Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nouri's up to his old tricks

I see Ba'athists

From December 25th, that's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists" which is pertinent today yet again. Always looking for ways to demonize his rivals, Nouri al-Maliki is now going after Iraq's Communist Party. Al Mada reports that Nouri's security forces stormed the political party's headquarters and arrested 12 people who were arrested and questioned about protests. Ali Hussein (Al Mada) notes the Communist Party has a long history of fighting for Iraq, not against it. Hussein reports that Nouri's tanks have been sent to surround the homes of Communist Party members in Baghdad. Those who paid attention in December will remember that Nouri ordered tanks to circle the homes of Iraqiya members right before he demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his posts and ordered the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya as well as Sunnis. Ali Hussein notes that Nouri also ordered tanks to circle the homes of Communist Party members last year.

Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari declared today that Arab states have sent 12 Foreign Ministers to Baghdad thus far for the Arab League Summit. KUNA adds that Zebari "announced its [Iraq's] full support of the effort exerted by the joint envoy of the United Nations and Arab League Kofi Annan to end crisis and violence in Syria, while stressing its opposition to foreign intervention in the Arab country." The Foreign Ministers are meeting today. Nouri is supposed to deliver a speech today. The Washington Post's Liz Sly Tweeted:

AFP notes, "Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has accepted the credentials of the first Saudi ambassador to Baghdad since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the president's office said on Wednesday." Al Jazeera splashes some reality by explaining:

For the first time since that conflict, Iraq also officially received an ambassador from Saudi Arabia, Fahd bin Abdul Mohsen al-Zaid, though he will function only as a "non-resident" ambassador and is already the Saudi envoy to Jordan.
The summit was not particularly well attended. At least five countries sent foreign ministers, including Bahrain, but both Qatar and Egypt did not send their top diplomats, and others were absent.

Al Rafidayn notes that Nouri's reps began pressing other leaders yesterday on dropping Iraq's debt. Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman Tweeted today: "We hope that the Arab summit will cancel the debts on Iraq&help it in investments, economic prosperity,as well as fighting terrorism."

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and we'll note two things from her office. First, on the issue of homeless veterans in her state of Washington:


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 (202) 224-2834

HOMELESS VETERANS: Senator Murray Announces Funding to Help House Veterans Across Washington State

Nine state housing authorities will receive 325 vouchers under joint HUD-VA program that Senator Murray funded

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that 325 housing vouchers will be allocated to nine different state Housing Authorities in order to help get Washington state homeless veterans into housing. The vouchers are part of the HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH program). Senator Murray provided $75 million nationwide to fund new vouchers in the Senate spending bill last year. She also worked to secure $201 million for the VA to provide case management and services for veterans in the program.

“This is a huge boost for efforts to get homeless veterans in our state into stable housing,” said Senator Murray. “Each one of these vouchers means a year’s rent for someone who has sacrificed for our nation but is now sleeping on our streets. With new servicemembers returning home every day and the economy sputtering, we must step up our efforts to provide all veterans with housing and the dignity that comes with it. We owe it to our veterans to provide them with the resources and support they need to put a roof over their heads.”

Under the HUD-VASH program, Housing Authorities across the state will receive vouchers that can be used for rental assistance in the local community. The local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility then works on outreach efforts to identify homeless veterans who can be provided with vouchers. Each rental assistance voucher is valued at roughly $7500 and provides rental assistance for a housing unit for a homeless veteran and any family members. In addition to the rental assistance, local VA Medical Centers provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless veterans.

Today’s announcement is part of an allocation of $75 million that will be distributed to local public housing agencies across 50 states and provide help to an estimated 10,500 veterans. Senator Murray included the $75 million for this program in the 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, which she oversees and which funds the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The following is a list of Washington state housing authorities and corresponding VA facilities that will receive HUD-VASH vouchers and the number of vouchers they are set to receive:

(Local Housing Authorities and VA facilities work together to administer this program.)

Public Housing Authority


Voucher Allocation

King County Housing Authority

Seattle, Washington


Seattle Housing Authority

Seattle, Washington


Snohomish County Housing Authority

Seattle, Washington


Peninsula Housing Authority

Port Angeles, Washington


Spokane Housing Authority

Spokane, Washington


Tacoma Housing Authority

American Lake, Washington


Pierce County Housing Authority

American Lake, Washington


Yakima Housing Authority

Walla Walla, Washington through the Yakima Outpatient Clinic


Skagit County Housing Authority

Vancouver, Washington through the Vancouver Community Based Outpatient Clinic




And on today's questions about the PTSD diagnoses:


Wednesday, March 28, 2012 (202) 224-2834

TODAY: Senator Murray to Question Army Surgeon General on the Handling of Mental Wounds of War

At Hearing of Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Veterans Chairman Murray will press the Army Surgeon General on troubled PTSD unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and whether similar problems exist at other bases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, will question Army Surgeon General Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho on recent shortcomings in the Army’s efforts to properly diagnose and treat the invisible wounds of war. Specifically, Murray will discuss the forensic psychiatry unit at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord that is under investigation for taking the cost of PTSD into consideration when making diagnosing decisions. The Army is currently reevaluating over 300 servicemembers and veterans who have had their PTSD diagnoses changed by that unit since 2007. Murray will ask whether similar problems are happening at Army bases nationwide.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray

WHAT: Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing- DoD Health Programs

WHEN: TODAY – Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

10:00 AM EST/7:00 AM PST - Hearing start time

WHERE: Dirksen 192



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