Saturday, June 30, 2012

Violence continues but get a load of who's leaving Iraq

Alsumaria reports that the corpse of 1 adult male Yazidi was discovered in Nineveh Province.  AFP reports 2 Samarra roadside bombings claimed 7 lives with three people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two injured, a Tal Afar roadside bombing claimed 1 life and 1 person was shot dead outside Baaj and 1 in Kirkuk -- for 11 dead for a total of 11 dead and six injured.  AP observes, "A half year after the U.S. military left Iraq, dire predictions seem to be coming true: The country is mired in violence and the government is on the verge of collapsing. With no relief in sight, there's growing talk of Iraq as a failed state [. . .]"

Al Mada reports that the call for a vote of no-confidence in thug & prime minister Nouri al-Maliki continues despite remarks by Kurdish Alliance MP Mahma Khalil -- remarks that KRG President Massoud Barzani refuted yesterday and today the PUK issued a statement about how the Kurdistan Alliance speaks the position of the Kurds not individual MPs.  From December 21st through most of June, Nouri al-Maliki refused the call for a national conference to address the political crisis.  This week, it's all he can yabber on about.  Alsumaria reports that he repeated his 'we need a dialogue' talk today.  Being the little bitch that he is, Nouri also had to trash his rivals and did so by insiting they were following the orders of foreign governments.  Khalil tells Al Mada that the Sadr bloc wants a vote of no-confidence on Nouri.

Meanwhile Walter Pincus (Washington Post via Stars and  Stripes) reports, "The State Department is planning to spend as much as $115 million to upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, already its biggest and most expensive in the world, according to pre-solicitation notices published this month.  Remember, it has been 3 1/2 years since American diplomats moved into the 104-acre, $700 million facility and only four months after State Department officials in February talked about trying to cut back the U.S. presence there."

In other news, the Himalayn News Service reports on Peter W. Bodde.  Who?  the new US Ambassador to Nepal.  He set to to go to Nepal "in late August"  and he'll replace Scott H. DeLisi
And what position does he hold currently?  The number two US official in Iraq.  Since James Jeffrey has abandoned his post -- and that is the term for it, when Barack  Obama was sworn in as US President, Ryan Crocker agreed to stay on until Barack could find a successor -- and since this is obviously a very delicate time for Iraq, is it really wise to take the number two US official out of Iraq at a time when not only is there no number one US official (that would be a US Ambassador to Iraq) but the White House hasn't even named a nominee for the post.

It's almost as thought the White House wants to demonstrate just how badly they screwed things up in Iraq (in 2010 by backing Nouri al-Maliki even though his slate did not come in first in the elections).  Republicans will say "the White House wants to demonstrate just how badly they screwed things up in Iraq by not extending the SOFA" and while I disagree with that they will have the backing of the independent inspector generals as we saw in the House Oversight Subcommittee hearing this week.  Now pulling the number two (really the number one by default) out of Iraq?  It's as if they're sporting their incompetence with the hopes of getting attention.

In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued  the following Friday:

MONDAY: VETERANS: Murray in Seattle to Unveil New Mental Health Legislation
Iraq and Afghanistan veteran will share his story of having his PTSD diagnosis overturned

(Washington, D.C.) -- On Monday, July 2, 2012, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the 
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a press conference at the Seattle Nisei 
Veterans Center to discuss her new service members and veterans mental health 
legislation, the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012.  This legislation comes as the Pentagon begins a comprehensive military-wide review, which Senator Murray urged [Defense] 
Secretary [Leon] Panetta to conduct on diagnoses for the invisible wounds of war dating
back to 2001.  

The misdiagnosis of behavioral health conditions has been a constant 
problem for soldiers at Madigan Army Medical Center, where to date over 100 soldiers
 and counting have had their correct PTSD diagnosis restored following reevaluation.  
Stephen Davis, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who had his initial diagnosis of PTSD overturned, will speak at the press conference with his his wife to share his experience.
The legislation seeks to address problems with DOD and VA mental health care identified during multiple hearings of Senator Murray's Veterans Affairs Committee.  Specifically, 
Senator Murray's Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012 would require DOD to create a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program, expand eligibility for a 
variety of VA mental health services to family members, improve training and 
education for our health care providers, create more peer to peer counseling 
opportunities, and require VA to establish accurate and reliable measures for mental 
health services.  More about Senator Murray's bill HERE.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
           Sergeant David Leavitt
           Sergeant First Class Stephen Davis and his wife Kim Davis
            Michele Smith, wife of Sergeant Shannon Smith
WHAT: Press conference to unveil the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012
WHEN: Monday, July 2, 2012
            1:30 PM PT
WHERE:  Seattle Nisei Veterans Center
                1212 South King Street
                 Seattle, WA 98144
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


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