Saturday, October 03, 2009

Parliament bomb threat and continued delays in GI bill checks

A bomb scare forced the evacuation Saturday of the Iraqi parliament building after explosives-sniffing dogs alerted authorities to a possible threat an hour before lawmakers were to meet.
The Iraqi government issued no statement about whether explosives were found in the building, citing an ongoing investigation. The evacuation only heightened concerns about security breaches in Iraqi government buildings, which were targeted in August by coordinated bombings that killed 100 people and injured hundreds of others.
Five members of parliament told McClatchy that they learned of the threat when security guards blocked them from entering the hall where they were scheduled to discuss two contentious topics: rewriting Iraqi election law and a corruption investigation in the Electricity Ministry. The area was evacuated, the politicians said, and the session was postponed to Sunday.

The above is from Mohammed al Dulaimy's "Bomb scare forces evacuation of Iraqi parliament" (McClatchy Newspapers) on what happened following a bomb sniffing dog detecting some 'issue' in an area of Parliament which was 'confirmed' with other dogs. Meanwhile, Anthony Shadid explores explosions of a personal sort in "In Anbar, U.S.-Allied Tribal Chiefs Feel Deep Sense of Abandonment" (Washington Post)where Sahwa ("Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq") like Raed Sabah express sentiments of betrayal:

"The Americans left without even saying goodbye. Not one of them," Sabah said in his villa in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, once the cradle of Iraq's insurgency. "Even when we called them, we got a message that the line had been disconnected."
Nowhere is the U.S. departure from Iraq more visible than in Anbar, where the 27 bases and outposts less than a year ago have dwindled to three today. Far less money is being spent. Since November, more than two-thirds of combat troops have departed. In their wake is a blend of cynicism and bitterness, frustration and fear among many of the tribal leaders who fought with the troops against the insurgents, a tableau of emotion that may color the American legacy in a region that has stood as the U.S. military's single greatest success in the war. Pragmatism, the Americans call their departure. Desertion, their erstwhile allies answer.
As the United States leaves the province, acknowledged Col. Matthew Lopez, the Marine commander here, "you're going to have individuals who are unhappy."
Sabah freely admits he is one of them.
"We stood by them, we carried out their requests, we let no one hurt them," he said in a rushed clump of words, near certificates of appreciation from the Marines and the U.S. Army that gather dust in a mother-of-pearl cabinet. "They weren't supposed to abandon us."

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 person and left three more injured. Reuters adds that a Ramadi sticky bombing injured Haditha Mayor Abdul Razaq Jubair and two of his body guards and an armed skirmish in Kirkuk led to one person being injured.

Turning to the US where Micah Snead tells Christin Ayers (7News), "We fought enough in the last couple of years, we shouldn't have to come home and fight for benefits." He's referring to the GI Bill which is supposed to be covering college, books and living expenses for veterans. Veterans who believed this would be the case, registered. And yet the government checks do not arrive for many. Tomas Dinges (New Jersey Star-Ledger) speaks to Iraq War veteran Dave Durga:

He has reached out to his parents for $1,400 for September's rent and another couple hundred dollars for the 12 books required for his study in political science. "You have schoolwork to focus on, and then bills pile up, and then you have to focus on that," said Durga, 24. "It becomes a frustration."
The Department of Veterans Affairs will attempt to remedy situations like Durga's by disbursing emergency payments today of up to $3,000. The money will go to nearly 25,000 veterans around the country who have not received the portion of the educational benefit that provides money for books and housing.

Emma Brown (Washington Post) adds:

As of last week, fewer than 10 percent of the 251,000 veterans who had applied for GI Bill benefits had actually received checks, forcing thousands to use savings or take out personal loans to make ends meet.
At the agency's regional office in the District, about 300 veterans waited at noon in chairs and on the floor for a chance to apply for and receive the checks, which were announced a week ago by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
"I've been stressing," said Gabriel Albanes, 23, who deployed twice to Iraq as a Marine and is now a student at Northern Virginia Community College. "I gotta pay rent next month, and I have a part-time job but it's not going to cover it."

That's going to be it. The e-mail address for this site is

mcclatchy newspapers
mohammed al dulaimy