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The Common Ills


Monday, January 26, 2015
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Monday, Janaury 26, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad International Airport is shut down due to a shooting, Angelina Jolie visits Iraqi and Syrian refugees, Sunnis continue to be targeted, truth teller Chelsea Manning remains in prison, Google plays nice with the White House while betraying WikiLeaks (and the US Constitution) and much more.


Wassim ABdul-Zahra (AP) reports an Emirati plane was shot at during its landing today at Baghdad International Airport -- an airport he describes as "the highly secure Baghdad airport."  Clearly, it's not highly secure.  When airports are "highly secure," planes landing don't get fired at.  Earlier today, Iraqi Spring MC noted that Baghdad International Airport had been shut down with all flights cancelled.


  • " data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="559836623702327296" data-name="Sony Kapoor" data-screen-name="SonyKapoor" data-tweet-id="559836623702327296" data-user-id="73760208" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">



  • " data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="559836577665675267" data-name="Hayder al-Khoei" data-screen-name="Hayder_alKhoei" data-tweet-id="559836577665675267" data-user-id="49133199" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Shots fired at a Fly Dubai passenger plane landing in today. Reports that 2 passengers were injured.





    All Iraq News reports that one of the two injured passengers on the plane was a child.


    In other violence, Alsumaria reports a Mahmudiya roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three more people injured and a Shaab roadside bombing left five people injured.


    And Iraqi Spring MC reports that Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 4 civilians and seven wounded civilians today -- a result of the Iraqi military's one-year-plus of bombing residential neighborhoods in the Sunni city of Falluja.


    These attacks would not be tolerated by the Shi'ite Prime Minister of Iraq if the victims were Shi'ites. Haider al-Abadi became prime minister in August and, September 13th, he announced these daily bombings -- which are War Crimes -- had been stopped.

    Either he's a liar or the Iraqi military does not listen to their commander in chief.

    Within 24 hours of his announcement that the bombings had ended they were already going on again.

    And they continue each day.

    Maybe four lives don't matter to the international community?

    I'd hope they would but maybe they don't.

    If they don't, try to grasp that this is four people dead today.  Today.  These bombings have been going on daily since January of last year.  Over 12 months of these daily bombings -- which, again, are War Crimes -- the toll adds up -- the number dead and the number injured.

    And the international community should be demanding answers starting with whether Haider al-Abadi lied or if he's just so ineffective that the Iraqi military blows off any order he gives them?


    Staying with the topic of the targeting of the Sunnis . . .





  • Details
    " data-item-id="559836877843210241" data-name="شمرية العراق " data-screen-name="MoonNor27" data-tweet-id="559836877843210241" data-user-id="1638349476" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    My senses no longer bear the pain &sadness cause I cant save innocent Sunni civilians who are die every day, by shia Gangs in



  • Ahmed Rasheed, Stephen Kalin and Robin Pomeroy (Reuters) report:

    Sunni politicians and tribal chiefs from Iraq's eastern Diyala province accused Shi'ite militias on Monday of killing more than 70 unarmed civilians who had fled clashes with Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants.

    Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan denied the claims, saying ISIL was trying to undermine the reputation of Iraqi security forces.


    The Minister of the Interior is a laughable joke and far from a trusted source on the topic of thugs murdering Sunnis.  As Loveday Morris (Washington Post) noted last October:


    The new interior minister is Mohammed Ghabban, a little-known Shiite politician with the Badr Organization. But there is little doubt that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the party and its military wing, will wield the real power in the ministry.

    The Badr militia ran notorious Shiite death squads during Iraq’s sectarian war, after infiltrating the Interior Ministry. A leaked 2009 State Department cable said sources had indicated that Amiri may have personally ordered attacks on up to 2,000 Sunnis. Amiri has denied such allegations.




    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 215 people dead from violence (299 injured) today while, over the weekend, she added Friday, Saturday and Sunday's numbers coming up with the total of 692 people killed and another eighty-nine injured.

    Yesterday actress, director and United Nations Refugee Agency Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Iraq.




    These are among the Tweets noting the visit.




    Special Envoy Angelina Jolie is in . Check out the latest videos & photos:
    0 replies 20 retweets 15 favorites


    Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Syrian refugees & displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
    0 replies 101 retweets 65 favorites




    The UNHCR notes this was Angelina's fifth visit to Iraq:


    The UN refugee agency's Special Envoy Angelina Jolie is in Dohuk, Iraq, visiting Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to offer support to 3.3 million displaced people in the country and highlight their dire needs.
    Since Ms Jolie's last visit to Iraq in September 2012, the scale and gravity of the humanitarian situation have increased dramatically, as the conflicts in Syria and Iraq intensify and become intertwined.
    "It is shocking to see how the humanitarian situation in Iraq has deteriorated since my last visit. On top of large numbers of Syrian refugees, two million Iraqis were displaced by violence in 2014 alone. Many of these innocent people have been uprooted multiple times as they seek safety amidst shifting frontlines."
    While a massive aid response has been launched by UNHCR and partners, an estimated 330,000 people across the country still live in sub-standard shelters as they face their first winter away from home.
    On Sunday, Ms Jolie visited internally displaced Iraqis living in an informal settlement and a formal camp at Khanke, a 40 minute drive from Dohuk city. Together, the sites now accommodate more than 20,000 people from the Yazidi minority who fled Sinjar and surrounding areas in early August. Jolie spoke to people with dramatic stories of escape, including people who managed to flee their imprisonment by walking through the night and hiding by day. She also met elderly women who were among the 196 Yazidis recently released by insurgents and now staying in the informal settlement at Khanke.
    The women recounted their ordeal of kidnap, detention, escape, and release. Jolie listened to the stories of extreme hardship and loss, including from people who still have sons, husbands and daughters detained, and others who had heard their daughters were moved to Syria. Others had lost all contact with their loved ones and had no idea of their fate.
    "Nothing can prepare you for the horrific stories of these survivors of kidnap, abuse and exploitation and to see how they cannot all get the urgent help they need and deserve," Jolie said. "The needs so dramatically outstrip the resources available in this vast crisis. Much more international assistance is needed," the Special Envoy added.
    Funding shortfalls have affected the scale and type of programmes to help survivors of violence and human rights abuses alongside the provision of shelter and other assistance. While much aid has been provided by the government, UNHCR and partners over the last six months -- including 34 new camps built or under construction -- aid operations are hampered by lack of funding alongside security constraints. UNHCR, for example, has received only 53 per cent of its required USD 337 million for its response to internal displacement in Iraq during 2014 and has received the go-ahead to proceed on projected funding for only 31per cent of its required USD 556 for 2015.
    The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is hosting some 900,000 displaced people, placing an enormous strain on hosting communities, authorities and infrastructure. The huge influx of people from Mosul and Sinjar between June and August 2014 caused a three-month delay in the start of the school year, as over 700 public schools in Dohuk were occupied by uprooted people. An estimated 20 per cent of the five million people in the KRI are either displaced Iraqis from elsewhere or refugees.

    "I am very thankful to the Kurdish authorities for hosting so many displaced Iraqis alongside Syrian refugees at a time when they are facing so many challenges," the Special Envoy said.


    "The international community has to step up and do more," Angelina declared.


    The weekend also brought reports of a possible execution.  Ben McGrath (WSWS) reports:
     
    A video purportedly showing the death of one of the two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was released late Saturday night. The other hostage is still being held by the group, which has reduced its ransom demand from $100 million per person to a prisoner exchange involving a woman held in Jordan over a 2005 terror bombing.
    The newest video is a still picture with audio showing one of the hostages, reporter Kenji Goto, holding a picture of the other hostage, Haruna Yukawa, beheaded.

    The accompanying audio is Goto speaking in English and issuing ISIS’s new demand for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi. “It is simple. You give them Sajida and I will be released,” he says.



    Will Ripley (CNN -- link is video) reports on the issue here.  The Malaysian Star explains Sajida al-Rishawi went to Jordan with her husband:

    Rishawi and her husband targeted a wedding in a hotel ballroom. After Shamari noticed that his wife was having trouble detonating her explosives, he pushed her out of the room. He then blew himself up, klling 38 people, reported the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
    Rishawi fled the scene but was captured by the authorities shortly after. 
    She appeared in a dramatic televised confession in November 2005 wearing the bombs that she had planned to set off.

    According to CNN, Rishawi said on air that her husband planned the attack and taught her how to use the explosive belt. 



    Iraqi Spring MC notes that the Spanish government is using "terror" as the stated reason for sending 300 troops into Iraq.  And Amanda Dolasinski (Fayetteville Observer via Stars and Stripes) points out:


    Now, more than three years after the U.S. military presence in Iraq was thought over, about a quarter of the Panther Brigade will return with a new mission to help train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.
    About 1,000 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy this week as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve mission.


    As we noted in yesterday's "Editorial: We speak out when?" at Third:


    The White House sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to argue, December 9th, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress must pass an authorization for US President Barack Obama's actions in Iraq and Syria and that this legislation must include that Barack can send US combat troops into Iraq.
    When do we plan to address that?
    The peace movement -- or what now passes for it -- keeps ignoring it.
    They have time to trash a film and trash a dead man.
    Because they 'care,' you understand.
    They just don't want to work to stop Congress from okaying ground troops for combat in Iraq.
    A number of groups are planning a protest in DC . . . for mid-March.
    Do you really think Congress won't have passed an authorization by then?
    And are you unable to plan a protest and to call for people to demand their representatives in Congress refuse to give Barack authority to put US troops into combat?
    Just US troops being in Iraq means they may get into combat.
    That's what happened to Canadian forces.
    Last week,  the Canadian government acknowledged that  combat took place for Canada and the Islamic State.  Al Jazeera reports:



    Canadian special forces have clashed with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group by exchanging gunfire in Iraq in recent days, in the first confirmed ground battle between Western troops and ISIL, a senior officer has said.
    The Canadians came under mortar and machine gun fire while training Iraqi troops near front lines and shot back in what Canadian special forces commander Brigadier General Michael Rouleau described as self-defence, killing the ISIL fighters. 
    Rouleau said the melee had taken place in the previous seven days and was "the first time we've taken fire and returned fire" in Iraq, where the armed group has overrun large areas.




    Just US troops being on the ground in Iraq means possible combat.


    All Iraq News reports, "An officer within the Canadian Army confirmed that a Canadian special force clashed with militants of the ISIL in Iraq for the second time within few days. "


    But let's all pretend it's not possible.

    A number of Canadians were pretending that until last week.


    Pretending works really well if you want to live in denial.  Chelsea Manning is imprisoned for truth telling but those who refuse to call out US President Barack Obama -- there are so many, like the ass that went on Flasphpoints -- so-called leader of Courage to Resist -- earlier this month who trashed Hillary Clinton for what was done to Bradley.

    But Little Jeff never could mention Barack, could he?

    Barack declared Chelsea guilty -- publicly.  He's also the one who made the decision to go after Chelsea.  He could have stopped it at any time.  But Wee Wee Little Jeff couldn't call out Barack.

    Courage?

    Little Jeff has no courage at all.



    Let's talk Chelsea.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  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 Private 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 2012. At the start of 2013, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.


    Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
    I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.




    For truth telling, Brad was punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama. Tuesday, July 30, 2013, Bradley was convicted of all but two counts by Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge in his court-martial.  August 21, 2013, Bradley was sentenced to 35 years.  August 22, 2013, Manning issued a statement through NBC's Today show thanking supporters and declaring, " I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back."

    Chelsea Manning remains imprisoned.  Nick Ford (Muscatine Journal) noted her last week:

    Given this history of knowing ignorance, how could Obama not know about Chelsea Manning? Obama’s history of protecting other big political dissidents is also abysmal. Just ask Edward Snowden, who had to flee the country to make sure he wasn’t detained like Chelsea Manning, before he released information to the public that the government found embarrassing. Is that a sign of a free society?
    I suspect Obama does know who Chelsea Manning is, but for some reason she doesn’t count as someone who has been persecuted for her struggles as someone who is transgender — despite the fact that during her pre-trial hearing Marine Corps Master Sgt. Craig Blenis defended the pretrial detention on the basis of Manning’s gender dysphoria because “that’s not normal, sir.”


    Imprisoning Chelsea wasn't enough, going after Ed Snowden wasn't enough.  Barack's war on truth tellers never ends.  This is made even more clear by a press release WikiLeaks issued this morning:




    Today, WikiLeaks' lawyers have written to Google and the US Department of Justice concerning a serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks' staff. Investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson have received notice that Google had handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged 'conspiracy' and 'espionage' warrants carrying up to 45 years in prison.
    Importantly, the warrants reveal for the first time a clear list of the alleged offences the US government is trying to apply in its attempts to build a prosecution against Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks staff. The offences add up to a total of 45 years of imprisonment.
    The US government is claiming universal jurisdiction to apply the Espionage Act, general Conspiracy statute and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to journalists and publishers – a horrifying precedent for press freedoms around the world. Once an offence is alleged in relation to a journalist or their source, the whole media organisation, by the nature of its work flow, can be targeted as alleged 'conspiracy'. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief said: 'WikiLeaks has out endured everything the Obama administration has thrown at us and we will out endure these latest "offences" too.'
    The alleged offences are:

    • Espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Conspiracy to commit espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(g) - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • The theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government: 18 U.S.C. § 641 - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: 18 U.S.C. § 1030 - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • (general) Conspiracy: 18 U.S.C. § 371 - imprisonment up to 5 years
    In a letter to the US Department of Justice and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, WikiLeaks lawyers have requested further details on the investigation. They state, "We have reason to believe that these warrants were issued in violation of the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 ("PPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2200aa et. seq, which protects journalists and publishers from being forced to turn over to law enforcement their journalistic work product and documentary materials. The subjects of these warrants are journalists working for a publishing organization."
    The US Department of Justice confirmed to US federal court on 19 May 2014 that it was "very clear that the main, multi-subject, criminal investigation of WikiLeaks 'remains open and pending'," but that to release additional information would "harm" the "ongoing Department of Justice (“DoJ”) and FBI criminal investigation and pending future prosecution". In 2012 the US government stated in military court that the target of the DoJ investigation included the "founders, owners and managers of WikiLeaks". The investigation began as early as February 2010 and has involved search warrants and court orders for the records of WikiLeaks' associates.
    Assange said: 'I call on president Obama to do the right thing and call off his dogs--for his own sake. President Obama is set to go down in history as the president who brought more bogus "espionage" cases against the press than all previous presidents combined.'


























    Posted at 10:38 pm by thecommonills
     

    Google helps Barack break the law

    Google helps Barack break the law

    WikiLeaks issued a press release today which includes:


    Today, WikiLeaks' lawyers have written to Google and the US Department of Justice concerning a serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks' staff. Investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson have received notice that Google had handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged 'conspiracy' and 'espionage' warrants carrying up to 45 years in prison.
    Importantly, the warrants reveal for the first time a clear list of the alleged offences the US government is trying to apply in its attempts to build a prosecution against Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks staff. The offences add up to a total of 45 years of imprisonment.
    The US government is claiming universal jurisdiction to apply the Espionage Act, general Conspiracy statute and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to journalists and publishers – a horrifying precedent for press freedoms around the world. Once an offence is alleged in relation to a journalist or their source, the whole media organisation, by the nature of its work flow, can be targeted as alleged 'conspiracy'. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief said: 'WikiLeaks has out endured everything the Obama administration has thrown at us and we will out endure these latest "offences" too.'
    The alleged offences are:
    • Espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Conspiracy to commit espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(g) - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • The theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government: 18 U.S.C. § 641 - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: 18 U.S.C. § 1030 - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • (general) Conspiracy: 18 U.S.C. § 371 - imprisonment up to 5 years
    In a letter to the US Department of Justice and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, WikiLeaks lawyers have requested further details on the investigation. They state, "We have reason to believe that these warrants were issued in violation of the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 ("PPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2200aa et. seq, which protects journalists and publishers from being forced to turn over to law enforcement their journalistic work product and documentary materials. The subjects of these warrants are journalists working for a publishing organization."
    The US Department of Justice confirmed to US federal court on 19 May 2014 that it was "very clear that the main, multi-subject, criminal investigation of WikiLeaks 'remains open and pending'," but that to release additional information would "harm" the "ongoing Department of Justice (“DoJ”) and FBI criminal investigation and pending future prosecution". In 2012 the US government stated in military court that the target of the DoJ investigation included the "founders, owners and managers of WikiLeaks". The investigation began as early as February 2010 and has involved search warrants and court orders for the records of WikiLeaks' associates.

    Assange said: 'I call on president Obama to do the right thing and call off his dogs--for his own sake. President Obama is set to go down in history as the president who brought more bogus "espionage" cases against the press than all previous presidents combined.'



    Google takes the position that, in turning over e-mails, they complied with the law.

    No, they didn't.


    The law would have to be rewritten for Julian Assange to be charged with espionage.  He is not a US citizen.


    If Google's attorneys were truly that stupid on the basics, they should have countered and asked for a court ruling.

    If you think the courts are swamped now, you let Barack or any other sitting president start charging foreigners for activities that take place on foreign soil with espionage and you watch the court system in the US buckle and break from the strain of all the new cases.

    There are many problems with what is described in the WikiLeak press release but that Google buckled on espionage is probably the most shocking because it can't be applied to non-US citizens.

    Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were persecuted under this law but, please note, these alleged spies for the Soviet Union were Americans and there was no effort to prosecute those in the USSR who allegedly received information.

    When the US government wants something, especially under Barack these days, they will bully and lie and hope no one calls them on it.

    Eric Holder needs to explain the actions involved here because they reflect just as poorly on him as they do on Barack.

    They were trying to intimidate Google (which buckled immediately).

    Who knows who else they've used this on?

    But the appropriate response when the government claims this is espionage in a warrant is not to confer with your attorneys (who apparently are legal idiots) but to fight the warrant in court.

    Google's always been a great friend to Barack.


    It's a real shame it's been a lousy friend to the US Constitution.


    In Iraq, All Iraq News reports that Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri has declared the Parliament will vote on the budget Thursday.  That's a bit of an improvement on the wording.  Five times previously, he has publicly promised that the budget would be passed and it never was.  Now he's just announcing a vote.  Let's see if that happens.





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


    Posted at 10:37 pm by thecommonills
     

    Hejira

    Hejira

    The SAG Awards were tonight and Patricia Arquette rightly won.  Yea, Patricia.

    I didn't think we'd be talking about movies but I was asked -- at the party I'm still at -- what I thought of Noam Chomsky's comments?

    Huh?

    Noam's decided to weigh in on a film he hasn't seen: American Sniper.

    Can we just stop commenting on art if we're not seeing it?

    It's not just insulting to art itself -- all art -- it's really stupid.

    He's quoted saying (by WGBH -- and there's video as well as text), "The more we can blame some crime on some enemy, the greater the outrage. The more we are responsible for it, and therefore can do something about it -- to end it -- the less the concern."


    If I had time to stream the video -- and it wasn't so noisy here (I didn't bring ear buds) -- maybe that statement would make more sense.

    But what stands out is that instead of talking about Barack asking Congress to allow to send US forces into on-the-ground combat in Iraq -- a request made last month, see  the December 9th Iraq snapshot, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress must pass an -- Noam's babbling on about a movie -- one he finds so stupid that he hasn't even seen.

    Is the film stupid or is the intellectual?

    WGBH notes:

    Chomsky goes on with this point throughout the hour-long discussion, and refers to the attacks on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris this month to again illustrate that acts of violence don't come from nowhere. Our government's strategic choices seed more violence and our lack of will to stop it makes us all culpable. “[The terrorists in Paris] made it very clear that what incited them to jihadism were things like Abu Ghraib and the US attack on Iraq.”


    Did they make that clear?

    In an interview, Noam?

    No, they never made that clear.

    Someone took it upon themselves to speak for them to the press.

    And to provide a pat and easy answer.

    Pat and easy answers?  

    Noam's usually the first to be skeptical of those.


    Not this time.

    He goes on to recommend Selma.

    Selma is a hideous movie in too many ways to count.

    But the fact that America is avoiding Oprah's latest nonsense is not a tragedy.

    It's a pedestrian film, poorly directed, poorly written.


    Glen Ford's already called that nonsense out (pay attention to how Oprah protects her friends).

    The film was a joke and there was serious editing done on it just to get it released.

    These are not secrets in the industry nor is the fact that director's cut was greeted with howls of laughter by studio suits.  

    That's why they didn't go to all the trouble -- at Paramount -- to promote a boutique film from outside.

    The film's historical problems didn't kill it at the box office -- the bad quality of the film, the failure to entertain -- which is the first goal of film -- killed it.  It's doubtful it will make 50 million.

    It's a failure.

    This heavily promoted film is a failure.

    Over $20 million alone was spent promoting it.

    It's all too bad because Selma, as a topic, could be a great film.

    Just don't ever expect that to happen with Harpo -- Orpah's production company.

    Selma isn't about a personality.  It's about a movement.

    But Oprah's forever distracted and enthralled by personality.

    So there was never any hope that she could produce a movie about Selma that (a) worked as a film or (b) honored the Civil Rights Movement.



    That Noam can't see that may go to the fact that he hasn't seen Selma.  

    Again, people need to stop 'reviewing' films they haven't seen.

    And Oprah probably needs to grasp that she's not Robert Altman, she can't do big themes.  And reducing big themes to one personality dishonors the actual events her film allegedly wants to portray.






    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] 4494.


    New content at Third:





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


     

    Posted at 10:30 pm by thecommonills
     

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    I Hate The War

    I Hate The War

    Barbara Starr.

    She sounds like a comic book character, some descendant of  Dale Messick's comic strip Brenda Starr.

    If only she was as dedicated to her trade as the fictional Brenda Starr.

    Starr's paid for CNN but anyone who knows her body of work would be right in countering that she actually works for the US military brass.

    If there's a message to be put out, Starr's the go-to.

    She will report it without questioning it -- on air or in text.

    The attempt to retake Mosul from the Islamic State was supposed to start next month.

    Despite the White House spending over one billion dollars since the start of August on their Iraq 'plan,' the Iraqi military is still not ready.

    Some would argue it would never be ready and point to the five years of training that led up to Nouri's attack on Basra -- and Sadr City in Baghdad -- in 2008 which saw massive desertion on the part of the Iraqi military (understandable in that many did not want to take party in killing other Iraqis) and would have failed completely had the US military not assisted.

    But the plan is now to attempt to retake Mosul in the summer (that's the public plan, the White House is hoping that spring will be a possibility).

    And late Friday night, Barbara Starr filed a report on this noting that the military brass was telling her that US 'advisors' might be put on the front lines.  She types:


    The possible recommendation would need to be approved by President Barack Obama, who has said that U.S. troops will not be sent on a combat mission. But putting advisers with front-line Iraqi troops puts American troops in close range of what is likely to be an intense battle with the terror group. 
    [. , ,]
    Obama has been adamant that no U.S. troops will be put into direct ground combat in Iraq.
    In a speech to troops in September, Obama said, "The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission. They will support Iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their own country against these terrorists."


    Except for the fact that war is good for CNN's ratings (and sometimes its reputation), I have no idea why they let her type this nonsense.

    Maybe CNN's employing psy-ops officers yet again?

    Or maybe she's remembering she's a "TV reporter" and not a real one and has to play up the drama -- whether it's reality based or not.


    Yes, Barack has said what Barbara repeats.

    And if this 'report' was coming out in September, you could argue tired Babs had done her work.

    But it's coming out in January.

    A month after the White House sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to argue, December 9th, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress must pass an authorization for Barack's actions in Iraq and Syria and that this legislation must include that Barack can send US combat troops into Iraq.


    Secretary of State John Kerry: However, while we certainly believe this is the soundest policy, and while the president has been clear he's open to clarifications on the use of U.S. combat troops to be outlined in an AUMF, that does not mean we should preemptively bind the hands of the commander in chief oo  or our commanders in the field -- in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee. 



    Where is that in Barbara's report?

    No where to be found.


    When Kerry's statements are acknowledged, they tend to be put off as Kerry's desires -- as though he could be Secretary of State, request Congress do something the president is against and continue to hold his post.

    That wouldn't happen.

    When Vice President Joe Biden gets too far out ahead of Barack -- even on policy matters on which the two are in agreement -- the White House makes a point to publicly reel Joe back in.

    John Kerry did not go rogue.  He was speaking on behalf of the White House.

    It's interesting that Barbara Starr thinks she can 'report' (repeat) that US troops may be on the front lines in the effort to retake Mosul but she doesn't feel compelled to note that the White House is asking Congress to write an authorization -- still not written -- that would allow them to send US troops into on the ground combat in Iraq.


    Still not written.

    Maybe if people knew better what the White House was asking Congress for, they'd get motivated and start informing their elected representatives that they were not going to support US forces being involved in on the ground combat in Iraq?


    Barbara really works for the Pentagon so it's not in her interest to alert the people to what's actually news and what actually effects their lives.


    CNN only wins a ratings war when they've got a war to cover (or a disaster).

    So it's not in CNN's interest to alert the people about what the White House is requesting.

    Now you can be sure that if the Authorization for the Use of Military Force is passed on Monday and includes combat forces, CNN will show up on Tuesday to jaw bone about it and what does it mean and maybe even toss out one person offering opposition to the done deed.

    But while it could be stopped, while people could exercise their power in a democracy to say no?


    CNN's more than thrilled to run Barbara Starr's meaningless crap.





    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] 4494.



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




    Posted at 03:11 pm by thecommonills
     

    Paralyzed Veterans of America Responds to President's State of the Union Address

    Paralyzed Veterans of America Responds to President's State of the Union Address

    My apologies, this should have gone up sooner.  A number of e-mails end up in the spam folder at the public account and we grab what we can when we can.  This is Paralyzed Veterans of America's response to the State of the Union Address:


    "But tonight, we turn the page." 

    Sheman Gillums, Jr., Deputy Executive Director of Paralyzed Veterans of America
    Sherman Gillums Jr.
    Deputy Executive Director
    Paralyzed Veterans of America
    Six words uttered by President Barack Obama during his "State of the Union" speech that embody the unbridled optimism of a country touched by war for more than a decade. Optimism defined by a comfortable displacement from the events of September 11, 2001, when people loved the troops because they didn't have to be the troops who answered the call following the most egregious attack on the homeland by a foreign enemy. For them — and for Paralyzed Veterans of America — the page has not turned.



    Army specialist Curtis Spivey became a paralyzed veteran with a traumatic brain injury following an IED blast in Iraq. He died at a VA medical center after suffering a brain aneurysm. His wife, Aida, and 2-year old daughter, Marianna, would subsequently experience hard times that would endure well beyond the grief of losing Curtis. Money, benefits, and support would serve as mere band aids to the emotional hemorrhaging they feel to this very day. It is those stories that our service officers and clinical advocates never forget as they carry out our mission. We will not turn the page on our veterans, their families, and caregivers for, in the words of Plato, "only the dead have seen the end of war."


    Paralyzed Veterans of America reinforces its commitment to ensuring that a new generation of veterans comes home and enjoys the opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend. Whether that means holding the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for reducing the disability claims backlog, delivering timely and quality healthcare, or fostering career opportunities, Paralyzed Veterans will not relent. Even as we ensure accountability, we gladly assume the burden of caring for those who have borne the battle through the myriad programs and services we offer, free of charge and with no government support, for our nation's heroes.


    It is through their lives that the story of this era is still being written and the cost of war still being accrued. Paralyzed Veterans of America calls on our government leaders and ordinary citizens to follow through on the promise to support our heroes. That promise includes timely delivered benefits that should not be eroded or viewed as a handout. It also includes continued investment in the VA healthcare system, which represents the only hope for successful transition and recovery for the many severely disabled veterans.


    Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America

    Sherman Gillums Jr., Deputy Executive Director of Paralyzed Veterans of America and paralyzed veteran








    Posted at 03:10 pm by thecommonills
     

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    Harper hits (and gropes?) below the belt

    Harper hits (and gropes?) below the belt

    True or false, I have no idea but a number of Arabic social media sites contain posts and comments that a US service member was killed near Haditha.

    Three have already been killed in the latest wave of the never-ending war -- three since Barack started this wave in August.

    Canadian forces recently were in combat with the Islamic State in Iraq despite being billed as "advisors" and "trainers."

    Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, appears to have silenced critics.

    How?

    By their own stupidity.

    Harper declared he was proud of the Canadian troops for returning fire.

    The Liberals and New Democrats failed to respond correctly: "No one's questioning the ability or will of Canadian forces.  We're questioning the integrity and the word of prime minister who told us he was not sending forces into harms way."

    Barack will probably ape Stephen Harper if it's reported US forces are in combat.

    It would be great if members of the US peace movement would be ready for stunts like the one Harper pulled.

    It was below the belt and meant to suggest that the Liberals and the New Democrats were shamefully opposed to the Canadian forces defending themselves by returning fire.

    Harper is the filth that's floated to the top of Canada for years now.

    For all the slams on American voters that some to the north can offer, they've failed (a) to remove conservative Harper as prime minister and (b) to grant asylum to war resisters.


    In Falluja, Iraqi Spring MC reports, Thursday's bombings -- by the Iraqi military -- of civilian homes in Falluja left 4 civilians dead and eleven more injured.


    These bombings began in January of 2014 under Nouri al-Maliki and continue under Haider al-Abadi.

    That's not all the two prime ministers have passed off to one another.

    There's also the refusal to address the issues of public sewage and public works projects.

    Nouri al-Maliki bilked the government out of millions while he was prime minister and failed to improve the country's infrastructure.  Haider al-Abadi's done nothing since becoming prime minister in August.  This Alsumaria video shows some of the consequences.

    The following community sites -- plus War News Radio, Dissident Voice and Antiwar.com -- updated:










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














  •  


    Posted at 10:37 pm by thecommonills
     

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, January 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi uncorks the crazy yet again, Chuck Hagel may be the only US official willing to rebuke Haider's claims, we note the minute difference between Nouri al-Maliki and Haider al-Abadi, and more.



    AFP reports that Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Thursday that Iraq was lacking in sufficient weapons -- that's right, that Iraq did not have enough weapons -- and stated, "We don't want to see a military defeat because of budget and fiscal problems."

    Again, Haider believes Iraq is starved for weapons.  All the bullets and all the bombs have not been enough for Haider.

    These were not off the cuff remarks but something's he's been harping on for some time.


    Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) quote him declaring in an on Wednesday interview that "we are in this almost on our own."  These are similar to the remarks he made last week.

    Last week, AFP reported that Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi was slamming the coalition the US government has put together and saying it was taking to long to provide "military support" to the Iraq military, "The international coalition is very slow in its support and training of the army."


    At the Pentagon on Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was asked about the statements.


    Q: Mr. Secretary, yesterday Prime Minister Abadi said that he was upset by what he considered the slow, stalled pace of U.S. weapons and training, both by the U.S. and the coalition in Iraq. Do you agree with his assessment? Has that been slow or delayed? And the 6,000 -- the reports of 6,000 insurgents killed, is that a measure of what the U.S. is doing, and is that number accurate?


    SEC. HAGEL: Well, regarding Prime Minister Abadi's comments, first, I don't agree with those comments. I met with Prime Minister Abadi, as many of you know who accompanied me on that trip about a month ago. The fact is that we have put a particular emphasis on getting the kind of equipment and materiel, ammunition, the needs, the requirements for the Iraqi Security Forces and the -- and the Kurds.
    To give you some examples, last year we were able to move more than 1,500 Hellfire missiles, expedited in every one of these cases, all of the requests that the Iraqi government has made.
    We'll have provided over 250 MRAPs, some of those went to the Kurds. Tens of thousands of small arms and ammunition. The flow of ammunition and materiel and the requests continue at an accelerated rate.
    So, I do -- I do disagree with the prime minister's comments. I would say even further, I don't think they're helpful. We have a coalition of over 60 countries that have come together to help Iraq. And I think the prime minister might want to be a little more mindful of that.
    We are continuing to deploy more American troops for training. And we have three of four training sites now operational in Iraq. We have about a dozen coalition partners who have trainers there, along with our trainers. We'll have a fourth training camp up soon.
    So, we are doing everything we can possibly do to help the Iraqis.
    As to the second part of your question, first, I have not seen any verification of that number of 6,000 that you referred to. We do know that thousands of ISIL fighters have been killed, and we do know that some of ISIL's leadership have been killed.
    But also, as you ask, is that the measurement or a significant measurement of progress? It is a measurement. But I don't think it is the measurement. I mean, I -- I was in a war where there was a lot of body counts every day. And we lost that war.
    What you look at is you look at things like do you have ISIL on the defensive? And I think by most every measurement, not imperfect, not perfect, they have been on the defensive.
    Are they having difficulty recruiting? Yes they are.
    The Peshmerga and the Iraqi Security Forces cut into their supply lines? Yes, they have.
    Has there been a distortion in command and control networks of ISIL? Yes, there has been. Significant, tangible, measurable.

      These are also the metrics you look at as to how much progress you're making in a war.


    Poor Haider al-Abadi.  Is he nuts?

    If he's not insane, he's just the biggest idiot in the world.

    Any time he has a chance before the world media,  he makes a fool of himself.

    That is his pattern.

    As September drew to a close, he visited the United States and quickly made a fool of himself in the media.  As Ray Sanchez and Evan Perez (CNN) explained then:

    From Washington to New York, a flurry of denials followed media reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters at the United Nations that his country's intelligence agency had uncovered an imminent ISIS plot against United States and Paris subways.
    "We don't have anything to back it up at this point," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN. "We'll keep looking at it."


    What had been a mini-triumph -- Haider proved he could both stand erect and speak, traits puppets don't always possess -- was destroyed when Haider decided to 'reveal' plots against the NYC subway that Iraqi 'intelligence' had learned of.

    He hurried back to Iraq a laughing stock.


    Thursday, Hagel took on Haider's remarks which Hagel clearly sees as carping.


    On the issue of the 6,000 number raised to Hagel, that number comes via Al Arabiya reporting:


    The U.S.-led airstrikes have “taken more than half” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s leadership, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones told Al Arabiya News Channel in an interview aired Thursday.
    Jones described the airstrikes as having a “devastating” effect on ISIS after Baghdad criticized Washington for not doing “enough” to eliminate the Islamist group.

    “We estimate that the airstrikes have now killed more than 6,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq,” Jones said.
    The U.S. ambassador added that the airstrikes have “destroyed more than a thousand of ISIS vehicle inside Iraq.”



    Back to Haider who had a chance to shine today that he spoiled with his own mouth yet again.

    It's not a surprise that Haider wants more weapons.  He's done nothing since August -- in fairness to him, the US government hasn't encouraged or pressed him to -- when he became prime minister to heal the serious rifts in Iraq -- the rifts at the heart of the ongoing crises in the country.

    So, like any puppet installed as opposed to a leader elected, he fears being toppled.

    What keeps a puppet from being toppled, arms and more arms.

    A leader would have faced the crises head on.  A real leader would have realized that there were six to eight weeks after being named prime minister where there was time to demonstrate to the people that a change was taking place.

    But Haider didn't bother with that.

    So now, as he stumbles non-stop and the problems in Iraq only grow worse, he takes to whining publicly about weapons.


    Thursday, a meet-up took place in London.  The UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond explained after:




    FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: Good afternoon. The recent terrible events in Paris have reminded us that the battle against ISIL is not confined within the borders of Iraq and Syria and that this poisonous ideology threatens our own citizens and the citizens of our allies.
    Today, 21 key members of the global coalition met in London to review and discuss our efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL not just through military force, but by addressing the underlying narrative of the organization, its financing, its flow of foreign fighters, and by reasserting our commitment to Iraq. In total, over 60 countries have signed up to the global coalition, showing the international will and commitment to combat this threat.
    On the military track, coalition airstrikes have helped to halt ISIL’s advance, and we’ve had an update today from General Allen on the work to rebuild, re-equip, and retrain the Iraqi Security Forces, allowing them in due course to push ISIL back and reassert Iraqi sovereignty over all the territory of Iraq. Beyond our military action, we reviewed how we’re doing in our efforts against ISIL’s finances and in countering their twisted narrative, how effectively we are delivering our efforts against the flow of foreign fighters arriving to fight in their ranks. And in each case, we talked about what more we can do together to achieve our objectives in these areas. We reviewed, too, how we can offer support to those who are most affected by the humanitarian crisis that the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria has brought about across the region.
    Today’s meeting confirmed the determination of our broad and united coalition to defeat not only ISIL, but also the ideology that underlies it, and not just in Iraq and Syria, but wherever it rears its head. We recognize that political progress in both Iraq and Syria will be vital in ultimately defeating ISIL in those countries, and Prime Minister Abadi updated the meeting on progress to date and the significant challenges remaining. We congratulated him on the progress that has been made in Iraq in the hundred or so days since he formed his government and reaffirmed our support for what he is doing.

    Most importantly, we all confirmed our commitment to the struggle, however long it takes and wherever it leads us, to defeating the scourge of violent Islamist extremism. Thank you. Prime Minister.



    Those remarks were delivered alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry and Haider.  Haider used his time to state what?

    Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:  Another issue, which is being discussed today, is the fiscal problem for Iraq. You know oil prices have dropped to about 40 percent of their level last year. Iraqi economy and budget relies 85 percent on oil, and this has been disastrous for us. I cannot stress this anymore, and we explained this to our partners in the coalition, and I think there is – there will be a program to stand with Iraq in their crisis. We don’t want to see a reverse of our military victory due to our budget and fiscal problems, and we have been assured that every member of this coalition will stand with Iraq in its fight against Daesh.
    Daesh is a terrorist organization. It knows no race, no religion, no region. It spares nobody, so everybody must be facing Daesh. Thank you. Mr. Secretary.



    Is the world really sympathetic to al-Abadi?  Iraq brings in billions annually from oil sales.  Many a non-oil rich country struggles with far, far less than Iraq.

    And some, no doubt, wonder why al-Abadi's not noting that it's time to diversify Iraq's economy?

    Two-term Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi spent years calling for just that.   Nick Cunningham (Oilprice.com) notes that oil makes up 90% of Iraq's revenues.

    It's really time for Haider to stop whining.  He's supposed in charge.  Be in charge.  Provide leadership and stop your damn whining.

    Might the drop in oil prices harm the fight against the Islamic State?

    How?


    I believe Haider and the US government have both insisted that part of the funding of the Islamic State was coming from blackmarket oil and the money that the Islamic State could make off it.  Well if dropping oil prices are hurting Iraq, they would also be hurting the Islamic State.

    The Islamic State is deliberately misunderstood by the US government -- in public remarks -- and by most of the press.

    We are told that the "Syrian conflict" spilled over into Iraq.

    And this lie is used to churn up fear.

    'It seeped into Iraq! It could seep further!'

    It didn't 'seep' into Iraq because Syria and Iraq share a border.

    It took root in Iraq because the Islamic State is Sunni and Sunnis were being persecuted in Iraq.

    Iraq could have shared a border with Libya, not Syria, and the Islamic State still would have come in.

    When you grasp that reality, you realize how the hoary subtext the White House has used to gin up the fear on the Islamic State is really not accurate at all.  US President Barack Obama's resorted to using 'the Domino theory' to scare people.

    'The Domino theory' was used during Vietnam and argued that, if Vietnam fell to the Communists, it would spread throughout the region and up to the United States.

    If the United States is at risk of attacks, it's not due to any dominos falling -- it's due to supporting Iraqi governments that target Sunnis.

    When you grasp that, you realize all these billions are being wasted.

    They're used to pay for weapons and to pay for bombs.

    They're useless, they're wasted dollars.

    Secure the 'homeland' in the US?

    You do that by demanding change in Iraq.

    Not by supporting the continuation of the hunting and killing of Sunnis.

    Felicity Arbuthnot has an important report at Dissident Voice which opens:


    On Saturday, January 10th, the BRussells Tribunal circulated a Press Release which stated, “Iraq: Mr Uday Al-Zaidi – Appeal of Extreme Urgency.”
    It outlined “an appeal for the immediate and urgent mobilization of (the relevant UN Agencies, Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch and other international NGOs and appropriate legal bodies) in securing the release of the prominent human rights defender, Mr Uday Al-Zaidi.”
    The Appeal was necessarily brief, but the wider context is vital to understanding as another life hangs in the balance in the living hell of the Bush and Blair led “New Iraq.”
    Mr Al-Zaidi was arrested by Iraqi security forces at 6 pm, local time, on Friday January 9th, near Al-Nasriyah in southern Iraq. Al-Zaidi, a respected journalist, is internationally renowned for his courageous advocacy against the sectarian cleansing in Iraq which began with the onset of the “divide and rule” policy of the US-UK invasion, continued under the occupation, their puppet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and now under his replacement of August 2014, Haider Al-Abadi.

    Al-Abadi came in with the US-UK tanks in 2003, having lived in London since 1977, where he was on the Executive of the (Shia) Islamic Dawa Party – which is headed by Nouri al-Maliki. The Prime Ministerial change has all the hallmarks of “same car, new paint.”



    Where's the change?


    In 2010, the Iraqi people rejected Nouri in the parliamentary elections and instead voted for a change.  They went with a national identity as evidenced by their support for Iraqiya.  But instead of allowing Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, to become prime minister, Barack sided with Nouri who refused to step down as prime minister.  The Iraqi government came to a standstill for eight months after those elections.

    The political stalemate was ended by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract which gave Nouri a second term.  In exchange, he agreed (in writing) to certain concessions.  And the White House swore that not only was the contract legally binding (it clearly wasn't) but that it had the full backing of the US government (it clearly didn't).  When Ayad Allawi walked out of Parliament, Barack personally called Allawi and restated that this contract was binding and that the US government would ensure it was followed.

    So Iraqiya rejoined the Parliament.

    And then Nouri refused to honor the promises he'd made in writing.

    And Barack didn't do a damn thing.

    The State Dept acted as though the Erbil Agreement never existed.

    And the White House continued to back Nouri as Nouri became more and more of a tyrant.

    They said nothing publicly when he began ordering the military to circle the homes of his political rivals with tanks.

    And it only got worse.

    When protests began, the State Dept had no support for them.

    When protesters were attacked by Nouri's thugs, the State Dept and the White House were silent.

    The silence only became more appalling when protesters were killed.

    And still the White House played footsie with Nouri.

    All of the above came together to create the current crises in Iraq.

    And finally, as spring ended last year, the White House broke with Nouri.

    And they backed Haider al-Abadi.

    He was supposed to be the new face that would signify change.

    He's done nothing of the kind.

    And just as with Nouri, the White House refuses to demand that Haider end the attacks on the Sunni population.

    End those attacks and the Islamic State has no reason to be in Iraq.

    If they don't have the sense to leave, you better believe the Iraqi people -- including Sunni Iraqis -- will kick them out.  It won't take billions of dollars for that to happen.

    Remove the justification for the presence and they're gone -- either on their own or forced out.

    On their own?

    Syria remains a battle field.  Diverting their forces into Iraq does not help the Islamic State fight in Syria.  The 30,000 to 50,000 fighters currently in Iraq could be better used by the Islamic State with a Syrian deployment.

    In January 2014, Nouri ordered the Iraqi military to bomb the residential neighborhoods of the Sunni city of Falluja.  These bombings are War Crimes -- collective punishment, look it up.  They have been daily bombings which have left thousands of civilians -- Sunnis -- dead or wounded.

    September 13th, Haider al-Abadi declared these bombings had ended.

    September 14th, they continued.

    And they continue to this day.

    These are War Crimes.  The US legally recognizes collective punishment as a War Crime.  In addition, the Leahy Amendment demands that a government which attacks its own people cannot receive aid from the US government.

    But Haider continues to receive aid.

    September 13th underscores the only difference between Nouri and Haider.

    Both are liars and both are clearly War Criminals.

    But Nouri's approach was to lie via the future.  The Erbil Agreement would be implemented, just not now.  The protesters demands would be met in 100 days if they'd just go home.  Over and over, Nouri played kick the can and would pretend at some near future date he would do what he was supposed to.

    Haider's different.

    Haider announces things have changed.

    Not will change, that they've changed.

    But they haven't.

    The Iraqi military bombing of Falluja hasn't ceased.

    The announced 'deal' with the Kurds over oil has still not been implemented -- though Haider did announce it and the State Dept did praise him for it -- all those weeks ago and still nothing.

    The country still doesn't have a 2015 budget.

    Go down the list.

    Nouri would lie and promise that something would happen in the future.

    Haider lies and claims it's already happened.

    That's the only difference between the two.

    And, as they did with Nouri, the White House refuses to demand the needed changes that would drive the Islamic State out of Iraq.

    The needed changes that would dramatically improve the lives of all Iraqis.

    The Islamic State is a limited threat to the United States and would not be a threat at all were the White House not repeatedly supporting thugs who persecute Iraq's Sunni community.

    Tareq al-Hashemi?

    The Vice President of Iraq was put on trial in absentia by Nouri.

    He's been sentenced to death nearly five times.

    This after Nouri had one of Tareq's bodyguards tortured to death -- after the man refused repeatedly to lie about Tareq.

    And Tareq's crime -- his only known crime -- is being Sunni.

    The White House refused to defend Tareq, they continue to refuse to.

    And that's what happens to Iraq's most prominent Sunni politician.

    For the average Sunni, with no political power at all, things are even worse.

    And until that's dealt with, until that's addressed, nothing is going to get better in Iraq.

    And if you're an American who Barack's scared to death with his fear propaganda about the Islamic State and how it will strike the 'homeland,' you need to be demanding that the Sunnis in Iraq are treated fairly and equally, that the rape and torture of Sunni women in Iraq's prisons and jails ends, that the Sunnis -- male and female -- stop disappearing into Iraq's prisons and jails, that no Sunnis are arrested anymore for the 'crime' of being married to someone or being the parent of someone or the child or sibling of someone.

    You need to demand justice.

    Because it is injustice towards the Sunni community which brought the Islamic State into Iraq and which has provided it with a home in Iraq.


    AFP reports a suicide bomber or bombers detonated in Taji leaveing "at least seven people dead" and another seventeen injured.  Al Arabiya News adds, "A newly appointed ISIS commander in Iraq's Anbar province has been killed, a police chief from Haditha told  Al Arabiya News Channel on Thursday."  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 118 people dead from violence in Iraq today with sixty-four more injured.












    Posted at 12:34 am by thecommonills
     

    Kerry wants to glory-hog a meet-up

    Kerry wants to glory-hog a meet-up

    AFP reports a suicide bomber or bombers detonated in Taji leaveing "at least seven people dead" and another seventeen injured.  Al Arabiya News adds, "A newly appointed ISIS commander in Iraq's Anbar province has been killed, a police chief from Haditha told  Al Arabiya News Channel on Thursday."

    Where is the progress?

    Oh, wait, the US State Dept's Brett McGurk hasn't had time yet to Tweet the number of bombs that were dropped on Iraq today by the US-led coalition of war planes.

    After all, that passes for progress to the US government.

    And for a plan!

    Doesn't look that way to everyone though.  Today, James Brown (The Australian) observes, "The campaign against Islamic State forces remains ongoing but with little clarity about how the US plans to motivate the beleaguered Iraqi security forces, or when a campaign to recapture Mosul might be feasible."


    Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry pontificated and thundered ("make no mistake") at a diplomatic meet-up today in London.  Andrew Osborn and Warren Strobel (Reuters) note, the meeting was hosted and led by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.  UPI explains John was a "co-host."

    You know those type of co-hosts, right?

    You do all the work and then they show up moments before the event starts and proceed to glory-hog their way through it.

    That's John Kerry.

    22 countries showed up and that's a victory for Hammond but an embarrassment for "co-host" Kerry.

    Or maybe just 21.

    Your numbers may vary, apparently.

    Which is why Jane Onyanga-Omara (USA Today) just goes with "more than 20."


    Was it sixty leaders of defense the US pulled together?

    But for those brief moments when they pretend diplomacy matters, they make do with 20.

    No word on whether John Kerry darted into Lancaster Hall with some packets of Kool-Aid and an open package of Chip Ahoy! cookies declaring, "Don't worry, I did bring snacks!"


    The British Foreign Secretary Tweeted:





    Read my article setting out how the UK and international community are combating :
    0 replies 60 retweets 8 favorites



    And the US State Dept issued a release which included the following:


    SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I want to thank Secretary Hammond and Great Britain for hosting us here today, and I’m pleased to co-host with him this important meeting of the most engaged, most involved leading-edge countries, though we are critically dependent on all 60-plus nations that are engaged in this effort.
    But as we have put this together now in a matter of a few months, we have gone from zero at the end of September to now, in January, in our fourth month, having stopped ISIL’s advance in Iraq, having negated their resources, their capacity to move foreign fighters, to a significant degree, and changed their operations as a result of what we’ve been able to do. We still have a lot of work to do, and the purpose of coming here is to bring everybody’s best advice, everybody’s thoughts about where there may be weaknesses, everybody’s thoughts about things we can do better, put that together, improve our own performance and operation, and lay down the strategy for the days ahead.
    And as Philip said, we will make this now a regular meeting almost on a monthly basis, not at the ministerial level. Ministers will meet as necessary. But it is important to coordinate. We have a tremendous amount of work to do.

    I want to thank particularly our friends here in London. Prime Minister Cameron and the President, President Obama, met a few days ago in Washington. I think everybody sensed the power of our friendship and our cooperative partnership which has never been more important on so many different fronts as it is today, and that’s why we thought it was important to come together here to follow up as effectively as possible.


    Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes that before leaving to attend the meet-up in London, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that more military aid was needed in Iraq and that "we are in this almost on our own."  These are similar to the remarks he made last week.

    Oh, well.  Maybe John let Haider take home any of the stale Chip Ahoy! cookies that didn't get eaten.


    The following community sites -- plus L Studio, Susan's On the Edge, Iraq Inquiry Digest, Antiwar.com and the Guardian -- updated:
















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














  •  



    Posted at 12:26 am by thecommonills
     

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015.   Chaos and violence continue, Barack's speech gets some attention regarding Iraq, gets called out on the issue of the economy and the failure to address veterans issues, the Iraq Inquiry will not be publishing their report anytime soon, and much more.



    Last night, US President Barack Obama blathered on about a couple who fell in love and it was one of the most embarrassing speeches ever given as a State of the Union Address.  We focused on Iraq last night.  Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) had hours to reflect on the speech before he weighed in today and here are his 'deep' thoughts re: Iraq, "He also glossed the fact that he's sent troops back to Iraq, with Baghdad at risk of falling to Islamic State." Kaveh Waddell (National Journal) adds, "The president mentioned Iraq, where Islamic State extremists have taken over significant swaths of land, only twice, compared to an average of five over his last five State of the Union speeches."


    Things only got worse.

    Barack declared, "Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, fewer than 15,00 remain."  And the do-nothing Win Without War responded with this Tweet:




    "Our combat mission in is over." President Obama. When will our remaining 15,000 troops there come home, Mr President?
    0 replies 8 retweets 4 favorites


    Now I know they're whores.  But are they stupid?  15,000 was not given by Barack as the number of US troops in Aghanistan, it was Afghanistan and Iraq.


    Win Without War is a  group who thinks they can take over the Democratic Party from within.  It's never worked out that way for them.  They just whore and whore until they stand for nothing while they continue to try to herd voters over to the Democratic Party.


    In 2006, they couldn't stop pretending to care about Iraq.

    Today?


    Not so much.

    And then there's Ruth Conniff.

    The aged princess of The Progressive is bound and determined to run the magazine into the ground -- and knowing Ruth, she'll succeed at that.

    Ruth couldn't stop Tweeting throughout the speech.

    But not about Iraq.

    Remember this is the stupid woman that went on KPFA and bragged about how none of her friends had children who enlisted and she didn't no anyone who served in the Iraq War.


    Ruth thought that was something to share.

    No surprise, her ascension at the magazine has only resulted in an already muddied approach getting worse.


    Unlike Ruth, many Americans do not veterans of today's wars.


    March Forward!'s Mike Prysner offers his take at Veterans for Peace and concludes, "A system set up like this can only replicate the same heart-wrenching tragedies for people like us. No need to watch the State of the Union--we need a revolution."  Following Barack's speech, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:


    WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 20, 2015) – Tonight, President Obama failed to address critical priorities for the veteran community, including restoring trust in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after last summer’s scandals and reforming veteran mental health care services. Despite praising the Joining Forces initiative to improve veteran unemployment and mentioning the VA disability claims backlog, the President remained silent on critical veterans issues.


    Particularly disappointing was the President’s failure to affirm his administration’s support for urgent passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act – historic bipartisan legislation that will increase access to quality mental health care and combat veteran suicide. With 22 veterans dying by suicide every day, IAVA has partnered with more than 20 veteran service organizations and partners and lawmakers from both parties to promote the bill, named after Marine veteran Clay Hunt who died by suicide in 2011.


    “Tonight, the Commander-in-Chief once again thanked our veterans and servicemembers for their selfless service to our country. However, actions speak louder than words,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “Yes, the President must speak to many constituencies in the State of the Union, but no other group fought and sacrificed for its country like veterans. After the VA scandal and marking more than 13 years of combat, veterans were hoping for a proactive policy agenda from our President. As the recent success of the film “American Sniper” attests, our country is beginning a sober discussion on the impact of the post-9/11 wars on our servicemembers, their families and our country, and we had hoped for the President to lead that conversation. He didn’t.”


    Rieckhoff continued, “This next year will be crucial for the veteran community as more servicemembers return home and transition to civilian life. But in the address tonight, the President rarely mentioned veterans. Veterans exist, and many among us need assistance, particularly in the often overlooked area of mental health care. But we refuse to have our issues swept under the rug, and we will not rest until Congress passes and the President signs the Clay Hunt SAV Act, designed to combat the tragedy of 22 veterans dying by suicide every day.”


    “Furthermore, in last year’s address the President committed to slashing the VA’s disability claims backlog. A year later, we are nowhere near “backlog zero.” Currently, more than 242,000 veterans are still waiting to get the benefits they earned. The state of the union is strong, but the state of the VA is still smoldering. Last summer, IAVA members and veterans across the country were shocked to learn about the alleged misconduct and wrongdoing at VA hospitals. For many veterans, the VA health care system is their only health care system. While we appreciate the efforts of Sec. McDonald and his team to enact reforms, we are frustrated the President did not mention how he will restore veterans’ faith in the VA after months of scandal. Our veterans don’t deserve to be ignored,” said Rieckhoff.


    IAVA looks forward to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union Address. As the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Ernst is in a unique position to fight for the nation’s veterans, particularly the female soldiers who bravely served the country. Sen. Ernst served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and currently serves as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. IAVA urges her to publicly address the veteran suicide crisis and to endorse urgent passage of the SAV Act as well.


    At IAVA offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, veterans attended SOTU watch parties and live-tweeted the President’s address using the hashtag #SOTUVets.



    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.


    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.



    Still on veterans, IAVA's Paul Reickhoff notes:





  • Details
  • " data-disclosure-type="">
    . is the first female post-9/11 vet in history elected to the Senate. National Guard CO in Iraq. Bio:




    Jon Ward (Yahoo News) reports on Senator Joni Ernst's delivery of the Republican Party's response. National Journal has the full text of her response. Megan McCardle (Bloomberg News) provides this call, "Joni Ernst, the Iowa pig farmer turned legislator, wasn't quite as wooden as most of her predecessors, and having grown up with very limited means, she was able to deliver the Republican talking points without being painted as just another rich Republican who doesn't understand the first thing about being poor. But it was light years from articulating a substantial, affirmative agenda for her party. Though to be fair, maybe that's too much to expect from a 10-minute speech."



    Back to Barack and other critiques of his speech?  Patrick Martin (WSWS) offers:


    Perhaps the most striking aspect of Obama’s hour-long address, riddled with tired clichés and empty rhetoric, was the sheer unreality of the picture he presented of America, totally at odds with the actual experience of tens of millions of working people: mounting social and economic crisis, escalating attacks on democratic rights and the growing danger of world war.
    “The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama claimed, declaring that the US has successfully emerged from the economic slump that followed the 2008-2009 financial crash. “At this moment, with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production—we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.”
    No one not hypnotized by the ever-rising share prices on the New York Stock Exchange can accept that as a serious description of American social reality. A few figures released in the past month make this clear:
    * Nine million workers are officially unemployed, another six million have dropped out of the labor force, eight million work part-time when they want full-time jobs and 12 million work for temporary employment agencies.
    * Real wages have fallen steadily for American workers since 2007, dropping another five cents an hour in December 2014. The real income of the average working-class family is now back to the level of 2000—15 years of stagnation in living standards.
    * The US poverty rate has risen from 12.6 percent in 2007 to 14.5 percent in 2013. Nearly half of all Americans and more than half of all US school children are poor or near poor.
    * One fifth of American children do not get enough to eat, while the overall rate of food insecurity has jumped from 11 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2013. One million Americans will be cut off food stamp benefits this year.

    Obama evaded any discussion of such figures, substituting instead the proposal for “middle-class economics,” a term deliberately chosen to conceal the ongoing attack on jobs and living standards of American workers. It is the latest brand-name his speechwriters have concocted for the policy of both capitalist parties, Democratic and Republican alike, of promoting the interests of American corporations and banks against their foreign rivals and the working class at home.


    Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) weighs in:


    The modern State of the Union address is designed to showcase the transparency of U.S. governance, with all three branches of the American State scrunched together in the space of a TV screen, applauding the leader. But late stage capitalism dare not reorder the world in the light of day. Since almost the beginning of the 21st century, lawyers and lobbyists for the global corporate class have been hammering out the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), sometimes called “NAFTA on steroids,” in total secrecy. Speaking to the American people, last night, President Obama feared to utter the treaty’s name. Instead, he asked “both parties to give me trade promotion authority” – ‘fast track’ passage of the legislation, unread by lawmakers – “to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.” If it were fair, of course, they wouldn’t keep it secret. By now, even the illiterate know that NAFTA and other “free trade” pacts smoothed the way for the export of U.S. jobs to the Global South and China, 20 years ago. But Obama inferred to the nation that the new deal will have the opposite effect. “More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.”

    For the record, there is no reason to believe that TPP will cause jobs to flow back to the U.S. from China – quite the opposite. But then, Obama didn’t exactly say that the jobs flow would be reversed; like the worst kind of liar, he only inferred it.



    Moving over to Iraq, Madre and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission issued the following statement:





    Media Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@iglhrc.org, +1-201-247-5057 (mobile)
    The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and MADRE, the global women’s rights group, condemn the recent killing of at least five individuals by the Islamic State, two of whom were allegedly murdered for homosexual conduct. While the story has been widely reported since January 17th as the execution of two gay men for homosexuality, no information available to date can independently verify the facts of their sexual orientation or shed light on the conduct for which they were executed. IGLHRC and MADRE emphasize the need for accuracy in understanding the executions and the urgent need to avoid inciting panic and risking further harm. In spite of the uncertainties surrounding the recent killings, however, the organizations point to the need for the international community to recognize the heightened risks facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Iraqis living under the Islamic State’s control.
    Summary of What is Known
    On January 17, the Islamic State’s local branch, the Neinava Province's Media Center, published on its website four labeled photos of its execution of two men who were thrown off a high building in Mosul, Iraq.
    The ISIS photos show crowds, including children, gathered to watch this horrific scene.
    The men’s names have not been made public.
    One of the photos in the series is captioned, “The execution is punishment for the person who committed the act of the people of Lot by throwing him off a tall building.” The term “people of Lot” is a euphemism for sodomy.
    According to the captions, the men were charged with sodomy, convicted by the Sharia court in the Neinava Province, and their punishment was in accordance with Sharia law.
    At the same time, the Islamic State posted captioned photos online of their execution of a woman they allegedly stoned to death for adultery and their crucifixion of two other men for "spreading corruption on earth" through "assaulting the Muslims with arms," "terrorizing the public," and "armed robbery."
    Summary of IGLHRC’s and MADRE’s Concerns
    IGLHRC and MADRE caution concerned members of the media, representatives of foreign governments and people of conscience generally in the strongest possible terms against assuming that the men identified as ‘gay’ and against assuming the men engaged in homosexual acts. Other than the photos themselves, very little is known about these executions. IGLHRC has tried to independently verify the events that occurred with little success to date. Without credible evidence, it is crucial to exercise extreme caution in how the event is reported and how the men are described.
    At this time, to publicly call Iraqi men “gay” can only do harm. If the men did not identify as gay, the allegation is inaccurate and obscures the Islamic State’s motivation for publicly labeling them as such. If the men indeed identified as gay, extreme caution should be exercised and consultation held with those they loved. If the men identified as gay, widespread publicity potentially exposes their families, loved ones and intimate partners to harm. Honor killings are pervasive in Iraq, so the safety of those most affected must be a paramount concern.
    Furthermore, to assume that the executions were for sodomy solely on the basis of information from the Islamic State is dangerous. Without evidentiary basis or independent confirmation, this sweeping allegation could be applied to anyone the Islamic State seeks to discredit—including human rights activists and anyone opposed to the Islamic State. Accusing opponents of homosexuality is a tried and true tool used to discredit political adversaries throughout the world.
    Accuracy is absolutely needed to moderate the level of fear of LGBTI Iraqis living in areas controlled by the Islamic State. During the anti-emo killings in 2012, rumors circulated alleging that upwards of a thousand people had been killed for perceived gender and sexual non-conformity, while the documented number was nearer ten. In response, IGLHRC interviewed LGBTI Iraqis and found that some fled the country, were shunned, isolated themselves at home too afraid to venture into the streets, and experienced high levels of suicidal ideation. The stakes today are high enough; allies in the media, foreign governments, and among concerned friends globally must understand accurately what occurred and avoid risky inflations of the threat level.
    ISIS Actions Underscore Fears Raised in 2014 by IGLHRC and MADRE
    Regardless of how any of the men or the woman executed identified or what they were executed for, the violence of the Islamic State and its tactics of intimidation are unacceptable in all instances. It is important to note that what the Islamic State describes as its “court system” is outside the bounds of international recognition, without adherence to due process and other established legal procedures.
    While the facts are unclear, the Islamic State’s very public execution of these men and very public assertion that they were executed for homosexuality underscores the fears IGLHRC, MADRE, and another co-author raised in a briefing paper issued in November, “When Coming Out is a Death Sentence.” In addition to documenting ongoing persecution of LGBTI Iraqis, the briefing paper raised concerns that LGBTI people (or anyone perceived as such) in Iraq were at imminent risk of death due to the stated intention of the Islamic State to kill anyone believed to be gay or engaged in same-sex activities. Its companion piece, “We’re Here: Iraqi LGBT People’s Accounts of Violence and Rights Abuses,” a collection of personal stories from LGBT Iraqis, describes the human costs to a community that has been largely rejected by family, community, militias and the state.
    Now that we have the Islamic State’s own boastful declaration of responsibility for these tragic deaths, it is clear that our fears of heightened risk for LGBTI Iraqis at the hands of the Islamic State continue to be well-founded. Despite cautions at this time, IGLHRC and MADRE urge the international community to focus on the specific dangers LGBTI Iraqis face within the context of the broader national crisis, including by expediting support for internal and external resettlement of people fleeing due to persecution.



    As we wind down, Felicity Arbuthnot has an important report at Dissident Voice which we'll excerpt some of tomorrow -- a promise I made yesterday but fail to keep today.  We don't have space or time and I don't have the energy.

    England?








  • " data-disclosure-type="" data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true">



    Tony Blair is quoted in various outlets stating he doesn't care if the report is released.


    Which would indicate it's a whitewash.  Blair was the prime minister who sold the Iraq War in England.  And Blair's seen the report -- unlike the British citizens.  So if he says he's okay with it being released, it probably goes to the fact that the report doesn't really hold him accountable.













    Posted at 08:54 pm by thecommonills
     

    President Admonished for Overlooking Veterans in SOTU

    President Admonished for Overlooking Veterans in SOTU

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:


    WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 20, 2015) – Tonight, President Obama failed to address critical priorities for the veteran community, including restoring trust in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after last summer’s scandals and reforming veteran mental health care services. Despite praising the Joining Forces initiative to improve veteran unemployment and mentioning the VA disability claims backlog, the President remained silent on critical veterans issues.


    Particularly disappointing was the President’s failure to affirm his administration’s support for urgent passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act – historic bipartisan legislation that will increase access to quality mental health care and combat veteran suicide. With 22 veterans dying by suicide every day, IAVA has partnered with more than 20 veteran service organizations and partners and lawmakers from both parties to promote the bill, named after Marine veteran Clay Hunt who died by suicide in 2011.


    “Tonight, the Commander-in-Chief once again thanked our veterans and servicemembers for their selfless service to our country. However, actions speak louder than words,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “Yes, the President must speak to many constituencies in the State of the Union, but no other group fought and sacrificed for its country like veterans. After the VA scandal and marking more than 13 years of combat, veterans were hoping for a proactive policy agenda from our President. As the recent success of the film “American Sniper” attests, our country is beginning a sober discussion on the impact of the post-9/11 wars on our servicemembers, their families and our country, and we had hoped for the President to lead that conversation. He didn’t.”


    Rieckhoff continued, “This next year will be crucial for the veteran community as more servicemembers return home and transition to civilian life. But in the address tonight, the President rarely mentioned veterans. Veterans exist, and many among us need assistance, particularly in the often overlooked area of mental health care. But we refuse to have our issues swept under the rug, and we will not rest until Congress passes and the President signs the Clay Hunt SAV Act, designed to combat the tragedy of 22 veterans dying by suicide every day.”


    “Furthermore, in last year’s address the President committed to slashing the VA’s disability claims backlog. A year later, we are nowhere near “backlog zero.” Currently, more than 242,000 veterans are still waiting to get the benefits they earned. The state of the union is strong, but the state of the VA is still smoldering. Last summer, IAVA members and veterans across the country were shocked to learn about the alleged misconduct and wrongdoing at VA hospitals. For many veterans, the VA health care system is their only health care system. While we appreciate the efforts of Sec. McDonald and his team to enact reforms, we are frustrated the President did not mention how he will restore veterans’ faith in the VA after months of scandal. Our veterans don’t deserve to be ignored,” said Rieckhoff.


    IAVA looks forward to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union Address. As the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Ernst is in a unique position to fight for the nation’s veterans, particularly the female soldiers who bravely served the country. Sen. Ernst served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and currently serves as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. IAVA urges her to publicly address the veteran suicide crisis and to endorse urgent passage of the SAV Act as well.


    At IAVA offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, veterans attended SOTU watch parties and live-tweeted the President’s address using the hashtag #SOTUVets.


    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.


    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.







     

    Posted at 08:52 pm by thecommonills
     


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