Thursday, April 19, 2012

Iraq slammed with bombings

AGI notes "a wave of attacks" have slammed Iraq today. Al Arabiya reports, "More than 20 bombs hit cities and towns across Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 36 and wounding more than 100, police and hospital sources said, raising fears of sectarian strife in a country keen to show it can now maintain security."

Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) explains "The blasts were a series of co-ordinated attacks in Baghdad and northern cities but mostly within Shia neighbourhoods." The Belfast Telegraph adds, "Extremists launched 12 attacks in the Iraqi capital and in the cities of Kirkuk, Samarra, Baqouba, Dibis and Taji. Mortars were fired into the northern cities of Beiji and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, but no injuries were reported there." UPI counts 35 dead and over seventy-three injured.


Last month, Iraq Body Count reported at least 295 people died from violence in Iraq. And that March total came about only after Baghdad was under lockdown for a full week in the days leading up to the Arab League Summit. Already this week, Xinhua has reported 13 dead in Monday's violence alone (nine injured).

BBC News (link is text and video) breaks down today's violence as follows:

In Baghdad, a series of at least five blasts struck in various Shia neighbourhoods
Police say two car bombs went off in Kirkuk, 180 miles (290km) north of Baghdad
A suicide bomber killed a police officer in Baquba, an army officer said
Two car bombs targeted security forces in Samarra
A parked car exploded killing passers-by in Dibis
A roadside device exploded in Taji

Rami Ruhayem declares, "The targets have been varied. Some of them are civilian targets such as shops, Iranian pilgrims in Baghdad and also army and police forces." Deutsche Welle adds, "The blasts unfolded closely, over an hour and a quarter." Xinhua notes there were car bombs, roadside bombs, suicide bombs and shootings. Press TV adds, "Police officials in the provincial capital city of Mosul in Nineveh said three people sustained injuries in a bomb attack carried out in a restaurant."

ITN quotes a wounded police officer in Kirkuk stating, "I was trying to stop traffic to let a police patrol pass. When it passed, a car bomb exploded and I fell on the ground and police took me to the hospital."

As usal 'al Qaeda in Iraq' is trotted out. Why is, do you suppose, that the press is always wanting to write about 'al Qaed in Iraq' when violence hits but in all the downtime they have they never explore it? They never ask why the attacks continue? Iraqis are attacking and they're attacking for a reason. Hiding behind the phrase 'al Qaeda in Iraq' doesn't address any of the problems.

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh, Cindy Sheehan, On The Wilder Side, and CSPAN -- updated last night and this morning:

In the United States, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

Chairman Murray Introduces Legislation to Better Protect Veterans, Servicemembers from Unemployment and Foreclosure
Legislation would strengthen U.S. Department of Justice's ability to enforce current laws

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, with high unemployment and foreclosure rates continuing to affect our nation's veterans and servicemembers, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced the Servicemembers Rights Enforcement Improvement Act of 2012. Currently, many of the protections put in place to help shield our nation's heroes -- specifically the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) -- have been violated in a disturbing number of cases within the past several years. Co-sponsoring Chairman Murray's legislation are Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
The Servicemembers Rights Enforcement Improvement Act, which includes a significant number of proposals provided to the Congress by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), would strengthen DoJ's ability to enforce these laws on behalf of servicemembers and veterans.
"Our men and women in uniform serve with tremendous dignity on the battlefield," said Chairman Murray. "Our nation owes it to them to guarantee protection under the law wh when they return home. The Servicemembers Rights Enforcement Act will help force the hand of those who have failed to follow the law when it comes to providing our nation's heroes with the basic safeguards they deserve."
'"Our nation's growing reliance on the National Guard and Reserves for operational duties here and overseas means that our warrior-citizens must have airtight reemployment rights and financial protections when they are called to the colors, "said VADM Norb Ryan, President, Military Officers Assocication of America (MOAA). "The Military Officers Association of America strongly supports the 'Servicemembers Rights Enforcement Improvement Act of 2012' and urges quick passage of the bill to strengthen enforcement of the rights of those who defend the rest of America."
"Millions of service members depend on USERRA and SCRA protections when called to serve their country," said Commander Fang Won, American Legion. "USERRA and SCRA were created to prohibit discrimination and eliminate disadvantages faced by deployed service members. This legislation will strengthen the enforcement on USERRA and SCRA. This bill confirms a tremendous need for transparency and effective consequences for non-compliance of USERRA and SCRA regulations and ensure that veterans are not disadvantaged or unable to return to their previous jobs due to their honorable service to our Nation."
"IAVA strongly supports Senator Murray's efforts to bolster the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA)," said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "Servicemembers who currentlys eek relief under these acts often face significant roadblocks. Even if a violation exists, it can be difficult and expensive for vets to challenge employers armed with greater legal and financial resources. This bill will empower the Attorney General to investigate and compel employers to respond to USERRA complaints. More importantly, it will allow the Attoreny General to better represent service members who have a case. Both steps are absolutely critical to open doors for new veterans and ensure they come home to the job security they deserve after serving our country."
USERRA secures servicemembers' employment rights during periods of military service and prohibits employer discrimination based upon military service or obligation.
To ensure that those protections are fully enforced this bill:

* Enables the Attorney General to investigate and file suit against a patter or practice of USERRA violatiosn by a state or private employer.

* Allows the United States to serve as named plaintiff in USERRA suits and to issue civil investigative demands for relevant documentary material; and

* Provides the Special Counsel with authority to subpoena relevant testimony and documents from Federal employees and agencies to carry out investigations.

Over the past year, it has come to light that several banks improperly overcharged and foreclosed upon deployed servicemembers in violation of the SCRA. Failure to comply with SCRA protections is unacceptable.

This bill strengthens the statutory protections of SCRA as well as the mechanisms used to enforce them by:

* Strengthening the protections that prevent judgments againt a servicemember when they cannot appear in court because of military service.

* Broadening the authority of the Attorney General to investigate allegations of SCRA violations; and

* Clarifying the right of servicemembers to bring a private law suit to assert their SCRA rights.

Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary | Social Media Director

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



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