Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dorks of Summer

The Dorks of Summer

From July 11, 2010, that's "Dorks of Summer." Anybody remember "Recovery summer"?  No, of course not.

Barack's closet is filled with all these started but never completed projects.  

On this comic, C.I. wrote:

Barack declares, "This summer, you get the fun of paying for me and my travel as I go all over the country working on the recovery. No, not the 14% unemployment. My 43% approval rating! If you see more of me you'll love me all over again!" Joe Biden adds, "And I'll be along to over-burden local police as well!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

I had two comics go up today, "It's The Great Bumpkin, Barry O" and "Accountability." I don't usually note the new ones here but I only intended to do the one on accountability.  

What happened was that Brenda e-mailed to note a Halloween one from 2010.  So I started thinking I should do a Halloween one for this year and ended up doing it quickly.  So, Brenda, that comic was for you.

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Bob Orr and a CBS 'analyst' compete for most uninformed journalist, Nouri al-Maliki gives a laughable and insulting speech, Nouri meets with the US Secretary of Defense, Nouri is protested by Ashraf supporters, concerns are raised about Nouri's treatment of religious minorities, and more.

Tomorrow, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama as the White House.  The administration has been very busy this week -- co-authoring Nouri's column for the New York Times, for example.  And they've been very busy lying.

Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reported yesterday:

Prior to his departure from Baghdad airport, Maliki announced that he will “discuss, with American officials, a number of issues including implementing an agreement for a strategic framework, combating terrorism and the Syrian crisis."  

Reuters noted, "Maliki is urgently seeking military supplies to fight an upsurge in sectarian violence spilling over the Syrian border."  That includes Nouri's long lusted for F-16s.  They're due to arrive in Iraq late next year.

So explain this State Dept claim reported by Lara Jakes (AP):

A senior Obama administration official said Wednesday that U.S. officials were not planning to send U.S. trainers to Iraq and that Baghdad had not asked for them. The administration official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters by name.

Chris Carroll (Stars and Stripes) also quotes an unnamed administration official stating,  "I would not anticipate U.S. trainers going back into Iraqi soil."  At today's State Dept press briefing, it was the source of bemusement

QUESTION: Hello. The Iraqi Prime Minister is in town, and the Foreign Minister is meeting with Secretary Kerry today. In a background briefing with a senior Administration official just a couple days ago --

MS. PSAKI: I’m familiar with it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: -- yes – the official talked about increased counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation as a topic of discussion during Prime Minister Maliki’s visit with – meeting with President Obama.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

That's Jen Psaki and I'm so very glad the press corps finds the quote amusing -- it's good to know that they're doing something since clearly they aren't doing their job.

The F-16 deal is off then?

No, it's not.  And with the F-16s goes trainers -- as any 'official' in the administration knows.

When they'd lie about something so basic, they'd lie about anything and those paying attention need to remember that.

Jakes speaks with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily:

He added: "We have said to the Americans we'd be more than happy to discuss all the options short of boots on the ground."

"Boots on the ground" means military forces.

Samantha Stainburn (Global Post) asserts, "Maliki may be open to counterterrorism training from US special forces and CIA advisers, according to Reuters."  If I thought Steinburn was capable of making sense, this is where I'd suggest someone slap her.  Put dunce caps on Reuters twin idiots Patricia Zengerle and Lesley Wroughton as well -- they're the authors of the Reuters article Stainburn links to.

Is Nouri open to counterterrorism training?

Better question: Just how illiterate and uninformed is the damn press?

Tim Arango -- wait.

Let's go really slow for the really stupid.

Tim Arango is the name of a human being. He is a male -- something you can verify by checking his photo on his Twitter feed.

There you will find, "I am the Baghdad Bureau Chief of The New York Times."  The New York Times is a daily newspaper.  Baghdad is in Iraq which means Tim Arango is responsible for the coverage from Iraq in the paper.  Do we follow that?

If we can move on, we're now going to September 2012.  That's a month ("September," good job Washington Post!) and a year (2012).

That's when Tim Arango reported: the following:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

Okay, do we need flash cards, a review, what?

To me that's very simple and obvious.  However, mainstream and 'independent' media have repeatedly gotten this wrong so there must be something confusing.  In fact, it must be really confusing because not one moderator in the 2012 presidential debates ever said, "Hey, President Obama, what's up with sending US troops into Iraq this fall?"  Not one.  Not even Candy Crowley who liked to present her tired ass as teller of facts.

Stainburn thinks Nouri might be open to counterterrorism forces . . . based on Reuters.

Stainburn's an idiot because he's already been allowing counterterrorism forces into Iraq.

I know reading is hard for the press but they've now had a year and a month to catch up on Arango's report.

Stainburn can take comfort in the fact that she's not alone and she's not an analyst.  Jeff Zarate is.  And Bob Orr spoke with him for CBS Flash Points (link is video) today.  What 'wisdom' did the analyst share?

Jeff Zarate: . . .  but the president doesn't really want to re-engage in Iraq.  I mean he's made political hay out of ending the war and our troop involvement in Iraq so there's no way he's going to send troops back or anything that appears to be a forceful presence . . .

No way Barack will "send troops back" into Iraq?

Again, Tim Arango from September 2012:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.      

They're just stupid.

They're paid money to do a job that they're not capable of.

They call themselves reporters or 'analysts' and they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

Speaking of stupid, Nouri al-Maliki made like Madonna performing "You Must Love Me."  No, Madonna, we mustn't.  Nouri updated the tune a little, changing it to "You Must Arm Me."  And, no, Nouri, we don't have to arm you.  He was speaking on Constitution Avenue in DC at the US Institute of Peace.  As we've noted for weeks, the Ashraf supporters were going to protest Nouri's visit.  Not psychic, I see them all the time at hearings.  They stated they would be protesting and they protested today.  As when they are at a Congressional hearing, they wore yellow.

They also carried signs.  Some read "MALIKI IS A MURDERER" and some read "FREE 7 Ashraf Hostages Now."  I would estimate there were 42 protesters.   Let's note the background on the Ashraf community.

Camp Ashraf in Iraq is now empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty) as of last month.  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). That's the attack Lara Logan reported on.  In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

That attack last month?  In that attack, 7 Ashraf community members were taken by Nouri's forces.  The United Nations has repeatedly called for him to release them.  US Senator Robert Menendez has publicly called for Nouri to release the hostages.   He's insisted he's not holding them.  That's what the signs the protesters today were carrying -- "FREE 7 Ashraf Hostages Now." -- were about.

Nouri spoke through a translator.  It didn't make him come off any wiser.  In fact, he sounded ignorant not just as he said that he had a right to ask for help, that any country has a right to ask for help, that blah, blah, blah.  The worst part of the speech, the section which was both insulting and stupid, found Nouri declaring that the US needed to learn that al Qaeda is dangerous.

He should have been booed.  If he'd delivered it in English, that would have resulted in booing.

Though Nouri appears unaware, on September 11, 2001, and on so many days since, the US learned a lot about al Qaeda.

In a line that will no doubt be greeted with loud laughter in Iraq, Nouri asserted that he had never, ever, stepped on the Iraqi Constitution.

Was Nouri serious?

Has he read the Iraqi Constitution?

Is there any Article he hasn't broken?

Article 19?  He's broken it.  "The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial"?  But Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's trial didn't begin until May 15, 2012 -- yet Baghdad judges declared him guilty on Februrary 16, 2012. That's innocent until proven guilty?  Who knew?

And how the hell was Tareq put on trial to begin with?

There was no vote in Parliament -- as required by Article 36 -- to strip Tareq of his immunity so he couldn't be tried for a felony -- he was tried for terrorism, that's a felony.

Nouri is a damn liar and the press lies and whores for him.  He's broken two-thirds of the Iraqi Constitution, I'm sorry that we don't have the time or space to note it all -- including Article 61 which gives Parliament the right to question the prime minister but since 2010, the Parliament's tried to do that twice but Nouri's refused to show up.  I'm even sorrier that a pathetic and cowed media has looked the other way repeatedly.

Does the Iraqi Constitution matter at all or is it just a rag for Nouri to wipe his ass with?

If it matters, it damn well should meant no trail against Tareq al-Hashemi.  If it matters, the crap-ass press should damn well be pointing out today that the kangaroo court overstepped their bounds and that the verdicts against Tareq have no legal standing since the trial violated the Constitution and since the judges violated the Constitution by declaring Tareq guilty -- declaring him guilty in public, at a news conference -- three months prior to the start of his trial.

Certainly, he's shown no respect for Iraqi's Constitutional right to protest.  Instead he's ordered them arrested, tortured and killed.  But the press can't note that, can they?  As Stephen Gowans (Global Research) points out today, "The Western news media have been virtually silent on Maliki’s cracking down violently on a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement, yet fevered and voluble in its coverage of the Syrian insurgency, and was, even in the uprising’s early days."

Nouri talked weapons and 'plans' and again proposed he host a security conference.  He's never delivered security, how can he lead a conference on it?

Weapons, weapons, weapons, that and violence is all that Nouri has to offer.  Those aren't answers.  A plan or roadmap was defined by UNAMI earlier this week:

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov used the opportunity to call on the political leaders of Iraq to address the root causes of division, exclusion and poverty and to build an inclusive society that does not fear, but celebrates ethnic and religious diversity. He spoke of the areas where Iraq has seen notable gains, but also focused on the many challenges that remain. "Today Iraq is riven by constant and worsening violence and the prospect of deepening sectarianism casts a dark shadow over the country" Mladenov noted, adding that the social and security challenges "threaten the very fabric of Iraqi society and test the extent of the nation’s social cohesion". He highlighted that reversing the cycle of violence requires "improving governance in ways that give all citizens equal access to security, justice, employment and essential services".

The editorial board of The Economist pointed out today, "What Mr Maliki needs more than weapons is the will to compromise with his political opponents, especially Sunnis but also Kurds. In the past year Sunnis have felt more and more excluded and harassed. In addition, the civil strife churning up Syria has spilt across the border into Iraq."  FYI, they're also the only ones in the western press who note the defections in Nouri's forces as so many self-check out. Though not covered by the west, Iraqi soldiers have been self-checking out in huge numbers.  Alsumaria reported Sunday that the Nineveh Command has announced that they are extending the grace period for soldiers to return to November 15th.  The extension is because the deadline of the end of the month is approaching and most who have self-checked out of the military have not returned.  The Economist editorial board also notes:

Too fearful to conduct patrols in the streets, the security forces have been carrying out raids and mass arrests, further enraging Sunni civilians. “At the moment what fuels the conflict the most is the presence of central-government security forces in Sunni areas, where they arrest young men by the hundreds, torture them and then release them after money is paid,” says a seasoned foreign-aid worker. “You can see al-Qaeda benefiting from the heavy-handed presence of the armed forces,” he adds. Hostility to the government is not only sectarian; it is also the result of the government’s failure to do much for its citizens, says the aid worker. The erratic supply of electricity and the blight of corruption make matters worse.

Nouri was ridiculous.  The whole event was ridiculous and we may call out the Institute tomorrow or next week -- in particular one person.  Let's note that he also claimed he had reunited Iraqis as Iraqis and dared to speak of "allegiances."  Dared to speak?  Your US outlets haven't told you about Diyala and the little pledge to Iraq Nouri's trying to institute there.  Maybe, like the violence, the US media will tell you about the loyalty pledge Nouri's trying to institute -- after all goes to hell and only increases the violence.

For now, let's leave the lies of Nouri to note some truth.  Here's former US Ambassador Marc Ginsberg from is Huffington Post column:

By most accounts Iraq is heading toward an unchecked meltdown, and Maliki would like us to believe he deserves a red carpet welcome as the innocent plaintiff in the upheavals he created, not as the felonious defendant he should be adjudged.
And to top off his disastrous management of Iraq, he wants Washington to legitimate his charade by endorsing his bid for re-election in Iraq's crucial 2014 elections.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet  with Iraqi Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki tomorrow at the White House.  The editorial board of the Guardian notes:

Much of the current tension is a direct result of what an influential group of US senators called the authoritarian and sectarian style of the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has all but torn up a political powersharing agreement the Americans negotiated with the Sunnis, and driven many of their number into the arms of al-Qaida. This in turn has led to the remobilisation of Shia militias.

Fox News (link is text and video) notes the interview KT McFarland did with University of Michigan's Professor Emeritus Raymond Tanter who declares of Nouri, "He's going after his vice president, who is a Sunni, and causing the Sunni-Shiite split within Iraq to exacerbate. So this is a big problem. If President Obama doesn’t crack down on Nouri al-Maliki, it will be Obama who lost Iraq."  Bloomberg News points out, "Given this violence, and the enormous investment the U.S. has made in Iraq’s future, President Barack Obama has to be forceful with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when they meet at the White House tomorrow: More weapons, as Maliki has asked for, will not help end the slaughter. The imperative is for Maliki, a Shiite, to share power with Iraq’s Sunni minority."

Today, Nouri met with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:

Readout of Secretary Hagel's Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout:
"Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his visiting delegation from Iraq earlier today in Washington, D.C. During the hour-long meeting, both leaders reiterated their commitment to the United States and Iraq defense and security relationship.
"Secretary Hagel and Prime Minister Maliki discussed the political and security situation in Iraq, reviewed regional cooperation activities, and considered ways to strengthen U.S.-Iraq strategic cooperation given the challenges in the region. Secretary Hagel stressed the important role that Iraq has in maintaining regional stability. Prime Minister Maliki thanked Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey for the sacrifices made by U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2011."

Nouri's a thug by every standard of the term.  The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issued an open letter to Barack today:

On behalf of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), we respectfully urge you to use your upcoming meeting to press Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to do more to protect the human rights of every Iraqi, including the right to religious freedom regardless of religion or sect.
As you know, over the past year Iraq has experienced the worst sectarian violence since 2008, with the frequency and scope of such violence increasing.  This violence is undermining Iraq’s progress and threatening its people’s safety, particularly the majority Shi’a Muslim population, as well as its smallest religious minority communities, including Christians and Yezidis.  The violence also appears to be spreading into areas of northern Iraq that had been previously safer and had become places of refuge for religious minorities.  Regrettably, the government of Iraq has been unable to stop sectarian attacks from occurring and often lacks the will to investigate attacks and bring perpetrators to justice. This has created a climate of impunity and a perpetual sense of fear for all religious communities, particularly the smallest ones. The actions of Prime Minister al-Maliki’s government have also exacerbated the feelings of exclusion and discontent among the country’s Sunni population through political marginalization and prosecutions of Sunni leaders.  In addition, the dispute between the central government and Kurdish parties over territory in the north has led to human rights abuses, particularly against the smallest minorities in those areas. 
U.S.-Iraqi cooperation under the Strategic Framework Agreement includes cooperation “to promote Iraq’s efforts in the field of . . .  human rights.”  If Iraq is to become a stable democracy, its government must make greater efforts to ensure that the human rights and religious freedoms of all Iraqis are guaranteed and enforced equally in law and practice, without regard to religion or sect.  In your meeting with Prime Minister al-Maliki, we hope that you will stress to him the vital importance of reducing sectarian tensions in Iraq and protecting freedom of religion.  We also hope that you will press him, and offer U.S. assistance as appropriate, to increase efforts to

provide security to likely targets of religiously-motivated violence and investigate and prosecute perpetrators consistent with due process of law.  Finally, we hope that you will discuss the need for the protection of minority rights and freedoms in the disputed territories. 
We hope you agree that discussing the problems of sectarian tensions, violence, and human rights abuses in Iraq with Prime Minister al-Maliki is essential.  Without addressing these concerns, religious freedom in Iraq will continue to erode and the country will not have the peaceful, democratic future that its people deserve and the United States seeks to encourage.   
Thank you for considering our request.
To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact Kalinda Stephenson at 202-786-0613 or

Tomorrow Nouri is scheduled to meet with Barack.   Mike declared of this meet-up:

We are all sullied by Barack's decision to host Nouri for a visit on Friday.
None of our hands are clean.
He has targeted Sunnis, he has gone after the Ashraf community.
Thug is too polite a term for him.
He is a criminal, he is a dictator.
And he's US installed.  Bush insisted on him in 2006 and Barack insisted he get a second term in 2010 despite the fact that Nouri's State of Law lost the election to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.
And The Cult of St. Barack bends over and takes it up the ass in silence while blood pours through Iraqi streets.
I don't have time for liars or fools.  Do you?
Nouri should be thrown in a prison for War Criminals not meeting with various US officials.  But then we are War Criminals as well, aren't we?  A nation that stayed silent while Nouri's Ministry of the Interior sent people into schools to tell young kids that they should kill and stone Emo youth and gays because both were of the devil.
That happened under Barack.
Can you imagine how much outrage there would have been if Bush had still been in office when that happened?

He wants the US to 'bless' him on a third term.  That's because he's never been Iraq's choice.  Originally imposed on Iraq as prime minister by Bully Boy Bush, he got his second term not from voters or Parliament but from Barack who ordered US officials in Iraq to broker The Erbil Agreement -- going around the vote and the Iraqi Constitution -- to give Nouri a second term.  Ann put it a little more lively at her site, "Violence had declined significantly in Iraq.  Nouri refused to allow the Sunnis to participate in the government.  He repeatedly targeted them and he destroyed whatever fragile gains had taken place. And Barack backed him up.  Barack practically sucked Nouri's cock in 2010 -- as he used the full resources of the US government to give Nouri a second term as prime minister after Iraqis had said no to that at the ballot box."

Nouri doesn't need a third term.  He's been prime minister since 2006.  Elaine observed last night:

People better start paying attention in this country.  Nouri is Pinochet.  Back in the day, on the left, we called out despots.  Today the faux left represented by pissing her panties Katrina vanden Heuvel stay silent to protect their titty baby Barack Obama.
Millions suffer in Iraq so that little whiney asses won't have to call out The Golden Calf.

As Marcia pointed out, "Nouri's no better than Saddam.  Prime Minister isn't a post for life.  His ass needs to be gone."  The US government was appalled at the thought of Ibrahim al-Jafaari getting a second term (in 2006, he was Parliament's choice) but Nouri may get a third term?

He's done nothing but incite violence.  He's been prime minister since spring 2006 and he's accomplished nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people.  Today on Here and Now (NPR -- link is audio and text), Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson spoke with the BBC's Hadya al-Alawi.

Hadya al-Alawi: I mean, how can I explain that life there is terrible? There is no electricity, and it's boiling hot in Iraq at this time. There is no water. The basic, main services are not provided in the country. I mean, security is very important. How can you go out about your daily life without knowing that you can come back, actually, to your kids at night? Or how can you go to work thinking I'm going to die today in an explosion, for example?

Peter Feaver (Foreign Policy) offers, "Maliki's visit forces the administration to talk about Iraq in a way that it has been reluctant to do for a while. The bad news elsewhere gives the administration an added incentive. Perhaps this week we will see a convincing explanation for why business as usual is the best approach in Iraq. Or perhaps we will see the administration make a change, and make a case for that change."

Yesterday Nouri met with US Vice President Joe Biden and the White House issued this after the two-hour meeting:

Readout of Vice President Biden's Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

This morning, Vice President Biden hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his delegation for breakfast at the Naval Observatory.  The Vice President and Prime Minister had a friendly, constructive exchange.  They spoke about the security challenges facing Iraq and the entire region.  Vice President Biden reiterated the U.S. commitment to equip Iraqis to fight Al Qaeda, and Prime Minister Maliki made clear that he views the United States as Iraq’s security partner of choice.  The two leaders discussed the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to Iraq’s security challenges, to include political outreach to local leaders, as well as targeted security efforts.  They also discussed regional issues and agreed to work to continue the progress Iraq has made in strengthening its relations with Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, and other states in the region.

Violence is all over Iraq today.  National Iraqi News Agency reports an armed attack on a Baiji checkpoint left 2 Sahwa dead (a third injured), a Tuz Khormato suicide bomber and a car bombing leaving "39 people killed and wounded," a Baquba bombing has left ten people injured, a Muqdadiya bombing claimed 3 lives and left seven people injured, 1 person was shot dead in Mosul, 1 farmer was shot dead in Muqdadiya, and a Mosul bombing claimed the lives of 6 people ("including four policemen") and left three people injured.  Iraq Body Count notes October's number of violent deaths, through yesterday, stands at 1,056.

We may grab Jay Carney's nonsense tomorrow. We may grab Jane Arraff's lunatic whoring for Nouri at some point -- or maybe we'll just go point by point over it at Third.  She's not reporting and she's mangling and altering facts.  At this point, she'll do anything in Nouri's good graces. Erin Banco (Huffington Post) has an important report on Iraqi refugees.  Andrew Gavin Marshall (Dissident Voice) offers a serious look at counter-insurgency.  If not by next week, the week after we'll work in the counter-insurgency report.

Now we'll note that 40 years ago (there's an anniversary DVD), The Exorcist was released.  Gilbert Cruz (The Vulture) notes:

The Exorcist is a classic. Not a horror classic, just a straight-up classic. And as a result, everyone knows the same pieces of trivia about its production (director William Friedkin would sometimes shoot off blanks on set to keep everyone on edge, he violently slapped one priest-actor in order to get a more emotionally raw performance, Regan’s vomit was made of pea soup and oatmeal) and reception. But there are so many more wonderful anecdotes about that film and its four sequels (or rather, two sequels and two prequels) to be had. 
[. . .]
The film's prologue, set in Iraq, was actually shot there in 1972/3. The U.S. had no diplomatic relations with the country, and so Friedkin had to take a British crew to work on scenes with actor Max von Sydow. The Iraqi government agreed to the shoot under three circumstances: (1) Friedkin & Co. had to train local Iraqis in film techniques, (2) they had to teach local Iraqis how to make movie blood, and (3) Friedkin had to donate a print of his Oscar-winning film The French Connection.

CNN notes:

The book and the movie open during an archaeological dig in Iraq. Friedkin recalled shooting in Mosul.
“It was very rare to be given permission to film in Iraq,” said the director, “let along to film on an archaeological dig. Iraq, at that time, was not run by Saddam Hussein, but it was governed by the Ba’athist Party, which is Saddam Hussein’s party. They allowed us to come over here and film on the condition that I would use Iraqi people on the crew and train them in film techniques; and, strangely, that we would show them how to make film blood.”
The Iraq sequence introduces the exorcist himself, Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), who is also an archaeologist. The Jesuit priest comes to the realization that he will again fight a demon he has battled in the past.
Friedkin recalled shooting in the northern Iraq desert.
“It would often be 130 degrees by 10:30 in the morning,” he said in a commentary on the film’s Blu-ray, “and we’d have to stop shooting and then go into our tents until 7:00 at night when we then had four more hours of daylight in which we could film.”
The film's based on William Peter Blatty's book and he wrote the screenplay winning an Academy Award for that writing.  Other Academy Award nominations for the film:  Blatty and Noel Marshall would garner a Best Picture nomination, William Friedkin was nominated for Best Director, Linda Blair for Best Supporting Actress, Jason Miller for Best Supporting Actor, Owen Roizman for Best Cinematographer, Norman Gay for Best Film Editing, Bill Malley and Jerry Wunderlich for Best Production Design, Robert Knudson and Chris Newman for Best Sound Mixing (they won the award in this category) and Ellen Burstyn for Best Actress.  Friedkin had won the Best Director award previously for 1971's The French Connection.   Ellen had been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for 1971's The Last Picture Show.  The Exorcist was her first Best Actress nomination, the first of five (so far) and she won the following year for her performance in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.  Ellen wasn't the first choice for the role of the mother of the child possessed in The Exorcist.  Writer and producer Blatty had his friend Shirley MacLaine in mind as far back as when he wrote the novel.  She turned it down (she was more focused on the McGovern campaign).  Jane Fonda also turned down the role saying she didn't believe in magic (she was also focused on the McGovern campaign as well as ending the war in Vietnam at that time).  The film has gone on to become a horror classic.  Many in the US viewed it or will view it today because it's Halloween which gives us a chance to note both Iraq's historical importance to that film and to note Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "It's The Great Bumpkin, Barry O" went up this evening and his "Accountability" went up earlier today. 

Yesterday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on pending legislation.  We covered it in the "Iraq snapshot" yesterday, Kat covered it in "A very bad Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing," Wally in "Disappointing Chair Bernie Sanders (Wally)" and Ava in "The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is not cutting it."  We noted Senator Bill Nelson's S.1296 bill.  These are Disabled American Veterans' Adrian Atizado's prepared remarks on that bill:

This measure would amend Section 1635 “Wounded Warrior” and veterans provisions in the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to create a specific timeline and deadlines for a joint electronic health record to be implemented. This timeline would require, among other things, the Department of Defense (DOD) and VA to agree on and create standardized forms for data capture within 180 days of enactment. They would have one year to attain seamless integration and sharing of information and data downloading using the Blue Button Initiative.

The bill also would require the agencies to consider storage of patient data in a secure, remote, network-accessible computer storage system or a cloud storage system.  This type of storage system would allow service members and veterans to upload their own information and allow their providers to have the ability to see the records at any time. The cloud storage system would increase interoperability and allow the patient to more easily share their information with their medical provider.

The development of an integrated DOD-VA electronic health record (EHR) has been beset with problems for years.  Efforts to create a joint DOD/VA EHR scheduled to become operational in 2017 came to a halt in February 2013.  The new plan includes both Departments to pursue separate systems and gain interoperability using existing commercial software.

The plan also assumes that in the summer of 2013, both Departments were to have launched pilot programs on the common interface at seven joint rehabilitation centers nationwide, initially, and eventually to nine sites, overall.  All of the facilities were scheduled to exchange data that is computable and interoperable by the end of July.

Criticism of this decision resulted in an amendment to the House passed 2014 NDAA to increase oversight of the integrated electronic health record (iEHR).  Notably, Section 734 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 would require DOD and VA to give appropriate congressional committees a plan on an iEHR by January 31, 2014.  This plan would include program objectives, organization, responsibilities of the departments, technical system requirements, milestones (including a schedule for industry competitions), system standards the program will use, metrics to assess the program's effectiveness, and funding levels needed for fiscal years 2014 to 2017 in order to execute the plan.  It would also limit funding for development of an iEHR until the Government Accountability Office confirms the proposed system to be deployed by October 1, 2016, meets stated requirements.

We note that despite strong and consistent Congressional mandates and oversight over those years, efforts by both Departments remain fragmented and have proceeded at a glacial pace.  As part of The Independent Budget, DAV remains firm that the DOD and VA must complete an electronic medical record process that is fully computable, interoperable, and that allows for two-way, real-time electronic exchange of health information and occupational and environmental exposure data for transitioning veterans. Effective record exchange could increase health care sharing between agencies and providers, laboratories, pharmacies, and patients; help patients transition between health care settings; reduce duplicative and unnecessary testing; improve patient safety by reducing medical errors; and increase our understanding of the clinical, safety, quality, financial, and organizational value of health IT.

 DAV believes the intent of S. 1296 is laudable; however, we ask the Committee ensure the measure is consistent with the pertinent provisions in the 2014 NDAA awaiting consideration by the Senate.  Moreover, we urge the Committee to consider the current capabilities of the Interagency Program Office (IPO), which would likely be responsible for meeting the requirements contained in S. 1296.  The IPO was established by Congress in Section 1635 of Public Law 110-181, the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act as the office accountable for developing and implementing the health information sharing capabilities for DOD and VA.  Staffing challenges within the IPO have been an issue. As of January 2013, the IPO was staffed at about 62 percent of the 236 employees assigned by both departments, according to a February 2013 Government Accountability Office report, which also noted hiring additional staff is one of the biggest challenges.

foreign policy
Read on ...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

White House 'stud'

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House 'stud'"

From June 27, 2010, that's "White House 'stud'." C.I. noted:

A perplexed Barack gestures to Peter Orszag and wonders, "How fey am I that the geek is the 'stud' in my administration?" If you're late to the Orszag tale, Isaiah recommends "peter orszag is scum," "Mr. Orszag and the double standard," "Frat boys pissing on the White House" and "THIS JUST IN! NO MORALS IN THE WHITE HOUSE!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Consider Peter Orszag the original Sheldon.

I really can't believe the White House looked the other way during the scandals.  Orszag was an embarrassment.  And, amazingly, Barack was lecturing Black fathers.  Apparently, it's okay to do what Orszag did if you're White.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is killed in Iraq, Nouri's upcoming visit with the White House garners more press attention, we look at a hearing that the press ignored, Senator Patty Murray speaks out about discriminatory hiring practices, and more.

It's amazing what gets coverage in the US media and what doesn't.  Iraq is the war the media withdrew from -- and to think of all the scorn they heaped on war resisters who refused to participate due to ethics.  For the media, it was money and cowardice.  Today, to flip through what passes for cable news is to realize just how much trash and nonsense is shoved off on the American people daily.  Comedy Central has proved as damaging as Jon Stewart once accused Crossfire of being.

Yesterday, we attended a hearing.  Not on Iraq, not on veterans, not on a topic we cover here.  We're noting it (briefly) now because this hearing has been ignored.  It's been ignored as much as the "invisible" children the Chair of the Subcommittee spoke of.   "We cannot allow this to continue," insisted US House Rep Dave Richert but to who did he insist this when the press is silent on the hearing?

Subcommittee Chair Dave Reichert:  I think most people know that before getting elected to Congress, I spent 32 years in law enforcement in King County and I became sheriff in 1997 and left in January of 2005 to come to Congress.  I saw first-hand the tragedies that children face when they're not cared for by loving parents.  It was in the sheriff's office where I first witnessed the horrors of child sex trafficking and it convinced me that we needed to do more to protect our youth at risk of abuse.  And in late summer of 1982, I began a 20-year journey that would focus my attention on this issue like nothing else ever could.  On August 12 of 1982, I was called to investigate the death of a young woman whose body was found in the Green River just south of Seattle and suburban Kent, Washington.  Of course, I didn't know then that that was the beginning of 20 years, I thought that I was investigating one murder.  Three days later, I received a call about two more bodies being found in the river.  And, as I was investigating that crime scene, I found a third body on the banks of the river.  Finding these victims began our two decade hunt for a man who became known as The Green River Killer who, once caught, confessed to killing more than 70 young women who had been involved in the sex trade.   Of the 48 known victims of The Green River Killer, at least 17 were minors, children who had been abused or neglected, who had run away from home, who had been victimized and ultimately killed.  Ridgway pled guilty to 49 murders and, like he said, probably killed 79 or 80.  The sad part of the story is the families who will never see their daughters again, lives lost, of course, people recognize that.  But the community didn't see these children.  Driving from home to work to work to home, they were invisible. This issue is not just an abstract problem from a faraway place for me, it's personal.  As Chairman, I focused on how we can improve the child welfare system and help children in foster care lead successful lives.  One of the most devastating examples of the vulnerability of children in foster care is when they become victims of sex trafficking.  In 2010, officials in Los Angeles reported that 59% of juveniles arrested for prostitution were in foster care.  Of children reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who were also likely sex trafficking victims, 60% were in foster care or group homes when they ran away.  Research cited by the Dept of US Health and  Human Services shows the majority of sex trafficked youth experience sexual abuse growing up.  

Subcommittee Ranking Member Lloyd Doggett observed, "While there is not one piece of legislation that will stop sex trafficking of children, we can't allow complacency to stop us from doing everything in our power to put a stop to this. Our first task in this Subcommittee, given our jurisdiction, is to ensure the child welfare system doesn't become a pipeline to prostitution."

The Subcommittee heard from two panels.  The first was made up of members of Congress: US House Reps Erik Paulsen, Lousie Slaughter, Ted Poe and Karen Bass and, via video presentation, US Senator Orrin Hatch. The issue, Reichert noted, demonstrated "true bipartisanship so we have Democrats and Republicans testifying here today."

The second panel was Human Rights Project for Girls' Withelma Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's John Ryan, Center for Children and Youth Justice's Bobbe J. Bridge. YouthCare's Melinda Giovengo and Texans Care For Children's Ashley Harris.

As if anticipating the media blackout that would surround the hearing, US House Rep Erik Paulsen observed, "This is an issue that people don't always like to talk about.  And while we read stories about it going on in foreign countries, the reality is that it's happening right in our backyards."  Paulsen and Slaughter are sponsoring HR 2744, the Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act.

US House Rep Louise Slaughter:  [. . .] [T]he part of this bill that is of primary importance to me is that the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act will be amended to require that child victims of sex trafficking will now be considered victims of abuse and neglect, making them eligible to receive services within the child welfare system.  The idea that a young person rescued from a sex trafficking operation could be considered an offender within the juvenile justice system was shocking to me.  These are victims in the strongest sense of the world -- children who have been preyed upon by those who would take advantage of their situation, the fear and loneliness that comes from being in the foster care system, to use them to their own advantage.  They deserve help, a chance at healing and wholeness, not a criminal record.

Senator Hatch continued that thread by noting, "I'm sure many Americans would be surprised to learn that most child welfare agencies will not serve trafficked children and youth who are not in the custody of a biological or foster family or living in a group home.  Often these children, who are not legally able to give consent for sex, are arrested for prostitution and referred to the juvenile justice system."

US House Rep Karen Bass has introduced HR 1732, Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act.  GovTrack.US notes:

This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on April 25, 2013, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole.
Introduced Apr 25, 2013
Referred to Committee Apr 25, 2013
Reported by Committee ...
Passed House ...
Passed Senate ...
Signed by the President ...
0% chance of getting past committee.
0% chance of being enacted.

Only 11% of bills made it past committee and only about 3% were enacted in 2011–2013. [show factors | methodology]
33 cosponsors (25D, 8R) (show)         

Prognosis?  "0% chance of getting past committee.  0% chance of being enacted."  If the press was doing their job, might the prognosis be better?

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Let me tell you the story of Anna, a survivor who was brave enough to tell her story, which I heard from Shared Hope International.  After Anna's family passed away, she was placed in the foster care system at the age of three.  She was shuffled from home to home until age 12 when she was finally adopted by a loving family.  As a typical pre-teen, she did not like her family's rules.  She hung out at the corner store where she could break the rules and eat junk food without her family knowing.  There, she made a friend whom she thought she could trust.  Little did she know that the 'friend' she met at the corner store was not actually a friend at all.  One day, when she got into a fight with her parents, as teenagers do, she called her 'friend' from the store, who promptly picked her up.  Anna didn't know that this call would change her life forever.  Her 'friend' was actually a trafficker.  He was violent.  He beat her and sold her body.  She feared running away or putting up a fight because he threatened her family's lives.  So she stayed.  And the emotional, physical and sexual abuse continued.  Ann became convinced that her family no longer wanted her.  She felt helpless and scared.  After almost four years of this unspeakable abuse, Anna eventually escaped and was reunited with her family.  [. . .] She now has a ministry for sex trafficking survivors and runs an outreach program for at risk-youth.

Congress looks at American youth at risk and no one cares enough to report?  We have a very sick media in this country creating a trash culture that grows ever more toxic. The information we need is kept from us and, this time, it's not because it was stamped "TOP SECRET," it's because the press was too busy having fun to do anything of value.

Since we're on the topic of Congress, let's note Senator Charles Schumer is calling for the Jewish Archives to be turned over to the Jewish community and not the Iraqi government.  The US National Archives explains:

On May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.
The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Seeking guidance, the Coalition Provisional Authority placed an urgent call to the nation’s foremost conservation experts at the National Archives. Just a week later, National Archives Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg and Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and make recommendations for preservation of the materials. Both experts share this extraordinary story and take you “behind the scenes” in this brief video []. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages its use and free distribution.
Given limited treatment options in Baghdad, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these materials have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and photographed under the direction of the National Archives. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain. 

As noted yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for the archives not to be shipped back to Iraq but handed over to their rightful owners, the Jewish community.  Dan Friedman (New York Daily News) reported:

  Schumer Wednesday urged the State Department “to do everything in their power to ensure that these treasured artifacts remain available and accessible to Jews worldwide.”
In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry, Schumer urged the department to work with Jewish groups in the United States and abroad to find another home for the documents.
"Since the exile of Jews from Iraq, virtually no Jewish life remains in the country,” Schumer wrote. “This treasured collection belongs to the Jewish community and should be made available to them."

Schumer is not alone.  US House Rep Ilena Ros-Lehtinen's office issued the following statement yesterday:

“It’s imperative that we preserve the history of the Jewish community of Iraq so that future generations will always remember their ancestors’ experiences and historical contributions”
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida congressional delegation, co-authored a letter, along with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, urging Secretary of State John Kerry to return historic communal and religious items currently on display at the National Archives to the Iraqi Jewish community and their descendants, and not the government of Iraq. These artifacts, discovered in a decrepit state by U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq in 2003, were rescued and brought to the United States for repair and preservation.  Next spring, these items are scheduled to be sent back to Iraq but Ros-Lehtinen and Israel are asking that they be returned to their rightful inheritors.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “I’m pleased to join my colleague Steve in urging Secretary Kerry and the State Department to return these ancient Jewish artifacts to their rightful owners. The Iraqi government has absolutely no right or legitimate claim to these artifacts. These communal, religious and personal items were left behind in a temple in Baghdad to be safeguarded as the vast majority of Jews were forced to flee Iraq due to rampant persecution, harassment and anti-Semitic hatred, only to see them stolen by Saddam Hussein and his thugs. Once thought to be lost and gone forever, we now have a remarkable opportunity to restore a piece of an ancient Jewish community’s collective memory. It’s imperative that we preserve the history of the Jewish community of Iraq so that future generations will always remember their ancestors’ experiences and historical contributions. It would be criminal for the U.S. government to be complicit in denying the Jewish community what is rightfully theirs.”
Statement by Israel: “I am grateful that these artifacts, which represent the rich and vibrant Jewish community that once existed in Iraq, have been restored. However, I do not believe that we should send these treasures back to the Iraqi Government. That’s why I’m working with my colleague Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to urge the U.S. Government to facilitate a process by which we can return the artifacts to their rightful owners or their owners’ descendants.”
####### notes, "The State Department plans to return the archive to the Iraqi government, in line with a written agreement between the two parties."  A written agreement regarding the return of property is not binding when it's discovered that the property in question was stolen.  The Iraqi government had no legal rights to the property and committed fraud by signing the agreement.  Fraud can be prosecuted.  The agreement has no legal standing.

US President Barack Obama should be able to explain that at the start of next month.  November 1st, Iraq's Prime Minister and chief thug of the ongoing occupation and war Nouri al-Maliki will stroll into the White House for a visit with Barack.  Ivan Sacha Sheehan (The Hill) offers:

Analysts will be watching closely to see if President Obama leverages his influence over the leader that many are calling a puppet of the Iranian regime.

Al-Maliki’s visit comes on the heels of the administration’s repeated olive branches to newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Obama’s naive attempts to re-establish relations with the authoritarian regime’s so-called “moderate” envoy.
This concern will probably result in the only significant protest against Barack entertaining Nouri.  The Ashraf supporters are still talking about protesting.  They do turn out for every Congressional hearing on Iraq or Iran -- wearing yellow. 

Rudaw reports of the meet-up:

Other sources say that US Vice President Joseph Biden had in a telephone call invited Iraq's Sunni parliamentary speaker Osama Nujeifi to visit Washington in November. Also, the head of the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc, Ayad Allawi, is already in the United States. 
 The sources say it is likely that the Americans want to have a hearing with Iraqi leaders, given the fact Nujeifi and Allawi are both strong critics of Maliki. 
 Unofficial Kurdish sources have also said that Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has been invited to Washington.
 The Iraqi prime minister has faced serious opposition from the country's Sunni and Kurdish groups since his re-election in 2010, and the Americans have expressed reservations about his close ties with neighboring Iran and Syria. But Maliki has managed to hold on so far.

Yesterday, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

Two men sitting and talking (Photo Credit: State Dept.)
Ambassador Beecroft meets with Foreign Minister Zebari
On October 23rd, Ambassador Beecroft met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to discuss U.S.-Iraqi relations, the Strategic Framework Agreement, and preparations for the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Maliki to Washington.

Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared in a televised speech Oct. 10 both that he would head to the United States at the end of the month and that he intended to run for a third term in upcoming elections. The timing of the announcements was not a coincidence, but rather an attempt to get the foreign support Maliki needs for his candidacy. Meanwhile, objections to his methods of government are multiplying around the country.
Maliki’s second term has seen broad political disputes take place. His actions have been seen as the result of intensive Iranian support coupled with American blessings. It seems that Maliki is counting on persisting Iranian and American support to win a third term as prime minister. However, the course that the Iraqi sociopolitical situation has been taking shows that this support is not in the interest of the United States and Iran, and that it will hurt their national interests in Iraq for the following reasons:
Use the link to read the reasons.

At, Margaret Griffis reviews violence in Iraq over the last few days with "78 Killed, 53 Wounded in Ongoing Iraq Horror."  The horror is a country where people are targeted for death and hunted.  Rashid al-Khayoun (The Majalla) explains:

This new sectarian Iraq is not all that far removed from a hunting ground. The government was elected because it promised to provide security, but they are not protecting us and they are perhaps even contributing to the bloodshed. High-ranking government officials have been charged with the killings of Sunnis, only to have the cases against them dropped in dubious circumstances.
Groups of people are killed in massive bombings, seemingly at random, the last of which we saw yesterday. But what is more frightening, indeed truly terrifying, is the hunting of individuals—a crime whose victims are innumerable. There are countless incidents where civilians have been killed and the government has failed to hold anyone to account. These include the murders of high-profile figures, such as radio talk show host Hadi Al-Mehdi in 2011, and Karbala football coach Mohammad Abbas, who was killed earlier this year. All too often, the rush of bullets from a gun with a silencer is the last thing an Iraqi hears.
Many countries have banned the hunting of wild animals, as well as woodland creatures, birds and marine wildlife. The United Kingdom banned fox hunting, an aristocratic activity that had been around for centuries, under pressure from animal rights activists and those wanting to protect the environment. In fact, if anyone tries to hurt so much as a waterbird in a public park in Europe, they have no defense.
If a duck happens to waddle past you in the UK, you must not even scare it because it is protected by the highest authorities and a law that must not be broken. Additionally, if your neighbor complains that you are neglecting your cat or dog, the police will arrive at your house within minutes and you will suddenly find yourself a suspect in a crime.
However, the people of Iraq do not have this level of protection. The number of people assassinated in my own family alone has reached eleven in the past eight years—although there have possibly been more, but we have never heard about it. I decided to count how many people were killed or assassinated in my family by the previous regime, and I found five, including my brother. The difference between then and now is that under Saddam we at least knew who the killers were: the state itself.

"Hunted" is the term.  Last month, Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the news that  Nouri was funding, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias.  Arango observed:

In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

And they use that movement to kill Sunnis.  Sunnis are hunted.  They're not the only group in Iraq that its. But this report should be one of the first things Barack raises with Nouri November 1st.

Offering reality on Iraq is Rachel Shabi (Guardian):

The US-led coalition set up avoidable rifts by marginalising Iraqi Sunnis – hobbling Iraq by fomenting sectarianism, condemning it to instability and obliterating the chance of any functional political recovery. Corrupt, divisive and combustible policies were then pursued by the US-backed Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, whose Shia elite-dominated government is routinely accused of authoritarianism.
Maliki's rule has been a wrecking-ball mix of wrongheaded and incompetent. He has dismissed and disempowered Sunni politicians while simultaneously ramping up security forces and misusing terrorism laws to target Sunni areas, stirring up grievances over ethnocentric injustices. And the incompetence? Just one detail: Maliki's forces are still using the fake bomb detectors sold to Iraq by the convicted former policeman James McCormick.
In May, Maliki was insisting that some of the detectors are fine – to the horror of the Iraqi population that has to negotiate increasingly deadly everyday public spaces. All of this worsened in December last year, when forces arrested the bodyguards of the Sunni former finance minister, Rafi al-Issawi, under terrorism laws, prompting mass protests that were brutally dispersed. The violence included an army raid on protesters in Hawija, northern Iraq, in April, killing 50 and injuring many more.

Nouri needs to explain things like the Hawija massacre as well as his failure to provide security and how about what a disaster he's been for business in Iraq?   Nicole Gaouette and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report on how the violence is running off businesses and investments:

“It’s striking how different the outlook for Iraq is today than what it was as late as June, when the question was who would make room for growing Iraqi production in the marketplace,” said Daniel Yergin, author of “The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World.” “Everyone is bringing down their forecast in light of what’s actually happening on the ground.”
“It’s hard for companies to operate in Iraq,” Yergin, vice chairman of Englewood, Colorado-based research company IHS Inc. (IHS), said in a phone interview. “The cost of operating there is higher because the cost of assuring security adds significantly to the overall costs.” 

Maybe Nouri and Barack could discuss how Nouri's now failed Iraq for seven years?  Add to the month's growing death toll that NINA notes a Albo Hayyat home bombing which claimed the life of 1 woman and left her daughter injured.  In addition, NINA reports a northeastern Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life and left four people injured, a southern Baghdad bombing claimed 2 lives and left eight people injured, and 5 suicide bombers in Mosul attacked Nineveh Operations Command and took their own lives as well as the lives of 23 soldiers and police officers.  Press TV adds that an "armed assailants shot dead Bashar Abdulqader Najm, a cameraman working for al-Mosuliya television station, in the northern city of Mosul, police officials reported. He is the third journalist to be killed in the city this month."

We'll move over to veterans issues.  Senator Patty Murray now chairs the Senate Budget Committee, prior to that, she chaired the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  She continues to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                       CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, October 24, 2013                                                              (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray's Statement on Efforts to Correct Discriminatory Hiring Practices for Veterans at BPA
(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Inspector General report on unlawful hiring practices at Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the corrective actions being taken by the Department of Energy and BPA.
“Since they were released earlier this month, I have been extremely disappointed by the findings in the Inspector General’s report on unlawful and discriminatory hiring practices impacting veterans and others at BPA.  As a longtime advocate for servicemembers and veterans, I know well the incredible value that veterans bring to the workplace, and the unacceptable practices described in this report must be fixed as soon as possible.
“I am encouraged that BPA and DOE are each taking these issues seriously, and as they work together to address these problems, I will continue monitoring the situation closely while working to ensure that BPA maintains the flexibility it needs to provide reliable, low-cost power to the Pacific Northwest. I have spoken with Deputy Secretary Poneman several times since the IG report was released, and he has assured me that while hiring and personnel practices are being addressed, DOE will respect BPA’s authority to set policies that support the Pacific Northwest and its ratepayers.”
Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Last word goes to Debra Sweet's "The Dirtiness of US Drone War" (World Can't Wait):

Almost 5 years after the spike in U.S. use of targeted killing of people via drone by the Obama administration (thousands have been killed), the United Nations, or rather its special rapporteur Ben Emmerson, has released a report saying these drone strikes by the United States have killed civilians by the hundreds, or more, and should be carried out in accordance with international law.
Anyone wanting a ringing condemnation of how utterly wrong it is for the United States to use killer robots flown from 8,000 miles away, attacking people on the basis of suspected patterns of behavior (a "signature" drone strike) and on the President's order will read this and be outraged.  The personal stories of family members obliterated in seconds, with only parts to be buried, shock the conscience, as war crimes do.  But let's speak the truth and call them war crimes, not just cry for "accountability."
Joining the United Nations in criticizing U.S. drone strikes – to a point – are Amnesty International “Will I Be Next?” and Human Rights Watch, "Between a Drone and al Qaeda"  each of whom issued their own reports this week.  These reports come out just ahead of a debate at the U.N. Friday October 25 on the use of drones, and of the visit of Pakistan's Prime Minister Sharif, who told Obama today to end the drone strikes in Pakistan, while no doubt also appealing to him for more military aid.
Kevin Gosztola describes the Amnesty report in Drone Victims Recount Horror of Follow-Up Strikes Launched Against People Rescuing Wounded. 

Read on ...
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.