It's your last new episode until the fall rolls around. Turning to Iraq,
AFP reports 3 Baquba roadside bombings resulted in 3 deaths and fourteen injured while a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured. AP adds that a bus enroute to Baquba was attacked resulting in 2 deaths and seven people being injured.
Yesterday dust storms forced the closure of an airport in Iraq. Today Al Mada reports that most of Iraq should experience only "light dust" except for southern Iraq where dust storms will continue. The weather is of great interest to the US government today as Bagdhad hosts a meet-up on Iran and nuclear power. Baghdad International Airport was open today. Alsumaria reports that delegations from the European Union, China, France and the US arrived today and were met by Iraq President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki. (Iran arrived yesterday. The group then proceeded to Nouri's home in the Green Zone for their meeting. RTE reports, "Around 15,000 Iraqi police and troops will protect the venue inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone." Fars News Agency adds, "Iran's top negotiator Saeed Jalili, who is in Baghdad to hold talks with the representatives of the six world powers, held separate meetings with several high-ranking Iraqi officials." Press TV notes that Jalili met yesterday with Talabani who declared the talks were "an important step twoards finding an appropriate solution to Iran's nuclear issue."
Ali Akbar Dareini and Lara Jakes (Associated Press) note that Iran expects to leave the conference with a more relaxed stance from the other countries towards their nuclear plans; however "no breakthrough accords are expected in the talks in Iraq's capital, suggesting that all sides are still shaping their strategies and the negotiation process is likely to be long." ITV speaks (link is video) with the UK's Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander who declares, "I think this is a time for clear minds and calm words. We want to see a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to this issue. And I hope the British governmnet -- with the other governments represented at this critical meeting in Baghdad today -- are concentrating their efforts on finding a successful, peaceful and diplomatic resolution to these issues. Well there are very real concerns about whether Iran is determined to develop a nuclear weapon and the impact of that on the wider Middle East. But that's why I think all of our efforts should be directed torwards sustaining the peaceful pressure on Iran and in good faith taking forward the negotiations that are going to be the basis of talks in Baghdad today." Alexander is a Labour Party member and part of Labour Party Leader Ed Miliban's shadow cabinet. Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi tells Alsumaria that the meet-up is, in part, Iran's attempt to bolster Nouri's shaky image within Iraq.
In the lead-up to the meeting, various things have taken place. Yesterday, AP noted today that the two countries have exchanged the remains of "98 Iranians and 13 Iraqis" from the 8 year war between the two countries that kicked off in 1980. Al Mada uses a larger figure of 222 and states that 124 are the remains of Iraqis.
The following community sites -- plus CSPAN, Adam Kokesh, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Antiwar.com -- updated last night and this morning:
In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committe. Her office notes:
TODAY: Chairman Murray to Examine 400 Day Wait Times Plaguing VA and DoD's New Joint Disability Ratings System
Initial findings on wait times and inconsistencies in diagnoses from GAO audit and Veterans' Affairs Committee staff report to be unveiled at hearing, Murray to question top DoD and VA officials on continued problems
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Wednesday, May 23rd, U.S. Senator Patty Murray will hold a hearing to examine the continued rise in wait times for our servicemembers to receive their medical disability rating and compensation decisions. The hearing will examine challenges facing the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) established by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was developed to improve the disability evaluation process for wounded, ill or injured servicemembers.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that, far from meeting established goals for wait times, servicemembers and their families are having to wait well over a year for answers. Many servicemembers have described the waiting period as extremely stressful and the hearing will touch on that period's uncertainty, which can contribute to self-medication, drug abuse, and even suicide. The hearing will also allow Murray to question the Department of Defense on the Army's upcoming system-wide look at discrepancies in mental health diagnoses that arose from an investigation Senator Murray spurred at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Jon Ann Rooney, Acting Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness,
Department of Defense
John Gingrich, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs
Daniel Bertoni, Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues,
Government Accountability Office
WHAT: Hearing to Discuss Medical Benefit Wait Times and Inconsistencies in Mental
WHEN: TOMORROW: Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
10:00 AM ET
WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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