In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up.
How much lunch money is the US forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".
Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observes of yesterday's violence, "A wave of attacks in and around the capital city of Baghdad pointed out that the war in that nation is still very much going on, with or without the US occupation forces, leaving 38 people killed and over 140 others wounded." Laith Hammoudi (AFP) reports on what happens after the bombings:
Piles of concrete blocks, clothes and furniture are all that remain of many of the makeshift houses in Imam Ali slum after an explosives-packed car tore through the area on June 13, claiming the lives of seven people and leaving more than 20 families homeless.
The blast has left the Shiite area's impoverished residents mourning relatives and neighbours, and struggling to rebuild their shattered lives.
Hussein said he looked for houses to rent but the cheapest one he found was 150,000 Iraqi dinars ($125) per month, and it was in poor condition and would have required significant repairs.
In a press victory, Al Mada is back up with new content today. Among their reports is this one on the Ministry of Electricity's Inspector General declaring there are fake contracts for $3 trillion dinars. If the news seems familiar, it's because fake contracts and the Ministry of Electricity seem to go hand in hand. Dropping back to the August 12, 2011 snapshot:
Political intrigue continues in Iraq as well. For example, Al Mada reports that the Sadr bloc is calling for an investigation into the alleged fake contracts and alleged theft of funds in the Ministry of Electricity. Over the weekend, Nouri al-Maliki announced he was firing the Minister of Electricity due to fake contracts worth billions. There were two main responses. First, many stated Nouri didn't have the power to do the firing, only Parliament did. Second, the Minister of Electricity floated that he had many stories to tell. It has since emerged that these contracts Nouri claims to be surprised and appalled by carry . . . Nouri's signature. Nouri and State Of Law's latest move is to note that this member of Nouri's Cabinet is also a member of Iraqiya. I'm not sure how that assists Nouri since, over the weekend, Iraqiya was the first to state that they supported the move Nouri made. Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli (The Middle East Media Research Institute) offers an analysis of what happened:
In July of this year, the Ministry of Electricity signed a contract with a Canadian company, CAPGENT, for $1.2 billion for the construction of 10 power stations with a production capacity of 100 megawatts each. The company was registered in Vancouver, Canada. It also signed a second contract with a German company, Maschinerbrau Halberstadt, for €500 million ($650 million) for the construction of five power stations with a production capacity of 100 megawatts each, to be completed within 12 months from the time a line of credit was extended. It now appears that the two companies are fictitious, and had the contracts been executed they would have would have constituted a monumental case of fraud involving senior officials of the Ministry of Electricity.
The two fraudulent cases came to light thanks to the personal efforts of Jawad Hashim, a former minister of planning in Iraq during the early Ba'thist regime in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a handwritten letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, datelined Vancouver, Canada, August 2, 2011, Hashim detailed the fraud.
As a resident of Vancouver, Hashim decided to investigate the available information on the Canadian company while he asked the former minister of economy and governor of the Iraqi central bank, Fakhri Yassin Qadduri, who resides in Germany, to investigate the identity of the German company.
In related news, Ahmed Abbasi (Kitabat) reports over six billion dollars missing from the public funds and Abbasi wonders how this continues to happen, where are the courts, where is the Integrity Commission? Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that Kirkuk is spending over 93 billion dinars on a water project to ensure potable water. It's considered one of Iraq's largest water projects.
Turning to the topic of intrigue, Kitabat reports on rumors that the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad is coordinating with the Tehran-based government and Iraq's National Alliance and that they are using cell phones to monitor the movements of Iraqiya and other political rivals and that they are also listening in on phone calls. If true, this is apparently part of an effort to keep Nouri as prime minister.
As Al Mada notes today, Nouri is resisting appearing before the Parliament for questioning. The Constitution is clear on this matter, as the Parliament has reminded Nouri. Alsumaria reports today that MP Mahma Khalil, with the Kurdistan Alliance, states that Nouri must bear responsibility for what is taking place in Iraq and that this is not about withdrawing confidence. Alsumaria sees this as a retreat from the plan for a no-confidence vote. It may be. Or it may be someone grasping the p.r. effect. Moqtada al-Sadr looks so much more reasonable than many because, since April, he has publicly presented a position (whether it's true or not) of, "I hope it doesn't come to this, only in a last resort . . ." He has repeatedly noted that the entire process can be stopped by Nouri if Nouri will only follow the Erbil Agreement. Again, Alsumaria may be interpreting things correctly. But it's also true that Nouri's began lashing out and trying to win public opinion this week on the issue of the no-confidence vote. This may be others following Moqtada's lead. Al Mada reports today that the Kurdish bloc in Parliament is stating that even should Nouri survive the no-confidnece vote, this does not end the push for accountability. Kurdish MP Shwan Mohammed Taha states that, successful or not, the interrogation isn't the end of things. He cites the Erbil Agreement and the need to return to it.
We'll close with this from Salem-News.com:
For immediate release
Contact: Tim King 503 302-2861
Sri Lanka War Crimes Against Tamils: Oregon Journalist Will Give Key Note Address at FeTNA in Baltimore
2,000–3,000 Tamil Americans and Canadians are expected to attend the 25th year celebration.
(BALTIMORE) - A key note address will be delivered at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) conference in Baltimore, Md. on July 6th and 7th. (www.fetna.org), by Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor, Tim King.
On behalf of USTPAC (US Tamil Political Action Council), Tim was invited to speak about his coverage of war crimes in Sri Lanka, by Elias Jeyarajah, PhD, President of USTPAC, which holds a parallel session during FeTNA. (www.ustpac.org) Tim has written nearly 50 articles that explore and reveal the events that culminated in the ethnic cleansing of Tamils in north Sri Lanka in May 2009. He says part of what drives him is the large number of missing and murdered journalists who are believed to have been eliminated for writing about the war crimes against Tamils.
Elias Jeyarajah with USTAPC explains there are over 2 dozen Tamil Sangams (Associations of Tamil Americans) in North America.
"Once a year they hold an annual get together coordinated by an organization called FeTNA, or Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America. This year's convention happens to be FeTNA's 25th yr (Silver Jubilee) celebration, to be held in Baltimore."
He explains that the Sri Lanka problem is specifically being addressed at this special event:
"While FeTNA is mainly a cultural organization, the 3-yr old USTPAC is the major political organization of Tamil Americans and friends of Tamils in the USA. In addition, we (USTPAC) also put together a one-hour prime time program at FeTNA for the entire attendees on the issues affecting Tamils in Sri Lanka."
Bonnie King, Salem-News.com's Publisher, has also been involved in supporting the news group's mission to expose Sri Lanka's war crimes. She will attend the event in Baltimore, and both of these U.S. journos will be exposed to, as Elias says, "plenty of Tamil food, music, classical dance and more".
When inviting Mr. King to the event, USTPAC's President said their group is grateful to the efforts of the Kings' Oregon based Salem-News.com:
"Tim, Tamil Americans are eternally grateful for the phenomenal support of Salem-News in highlighting the Tamil genocide, and we will be honored if you can accept our invitation and address us. There will be about 2,500 Tamil Americans and a few Tamil Canadians at the event."
Tim King says being invited to FeTNA as a distinguished guest to deliver a key note address is an extreme honor and he believes hope for the Tamil Diaspora is on the horizon.
"We have followed the Tamil tragedy since December, 2010. I had no idea what I was getting into at first, yet I quickly saw that I was on a one-way road -- and that a large number of human beings were suffering for justice and overwhelmed with death, to a point that I just could not believe it; yet I had to, because the evidence was overpowering from the offset. Since then I've invested a great deal of time researching the real facts of the case and bringing them forward."
More on FeTNA
FeTNA, Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, is an umbrella organization of Tamil Sangams (organizations) that represents the half a million strong Tamil community scattered throughout America. FeTNA is a registered, non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization in the USA. It is an organization that fosters Tamil language and culture, and functions to educate the Americans of Tamil origin to the greatness of Tamil language, literature and the virtues of 2000 year-old ethical poetry of Thiru-Valluvar. It also serves to raise its voice whenever and wherever any harm is done to Tamils anywhere in the world.
FeTNA commemorates its Silver Jubilee from July 5- 8, 2012 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD, USA. This historic event of 25th year jubilee convention brings the Tamil community, originally from India and Sri Lanka, together in Washington D.C. Several artists, poets and academics have been invited from Tamil Nadu, India for the event. Invitations have also been extended to several government officials in the US including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assistant Secretary Robert Blake, congresspersons, senators and Governor for Maryland.
About 2,000 – 3,000 Tamil Americans and a number of Tamil Canadians are expected to attend the 25th year celebrations. Past programs of FeTNA can be viewed at the organization’s website: www.fetna.org.
"FeTNA is grateful that Mr. Tim King will attend along with Mrs. Bonnie King, and address the gathering on July 6th at 4:30 p.m.," said Elias Jeyarajah.
Tim King of Salem-News.com humbly accepts the invitation, and we look forward to sharing the special event with our worldwide readership.
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