The Common Ills


Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, July 17, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, a rumor circulates about Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Iraqi government screams "mine!," Nouri decides to sue over allegations against him, Nouri hurls allegations at others, and more.
 
Starting in the US where there's major news on the legislative front.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following today:
 
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
 

TOMORROW: Murray to Call on Senate to Pass Veterans Omnibus Legislation

 
Murray will ask for immediate passage of the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 18th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray will give a speech on the Senate floor calling for unanimous consent on the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, bipartisan, bicameral, and comprehensive legislation that combines provisions of the Veterans Programs Improvement Act of 2011 (S. 914, Report No. 112-088) and Honoring American Veterans Act of 2011 (H.R. 1627, Report No. 112-084 Part 1), as well as provisions from other Senate and House legislation. This comprehensive package would extend health care to veterans and their families who lived at Camp Lejeune, expand critical health programs, improve housing programs for severely disabled veterans, enhance programs for homeless veterans, and make needed improvements to the disability claims system.
 
 

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray

WHAT: Senator Murray will seek unanimous consent on the passage of important veterans omnibus legislation.

WHEN: TOMORROW: Wednesday, July 18, 2012

11:00 AM ET/ 8:00 AM PST

WHERE: Senate Floor

WATCH: Speech will air live on C-SPAN 2

 
 
###

Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

448 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington D.C. 20510

202-224-2834

 

 
 
 

 

 

Camp Lejeune is a North Caroline Marine Corps base which was considered to be one of "the biggest water-contimination case[s] in history, with more than a million people potentially exposed to carcinogens such as TCE and benzene from the 1950s to 1985, when the poisoned wells were shut down" (Mike Manager of GovExec).  Franco Ordonez (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "Up to 750,000 people at Camp Lejeune may have been exposed to water that was poisoned with trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride. Some medical experts have linked the contamination to birth defects, childhood leukemia and a variety of other cancers."

 

Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has long championed this issue.  Last month, Kat reported on a Senate Veterans Affairs Committeee hearing and  how there appeared to be movement on this issue and she quoted Chair Murry stating:

 


I am optimistic that by the time of the next mark-up the President is going to be signing into law the Honoring of America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 which includes legislation from our last mark-up.  Veterans legislation obviously continues to be bi-partisan and that  is at it should be.  So I want to thank all the members of our Committee.

 

 

This will be a historic and long awaited moment for the many families of Camp Lejeune.

 

 

Iraq is considered the cradle of cvilization due to its long and historical importance. 
 
Oh, Baghdad
Center of the world
City of ashes
With its great mosques
Erupting from the mouth of god
Rising from the ashes like
a speckled bird
Splayed against the mosaic sky
Oh, clouds around
We created the zero
But we mean nothing to you
You would believe
That we are just some mystical tale
We are just a swollen belly
That give birth Sinbad, Scheherazade
We gave birth
Oh, oh, to the zero
The perfect number
We invented the zero
-- "Radio Baghdad," written by Patti Smith and Oliver Ray, first appears on her trampin'
 
 
For all of its glory and history the Baghdad-based government  currently attempts to hold onto the history of  another people.  AFP reported at the end of last month that Nouri al-Maliki's Baghdad government had made the decision to cut archaeological ties with the United States over Jewish archives.  Nouri's government insisted the Jewish archives belonged to Iraq.  The same government that refused to protect the Jews in Iraq now wants to lay claim to the documents: "The archives, which were found in the flooded basement of the intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in 2003, include Torah scrolls, Jewish law and children's books, Arabic-language documents produced for Iraqi Jews and government reports about the Jewish community."
 
The only thing Nouri's government can lay claim to is the government reports.  They can lay claim to that because Nouri is the New Saddam.  And, as such, he can claim the property of a people as surely as Saddam Hussein would be insisting, if these were Shi'ite papers, that they belonged to the Iraqi government.    A people own their own documents and that is especially true when you're dealing with an oppressed people -- the Shi'ites under Saddam or the Jews in modern-day Baghdad where all but a handful have been run out of their homes and out of the country.  Shame on the government for attempting to lay claim to that which it is not entitled to.   Xinhua noted this week, "Iraq rejected an offer made by the United States to bring back half of the Iraqi Jewish Archive previously transferred from Baghdad to the US after 2003, insisting that Iraq should restore the whole Archive, an Iraqi official newspaper reported on Sunday." 
 
While Nouri's government uses a great deal of time and energy trying to grab that which it is not entitled to, it refuses to maintain Iraq's historic treasures.   Dropping back to the May 29th snapshot:
 
Last week Aseel Kami (Reuters) reported on the State Board of Heritage and Antiquities' Mariam Omran Musa who is suing Iraq's Ministry of Oil over a pipline through Babylon which threatens the existence of the historical Hanging Gardens.  Musa declared, "Oil and antiquities are both national wealth, but I have an opinion: when the oil is gone, we will still have antiquities."  The Travel Channel notes that the Hanging Gardens were considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  RT adds:


The magnificent gardens allegedly built for a king's homesick wife in the 6th century BC were one of the Ancient World's seven wonders. Some historians doubt they existed, but they were described in many written sources and were said to have been destroyed by earthquakes.
The remains of the ancient city of Babylon are situated near present-day Al Hillah in Iraq's Babylon Province south of Baghdad. The country has long been trying to get UNESCO to add the site to its World Heritage list, but chances appear to be fading away as authorities plan to lay an oil pipeline there.
Iraq's Oil Ministry plans to extend a strategic route to export oil through six provinces at the center and south of the country.Two pipelines carrying oil products and liquid gas from Basra in the south to Baghdad were built under the ancient site in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Stephane Foucart (Guardian) seeks out expert opinion on the issue:
 
"The pipeline crosses the perimeter of the archaeological site but outside the walls, beneath the so-called outer city," said Véronique Dauge, chief of the Arab States Unit at the Unesco World Heritage Centre. "But even if it doesn't cross the centre of the ancient city, it is in an area that has never been excavated." The site covers approximately 850 hectares, most of which is virgin territory for archaeologists. A spokesman from the Iraqi oil ministry quoted by AFP reported that the land dug up revealed no archaeological remains.
"No one can say right now if the oil pipeline has caused damage," said Lisa Ackerman, executive vice-president of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), a New York-based foundation for preserving architectural heritage, who works on the site with the Iraqi authorities. "But I think it's very likely that it crosses sensitive archaeological zones."
 
 
Meanwhile AFP reports, "Teams of Iraqi archaeologists have discussed 40 ancient sites in the country's south from the Sumerian, Akkadian and Babylonian periods, an Iraqi antiquities offical said on Monday."  And hopefully the fate of those sites will be better than the currently threatened Hanging Gardens or other threatened sites in Iraq.  Mohamad Ali Harissi (Middle East Online) reports that historical sites discovered near Najaf's airport -- including "the remains of the celebrated ancient Christian city of Hira" -- are at risk, "unexplored and unkempt," due to a lack of excavation funding.  One of the people who led historical digs upon the discovery and in 2009 and 2010 is Shakir Abdulzahra Jabari who states, "The area has historical importance, because it is rich in antiquities, including especially the remains of churches, abbeys and palaces.  But now the antiquities have been neglected for a year, and they do not receive any attention, despite the fact that many Western countries are interested in Hira's history as the main gateway of Christianity into Iraq."
 
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the Hanging Gardens remain in jeopardy in Iraq today.  They're not the only historical marvel at risk.  There is also the famous Abbasi Bridge in Zahko.  Abdul-Khaleq Dosky (Niqash) reports on the bridge and notes the many origin stories told about the ancient marvel:
 
One of the oldest revolves around a young man in the Abbasside era - the Abbaside dynasty ruled for almost two centuries from the year 750 - who fell in love with a girl living in the village on the opposite side of the river; he built the bridge so he could be with her. 
Another story focuses on a Turkish architect who came to Zakho, which lies near the border of Iraq and Turkey, in the Middle Ages. A nearby Turkish governor had amputated one of his hands and as a kind of challenge to him, the architect decided to build a bridge.
Legend has it that the architect built the bridge by constructing both ends and then having it join in the middle. Using this method, the bridge was in danger of collapse many times. So the architect consulted a medium who told him that he should kill the first person to cross the river and bury the body in the centre of the bridge. Unhappily for her, the next day his son's wife, a woman called Dalal, came across the river to bring him his breakfast. And apparently that is why to this day the locals know the crossing as the Dalal bridge.
 
 
Iraq has so much worth preserving and so much in need of preserving.   It certainly is telling that Iran's Press TV can run -- and has run, here and here for examples -- multiple pieces on the Jewish archives and interview biased Americans but when it comes to Iraq's historical treasures Press TV has nothing to say.  That's your first indication that this isn't about history, just another pissing match and the world's certainly seen more than enough of those. 
 
 
 
 
Although it might not be at the top of your vacation destinations, let's not forget that Iraq is the home of the first city that was ever recorded, Sumerian, that was built over 6000 years ago so why diminish the importance of visiting such a pillar of civilization? We are not talking about an apple mac support London from the corner of the street here. True it has its own significance but what about a city that was built thousands of years ago and which is known to be the place where the first book was ever written. Here in Iraq between the rivers of Euphrates and Tigris once stood the great and famous Mesopotamia, a region where the first form of writing was developed, where the first signs of irrigations systems were found and where people had already discovered the wheel.
 
 
 
 -- not the Hanging Gardens, not the Ctesiphon Arch, nothing. 
Nouri says he wants to build up the travel industry in Iraq.  Yet here's a bridge that's already bringing in approximately 150,000 tourists each year and Nouri's refusing to use any of the large piles of government money he sits on to ensure that the the bridge remains standing and doesn't fall apart. 
 
 
Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri met with US Central Command General James Mattis on Sunday.  Why?  To ask the US to speed upt he delivery of weapons.  All Iraq News also covers the meeting and includes a photo of the two.  AFP adds, "The Iraqi premier also pointedly said during a meeting with General James Mattis, the visiting head of US Central Command, that only the central government would decide which arms purchases would be made, in an apparent swipe at Kurdish complaints over the acquisition of F-16 warplanes."  Defense World adds, "Iraq has agreed to acquire American military equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36 F-16 warplanes, tanks, artillery, helicopters and patrol boats which are not delivered for years to the Iraq." 



KUNA notes, "Baghdad Monday urged neighboring countries to respect sovereignty of Iraq and warned against violating its airspace.  Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, addressing a graduation ceremony of police officers, said the Iraqi airspace has been breached by aircraft of neighboring countries, which he did not name, on a daily basis."  Kitabat notes that Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh declared today that Turkey has breached Iraq's airspace with "warplanes" repeatedly and that they intended to complain to the United Nations Security Council. Reuters answers the immediate question -- breach? do they mean the raids on northern Iraq?  Yes, Reuters reveals, that's apparently what they mean.  That's strange that Baghdad's not previously said one word publicly, in all these years, that could qualify as a complaint about these bombs.  In fact, they've told the United Nations previously that they were cooperating with Turkey and cited this as an example of how they fight terrorism and insisted it was proof of the stability they were bringing to the region and reaon enough for the UN to remove the Chapter VII classification imposed on them as a result of the attack on Kuwait.

Oh, well, maybe the accusations will cover Nouri's latest embarrassment.  The Journal of Turkish Weekly was already reporting this morning that Iraq's radar system was down due to "the power cut in Iraq."   Nouri has been on a holy tear of late, hurling one allegation after another.  Rudaw reports, "At Iraq's Council of Ministers meeting last week, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused the Kurdistan Region of 'smuggling oil.'  The accusation caused a stir and Maliki's Kurdish deputy Dr. Roj Nuri Shawais, issued a strong reply."  Nouri loves to blame so much that facts rarely matter to him.  Back on  May 30th we noted Nouri was blaming Arab countries yet again while saying nothing about Iran and, when the issue is water, that's not realistic.  Today Al Mada and Kitabat both report on findings from London's Institute of  Development Studies which has predicted a 70% decrease in fresh water in Iraq as a result of Iran's actions with regards to the Tigris River.   While the Arab neighbors also have an impact, the report finds Iran a greater culprit (causing Al Mada to note Iran and the "environemental disaster" its caused in their headline). If the issue isn't addressed, Iraq's drinking water and agricultural sector will dwindle.  Al Arabiya adds:
 
The IDS report, obtained by Al Arabiya, stated that Iran stopped the flow of Alwand River, which runs from western Iran to eastern Iraq, for the past four years.
This caused the damage of around 10% of arable land and rendered the residents of several villages around the river homeless.

The production of several crops has also been greatly affected whether through quantity with a loss that amounted to 80% in some years or through quality that has witnessed a remarkable drop.
Iran, the report added, has also been pumping drainage water into several Iraqi rivers, which led to a rise in their salinity levels and in turn inflicted a substantial damage on marine life, basically demonstrated in the death of several fish species.
This also caused the migration of birds that lived in the area and the emergence of snakes which attack crops and kill livestock.

 
Last week, Nouri was trying to improve his image -- and a press eager to sell war on Syria was happy to oblige.  All this led to days of Nouri the brave, offering the Syrian Ambassador to Iraq asylum.  Those days are gone.  Tariq Alhomayed (Asharq al-Awsat) notes, "The Syrian Ambassador to Iraq's defection was not only a slap in the face for the tyrant of Damascus; it also came as a blow to Nuri al-Maliki's government."  Nouri's not happy about what Nawaf Fares is saying.  When Nouri's unhappy, what does he do?  That's right: Sue.  And BBC News notes that Nouri's spokesperson today announced that there would be a lawsuit against Fares:
 
In interviews since defecting, Mr Fares said Syria formed an alliance with al-Qaeda to disrupt US forces in Iraq.
Mr Fares has accused Mr Maliki of being complicit in attacks in Iraq because of "his alliance" with Damascus.
The BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad says Mr Fares has a few stories to tell about his former Syrian masters and, since arriving in Qatar from Baghdad, he hasn't been holding back.
 
Kitabat reports that Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has written to the Parliament urging them to investigate whether Nouri has had any involvement with terrorism. 
 
On violence,  Al Rafidayn reports that 1 intelligence officer for the Ministry of the Interior was assassinated today in Baghdad by unknown assailantes suing guns with silencers.  In addition, All Iraq News notes that a police officer's home in Salahuddin Province was bombed -- the police officer was outside his home at the time and not wounded.   In other news of violence, Nouri continues the mass arrests.  If you are ever unclear on how people (inclucing innocents) can disappear into the maze that passes for the Iraqi 'legal' system, you just have to follow the mass arrests.  Alsumaria reports 32 arrested in Kirkuk today.  The suspects were arrested based on 'intelligence.'  But Nouri has no real intelligence capability and that's one of the things the State Dept was supposed to be helping him with but he spurned that.  We're not done.  Alsumaria also reports mass arrests in Babylon today: 60 arrests.  In related news, Khalid al-Alwani is a member of Iraqiya and serves on Parliament's Integrity Committee.  All Iraq News notes that he attended the funeral of Saddam Batawi who died in prison and that he's calling for the end of torture in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.
 
 
Meanwhile Fars News Agency reports, "Spokesman of the office of Iraq's most revered Shiite Cleric and top religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Hosseini al-Sistani, categorically denied media reports about and assassination attempt on Ayatollah Sistani's life."
 
 
 

Posted at 05:26 pm by thecommonills
 

Water, airspace, radar: what's Nouri's problem today?

Water, airspace, radar: what's Nouri's problem today?

Al Rafidayn reports that 1 intelligence officer for the Ministry of the Interior was assassinated today in Baghdad by unknown assailantes suing guns with silencers.  In addition, All Iraq News notes that a police officer's home in Salahuddin Province was bombed -- the police officer was outside his home at the time and not wounded.   In other news of violence, Nouri continues the mass arrests.  If you are ever unclear on how people (inclucing innocents) can disappear into the maze that passes for the Iraqi 'legal' system, you just have to follow the mass arrests.  Alsumaria reports 32 arrested in Kirkuk today.  The suspects were arrested based on 'intelligence.'  But Nouri has no real intelligence capability and that's one of the things the State Dept was supposed to be helping him with but he spurned that.  We're not done.  Alsumaria also reports mass arrests in Babylon today: 60 arrests.  In related news, Khalid al-Alwani is a member of Iraqiya and serves on Parliament's Integrity Committee.  All Iraq News notes that he attended the funeral of Saddam Batawi who died in prison and that he's calling for the end of torture in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.

How bad is the security situation in Iraq?  Al Mada reports that correspondence between the Parliamentary committees reveals a plan to buy weapons for members of Parliament -- and they're expecting to spend five billion dinars (that's the equivalent of $4,291,839.35 in US currency).  With Parliament's sizeable salaries, you might think they could reach into their own pockets to purchase any guns they felt they needed instead of soaking the Iraqi people with the costs.  This is a lot like an earlier plan to provide armored cars for MPs while the people have to live with the violence the government is unable to address.  What the government purchases, they can't seem to keep track of.  Al Mada also notes that Parliament's Integrity Commitee is said to have discovered that forty vehicles with sonar (to detect bombs) have gone missing from the Ministry of Finance.  If these vehicles are missing, there's a chance that they were never bought and that orders were put in for them and money provided for them but then pocketed.  As the political crisis continues, Al Mada reports Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc has collected 100 signatures backing a proposed law to limit the three presidencies -- Prime Minister, President of Iraq, Speaker of Parliament -- to two terms. This is seen as an attempt to avoid Nouri al-Maliki having a third term as prime minister (following the emergence of protesters in Iraq calling for reform in early 2011, Nouri insisted he would not seek a third term -- he and his attorney quickly disowned that promise). 

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:



Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri met with US Central Command General James Mattis on Sunday.  Why?  To ask the US to speed upt he delivery of weapons.  All Iraq News also covers the meeting and includes a photo of the two.  AFP adds, "The Iraqi premier also pointedly said during a meeting with General James Mattis, the visiting head of US Central Command, that only the central government would decide which arms purchases would be made, in an apparent swipe at Kurdish complaints over the acquisition of F-16 warplanes."  Defense World adds, "Iraq has agreed to acquire American military equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36 F-16 warplanes, tanks, artillery, helicopters and patrol boats which are not delivered for years to the Iraq." 



KUNA notes, "Baghdad Monday urged neighboring countries to respect sovereignty of Iraq and warned against violating its airspace.  Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, addressing a graduation ceremony of police officers, said the Iraqi airspace has been breached by aircraft of neighboring countries, which he did not name, on a daily basis."  Kitabat notes that Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh declared today that Turkey has breached Iraq's airspace with "warplanes" repeatedly and that they intended to complain to the United Nations Security Council. Reuters answers the immediate question -- breach? do they mean the raids on northern Iraq?  Yes, Reuters reveals, that's apparently what they mean.  That's strange that Baghdad's not previously said one word publicly, in all these years, that could qualify as a complaint about these bombs.  In fact, they've told the United Nations previously that they were cooperating with Turkey and cited this as an example of how they fight terrorism and insisted it was proof of the stability they were bringing to the region and reaon enough for the UN to remove the Chapter VII classification imposed on them as a result of the attack on Kuwait.

Oh, well, maybe the accusations will cover Nouri's latest embarrassment.  The Journal of Turkish Weekly was already reporting this morning that Iraq's radar system was down due to "the power cut in Iraq." 

Meanwhile, May 30th we noted Nouri was blaming Arab countries yet again while saying nothing about Iran and, when the issue is water, that's not realistic.  Today Al Mada and Kitabat both report on findings from London's International Centre for Development Studies predicts a 70% decrease in fresh water in Iraq as a result of Iran's actions with regards to the Tigris River.   While the Arab neighbors also have an impact, the report finds Iran a greater culprit (causing Al Mada to note Iran and the "environemental disaster" its caused in their headline). If the issue isn't addressed, Iraq's drinking water and agricultural sector will dwindle.






The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 07:48 am by thecommonills
 

Mary Jo John Rentoul

Mary Jo John Rentoul

John Rentoul has worked very hard to make himself the Britian's Biggest Embarrassment Press Division.  Today is no exception because attaining a title is easy, it's the retaining that demonstrates true skill.  Judging by today's bad column, Rentoul will retain the title until he retires.   The Iraq Inquiry has yet again kicked the can down the street instead of releasing a report.  From yesterday's snapshot:






Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) boils down the big Iraq news out of England down to one quote from the Iraq Inquiry, "The Inquiry has advised the Prime Minister that it will be in a position to being the process of writing to any individuals that may be criticized by the middle of 2013."  James Tapsfield (Independent) points out, "The findings about the run-up to the 2003 invasion and its aftermath had originally been expected by the end of last year. The timing was then put back to this summer."  Of the latest development, James Blitz (Financial Times of London) predicts it's "a development that will trigger anger among MPs at the slow pace of the inquiry." Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) does the math, "So far the Inquiry has cost 6.1 million pounds, and the extra year of information-gathering is expected to cost the public purse around 1.4 million pounds more."  Steve Bell (Guardian) offers a visual take on the news (political cartoon).    Gavin Stamp (BBC News) explains, "The BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera said there had been an ongoing row between the inquiry and the Cabinet Office over certain documents - particularly notes sent by former prime minister Tony Blair to President Bush and records of their discussions in the run-up to the conflict."  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) adds, "O'Donnell told Chilcot that releasing Blair's notes would damage Britain's relations with the US and would not be in the public interest. 'We have attached particular importance to protecting the privacy of the channel between the prime minister and president,' he said."  And the end result? The Daily Mail breaks it down: "It means the committee's final judgment will not be delivered until at least a decade after the war."


That's a pretty good representation of the British press coverage yesterday.  To a sane person.  To a wounded lover?  A wounded lover can only see more 'persecution' for Tony Blair.  John Rentoul should find a new topic.  His editor should provide him with one regularly if he's unable to think of one on his own.  You'd think, week after week, the Independent would tire of running his embarrassing text version of "Can't Help Loving That Man."



By forever returning to how everyone did and is doing Tony Blair wrong, Rentoul note only sounds one-note, he long ago lost the ability to convince anyone who didn't belong to the Tony Blair fan club that Rentoul is president of.  Even Alastair Campbell comes off less emotional and more reasoned.  Rentoul comes off like the wife of a cheating politician forced to stand beside her husband at the podium.  Reading him today truly is that cringe worthy.



While the British press focused on the delay in the report, to John Rentoul it was all about:


Anyway, the line of argument seems to be something like this: Tony Blair won’t let the inquiry publish his letters to George Bush – you know, the ones saying he was going to lie to Parliament all about oil – so the doughty independent chair of the inquiry is fighting his corner behind closed doors (until the report is eventually published, when he becomes the lickspittle whitewasher of Whitehall that we all knew he was all along).


Well there you have it, it's worse than a cheating politician's spouse, it's England's own Mary Jo Buttafuoco before her awakening.



Columnist should not be a tenured position.  Few people are able to write columns -- columns which offer no actual reporting just opinion -- for any great length of time.  That's true in every society but John Rentoul really makes it clear in England where his fussy clutch the pearls style makes him both out of date and the object of (deserved) scorn and ridicule.



The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh, The Diane Rehm Show, CSPAN, Black Agenda Report, Antiwar.com, Susan's On The Edge, Ms. magazine and Iraq Inquiry Digest  -- updated last night and today:


We'll close with this from Senator Patty Murray's office on the issue of taxes:




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Monday, July 16, 2012 (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray on Budget Debate: If Republicans Won’t Agree to Balanced Approach, Then We Won’t Get a Deal This Year
Murray calls on Republicans to stop holding middle class tax cuts hostage, work with Democrats on a balanced replacement to defense and non-defense sequestration
“Democrats are willing to compromise, we just need a partner.”
“…a budget tells the story of the kind of nation we are, and the kind of nation we want to be…it is a statement of our values, our priorities, and our vision.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. to lay out her values and priorities regarding the country’s fiscal challenges heading into the end of the year and beyond. Murray discussed how she views the path to a balanced and bipartisan budget deal, and what steps can be taken to extend tax cuts for the middle class, make sure the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share, and replace sequestration in a balanced and fair way. Murray also spoke about the support her own family got from the federal government when they needed it and discussed where her values come from when it comes to the budget.
Watch the full speech HERE
Key excerpts from Murray’s speech:
If Republicans won’t work with us on a balanced approach, we are not going to get a deal.
“…if Republicans won’t work with us on a balanced approach, we are not going to get a deal. Because I feel very strongly that we simply cannot allow middle class families and the most vulnerable Americans to bear this burden alone.
“So if we can’t get a good deal, a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013 rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle class families under the bus. And I think my party, and the American people, will support that.”
“…If Democrats were willing to accept a wildly imbalanced deficit reduction plan to avoid the automatic cuts we would have done that back in the supercommittee. But we didn’t then, and we won’t now. So anyone who tells you sequestration is going to simply disappear because both sides want to avoid it is either fooling themselves, or trying to fool you. It is going to have to be replaced, and that replacement is going to have to be balanced.”
“I will not agree to a deal that throws middle class families under the bus and forces them to bear this burden alone. Unless Republicans end their commitment to protecting the rich above all else, our country is going to have to face the consequences of Republican intransigence.”
---
“…many Republicans are starting to realize something important: On January 1st, if we haven’t gotten to a deal, Grover Norquist and his pledge are no longer relevant to this conversation. A name I heard repeated by Republicans over and over in the supercommittee will no longer be a part of this debate. We will have a new fiscal and political reality.”
“If the Bush tax cuts expire, every proposal will be a tax cut proposal and the pledge will no longer keep Republicans boxed in and unable to compromise.”
“If middle class families start seeing more money coming out of their paychecks next year—are Republicans really going to stand up and fight for new tax cuts for the rich? Are they going to continue opposing the Democrats’ middle class tax cut once the slate has been wiped clean? I think they know this would be an untenable political position. And I hope this pushes them to come to the table with real revenue now before being forced to the table if we don’t get a deal before the New Year.”
Murray challenges Republicans to offer a true choice and give certainty to 98% of taxpayers
“…when it comes to the expiring Bush tax cuts, I agree with President Obama. Let’s extend them for the 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners Democrats and Republicans agree should have their taxes cut—and then have a real debate about the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans we disagree on.
“Before August, we are going to have a vote to do exactly that in the Senate. Senate Republicans have indicated they are going to make an effort to extend all the Bush tax cuts—including those for the rich.”
“But I challenge them to do something different. To be honest about what they really want and allow everyone to clearly state their position on the issues. I challenge them to offer an amendment to our middle class tax cut that would simply extend the tax cuts that they are fighting for , the tax cuts for the rich. Not a political amendment offered simply to give their members a way out of voting against a middle class tax cut, a real amendment.”
“If they do this, all of the Bush tax cuts would be up for a clean, honest extension vote. And the American people would know where everyone stands. Any senator who supports extending tax cuts for the middle class—they can vote for our bill. Any senator who supports extending tax cuts for the rich—they can vote for the Republican amendment. And any senator who supports extending all the tax cuts—well, they can vote for them both.”
“That would give everyone the opportunity to vote for exactly what they want, and it would make sure political gimmicks don’t get in the way of delivering results for the 98% of workers both sides agree should have their tax cuts extended.
“If Republicans don’t do this, if they continue playing political games with this vote and only offer an amendment in order to kill the bill, then they will have proven conclusively that they don’t care about certainty, they care about extending those tax cuts for the rich. And that they will use every bit of leverage they have to do it.”
“If we are really going to address these issues we have to cut through the political smokescreens. It’s time to put our cards on the table, offer real choices, and have a debate that’s worthy of the Senate.”
“Holding the middle class tax cuts hostage may be a smart tactical move if the goal is to protect the rich. But it’s not good policy, it’s not good politics, and Democrats are going to keep reminding the American people why middle class tax cuts aren’t being extended immediately even though both sides say they want them to be.”
Lessons from the supercommittee
“…as everyone in this room knows, the supercommittee was not successful. We couldn’t come to a bipartisan deal. And the reasons for that, the lessons learned from those four months of intense bipartisan talks, are absolutely critical as we face the exact same issues heading into the end of the year and the so-called fiscal cliff. Because if we want a different outcome, if we want to come together around the balanced and bipartisan deficit-reduction deal the American people expect and deserve, something is going to have to change.”
“So to spell out the obvious: Under the Toomey plan, the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut, while the middle class would lose the tax benefits that matter to them most....So not only is it deeply unfair to ask the middle class to foot the bill for another deficit-busting tax cut for the rich, but the Toomey plan would lock them in with no guarantee that the revenue will ever be found to pay for them. There’s nothing responsible about that in my book. In fact, it’s offensive.”
“…the Toomey plan was a gimmick. A bait-and-switch. It wasn’t a step in our direction—it was a leap toward the Tea Party. Away from a deal.”
“Democrats were willing to match the Republicans dollar-for-dollar on the spending side, and more. We went even beyond the Toomey plan when it came to tackling entitlements. We had backing from our leadership and our party to make a big deal. We jumped right out into the middle of the ring. But Republicans refused to move an inch in our direction on revenue. They actually tried to use a deficit reduction Committee to cut taxes for the rich even further. And they were so focused on how their extreme base would react that they simply couldn’t summon the will to leave their partisan corner.”
“There were times when I thought we were close. But looking back at the offers from each side that represented the greatest attempts at compromise—it’s clear that while we were close on the spending side, Republicans hadn’t even left their corner when it came to revenue.”
Reasons for hope
“… I think we have some good reasons to think a deal can happen before the end of the year. I know Democrats are willing to compromise. We just need a partner.”
“Thankfully, I am seeing some encouraging signs from Republicans who are sick and tired of being boxed in by the most extreme elements of their base who don’t like being responsible for continued manufactured crises that hurt the economy and destroy our nation’s faith in its government, and who are concerned about the impact of sequestration.”
“In the privacy of back rooms and in small gangs, Republicans are far more willing to discuss the need for revenue. And there are some Republicans passionate about national defense and willing to make some tough choices on revenue to protect the Pentagon.”
“In fact, some of the productive conversations my Republican colleagues have been having have led Grover Norquist to decry their ‘impure thoughts’ when it comes to taxes. Well, I hope those ‘impure thoughts’ continue. If Norquist is mad, then we must be on the right track.”
“I know Democrats are ready to get to work. We want to make a deal. We are ready to compromise. And as soon as Republicans decide to work with us, I am confident we can get to the balanced and bipartisan deal the American people expect and deserve.”
Defense sequestration shouldn’t be isolated
“We are also not going to allow just the defense cuts to be replaced without addressing the domestic spending cuts that would be devastating to the middle class. None of the automatic cuts are good policy. They were packaged together in a bipartisan fashion to get both sides to the table, and they will be replaced, or not, as a package.
“Here in D.C the defense cuts get most of the attention—but across America, all the automatic cuts would be deeply damaging to families and communities.”
We don’t need to extend tax cuts for the rich to do tax reform
“You know, I’ve also heard the claim made that we need to extend all the tax cuts to give us time to reform the tax code. Well, we absolutely need to reform the tax code. It’s badly broken. And I am certainly willing to discuss a fast-track process for getting that done. But there is absolutely no reason—not one—that we need to extend the tax cuts for the rich as a precondition for reforming the tax code.”
“And when we do get to work on this, Republicans are going to have to accept that tax reform isn’t going to be a backdoor way for them sneak through more tax cuts for the rich. And it is going to have to raise revenue to help rein in the deficit and debt.”


“Budget Priorities, Values, and the Path Forward”
Senator Patty Murray Speech at the Brookings Institution
Monday, July 16, 2012


“Thank you so much Ron for that introduction. I am so glad to be here today to discuss this issue with so many of you who have been working on this for so long. I want to thank the Budgeting for National Priorities project at Brookings for hosting us here today, as well as the great members of the panel we will be hearing from shortly, and all of you for taking the time to be a part of this discussion.
“As you all know, last August I was asked by Majority Leader Reid to co-chair the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the supercommittee, as it was commonly called. This certainly wasn’t the most sought-after job in Congress, as you may imagine, it was probably just a notch below DSCC chair, but I agreed to do it because I thought it represented a few important opportunities.
“The opportunity to avoid the pain of sequestration that would be triggered if no deal was made, of course; to pass a responsible long-term deficit reduction plan with a simple majority, a guaranteed vote in the House, and no ability for it to be filibustered in the Senate, which is no small deal these days; and also, after years of partisan rancor culminating in a truly ugly and absolutely unnecessary debt ceiling battle, the opportunity to finally show the American people their government wasn’t broken, that we could come together when we needed to.
“Well, as everyone in this room knows, the supercommittee was not successful. We couldn’t come to a bipartisan deal. And the reasons for that, the lessons learned from those four months of intense bipartisan talks, are absolutely critical as we face the exact same issues heading into the end of the year and the so-called fiscal cliff.
“Because if we want a different outcome, if we want to come together around the balanced and bipartisan deficit reduction deal the American people expect and deserve, something is going to have to change.
“So today I want to talk about the vision, values, and priorities that drive my approach to tackling our budget challenges. And I am going to contrast that with what I see as the short-sighted and deeply flawed vision that has been dominating the Republican Party.
“I will run through how these contrasting visions played out in the specifics of the supercommittee negotiations and the recent budget debates, and then I will lay out how I see the path forward as we head toward the end of this year.
“My approach to this issue starts with my family. It starts with a story that probably isn’t so different from stories told by families across the country. I was born and raised in Bothell, Washington, in a big, loving family. My dad ran a five and ten cents store on Main Street, and everyone in our family helped out at the store. My family certainly was not rich, but we didn’t feel deprived in any way.
“But when I turned 15, things started to change. My dad, a World War II veteran, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In a few short years, his illness got so bad he couldn't work anymore. My mom, who had stayed home to raise our family, had to take care of him. But she also needed to get a job so she could support our family. She found some work, but it didn’t pay enough to support me and my six brothers and sisters—and a husband with growing medical bills.
“Without warning, our family had fallen on hard times. But thankfully, we lived in a country where the government didn't just say ‘tough luck.’ My dad was a veteran—so we got some help from the VA for medical care. For several months, our family had to rely on food stamps. They were not much, but they kept food on the table while we figured things out.
“To get a better paying job, my mom needed some training. Fortunately, at the time there was a federal program that helped her attend Lake Washington Vocational School, where she got a two-year degree in accounting, and eventually, a better job. And my brothers and sisters and I were all able to go to college through federal grants and student loans.
“Like millions of families across America, we got by with a little bit of luck. We pulled through with a lot of hard work. And while I’d like to say we were strong enough to make it on our own—I don’t think that’s really true.
“I know the support we got from our government was the difference between seven kids who might not have graduated from high school or college—and the seven adults we've grown up to be today—all college graduates, all working hard and paying taxes, and all doing our best to contribute back to our communities.
“So this is the primary prism I view our nation’s budget through. And it’s what guides me as I work in the Senate to impact the choices we make. Not that government can or should solve every problem—of course it shouldn’t, and it can’t.
“But that we are a nation that has always come together to stand with families like mine. To invest in our people, our communities, our future—and to build the most robust middle class the world has ever seen. That a budget is not just numbers on a page. That despite what you may think if you listened in to some of the debates we’ve been having recently—the word ‘budget’ is not just a synonym for deficit reduction.
“That it is not just about charts, graphs, and trajectories we often hear about—though those are important too. But that a budget tells the story of the kind of nation we are, and the kind of nation we want to be. And that it is a statement of our values, our priorities—and our vision. Or at least, that’s what it ought to be.
“These ideas led to some very clear goals going into the supercommittee. First, I thought everything needed to be on the table when we started. This didn’t mean members were supposed to check their values at the door, but it did mean we had the best chance of success if members didn’t rule out any changes to entire swaths of the federal budget before we even began.
“Second, I felt very strongly that any deal had to be balanced and include both spending cuts and new revenue. The middle class and most vulnerable Americans had already sacrificed so much—they’ve lost their homes—or see them drop in price, they’ve lost jobs—or their life savings—and they shouldn’t be called on to continue bearing the burden of deficit reduction alone.
“Third, I wanted to make sure we didn’t let the very real need to tackle our deficit and debt cause us to cut off the most critical investments in our families and our future, or set aside the values and priorities that have made America great.
“Fourth, I wanted to do a big deal. A grand bargain. I was willing to consider a small deal to avoid the pain of sequestration, but I thought that should be a last resort. I wanted us to truly put our country on track to tackle the debt and deficit— not simply continue lurching from crisis to crisis. And I was willing to make the tough compromises required to get there.
“But unfortunately, while there are many Republicans who share these goals—who see the value of a government that works for middle class families, their party has been dominated by an extreme ideological strain that allows itself only to think in terms of cutting, shrinking, and eliminating—and never in terms of investing, growing, and fairness.
“They have a vision for our country in which families like mine wouldn’t have gotten a hand up—we would have been left to fend for ourselves. A vision best articulated by one of their ideological leaders, Grover Norquist, who said: ‘I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.’
“Grover Norquist, by the way, was kind enough to wish me luck on the supercommittee by telling reporters that ‘the lady from Washington doesn’t do budgets.’
“And he has elicited a pledge from almost every single Republican member of Congress to never, under any circumstances, raise taxes by even a penny, despite the fact that the wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest rates in generations, and the federal government is taking in the lowest levels of revenue in decades.
Unfortunately, far too many Republicans have latched onto this deeply damaging ideology.
“They pay lip-service to deficit reduction, but what they actually seem to be concerned about is cutting taxes for the rich and starving programs that help middle class families and the most vulnerable Americans. If Republicans really thought the deficit was the most pressing issue, you wouldn’t have seen their presidential nominee say he would reject a deal to cut $10 in spending for every $1 in tax increases. You wouldn’t see them doing everything possible to protect the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
“You would see far more interest among their leaders in Congress in compromising with Democrats to get the grand bargain everyone in this room understands we need. And you wouldn’t see their single-minded focus on slashing non-defense discretionary spending which makes up only 16% of our federal budget, is already shrinking, and provides critical support for families and investments in our future.
“So it was with very different visions and priorities that the two sides came into the supercommittee last year. I understood it would be difficult, but I knew Democrats were ready to compromise and open to the concessions a balanced and bipartisan deal would require. And I was hopeful Republicans were as well.
“The first day the supercommittee met as a group, we went around the table and each talked about what we wanted to accomplish. We shared coffee, runny eggs, and our hopes for the months ahead.
“Democrats discussed our priorities and willingness to put everything on the table to get to a balanced deal. We discussed our desire to continue working to cut spending responsibly. We talked about our willingness to tackle entitlements and make sure they were strengthened in a way that ensured they would be there for our children and grandchildren. We highlighted the need to responsibly reduce defense spending while making sure our national security needs were addressed.
“We laid out our belief that in a fragile economy with millions of Americans out of work, it made sense to invest in the short-term, while putting our nation on a path to long-term debt and deficit reduction. And of course, we discussed the need for a balanced approach that included revenue.
“But Republicans opened in a very different way. One said defense cuts were off the table and indicated that instead of trying to go big, the group should focus on doing the opposite. He wanted us to go small. Republicans pushed for us to focus on the so-called ‘low hanging fruit’ from prior negotiations before working on any of the tougher issues. Meaning, they wanted to start by locking in and agreeing to all of the spending cuts identified as potentially working in a larger deal, but none of the revenue increases that woul

Posted at 06:43 am by thecommonills
 

Monday, July 16, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Monday, July 16, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, oil remains a source of squabble, the UN expresses concern over Iraqi children, John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry (again) begs for more time, the political crisis continues, and more.
 
 
Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) boils down the big Iraq news out of England down to one quote from the Iraq Inquiry, "The Inquiry has advised the Prime Minister that it will be in a position to being the process of writing to any individuals that may be criticized by the middle of 2013."  James Tapsfield (Independent) points out, "The findings about the run-up to the 2003 invasion and its aftermath had originally been expected by the end of last year. The timing was then put back to this summer."  Of the latest development, James Blitz (Financial Times of London) predicts it's "a development that will trigger anger among MPs at the slow pace of the inquiry." Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) does the math, "So far the Inquiry has cost 6.1 million pounds, and the extra year of information-gathering is expected to cost the public purse around 1.4 million pounds more."  Steve Bell (Guardian) offers a visual take on the news (political cartoon).    Gavin Stamp (BBC News) explains, "The BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera said there had been an ongoing row between the inquiry and the Cabinet Office over certain documents - particularly notes sent by former prime minister Tony Blair to President Bush and records of their discussions in the run-up to the conflict."  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) adds, "O'Donnell told Chilcot that releasing Blair's notes would damage Britain's relations with the US and would not be in the public interest. 'We have attached particular importance to protecting the privacy of the channel between the prime minister and president,' he said."  And the end result? The Daily Mail breaks it down: "It means the committee's final judgment will not be delivered until at least a decade after the war."
 
Yesterday, Nick Hopkins (Guardian) reported, "Speaking for the first time about her experiences, Emma Sky also questioned why no officials on either side of the Atlantic have been held to account for the failures in planning before the invasion."  Who?  Sky was a Spring 2011 Resident Fellow at Harvard and from their bio on her:
 
Emma Sky left Iraq in September 2010, where she had served for three years as Political Advisor to General Odierno, the US General commanding all US forces in Iraq, had worked directly for General Petraeus on reconciliation and had been the Governorate Coordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority back in 2003/2004. In the intervening years, Sky had served in Jerusalem as Political Advisor to General Ward, the US Security Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process; and as Advisor to the Italian and British Commanding Generals of the NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2006.
As a British, female, civilian, with a background in international development and strong anti-war credentials, it seemed unlikely that Sky would become advisor and confidante to some of America's finest military leaders. And certainly it has been quite a journey for someone who did not support either the Iraq war or the Afghanistan war.
 
 
Nick Hopkins has the first series of extensive interviews with Sky.  From the first one, we'll note Sky saying this:
 
We'd have power point presentations with pictures of men who've had half their brains blown out. Some things you never forget … the smell of burning bodies. I didn't want to learn to cope with these images. The military talk about KIAs (killed in action). That's how they cope. They don't say, the victims were women and children. There was so much violence that it was almost too big to comprehend. The military has a language that is not accidental, it is used to quarantine emotion. Everyday we would hear reports that another 60 or 70 bodies had turned up, heads chopped off or drilled through. It was absolutely horrific. We could tell which groups had been behind the attacks by the way the victims had been killed.
 
Violence in Iraq continues today.  All Iraq News reports a Kazak roadside bombing has left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead.  Alsumaria notes that, northwest of Baquba, unknown assailants shot dead (with machine guns) a Sahwa who was leaving his home while southwest of Baquba a security checkpoint was bombed, a Tikrit car bombing left five people injured, a 21-year-old man was discovered drowned in Zab River and four of his friends have been arrested in the death, an attack in the Abu Ghraib section of Baghdad left 1 employee of the Ministry of Electricity dead and, Sunday night for the last two, 1 corpse was discovered (25-year-old man, strangleed) in Kirkuk, and 1 Sahwa was shot dead last night in Tarmmiyah near his home.  That's 7 deaths and five injured so far in today's news cycle.  (The Sunday night events were not reported on Sunday.)   Violence continued over the weekend as well. Xinhua reports of Sunday's violence: 1 person shot dead in Baquba, 1 "young girl" shot dead by her Muqdadiyah home, a bombing attack on the Baquba home of a Sawha leader which left fifteen injured and an al-Tahrir grenade attack that left one police officer injured.  AFP notes a Rashidiyah attack which left 9 security forces dead and two more injured and an attack in Hammam al-Alili attack which left four people injured.  Iraq Body Count tabulates178 deaths from violence so far this month.
 
 
 
 
 
The oil corporations wanted to wait until there was a permanent government in Iraq so they could have secure contracts. The first permanent post Sudan government was formed in May 2006 under Nouri al-Maliki, and in the months -- even the months before that -- the U.S., Britain, the International Monetary Fund were saying your first priority has to be pass an oil law to give multinationals leading role in Iraq's oil industry again for the first time since the nationalization of the 1970s. And then, this oil law was drafted very quickly after the government was formed. It was drafted in couple of months by August 2006. As well as putting multinationals in the driving seat, its other role was to deprive their contracts of parliamentary scrutiny. According to existing Iraqi law, if the government signs a contract with a company like BP or Exxon to develop an oil field, it has to show it to parliament to get the yes or no or amendments. One of the major functions of the oil law was to repeal that existing legislation and so allow the executive branch, which was of course populated by U.S. allies, to sign contracts without Parliament getting in the way. So, this was the function of the oil law, it was drafted by August 2006. The U.S. hoped it would pass very quickly without anyone knowing about it because the vast majority of Iraqis are very keen that oil stays in the Iraqi hands in the public sector. It didn't turn out that way.
In October 2006, two months after it was drafted, the draft started to leak out. In December 2006, I attended a meeting of Iraq's trade unions at which they decided they were going to fight the law. During the course of 2007, this became a central struggle over Iraq's oil. As you remember, Amy, in January 2007, President Bush announced a surge; he was sending an extra troops into Iraq. Actually that was on half of a two part strategy. The troops were sent to achieve control over Iraq. The second part of the strategy was to use that control, use that influence, to pressure Iraqi politicians to achieve what they call benchmarks. These were marker of political progress. As you reported at the time, the foremost among these was getting an oil law passed. So, throughout 2007, there is constant pressure from the Bush administration on Iraqi politicians. But, at the same time, the trade unions were organizing to try and stop this oil law because they thought it was going to be a disaster for the country. That campaign spread, and because of the strength of Iraqi feeling about it, over the subsequent months, the more it was talked about, the more people opposed it and then the more it was talked about, and opposition to the oil law spread across the country. Civil society groups, both secular and religious, was talked-about in Friday sermons in mosques. And by the summer, this opposition spread into the Iraqi parliament and it became -- politicians saw it as a political threat to their futures to support the oil law, and an opportunity to get one up on their rivals by joining this popular cause. The Americans had set a deadline of September 2007 to pass the oil law or face a series of consequences; cutting off aid, removing military support to the Maliki government etc. The September deadline came and the oil law wasn't passed, and the reason the oil law was not passed was because of this grassroots civil society campaign. Now, to me, that is a very inspiring story. It's why I feel hopeful about the future of Iraq. That operating in the most difficult circumstances imaginable, civil society was able to stop the U.S.A. of achieving its number one objective.
 
 FYI, that's one interpretation and you can determine it's validity  for yourself.  I would pick apart several minor points, but overall would agree with the above.  With the above.  A few weeks back, Muttitt wrote a piece of nonsense after Brett McGurk was no longer a nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq.  He wanted to dismiss the affair with a journalist.  What Gina Chon did means she should never report again.  But it was just as wrong for McGurk.  What he did was in violation of US policies.  And he knew it which is why he hid it from Ryan Crocker -- as he admitted in an e-mail to Chon that was published.  For a reporter to sleep with a source is bad enough.  For her to then allow him to vet her copy is even worse.  By the same token, public servants aren't supposed to be secretly influencing their press.  But that's what McGurk did. 
 
If he'd had an affair with a nurse, doctor, diplomat, etc., that would have been different.  The backpedeling on the Chon-McGurk scandal has really been something to see.  And it's going to be a scandal years from now.  Lot of 'last reporters standing' types are going to continue to churn out their cut and paste 'books' and, within five years, they'll have to include Chon-McGurk.  It's too big of an ethics story to ignore.  And when they do, let's hope that their book tours find many, many people asking, "Why didn't you weigh in in real time?"  And let's hope the answer of "I was carrying water for the administration" is greeted with the proper boos it deserves.
 
In that idiotic post that Muttitt wrote, he also wanted to say the 'surge' was bad but the 'surge' was good.  Granted, he insisted it wasn't noble but he went with the tired myth that the "surge" "created the conditions for sectarian bloodshed to subside."  If you mean the increase in the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq allowed those Iraqis targeted  who couldn't flee to be hemmed in and hunted, absolutely.  But I don't think that's what he means.  Ethnic cleansing took place.  If you're on the left and you can't push that fact foward, then you need to hop on over to the right because you're not helping anyone on the topic of Iraq.  The "civil war" (ethnic cleansing) killed an unknown number -- still unknown -- and also forced the mass fleeing that created the biggest refugee crisis in the MidEast since 1948. 
 
Equally true, Muttitt's history ignores the Democrats and the Democrats are very much a part of the benchmarks.  In real time, here, we repeatedly pushed back at the lie that these were Democratic benchmarks.  They were the White House's benchmarks.  But the Democrats wanted some form of benchmarks.  Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray (Washington Post, May 3, 2007) reported, "House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) indicated that the next bill will include benchmarks for Iraq -- such as passing a law to share oil revenue, quelling religious violence and disarming sectarian militias -- to keep its government on course. Failure to meet benchmarks could cost Baghdad billions of dollars in nonmilitary aid, and the administration would be required to report to Congress every 30 days on the military and political situation in Iraq."
 
 
Iraq may be of the richest oil regions in the world but all that excess oil has not translated into fewer squabbles than in other regions.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that Nouri al-Maliki's Baghdad-based government is thundering to the Turkish government about a deal that they made with the KRG to export "crude oil and gas to Turkey."  Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh insists that the deal "is illegal and illegitimate" when, in fact, it's not.  It could be.
 
Those benchmarks we were talking about -- Nouri agreed to pass an oil and gas law.  He never did.  And while the one the US wanted was awful for Iraq, nothing prevented him from proposing something different but he never did.  And what's he proposing now?  Saturday, Al Mada reported more on the Thursday night meeting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Nouri asked that several bills introduced in previous sessions -- included the oil & gas draft -- be considered this session and Osama agreed.  So Nouri's still pushing that law -- one the Parliament doesn't want or hasn't thus far.  He could push something different but he chooses not to. 
 

Without a national oil  and gas law, there's nothing preventing the KRG from making deals on the oil in their semi-autonomous region.  Maybe if Nouri had gotten off his lazy ass and did what he was supposed to in 2007, he'd have a valid complaint today.  All the lethargic tend to do is complain -- at that Nouri excels. 

Raheem Salman, Sylvia Westall and Stephen Powell (Reuters) add that Ali al-Dabbagh threatened that the deal could harm Baghdad's relationship with Ankara.  And all along, we all thought the biggest harm to the relationship between Baghdad and Anakra was Nouri's big mouth.  KUNA reports the response from Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Selcuk Unal, "The conflict is between the government in Baghdad and the Kurdish administration and Turkey has no role in it."

The Journal of Turkish Weekly quotes an unnamed Turkish official stating, "If there was a legal problem, we would not start exporting."  The journal notes that the back-and-forth is "the latest sign of cooling ties between Ankara and Baghdad, as well as between Baghdad and Arbil."  The Journal of Turkish Weekly also notes, "Turkey said on July 13 that it had begun importing 5 to 10 road tankers of crude oil a day from the northern region of Iraq and the volume could rise to 100-200 tankers per day."
 
 There's still no heads to the security ministries.  Nouri's failed to nominate them.  He was supposed to have done that by the end of 2010.  2012 is over half-way over and still no heads to the security ministries.  In the most recent development on that front, Al Mada notes whispers that Nouri's State of Law is stating that if members of Iraqiya want to be nominated to the security ministries then they need to withdraw from Iraqiya first. As violence has increased, Nouri's done nothing.

Last year, Iraqis took to the streets with a number of demands.  They wanted better security.  They also wanted their family and friends who were disappearing into the Iraqi 'legal' system to be treated fairly, to have their day in court and to be released when there was no reason to hold them. Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is calling on Nouri to follow the law with regards to prisoners, especially those facing execution, and noting that hundreds of innocent people remain in Iraqi prisons waiting years for trials that are repeatedly delayed.  They note that last September Amnesty International estimated there were at least 30,000 Iraqis in prisons still waiting for a trial.

The protesters had several demands.   They wanted the basic utilities fixed and improved -- potable water, dependable electricity.  That hasn't happened either.  As that demand continues to be ignored, Al Mada reports that women suffer more from the power outages than do men in Iraq and among the reasons they cite is that women are more often responsible for the household chores and those are chores that have to be done whether there's eletricity or not while Iraqi men can leave the home and, in addition to cleaning and laundry, women are also most often responsible for preparing meals and the power outages also effect the ability to store and keep food as well as the appliances themselves.  Meals during power outages, the paper notes, are often meals in which an electric oven, blender, other electrical appliane or refrigerator cannot be utilized. 


Last Thursday, Nouri met with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  Bit by bit, details leak out.  Al Rafidayn reports that State of Law's Yasin Majid states that the two men did not discuss the proposed no-confidence vote on Nouri during their meeting, that they only discussed draft laws.   All Iraq News reports that yesterday the PUK began working with the KDP and Goran (PUK and KDP are the two major political parties in the KRG; KRG President Massoud Barazani belongs to the KDP and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani belongs to the PUK; Goran -- also known as "Change" -- is a struggling third party) to discuss the no-confidence vote.  Alsumaria notes that National Alliance leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari visited Nujaifi's today and they discussed the never-ending political crisis with both sides agreeing that any solution must be Constitutional.

None of the issues that led Iraqis to take to the street last year have been addressed -- despite Nouri swearing, as February ended, that if the Iraqi people would just give him 100 days, he would fix things.  He didn't fix a damn thing.  So is it any surprise that Alsumaria reports residents of Kirkuk took to the streets yesterday to protest?

The people were protesting the imprisonments that Baghdad oversees in most of Iraq and that Erbil oversees in the KRG.  For those who have forgotten -- not hard to do since the US press misreported it -- this was what sparked the protests in Iraq.  It had nothing to do with the Arab Spring in other countries. The US press ignored the Iraq protests until they could pretend it was 'sparked' by the Arab Spring.  So a new wave of protests could be coming to Iraq.

Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri met with US Central Command General James Mattis on Sunday.  Why?  To ask the US to speed upt he delivery of weapons.  All Iraq News also covers the meeting and includes a photo of the two.  AFP adds, "The Iraqi premier also pointedly said during a meeting with General James Mattis, the visiting head of US Central Command, that only the central government would decide which arms purchases would be made, in an apparent swipe at Kurdish complaints over the acquisition of F-16 warplanes."  Defense World adds, "Iraq has agreed to acquire American military equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36 F-16 warplanes, tanks, artillery, helicopters and patrol boats which are not delivered for years to the Iraq." 
 
Turning to the US, Karen Jeffrey (Capecodoline) reports last week Iraq War veteran Vincent Mannion-Broudeur and his family were invited onstage at rock legend Stevie Nicks' concert and she dedicated "Soldier's Angel" to him "and all wounded warriors." 
 
I am a soldier's memory
As I write down these words
I try to write their stories
And explain them to the world
I float through the halls of the hospitals
I am a soldier's nurse
I keep the tears inside
And put them down in verse
-- "Soldier's Angel," written by Stevie Nicks, from her new album In Your Dreams
 
The two had met in 2007 when Stevie was on one of her regular visits to Walter Reed where she usually sits and talks to as many veterans as she can and also drops off iPods for them.  Stevie's on tour promoting her latest hit album and, as Kat noted Friday, then Stevie grabs some ribbons and some bows and gets back out on the road next year with her bandmates in Fleetwood Mac.
 
 
Onto radio,  Smiley and West -- Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West's weekly PRI radio program -- featured Rosanne Barr.  Early in the show, they played a clip from an episode of the classic TV show Roseanne.
 
Mike Summers:  Hi, I'm Mike Summers, your state representative.  How ya doing?
 
Roseanne:  Great.
 
Mike Summers:  Good.  I'm going door-to-door trying to get to know my constituents
 
Roseanne:  Oh. Door-to-door, huh?  That takes a lot of time. Why don't you just go down to the unemployment office and see everybody at once.
 
Mike Summers: I hear you.  And you're right.  We can't let this area's work force lay idle.  That's why bringing in new business is my number one priority.
 
Roseanne:  How?
 
Mike Summers:  Through tax incentives.  See, we're going to make it cheaper for out-of-state businesses to set up shop right here in Landford.
 
Roseanne:  So they get a tax break?
 
Mike Summers:  Yeah, that's why they come here.
 
Roseanne:  Well who's going to pay the taxes that they ain't paying?
 
Mike Summers:  Well -- you-you will.  But you'll be working.  Good, steady employment.
 
Roseanne:  Union wages?
 
Mike Summers:  Well now part of the reason these companies are finding it so expensive to operate in other locations --
 
Roseanne:  So they're going to dump the union so they can come here and hire us at scab wages and then, for that privilage, we get to pay their taxes.
 
Mike Summers:  Is your husband home?
 
That's from season four's "Aliens" episode written by Roseanne, Jeff Abugov, Joel Madison and Ron Nelson with a credit handed out to Matt Williams for doing nothing but trying to look pretty (he failed) while he stood around.  Mike Summers was played by Mark Blum.  Click here for the clip at YouTube.
 
 
Tavis Smiley: So given your understanding of how dysfunctional the process is, what even interests you -- or interested you -- to even want to put yourself on the ballot?
 
Roseanne Barr:  I wanted to see if it was possible, you know?  I wanted to see what it would be like to be the spokesperson for an idea -- to encourage people that maybe this time they didn't have to vote for the lesser of two evils, that maybe this time they would hear their highest ideals voiced by a candidate who they could vote for.
 
Tavis Smiley:  Mmm-hmm.
 
Roseanne Barr:  And I just wanted to, my experiment was how would that turn out?  Like watching how the money interests in this country -- specifically Citizens United and all the other things that -- since Reagan -- have sold our country and its people down the tubes and packed its bag and moved to another country with the jobs and the public money in their pocket too.
 
Tavis Smiley: Does this seem in some ways like deja vu for you? Talking about the sitcom and what it was about and when it aired?  Does this moment in American history have a deja vu moment for you?
 
Roseanne Barr:  It does in so many ways because in so many ways it's sad because, oh, I tried so hard.  I tried to tell people what was coming. Of course, I was rewarded handsomely.   But, of course, like a lot of professional athletes who get like contracts for 20 million to play a sport and that looks like a lot of money 'till you look at what the owners are taking down.  So I did become rich but I didn't become anywhere near as rich as the people I was working for who made billions when I made a few millions and did all the work.  So I tried to tell people, I put myself on the line every week on that show and my whole life and everything to let the American people know what was coming that they were being marginalized by their own government and robbed.  And, you know, here it is and it's just like now when I watch my show, it's even more relevant now then it was then because it's all happening and everybody sees it now.  It's not a big secret.  And it's not just a small group of people who know, now everybody knows.
 
Roseanne will not be the Green Party presidential nominee.  But she's not out of the race according to her Twitter feed this election which includes:
 

please leave your name and the cabinet job u could perform in my administration- thanks! I already have 900 ppl signed up! need thousands

 
 
 
 
I like Roseanne.  Ann, Ava and I wrote "Roseanne: The Green Party's greatest gift in 2012" for Third yesterday.  There are e-mails to the public account assuming that because I know and like her I will be voting for her if she sticks to her independent run.  And that I plan to do that without ever announcing it until the last minute.  In other words, this argument says I'm full of s**t. 
 
I'm sure I am full of it for many reasons. But that's not one of them.
 
But while I applaud Roseanne for many things and think she could accomplish a great deal in an independent run (including making the Green Party stand up), I wouldn't vote for her for president. 
 
Go back to the Tavis Smiley and Cornel West interview.  There's no logic there or straight thinking -- only fear.
 
 
Roseanne 'dislikes' Mormons.  I'm not tossing out anything that's not well known -- read her first book and her second book if this is news to you.  Her remarks about Mitt Romeny are  fear-based.  I love Roseanne but I don't trust her because she's governed by a lifetime of fear with regards to Mormons and that's why she's making crazy statements about how if Mitt wins the White House in 2012 that could be the last election.
 
To which I say, Roseanne, put down the bong and let go of your childhood.  Truly, America has enough fears without you adding baseless ones to them. 
 
In Roseanne's 'logic,' Mitt is buying the  2012 election.  And what, Roseanne?  He doesn't have the money to buy it twice?  He's going to buy it once and then outlaw voting?  That's not going to happen. That's insanity and the fears of a little non-Mormon girl growing up scared and frightened  in Utah.   I don't have a high tolerance for those who try to instill fear.  You try to scare me and I'm going to yawn and be ticked off at you for thinking you could force me into doing what you want me to do by scaring me. 
 
 
That doesn't mean she needs to drop out or if she expands her independent campaign (Green Tea Party) beyond Twitter, we won't cover it.  Of course we will.  I hope she expands into a full -- offline -- run for the office.  But it does mean I'm not voting for her.  So, no, I will not be voting for Roseanne. I think she's a wonderful comedian, a great actress, a lively author but I think she's still too governed by fear to lead.   And I refuse to be.
 
And that, cleaned up, is the sort of response the Jill Stein campaign needs to have to Roseanne.  The Stein campaign needs to be saying things like, "We refuse to live in fear, we refuse to be governed by fear."
 
Monica Hesse (Washington Post) reports on the Green Party convention and wrongly notes that Roseanne was in Hawaii.  She taped the interview with Tavis in New York City.  She taped that mid-week, last week.  If she was in Hawaii on Saturday, it was because she choce to fly out there.  Her being in Hawaii was not an excuse for her to skip out on the convention.  She announced Wednesday (see "Roseanne Barr's sour grapes" and "Stein's choice is Honkala") that she would not be attending the convention.  The best part of Hesse's article is probably this: "While the rest of America either pits Romney as a corporate robot or Obama as a socialist maniac, the people at this convention see them both as the same thing: bad Romney is like the school bully, says Ben Manski, Stein's campaign chief, but Obama is like the guy who says he'll help you fight the bully, then doesn't show up.  The Greens have had enough."
 
At Jezebel Doug Barry appears to take issue with media coverage of Cheri Honkala "whose epithet in NPR's report is "formerly homeless single mother."  In her Weekend Edition Sunday (NPR -- link is audio, text and transcript), Allison Keyes does refer to Jill Stein's running mate as a "formerly homeless single mother."  But she does so because that's what Cheri Honkala declared in her acceptance speech on Saturday.  Ann, Ava and I covered this at Third:
 
In accepting the vice presidential nomination on Saturday, Cheri Honkala declared, "I stand here today as a formerly homeless mother, a single mother of two children, Mark [Webber] and Guillermo Santos."
[Disclosure C.I. loosely knows Mark Webber and finds him impressive. C.I. also knows Roseanne and finds her "inspiring and insightful."]
That's an interesting story.  It's one that goes to her experience and her qualifications.
She continued, "Something just didn't seem right to me, especially that day when I had to tell my nine-year-old son Mark that we were no longer going to be living in an apartment.  Instead, we would have to move in to our car.  But on a cold winter night in Minnesota, I lost my home the car when I parked my car and a drunk driver hit and totaled it.  Unable to find shelter in the dead of the winter in Minnesota, I faced an important decision: Occupy a heated, abandoned house or risk freezing to death on the streets of America."
 
Ian Wilder (On The Wilderside) noted Sunday, "After spending the whole year exclusively convering only the two corporate party candidates.  Democracy Now! breaks away [Friday]  to give a third party candidate some coverage.  Unfortunately, this is the same timing chosen by the corporate media such as the New York Times because it is the Green Party Presidential convention.  Please let Democracy Now! know that you expect them to live up to their name and give equal time to third party candidates throughout the remainder of the presidential race.  Democracy Now! is supposed to be the War and Peace Report, they should give equal time to peace candidates such as Jill Stein that they give to war candidates such as Obama and Romney."  I think Ian Wilder is 100% correct and if you care about the Green Party, a level playing field, basic fairness, independent media making a point to cover independents or any combination, you should support Ian's call.
 
We'll note Stein's campaign again this week.  If Roseanne goes beyond Twitter, we'll note her campaign.  I have no plans to vote.  The fear tactics* have wiped me out and killed my interest. (*Fear tactics include the Democrats misguided "War on Women."  Yes, there is a War on Women. No, the Democratic Party's hands are not clean.  And some of the same women who stabbed Hillary in the back in 2008 are kidding themselves if they think most women are going to take them seriously in 2012 as suddenly now they're concerned about the way women are treated.)  We will cover women who run for the presidency.  Good to know that Jezebel will as well (click here for notable outlets that won't bother to cover women who run for the presidency).  We'll close with this from the Michigan Green Party.
 
 
Press Release
For Immediate Release
For more information contact John Anthony La Pietra, elections coordinator for Michigan:
 
(269)781-9478 or email at jalp@triton.net
Michigan Makes Significant Showing At Green Party National Convention
Michigan Greens had a strong presence among the thirty-four states represented at the Green Party's national convention in Baltimore this past weekend. Michigan was represented not only by ten delegates and six proxy votes, but also with a featured speech to the delegates by activist Reverend Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor.
The Green Party of Michigan earned ballot access in 2000 with a successful petition campaign and has maintained access every year since. For the November election, Michigan voters have a choice of Green candidates on all levels of government throughout the state, including for President and Vice-President of the United States.
Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts, the officially nominated Green Party candidate for President, has promoted a "Green New Deal" - a series of policies designed to undo the damage done by the previous administrations' poor management of the country without the continuing downturn assured with either a Democratic or Republican president. Her running mate, Cheri Honkala of Pennsylvania, ran for sheriff of Philadelphia and campaigned against unjust foreclosures and evictions.
Dr. Stein has already toured Michigan twice, and raised enough in individual contributions here to help her become the first Green Party member to qualify for Federal matching funds. At the national convention, Michigan delegates gave Dr. Stein nine of their 16 votes, in proportion to the first-choice votes in the state party's straw poll tallied at the state convention.
Visit http://www.jillstein.org/ for more information on the Stein-Honkala campaign. For a list of Green candidates nominated by the party in Michigan, visit the "Elections 2012" tab of GPMI's new Website (http://www.MIGreenParty.org/node/13).
 
# # #

Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala campaign Website:

Green Party of Michigan candidates for 2012:
 

Posted at 05:51 pm by thecommonills
 

Violence is still around, are protests coming back?

Violence is still around, are protests coming back?

Violence in Iraq continues today.  All Iraq News reports a Kazak roadside bombing has left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead.  Alsumaria notes that, northwest of Baquba, unknown assailants shot dead (with machine guns) a Sahwa who was leaving his home while southwest of Baquba a security checkpoint was bombed, a Tikrit car bombing left five people injured, a 21-year-old man was discovered drowned in Zab River and four of his friends have been arrested in the death, an attack in the Abu Ghraib section of Baghdad left 1 employee of the Ministry of Electricity dead and, Sunday night for the last two, 1 corpse was discovered (25-year-old man, strangleed) in Kirkuk, and 1 Sahwa was shot dead last night in Tarmmiyah near his home.  That's 7 deaths and five injured so far in today's news cycle.  (The Sunday night events were not reported on Sunday.)   Violence continued over the weekend as well. Xinhua reports of Sunday's violence: 1 person shot dead in Baquba, 1 "young girl" shot dead by her Muqdadiyah home, a bombing attack on the Baquba home of a Sawha leader which left fifteen injured and an al-Tahrir grenade attack that left one police officer injured.  AFP notes a Rashidiyah attack which left 9 security forces dead and two more injured and an attack in Hammam al-Alili attack which left four people injured.  Iraq Body Count tabulates178 deaths from violence so far this month.

ibc

Remember when Iraqis marched and protested for better security?  There's still no heads to the security ministries.  Nouri's failed to nominate them.  He was supposed to have done that by the end of 2010.  2012 is over half-way over and still no heads to the security ministries.  In the most recent development on that front, Al Mada notes whispers that Nouri's State of Law is stating that if members of Iraqiya want to be nominated to the security ministries then they need to withdraw from Iraqiya first. As violence has increased, Nouri's done nothing.

Last year, Iraqis took to the streets with a number of demands.  They wanted better security.  They also wanted their family and friends who were disappearing into the Iraqi 'legal' system to be treated fairly, to have their day in court and to be released when there was no reason to hold them. Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is calling on Nouri to follow the law with regards to prisoners, especially those facing execution, and noting that hundreds of innocent people remain in Iraqi prisons waiting years for trials that are repeatedly delayed.  They note that last September Amnesty International estimated there were at least 30,000 Iraqis in prisons still waiting for a trial.

The protesters had several demands.   They wanted the basic utilities fixed and improved -- potable water, dependable electricity.  That hasn't happened either.  As that demand continues to be ignored, Al Mada reports that women suffer more from the power outages than do men in Iraq and among the reasons they cite is that women are more often responsible for the household chores and those are chores that have to be done whether there's eletricity or not while Iraqi men can leave the home and, in addition to cleaning and laundry, women are also most often responsible for preparing meals and the power outages also effect the ability to store and keep food as well as the appliances themselves.  Meals during power outages, the paper notes, are often meals in which an electric oven, blender, other electrical appliane or refrigerator cannot be utilized. 


Last Thursday, Nouri met with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  Bit by bit, details leak out.  Al Rafidayn reports that State of Law's Yasin Majid states that the two men did not discuss the proposed no-confidence vote on Nouri during their meeting, that they only discussed draft laws.   All Iraq News reports that yesterday the PUK began working with the KDP and Goran (PUK and KDP are the two major political parties in the KRG; KRG President Massoud Barazani belongs to the KDP and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani belongs to the PUK; Goran -- also known as "Change" -- is a struggling third party) to discuss the no-confidence vote.  Alsumaria notes that National Alliance leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari visited Nujaifi's today and they discussed the never-ending political crisis with both sides agreeing that any solution must be Constitutional.

None of the issues that led Iraqis to take to the street last year have been addressed -- despite Nouri swearing, as February ended, that if the Iraqi people would just give him 100 days, he would fix things.  He didn't fix a damn thing.  So is it any surprise that Alsumaria reports residents of Kirkuk took to the streets yesterday to protest?

The people were protesting the imprisonments that Baghdad oversees in most of Iraq and that Erbil oversees in the KRG.  For those who have forgotten -- not hard to do since the US press misreported it -- this was what sparked the protests in Iraq.  It had nothing to do with the Arab Spring in other countries. The US press ignored the Iraq protests until they could pretend it was 'sparked' by the Arab Spring.  So a new wave of protests could be coming to Iraq.

Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri met with US Central Command General James Mattis on Sunday.  Why?  To ask the US to speed upt he delivery of weapons.  All Iraq News also covers the meeting and includes a photo of the two.  AFP adds, "The Iraqi premier also pointedly said during a meeting with General James Mattis, the visiting head of US Central Command, that only the central government would decide which arms purchases would be made, in an apparent swipe at Kurdish complaints over the acquisition of F-16 warplanes."  Defense World adds, "Iraq has agreed to acquire American military equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36 F-16 warplanes, tanks, artillery, helicopters and patrol boats which are not delivered for years to the Iraq." 

Let's see, to break up the ongoing protests last year, Nouri had his security arrest, abduct and torture and he had his goons beat up on protesters and threaten them in Iraq's Liberation Square.  What might he have done to the protesters if he had F-16s back then?  The world may soon find out.


Kazim Habib (Al Mada) surveys the political scene and notes how the Iraqi Communist Party rushed to prop up Nouri recently -- without waiting for any proof or evidence that Nouri had changed or was going to be welcoming ot others and now the two form a 'friendship,' ignoring that the Dawa Party has long wanted to eradicate the Communist Party, stressing it's opposition to secularism and modernity.


In other news, Al Mada reports allegations that some beggars in Baghdad are less than honest and offer an example of a woman who is alleged to have burned her 4-year-old grandson to increase the likelihood that people would provide money.





The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 07:57 am by thecommonills
 

Nouri's own inaction caused his oil problems today

Nouri's own inaction caused his oil problems today

Iraq may be of the richest oil regions in the world but all that excess oil has not translated into fewer squabbles than in other regions.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports thatNouri al-Maliki's Baghdad-based government is thundering to the Turkish government about a deal that they made with the KRG to export "crude oil and gas to Turkey."  Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh insists that the deal "is illegal and illegitimate" when, in fact, it's not.  It could be.

In the 2006 US mid-term elections, the Democrats won control of the House and Senate and a new political landscape was created.  The Democrats, like the voters who put them in control of both houses of Congress, were weary of the never-ending war and tired of the constant (false) proclamations of power.  They wanted metrics to measure alleged "progress" or else, they (falsely) said, they'd cut off funding for the war.  So the White House quickly (January 2007) came up with benchmarks for success.  And Nouri (who was prime minister even then -- there's no progress in Iraq) signed off on the 18 benchmarks.  Among those was an oil and gas law.  The benchmarks were supposed to happen in quick succession -- 1, 2, 3 -- but instead weren't accomplished in 2007 or in 2008 or since.  That's Nouri's 'leadership' for you.

Without a national oil  and gas law, there's nothing preventing the KRG from making deals on the oil in their semi-autonomous region.  Maybe if Nouri had gotten off his lazy ass and did what he was supposed to in 2007, he'd have a valid complaint today.  All the lethargic tend to do is complain -- at that Nouri excels.

Raheem Salman, Sylvia Westall and Stephen Powell (Reuters) add that Ali al-Dabbagh threatened that the deal could harm Baghdad's relationship with Ankara.  And all along, we all thought the biggest harm to the relationship between Baghdad and Anakra was Nouri's big mouth.

The Journal of Turkish Weekly quotes an unnamed Turkish official stating, "If there was a legal problem, we would not start exporting."  The journal notes that the back-and-forth is "the latest sign of cooling ties between Ankara and Baghdad, as well as between Baghdad and Arbil."  The Journal of Turkish Weekly also notes, "Turkey said on July 13 that it had begun importing 5 to 10 road tankers of crude oil a day from the northern region of Iraq and the volume could rise to 100-200 tankers per day."

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and this week they address the settelemtn between the ACLU and Canyon County, the EU Parliament's interest in CIA secret prisons and renditions, they discuss political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz (Black Liberation Army) with his daughter Theresa Shoatz and, with Glenn Greenwald, they discuss possible implications on the population from the surveillance state.  We'll close with this from Jack Hood's "Suicide crisis mounts for US soldiers and veterans" (WSWS):


Conditions facing active military service members and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan amount to nothing less than a social crisis. According to a report obtained from the Pentagon by the Associated Press, more American armed forces active service members have killed themselves in the first six months of 2012 than in the first six months of any of the previous 11 years.
The devastating report reveals that a total of 154 soldiers killed themselves in the first 155 days of 2012. The number of deaths by suicide is 50 percent higher than combat deaths in Afghanistan during the same period and represents an 18 percent increase over active service member suicides in the first six months of 2011.
Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, there has been an average of one suicide every 36 hours in the US armed forces. In 2011, 19.5 percent of all active duty deaths were suicides—the second highest cause of death. From 2005 to 2009 alone, over 1,100 soldiers killed themselves.
These disturbing statistics expose the inhumane hypocrisy of the American ruling class and their political representatives who have fanned the flames of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. To the ruling elite, soldiers are nothing more than disposable tools that deserve no attention when they return in shambles from the battlefield.



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 


Posted at 06:36 am by thecommonills
 

Sunday, July 15, 2012
Hejira

Hejira

A British woman who worked at the top of the US military during the most troubled periods of the Iraq war has said she fears the west has yet to see how some Muslims brought up in the last decade will seek revenge for the "war on terror".
Speaking for the first time about her experiences, Emma Sky also questioned why no officials on either side of the Atlantic have been held to account for the failures in planning before the invasion.
Sky, 44, was political adviser to America's most senior general in Iraq, and was part of the team that implemented the counterinsurgency strategy that helped to control the civil war that erupted in the country.


That's from Nick Hopkins' "Iraq war will haunt west, says Briton who advised US military" (Guardian).  She could be right.  It's also likely she'll be wrong.

If nothing changes in the future, "haunt" is a laughable term.  The US isn't haunted by the Iraq War now.  The media ensures they don't even hear about it.  We just wrote about that today at Third with "Editorial: The media's continued silence on Iraq."  Not even the death of a US soldier last week was enough to get serious attention from the US media on Iraq.

To be real honest, the media just doesn't care.  Reporters -- the few left -- are for the most part following campaigns and columnists can't be bothered with anything more taxing than churning out yet another column about who put a dog on top of a car (yes, Gail Collins, we mean you and all the time and space the New York Times allows you to waste).

Haunted?

The US media is in far too much denial for the country to become haunted by the illegal war.

Unless that changes (and it could), not only is Emma Sky incorrect, she's also incredibly naive when it comes to the way the US works.

She's probably correct in her assessment that the illegal war will mean future actions from people who see it as part of a war on Muslims.  But if attacks come in ten or twenty years, she may be kidding herself that the media will connect it back to the Iraq War.

Donald Rumsfeld's meetings with Saddam Hussein in previous administrations wasn't really acknowledged by the corporate media nor was the go-ahead that the Poppy Bush administration gave to Iraq (via US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie) to attack Kuwait.

Gore Vidal has called it the United States of Amenesia -- this refusal to connect current events back to their precipitating moment.  Not only is there a refusal but those attempting to do so will usually be labeled "divisive" and ridiculed.

So if, in 2037, the Space Needle in Seattle is blown up and it's done by people who see the Iraq War as part of a war on Muslims, the attack will be greeted with cries of "How?" and "Why?" from the media.  There will be no serious exploration and those who try to explore the roots will be demonized the way Susan Sontag was.

If you've forgotten, Sontag participated in a Talk of the Town roundtable on September 11th for The New Yorker and this was what she contributed:



The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.
Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy.
Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be.


She was attacked for that.  She was labeled unAmerican and worse.  The attacks came from the right and the left. 

Emma Sky may end up being right.  If something does happen, I would hope she was right and that connections would be made and openly discussed.  But nothing in American history of the last fifty or so years provides any support for her predictions.



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

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.


New content at Third:


Isaiah will have a comic later in the week.  We worked too late on Third and everyone's tired.




 The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.






Posted at 10:54 pm by thecommonills
 

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Violence, waste and the political crisis continue

Violence, waste and the political crisis continue

Safa Rashed

That's Safa Rashed, Iraqi weighlifter.  12 days until the Summer Olympics kick off in London.  Safa will be one of eight Iraqis competing this year. Another will be Dania Hussein, Iraqi runner.

Dania Hussein


 Hussein will be participating in the 100 meter run.  This will be her second Olympic appearance, she also competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing.   We'll again note what  Emily Alpert (Los Angeles Times) reported earlier this week, "For the first time in Olympic history, every country will have a woman competing on its team, including longtime holdout Saudi Arabia, the International Olympic Committee announced Thursday. Brunei and Qatar will also send female athletes to the London Games for the first time."  Again, the Summer Olympics kick off in 12 days.  Screen snaps from this Alsumaria video report.


Dropping back to  yesterday's snapshot:


Earlier this week, Sylvia Westall (Reuters) reported on Iraq's art scene, specifically Baghdad where  some of the  musicians who fled the country earlier are returning. Westall notes the musical history.  Excerpt.
Several nights later Tunisian revolutionary singer Emel Mathlouthi performed at a social club in the capital to an audience of diplomats, Iraqi officials, students and teachers at a concert organised by the French Institute.
Tariq Safa al-Din, the Alwiyah club's president, said it was one of the largest concerts of this kind at the venue in the past decade. Small groups perform Iraqi folk music every week in the garden of the club, founded in 1924.
"This is for the past two years. Before that, you know what it was like in Iraq, nobody used to come to the club," he said.
Mathlouthi's performance was just the beginning of a new era for live music in Baghdad, he said.

Kim Kelly (The Atlantic) focuses more on the present and the emergence of what is thought to be a musical first in Iraq:
She says her name is Anahita, the 28-years-old voice and vitriol behind Janaza, which is believed to be Iraq's very first female-fronted, black-metal band. Allow that notion --Iraq's very first female-fronted, black-metal band -- to sink in for a moment. Her first recording, Burn the Pages of Quran, boasts five distorted, primitive tracks that altogether run just shy of an unlucky 13 minutes. She, along with a handful of other acts hailing from the Middle East, are repurposing black metal's historically anti-Christian ferocity to rail against Islam. In doing so, these bands are serving up another example of how art and dissent can intersect in a region where dissent can sometimes have deadly consequences.


Today Anna Breslaw (Jezebel) reports that The Atlantic article might be a hoax and that the photos accompanying it have been used in publications previously for other metal bands.  We'll include that in Monday's snapshot and any other details that emerge by then.

Turning to today's violence, All Iraqi News reports a shrine bombing outside Babylon Province -- the Shi'ite shrine was under construction -- which claimed the life of 1 construction worker and left four more injured.  The toll would quickly increase and, at present, stands at 2 dead and seven injuredAlso in Babylon, a Sahwa's home was bombed leaving two children injuredKUNA reports an attack on a Mosul checkpoint which left 5 soldiers dead, a roadside bombing outside Falluja which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left four more dead.  AFP notes the Mosul checkpoint attack (and puts it at the small town of Rashidiyah) and they report that an attack on a Hammam al Alil checkpoint left 2 police officers and 2 bystanders dead.  AKnews, meanwhile, insists that a 22-year-old woman took her own life when their report (by Jamshid Zangana) does not support that assertion.  When saying someone took their own life, you really need a ruling, a note or a loved one.  It's like reporting "neighbors say she was a prostitute." You don't include that if you can't back up that the woman was a prostitute. (The woman accused of taking her own life is not accused of being a prostitute.  That's a reference to a New York Times article we took on years ago which felt the need to note that the dead women were prostitutes because a neighbor said so -- in spite of the fact that Arab media reported the women were all of one family and that's why they lived together.)  At this point, all that is known is that a young woman is dead, that the police are investigating and that there are some nosy, rumor mongering neighbors whose statements are denied by the woman's family.

The political crisis continues.  Nasiriyah reports that State of Law is stating that the Reform Commission will informally meet next week and that it has a working paper which will move on to work teams for additional input.

Al Mada reports more on the Thursday night meeting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Nouri asked that several bills introduced in previous sessions -- included the oil & gas draft -- be considered this session and Osama agreed.   Nouri's office states the main reason for the visit was to offer condolences to Osama on the recent death of a relative.  Whatever they spoke of didn't seem to have much effect on unity.  Al Mada reports that by Saturday, State of Law was stating Osama al-Nujaifi was trying to stop a reconciliation and/by blocking potential nominees for the security ministries.

All Iraqi News states Ammar al-0Hakim is making many suggestions.  Most of them are old.  A new one is for the government to invest in civil society organizations.  Ammar al-Hakim heads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq which is part of the National Alliance (Shi'ite grouping which also includes Moqtada's political bloc and State of Law among other bodies).

While the political crisis continues, food prices are on the rise and, Al Mada reports, Iraqis note that the Ministry of Commerce has done nothing to address this marked increase in cost.

Meanwhile Iraq continues to have sewage problems.  Ahmed Hussein (Al Mada) reports that al-Rashid Street has gone from a fabled meet-up for intellectuals, writers, celebrities and politicians to a dumping ground for debris and waste.  There are thought to be over 180 historical landmarks in that region and the neglect to the area is raising concern that these vital historical sites may be lost.  Baghdad Governor Salah Abdul Razzaq is calling for the street to be open to car traffic with the belief that this might prevent some of the dumping go on (the thinking appears to be that if cars flow through the street, people will remove the blockage).  Along with being one of the points of interest of Baghdad social life from the fifties through the eighties, the street also dates back to the Ottoman Empire and has historical value from that era as well.


The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, Tavis Smiley, Fresh Air and Iraq Veterans Against the War  --   updated last night and today:



In Baltimore, the Green Party has been holding its national political convention.  It wraps up tomorrow.



Jill Stein: As you know, the American people are facing many crises right now.  The political establishment is not fixing this.  In fact, they are making it worse. With our campaign, we intend to turnt he breaking point into a tipping point.

Steve Kilar (Baltimore Sun) reports that Dr. Stein has won the party's nomination:


It was the first national political convention in Baltimore since Democrats nominated Woodrow Wilson in 1912.
"We are the 99 percent, and this is the year we take our country back," Stein said to the crowd gathered in a conference room off the hotel's lobby. Organizers said Saturday that about 350 people registered to attend the national convention.
[. . .]
"Voting for either Wall Street candidate gives a mandate for four more years of corporate rule," Stein said in her nomination speech, lumping President Barack Obama and his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as candidates beholden to commercial interests.



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 07:10 pm by thecommonills
 

I Hate The War

I Hate The War

Joel Wing.  Ay-yi-yi. 


Try to be nice . . .

At AK News he wants to dispute the Fund For Peace's scoring of Iraq on the list of failed states and he's such a little baby cum pants that it's enough to make your head explode.  Reading his stupidity is like, three months after an American Idol season completes, reading a 15 page critique of how Randy and company scored the contestants wrong and there must be an AT&T conspiracy keeping viewers from voting.

Actually, it's much worse than that.  Because what's he's doing is like going back to the season Kelly Clarkson won and offering minute criticism on each season.

Has Iraq improved?

No, it hasn't.  I know that's hard for the likes of Joel Wing to admit.  But it hasn't.  And when he insists that something stayed the same -- we're not picking his nits for him -- so that shouldn't have resulted in a lower score, actually it should.

If you know there are not, for example, enough generators in 2010 and 2011 rolls around and the problem's still the same, that is worsening because you've had awareness of the problem for over a year.

This is not "2+2=4."  We're not talking simple arithmetic.  This is complex analyzing, comparison and contrast, evaluating, etc.

On the security issues, he 'forgets' that Nouri's refused to nominate anyone to head the security ministries.  Now in surveying 2010, that would be a bad thing.  But not as bad as today.  That's because he was only given the power to nominate (made prime minister-designate) in November of 2010.  So for 2010, this is bad but not as bad as going through all of 2011 without nominating.

That's the problem with a baby cum pants, they sit around jerking off in their diapers and their 'facts' are about as firm as as their stubby penises -- which is to say, not at all.

Iraq is a failed state.  It has been that for some time.  There is nothing at present to change that determination and certainly, for 2011, there was nothing to change that finding. You really have to wonder about people like Joel Wing.  Do they even know what a failed state is?

And does he grasp that if he wants to take on the list, he has to take on the list.  Meaning, it wouldn't be enough for him to whine about Iraq's score, he'd have to research the whole damn list.  And that's why it's safe to see him as a Nouri apologists, a State of Law lobbyist and not some obsessive-compulsive.  Someone suffering from O.C. would have already gone about taking ont the whole list and its classification for every nation.  But Joel Wing doesn't do that.  He just wants to whine about Iraq.  And every whine is "It's not that bad!"

So we're left with Nouri apologist and State of Law lobbyist.

At his most embarrassing, he allows that unemployment in Iraq may be at 30% but, he wants to assert, it's been that way for some time.  So it's just "bad" not worse.

Really?  So, by Baby Cum Pants rule of thumb, if you have one year of unemployment at 30% or six years of unemployment at 30% it doesn't matter.

I'd love to see Baby Cum Pants make that argument to a country.  I have a feeling that any group of people would tell you that one year of 30% unemployment in their country (regardless of which country) is bad, but five years of 30% unemployment is not just worse, it is unbearable.

And that's what Baby Cump Pants can't grasp and that's why he's not an expert.  Baby Cum Pants is very good at pointing, he's just lacks the ability to analyze.  It's the difference between a simple computer doing calculations in binary code or artificial intelligence.

Or, to drop back to Shakespeare, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (Hamlet, Act I, Scene V).






It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)


The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

And, for Lewis who still better be reading this far, yesterday, I noted: "Then you have the May auction which --with a nod to a friend who's a brilliant comedy writer -- I repeatedly hailed as 'a dingo dog with fleas;."  Lewis e-mailed Beth (ombudsperson for this site) and asked her to ask me for "the dingo dog with fleas" story.  That didn't come up while dictating.  That refers to when we sent to a preview of a film.  A friend (actress) had made a very big splash in films ("splash" wasn't a hint to this blind item) as a supporting actress and she had just done her first real lead role. She felt the film was going to be a dud -- she was right -- and wanted to know how bad she was in it.  (To this day, she's never seen the film.  This is back in the nineties, by the way.  She's seen parts of it on TV.)



Making the film was a nightmare.  The male lead -- the actual lead, she was playing "the girl," was and is an asshole.  Today, he wouldn't make homophobic remarks because he'd realize that even Mel Gibson can no longer get away with those.  But back then, he made them all the time.  I can't remember if he was married then or just engaged but he was a closet case.

She knew the love scene would be a pain in the ass because of how he was acting and she asked three of us to visit the set that day for support.  So when he proceeded to be rude to her during the filming of the love scene (he was trashing her looks when he was whispering in her ear) and the director finally called a break (I believe after the 17th take), she was furious.

There were a number of suggestions including eating onions but I felt mine would work best (and it did work).   I said, "When he leans in to whisper in your ear, you whisper ____ ____ in his ear.  That's the name of the boyfriend he just bought the condo for over on La Brea."  She did and he jerked back in shock but  didn't attempt to whisper ugly things in her ear and he never again attempted to give her direction -- hello, she was and remains the only one in the cast who was ever nominated for a respectable award --  or try to humiliate her in some other way in front of the entire crew.


So she made it through the film and her agent and her manager were swearing the film would be a hit and she'd be fine.  The film was not a hit.  To put it mildly.  One of the great bombs of its year.

But we went to an unannounced preview -- my comedy writer friend and I -- because she wanted to know how bad it was.  It was so bad that within six minutes, the audience was talking back to the screen.  By mid-point, some man somewhere in the theater yelled that the film was a dog leading my friend to yell, "It's a dingo dog!" 1st man: "I said it's a dog!"  My friend: "It's a dingo dog!"  New voice, "It's a dog, a dog,  it's a dingo dog . . . with fleas!" And then people started chanting that.

That's how bad the movie was.

It bombed big time, it truly was "a dog, a dog, a dingo dog with fleas!" But my friend the actress looked wonderful and didn't embarrass herself on the screen -- Roger Ebert would offer, when the film was released, that she was the only reason to see the movie.   She has a very nice career today.  He's back where he started (on the small screen) and no one really gives a damn about him and any interest in the show stems from the other cast members of the show.



 The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.






Posted at 06:26 pm by thecommonills
 

Friday, July 13, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Friday, July 13, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the US Government Accountability Office has bad news regarding Iraq, the political crisis continues, Bradley Manning gears up for another pre-court-martial hearing, Dr. Jill Stein appears to be on the eve of becoming the Green Party presidential nominee, and more.
 
 
Alsumaria reports today that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concern over the continued political crisis in Iraq and how they hinder efforts at progress within the country.  The Secretary-General made these remarks in a report handed over to the United Nations' Security Council.  Also noting the impasse is Sheikh Abudl Mahdi al-Karbalai, a representative for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Al Mada reports  the Sheikh declared at Friday morning prayers that the Iraqi politicians are unaware of the way the people suffer.
 
As the gridlock continues, Catherine Cheney (Trend Lines via Wolrd Politics Review) offers an analysis of one of the main political players in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr:
 
 
Now that he is back in Iraq, Sadr is positioned to play a key role in the next elections. In the midst of a contest for power among Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites that has created political gridlock in Iraq, Sadr has joined with Kurdish and Sunni parties in opposing  Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a fellow Shiite. But he has to tread carefully to avoid alienating the devout Shiites who form his main base of support.
"The Sadr movement and its durability is something that surprised everybody at first," Duss continued. "Sadr has been written off and counted out countless times since the invasion. He has had his ups and downs. But the fact is that his movement is based upon poor urban Shiites, of whom there are many in Iraq, and as long as he is speaking to and serving that constituency, he is going to continue to have an important political role in Iraq."
 
This as Al Mada reports the Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahma Khalil  is stating that Nouri's State of Law doesn't want to solve the crisis which is why it has made one threat after another -- early elections, dissolve Parliament, dismiss Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  Meanwhile Iraqiya states State of Law uses intimdation in an attempt to get their way.  Dar Addustour notes that al-Nujaifi met with Nouri al-Maliki Thursday night.
 
 


Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports on how the Parliament's sessions are often televised but, even so, not everything is televised.  For example, one MP shares that they are often briefed on a bill -- whether it's legal, whether it's sound -- by specialists in the area and these briefings do not get televised.  Some bills are withdrawn and those actions are not televised.  One MP feels that everything should be before the public. Others feel there is too much information being televised while some argue that the experts and specialists appearing before the Parliament to brief them on the bills are unnecessary because the bills result form deals and agreements within Parliament and they don't need any advice with regards to that.  Kitabat notes that it was announced yesterday that 100 MPs will work on drafting a law to limit the three presidencies -- Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament and Iraqi President -- to two terms only.  Gorran (Change) the struggling third party in the KRG tells Al Mada that they have no position on the issue of term limits.
 
 
Violence continues in Iraq today.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports a Baghdad home bombing targeting a Lt. Colonel with the Ministry of the Interior -- he wasn't home, his parents were and the 2 are dead. AFP says only the mother died, that the frather was left injured and they note a Tuz Khurmatu car jacking where the driver of the car was murdered and his car stolen.   All Iraqi News adds that bomb attacks targeting Shi'ite mosques in Kirkuk left four people injured.  Al Mada notes the number wounded from the mosque attacks rose to five (three were police officers) and that there were at least two bombs.  In addition, they report four wounded from one family and that two rockets were fired at their home.
 
 
 
Violence can take many forms especially when Nouri remains unable to provide security.  Today it's a bomb attack, tomorrow is tainted water.  Al Mada reports Iraqiya MP Nahida Daini is calling out the promoters of "food terrorism," vendors selling food and beverages that are not safe for human consumption.  The article notes that March 23, 2011 hundreds of tons of damaged food stuffs were discovered in Diyala Prvoince.  Alsumaria reported June 30th (2012) that workers of the Ministry of Health had confiscated over 33 tons of harmful food in Kirkuk Province.
 
In addition to potential problems, there are also current health problems that Iraqis face.  One of the latest is, thus far, unexplained.  A series of people are going blind.  Al Mada reports that the Medical College of the University of Dhi Qar has issued an apology over its failure to participate in the investigation of the recent cases of blindness.  The college states it's unable to participate at this time.  Last week, Dar Addustour reported 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 number of people who have been blinded has now risen to 9.
 
 

Today the US Government Accountability Office released [PDF format warning] "IRAQ: U.S. Assistance to Iraq's Minority Groups in Response to Congressional Directives."  According to the report, through November 2011, the US taxpayer has footed the bill for $40 million which was supposed to go towards assisting Iraq's minority population.  [The report breaks down the $40 million as follows: "According to the agencies, USAID provided $14.8 million for the 2008 directive, USAID and State provided $10.4 million for the 2008 supplemental directive; and State provided $16.5 million for the 2010 directive."]  Since Iraq's population is estimated by the CIA to be 31 million, the US government could have skipped the minority issue and given a million dollars to every Iraqi.  So the GAO just completed a 12 month audit (June 2011 to July 2012) to see if USAID was living up to the outlines of Congress' 2008 directive?

Are they?

No one knows.  USAID didn't pass the audit.  The report notes:

Our analysis of USAID documents found that USAID could not demonstrate that it met the provisions of the 2008 directive because of three weaknesses. First, although USAID reported that it provided $14.8 million in assistance to minority groups through existing programs to meet the 2008 directive, its documents could link only $3.82 million (26 percent) of that amount to the Ninewa plain region. The documents linked $1.67 million (11 percent) of the assistance to areas outside of the Ninewa plain region. USAID documents did not provide sufficient detail to determine the location of the remaining $9.35 million (63 percent).
Second, USAID documents generally did not show whether the projects included minority groups among the beneficiaries of the assistance and whether $8 million was provided specifically for internally displaced families. According to USAID officials, the agency generally did not track its beneficiaries by religious affiliation. For $14.7 million of the $14.8 million in assistance, USAID documents did not provide sufficient detail for us to determine that Iraqi minority groups were among the beneficiaries of all of the projects. Only 1 of the 155 projects ($66,707 out of $14.8 million) provided sufficient detail in its documents for us to determine that the assistance was directed to internally displaced families; however, the location of that project was outside of the Ninewa plain region. While USAID documents listed $2 million in funding for a microfinance institution, USAID officials were unable to provide detail on whether all of these loans were disbursed in the Ninewa plain region. 
Third, USAID officials and documents did not demonstrate that the agency used unobligated prior year ESF funds to initiate projects in response to the 2008 directive. USAID could document that the agency used unobligated prior year funds for two of the six programs after the date of the 2008 directive. However, according to USAID officials, the agency did not use unobligated prior year funds for the remaining four programs.


When you can't produce documentation to back up your claims, you have failed the audit.

Which is bad news for Iraq's minorities and for US taxpayers. Robert Burns (AP) notes this cost issue from the report, "A contractor was allowed to charge $80 for a pipe fitting that a competitor was selling for $1.41." There was no oversight.  There will be no oversight.  The State Dept will go before the Congress and make statements about their Afghanistan mission that will be similar to the statements they made about the Iraq mission and, unless Congress gets serious about accountability, you will see the exact same waste and fraud.
 
The State Dept is supposed to provide ongoing oversight of their own personnel. They didn't do that very well and what they found, when they did find something, usually a great deal of time had passed between the crime or violation. Laura Litvan (Bloomberg News) reports, "The agency said work by its investigators and those of other agencies have resulted in 71 convictions and almost $177 million in fines and forfeitures. Kickbacks were the leading type of criminal activity, accounting for 71 percent of indictments, according to the report."


The report notes this background on Iraq:
:


Iraq is ethnically, religiously, and linguistically diverse. Ethnically, Arabs comprise about 75 percent of the population of Iraq, with Kurds comprising around 15 percent and other ethnic groups, such as Turkoman and Assyrians, comprising the remaining 10 percent. Religiously, Shi'a and Sunni Muslims make up 97 percent of the population of Iraq, with non-Muslim groups -- such as Baha'i, Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis -- comprising the remaining 3 percent of the population. Some communities may be an ethnic majority but a religious minority (such as Arab Christians), while other communities may be an ethnic minority but a religious majority (such as Shi'a Shabaks). For the purpose of this report, we refer to the following religious and ethnic communities as minority groups: Anglican, Armenian, Assyrian, Baptist, Chaldean, Coptic, Greek Orthodox, Latin Catholic, Presbyterians, Sabean Mandaean, Shabak, Syriac, Turkoman, and Yazidi. 
Since 2003, Iraq's minority groups have experienced religiously and ethnically motivated intimidation, arbitrary detention, killings, abductions, and forced displacements, as well as attacks on holy sites and religious leaders. In August 2007, coordinated truck bombings killed some 400 Yazidis and wounded more than 700. In August 2009, a series of attacks in Ninewa province killed almost 100 and injured more than 400 from the Yazidi, Shabak, and Turkoman communities. In February 2008, a Chaldean archbishop was kidnapped and killed -- the third senior Christian religious figure to be killed in the city of Mosul since 2006. A series of attacks against Christians occurred in 2010, including an attack in October on a Catholic church in Baghdad that left more than 50 dead and 60 wounded. 


You may notice a major minority group not listed above.

Iraq's LGBT community.  They were not excluded from the 2008 supplemental directive and the 2010 directive should have allowed for the LGBT community. 

Is the Senate failing (Senate Appropriations Committee) or is USAID?

The 2010 directive specifically was about refugee assistance and that should have covered the LGBT community.  But the US government is not doing anything to help that community.  And they get away with that and with doing nothing to protect Iraqi LGBTs from being hunted and killed in Iraq -- "hunted" is the only term for what has repeatedly taken place -- so at what point does the government get their act together?

Obviously, not any time soon.  Because this failed audit should immediately result in Senate hearings but you won't get that.  The failed audit will be greeted with a yawn as Democrats in the Senate rush to protect the White House.

Thing is, the White House should be able to protect itself.  It's Iraq's LGBT population that needs protection.

While the US does nothing, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports, "The Dutch government has decided to grant aslum to gay Iraqis. Immigration minister Geert Leers says Iraq is no longer safe for homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. Mr Leers has already announced a temporary halt to the deportation of gay Iraqis last month following an alert from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The ministry warned that it was impossible to be openly gay anywhere in Iraq without being at serious risk.  The Iraqi authorities also fail to take any measure to stop discrimination or attacks on homosexuals."
 
 
Around the globe water issues continue to emerge with many warning that the wars of the 21st century will be resource wars with particular emphasis on water. Alsumaria reports a conservation organization held a press conference today in Sulaymaniyah calling on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi to stop the Austrian company that's constructing a damn for neighboring Turkey which will interfere with the flow of the Tirgris River into Iraq.  In other water news, Al Mada notes the Ministry of Water Resources' Muhannad al-Saadi has publicly expressed concerns about the Mosul dam's structural strength in the case of earthquakes.  Experts have stated that the dam could collapse and after Mosul was sunk, the waters would flow to Baghdad --  while the water would not sink Baghdad, they would displace thousands in Baghdad and surrounding areas.  This week, the Ministry of Water Resources noted, "H.E Minister of Water Resources Eng.Mohanad Al-Sady met the Deputy and Member of the Iraqi Parliament Falih Al-Sari to discuss means of providing water shares for arable lands and develop the irrigation and agricultural aspect in the Governorate. During the meeting, H.E affirmed that the Ministry of Water Resources is executing several irrigation projects in all governorates including Al-Muthana governorate and taking the necessary actions to provide water for arable lands in order to insure executing the agricultural plan during summer and winter seasons. The Ministry is about executing Raw Water Transfer Project through pipes for Al-Muthana Governorate to insure preventing encroachment over allocated water share to provid water for drinking, farming and other uses."
 
Earlier this week, Sylvia Westall (Reuters) reported on Iraq's art scene, specifically Baghdad where  some of the  musicians who fled the country earlier are returning. Westall notes the musical history.  Excerpt.
 
Several nights later Tunisian revolutionary singer Emel Mathlouthi performed at a social club in the capital to an audience of diplomats, Iraqi officials, students and teachers at a concert organised by the French Institute.
Tariq Safa al-Din, the Alwiyah club's president, said it was one of the largest concerts of this kind at the venue in the past decade. Small groups perform Iraqi folk music every week in the garden of the club, founded in 1924.
"This is for the past two years. Before that, you know what it was like in Iraq, nobody used to come to the club," he said.
Mathlouthi's performance was just the beginning of a new era for live music in Baghdad, he said.
 
Kim Kelly (The Atlantic) focuses more on the present and the emergence of what is thought to be a musical first in Iraq:
 
She says her name is Anahita, the 28-years-old voice and vitriol behind Janaza, which is believed to be Iraq's very first female-fronted, black-metal band. Allow that notion --Iraq's very first female-fronted, black-metal band -- to sink in for a moment. Her first recording, Burn the Pages of Quran, boasts five distorted, primitive tracks that altogether run just shy of an unlucky 13 minutes. She, along with a handful of other acts hailing from the Middle East, are repurposing black metal's historically anti-Christian ferocity to rail against Islam. In doing so, these bands are serving up another example of how art and dissent can intersect in a region where dissent can sometimes have deadly consequences.
 
 
In England, Tony Blair continues to struggle.  Al Mada carries Lindsey German's column for the Guardian. about War Criminal Tony Blair.  As we noted in yesterday's snapshot:
 
Ed West further argues that Stop the War Coalition's Lindsey German shouldn't be listened to about Tony Blair because Tony Blair got move votes than German.  Uh, that's not how it works but if Ed wants to play it that way let's note.  1) Ed West is nothing, a nobody outside of England.  2) In the US many of us make a point to give Lindsey our attention with any column, interview or speech and that's true around the world.  Where there are people who've made a point to oppose the Iraq War, you'll find people who know of Lindsey German.  Repeating, no one knows Ed West globally, no one cares.  Lindsey German?  A fine example of citizenship lived fully.
 
Again, Lindsey's column was run by an Iraqi paper -- not Ed West's column.  Andrew Johnson (Islingon Tribune) reports "a glitzy 500 [pound] a head fundraiser where former Prime Minister Tony Blair was making his political comeback."  Or trying to.   But life's never easy for a War Hawk responsible for over a million deaths.  Lindsey German and others turned out to make sure Tony know that he -- and his crimes -- were not forgotten.  Excert.
 
"The UN Charter, which this country signed up to, was to save the world from the scourge of war," he [Bruce Kent] said. "It says that no nation can go to war or take military action without the decision of the Security Council, and it can only take that decision after all other measures to avoid war have been exhausted. That didn't happen in Iraq. It was a disgrace."
Sabah Jawad, of the Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation Group, told protesters that there were still terrorist attacks in Iraq.
"In the last few months there have been attacks in Iraq and hundreds of people have been killed," he said. "This is a legacy of the war in Iraq. The tragedy of Iraq is still with us and it's going to be with us for years to come. Our message to Tony Blair is that wherever you go, we're going to be there to remind you of your murderous history. We're not going to forget."
 
 
Moving over to the US where Bradley Manning's court-martial is scheduled to begin September 21st.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.
 
 
 
 

Next week the soldier and his defense team will be back in military court in Fort Meade, Maryland, in the latest of a succession of pre-trial hearings to hammer out the terms of the eventual court martial. Previous engagements have led to sparky interactions between Coombs and the army prosecutors seeking to condemn Manning possibly to spending the rest of his life in military custody.

The most significant discussion at next week's proceedings will revolve around the precise legal definition of what "aiding the enemy" means – specifically its allegation that Manning "knowingly gave intelligence to the enemy". The judge presiding over Manning's trial, Colonel Denise Lind, has ruled that the soldier must have had "actual knowledge" that he was giving intelligence to enemy for the charge to be proven.

Coombs will next week attempt to gain further clarification that would raise the legal bar much higher. In his motion he argues that it is a truism in the age of the internet, any posted material is potentially accessible to anybody.

 
 
In Baltimore, the Green Party is holding their national political convention.  Tomorrow, Jill Stein is expected to become the Green Party's presidential nominee.  Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! -- link is text, audio and video) spoke to Jill Stein about a number of issues.  Excerpt.
 
AMY GOODMAN: You are Dr. Jill Stein, so let's talk about healthcare. As Romney continues to vow to end so-called "Obamacare," the Republican-controlled House passed a repeal of the measure, but the Democrats in the Senate say they will not allow this to pass there. Speaking on the House floor, House Majority Leader—House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi traded barbs over the law.
REP. ERIC CANTOR: We are trying to end the era of Washington-controlled healthcare. We believe, as do most of the American people, that it's patient-centered care is our goal. That's where we need to start. We start along the path towards that goal by repealing Obamacare.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: American people want us to create jobs. That's what we should be using this time on the floor for, not on this useless bill to nowhere—bill to nowhere, that does serious damage to the health and economic well-being of America's families.
AMY GOODMAN: That's Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor trading barbs on the House floor. Dr. Jill Stein, interestingly, you are from Massachusetts, from Lexington, so even as Mitt Romney attacks President Obama over his healthcare plan, it was very much modeled on Romney's healthcare plan when he was governor of your state of Massachusetts.
 
DR. JILL STEIN: Exactly, yes, and we've had Romneycare, aka Obamacare, in effect in Massachusetts for five years. So, there's a track record here. And, you know, that track record is very problematic. Romneycare, Obamacare, helped some people, and it hurt other people. It basically pits the very poor against the near poor. And that's not a solution.
And this whole debate, I think, misses the point, which is that we can actually solve this problem. There is also a track record of success: it's called Medicare. Instead of spending 30 percent of our healthcare dollar on waste and wasteful insurance bureaucracy and paper pushing, we can take that 30 percent, squeeze it down to 3 percent—that's what the overhead is in Medicare—and then use that incredible windfall to actually expand healthcare and cover everyone. So, you know, Medicare works. People like it. It's been tampered with, and we need to fix it and create an improved Medicare, but it actually works, and we have the track record all over the world, really, of just about every developed nation.
 
AMY GOODMAN: So, just dropping the "over 65" from Medicare?
 
DR. JILL STEIN: Exactly, right. Let's make it from the point of conception on, you know, that we're basically covered cradle to grave. And --
 
AMY GOODMAN: How could the U.S. afford that?
 
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, it actually is a money saver. And we know that because of that 30 percent waste, that is part and parcel for our privatized healthcare system now, 30 percent of your healthcare dollar is paying for those elaborate forms that you have to fill out, you know, every time your insurance changes or every time you see a provider. There's a mountain of minutiae that goes into the tracking of payments. Instead of tracking who's using what and who pays for it, let's just pay for healthcare, and let's cover it as a human right.
 
Jill Stein's announced running mate, Cheri Honkala, also appeared.
 
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you choose Cheri Honkala?
 
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, Cheri stands out as the leading advocate for poor people, for justice, for the fight against predatory banks, for the fight against mortgage foreclosures, fighting on behalf of children most at risk, fighting for justice and for a fair economy. And Cheri is an incredibly inspired human being and mother, who was a homeless single mother and who began to take over empty buildings, saying, "There are buildings that are -- there are homes that are empty there, and there are people like me who are sleeping out on the street. What's wrong with this picture? I'm going to go sleep in that empty home." And, you know, Cheri's -- Cheri is unstoppable and, I think, exemplifies the fighting spirit that is alive and well across America that we hope to give voice to in this campaign, that is what this is about.
 
AMY GOODMAN: Well, the P word is certainly one that's not really very much talked about --
 
DR. JILL STEIN: Exactly.
 
AMY GOODMAN: -- by the presidential candidates: "poverty." Cheri Honkala, we're used to seeing you ahead of marching at the presidential conventions, marching for poor people's rights in this country, now being chosen as a vice-presidential candidate. Your feelings today?
 
CHERI HONKALA: It's very exciting. I think I'm prepared to take on this challenge. I was absolutely shocked when I was chosen, but I think it's a real statement of the Stein campaign. And it meant so much to people across the entire country. Once the announcement was made, I literally received hundreds of letters, not just from people in this country but from folks around the entire world.
 
AMY GOODMAN: Was it a hard decision to decide to do this?
 
CHERI HONKALA: It was definitely the hardest decision I've ever made in my life, because I have a family out there. And I -- you know, I have two sons, and they're used to their mother bringing attention to them in the various different choices that I make. And I asked my 10-year-old, Guillermo, and he immediately did the happy dance in the living room, so I knew it was a go.
 
 
Again, Stein is expected to be named the nominee tomorrow.  Here is the schedule for Saturday and Sunday:

SATURDAY, JULY 14
Nomination Day
Location: Holiday Inn Inner Harbor, 301 West Lombard Street, 410-685-3500
http://www.innerharborhi.com
Floor plan: http://www.innerharborhi.com/pdf/doc-floor-plans-1307996293.pdf

8 am: Media check-in. Location: Holiday Inn lobby.

9 am: Press briefing and news conference with Green presidential candidates Roseanne Barr and Jill Stein. Location: 12th Floor, Harbor II Room.

9 am: The on-stage Nomination Day program begins. Location for all nomination events: Chesapeake Room on the first floor.

10 am: Guest speakers

10:15 am: Platform Approval

11:30 am: Speeches by Presidential Candidates

11:40 Roseanne Barr

11:55 Jill Stein

12:05 pm: Lunch

1:00 pm: Doors open

1:45 pm: The afternoon plenary begins

1:55 pm: Keynote speaker Gar Alperovitz, historian and political activist (
http://www.garalperovitz.com), on the Green New Deal; guest speakers

2:48 pm: State roll call and voting for the nomination. Times for events after this are tentative, depending on how long it takes to complete the nomination process.

3:40 pm: Presidential campaign speech

3:55 pm: Vice-Presidential nomination and speech

4:10 pm: Speech of the 2012 Presidential Nominee

4:30 pm: END

8-11 pm: Fundraiser for Jill Stein in the Chesapeake Room. Media invited.

SUNDAY, JULY 15
No media events are scheduled.


Public Transportation:

The University of Baltimore is across the street from Penn Station (Amtrak, Maryland Transit trains) and a few blocks to the west on Mt. Royal Avenue from the University of Baltimore - Mt. Royal Light Rail station.

The Holiday Inn Inner Harbor is a short half block from the University Center-Baltimore Street Light Rail station.

Baltimore Light Rail:
http://mta.maryland.gov/light-rail
Map: http://mta.maryland.gov/sites/default/files/light-rail.jpg


Presidential candidates' web sites:

Jill Stein
http://www.jillstein.org
 
 
 
 
 
 

Posted at 08:31 pm by thecommonills
 


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