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.

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