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The Common Ills


Friday, August 05, 2011
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 5, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, Ban Ki-Moon gets a new special envoy to Iraq, talks continue to extend the US military presence in Iraq, Barack places two million ahead of thirty million (in an apparent attempt to make up for releasing the killers of 5 US soldiers -- blood money doesn't wash, Barack), Nouri attempts to ensure protests do not get covered, and more.
 
Starting with the Libyan War.  Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is the special correspondent on Libya for Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints.  Over the weekend, his latest article (for the Centre for Research on Globalization) addressed the apparent plan (by the US and NATO) to divide Libya into three individual countries and notes the historical efforts to do this, "There have been longstanding designs for dividing Libya that go back to 1943 and 1951. This started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to the "federal system" imposed on Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951."  On today's second hour of The Diane Rehm Show, Al Jazzera's Abderrahim Foukara spoke briefly of the possible plan to "partition" Libya.
 
For those who've forgotten,  US President Barack Obama never served in the military but sure does love to send the US military into war. (The term for that is "chicken hawk.") A CIA-backed group of exiles (sounds a lot like Iraq, doesn't it?) wanted control of Libya and began a 'civil' war.  March 19th, on the 8th  anniversary of the ongoing Iraq War, Barack announced that the world was getting another war, though he insists that the war not be called a "war."  Fancy Pants was out of the country when he gave his speech which included:
 
Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians.  That action has now begun.
[. . .]
I've acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress.  And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed.  But make no mistake:  Today we are part of a broad coalition.  We are answering the calls of a threatened people.  And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.
 
Please note, these were comments to the press as he traisped through Latin America.  There was no White House address proper to inform the American people what was being done in their name.  As the US Embassy in London noted, "The United States will contribute its 'unique capabilities at the front end,' he told reporters traveling with him in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19. Obama added that the use of force was not his first choice and 'not a choice I make lightly'."  Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of Libya.  While exiles funded by the CIA (and later by France and other governments) may have wanted him out, the Libyan people living in Libya didn't seem to share that desire then and do not share it now.  What the Libyan War has done is take those who were doubtful or unsupportive of Gaddafi and made them firm supporters.  Why?  Because being attacked by an outsider tends to bind people together all the more tightly -- that is the purpose of a common enemy.  What Barack insisted would last only a few weeks has now lasted months.  The effort to allegedly protect civilians has bombed food warehouses, water plants and medical centers.  Children have been killed by the NATO bombings and, yes, that does include some of Muammar Gaddafi's grandchildren -- something that should result in universal shame not cries of, "We got his six-year-old! We took his six-year-old out!"
 
 
Recent reports indicate that continued military operations in Libya are imposing increasing hardship on civilians and may have also resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. Yesterday's Washington Post reports that "a hospital worker in western Libya said that NATO froces struck a local hospital on Monday and killed seven people, including three doctors" in Zlitan, Libya and may have also bombed food warehouses. In addition, The Washington Post reports that residents of Tripoli are experiencing significant gas shortages and high food prices.  If the reports of civilians killed by a NATO strike are true, the U.N. and the International Criminal Court must take immediate actions to hold member states and NATO's top command in Libya accountable.
 
It is an illegal war.  Barack did not get authorization for it.  He has refused to follow the War Powers Act.  And the side he backed is questioned more each day.  As James Kitfield (National Journal) pointed out on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) today, it's becoming obvious that enough work was not done on researching the 'rebel' side.  That's becoming obvious because of a development last week: a member of the Transitional Council was killed.  The Transitional Council is the so-called 'rebels' fighting to 'free' Libya.  Thursday of last week on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya about the death (Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday).

Mahdi Nazemroaya: Abdul Fatah Younis has been declared dead. The circumstances around it exactly aren't known. We'll know at the press conference. And CNN will be present, BBC, Sky News, as well as various international news services.

Kevin Pina: Well Mahdi, explain to us who this man was and why it's so important. And obviously this is a breaking news story, you're breaking news on Flashpoints that this man was confirmed dead.

Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well this man was the former Interior Ministry of the government in Triopoli. He's a longtime friend of Col Gaddafi as well and he's also a member of the group of young Arab officers who started the revolution with Col Gaddafi. So it was actually a big surprise when he defected and joined the Transitional Council in Benghazi. Now his death, as I mentioned, the circumstances around it aren't known. I've heard different things I'm going to have to confirm. I was told that the rebel forces, the so-called rebels, have claimed that they killed him themselves because he was about to defect --

Kevin Pina: Defect back?

Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes. He was going to do a second defection. Because a lot of the rebels are also tired of the fighting and I've heard that there might have even been negotiations for them to end the fighting and to come back. But anyways, I've also heard that he probably could have been killed by the government side. So this is not clear and it has to be confirmed.
 
This was a major development.  Sunday at Third, we pointed out, "And what message does it send to defectors when they learn that the defector they put in charge of their forces was never trusted?  The message is that no one in the so-called rebels trusts anyone. That's some form of team building exercise . . . for losers."  Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) wrote an in depth column on the meaning of the murder.  Excerpt:
 
Aside from the general barbarity of this act, which gives us a glimpse of what the rebel regime will look like if and when they take power in all of Libya, look at the curious factional line up in the rebels' internal power struggles. Although the Official Story, as promulgated by the NTC, keeps changing -- initially, a "pro-Gadhafi" faction in Benghazi, an "armed gang," was blamed for the killing, but there are too many Western reporters in town to keep a lid on the truth (or some approximation of it) for long. Now we are told that those responsible for the killing --  rebel soldiers -- have been arrested. However, whomever gets the Official Blame in the end isn't what's interesting: the real scoop is that our boy, Haftar -- think Ahmed Chlabi, Libyan version -- is aligned with the Islamists against the more secular elements, defectors like Younes and the Benghazi lawyers who make up the civilian leadership of the rebellion.
As in the Balkans, where US-trained and-funded "Kosovo Liberation Army" guerrillas fought alongside al-Qaeda's legions and NATO forces, so the same alliance is fighting to "liberate" Libya. It is as if a time machine has thrust us back in the Clinton years -- and indeed these are the Clinton years, redux, at least in the foreign policy realm, as this is the policy area that has been ceded to the Clintons by a disengaged and generally hapless President Obama. All of which puts in a new perspective recent boasts by top administration officials and various "experts" that we are on the verge of finally defeating al-Qaeda. Why, then, are they allying with Osama bin Laden's Libyan legatees?
 
From the second hour of  The Diane Rehm Show today:

James Kitfield: One thing about the Younis situation that worries me is that he was summoned by the Council itself, the Transitional Council apparently thought he had done something wrong and somewhere between being summoned and getting to the Transitional Council, he was murdered.  So -- his tribe is now up in arms saying they may break off from the rebellion. 
 
In an analysis published by WSWS yesterday, Peter Symonds explains, "The unexplained killing last week of the Libyan rebel military commander, General Abdel Fatah Younis, has highlighted the divided and unstable character of the NATO-backed Transitional National Council (TNC) and the military stalemate in its efforts to oust the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The assassination has provoked a series of comments by British and French ministers that effectively reverse months of US and NATO propaganda predicting the imminent fall of Gaddafi."
 
Again, from the second hour of today's Diane Rehm Show, National Journal's James Kitfield:
 
 
James Kitfield: And one further complicating factor.  People aren't really talking about but I believe it's in September the UN resolution that really okayed this runs out  and given that NATO has gone way beyond what it originally said it was going to do which was just to protect people from massacre from the air to bombing command centers and taking out tanks, it's very hard for me to imagine that they get an extension of that [resolution] through the [United Nations] Security Council so that means that there might be a due-by-date on NATO airstrikes and power for this and that further complicates it.
 
 
When we quote from The Diane Rehm Show, we generally give one link.  There are multiple today due to the fact that it was pointed out to me that last Friday's snapshot did not include any link for the excerpt.  We were rushing (me dictating and my friend typing) and that was among many things that were forgotten.  My mistake and my apology.  To make up for it, we have included a link every time we noted it in this snapshot. On Diane's second hour today, CNN's Elise Labot had much to say on several topics and I'm passing that over to anyone in the community who wants to grab that at their site tonight.
 
2008 presidential candidate and former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney went on a fact-finding mission to Libya and has gone around the country since returning speaking out against what is happening.  Black Agenda Report features many of her talks about Libya (some with video and some with just audio).  She and others have more reports back coming.  We'll run the full announcement tomorrow but there's not room in the snapshot.  This is from the announcement:
 
 
A continuing mobilization against the U.S. war on Libya has taken place in cities across the country. Packed, standing room only audiences at major meetings have heard former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney report on her June fact-finding trip to Libya with the Dignity delegation. In every meeting the message rings out: Stop the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya.
In the coming ten days Cynthia McKinney is scheduled to speak at meetings in Boston on Saturday, August 6, in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 7, in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 9. McKinney will speak at the Millions March in Harlem of August 13 along with Minister Farrakhan and other opponents of war and sanctions on Libya and Zimbabwe. She is scheduled to speak at 2 meetings in North Carolina on Sunday, August 14 hosted by the Black Workers for Justice in Rocky Mount and later at a historic civil rights church in Durham.
CLICK HERE for FULL LISTING
CLICK HERE TO DONATE FOR TOUR EXPENSES
To see Cynthia speaking at Riverside Church, click here.  The release notes that Cynthia spoke to a standing-room-only audience at Newark's Abyssinian Baptist Church.   Quoting from the release:
 
A Full listing of the current tour follows and is available at: www.IACenter.org
National-tour, now to 19 cities, organized by International Action
Center in coordination with many antiwar and
community organizations from July 7 to August 28, 2011.
 
July 7 Thursday- Houston, TX
July 9 Saturday - Peacestock, Hager City, WI & Minneapolis, MN
July 10, Sunday – Albany, NY,  
July 11, Monday –Washington DC,  
July 14, Thursday – Northampton MA,  
July 24, Sunday –Atlanta, GA
July 28, Thursday – Newark, NJ,
July 30, Saturday – New York City, NY
August 6, Saturday  – Boston, MA
August 7, Sunday – Los Angeles, CA
August 9, Tuesday – Vancouver BC, Canada
August 13, Saturday - NYC with Millions March in Harlem
August 14, Sunday - Rocky Mount, and Durham, NC
August 19, Friday – St Louis MO
August 21, Sunday - Pittsburg, PA
August 25, Thursday - Baltimore, MD
August 27, Saturday – Detroit, MI
August 28, Sunday – Denver CO
 
If you're able to see Cynthia on the remaining dates, you should make the effort.  She's been the strongest voice against the Libyan War and a real leader on this issue.  (And she's an amazing speaker on any topic.)
 
Turning to Iraq, today United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated he intends to appoint Garmany's Martin Kobler as the special envoy to Iraq, replacing Ad Melkert who has held the post since 2009.  (And Ad Melkert has proven highly ineffective when you measure the needs-to list he was given with what was actually accomplished. When you've failed to accomplish what you were supposed to, you may be tempted to spin reality in the progress report you provide the Security Council.)  So who is Martin Kobler?
 
The Goethe Institut has described the 58-year-old as "a globe-trotting diplomat." Gamal Nkrumah (Al-Ahram Weekly) offered of him in a profile, "He is a disarming mixture of joshing informality and intense enthusiasm, and appears to like questions rather more than answers." Current reports on the announcement  (AFP, DPA, Reuters, etc) tend to ignore the three children and his spouse.  The latter is surprising because in 2006, Britta Wagener was news.  That's when her husband (Kobler) was Germany's ambassador to Egypt and and he made the second in charge at the embassy was Britta Wagner.  Complaints were filed over it, there was a protest at a staff meeting in December of 2004 and issues of conflicts of interest were raised.  If you read German, you can click here for one report on the issue.  Also not being discussed is the fact that he's going from Afghanistan (UN Mission in Afghanistan) to Iraq at a time when so many are going the opposite way. 
 
Kobler was previously Germany's Abassdor to Iraq for roughly one year (August 2006 through September 2007).  Of that period of time, he told the Goethe Institut, "I never experienced anarchy before living in Iraq. In 2006 there was no trust, no system, nothing to give a backbone to the society. The situation had stripped people of all morality.  At any moment children could be kidnapped, held for ransom, anyone might be caught in a bomb blast.  It made me realize that Fate alone decides if you are born into a protected childhood."
 
Let's stay on the topic of diplomacy to note this Tweet by Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf about Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari.
 
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
 
 
Yes, the topic of non-withdrawal, Al Mada reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament is stating that they have not agreed to go along with or approve the plan to keep the US military in Iraq under the guise of trainers. The spokesperson calls it a betrayal of Iraqis and notes that if the issue was really training there would be no need to specify how many US soldiers would remain in Iraq.  Jane Arraf adds:
 
 
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
 
Mohammed A. Salih (Christian Science Monitor) explores feelings on the issue in Kirkuk and finds many who want the US military to remain such as Mohammed Jassim who states, "Ideally, I would not want US soldiers to be ehre. But the reality makes me want them to stay.  If they were leave now problems and tensions might emerge.  There are many sides who don't want things to go well here."  Part of the reason many in Kirkuk may want US forces to stay is that their oil-rich region is still a huge question mark.  This despite the fact that Constiution of Iraq called for the issue to be resolved with a census and a referendum no later than the end of 2007.  Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then, he is prime minister now.  He refused to follow the Constitution. 
 
With the exception of Chris Hill (one-time US Ambassador to Iraq -- who infamously told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that it was  "just an old  fashioned land dispute"), diplomats with various governments and the United Nations have publicly spoken of how important resolving the issue of Kirkuk is to the future and stability of Iraq.  Due to the oil there, everyone wants it.  Due to the historical expulsions of various groups in differing waves, claims are made on the region.  The central government out of Baghdad wants it and the Kurdistan Regional Government wants it.  Tensions run high between Arabs and Kurds over this issue and these tensions threaten the future of Iraq as the RAND Corporation's recent report, entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops," noted.  (See the July 26th snapshot for more on the RAND report.)  While Arabs and Kurds are the large parties disputing who has the right to Kirkuk, they are not the only groups of people in Kirkuk.  Among others, there are the Turkemen who first came to Kirkuk as far back as 1055.  It's a very complex issue and the plan was to have it resolved by 2007.  Despite that being written into the Constitution, it did not happen and the fate of Kirkuk remains unresolved today.
 
Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) observes that "the Kurdish bloc, the largest gainer in the Iraq War, hopes for a long-term presence of the American soldiers, especially in the disputable region of Kirkuk. Worries from the other religious party Sunni Muslim will be deepened as the Shiites in neighboring Iran will expand its clout without the threats posed by the U.S. military." Of course, Jalal Talabani has already stated his opinion that US forces need to remain in Iraq stated it to Chinese Television.  From that interview last month:
 
Axes: On the subject of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, there are media reports talking about the agreement of the Iraqi parliament on this issue, hoping to keep U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of this year, while White House also hoped to extend the stay of troops U.S. in Iraq, what is your opinion on the subject of the withdrawal of U.S. forces or keep them?

President Talabani: First, this news is not true, that the Iraqi parliament decided anything for the survival of U.S. forces, the Iraqi parliament to now did not study the subject, well known that relations between Iraq and the United States determined agreement (SOFA), which provides for the evacuation of U.S. forces at the end of this year, as well as our (the strategic framework agreement) on the principles of relationships, the parties of Iraq and the U.S. insist on this agreement, which sets political and trade relations, cultural and technological ... etc. The theme of the survival of U.S. forces in Iraq, First extension of the agreement is not possible because the extension of the agreement requires approval by two thirds parliament and this can not be obtained, while you remain a number of American forces for training or not? I chaired the days before the two meetings of leaders of Iraqi political attended by all political actors, some views were clear and some are not clear, for example, the direction of the Sadrist movement, which to them (40) deputies in the parliament is the categorical rejection of the presence of U.S. forces, the direction of Kurdish leadership is to keep U.S. forces a limited number, at least in the disputed areas, and the rest They still studying this topic, Voattiyna Mhlten of Iraqi political parties to give us an answer within the prescribed time about whether they agree with the survival of a number of U.S. troops, and not all the troops, the Americans also do not want to keep all their forces, and proposed is that the number of U.S. troops for training, of course I want to say a thing which is that according to the reports of officers and the military leadership of Iraq, the military leadership of the Air Force, Navy and armor and infantry filed reports to the President and the Prime Minister in these reports say where he can not protect the Iraqi Air and the sea of ​​Iraq and the Iraqi border after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, say they can protect the internal security but can not protect the atmosphere air, land and sea, our aircraft, American aircraft that we purchased had not yet reached, if reached need to be a period of training as well, for the Navy do not have boats enough to protect sea, which for us is very important, because the only source of the great Iraqi oil is the sea so we if hampered the export of oil will affect our economy, our line of oil passes through Turkey, this line is not sufficient for the export of oil, we now produce more than (3) million barrels per day and over the next year, God willing, we get to (4) million, then we need two others, we intend to extend another line through Syria, and run the old line passing through Syria broken now, as well as the oil pipeline to Aqaba through Jordan, only then we can export the quantities of oil we produce in the country, and as I said, Iraqi experts believe that Iraq remains a need to protect the air, sea and training the Iraq on the weapons that we bought from America, weapons, armor, Abrams tanks and aircraft (F16) and (F18) that we bought, we bought from America all were new to the Iraqis, we need the training, I noticed during the discussions between the Iraqi political forces that there is a tendency for the survival of a limited number of U.S. trainers, and the survival of a larger U.S. troop is not there a strong desire, as I said there is opposition to the survival of these forces by some forces.

 
 
 
Aswat al-Iraq reports that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met last night to continue discussions about keeping US forces in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Karamatullah K. Ghori (Asia Times) notes of the reasons (excuses) being given to argue for keeping US troops in Iraq:


In touting the line that Iraqi forces are inadequate to rise to challenges that remain largely undefined beyond the cryptic excuse of sectarian divide, the generals betray an appalling disregard for their own failure to train their Iraqi proteges sufficiently. If they couldn't do it in eight years, despite all the resources and numbers at their command, what's there to lend confidence to anyone that they'd be able to find the holy grail of a competent and fully trained Iraqi security force with a thinned-out and scaled-down presence?
Iraqi politicians, representing the full spectrum of the country's myriad factions and clans, do seem to a certain extent to subscribe to the American angst on account of the Iraqi troops' half-baked ability to take charge of the gargantuan task of keeping the country secured against anarchy.

As part of the deal to open discussions (and to keep US troops in Iraq -- Nouri wouldn't have given in just for 'discussions'), Nouri's agreed to finally create the security council to be headed by Ayad Allawi that the Erbil Agreement promised last November. Al Mada reports that State of Law is attempting to fast track the issue through the Parliament and stating that no additional conditions have to be met to create the council.

Protests swept the MidEast and that included Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki tried to distract (his 100 days), tried to suppress (beating and jailing reporters covering the protests) and his assault continues. The Great Iraqi Revolution published the following:

The Green-Zone government will start pursuing and prosecuting the Iraqi activists and protesters who are using the Facebook to share protests news through the Articles of the - Electronic Crime Act - . The preliminary reading of the NEW E-Crime Act was a few days ago and here's its articles :

Article 4 - Whoever starts or runs a website with the intent to execute programes or ideas to disobey the public order or promote , facilitate or implement such actions will be sentensed with life imprisonment and a fine of not less than 25 million Iraqi Dinars and not more than 50 Iraqi million Dinars .

Article 6 - A sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than 25 million Iraqi Dinars and not more than 50 Iraqi million Dinars will be executed if any citizen uses the computers or the internet with intent to commit one of the following acts :
1- Creating chaos in order to undermine the authorities using the country's electronic systems .
2- Provoking an armed rebellion, threatening of starting it or promoting it , inciting sectarianism, disturbing security or public order or offending the country's reputation.
So the corrupt government has started a new law to use it as an excuse to pursue us and silence our voices, is this the "democracy" of the "new" Iraq ? the democracy that we lost our independence and 1.5 million Iraqi casualties for ?

Last week in al-Rifeiat, a US-Iraqi mission resulted in the deaths of at least 3 Iraqis (some reports say four). The New York Times' Tim Arango has covered the events here and here. Today Aswat al-Iraq reports on a joint-raid by the US-and Iraqi forces in a the village of Kidhr in which 1 small boy and a police officer were killed by the joint-forces and the child's father was left injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing left twelve people injured and that there was a Baghdad rocket attack on the Green Zone.  In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes a Baghdad sticky bombing wounded two people.
 
Turning to the United States where President Barack Obama offered a number of proposals today.  We disagree with his tax rewards for hiring veterans but before we get to that, we'll note this from Senator Patty Murray's office:
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee commended President Obama on outlining new initiatives to promote veterans employment. Chairman Murray is the author of the bipartisan Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which takes major new steps to put our nation's veterans into fulfilling jobs when they return home. Senator Murray's bill, which has companion legislation in the House of Representatives and is co-sponsored by 32 Senators, cleared the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on June 29th and is set to be considered by the full Senate in the fall.
"The President clearly knows that getting our economy back on track and getting our veterans back to work go hand-in-hand. Our veterans are disciplined, experienced, team-players with the unique expertise our employers are seeking. But we have to make sure they get their foot in the door.
"That's why I'm working to pass the bipartisan Hiring Heroes Act in the Senate which provides job skills for every single member of the military who's separating from service. My bill, which has been passed out of Committee with unanimous support, will for the first time ensure that we are making the most out of the enormous investment we make in our servicemembers. Instead of patting them on the back for their service and letting our veterans go into the job market alone, my bill equips them with the resources needed to help find a rewarding career.
"I welcome the President's bold ideas and initiatives to this effort and look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead. But I also hope to give this effort the jumpstart it needs now by putting the Hiring Heroes Act on his desk as soon as possible."
INFORMATION ON CHAIRMAN MURRAY'S BIPARTISAN BILL IS BELOW:
The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011
A bill to improve job training and placement services to ensure veterans who have served and sacrificed for our nation have jobs when they come home. Bipartisan legislation that for the first time takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the skyrocketing unemployment rates for our veterans.
THE PROBLEM: A GENERATION OF UNEMPLOYED YOUNG VETERANS
Veterans have the skills, determination, discipline and talent to succeed in the twenty-first century economy. But too often they face unique challenges that translate into trouble finding a job or starting a business.
· Department of Labor data estimates that the unemployment rate for veterans age 20-24 has been as high as 27 percent.

· With the President's announcement that 33,000 U.S. troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of 2012, added to those already returning from Iraq, the problem of veteran unemployment will only grow larger.

· Returning veterans face certification barriers-- medics who return home from treating battlefield wounds can't get certifications to be an EMT or to drive an ambulance and truck drivers are unable to get CDL licenses.
THE CONSEQUENCES: JOBS ARE THE BUILDING BLOCK OF A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION
Helping veterans find employment provides an income to support their families; creates self- esteem and pride; and is critical to avoiding veteran homelessness.

· The Institute of Medicine, citing a study by the National Center for Homeless Veterans, found an inability for veterans to translate military skills into civilian employment as being a primary cause of homelessness. It is also widely acknowledged, including in a recent RAND study, that employment difficulties are a serious risk factor for suicide among veterans.

· The dignity and security that work provides are critical in addressing some of the biggest challenges veterans are facing including skyrocketing suicide statistics, problems at home, substance abuse, and even in rising homelessness among our young veterans.

THE SOLUTION: THE HIRING HEROES ACT OF 2011: PROVIDING THE SKILLS TO SUCCEED
The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 is a landmark bill that for the first time authorizes programs aimed at improving the transition from servicemember to civilian employee.

· Provides job training for service members leaving our military by ensuring that every transitioning servicemember participates in DoD's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides job skills training including resume writing, interview skills, and job search information. Currently, the TAP program is not mandatory even though we have a 27% unemployment rate among young veterans.
· Provides a fast track to federal employment for veterans by allowing them to start the process of getting a job without having to wait months for their veterans preference. This will help more veterans have a job waiting for them the day they leave the service.

· Will finally move forward with helping service members transfer the skills they learned in the field back to civilian jobs by beginning to cut the red tape around training and certification barriers.

THE IMPACT: CAPATALIZING ON INVESMENTS WE MAKE IN OUR HEROES
· We have invested billions of dollars in training our young men and women with new skills to protect our nation. Every servicemember receives formal training for a specialty within their service in addition to training in other areas such as leadership and strategic planning. When servicemembers leave, those valuable skills leave with them. Concurrently, many elements of the Government need dependable people with those same skill sets. It benefits the Government and the servicemember to keep them in the Federal system, and to streamline that process.

THE COST: FULLY PAID FOR AND A COST SAVER

· The bill is paid for by allowing the VA to collect a home loan fee from those who utilize the benefit more than once.
· There is also additional cost savings DoD savings from unemployment payments. Military unemployment payments have doubled since 2008. The military paid $882 million in unemployment benefits last year, up from $450 million in fiscal 2008. The 2011 figures are trending even higher.

Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct

matt_mcalvanah@murray.senate.gov

News Releases | Economic Resource Center | E-Mail Updates

 
 
We have endorsed the Hiring Heroes Act, it is needed and we applaud Senator Murray and the others for their hard work on the issue. But we do not endorse what Barack proposed today. Steve Vogel (Washington Post) reports of Barack's announced plan, "The proposed tax incentives would provide companies a $2,400 credit for hiring an unemployed veteran and $4,800 for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed six months or longer. An existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with a service-connected disability would be increased to $9,600."  The plan is already a flop on arrival.  I've spoken with three members of the Black Caucus today to find out what the reception was from their constituents to this proposal?  Not pleased.
 
Not a surprise.  African-Americans have been hit hard by the Great Recession and a record number cannot find employment -- you have to drop back over fifty years to find a comparable situation.  African-Americans can rightly make a claim to historical inequalities that require a remedy -- that is the legal basis for Affirmative Action.  There is no legal basis at all for rewaring employers for hiring veterans.  At a time when the country faces massive unemployment, Barack wants to waive through a tiny segment of the population which cannot claim any historical grievance.  Supposedly people serve to protect the nation and for other noble ideas.  If the nation is indeed a democracy, you're not going to put a class of non-aggrieved citizens ahead of all others.
 
If you use the figures bandied about, there's a million veterans needing employment now and another million to be added next year.  The official unemployment rate is currently 9.1%.  It's actually much higher and a conservative, but realisitc, estimate would be at least 16%.  Barack's saying these Americans don't matter, don't hire them, don't employ them, hire these veterans and we'll give you thousands and thousand of dollars.  (The White House estimates they'll spend $120 million in the next two years on this.)
 
That's not fair, that's not right.  Senator Patty Murray's bill attempts to ensure that veterans are on equal footing.  That means, for example, if you were a medical assistant in Afghanistan and you're applying for a related job in the US, you have certification from the military that allows you to be credited with and recognized for the training you've already recieved and the abilities that are your own.  That would allow you to compete with anyone else with similar civilian experience for that job.  Because in the civilian world, the person would have gotten a certification.  Currently, in the military, certifications and licenses for various tasks (even including truck driving) are not awarded.  So you return to civilian life with skills but with no documentation that you can show.  That's not fair, that's not right.  Senator Murray's bill aims at equalizing the playing field.
 
We support that 100%.  We even support training centers for veterans to give them additional skills.  But when you walk into a room for an interview, you should be on equal footing.  The government stating (whispering), "Hire the veteran and we'll pay you cash for doing so," destroys equal footing. 
 
Senator Murray's office has been very careful in their use of figures.  When they use a figure, they can back it up.   Not everyone has been so precise and the figure appears to be created by each news outlet.  Again, I've spoken to three members of the Black Caucus today and, no, I wasn't surprised at all that people are voicing disbelief to their representatives about this plan.  Barack proposes to give 2 million veterans a preference in hiring when, as Leo Hindery Jr. (Huffington Post) pointed out last February, 29.6 million Americans are unemployed.  The numbers are not on Barack's re-election side.
 
By now, over 30 million Americans are unemployed.  As they remain unemployed, they now have a target for their ire: Barack and his scheme to place veterans ahead of them. What was the crime of these 30 million which necessitates they be punished?  That's what Barack's scheme does, it punishes the already unemployed.  Not only does that not grab votes from the unemployed, but it also donesn't grab votes from the employed -- many of whom worry that next month may bring the layoff and they're seeing no relief from the White House, no action from the White House to help them.  But they see Barack wanted to grand stand and take away their shot at equality by giving tax dollars -- their tax dollars! -- to companies for hiring veterans.
 
If the thought was, "Well, it will help us with veterans and veterans families." No.  No, it won't.  There are many reasons Ron Paul -- not Barack Obama -- leads on campaign donations from the military enlisted.  And today's stunt is seen very poorly by the many veterans and veterans families already angered at Barack for his 'dance with terrorists' -- wherein he released the killers of 5 US service members in order to curry favor with a foreign government. For those late to the party, we'll again drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:
 
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s.Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London).  The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released.  This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq.  Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a

Posted at 07:36 pm by thecommonills
 

Nouri's latest assault and US-Iraqi forces kill a child

Nouri's latest assault and US-Iraqi forces kill a child

Protests swept the MidEast and that included Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki tried to distract (his 100 days), tried to suppress (beating and jailing reporters covering the protests) and his assault continues. The Great Iraqi Revolution published the following:


The Green-Zone government will start pursuing and prosecuting the Iraqi activists and protesters who are using the Facebook to share protests news through the Articles of the - Electronic Crime Act - . The preliminary reading of the NEW E-Crime Act was a few days ago and here's its articles :

Article 4 - Whoever starts or runs a website with the intent to execute programes or ideas to disobey the public order or promote , facilitate or implement such actions will be sentensed with life imprisonment and a fine of not less than 25 million Iraqi Dinars and not more than 50 Iraqi million Dinars .

Article 6 - A sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than 25 million Iraqi Dinars and not more than 50 Iraqi million Dinars will be executed if any citizen uses the computers or the internet with intent to commit one of the following acts :
1- Creating chaos in order to undermine the authorities using the country's electronic systems .
2- Provoking an armed rebellion, threatening of starting it or promoting it , inciting sectarianism, disturbing security or public order or offending the country's reputation.


So the corrupt government has started a new law to use it as an excuse to pursue us and silence our voices, is this the "democracy" of the "new" Iraq ? the democracy that we lost our independence and 1.5 million Iraqi casualties for ?


Nouri consolidates his power by silencing the opposition and by ensuring he's protected by US troops. On the topic of non-withdrawal, Al Mada reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament is stating that they have not agreed to go along with or approve the plan to keep the US military in Iraq under the guise of trainers. The spokesperson calls it a betrayal of Iraqis and notes that if the issue was really training there would be no need to specify how many US soldiers would remain in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq reports that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met last night to continue discussions about keeping US forces in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Karamatullah K. Ghori (Asia Times) notes of the reasons (excuses) being given to argue for keeping US troops in Iraq:


In touting the line that Iraqi forces are inadequate to rise to challenges that remain largely undefined beyond the cryptic excuse of sectarian divide, the generals betray an appalling disregard for their own failure to train their Iraqi proteges sufficiently. If they couldn't do it in eight years, despite all the resources and numbers at their command, what's there to lend confidence to anyone that they'd be able to find the holy grail of a competent and fully trained Iraqi security force with a thinned-out and scaled-down presence?
Iraqi politicians, representing the full spectrum of the country's myriad factions and clans, do seem to a certain extent to subscribe to the American angst on account of the Iraqi troops' half-baked ability to take charge of the gargantuan task of keeping the country secured against anarchy.

As part of the deal to open discussions (and to keep US troops in Iraq -- Nouri wouldn't have given in just for 'discussions'), Nouri's agreed to finally create the security council to be headed by Ayad Allawi that the Erbil Agreement promised last November. Al Mada reports that State of Law is attempting to fast track the issue through the Parliament and stating that no additional conditions have to be met to create the council.

Last week in al-Rifeiat, a US-Iraqi mission resulted in the deaths of at least 3 Iraqis (some reports say four). The New York Times' Tim Arango has covered the events here and here. Today Aswat al-Iraq reports on a joint-raid by the US-and Iraqi forces in a the village of Kidhr in which 1 small boy and a police officer were killed by the joint-forces and the child's father was left injured.


We'll close with this from World Can't Wait's "We Are Not Your Soldiers At LA Rising" which features numerous photos if you use the link:


We Are Not Your Soldiers was an undeniable presence at LA Rising. Hundreds of orange WANYS bandanas were visible on arms, around necks, hanging from belts, and worn as head covers. 10 Students from the LA area, whose teacher has had the speaking tour visit his classes, staffed our table and met and talked with young people about driving recruiters out of schools.

Youth, and all ages created a We Are NOT Your Soldiers Banner collectively and this process evoked thoughtful discussions between people who got to know each other as they spoke about what message they wanted military recruiters to hear. "Bombing for peace is like f*&king for virginity""F&*k YOU-I won't do what you tell me!""Don't be manipulated by your own gov't again!""Wake Up!!!""I love my friends so stop recruiting!""Ya Basta!" "Don't take my brother!"




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Posted at 06:14 am by thecommonills
 

In a bad economy, don't piss people off

In a bad economy, don't piss people off

Bill Whitaker (CBS Evening News -- link has text and video) reports on veterans efforts to find jobs. It is known that young male veterans of the current wars are the hardest hit.

I don't doubt that high rate of unemployment. I do wonder about the figures now being used. Generally, the news media uses employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And a friend who is a disable veteran from an earlier war brought up the issue this week wondering how many of the unemployed young veterans were disabled or challenged?

Good question. In 2010, the Bureau noted that the rate for disabled veterans was the same as for those with no disability. But that was all veterans, of all age groups.

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are set to be released later this morning. That'll be July's data. Currently, we have June's data and there's not a break down by age. But male veterans of the current wars, of all ages, had an unemployment rate of 13.5% (up from 10.8% in June of 2010).

Though women are repeatedly ignored by the media, they had a 12.1% rate (down from 15.8% in June of last year). It's interesting that in the summer of 2010, women veterans of the current wars had the highest unemployment rate but no one called for hearings on that. It's interesting and it's telling and the true unemployment rate needs to be known and not a figure here or there. The number's been bandied about in Congress, it's always changing. And I mean within a 30 day period.

To be very clear, we champion for veterans to get what was promised them. That means the health care and any other benefits. We do not, at this site, put any class of Americans above another class. This isn't a military junta, this is supposed to be a democracy. In a democracy, all are supposed to be created equal.

What's my point?

Alexandra Alper, Matt Spetainick and Eric Walsh (Reuters) report, "President Barack Obama on Friday will propose a $120 million package of new tax credits for businesses that hire U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at a time of stubbornly high unemployment at home." UPI adds, "The proposal, which Obama was to make at the Washington Navy Yard at 11 a.m. EDT Friday, will call for a $4,800 'Returning Heroes' tax credit to companies that hire veterans unemployed for six months or more and a $2,400 tax credit if they hire one without a job for less than six months, the adviser told the Examiner."

You might look the other way if veterans were facing huge unemployment in a time of prosperity. But the entire country is facing unemployment.

As most of grasp hearing Barack repeatedly lie about the military service of his grandfather (the White one), he's really sensitive to the fact that he didn't serve in the military. So he overcompensates and exaggerates. And that's fine in his own remarks but he can't do that with policy.

A) It's not fair. B) It's not smart.

Let's deal with the second one because we all know Barack wants to be re-elected. Young veterans of today's wars is a small sample of the overall population. That's why we're repeatedly told that most people don't even know anyone that's served in Iraq or Afghanistan. So a policy that will anger the largest pool of voters isn't a smart policy if you're trying to shore up votes.

Now the fairness issue, why is a subclass of male veterans getting this? African-American males over the age of 20 have an unemployment rate of 17.0% (seasonally adjusted, June 2011). Where is the program for that classification?

For today's veterans, the Congress has proposed post-service training programs and licensing and certification programs to give veterans the paperwork they need to market the skills they learned on the job. There's no problem with that. It should be done.

But when you're offering tax breaks to hire one group of people at a time of massive unemployment across the country, you better be able to justify it and you damn well better be sure it doesn't end up pissing off most people. When the unemployment lines across America are so massive, you're offering a tax incentive to hire one group means every other group of unemployed Americans are now at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a job.

That's reality. In a struggling economy with massive unemployment, jobs become a zero sum game and Blaine getting a job due to being a veteran means non-veteran Alex isn't getting that job
because there's no tax incentive to hire Alex.

In a prosperous time when jobs abounded, you could argue employment wasn't a zero sum game. But that's not the realities the US currently faces. But the reality is that Barack has not created jobs and that more jobs have been lost and continue to be lost. His approval ratings continue to drop because excuses aren't cutting it. And now with an increasingly angry electorate, worried about food and housing and facing the inflation that is going on (but no one wants to talk about), he's presenting a plan that will help very few people but provides every American who can't find a job with an excuse as to why?

This was a stupid move politically. Jobs are his weakest issue. Jobs are what he's failed to provide. Jobs are what Americans count on to pay the bills. It was a stupid move.

And it will portray him as further out of touch with Americans.


Training centers or any number of things he could have proposed for veterans and Americans wouldn't have been taken aback. But when you tell citizen A that they're going into a job interview opposite citizen B and that the government will provide the company a tax break for hiring citizen B, you're creating an unequal playing field and you're creating ill will. Not really good to do with an angry electorate which feels that government -- at all levels -- is no longer responsive to their needs.

This morning Wally and Cedric put up their latest joint-post:


And swiping from that, for Wednesday and Thursday these were the community posts:


"The wake up call"
"Day 2 with Cleaver"
"David Walsh breaks it down"
"The continued Great Recession"
"3 men, 2 women"
"4 men, 2 women"
"where is the outrage?"
"gene jones: fake and coward"
"While you looked for your comfort zone . . ."
"The wasteful lies"
"Through the mirror of my mind, time after time . . ."
"Too hot"
"Hillary"
"The real racism"
"Ugh"
"Message from Michael"
"FSRN earns praise"
"Iraq and the 'crisis'"
"Matthew Rothschild is worthless"
"THIS JUST IN! DIVAS NEED LOVE TOO!"
"A rough age for divas"

We'll close with this from Glen Ford's "Ruin-Nation: The Obama Catastrophe" (Black Agenda Report):

The most pitiful picture to emerge from the mega-debacle just witnessed in Congress, is that of Black Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, standing on the House floor in mid-July, asking “Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully” by Republicans, in the debt debate. As if insults to Obama’s dignity were the crisis ravaging her constituents and the rest of Black America. A report had just confirmed that 30 years of (meager) Black gains were wiped out between 2005 and 2009. One-third of Black America is without assets or has negative wealth, including half of Black single women, the people that raise the majority of Black kids, one-third of whom live in poverty. Black unemployment sits at Depression levels. But Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee was upset because of perceived disrespect to Obama, who offers nothing to Black people but the corporate crap-line, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The entire structure of social support for poor and working people was at issue, yet the Black congresswoman could think only of Obama: “Why is he different?” Jackson-Lee assured her audience that, “in my community, that is the question that we raise.”


To the extent that that is true, to the degree that Black America remains more concerned about how Obama is doing as he seeks another term in office, rather than how the African American people are doing under Obama’s center-right, Wall Street- and war-loving regime – Blacks are doomed to a period of suffering unprecedented in the modern age.

Presumably to protect the dignity of First Black President – her highest priority – Jackson-Lee joined the 95 House Democrats that voted for the certainty of losing trillions of dollars for tens of millions of needy citizens, rather than risk the possibility of unknown financial dislocations. The same number of Democrats said “No” to the president and his GOP interlocutors. Among the 40 full-voting, Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the split was 15 “Yes,” 24 “No” and one Non-Voting (NV).


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













thomas friedman is a great man






oh boy it never ends

Posted at 05:21 am by thecommonills
 

Thursday, August 04, 2011
I Hate The War

I Hate The War

Someone on the left who was called out in the last 14 days e-mailed the public account today. I'm not offended in the least by the e-mail but I'm going to respond here.

I'm not "always right" and certainly don't think I am. I am wrong more times than could ever be counted. And when I'm wrong, I have no problem admitting it because I've had tons of practice being wrong.

With regards to having "saw through" Barack Obama, I've written about this repeatedly as has Elaine. When Barack was running for the US Senate is when friends began saying that here was this anti-war candidate and we must support him, we must, we must. We attended the big money fundraiser (in Elaine's home base) and were prepared to max out with our donations.

But what happened was we got our face time with Barack and we didn't get the manual that said: Fawning over Barack is required at all times.

Elaine immediately raised the issue of the Iraq War. Barack responded that the US was now in Iraq so blah, blah, blah. Point being, he wasn't going to support withdrawal or advocate for cutting off war funds. I know that because after his blah, blah, blah, that was the question I asked. (June 7, 2008 is one example of Elaine writing about it, it's not the only example or even the first time -- it's the one that stands out to me because of the significance of June 7th for personal reasons.) We immediately left and, no, we didn't write checks. And we were clear about why we were bailing. He was a fake and he was a fraud.

All he had was a speech before the start of the war. That was it. All this time later, that's especially appalling. I've spent eight years going around the country speaking out against this war, Elaine's turned her entire practice into pro bono work for veterans. And Barack gave one little speech?

He's a fake, he's a fraud.

Now if that hadn't taken place, maybe we would have been taken in in 2008? I don't know. But if you read what I wrote then, you'll see me stating repeatedly that Barack needs to get honest. He never did.

The SOFA? I know contract law. It has been in my personal interest to know contract law, especially to know how to break a contract. I knew what the SOFA said and what it meant for that reason.

In the last nearly three years at Third, I've noted that if it weren't for The Common Ills, I might not be calling out Barack. I might just keep my mouth shut. I don't know. My best guess is that were it not for The Common Ills and the Iraq War, I probably would have voted for him -- prior to 2008, every presidential election was a Democratic vote for me -- if only out of tribal beliefs. ("My side's better than your side!") And after he was sworn in, I probably would have left the country and focused on water issues in Latin America for political activism. (Prior to the start of the Iraq War, I was surrounded with treaties and verdicts on water issues to try to understand that issue. That was the issue I wanted to bone up on and understand.) And for fun, I would've spent a lot of time in Europe.

That's why my fire isn't aimed at this voter or that celebrity. I could be among the silent very easily. But gas bags in whatever form (professional, whatever) are supposed to offer analysis and, ideally, truth. Those people (which includes the e-mailer) need to be called out.

Independent media spent the Bush era lecturing big media about accountability and owning mistakes and blah, bla, blah. Fine. I believe in all of those things. But my belief is not that Big Media has to do practice that while Panhandle Media can do whatever it wants.

There are no ethics in Panhandle Media. Can you imagine if ABC had done 2 hours of post-debate coverage (Hillary and Barack debating) and every 'expert' brought on the show had endorsed John McCain but ABC 'forgot' to inform viewers of that? That's exactly what KPFA did but all the 'experts' had endorsed Barack. Those two hours were supposed to have featured "your phone calls." One phone call in two hours, at the end of the show?

How did that happen?

It happened because Larry Bensky didn't want to address the big issue to KPFA listeners. He wouldn't let them on air. But they had KPFA blog and they managed to make it clear that they were outraged by something. And because they kept blogging about it, Larry started griping at them on air telling them that the blog -- about the debate -- was only there for them to post questions. No thoughts, no opinions, just questions.

That was your first damn clue that Barack was going to have to be carried across the finish line. (The issue KPFA listeners kept raising was Barack's use of homophobia. Larry refused to allow those opinions on air and tried to squelch them on the blog.)

I don't exist in a vacuum. I am answerable to the community. This site and my own writing has changed tremendously in all the years and that's a reflection of what the community shaped. You rarely get "in fairness" which was my trademark phrase once up a time.

I could not be writing here each day and answerable to the community and taking their input and processing it and been silent. Equally true, I could not have paid attention to the Iraq War -- the ongoing Iraq War -- and been silent.

The community forced me to speak out strongly (via demands and support) and I lacked the ability to fake it.

So these people who are paid to offer 'analysis' and yet can't speak out, can't tell the truth? I have no sympathy for them. They all, all the little whores of 'independent' media, want to pretend that they worship I.F. Stone.

If I.F. Stone had been around in 2008, who would he have suggested people vote for? Most likely, John McCain. He had similar strategy he espoused in his newsletter, about how a reactionary candidate could further radicalize the country to the left. But they didn't want to tell you that. However, they did want to tell you who to vote for.

In 2008, a station manager went on WBAI and felt he could tell listeners who they should vote for when all he was supposed to be doing was a time and weather break.

Norman Solomon, who wants you to believe that he has the ethics for Congress, refused to disclose that he was a delegate for Barack Obama when doing radio appearances. Now he gets paid for his written column that a few newspapers carry. He made sure to put a disclosure in his columns. But he kept going on the radio and pretending he was an independent analyst -- when he was a pledged delegate for Barack. And the hosts presenting him knew he was a pledged delegate. If George Will had done that, it be time to mount a letter writing campaign. But Norman got away with it. Almost. Again, KPFA listeners know how to throw their weight around. And they demanded he be identified as what he was. So in July, months after, it was finally revealed on air that Norman was a pledged delegate for Barack Obama.

What he did goes against everything he espouses. He tried to fool listeners, he tried to trick them. Now he was announcing early in the year in his written column that he was a pledged delegate. Why? Because he didn't want to lose those newspapers. He knew he would. But when it wouldn't hurt his pocket book, when the only abuse involved was his abuse of trust, he was happy to pretend.

He wants to fill Lynn Woolsey's seat in Congress.

He's never taken accountability for betraying every ethic he espoused and he wants support on his bid for Congress?

Does that honestly sound like someone who needs to be in Congress?

This is not a 'sour grapes' issue. There are many people who endorsed Barack (including some very good friends of mine) that I've never had a problem with. (A number of friends were defended here by me in 2008 for their endorsement of Barack.) But the liars and the whores?

Melissa Harris Lacewell Perry -- Melissa LieFace -- did a little radio show, Rev Jesse Jackson's. And on that show there was a pig named Amy Goodman. LieFace had already spent over six months working on Barack's campaign including going out to California in 2007. LieFace was on Jesse's show to espouse her love for Barack.

LieFace then shows up on Democracy Now! (see Ava and my "Democracy Sometimes?") and Amy presents her as an independent analyst. A professor who just happened to be in New Hampshire. (LieFace is no longer a professor at a prestigious university. While The Nation doesn't care about ethics, big universities do. And, tip, when there's a threat of organized denial of donations, untenured professors get hurried out the door real quick when they violate ethical policies.) She praised Barack as the second coming of MLK and she ignored Hillary but had words for others. What a lousy analyst! Hillary won New Hampshire!

But the following week LieFace was back on Democracy Now! and this time she was revealing that she had been campaigning for Barack. It came out as she snarled and threatened Gloria Steinem.

It was a wonderful performance. And many found it convincing. I believe Ava and I were the only ones to pointedly question Melissa's attack on White woman and claim that she was 'sitting here in all my Blackness.' Melissa's bi-racial or mixed. Melissa has a White parent. Considering she presented herself as the authority that Barack was Black, that's a detail she probably should have been forthcoming with. But when your whole life is Diana Ross & the Supremes "I'm Living In Shame," maybe honesty's just too hard?

It wasn't bad enough that Melissa pulled that stunt on Goody's show, she later showed up on PBS' Charlie Rose show and 'forgot' to reveal she was working for Barack's campign.

Again, she's no longer with Princeton. The trash has been taken to the curb and the container is labeled "The Nation magazine." I could continue on her astro-turf campaigns including the one against Tavis Smiley, but we'll move on due to time.

Those are the things that people need to take accountability for. We're not talking, "oops, I believed in the wrong candidate." We're talking ethical transgressions.

Do we want to talk about the War Whores? Tom Hayden, Laura Flanders, Danny Schechter. Danny made a movie on the Iraq War. Some people found it cheesy (the New York Times among them). I actually thought it was Danny's finest documentary. But he's not interested in Iraq now that Bush is out of office. Hmm. If I spent months working on a documentary, I'd assume the issue meant something to me. If I was an idiot and made myself part of the story in the documentary (why a lot of people saw it as a vanity exercise on Danny's part), I'd be damn sure to stay on the Iraq War issue so that my detractors didn't have ammo. Tom Hayden wanted you to know that Barack would end the Iraq War. When, Tom, when?

Tom and Laura wanted you to know that they would hold Barack's feet to the fire.

When, Tom and Laura, when?

All anyone expected was for people to walk it the way they talked it. That's not an unreasonable expectation. Those who didn't need to take accountability. The Iraq War did not end. A six-year-old child was among the dead today. Just today. How many more Iraqis have to be killed? And who will cry for them? Who will mourn their loss in the United States?

When those questions can be answered, we may have a functioning independent press. That should address all the issues you raised in your e-mail.

("Indpendent" refers to "alternative press," "Beggar Media," "Panhandle Media." Someone always gets confused when we use "independent" and assumes we're referring to all of the American press because we do have a First Amendment in this country. It's used here to refer Pacifica Radio, The Nation, The Progressive, etc.)



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!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4477. Tonight it is [PDF format warning] still 4477.



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




Posted at 10:36 pm by thecommonills
 

Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 4, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, War Truths get spoken (but why only by the right?), Barack's plan o extend the illegal war continues, and more.
 
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.  Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday. Excerpt.
 
 
Kevin Pina: So Mahdi, we know that the Chief of Staff of the so-called rebels was killed last week on Friday.  We know that there was said to be a purge of pro-Gaddafi troops from within the rebel forces which doesn't sound plausible at all.  And, of course, you had said to us earlier that this also involved the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group or the LIGF which had  connections or contacts somehow with al Qaeda. What is going on and who killed Younis and what does it mean for the rebels at this point?
 
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well Washington is directly tied to Younis' death. I can tell you that from the start, Kevin.  the two members of the fighting group who were described here as al Qaeda essentially when we talk about al Qaeda in Lybia, we're generally speaking about the Libya Islamic Fighting Group but there are also other elements that are foreign or Libyan that we can also speak of being al Qaeda.  So he was killed by two of these individuals who are well known by the United States.  We know there was tension between him and Khalifa Haftar who came from Great Falls, Virginia -- from specifically Vienna in Great Falls, Virginia, he came here.  And there was tension between them over who would run the military. And Washington wanted their man to run the military. So right now the United States wants Transitional Council negotiations to parallel or to be in coordination with Washington and NATO's negotiations with Tripoli. So they couldn't afford anybody who would get in the way of such negotiations at all.
 
Kevin Pina: And that is the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya, our special correspondent, speaking to us directly from Tripoli in Libya.  We're discussing the situation there.  So Mahdi, I'm also wondering where is the bombing campaign? Has NATO continued bombing? Has the bombing stopped for the moment now that Ramadan has begun?
 
Mahdi Nazemroaya: No, no, it's the third day of Ramadan.  The Muslim holy month of Ramadan. And the bombings in Tripoli and other parts of Libya have not stopped. In fact, I wanted to mention this the last time we spoke that there was one bomb that was very close to me in a vehicle during the afternoon.  They bombed near Bab al Aziziyah, which they've bombed at least 30, 40 times. They continuously bomb the same sites over and over again.  I've seen bombings with my own eyes to the east of the city, to the east and north of the city. They have not stopped the bombings.  And you hear them almost consistently on some days. On the weekend, you hear them consistently. So Ramadan has had no impact on the bombings.  But we know that negotiations are intensifying. The United States is trying to get its proxies in the Transitional Council to meet with it.  It does not want independent negotiations between Tripoli and Benghazi. It wants them coordinated with the NATO and US negotiations with the government in Tripoli. So if there's anybody in Benghazi or the Transitional Council that stands in their way, you can see them ending up like Abdul Fatah Younis.
 
Kevin Pina: It's also been said that his family and his tribe to which he belonged to are none to happy, that they've been demanding an investigation by the Transitional Council that controls Benghazi and several other cities in the east. However, so far we understand that there has been no official explanation of who and how he was killed beyond what they've claimed which is pro-Gaddafi forces which, again, seems implausible. 
 
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well I have to tell you Kevin that Jalil so-called president of the Transitional Council in Benghazi, his statements were very contradictory.  He said the body was not found and then he said the body was shot.  Then they buried the body.  There was a funeral. If the body was not found, how do you bury a body?
 
The Libyan War continues and largely continues in silence.  In the Bush era, it would have been a defining issue at The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times, ZNet, etc.  Those days are long gone, aren't they?   If you appreciate the coverage Kevin, Mahdi and Dennis Bernstein are providing, KPFA is in pledge mode.  If you  want to donate and can afford to, the number is 1-800-439-5732.  You can also safely contribute online
 
 
Onto Iraq.  Yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, Andrew Stelzer discussed with Phyllis Bennis  the announced negotiations on extending the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011 Excerpt.
 
 
Andrew Stelzer: First of all, I'm sure many of our listeners are skeptical on the whole premise of this debate.  Is there really a possibility that we're going to see a full US withdrawal from Iraq before 2012 begins?
 
Phyllis Bennis:  I don't think so.  I think that there are a number of scenarios where include a complete withdrawal. The SOFA as orignally signed requires all US troops and all Pentagon paid contractors to be out of Iraq by the end of this year.  But there's another part of the SOFA that's problematic as well and that is that by specifiying that Pentagon paid contractors must be removed it leaves the door open for State Dept paid contractors. And one of the things that I think we're already seeing on a small scale and it may end up being rather small scale but it may be quite big as well is that a number of Pentagon paid contractors will have their contracts be immediately signed on to State Dept contracts. They will do exactly the same work, the same level of non-accountability and probably even the same huge amounts of money but because they will be paid, their check will be cut by the State Dept rather than the Pentagon, they won't officially be required to leave by the end of the year so that's a serious problem as well.
 
Andrew Stelzer: And so what are the different political factions on the sides of this debate in Iraq?
 
Phyllis Bennis: It's hard to know. There's no one in Iraq that believes that there's a popular view.  In fact, there's new reports today about a so far not released poll that the US took in Iraq, indicating that there's a widespread hope that the US is out entirely according to the conditions of the SOFA**.  The real issue is where do people, individuals within the government, powerful people from a number of different parties, where do they stand?  The only party that I think from the broad, mass base of it right up to the top leadership that is thoroughly opposed to it, to the US remaining, is probably the Sadrists, the supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militias have played a key role in the fighting but who also play a major role in the Iraqi Parliament.  There are various individuals who believe that their particular brand of power certainly including President Maliki [C.I. note Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister], that their own position of power and influence is dependant on US protection, the US remaining in place. But they can't necessarily go and say that publicly because there is such widespread opposition. So how this plays out is going to be very interesting. 
 
 
**No, Phyllis, that is not the conditions of the SOFA.  That was the lie.  There's a difference between truth and lie.  Phyllis may choose to paper over reality so that some lying assholes can sneak off with their dignity intact, I won't.  Iraqis have died because of these lies.  Shame on the liars. 
 
The SOFA replaced the UN mandate.  The UN mandate legalized the occupation (there was no mandate for the invasion) and provided legal cover for US troops.  Without it, as Joe Biden repeatedly noted in the Senate, and without any replacing agreement, US troops would be in danger of legal prosecution.  That was the reason for the mandate, that was the US government's concern. Nouri al-Maliki becomes prime minister in the spring of 2006.  The UN mandate expires at the end of that year.  He renews it without consulting Parliament.  Parliament is enraged. 'This can't happen,' they insist, stating that the Constitution gives them a say.  Okay, if the Constitution gives you a say (I agree it did), then you don't go pass new legislation.  But that's what they did.  And Nouri swore it would never happen again. 
 
Let's look at the wording, "Decides to extend until 31 December 2007 the arrangements established in paragraph 20 of resolution 1483 (2003) for the depositing into the Development Fund for Iraq of proceeds from export sales of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas and the arrangements referred to in paragraph 12 of resolution 1483 (2003) and paragraph 24 of resolution 1546 (2004) for the monitoring of the Development Fund for Iraq by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board;[. . .]"  That's the UN mandate.  The fact that it only extended to December 31, 2007 meant that all foreign forces (including US) had to leave at the end of 2007 . . . unless the contract was replaced with another one (be it a mandate or a new contract).

 
Now following the extension at the end of 2006 (Nouri's letter requesting the extension was dated November 11, 2006), 2007 played out something like the "Slipped my mind" skits from Kids in the Hall, 2007 was drawing to a close and the UN mandate was expiring.  What did Nouri do?  Renewed it without consulting Parliament.  And then pretended to be sorry about that.  The US knew their puppet couldn't take the heat on this every year.  So the SOFA would be a three year agreement, not a one year.  Phyllis may want to stretch the truth to give assholes cover, I don't.  The SOFA is no different than the UN mandate.  In 2006, when the UN mandate was set to expire, no one was going around saying, "That means the US leaves!!!!"  Everyone knew it was very likely the mandate would be renewed.  People should have grasped that reality about the SOFA.  But you had a lot of liars and a lot of people who don't know the first thing about contract law.  That we have arrived at this point is not shocking or unexpected. And you can check the archives from November 2008 and see we've been sounding the alarm on this repeatedly while others whored and lied and while Iraqis died.  Playing dumb or excusing the lies does not bring back one Iraqi life.  And, in fact, it cheapens their deaths if you rush to distort reality (LIE) so that some US gas bags don't have to take accountability for the lies that they repeatedly told, lies that had consequences, lies that resulted in deaths.
 
Equally true, the myth of "trainers" needs to be called out.  It's not hard.  Watch Jason Ditz and Scott Horton talk about it truthfully on Antiwar Radio:
 
 
 
Scott Horton: There are so many wars.  We don't have enough time to talk about all of them.  But could we fit in Iraq and the future of the American occupation?
 
Jason Ditz: We can certainly try.   The latest with Iraq, it seems to be that the Maliki government is looking to just ignore Parliament entirely, to take a page out of the US book and circumvent the Iraqi Congress and try to prove an extension of some sort without such a vote.
 
Scott Horton:  And so what's the reaction in the Parliament to that?
 
Jason Ditz: Well there hasn't really been a public reaction yet but I would only assume it's going to be a negative one because, of course, the 2008 vote to extend US troops through this year was incredibly difficult in Iraq's Parliament and it only came with the promise of this grand national referendum on the US occupation which never came. And it seems like the vote's only going to have gotten more difficult since then.  
 
 
Scott Horton: Well you know, I guess I don't really know and people say otherwise, but I kind of get the idea that Maliki doesn't want the occupation to continue.  Now maybe his army guys like having American help and that kind of thing, some of his general and all of that.  But I kind of getting the feeling that he's playing the same game that he did in 2008 which is, 'Gee, I'm trying to get them to go along with it but they just don't seem to want to' when his heart really isn't in it.  Am I wrong? What do you think?
 
Jason Ditz: It's really hard to say but it seems like a few months ago he was saying "Absolutely not, there's no need for troop extensions." And now he's saying, 'Well it depend what Parliament's saying and, oh, by the way, military personnel that are classified as trainers don't count and we don't reall need to ask Parliament about that.' So it seems like he's buckling under the pressure and is giving a lot ground to the US demand to be asked to stay.
 
Scott Horton: Well is there a difference between numbers at all? Obviously, they're going to call combat troops whatever they want to.  But trainer seems to imply a very limited number, much less than they wanted. They wanted to leave 10,000 [or] 20,000 troops, right?
 
Jason Ditz: Right and it's not really clear how many trainers we're talking here.  But certainly they could use any excuse to claim that these guys are trainers
 
Scott Horton: Sure.
 
Why can Scott Horton and Jason Ditz do that but others can't?  What could it be?  Maybe the answer's in the next excerpt?
 
Martha Montelongo: I've heard you refer to Cindy Sheehan and how she was -- she was legitimately, authentically opposed to the war and the left loved rallying around her when she was opposing George Bush or President Bush but as soon as Obama comes into office, nobody pays any attention to her.  They just completely ignore her.  So it makes you wonder how much of a movement is there and where are all the leftists who were so engaged in the anti-war movement during President Bush's tenure?
 
 
Angela Keaton: To be fair and to be really precise, we're talking about moderate liberals, we're talking about the mainstream, not the hard left.  The hard left, of course, is still against  the war and, you know, they've-they've stayed the course.  But moderate liberals, particularly those organizing around the Democratic Party abandoned Sheehan immediately of course because they can no longer turn it against -- They -- Partisanship, in this country the partisanship is so strong and people are so attached and they're very identified with their party as well as, in this case, people are terribly identified with Barack Obama. There's a Cult of Presonality. that I couldn't really imagine about a US president, I find them rather odd and creatures on their best days.  But this weird cult that coalesced around him, clearly -- one -- there's a couple of things. Obama is a very, very shrewd politician.  He knows very well.  His PR people did a wonderful job convincing someone that he was anti-war. In fact, all four times [in the Senate] Barack Obama could've voted against the war, he voted for the war spending, all four times.  And he only made one anti-war speech.  And that was a speech on Iraq in 2007*.  Barack Obama was never an anti-war president, never intended to be, and was very, very explicit when he said he would fight the good war in Afghanistan. His words.  And go deeper into Pakistan. I guess talking about the secret -- or not so secret war -- in Pakistan. And he has of course now killed more people with drones in Pakistan than George Bush has -- which is something I'm sure he should be proud of. And these are the people that moderate liberals have chosen to identify with. I mean, you notice that MoveOn and Daily Kos and others are absent from the anti-war movement. There were some very good numbers that happened right around the time that Barack Obama looked like he was going to be the [Democratic Party presidential] nominee and you started seeing all the money, resources draining toward the Obama campaign and CODEPINK chapters went from 200 down to about 90. And CODEPINK itself has very much stayed the course as well but people -- it wasn't the priority anymore and the excitement was around Barack Obama and somehow the gay rights movement has convinced themselves of this too.  That like Barack Obama was a gay rights president and that's never been the case.  The same thing with the anti-war movement, they convince  themselves. It's all wishful thinking, it's a bit of projection on this shiny new model-like-actor type who is now in office. I say that because he's like very good looking and people really respond to that.  They responded to that more than they'd respond to the fact that for years they've known about things like depleted uranium, for example,  and all the deaths of children in Iraq. This is the direction they chose, as my colleague Scott Horton says, "Tall and handsome over justice." So the more that I think about it, now that I've just said it, damn the moderate left for what they've done because really this time more than ever we needed an antiwar movement and one that was serious and consistent and one that couldn't be picked apart by nationalists and conservatives. The nationalists and the conservatives were right.  It wasn't an anti-war movement, it was an anti-Bush movement.
 
That's Antiwar.com's Angela Keaton speaking with Martha Montelongo on Gadfly Radio (here for Angela's segment, here for full episode). And those who don't feel the need to lie, disguise or pretty up the truth don't feel that a War Hawk gets a pass for waging wars.  As Sherwood Ross (OpEdNews) observed recently about this war insanity, "That's because presidents and Pentagon chiefs start new wars even before they finish fighting the old ones! Who can recall a time in our history when the U.S. initiated aggressive wars against five nations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen)?"
 
Angela was discussing Come Home America which attempts to be an organization that can represent people opposed to war from all ends of the political spectrum.  We've noted it before when, for example, John Halle has promoted it. In 2006, we would have noted it much more than we have in the last two years.  Why is that?
 
There are trust issues.  Not with Angela Keaton, not with Adam Kokesh, not with Karen or any of the others on the right.  They have been consistent.  They bring the same vocal outrage today that they brought when Bush ran the wars.  The same cannot be said of people on my side -- including people who signed Come Home America's letter.
 
Jeff Cohen recently wrote a critique of Barack that was as blistering as any of the valentines he once penned to Barack.  So I'm not talking about Jeff.  But people need to take some accountability and not just because it's good for the soul.   The Cult of St. Barack passed an advertising machine off as a movement.  One of the advertising tools they used was testimonials.  "I thought I was happy with Pepsi until one day I tried new Barack Obama . . ."  That same tool, testimonails, can be used to awaken others.  If you were taken in, you can share that you were and how reality peeled the scales away from your eyes.
 
As Kat observed in an Iraq roundtable Feb. 13, 2009:
 
I dont think anyone's going to disagree with which side is more committed at this point.  And it's pathetic because, as we've noted before, if Hillary had been elected, the same left that plays the quiet game currently would be demanding action.  A lot of it is people being scared to criticize Barack, a lot of it is them believing the hype, a lot of it is the desire to worship a man.  But it's pathetic and it's pathetic that they believed his lies about Iraq and it's pathetic that they played Sophie's Choice with Iraq and Afghanistan -- that knowing that while he was saying he'd pull 'combat' troops from Iraq, he was saying he'd send more to Afghanistan, these same so-called lefties endorsed him and lied for him and covered for him. 
 
Yeah, a lot of people played Sophie's Choice and judged Afghans to be less important than Iraqis.  That needs accountability.  And if you can come forward and own what you did, you can encourage others with your actions to also consider how they went from "END THE WAR NOW!" to "Whatever Barack wants!" and how they get their souls back?
 
Ed O'Keefe and Alice Fordham (Washington Post) report, "Iraqi and U.S. officials cautioned Wednesday that Iraq's precarious political and security situation could yet derail efforts to resolve the issue before the roughly 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq leave as scheduled by Dec. 31." And as the Post has noted before, the administration doesn't think it's at all unlikely that this issue could still be unresolved on December 31st. That's not at all unlikely when you consider that the March 7, 2010 elections were supposed to result in office holders but instead were followed by Political Stalemate I for nine long months.

The end of Political Stalemate I in November of 2010 was supposed to result, by the end of 2010, in a full Cabinet; however, Iraq is now in Political Stalemate II and no one has been appointed Minister of Defense, no one has been appointed Minister of National Security, no one has been appointed Minister of Interior. Eight months after these posts were supposed to have been filled, they remain empty. So who knows how long the issue of an extension or not could drag out? Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) feels there are three things that need to be remembered as the clock ticks down:

First, an agreement by the Iraqi government to begin negotiating a role for U.S. military forces in the coming years is just that, the start of talks. Discussions could be further delayed or bogged down over highly-sensitive issues, such as an assurance of legal immunity from prosecution for U.S. soldiers and the eventual ratification of any future SOFA by the Iraqi Parliament. As Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari noted yesterday evening, "There aren't any foregone conclusions."

Second, while U.S. military officials have hinted that Iraq could serve as a launching pad for special operations raids against Iranian-backed Shia militias, Iraq's leaders envision that if U.S. troops remain they will be permitted to engage only in training and advising missions. An important question to be resolved is whether U.S. troops will partner with their Iraqi counterparts for joint missions, like the Iraqi-U.S. night raid in Al Rufait last weekend, which reportedly failed to capture the targeted Al Qaeda in Iraq suspect but accidentally killed three men and wounded five, among them two young girls.

Third, it is apparent that any U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011 will not be tasked with trying to limit the flow of Iranian-supplied rockets or improvised explosive devices. This mission is best suited for the Ministry of Interior's police and border forces. Furthermore, trying to stop cross-border smuggling was never a mission that the U.S. military welcomed or accomplished. As Lt. Gen. Mike Oates (ret.), the former commander of U.S. forces in southern Iraq stated last week: "There have been no reported incidents in which American forces have actually interdicted Iranian munitions while in transit. That should tell you something about just how hard this is to stop."


Leave something to the Ministry or Interior? Which still has no head? CFR sure is optimistic.

Dar Addustour notes names being considered for Ministry of the Defense. Might the post finall be filled? It's possible. However, it needs to be remembered that this 'move' comes following the agreement reached Tuesda at the meet-up at Jalal Talabani's home. The meet-up of political blocs is not all that different from the meet-up in November in Erbil. That resulted in the Erbil Agreement which outlines a variety of things including the creation of national security council which would be headed by Ayad Allawi. These and other agreements allowed Nouri to remain prime minister even though his political slate came in second in the elections. Once he was named prime-minister designate, the agreement fell apart. (And that's once he was 'unofifically' named it.) Nouri got what he wanted and then tossed aside the agreement.

How does that apply to the current situation?

Nouri al-Maliki well knows it is very likely that he cannot maintain his position without the US military presence. He wants the US military to remain in Iraq. Tuesday's meet-up outlined how that could happen (participants stress that immunity for US troops wasn't discussed, only how to keep them in Iraq) and Nouri offered to create that security council. In doing so and making other concessions, he got the support of Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. Should he get what he wants (US troops remaining in Iraq) before the security council is created, would he still pursue the creation? Or is this a repeat of the Erbil Agreement where Nouri promises everthing, gets his side of the bargain and then walks out on the agreement?


Barack Obama's walking out on agreement with his supporters to end the Iraq War. Jessica Rettig (US News and World Report) observes, "The Obama administration seems to be singing two different tunes when it comes to Iraq. It applauds the end of combat efforts and the imminent full withdrawal, not to mention the baseline savings that will come from decreasing the number of troops there. But on the other hand, there seems to be some desire, and even some persuasive efforts on behalf of the Pentagon, for some U.S. soldiers to stay put."  And this needs to be registering.  It's not.  People are avoiding writing about this issue, avoiding addressing this issue and avoiding addresing reality.
 
I really, really wish the Iraqi people had the option of refusing to address reality.  When that reality comes in the form of a sticky bombing or a rocket attack, I wish the Iraqi people had the option of refusing to address reality.  They don't have that option.  They didn't have your luxury of feeling full of themselves because they voted for a War Hawk with darker skin than usual. They didn't have three more years to suffer.
 
But that it what's happened.
 
And the lucky ones just might be the Iraqis who passed away.  Imagine it was your injured in a sticky bombing in Baghdad.  Imagine you lose partial mobility as a result.  And you're still in Iraq.  And bombs till go off.  And you have to drag yourself through the city with bombs going off regulalry.  Think it wouldn't be even more scary after you've lost the use of limbs?  Who has it worse?  The young Iraqi mother who dies in the violence or her child who's left behind?  Maybe that child becomes one of the many orphans who have to beg on the streets of Baghdad?
 
From "End the War Now!" to "Hey Barack End It Whenever you Want, Baby!" is what so many of us on the left did.  The people of Iraq did not have three years of their lives to give away while, fromt he safety of the US, you tried to sort out what your comfort level was in calling out a Democratic president who carreid out illegal wars.
 
Reuters notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, and a Mosul car bombing claimed the life of 1 "6-year-old child" while leaving twelve people wounded.
 
If the peace movement, if those of us on the left had kept our word, the dead and wounded today might be living in a different Iraq right now.  A six-year-old kid died today in the war Barack Obama promised to end when he wanted your votes.  Now he's extending it.  Iraqis cannot afford for Americans to look the other way.
 

There are many stories in Iraq especially with Nouri the new Little Saddam. We've noted his war on the independent Electoral Commission. Last Thursday, he took the battle to Parliament and lost. Nizar Latif (The National) offers an analysis:

A bitter row over Iraq's election watchdog has strained the ruling coalition government of the prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, underlining an acrimonious struggle to control the country.
In the aftermath of a parliamentary vote last week over dissolving the Independent High Electoral Commission (Ihec), critics and supporters of Mr Al Maliki have rounded on each other with allegations of deceit, corruption and sectarianism.
The argument centres on a proposal by the State of Law alliance, the group headed by the prime minister, to pass a vote of no confidence in Ihec over fraud claims. If approved, the measure would have effectively sacked the United Nations supported watchdog - the body in charge of ensuring fair and transparent elections in the country.
In the run up to the vote, which took place last week, various blocs from across the political spectrum had indicated they would support the motion.



The e-mail
 
 
 

Posted at 06:20 pm by thecommonills
 

Withdrawal or not and what's Nouri really up to?

Withdrawal or not and what's Nouri really up to?

Ed O'Keefe and Alice Fordham (Washington Post) report, "Iraqi and U.S. officials cautioned Wednesday that Iraq’s precarious political and security situation could yet derail efforts to resolve the issue before the roughly 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq leave as scheduled by Dec. 31." And as the Post has noted before, the administration doesn't think it's at all unlikely that this issue could still be unresolved on December 31st. That's not at all unlikely when you consider that the March 7, 2010 elections were supposed to result in office holders but instead were followed by Political Stalemate I for nine long months.

The end of Political Stalemate I in November of 2010 was supposed to result, by the end of 2010, in a full Cabinet; however, Iraq is now in Political Stalemate II and no one has been appointed Minister of Defense, no one has been appointed Minister of National Security, no one has been appointed Minister of Interior. Eight months after these posts were supposed to have been filled, they remain empty. So who knows how long the issue of an extension or not could drag out? Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) feels there are three things that need to be remembered as the clock ticks down:

First, an agreement by the Iraqi government to begin negotiating a role for U.S. military forces in the coming years is just that, the start of talks. Discussions could be further delayed or bogged down over highly-sensitive issues, such as an assurance of legal immunity from prosecution for U.S. soldiers and the eventual ratification of any future SOFA by the Iraqi Parliament. As Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari noted yesterday evening, “There aren’t any foregone conclusions.”

Second, while U.S. military officials have hinted that Iraq could serve as a launching pad for special operations raids against Iranian-backed Shia militias, Iraq’s leaders envision that if U.S. troops remain they will be permitted to engage only in training and advising missions. An important question to be resolved is whether U.S. troops will partner with their Iraqi counterparts for joint missions, like the Iraqi-U.S. night raid in Al Rufait last weekend, which reportedly failed to capture the targeted Al Qaeda in Iraq suspect but accidentally killed three men and wounded five, among them two young girls.

Third, it is apparent that any U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011 will not be tasked with trying to limit the flow of Iranian-supplied rockets or improvised explosive devices. This mission is best suited for the Ministry of Interior’s police and border forces. Furthermore, trying to stop cross-border smuggling was never a mission that the U.S. military welcomed or accomplished. As Lt. Gen. Mike Oates (ret.), the former commander of U.S. forces in southern Iraq stated last week: “There have been no reported incidents in which American forces have actually interdicted Iranian munitions while in transit. That should tell you something about just how hard this is to stop.”


Leave something to the Ministry or Interior? Which still has no head? CFR sure is optimistic.

Dar Addustour notes names being considered for Ministry of the Defense. Might the post finall be filled? It's possible. However, it needs to be remembered that this 'move' comes following the agreement reached Tuesda at the meet-up at Jalal Talabani's home. The meet-up of political blocs is not all that different from the meet-up in November in Erbil. That resulted in the Erbil Agreement which outlines a variety of things including the creation of national security council which would be headed by Ayad Allawi. These and other agreements allowed Nouri to remain prime minister even though his political slate came in second in the elections. Once he was named prime-minister designate, the agreement fell apart. (And that's once he was 'unofifically' named it.) Nouri got what he wanted and then tossed aside the agreement.

How does that apply to the current situation?

Nouri al-Maliki well knows it is very likely that he cannot maintain his position without the US military presence. He wants the US military to remain in Iraq. Tuesday's meet-up outlined how that could happen (participants stress that immunity for US troops wasn't discussed, only how to keep them in Iraq) and Nouri offered to create that security council. In doing so and making other concessions, he got the support of Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. Should he get what he wants (US troops remaining in Iraq) before the security council is created, would he still pursue the creation? Or is this a repeat of the Erbil Agreement where Nouri promises everthing, gets his side of the bargain and then walks out on the agreement?


Barack Obama's walking out on agreement with his supporters to end the Iraq War. Jessica Rettig (US News and World Report) observes, "The Obama administration seems to be singing two different tunes when it comes to Iraq. It applauds the end of combat efforts and the imminent full withdrawal, not to mention the baseline savings that will come from decreasing the number of troops there. But on the other hand, there seems to be some desire, and even some persuasive efforts on behalf of the Pentagon, for some U.S. soldiers to stay put." Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) adds, "A United States Embassy official said the Iraqi government’s announcement was an important political step, because nearly all the blocs in Parliament supported it. A significant exception was the Sadrists, led by Moktada al-Sadr, an anti-American Shiite cleric who has called on his followers to attack American forces if they remain after the deadline." Schmidt's reporting for Behind The Times apparently. Moqtada's already stated that he will not be recalling his Mahdi militia. Not only has he stated it, but the New York times has reported on that. He's also given indications that he won't block the motion to keep US troops in Iraq -- that includes comments by his officials this week.

There are many stories in Iraq especially with Nouri the new Little Saddam. We've noted his war on the independent Electoral Commission. Last Thursday, he took the battle to Parliament and lost. Nizar Latif (The National) offers an analysis:

A bitter row over Iraq's election watchdog has strained the ruling coalition government of the prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, underlining an acrimonious struggle to control the country.
In the aftermath of a parliamentary vote last week over dissolving the Independent High Electoral Commission (Ihec), critics and supporters of Mr Al Maliki have rounded on each other with allegations of deceit, corruption and sectarianism.
The argument centres on a proposal by the State of Law alliance, the group headed by the prime minister, to pass a vote of no confidence in Ihec over fraud claims. If approved, the measure would have effectively sacked the United Nations supported watchdog - the body in charge of ensuring fair and transparent elections in the country.
In the run up to the vote, which took place last week, various blocs from across the political spectrum had indicated they would support the motion.



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














Posted at 05:31 am by thecommonills
 

MST, veterans suicides

MST, veterans suicides

I was the only female non-commissioned officer (NCO) except for our supervisor, a senior master sergeant who had never deployed and had no experience with Force Protection. The oldest technical sergeant in our group seemed to resent us from the start of our tour. He clearly had issues with authority and women. I strived to overlook the female jokes and comments he regularly made and get along with him. One night he offered to drive me back to my living quarters. Tired and appreciative of not having to walk, I accepted a ride. In hindsight, I should have walked. He drove me to a secluded area of the base. I rejected his sexual advances and demanded that he take me back to the base. The next day, I told my boss what happened. Her response was: "It happens all the time. Forget about it." I was stunned, but knew I had nowhere else to go but back to work.
The technical sergeant began to stalk me. He even tried to break into my room one night. My boss continued to do nothing. One day in November 2009, my life and career were forever changed. Alone at my desk, finishing up paperwork for the day, I was alone. I walked to use the restroom. In the restroom, I was attacked and thrown up against the wall and raped. It seemed like slow motion. I could barely could move and breathe. The technical sergeant told me how much he enjoyed the attack. I wondered whether he was going to kill me and report me absent without leave (AWOL). He left and I just sat there in shock. The next day, I feared how my boss would react. She blithely sent me to a base chaplain who astonishingly said, "Most sexual assaults occur when drinking is involved." He told me to "take the day off and get some sleep." My disinterested boss said, "This is a 'he said-she said' kind of situation. Nobody would be able to sort out the truth." The truth was, few military commanders have the courage or training to address sexual violence in the military. I now have heard this type of story about hundreds of veteran rape and assault survivors.
After the attack, I was devastated. I felt alone and scared for my safety. At one point, I considered killing myself. After a few days, I called my supervisor back in the U.S. and they immediately requested that I be sent back home, which I was. My unit sent me for counseling and tried to investigate. They concluded little could be done since the attack happened in Iraq.


The above is from Mary Gallagher's "Recovering From My Service to Our Nation" (Huffington Post). Military Sexual Trauma, MST, is a serious problem with very little attention. If you doubt it, type "MST" into any search engine and scroll and scroll before you come across Military Sexual Trauma. The VA notes:

In both civilian and military settings, service members can experience a range of unwanted sexual behaviors that they may find distressing. These experiences happen to both women and men. "Military sexual trauma" or MST is the term used by the Department of Veterans Affairs to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening acts of sexual harassment.
The definition of MST used by the VA is given by U.S. Code (1720D of Title 38). It is "psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training." Sexual harassment is further defined as "repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character."

In September 2007, NOW on PBS explored MST and you can still stream the broadcast online, the page also has links to various MST resources. The resource we note is VETWOW. WebMD notes the VA's most recent survey which found 23% of female veterans experienced sexual assault while serving and 55% of women and 38% of men experienced sexual harassment while serving. The barriers to prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military is fairly obvious: DoD managementthat doesn't care. They care in that they don't want it reported. But that's it. That's why they still employee the woman whose job it is to track this issue -- despite the fact that the woman refused to testify to Congress in 2008. It's why Robert Gates would mouth some insipid words when the press was around but nothing improved. He was Secretary of Defense under for two administrations and he was allowed to continue in his job despite the fact that the numbers kept rising (also true of suicides). And it's also the fault of the press. When Gates 'stepped down,' the media did non-stop coverage. Fawning coverage. He did a great job! They insisted. But didn't prove. And what they should have done was given him a score card on the issues he was supposed to be addressing.

No, flirting with the press wasn't one of those issues. But to hear those reporters -- off the record -- rushing up to have their photo with Gates on that last day and gushing about how no Secretary of Defense had ever made himself more available to the media was to grasp that the press didn't give a damn about scoring these issues, only about praising their hero.

MST treatment has its own barriers. Among those barriers are the small resources available and being aware of resources, also the usual issues that come from sexual traumas and the fact that service members -- men or women -- are expected to project 'strength' and it can be hard for some people to reconicle that expecation and also ask for assistance in dealing with MST. In 2010, veteran Rachel Caesar discussed with Susan Kaplan (NPR's All Things Considered -- link has audio and text) the harassment she experienced and the difficulties she faced, "I was here, coming here for therapy, everything, doing what I had to do, but I was dying inside. And nobody here knew the real trauma I was going through."

In other news, Mary Scott (WBIR -- link has text and video) reports on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's trip to Iraq and Afghanistan:

Madisonville natives Sgt. Bryan Graves and Staff Sgt. Darrin Goodman both served two tours together in Iraq.
They are also both deputies for the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.
They returned in March but want everyone to remember how many of their fellow soldiers are still there.
They say Iraq still feels like a war zone.
"It's still dangerous. There's still people getting blown up daily over there," said Sgt. Graves.


Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. We'll close with this news release from her office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 (202) 224-2834

VETERANS SUICIDES: Senators Call on Nation’s Governors to Begin Reporting Veterans Suicides to the VA in Order to Accurately Track National Crisis, Improve Prevention Efforts

Letter focuses on the need for 41 states that do not currently communicate information about veterans suicides to begin tracking and reporting

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.

“One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals,” the Senators wrote. “In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care.”

In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:

July 20, 2011

The Honorable Dave Heineman

Chair, National Governors Association

444 North Capitol Street

Suite 267

Washington, DC 20001-1512

Dear Governor Heineman:

As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.

One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.

This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.

We understand that many states have efforts underway to address this problem. It is important to ensure that these efforts are completed quickly. Further, with respect to the states which have not yet begun such efforts, we must encourage those governors to see that their states begin working with VA to reach an agreement and provide this information directly to the Department. As you know, these arrangements will be very beneficial as they will allow VA to utilize the timeliest data to improve the efficacy of suicide prevention efforts.

Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation’s veterans.

Sincerely,

Patty Murray John D. Rockefeller IV

Chairman Senator

Robert Casey Max Baucus

Senator Senator

###

--

Eli Zupnick

Press Secretary

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834

eli_zupnick@murray.senate.gov


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Posted at 05:23 am by thecommonills
 

Matthew Rothschild is worthless (Mike)

Matthew Rothschild is worthless

Hump day! :D Let's start out by showing how you do it.

Barack Obama has lied to the American people repeatedly but could any lie be greater than the one that whipped up enthusiasm for him in the primary? We want to end the war, he would holler at his tent revivals while guys creamed their pants and women fainted.

And now?

The US government and the Iraqi government are negotiating how to extend the US military presence in Iraq.

He is a two-bit liar. He is a con artist. He is not to be believed. He is not to be trusted.

His name is mud.

No one should make the mistake of trusting him again.

We should be in front of the White House protesting the illegal war and Barack's decision to continue it.

See, Matthew Rothschild, that's how you do it without coming off like a little pussy. That's all Matthew Rothschild is.

He writes about the same topic, but blames the Pentagon and offers not one sharp word for Barack Obama.

Matthew Rothschild is a pussy.

Anyone who finds that word offensive should grasp that those of us using it tonight (I won't be the only one) remember when he linked to The Weekly Standard so Hillary could be called a C**T. The Progressive linking to The Weekly Standard (under "Recommended Reading," no less) and just for that.

Matthew Rothschild is worthless.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, US Senators Patty Murray, Jay Rockefeller, Max Bacus and Robert Casey work to determine how many veterans are taking their own lives, Jane Arraf demonstrates (without show boating) why her knowledge of Iraq is second only to the legendary Robert Fisk, Matthew Rothschild demonstrates that if you're too dishonest to call out Barack then you're also dishonest enough to try to rewrite facts in order to make your bad column more 'pleasing,' and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, Saturday the jounalists of the Libyan Broadcasting Authority issued the following statement:
In an act of international terrorism and in violation of UNSC resolutions, NATO targeted the facilities of the Libyan Broadcasting Authority in the early hours of this morning. 3 of our colleges were murdered and 15 injured while performing their professional duty as Libyan journalists.
NATO admitted the crime sighting "silencing Gaddafi's propaganda machine" as a justification for such a murderous act.
We are the employees of the official Libyan TV. We are not a military target, we are not commanders in the army and we do not pose a threat to civilians. We are performing our job as journalists representing what we wholeheartedly believe is the reality of NATO's aggression and the violence in Libya.
We have the right to work in a safe environment protected by national and international law. The fact that we work for the Libyan government or represent anti-NATO, anti-armed gangs views does not make us a legitimate target for NATO's rockets.
As journalists, we demand that we get full protection from the international community and ask our brothers in the profession from all around the world to stand against such attacks targeting media personnel.
Foreign journalists in Tripoli, Reporters without Borders and human rights organizations: we appeal to you to make your moral and professional stand clear on this issue.
We are hopeful that your media organizations will help us highlight this important issue and come out in support of our just cause.
Thank you.
Muhammad Ahmed Mukhtar
Abdelwanis Sulaiman Elsayed
Abdelwahid Muhammad Ali
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war. Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday.
Kevin Pina: The situation on the ground in Libya continues to heat up following the killing of Abdul Fatah Younis who was the chief of staff of the so-called rebels in Libya. One thing that is being under-reported in the press here and throughout the world is that NATO actually intervened on behalf of one of the rebel groups in Benghazi last Friday and over the weekend, we also understand that NATO bombers also took out three antenna dishes for Libyan television but also killed three journalists. Apparently killing journalists is one way of supporting free speech in Libya today. Here again is our special correspondent Mahdi Nazamroaya who is on the ground in Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Thank you for having me.
Kevin Pina: So let's start of course with what happened in NATO's intervention which is not reported in the press at all in the internal conflict among the so-called rebels who appear to now to be tearing each other apart.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes. Just a few days ago in Benghazi riots broke out as well as protests, separate protests, and armed struggle as well between different groups. Members of the biggest tribe in Libya, Warfalla, were attacked during a meeting that they had discussing ways to get rid of the Transitional Council. The building they were in was attacked. It's unconfirmed but it's believed that 160 members of the Warfalla tribe were killed during this meeting. There was also armed fighting between Abdul Fatah Younis' tribesmen who actually opened fire on members of the Transitional Council especially after the press conference that announced his death, actually murder is the proper way to put it. So in Benghazi fighting has broken out. In Tobruk fighting has broken out. In Darnah, fighting has broken out. The Libyan people there are beginning to take up arms against the Transitional Council. I've been told that some of them were actually waiting for the right moment and it seems that the Transitional Council is in a very, very hard place right now.
Kevin Pina: And that's the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya, our special correspondent, speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. He is also a research associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Montreal, Canada. Now, Mahdi, what we also understand -- it's interesting because as you're describing all of this internal strife and battle and warfare among the so-called rebels themselves at the same time the west was making announcements of advancements and military victories they were making in the field.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well they've been doing this the whole time, this is not unusual, it's not strange, it's not new, but it's not true. They have not been making advances. I was just looking at an article from the Guardian from last month, how they were saying Tripoli was reached. The reporter, he wrote this report in Tripoli. I'm looking at the Telegraph right now from July 6th and it's talking about covert guerilla war in Tripoli and how Tripoli's about to fall and there's three fronts to the east of the Libyan capital. They've been talking about this for a long time, there has been no gains. It's the other way around. The tides are turning. The Transitional Council is in a very hard spot and this is what's forced NATO and it's coalition to intervene to help the Transnational Council attack Libyan citizens in the east. The Libyan people in the east are trying to throw off the yoke of the Transitional Council which essentially is NATO. In fact, Qatari armed vehicles have been seen in Benghazi and Qatari troops are in Benghazi as well as well as others from the Gulf Cooperation Council who have been putting down the protests and the armed struggle that's trying to remove the Transitional Council from power and bring back the legitimate government of Libya in Benghazi.
Kevin Pina: Well that might for a lot of our listeners who are wondering why Al Jazeera is embedded with the rebels, now we hear Qatari troops are actually fighting against people in the east on behalf of people with the Transitional Council inside of Libya according to our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya who is joining us directly from Tripoli, Libya.
At this point Mahdi reads the letter in that we noted at the top and then the two discuss it. Okay, a friend at KPFA asked if I'd note something. I'm going to but I'm not a fake like Amy Goodman so I'm not going to schill. First off, we walked away from Flashpoints Radio for a reason. Even now there are community members who are upset that I'm highlighting it. I understand that and I respect their feelings. Why are they upset? Because they have not forgotten when Ray McGovern and Dennis Bernstein engaged in attacks on two women in their effort to promote Julian Assange. This is disclaimer within disclaimer. But since we're on Julian, I know Gareth Peirce and like her. She's his new attorney. Unlike the Julian Booster Wagon, we noted in real time what incredible f**k ups his attorneys were, we noted -- and were the only ones who did -- the judge's disbelief at the filings and the witnesses Julian's attorney's provided. (As stated then, Julian's lousy attorneys were no reflection on his guilt or innocence. They were and are incompetent. The judge all but stated that in the court room.) Gareth's long history speaks for itself and she'll do a wonderful job representing Julian. And starting with her taking over the case, I'm out of it in terms of commentary unless those two women get attacked again. The women may or may not have been raped. My position here was we don't know what happened, we weren't there. And if Ray McGovern, Naomi Wolfe and others had taken that position, Julian's reputation wouldn't be so bad right now. But instead, they chose to insist the women were this and that and every awful thing in the world. When Ray, Naomi, et al's claims were demonstrated to be lies, they not only didn't issue a correction or an apology, they continued to repeat the lies. Two women who may or may not have been raped were torn apart because some little babies had to protect their hero. That's not what we're supposed to do on the left.
But because that's what McGovern and Dennis did on Flashpoints, there are people that will not listen to the show anymore. And I do understand that and I do respect it. The reason we started highlighting it was because when we (Wally, Kat, Ava and I) were speaking to various groups in the spring, the Libyan War kept coming up. We're there to discuss the wars, so that was fine. But it was very, very hard for people to find coverage they felt they could trust. Al Jazeera, for example, destroyed its reputation with the Libyan War. (Amy Goodman revealed herself to be a fraud to a number of college students with her silence on the Libyan War.) Kevin Pina was guest hosting Flashpoints Tuesday through Friday and he and Mahdi were covering Libya Tuesday through Thursday (and doing a great job). That's why we included the program and that's why I have e-mailed and individual apology and an explanation to every community member who has complained that we are highlighting Flashpoints.
KPFA is in fundraising mode. I was asked to note that and to note that Flashpoints has been the only place on Pacifica Radio where you have gotten Libyan War coverage regularly. (Robert Knight may be noting it on his show. He's on WBAI and I wasn't asked by any WBAI friends to make any comments.) Dennis needed a rest and is back from his vacation with a voice that still sounds sore. He has publicly thanked and praised Kevin and Mahdi for their work and he is said to be determined to continue Flashpoint's leadership on the Libyan War. If you appreciate the coverage and you want to donate and can afford to, the number is 1-800-439-5732. You can also safely contribute online. You can make a one time donation or you can make a donation where they charge your credit card X amount every month. Pacifica Radio is public radio and, if you itemize your deductions on your taxes, your donation is tax deductable.
My own opinion -- feel free to disagree -- Dennis can cross a line when he's passionate about something. That does not excuse what happened to those two women (the on-air trashing) for me. But it does help me understand it. When he crosses a line, if someone points that out, he usually gets it. That has been the pattern in the past. So if you're on the fence about donating and want a reason to, there you go. I don't think he'd trash the two women today. (I doubt most would, the backlash was too severe.) Also true, while a huge number were still playing the sexist and nonsense card of "That awful President Hillary Clinton . . .," Dennis was pointing out that she is Secretary of State and responsible for her actions there but if you're unhappy with White House policies and actions, Barack Obama was actually elected president in 2008 and you should take your complaint there. Though that is so basic to this community, it is something that a large number of lefty males have struggled with and a large number continue to struggle with it. And male or female, it's something a number of KPFA on-airs continue to struggle with.
If you're not going to donate, you're not going to and you don't owe anyone (including me) an explanation. But whether you donate or not, do remember that, as Dennis pointed out on air yesterday, Flashpoints did what Pacifica Radio is supposed to. And let me point out what Dennis didn't because he was being kind: Flashpoints did what Pacifica Radio is supposed to -- but none of the others did. (Again, Robert Knight most likely has covered this with guests and reports on WBAI.) All that air time to fill. And we've had talk about TV shows and we've had trivia. Since when is Pacifica Radio broadcasting Entertainment Tonight? When all other news outlets are droning on in the same pro-war voice, Pacifica Radio is supposed to provide the voice of dissent, the voice of the silenced. One show did that and if you want to donate to Flashpoints for that reason, great. But grasp that one show did its job while a lot of shows did nothing. (And if you want to donate to Flashpoints but aren't able to while it's airing live, you can donate at any time and note on the phone -- 1-800-439-5732 -- or in your online donation that you are donating because of the work Flashpoints has been doing.) End of pitch.
Each month the Army releases their data on suicides. The press covers it and any information released by the other branches as well. Reading in the paper (the monthly release is usually just noted in the print media), you can be left with the impression that these are the military suicides but they are not the only ones. Those who have discharged and left the service have become "veterans" and not "service members." Veterans deal with many issues like readjustment to civilian life, attempting to find employment (in a bad economy and in a climate where young male veterans of the current wars have one of the worst rates of unemployment in the country), attempting to re-establish relationships, as well as, for some, other issues such as PTSD.
Veterans taking their own lives because the system failed them (or their pain from what they experienced while serving is too much to handle) are paying the costs of war and they are paying it with very few aware because their numbers are not tracked.
Many have decried this lack of record keeping including Senator Daniel Akaka when he was Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Patty Murray back then as well as since she became Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Murray and three other senators are attempting to resolve the 'mystery' around veterans suicides and to get this cost of war out in the open. Her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.'
"One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals," the Senators wrote. "In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care."
In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

July 20, 2011

The Honorable Dave Heineman

Chair, National Governors Association

444 North Capitol Street

Suite 267

Washington, DC 20001-1512

Dear Governor Heineman:

As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.

One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.

This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.

Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation's veterans.

Sincerely,
Patty Murray
Chairman
John D. Rockefeller IV
Senator
Robert Casey
Senator
Max Baucus
Senator
#####
Turning to the Iraq War, news came late yesterday that the Iraq had agreed to launch official negotiations with the US on the US military staying in Iraq beyond 2011. As Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "Long after most reporters had rushed home to beat the 1 a.m. curfew still in force, Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Nuri Shawis emerged to read a statement to state-run television saying the attendees recognized the need for further training of Iraqi military forces." And as we'll note, curfew or not, Jane Arraf reported on it yesterday. As did AP's Lara Jakes and Mohammad Ali Harissi for AFP -- those three's reports were noted in yesterday's snapshot.
Yang Lina (Xinhua -- link has text and video) reports, "Iraq's political leaders have given the government the green light to begin negotiating a deal with the U.S. The deal would keep American troops beyond the end of 2011 to train Iraqi security forces." Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) point out, "As a candidate, President Obama promised to end the Iraq war, so the White House has been reluctant to call openly for U.S. troops to remain."

So, yes, that makes the start of acknowledged negotiations major news. (Even if the New York Times runs a paragraph by AP and refuses to file their own story on the issue. Talk about caught sleeping on the job -- and, no, that's not a slam at Tim Arango who is pursuing a different story and doing follow ups. He is not the only one who could have written the story and when Mullen went into Iraq, he did so with reporters.)


Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) observes, "After weeks of wrangling and lots of US pressure it appears to be a breakthrough. After a five hour meeting in presidential compound here in Baghdad there was an announcement that a deal has been reached that presence of US military trainers would be raised in parliament." And as noted yesterday, Jane Arraf Tweeted about the big meet-up so refer to her Twitter feed for many more details about what was discussed by the Iraqi political blocs beyond US troops. And, if you visited her feed this morning, you saw that the supposed official stated position of the Sadr bloc is they're not going to block the move if everyone else goes along with it (US troops in Iraq beyond 2011) but that she (Arraf) was meeting up with a Sadr official to find out what their position actually entails.

Of the negotiations, Press TV notes, "The move, which is opposed by the Iraqi people, comes after a visit to Baghdad by the outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who has urged the al-Maliki government to make a decision whether it wants an extended presence of American forces in Iraq." This week in Baghdad, a petition calling on US forces to leave Iraq at the end of the year got 2.5 million signatures. Another number is offered by Stars & Stripes, "The U.S. has offered to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline." As Dar Addustour notes, the meet-up of the political blocs took place at Jalal Talabani's home (Talabani is the President of Iraq).


Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN quote
the Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nouri Shawees stating, "After extensive discussions, the leaders of the political blocs headed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have agreed to let the Iraqi government start negotiations with the American side only on the issues of training and under the Strategic Framework Agreement." In an active and functioning media, that statement alone would result in multiple columns, analysis and discussions. As it is, it will probably sail right over most heads (the meaning of it). Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) elaborates further, "The leaders agreed that any request to keep U.S. military trainers in Iraq would fall under a general security agreement with the United States and would not require signing a new accord to keep U.S. troops in the country into 2012, according to Talabani's office. U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Iraq did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night."

The only non-Iraqi press outlet I see offering analysis of the news at this point is the editorial board of the Khaleej Times:

With pressure coming in from Washington to decide at the earliest if it wants the remaining troops to stay or leave, Maliki faces a tough task. His tenuously cobbled coalition government is at a risk of falling apart in case a decision is made in favour of retaining American forces for longer than the December 2011 deadline. Facing violent opposition from some of his coalition partners -- concerning further prolonging of US forces in the country -- Maliki is in a catch-22 position in trying to choose the lesser of the two evils. For the security in Iraq is far from stable and is in fact worse than before, according to a recent report presented before the US Congress. According to the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Junior, the security situation is at an all time low.
Though an earlier military assessment in May lauded the improvement in security, it was misleading and based on a comparative assessment of the situation to that in 2007. As a matter of fact, according to Bowen, Iraq is facing enhanced security threat from Shia militant factions that have contributed to the spread of violence and instability. An increase in targeted killings of US soldiers and Iraqi officials and attacks in Baghdad over the past many months is testament to the fact. In addition, the Iraqi military capability is as yet not on track.

The start of negotiations is major news. And it did come late yesterday. So some needed to play catch up today. Understandable. If they, in fact, caught up.
There are 20 headlines to stories on The Nation's main page currently, not one has anything to do with Iraq. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman gave it two sentences plus a quote from Adm Mike Mullen. A military officer, grasp this, had more to say on Democracy Now! about war than did that 'peace loving' Amy. (Some may say, "She covered the debt ceiling!" Finally. And too damn little too damn late. Ava and I documented that in real time she did nothing "TV: The unexamined (American) lives" and "TV: The Age of Fakery." She only cared after the fact. See Elaine's "The Goody Whore" from last night.) And then there's Matthew.
The Progressive offers a piece by Matthew Rothschild, a weak and inaccurate piece. Maybe he shouldn't have written a damn thing?

Mike picked Matty Rothschild as Idiot of the Week and boy had Matty earned that honor. A month or so back, Matty was going to get ripped apart by me over his so-called concern for civil liberties. If you're concerned for civil liberties and do a "McCarthy Watch," you do that the same regardless of who is in the White House. He can rip Bush apart, he just can't call out Princess Barack. Now because Matthew called out the Libyan War and (rightly) noted it was an impeachable crime, I wrongly thought he had left the Cult of St. Barack and was more than willng to table the critique of how he does a McCarthyism Watch when it's Barack and when it's Bush.
If you're wondering what it looks like, you can see it in his hideous column "Pentagon Presses to Stay in Iraq, with Immunity!" Oh, that runaway Pentagon!
Poor Barack, the ultimate victim. No one listens to him! The Pentagon does what it wants!
I'm sick of this crap. He is president. People like Matthew Rothschild lied and whored to get him the Democratic Party nomination. He's now the president hold him accountable. I am so sick of these pathetic little babies and Matthew is the King of them.
From his embarrassing garbage:
All U.S. troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of this year.
This has not only been Obama's pledge. This is the precise wording of the security agreement between the Iraqi government and the United States.
But now the Obama administration wants to keep U.S. troops beyond that date, so the Pentagon's been negotiating with the Iraqis to extend the American presence there.
Okay, that wasn't Obama's pledge. That's a damn lie. Barack would not have gotten the Democratic Party nomination if he was promising that all troops will be out of Iraq at the start of 2012, three years after he takes office. That's a damn lie.
Secondly, after "Obama's pledge," Barack's never responsible again. It's not Barack that wants the US to stay in Iraq, it's "the Obama administration." Matthew Rothschild is such a damn chicken, such a pathetic coward, that he can't call out Barack Obama.
I don't like Barack. I didn't vote for him. I won't vote for him in 2012. But I'm not the one pretending he's a weakling, I'm not the one pretending he has no strength or power. I recognize he's the president of the United States. That's something that the Cult of St. Barack that gifted him with the nomination can't own up to.
The Pentagon is NOT negotiating.
"Brave" Matty can call them out but he's wrong. Robert Gates, when he was Secretary of Defense, was required to note the time issue and that it was passing when speaking to Nouri or Jalal Talabani. Leon Panetta has infamously noted the time issue since becoming Secretary of Defense. Adm Mike Mullen went to Iraq to convey how serious the government was taking the issue.
Their efforts were to prompt action. They are not negotiating anything. James Jeffrey, the US Ambassador to Iraq, is the public face of negotiations (as Ryan Crocker was when he was the US Ambassador to Iraq). He is assisted by State Dept employees the administration has tasked for this issue.
This is not who Hillary Clinton has selected, it's not her issue. Joe Biden and Samantha Power are tasked with Iraq on the orders of Barack Obama. Hillary is not involved. You see her with her Iraqi counterpart from time to time, she does receive most visiting Iraqis but she and Nouri are not close and anyone who can't grasp that can't remember Hillary's public remarks about Nouri when she was in the Senate. That's the practical reason Hillary's not over Iraq. There are other reasons as well. Samantha Power is elevated to her position because, although Joe Biden has a great relationship with many Iraqi politicians (including the Kurds), he also made comments, when he was a senator, about Nouri that Nouri has not forgotten. (Hillary and Joe both rightly called Nouri a despot at one point or another and it's not forgotten on Nouri's side. And they were not one time remarks. Nor were they unique remarks in the Senate. Back then, Baraba Boxer was among the many calling out Nouri as a Little Saddam.)
If that's news to you, that's still not an excuse for ever thinking that the Pentagon would be negotiating -- or that they would do so against the wishes of the president.
Matthew throws caution and facts to the wind in this sentence: "Because even as Admiral Mullen was making his pitch, U.S. troops along with Iraqi troops were raiding a village, killing three men, including a tribal elder who was seen in handcuffs, and wounding five others, including two little girls."
No. You can't alter facts and keep them as facts. Mike Mullen arrived in Iraq on Monday. The incident Rothschild's referring to took place LAST WEEK. This appears in Saturday's second entry: "and, dropping back to Friday night, a "joint U.S.-Iraqi air landing on al-Rifeiat tribe's village in Balad township of Salahal-Din Province" today resulted in the deaths of 4 Iraqi civilians (and six being injured)," Mullen arrived on Monday. You can't alter the facts and claim that they're still facts. Yes, Matthew Rothschild, it does make the story play better, but it's not fiction and you can't alter the facts. (And if you're interested in this story, Tim Arango has filed two reports on it so far -- here and here.)
What Matthew Rothschild is really doing when he refuses to call out Barack Obama, when he invents blame for the Pentagon and when he alters time lines to make the story more 'pleasing,' what he's really doing is demonstrating how Judith Miller was able to write for The Progressive. She did. Long before her bad reporting helped sell the Iraq War, she was writing for The Progressive. And meeting the very low standards required from that magazine.
While Panhandle Media can't get the story right (including that currently the blocs aren't considering impunity -- read yesterday and today's reports in the Arab media and in some of the English media as well), Jane Arraf is all over the ins and outs, both in terms of the agreement to negotiate and what led to it Nouri's promised Ayad Allawi that Iraqiya can pick the Minister of Defense and that the national security council promised in the Erbil Agreement will come to be and Allawi will head it -- as Arraf notes, this mean that there may be "enough support for the agreement to be passed by parliament, even with the opposition of the Sadrists. If you're generous, Moqtada's bloc has 40 seats. There are 325 MPs (though only around 225 tend to show up at any session).

Violence continued overnight. The Belfast Telegraph notes, "Four Iraqis have been killed in two successive bomb attacks targeting a shop selling alcohol in western Baghdad, police and health officials said." AFP adds, "The explosions come shortly after the beginning of Ramadan, during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until dusk. Ramadan began on Monday for Iraq's Sunnis and a day later for the country's majority Shiites. Also on Tuesday evening, unknown gunmen shot dead Iraqi army Lieutenant Colonel Azad Mohammed Ahmed in the Khadra area in the south of Kirkuk while he was driving to his house with one of his guards." Reuters adds that last night 2 cab drivers were shot dead in Hilla, that a bomb went off in a Tikrit car claiming 2 lives and leaving one person injured, that a rocket attack in Baghdad injured two police officers, two Ramadi bombings claimed 7 lives and left eight people injured and Reuters updates the death toll for Tuesday's Baghdad bombings targeting an alcohol store -- the new death toll is 3 police officers (sixteen people are said to have been injured).

Posted at 03:38 am by thecommonills
 

The Goody Whore

The Goody Whore

"U.S. House Approves Record Budget Cuts" (Patrick Martin, WSWS):

The US House of Representatives voted by a 269-161 margin Monday night to approve the budget agreement between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration that will cut nearly $3 trillion from federal spending over the next ten years, the bulk of it from domestic social programs.

The Republican majority in the House backed the bill by a top-heavy 174-66 margin, while the Democratic minority split evenly, 95-95. The two top House Democrats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, backed the administration-supported bill.

The comfortable margin of more than a hundred votes belied suggestions in the media that a combination of ultra-right Tea Party Republicans and liberal Democrats might defeat the bill. In the end, the Tea Party elements fell in behind the Republican leadership, while the liberals made impotent and insincere protests about the devastating cuts to social spending and the complete absence of any tax increases on the wealthy.

Of course it wouldn't have happened. The fix was always in. Now Barack will gut the safety net but do it through his latest 'bipartisan' commission. That was the plan, that was always the plan. The media made sure to try to scare you to death because they swing it for Wall Street too.

I will never, ever forget that Goody Whore, Amy Goodman, refused to take this issue seriously. Never let that cheap ass whore pretend she is for the people. She made clear she was all about whoring for an administration. In the last two weeks, she did two ONLY TWO segments on this. One was a Ralph Nader blink and you miss it segment. The other was with a guest that Juan Gonzalez had to remind about the Democrats. The guest (Richard Wolff) thought he could just trash Republicans and call that 'analysis.'

While doing that crap, Amy talked to Roseanne about her TV show. I love Roseanne. I loved her show. But we're talking way in the past and there were pressing issues to cover. She also wasted non-stop time on Norway.

The American people were screwed and Amy Goodman did her part to ensure that was the case.

I will not forget and neither should you.

If you somehow missed what Goodman was doing, refer to Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The unexamined (American) lives" and "TV: The Age of Fakery."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Tuesday, August 2, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a church in Kirkuk is targeted, officials continue to be targeted, the political blocs meet and give the go-ahead to start negotiating with the US for US troops on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War. On this week's Black Agenda Radio -- hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network -- they highlight a speech former US House Rep and 2008 US presidential candidate as part of her report back from her fact finding mission to Libya. This is an excerpt of Cynthia speaking at Atlanta's Church of the Black Madonna, use the link for the speech in full.
Cynthia McKinney: As a student of the Counter Intelligence Program, I know my own government will lie. And as a student of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I know that the media will lie. And so I decided to try my best to take a delegation of alternative journalists who would go to Libya and tell the truth, let the chips fall where they may. But the only problem was there were sanctions that our president had put on making it very difficult for Americans to travel there. So that meant that I had to borrow money -- about $25,000 is what it took. And I got a friend to put this on his credit card. And the money that you have just given will help to pay that back. [Applause.] At every stop along the way, there are people who say, "I want to go to Libya." In fact, where is Derreck? Derreck is going to go if we can raise some of that money so that we can take another delegation because the truth continues to need to be told. Now I've got some very bad news in this final minute that I have left. And that is that as of yesterday, I received an e-mail from a Russian who is concerned about what is going on in Libya. 70% of the drinking water has now been contaminated by NATO bombing [. . .] the facility that supplies 70% of the people with their drinking water. Not only was NATO not content, and exactly they did the same thing in Iraq, if you will remember, this also is a War Crime. In fact, there have been many War Crimes that have been commited against the people of Libya. But not only did NATO not content itself with destroying the access to clean water, but they also bombed the manufacturing plant that makes the pipes for the Great Man-Made River. If oil is the war for the 20th century, water is the war for the 21st century. There's one more thing before I have to take my leave of this microphone that I want to report to you. And that is, how in the world are you going to have a Race War on the African continent? [Applause.] Please explain it to me! [Applause continues.] When the American guys land -- well the guys that are not supposed to be there, right? But when the Americans land and they see people who look like me, they say, "Oh! There are African mercenaries!" Well I am here to tell you that Libya is at least 50 to 60% people who look like me. [Applause.] But unfortunately, if there's anything that our government knows how to do it is how to use racism to incite people to do the unthinkable. And so now you have had what I have suspsected, well, maybe it's an identity issue, or is it Arab, or is it Black or is it African or what? But now you've got these people who have called in NATO to bomb their own fellow country people. Now they are killing people who look like me and you. And there is a very real sense of insecurity now because people who look like me have some concern about whether or not some one who looks like some of the people in this audience are going to kill them, are going to lynch them, are going to torture them, are going to murder them? But in the end, I will close with this, and that is, sadly, we are seeing the reintroduction [new imperialism] politics onto the African continent. But who is doing it? The first person to use the word "mercenary" in regards to what is happening in Libya in an official capacity was United States' United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a woman who looks like me. This policy of bombing is being perpetrated by a president who looks like me. And so now I take this personally because I have been blessed to be able to travel all over this planet and everywhere I go, I walk with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [Applause], I walk with Malcolm X [Applause], I walk with all of the great people who have struggled in this country and provided a modicum of dignity in the face of oppression. I walk with them because people understand that Black people in the United States never go along with war. [Applause.] They understand that Black people in the United States sing the song of oppression every day. [Applause.] So now when I go around the world now I have to make excuses for Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice, President Barack Obama and Susan Rice and [deafening Applause] and I am not going to do it any longer! [Loud cheering and Applause] -- I make no excuses [Cheering and Applause] a War Crime committed by George W. Bush is a War Crime committed by President Barack Obama.
Turning to Iraq, last night on Adam vs The Man (RT, airs at seven p.m. EST, Monday through Friday and streams online), Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh noted the latest on Iraq.
Adam Kokesh: We may be wrapping up operations in Iraq but it's good to know Obama is still kicking ass -- or at least someone is kicking ass in Iraq. Either way there's blood in the sand. In fact, Iraq may be more dangerous now than it was a year ago. Shi'ite militias continue to pose immediate threats to both troops and Iraqi officials bringing forth a constant stream of assassination attempts and rocket attacks but perhaps more pertinent to the American people 15 US troops died in June -- the highest number in two years. A review by Stuart Bowen Jr., Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, has released a new analysis stating, "Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work. . . . It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago." Now US forces are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year but have been vocal in their offer to Iraqi officials that 'we could keep our young men and women in harm's way beyond the deadline if they so choose.' I guess George Bush's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" ceremony in 2003 was a little premature after all. Maybe so was Obama's announcement that we were going to be pulling out some time in the near future or during his presidency even.
Dar Addustour notes US Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq and spoke with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, about the US military remaining in Iraq, spoke "in detail" and al-Maliki assured Mullen that the political blocs would take up the issue today when they attended Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's meet-up. Meanwhile 2.5 million residents of Baghdad have signed a petition calling on US forces to leave Iraq at the end of this year. Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) adds, "Though many Iraqi leaders agree that U.S. forces should continue providing air defense and training for Iraqi military forces, they remain far apart on how to make the request and for how long American forces should stay -- prolonging the process much longer than American officials expected." In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes that Mullen spoke with Talabani on Monday about the status of US forces in Iraq. Jim Garamone (American Forces Press Service) notes, "Though U.S. forces in Iraq are planning to draw down to zero in December, they are preserving capabilities in the country should the Iraqis ask for continued help, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said here today. Speaking to reporters traveling with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said Iraqi leaders are thinking about the way ahead and are trying to figure out the direction they want to go." Phil Stewart (Reuters) reports that Mullen stated today any agreement with Iraq to extend the US military presence beyond 2011 must include immunity for US troops. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) quotes Mullen stating, "That kind of agreement, which would include privileges and immunities for our American men and women in uniform will need to go through the Council of Representatives (parliament)." Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf explains, "There's a lack of clarity so far on the issue of whether US troops should stay. Essentially what Mullen is talking about is an agreement to ask the US to start negotiations and not an agreement to ask US troops to stay."
Aswat al-Iraq adds, "Legislature Khalid al-Assady of the State of Law Coalition, led by Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has expressed confidence that the meeting of Iraq's Political Leaders, scheduled to take place at the residence of President Jalal Talabani on Tuesday 'would reach a national accord on the withdrawal of the American Forces from Iraq, by the end of the current year'." Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraq Premier Nouri Al Maliki said on Tuesday he hopes that Iraq political blocs leaders could reach during the meeting to be held today a finall decision about whether Iraq needs to keep US troops or not and called to carry on cooperating and coordinating between the two parties." AP adds that the polical blocs have met and they have given the approval for negotiations to commence. AFP covers it here. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera) Tweeted the meet-up, including the following:
janearraf #Iraq political leaders agree US military trainers needed next year - agree to discuss in parliament - significant first step.
janearraf Spoke too soon on Sadrists - main #Sadr leader walked out of talks that resulted in resulted in #Iraq plan to discuss keeping US trainers.
Staying with politics, Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqiya is telling the press Nouri al-Maliki is indicating he's responsive to their desire to end Political Stalemate II and "settle all the suspended dossiers and complete the articles of Arbil Agreement, including the nomination of the National Council for Strategic Policies." Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf Tweets:
janearraf #Iraq meeting seems major reconciliation between PM Maliki and Ayad Allawi, with new promises of power. Part of deal sidelining Sadrists?
Meanwhile Ali Hussein (Al Mada) wonders about the political elites and notes that an Iraqi mother's options narrow and narrow and yet there's not even a safe place to beg, or the millions who suffer this summer in Iraq without electricity as they fast (for Ramadan) in tin houses and their needs and interests continue to be ignored. Hussein writes that Iraqi's feel powerless and see the Parliament as a body that does not look out for the people while political forces and blocs grab the power and that law has become nothing but a weapon for the ruling party. Where, Hussein wonders, is the country all Iraqis love, where is the homeland? Sacrifices have been made, a river of blood has been shed, where is the Iraq they have dreamed of?
CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq Tweets:
Mohammed Tawfeeq
mtawfeeqCNN Some of Ramadan shows on Iraqiya State TV show miserable life under Saddam, while some other TVs showing miserable life in post- Saddam Era!
Today a bombing rocks Kirkuk, one apparently targeting Iraqi Christians. Xinhua notes that "a booby-trapped car" exploded leaving a church partially damaged and at least 19 people injured. Jamal Taher Bakr (AGI) reports the church is Holy Family Church, that four children and a nun are said to be among the injured and that an additional two car bombs were discovered. AFP speaks with Father Imad Hanna who states the church had not previously been targeted and that, "Women, children and men from this neighbourhood were wounded in the explosion." Asia News reports, "This morning, Mgr Louis Sako, the archbishop of Kirkuk, visited the wounded in hospital. Many of them have already been released and gone home." The Archbishop Sako states, "We are shocked because Christians play no role in the political games." Ivana Kvesic (Christian Post) quotes police deputy Torhan Abdulrahman stating, "It was a coordinated attack to target churches at the same time." Carol Glatz (Catholic News Service) explains, "Police defused two other car bombs -- one in front of a Christian school and another in front of a Presbyterian church." AP counts 23 wounded and notes that Father Imad Hanna was among the wounded. They also quote Rev Haithem Akram stating, "The terrorists want to make us flee Iraq, but they will fail." Vatican Radio observes (link has text and audio), "This is an unusual attack for Kirkuk -- often seen as a haven of relative security for many Christians fleeing the rampant sectarian violence of Mosul and Baghdad. The Christians of the city and their leaders -- Archbishop Sako -- at the forefront -- are renowned for their work and efforts to promote inter-religious harmony and peace. [. . .] A US State Department report says Christian leaders estimate that 400,000 to 600,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from a preward level of as high as 1.4 million by some estimates."

Iraqi Christians made up a tiny section of Iraq's internal population but they compose a large portion of the refugee population. Throughout the Iraqi War, Christians have been repeatedly targeted. The most infamous attack is the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad which was invaded and taken in the middle of a religious service. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reminds, "An October 31 attack on the Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral, or Our Lady of Salvation Church, left 70 people dead and 75 wounded, including 51 congregants and two priests." David Kerr (CNA) notes, "The
attack comes on the day that three men were sentenced to death in Baghdad for their role in a church siege last October [. . .] A fourth man was sentenced to 20 years." Atul Aneja (The Hindu) adds, "The convicted men have one month to file an appeal."

In the aftermath of the attack on the Baghdad church, many Iraqi Christians fled the country and, of those who remained, many sought refuge in Mosul and other areas of northern Iraq. Violence against Iraqi Christians did not end with the October siege of the church in Baghdad. From last Wednesday's snapshot:
Charisma News alerts, "A house church leader has been kidnapped by Muslims in Duhok, Iraq, according to a report from Voice of the Martyrs, Canada. A young Iraqi girl recently told VOM contacts that Muslims broke into her home and took her father, Jamal." He is a pastor to the Shabak and is being referred to in accounts as "Pastor Jamal." Minority Rights Group International notes, "The Shabak are an ethnic and cultural minority located in a handful of villages east of Mosul, in the Nineveh Plains, and a small group in Mosul itself. Their language is a confection of Turkish, Persian, Kurdish and Arabic. About 70 per cent of the group is Shi'a and the rest Sunni. Shabak have been in Iraq since 1502, and today are mainly farmers." The Voice of the Martyrs Canada adds, "Several weeks ago, the home of one of Jamal's recent converts was sprayed with machine gun fire. Many fear that the militants, possibly members of al Qaida, will not give Jamal any option of release but immediately kill him." Mission Network News covers the details above here but also offers an audio option. Iraq's religious minorities have been under attack throughout the Iraq War.


Friday, AFP reported the US House of Representatives -- by a 402 for and 20 against vote (all votes against were Republicans who cited economic reasons for voting against the proposal) -- called on US President Barack Obama to create a post of religious envoy citing the targeting of Coptic Christians in Egypt and "the treatment of Christians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Ahmadiyah Muslim minority in Pakistan, Bahais in Iran and Hindus in Bangladesh." In response to the House vote, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "A Member of the Iraqi Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Hassan Khudheir al-Hamdany, has said on Sunday that the U.S. appointment of an American Envoy to protect minorities in some countries, including Iraq, 'represents an interference in the country's internal affairs'." That's a rather touchy reaction since (a) Iraq was only one of the countries on the list (with Egypt got most of the attention) and (b) the measure still has to go to the US Senate.

Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baquba attack left 3 Sahwa dead and 1 man was shot dead in a Baquba drive-by. Aswat al-Iraq adds a double Baghdad bombing left 2 people dead and six injured and late yesterday there was an attempt on the Ministry of the Electricity's Director of the Judicial Section, Ali Halim Hassan, who was not injured but two of his sons were injured.
Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:
Meanwhile Tim Arango (New York Times) reports today Al Rufait today where a joint US-Iraqi raid left three people dead and five injured in what is a confusing incident and one that has enraged local Iraqis: "The raid and the deaths prompted outrage on Monday in Parliament and in the local press, and coincide with an ongoing debate about the future role of the United States military here." Aswat al-Iraq reports 4 were killed and quotes Sheik Yousif al-Rufeie stating that the US must answer for "having executed the four persons, including an old man, with cold blood." Incidents such as this do not assist the US government's desire to remain in Iraq. Nor does a similar attack in Basra today. Aswat al-Iraq quotes stating "American forces had carried out an air-landing in southern Iraq's Basra city, arrested 3 citizens, beaten women, stolen money and terrified children, in al-Quran township's Nukheilat village."
This afternoon, Tim Arango (New York Times) files a report at the paper's blog: "Surrounded by perhaps two dozen men, they took us through the village, recounting the raid and blaming the Americans. Not a cross word was said about Iraqi forces who the Americans said led the raid, nor of the Iraqi legal system, which had validated the raid with a judicial warrant." Arango notes that the US response to the raid is to refuse to answer questions and the Iraqi government is launching an investigation.
In other news of conflict, Iran continues to shell northern Iraq (and some say the Iranian military continues to enter northern Iraq). They say they are targeting "terrorists." The rebel group Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, PJAK, is one of the many Kurdish rebel groups in the region who believe that the Kurds should have a homeland. AFP speaks with the International Organization for Migration and learns that "over 200 Iraqi Kurdish families" have had to flee their homes due to the shelling that started July 15th. It is thought that the refugee families cannot survive for long without financial assistance. Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met with the US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey today and "stressed the importance of the immediate cessation of Iranian shelling of Iraqi territory, which is considered a violation of Iraq's sovereignty." Aswat al-Iraq also notes the meeting and states "that a parliamentary committee was formed to investigate this question and sbumit its report." The Voice of Russia (link has text and video) adds, "The Iraqi Parliament insists on the expulsion of Iranian Ambassador Hassan Danaie-Far over the continuing border clashes between members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan. Experts say that clashes on the Iranian-Iraqi border mark the start of a large-scale war." The Voice of Russia's Yelizaveta Isakova observes, "For today, Kurds are the world's largest ethnic minority. Since they have no state of their own, struggle for independence is in their blood." Dilshad Saifaddin (Zawya) adds, "Private sector bodies in Sulaimaniya issued a statement yesterday calling on Iran to cease its bombardments on the Iraqi-Kurdistan border in the interest of bilateral economic ties. The statement was announced at a press conference following a meeting of representatives of the city's Chamber of Commerce, the Kurdistan Contractors Union, the Kurdistan Economic Development Organization (KIDO), the Kurdistan's Businessmen's Union, the Development Unity group, the Industrial and Commerce Development group for Iraqi-Kurdistan Businessmen, and the Kurdistan Exporters Union." Mohammed A. Salih (Rudaw) speaks with the KRG's envoy to Iran, Nazim Omar Dabbagh. Excerpt:

Rudaw: What is the KRG's solution?

Dabbagh: All sides need to abide by international laws and respect their neighbors' borders. But the question is: How successful can we be in that regard? Can the KRG, with the assistance of the central government, (in Baghdad) implement laws that prohibit groups from using Iraq's soil to attack neighboring countries?

Rudaw: What if PJAK does not accept your solutions?

Dabbagh: If they do not accept, then we will take our stance. We hope that PJAK and PKK (the Kurdistan Workers' Party) put into practice their slogans. They believe that their existence is in the interest of Kurds. Let them define the Kurds' interests. Are the interests of the Kurds the same as PJAK's interests? If they are working for Kurds, they should not derail the achievements of the (Iraqi) Kurdistan Region. The KRG, despite being under pressure for years, has not yet succumbed to those pressures to oppose and fight PJAK and PKK. (Editor's note: PJAK is an offshoot of the PKK.)

Iran's attacks on Iraq come at a time when Iran is seen less positively than its Arab neighbors saw it in the last few years. In relate news, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) observes, "American military leaders believe that long-standing differences between the Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq will lead to violence if all U.S. troops leave that area by Dec. 31, as planned, according to a new study by the Rand Corp." He's referring to the RAND Corporation's report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops." From last Tuesday's snapshot:
Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops." The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer. If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report. CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor. (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.) Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years. And had outside actors. The authors acknowledge:
["]Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops. While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.["]
As you read over the report, you may be struck by its failure to state the obvious: If the US government really wanted the issue solved, it would have been solved in the early years of the illegal war. They don't want it solved. The Kurds have been the most loyal ally the US has had in the country and, due to that, they don't want to upset them. However, they're not going to pay back the loyalty with actual support, not when there's so much oil at stake. So the Kurds were and will continue to be told their interests matter but the US will continue to blow the Kurdish issues off over and over. Greed trumps loyalty is the message. (If you doubt it, the Constitution guaranteed a census and referendum on Kirkuk by December 31, 2007. Not only did the US government install Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in 2006, they continued to back him for a second term in 2010 despite his failure to follow the Constitution.)
Along with avoiding that reality, the report seems rather small-minded or, at least, "niche driven." Again, the authors acknowledge that as well noting that they're not presenting a solution to the problems or ways to reach a solution, just ways to kick the can further down the road and, hopefully, there won't be an explosion that forces the issue any time soon. ("Regional and local CBMs have the potential to keep a lid on inter-communal tensions that will, without question, boil beneath the surface for a long time. They cannot, however, resolve what is, at its heart, a strategic political dispute that must be resolved at the national level.") Hopefully? Page nine of the report notes that the consensus of US military, officials, analysts, etc. who have worked on the issue is that -- "given enough time -- Arab and Kurdish participants will eventually have a dispute that leads to violence, which will cause the mechanism to degrade or collapse."
The report notes that, in late 2009, Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq at that point) had declared the tensions between Arabs and Kurds to be "the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq." It doesn't note how the US Ambassador to Iraq when Odierno made those remarks was Chris Hill who dismissed talk of tensions as well as the issue of the oil rich and disputed Kirkuk.
The authors argue that the unresolved issues could still be solved (and "civil war is not imminent") but that "the window is quickly closing". So what's the problem? The authors explain:
["]The issues that divide Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other minorities in northern Iraq mirror the nation's most complex and contentious political challenges: disputed internal boundaries (which must be settled in order to determine the territorial boundaires of the Kurdistan region), the lack of clarity regarding control over Iraq's hydrocarbons, and the need to professionalize and integrate Iraq's military and police. More locally, Arab-Kurd disputes extend to the sharing of power on local governing bodies, the ethnic composition of local police, rights to previously seized or abandoned property, the jurisidiction and condut of Kurdish security and intelligence services, and protections for minority rights.["]
If the US military leaves can the US State Dept fill the role? While the authors note that the State Dept is interested in doing that and might be able to grab some roles, "U.S. diplomats would be ill-suited to join Kurdish and Iraqi security forces on armed patrols or at checkpoints, where disagreements on operations and tactics are more likely to lead to violence." The authors think the United Nations might be able to play a role in the CBMs but acknowledges that in June of 2009, UNAMI was uanble to please either side.
The report really ends there though the authors continue on -- including offering some ridiculous 'soutions.' Reality, if the US wanted to make an impact on the issue, the time to do so was long, long ago. It's an Iraqi decision and they'll have to decide it. And they'll most likely do so in a violent manner. The report notes, "Kurdish leaders hope that favorable demographic trends will strengthen their position over time, as will revenues from whatever energy contracts they are able to conclude themselves. For its part, Baghdad seems to believe that improvements to Iraqi Army capabilities will deter armed conflict and prevent the KRG from seceding."
Walter Pincus points out that "the study finds matters 'exacerbated by the existence of parallel Kurdish and Iraqi security institutions.' The two Kurdish political parties have their own military, police and intelligence services. Their soldiers, referred to as the pesh merga, though nominally under Kurdish government control, are in reality affiliated with their separate political parties."
ali hussein
al mada

Posted at 03:36 am by thecommonills
 

The continued Great Recession (Trina)

The continued Great Recession

The economy has not gotten better. On All Things Considered (NPR) today, I was happy to hear them using the term "recession." The Great Recession has not ended but there was a real effort to convince us it had.

Andre Damon (WSWS) examines the economy:

Economic data released this week provides further evidence that economic growth in the US has virtually come to a halt. The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that consumer spending fell by 0.2 percent in June, the first monthly decline since September of 2009. Personal income increased a negligible 0.1 percent, the smallest gain since last November, according to the department. Wages and salaries remained unchanged.

These figures followed similarly disastrous data on manufacturing released Monday by the Institute of Supply Management. The institute reported that its US purchasing managers index (PMI) fell in July to its lowest level in two years, while new orders contracted for the first time since 2009.

The data on consumer spending and manufacturing is consistent with the figures released Friday by the Commerce Department on overall economic growth. That report showed second quarter growth of the US gross domestic product (GDP) slowing to a mere 1.3 percent on an annualized basis. The Commerce Department also revised downward its estimate of GDP growth in the first quarter from 1.9 percent to a negligible 0.4 percent.

The data on consumer spending helped fuel the sharpest sell-off of US stocks in a year on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 265 points (2.2 percent), dropping the index well below 12,000. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 32 points, or 2.6 percent. The Nasdaq index fell 75 points (2.8 percent).


And the jobs just aren't there and won't be there. So the reality is that the jobless 'recovery' was always a myth.

It's important to grasp that. Until we do, our attitude when we hear unemployment benefits have run out may be: Why can't they get a job!!!

Blaming them. When the proper question is: Why won't the government create jobs?

The government is where the blame goes.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, US Senators Patty Murray, Jay Rockefeller, Max Bacus and Robert Casey work to determine how many veterans are taking their own lives, Jane Arraf demonstrates (without show boating) why her knowledge of Iraq is second only to the legendary Robert Fisk, Matthew Rothschild demonstrates that if you're too dishonest to call out Barack then you're also dishonest enough to try to rewrite facts in order to make your bad column more 'pleasing,' and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, Saturday the jounalists of the Libyan Broadcasting Authority issued the following statement:
In an act of international terrorism and in violation of UNSC resolutions, NATO targeted the facilities of the Libyan Broadcasting Authority in the early hours of this morning. 3 of our colleges were murdered and 15 injured while performing their professional duty as Libyan journalists.
NATO admitted the crime sighting "silencing Gaddafi's propaganda machine" as a justification for such a murderous act.
We are the employees of the official Libyan TV. We are not a military target, we are not commanders in the army and we do not pose a threat to civilians. We are performing our job as journalists representing what we wholeheartedly believe is the reality of NATO's aggression and the violence in Libya.
We have the right to work in a safe environment protected by national and international law. The fact that we work for the Libyan government or represent anti-NATO, anti-armed gangs views does not make us a legitimate target for NATO's rockets.
As journalists, we demand that we get full protection from the international community and ask our brothers in the profession from all around the world to stand against such attacks targeting media personnel.
Foreign journalists in Tripoli, Reporters without Borders and human rights organizations: we appeal to you to make your moral and professional stand clear on this issue.
We are hopeful that your media organizations will help us highlight this important issue and come out in support of our just cause.
Thank you.
Muhammad Ahmed Mukhtar
Abdelwanis Sulaiman Elsayed
Abdelwahid Muhammad Ali
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war. Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday.
Kevin Pina: The situation on the ground in Libya continues to heat up following the killing of Abdul Fatah Younis who was the chief of staff of the so-called rebels in Libya. One thing that is being under-reported in the press here and throughout the world is that NATO actually intervened on behalf of one of the rebel groups in Benghazi last Friday and over the weekend, we also understand that NATO bombers also took out three antenna dishes for Libyan television but also killed three journalists. Apparently killing journalists is one way of supporting free speech in Libya today. Here again is our special correspondent Mahdi Nazamroaya who is on the ground in Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Thank you for having me.
Kevin Pina: So let's start of course with what happened in NATO's intervention which is not reported in the press at all in the internal conflict among the so-called rebels who appear to now to be tearing each other apart.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes. Just a few days ago in Benghazi riots broke out as well as protests, separate protests, and armed struggle as well between different groups. Members of the biggest tribe in Libya, Warfalla, were attacked during a meeting that they had discussing ways to get rid of the Transitional Council. The building they were in was attacked. It's unconfirmed but it's believed that 160 members of the Warfalla tribe were killed during this meeting. There was also armed fighting between Abdul Fatah Younis' tribesmen who actually opened fire on members of the Transitional Council especially after the press conference that announced his death, actually murder is the proper way to put it. So in Benghazi fighting has broken out. In Tobruk fighting has broken out. In Darnah, fighting has broken out. The Libyan people there are beginning to take up arms against the Transitional Council. I've been told that some of them were actually waiting for the right moment and it seems that the Transitional Council is in a very, very hard place right now.
Kevin Pina: And that's the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya, our special correspondent, speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. He is also a research associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Montreal, Canada. Now, Mahdi, what we also understand -- it's interesting because as you're describing all of this internal strife and battle and warfare among the so-called rebels themselves at the same time the west was making announcements of advancements and military victories they were making in the field.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well they've been doing this the whole time, this is not unusual, it's not strange, it's not new, but it's not true. They have not been making advances. I was just looking at an article from the Guardian from last month, how they were saying Tripoli was reached. The reporter, he wrote this report in Tripoli. I'm looking at the Telegraph right now from July 6th and it's talking about covert guerilla war in Tripoli and how Tripoli's about to fall and there's three fronts to the east of the Libyan capital. They've been talking about this for a long time, there has been no gains. It's the other way around. The tides are turning. The Transitional Council is in a very hard spot and this is what's forced NATO and it's coalition to intervene to help the Transnational Council attack Libyan citizens in the east. The Libyan people in the east are trying to throw off the yoke of the Transitional Council which essentially is NATO. In fact, Qatari armed vehicles have been seen in Benghazi and Qatari troops are in Benghazi as well as well as others from the Gulf Cooperation Council who have been putting down the protests and the armed struggle that's trying to remove the Transitional Council from power and bring back the legitimate government of Libya in Benghazi.
Kevin Pina: Well that might for a lot of our listeners who are wondering why Al Jazeera is embedded with the rebels, now we hear Qatari troops are actually fighting against people in the east on behalf of people with the Transitional Council inside of Libya according to our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya who is joining us directly from Tripoli, Libya.
At this point Mahdi reads the letter in that we noted at the top and then the two discuss it. Okay, a friend at KPFA asked if I'd note something. I'm going to but I'm not a fake like Amy Goodman so I'm not going to schill. First off, we walked away from Flashpoints Radio for a reason. Even now there are community members who are upset that I'm highlighting it. I understand that and I respect their feelings. Why are they upset? Because they have not forgotten when Ray McGovern and Dennis Bernstein engaged in attacks on two women in their effort to promote Julian Assange. This is disclaimer within disclaimer. But since we're on Julian, I know Gareth Peirce and like her. She's his new attorney. Unlike the Julian Booster Wagon, we noted in real time what incredible f**k ups his attorneys were, we noted -- and were the only ones who did -- the judge's disbelief at the filings and the witnesses Julian's attorney's provided. (As stated then, Julian's lousy attorneys were no reflection on his guilt or innocence. They were and are incompetent. The judge all but stated that in the court room.) Gareth's long history speaks for itself and she'll do a wonderful job representing Julian. And starting with her taking over the case, I'm out of it in terms of commentary unless those two women get attacked again. The women may or may not have been raped. My position here was we don't know what happened, we weren't there. And if Ray McGovern, Naomi Wolfe and others had taken that position, Julian's reputation wouldn't be so bad right now. But instead, they chose to insist the women were this and that and every awful thing in the world. When Ray, Naomi, et al's claims were demonstrated to be lies, they not only didn't issue a correction or an apology, they continued to repeat the lies. Two women who may or may not have been raped were torn apart because some little babies had to protect their hero. That's not what we're supposed to do on the left.
But because that's what McGovern and Dennis did on Flashpoints, there are people that will not listen to the show anymore. And I do understand that and I do respect it. The reason we started highlighting it was because when we (Wally, Kat, Ava and I) were speaking to various groups in the spring, the Libyan War kept coming up. We're there to discuss the wars, so that was fine. But it was very, very hard for people to find coverage they felt they could trust. Al Jazeera, for example, destroyed its reputation with the Libyan War. (Amy Goodman revealed herself to be a fraud to a number of college students with her silence on the Libyan War.) Kevin Pina was guest hosting Flashpoints Tuesday through Friday and he and Mahdi were covering Libya Tuesday through Thursday (and doing a great job). That's why we included the program and that's why I have e-mailed and individual apology and an explanation to every community member who has complained that we are highlighting Flashpoints.
KPFA is in fundraising mode. I was asked to note that and to note that Flashpoints has been the only place on Pacifica Radio where you have gotten Libyan War coverage regularly. (Robert Knight may be noting it on his show. He's on WBAI and I wasn't asked by any WBAI friends to make any comments.) Dennis needed a rest and is back from his vacation with a voice that still sounds sore. He has publicly thanked and praised Kevin and Mahdi for their work and he is said to be determined to continue Flashpoint's leadership on the Libyan War. If you appreciate the coverage and you want to donate and can afford to, the number is 1-800-439-5732. You can also safely contribute online. You can make a one time donation or you can make a donation where they charge your credit card X amount every month. Pacifica Radio is public radio and, if you itemize your deductions on your taxes, your donation is tax deductable.
My own opinion -- feel free to disagree -- Dennis can cross a line when he's passionate about something. That does not excuse what happened to those two women (the on-air trashing) for me. But it does help me understand it. When he crosses a line, if someone points that out, he usually gets it. That has been the pattern in the past. So if you're on the fence about donating and want a reason to, there you go. I don't think he'd trash the two women today. (I doubt most would, the backlash was too severe.) Also true, while a huge number were still playing the sexist and nonsense card of "That awful President Hillary Clinton . . .," Dennis was pointing out that she is Secretary of State and responsible for her actions there but if you're unhappy with White House policies and actions, Barack Obama was actually elected president in 2008 and you should take your complaint there. Though that is so basic to this community, it is something that a large number of lefty males have struggled with and a large number continue to struggle with it. And male or female, it's something a number of KPFA on-airs continue to struggle with.
If you're not going to donate, you're not going to and you don't owe anyone (including me) an explanation. But whether you donate or not, do remember that, as Dennis pointed out on air yesterday, Flashpoints did what Pacifica Radio is supposed to. And let me point out what Dennis didn't because he was being kind: Flashpoints did what Pacifica Radio is supposed to -- but none of the others did. (Again, Robert Knight most likely has covered this with guests and reports on WBAI.) All that air time to fill. And we've had talk about TV shows and we've had trivia. Since when is Pacifica Radio broadcasting Entertainment Tonight? When all other news outlets are droning on in the same pro-war voice, Pacifica Radio is supposed to provide the voice of dissent, the voice of the silenced. One show did that and if you want to donate to Flashpoints for that reason, great. But grasp that one show did its job while a lot of shows did nothing. (And if you want to donate to Flashpoints but aren't able to while it's airing live, you can donate at any time and note on the phone -- 1-800-439-5732 -- or in your online donation that you are donating because of the work Flashpoints has been doing.) End of pitch.
Each month the Army releases their data on suicides. The press covers it and any information released by the other branches as well. Reading in the paper (the monthly release is usually just noted in the print media), you can be left with the impression that these are the military suicides but they are not the only ones. Those who have discharged and left the service have become "veterans" and not "service members." Veterans deal with many issues like readjustment to civilian life, attempting to find employment (in a bad economy and in a climate where young male veterans of the current wars have one of the worst rates of unemployment in the country), attempting to re-establish relationships, as well as, for some, other issues such as PTSD.
Veterans taking their own lives because the system failed them (or their pain from what they experienced while serving is too much to handle) are paying the costs of war and they are paying it with very few aware because their numbers are not tracked.
Many have decried this lack of record keeping including Senator Daniel Akaka when he was Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Patty Murray back then as well as since she became Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Murray and three other senators are attempting to resolve the 'mystery' around veterans suicides and to get this cost of war out in the open. Her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.'
"One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals," the Senators wrote. "In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care."
In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

July 20, 2011

The Honorable Dave Heineman

Chair, National Governors Association

444 North Capitol Street

Suite 267

Washington, DC 20001-1512

Dear Governor Heineman:

As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.

One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.

This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.

Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation's veterans.

Sincerely,
Patty Murray
Chairman
John D. Rockefeller IV
Senator
Robert Casey
Senator
Max Baucus
Senator
#####
Turning to the Iraq War, news came late yesterday that the Iraq had agreed to launch official negotiations with the US on the US military staying in Iraq beyond 2011. As Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "Long after most reporters had rushed home to beat the 1 a.m. curfew still in force, Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Nuri Shawis emerged to read a statement to state-run television saying the attendees recognized the need for further training of Iraqi military forces." And as we'll note, curfew or not, Jane Arraf reported on it yesterday. As did AP's Lara Jakes and Mohammad Ali Harissi for AFP -- those three's reports were noted in yesterday's snapshot.
Yang Lina (Xinhua -- link has text and video) reports, "Iraq's political leaders have given the government the green light to begin negotiating a deal with the U.S. The deal would keep American troops beyond the end of 2011 to train Iraqi security forces." Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) point out, "As a candidate, President Obama promised to end the Iraq war, so the White House has been reluctant to call openly for U.S. troops to remain."

So, yes, that makes the start of acknowledged negotiations major news. (Even if the New York Times runs a paragraph by AP and refuses to file their own story on the issue. Talk about caught sleeping on the job -- and, no, that's not a slam at Tim Arango who is pursuing a different story and doing follow ups. He is not the only one who could have written the story and when Mullen went into Iraq, he did so with reporters.)


Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) observes, "After weeks of wrangling and lots of US pressure it appears to be a breakthrough. After a five hour meeting in presidential compound here in Baghdad there was an announcement that a deal has been reached that presence of US military trainers would be raised in parliament." And as noted yesterday, Jane Arraf Tweeted about the big meet-up so refer to her Twitter feed for many more details about what was discussed by the Iraqi political blocs beyond US troops. And, if you visited her feed this morning, you saw that the supposed official stated position of the Sadr bloc is they're not going to block the move if everyone else goes along with it (US troops in Iraq beyond 2011) but that she (Arraf) was meeting up with a Sadr official to find out what their position actually entails.

Of the negotiations, Press TV notes, "The move, which is opposed by the Iraqi people, comes after a visit to Baghdad by the outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who has urged the al-Maliki government to make a decision whether it wants an extended presence of American forces in Iraq." This week in Baghdad, a petition calling on US forces to leave Iraq at the end of the year got 2.5 million signatures. Another number is offered by Stars & Stripes, "The U.S. has offered to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline." As Dar Addustour notes, the meet-up of the political blocs took place at Jalal Talabani's home (Talabani is the President of Iraq).


Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN quote
the Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nouri Shawees stating, "After extensive discussions, the leaders of the political blocs headed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have agreed to let the Iraqi government start negotiations with the American side only on the issues of training and under the Strategic Framework Agreement." In an active and functioning media, that statement alone would result in multiple columns, analysis and discussions. As it is, it will probably sail right over most heads (the meaning of it). Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) elaborates further, "The leaders agreed that any request to keep U.S. military trainers in Iraq would fall under a general security agreement with the United States and would not require signing a new accord to keep U.S. troops in the country into 2012, according to Talabani's office. U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Iraq did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night."

The only non-Iraqi press outlet I see offering analysis of the news at this point is the editorial board of the Khaleej Times:

With pressure coming in from Washington to decide at the earliest if it wants the remaining troops to stay or leave, Maliki faces a tough task. His tenuously cobbled coalition government is at a risk of falling apart in case a decision is made in favour of retaining American forces for longer than the December 2011 deadline. Facing violent opposition from some of his coalition partners -- concerning further prolonging of US forces in the country -- Maliki is in a catch-22 position in trying to choose the lesser of the two evils. For the security in Iraq is far from stable and is in fact worse than before, according to a recent report presented before the US Congress. According to the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Junior, the security situation is at an all time low.
Though an earlier military assessment in May lauded the improvement in security, it was misleading and based on a comparative assessment of the situation to that in 2007. As a matter of fact, according to Bowen, Iraq is facing enhanced security threat from Shia militant factions that have contributed to the spread of violence and instability. An increase in targeted killings of US soldiers and Iraqi officials and attacks in Baghdad over the past many months is testament to the fact. In addition, the Iraqi military capability is as yet not on track.

The start of negotiations is major news. And it did come late yesterday. So some needed to play catch up today. Understandable. If they, in fact, caught up.
There are 20 headlines to stories on The Nation's main page currently, not one has anything to do with Iraq. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman gave it two sentences plus a quote from Adm Mike Mullen. A military officer, grasp this, had more to say on Democracy Now! about war than did that 'peace loving' Amy. (Some may say, "She covered the debt ceiling!" Finally. And too damn little too damn late. Ava and I documented that in real time she did nothing "TV: The unexamined (American) lives" and "TV: The Age of Fakery." She only cared after the fact. See Elaine's "The Goody Whore" from last night.) And then there's Matthew.
The Progressive offers a piece by Matthew Rothschild, a weak and inaccurate piece. Maybe he shouldn't have written a damn thing?

Mike picked Matty Rothschild as Idiot of the Week and boy had Matty earned that honor. A month or so back, Matty was going to get ripped apart by me over his so-called concern for civil liberties. If you're concerned for civil liberties and do a "McCarthy Watch," you do that the same regardless of who is in the White House. He can rip Bush apart, he just can't call out Princess Barack. Now because Matthew called out the Libyan War and (rightly) noted it was an impeachable crime, I wrongly thought he had left the Cult of St. Barack and was more than willng to table the critique of how he does a McCarthyism Watch when it's Barack and when it's Bush.
If you're wondering what it looks like, you can see it in his hideous column "Pentagon Presses to Stay in Iraq, with Immunity!" Oh, that runaway Pentagon!
Poor Barack, the ultimate victim. No one listens to him! The Pentagon does what it wants!
I'm sick of this crap. He is president. People like Matthew Rothschild lied and whored to get him the Democratic Party nomination. He's now the president hold him accountable. I am so sick of these pathetic little babies and Matthew is the King of them.
From his embarrassing garbage:
All U.S. troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of this year.
This has not only been Obama's pledge. This is the precise wording of the security agreement between the Iraqi government and the United States.
But now the Obama administration wants to keep U.S. troops beyond that date, so the Pentagon's been negotiating with the Iraqis to extend the American presence there.
Okay, that wasn't Obama's pledge. That's a damn lie. Barack would not have gotten the Democratic Party nomination if he was promising that all troops will be out of Iraq at the start of 2012, three years after he takes office. That's a damn lie.
Secondly, after "Obama's pledge," Barack's never responsible again. It's not Barack that wants the US to stay in Iraq, it's "the Obama administration." Matthew Rothschild is such a damn chicken, such a pathetic coward, that he can't call out Barack Obama.
I don't like Barack. I didn't vote for him. I won't vote for him in 2012. But I'm not the one pretending he's a weakling, I'm not the one pretending he has no strength or power. I recognize he's the president of the United States. That's something that the Cult of St. Barack that gifted him with the nomination can't own up to.
The Pentagon is NOT negotiating.
"Brave" Matty can call them out but he's wrong. Robert Gates, when he was Secretary of Defense, was required to note the time issue and that it was passing when speaking to Nouri or Jalal Talabani. Leon Panetta has infamously noted the time issue since becoming Secretary of Defense. Adm Mike Mullen went to Iraq to convey how serious the government was taking the issue.
Their efforts were to prompt action. They are not negotiating anything. James Jeffrey, the US Ambassador to Iraq, is the public face of negotiations (as Ryan Crocker was when he was the US Ambassador to Iraq). He is assisted by State Dept employees the administration has tasked for this issue.
This is not who Hillary Clinton has selected, it's not her issue. Joe Biden and Samantha Power are tasked with Iraq on the orders of Barack Obama. Hillary is not involved. You see her with her Iraqi counterpart from time to time, she does receive most visiting Iraqis but she and Nouri are not close and anyone who can't grasp that can't remember Hillary's public remarks about Nouri when she was in the Senate. That's the practical reason Hillary's not over Iraq. There are other reasons as well. Samantha Power is elevated to her position because, although Joe Biden has a great relationship with many Iraqi politicians (including the Kurds), he also made comments, when he was a senator, about Nouri that Nouri has not forgotten. (Hillary and Joe both rightly called Nouri a despot at one point or another and it's not forgotten on Nouri's side. And they were not one time remarks. Nor were they unique remarks in the Senate. Back then, Baraba Boxer was among the many calling out Nouri as a Little Saddam.)
If that's news to you, that's still not an excuse for ever thinking that the Pentagon would be negotiating -- or that they would do so against the wishes of the president.
Matthew throws caution and facts to the wind in this sentence: "Because even as Admiral Mullen was making his pitch, U.S. troops along with Iraqi troops were raiding a village, killing three men, including a tribal elder who was seen in handcuffs, and wounding five others, including two little girls."
No. You can't alter facts and keep them as facts. Mike Mullen arrived in Iraq on Monday. The incident Rothschild's referring to took place LAST WEEK. This appears in Saturday's second entry: "and, dropping back to Friday night, a "joint U.S.-Iraqi air landing on al-Rifeiat tribe's village in Balad township of Salahal-Din Province" today resulted in the deaths of 4 Iraqi civilians (and six being injured)," Mullen arrived on Monday. You can't alter the facts and claim that they're still facts. Yes, Matthew Rothschild, it does make the story play better, but it's not fiction and you can't alter the facts. (And if you're interested in this story, Tim Arango has filed two reports on it so far -- here and here.)
What Matthew Rothschild is really doing when he refuses to call out Barack Obama, when he invents blame for the Pentagon and when he alters time lines to make the story more 'pleasing,' what he's really doing is demonstrating how Judith Miller was able to write for The Progressive. She did. Long before her bad reporting helped sell the Iraq War, she was writing for The Progressive. And meeting the very low standards required from that magazine.
While Panhandle Media can't get the story right (including that currently the blocs aren't considering impunity -- read yesterday and today's reports in the Arab media and in some of the English media as well), Jane Arraf is all over the ins and outs, both in terms of the agreement to negotiate and what led to it Nouri's promised Ayad Allawi that Iraqiya can pick the Minister of Defense and that the national security council promised in the Erbil Agreement will come to be and Allawi will head it -- as Arraf notes, this mean that there may be "enough support for the agreement to be passed by parliament, even with the opposition of the Sadrists. If you're generous, Moqtada's bloc has 40 seats. There are 325 MPs (though only around 225 tend to show up at any session).

Violence continued overnight. The Belfast Telegraph notes, "Four Iraqis have been killed in two successive bomb attacks targeting a shop selling alcohol in western Baghdad, police and health officials said." AFP adds, "The explosions come shortly after the beginning of Ramadan, during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until dusk. Ramadan began on Monday for Iraq's Sunnis and a day later for the country's majority Shiites. Also on Tuesday evening, unknown gunmen shot dead Iraqi army Lieutenant Colonel Azad Mohammed Ahmed in the Khadra area in the south of Kirkuk while he was driving to his house with one of his guards." Reuters adds that last night 2 cab drivers were shot dead in Hilla, that a bomb went off in a Tikrit car claiming 2 lives and leaving one person injured, that a rocket attack in Baghdad injured two police officers, two Ramadi bombings claimed 7 lives and left eight people injured and Reuters updates the death toll for Tuesday's Baghdad bombings targeting an alcohol store -- the new death toll is 3 police officers (sixteen people are said to have been injured).

Posted at 03:33 am by thecommonills
 


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