of Law, insists there will be three phases of the Reform Commission.  Yeah, it's looking like this is going to be another draw-it-out-and-hope-that-the-Iraqi-people-forget-why-they-were-upset.

Or as a friend in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to me on the phone this morning, "Where's [Iraqi President Jalal] Talbani?  If this were really the solution it's being sold as, don't you think Talabani would be back in Iraq crowing about how this was a victory and attempting to take credit?"

A very good point.

Instead, he remains in Germany and his PUK has had to distance themselves from him.  And now from Adel Murad as well.  All Iraqi News reports the PUK has issued a statement noting member Adel Murad speaks for himself and not the party.  Murad came out in support of Nouri and early elections.  This upset the PUK and KRG President Massoud Barzani's KDP political party. 

The e-mail address for this site is

Posted at 06:59 am by thecommonills

Bombings, burn pits, parades

Bombings, burn pits, parades

In the continued Iraqi violence, Alsumaria reports 1 person was shot dead outside his Baquba home by an unknown assailant using a machine gun and police shot dead a supect on a highway leading into Baghdad from the south.  Anwar Msarbat (AK News) reports a Hit car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left six people injured. All Iraqi News reports on the Hit bombing but insists it was a roadside bombing. 

Saturday, Austin, Texas will see a parade.  Tara Merrigan (Austin American-Statesman) reports, "The parade, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Congress Avenue Bridge and end at the Capitol, will include the 36th Division Infantry Band from Camp Mabry, a Reserve Officers' Training Corps color guard from Westwood High School, motorcycle clubs, muscle car clubs and a roller derby club. The event will feature veterans from the Iraq War and previous wars."  This will be followed by a veterans jobs fair.  The following day it's Portsmouth, New Hampshire's turn.  Laurenne Ramsdell (Foster's Daily Democrat) notes, "The Welcome Home Parade will proceed from Junkins Avenue onto Pleasant Street, then onto State Street, Wright Avenue, Daniels Street and then through Market Square. The parade will continue onto Congress Street and Fleet Street before it loops back toward Junkins Avenue."  This Sunday parade will also be followed by a jobs fair, held in "the lower parking lot at City Hall."  These are among the many parades that have been taking place across the country.  If you know of one in your area, feel free to note in an e-mail and it will be included here.  A parade in Alabama did not go so well recently and it's thought that one of the reasons was lack of awareness that it was taking place. 

Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans and contractors who do return to the US face a variety of obstacles including readjustment, the lousy job market and much more.  Many also have to address injuries.  One group returns often unaware of their injury or with it unrecognized.  That's a group who were exposed to burn pits overseas.  The burn pits were used to burn all waste -- including medical, including car batteries, everything.  The exposure to the fumes have seriously harmed many.  In 2009, following the work done by then-Senator Byron Dorgan and the Democratic Policy Committee on this issue, DPC members then-Senator Evan Bayh championed a federal registry for burn pit victims.  His bill never got out of Committee despite strong efforts on his part.  

In the Senate currently, Senator Mark Udall champions the Burn Pit Registery and we'll note his remarks at the June 13th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing;

Senator Mark Udall:  Sitting in the audience today is Master Sergeant Jessey Baca a member of the New Mexico Air National Guard and his wife Maria.  [to them] Just give everybody a waive here, you two.  Master Sgt. Baca was stationed in Balad, Iraq and exposed to burn pits. His journey to be here today was not easy.  He has battled cancer, chronic bronchitis, chemical induced asthma, brain lesions, TBI, PTSD and numerous other ailments. Maria has traveled that difficult road with him.   They know first hand the suffering caused by burn pits and they need to know the answers.  It is because of them and so many others like them that we are here today.  Last year, I introduced S. 1798, the Open Burn Pits Registry Act with Senator Corker.  Representative Todd Akin introduced it in the House.  It is not a partisan issue.  We have each met with veterans and active duty members of the military and they have told us how important it is that we act now.  In both Afghanistan and Iraq, open air burn pits were widely used at forward operating bases.  Disposing of trash and other debris was a major challenge.  Commanders had to find a way to dispose of waste while concentrating on the important mission at hand.  The solution that was chosen, however, had serious risks.  Pits of waste were set on fire -- sometimes using jet fuel for ignition.  Some burn pits were small but others covered multiple acres of land. Often times, these burn pits would turn the sky black.  At Joint Base Balad Iraq, over 10 acres of land were used for burning toxic debris.  At the height of its operations, Balad hosted approximately 25,000 military, civilian and coalition provision authority personnel.  These personnel would be exposed to a toxic soup of chemicals released into the atmosphere.  According to air quality measurements, the air at Balad had multiple particulates harmful to humans: Plastics and Styrofoams, metals, chemicals from paints and solvents, petroleum and lubricants, jet fuel and unexploded ordnance, medical and other dangerous wastes.  The air samples at Joint Base Balad turned up some nasty stuff. Particulate matter, chemicals that form from the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas garbage or other organic substances, volatile organic compounds such as acetone and benzene  -- benzene, as you all know, is known to cause leukemia --  and dioxins which are associated with Agent Orange.  According to the American Lung Association, emissions from burning waste contain fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. All of this was in the air and being inhaled into the lungs of service members.  Our veterans have slowly begun to raise the alarm as they learn why -- after returning home -- they are short of breath or experiencing headaches and other symptoms and, in some cases, developing cancer.  Or to put it more simply, by Maria Baca, when she describes her husband's symptoms, "When he breathes, he can breathe in, but he can't breathe out.  That's the problem that he's having.  It feels like a cactus coming out of his chest.  He feels  these splinters and he can't get rid of them."  The Dept of Army has also confirmed the dangers posed by burn pits.  In a memo from April 15, 2011, Environmental Science Engineering Officer, G. Michael Pratt, wrote an air quality summary on Baghram Airfield.  And I would respectfully ask that the full memo be included in the record.  Referring to the burn pits near Baghram Airfield,  he said there was potential that "long-term exposure at these level may experience the risk for developing chronic health conditions such as reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, atherosclerosis  and other cardio pulmonary diseases.  Many of our service members are coming home with these symptoms.  I believe, like you do, Madam Chair, that we are forever in debt for their service, so we must ask the question, "How did these burn pits impact the health of our returning heroes?"  This bill is a step towards finding the answers we owe them.  The legislation will establish and maintain and Open Burn Pit Registry for those individuals who may have been exposed during their military service.  It would include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines is applicable to possible health effects of this exposure. develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the registry and periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pits exposure.  It is supported by numerous groups including BurnPits 360, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of US Navy,  Retired Enlisted Association, the Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees and the National Military Family Association.  Madam Chair and Ranking Member Burr, thank you for your attention to this important issue.  I look forward to working with both of you and members of your distinguished Committee on this important legislation.  Thank you and a pleasure once again to be with you today. 

In the House, Todd Akin fights for burn pit registry.  Rick Maze (Navy Times) reported last Friday that Akin's bill had made it out of the House Veterans Affairs Health Subcommittee and was headed for a full Committee vote.  That remains the status this week.  Information on burn pit issues can be found at BurnPits360.

The following community sites -- plus Ms. magazine blog,  Cindy Sheehan, Tavis Smiley, Susan's On The Edge,, Jody Watley and Pacifica Evening News -- updated last night and this morning:

Jody Watley Gets Glam in Las Vegas
17 hours ago 
As we noted last Sunday, the Green Party USA held their political convention (in Chicago) and nominated Cynthia McKinney to be their candidate for president. The convention started the Friday before. For any wondering, the four-day convention finally got a 'shout-out' on Monday's Democracy Now! As a headline. Not a segment. A political party of the left holds a national convention, has many speakers -- many of whom are running for offices -- and it's reduced to a headline.
It is expected that Jill Stein, who more than leads in the delegate count will be the next Green Party presidential candidate.  She has qualified for matching funds and earlier this week her campaign released the following video.

The e-mail address for this site is


Posted at 06:10 am by thecommonills

Thursday, July 05, 2012
Birds, blindness and questioning Nouri

Birds, blindness and questioning Nouri

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.

 The political crisis continues in Iraq.  Tuesday, we noted:

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.]

Today Hevidear Ahmed (Rudaw) has a piece where he speaks to various participants to find out what's going on and what Moqtada's position is:

“If 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.
Abdul 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.
“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.

Alsumaria reports 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.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Demos, live and what the fans want" and   Isaiah's"Little Dicky Loves Bad Boys" went up yesterday and the following community sites updated last night and this morning:

1 hour ago 

The e-mail address for this site is


Posted at 07:22 am by thecommonills

At least 7 dead and 19 injured in Iraq violence today

At least 7 dead and 19 injured in Iraq violence today

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 now).

 Meanwhile in England there are developments in a 2003 Iraq attack.  The mother of Lance Copral Thomas Richard Keys has filed a lawuite.  In June 2003,  the 20-year-old Keys died in Amara along with five other British soldiers.  The UK Ministry of Defence issued the following statement and photo upon his passing:

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.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Demos, live and what the fans want" and   Isaiah's"Little Dicky Loves Bad Boys" went up yesterday and the following community sites updated last night and this morning:

1 hour ago 
We'll close with this from the national Green Party:
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-904-7614,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,
2012 Green Presidential Nominating Convention, July 12-15 in Baltimore, Md.

Media Credentialing page

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 (

"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 ( 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 (

"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:

"'Health law upheld, but health needs still unmet': national doctors group; Although the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, the law will not remedy the U.S. health crisis, physicians group says"
Physicians for a National Health Program, press release, June 28, 2012

"Single Payer Advocates Says Medicare for All Remains the Solution in Light of US Supreme Court Ruling"
Single Payer New York, press release, June 28, 2012

"Two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all"
By Kip Sullivan, J.D.,

"The Green Party urges the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act's health insurance mandates, sees a chance for Medicare For All"
Green Party press release, March 5, 2012

"Should Obama's Health Care Be Opposed?: An Exchange"
Letter from Marcia Angell, The New York Review of Books, June 7, 2012


Single Payer Now (California)

Single-Payer Frequently Asked Questions
Physicians for a National Health Program


Green Party of the United States

2012 Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention, July 12-15 in Baltimore, Md.
Green candidate database and campaign information:

News Center
Speakers Bureau
Ballot Access Page
Video Page
Green Papers
Livestream Channel
GP-TV Twitter page
Facebook page
Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States

The e-mail address for this site is


Posted at 05:57 am by thecommonills

Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Dicky Loves Bad Boys"

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Dicky Loves Bad Boys"

little dicky loves bad boys

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.

Posted at 03:40 pm by thecommonills

Blood and money continue to pour in Iraq

Blood and money continue to pour in Iraq

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 ( counts 63 dead and 152 injured on Tuesday.

At Commentary, Max Boot wants to insist he has "no joy from being proven right."  Proven right?  About the need to go war with Iraq?  No.  Not right there and Boot doesn't want you to dwell on that.  He was right, he insists, about what follows the US leaving Iraq.  And to be fair to him, we'll note what he said. Here he is at the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2011:

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 future.

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 morning!"

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.

Joshua Altman (The Hill -- link has text and video) reports US House Rep Jason Chaffetz was on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzter Tuesday and declared, "The degree in which our assets are being treated in very troublesome.  There’s some 50 billion dollars worth of projects that the American taxpayers have footed ... yet when we try to go through checkpoints and try to travel through the country and do other types of things we’re having a very difficult time."

Last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations held a hearing on Iraq.  Committee Chair Chaffetz heard many disturbing reports from the various governmental IG (inspector generals) about what was taking place in Iraq.

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 withdrawal?

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.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Demos, live and what the fans want" went up earlier this morning.   Isaiah's latest comic goes up after this.  And, at their sites, Mike and Marcia will be posting tonight.

The e-mail address for this site is


Posted at 03:36 pm by thecommonills

Crackdown in Diyala and al-Jaafari tries comedy

Crackdown in Diyala and al-Jaafari tries comedy

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 bloc.
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.

In 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 up. 
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".

Alsumaria notes there are 7,800 Sahwa in Diyala including 50 leaders.

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 image.

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.

 If you're nodding with that and thinking, "At last someone's captured Nouri's likeness!," wait a minute.  That's Liz Sly's  "Maliki's governing style raises questions about future of Iraq's fragile democracy" from December 2010. 

Nouri was and remains the biggest obstacle to tourism, peace, success, freedom in Iraq.  That was and remains the case.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Demos, live and what the fans want" went up earlier this morning.  I have one more (I'm doing three and not two like I planned) entry to write and Isaiah's latest comic will follow that.  And, at their sites, Mike and Marcia will be posting tonight.
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Posted at 03:33 pm by thecommonills

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