Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, November 20, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the rains continue in Iraq, while the president of Iraq remains in Germany his bodyguard is killed in Iraq, some of the remains of one of the fallen are headed back to a family, Senators Patty Murray and Kirsten Gillibrand fight for the children of military families, two journalists and a self-described one accept medals of 'honor' from the man who's going after James Risen and the Associated Press and whistle-blowers and . . . , and more.

Starting with events in the United States.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following noting the efforts of Murray and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on behalf of the children of military families:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        CONTACT: Murray Press Office (202) 224-2834
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013                                          Gillibrand Press Office (202) 224-3873
TRICARE: Murray, Gillibrand Amendment Guarantees Health Coverage for Military Children With Developmental Disabilities
Despite state laws that require behavioral health coverage in 34 states, military health plans deny care to many military children with disabilities  
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would ensure that military families’ health plans provide adequate coverage for children and loved ones with disabilities.  The amendment requires TRICARE, the Department of Defense health program for members of the military and their families, to provide coverage for behavioral health treatments, including applied behavior analysis (ABA).   
Under current TRICARE policies, many children are denied coverage for ABA and critical behavioral health treatments, and those children who do receive care often receive less than the prescribed treatment.  That places TRICARE behind the curve of thirty-four states and the District of Columbia, which require private insurers to cover ABA as a medically necessary service for most children with a developmental disability.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management also categorizes ABA as a "medical therapy” and covers ABA for federal employees’ dependents.
A one-page summary of the legislation is available here.
“Every parent of a child with a disability wants to do everything they can to provide the best care, but for military parents dealing with overseas deployments and frequent moves from state to state, the challenge to access quality care is even greater,” said Senator Murray. “The least we can do for our service men and women is provide quality health care for their loved ones, and this amendment ensures that promise extends to children with disabilities, too.”

“It is alarming that our military families who have sacrificed so much are denied essential services for their children suffering from autism and other developmental disabilities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This legislation will help ensure that our military families have access to the critical services, care and support they desperately need and deserve.”

Behavioral health treatments for children with developmental disabilities are widely recognized as effective therapies that can help children learn the skills to be successful in school, live independently, and find meaningful employment.  However, despite the widely-recognized benefits of these treatments, they are not always available for families who receive their health care through TRICARE.  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Mental Health support behavioral health parity so that evidence based therapies can be accessed by children and youth with developmental disabilities. This includes systematic application of ABA for children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.
Organizations supporting the Murray-Gillibrand amendment include:
Military Officers Association of America, National Military Family Association, Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, VetsFirst, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Autism Speaks, Easter Seals, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, The Arc, Autism National Committee, National Down Syndrome Society, ACCSES, ADHD Aware, American Dance Therapy Association, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, American Association on Health and Disability, Brain Injury Association of America, Epilepsy Foundation, Family Voices, Health & Disability Advocates, Lutheran Services in America Disability Network, Mental Health America, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Organization on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Physician-Parent Caregivers, and School Social Work Association of America.
Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Senators Murray and Gillibrand deserve strong applause for their efforts.

Successful efforts have helped to bring some closure for a military family.  Dropping back to February 28th:

KCBD reports the family of Major Troy Gilbert has learned that the Pentagon will "resume" their search for Gilbert who died in Iraq while using his plane to provide cover for US soldiers on the ground who were under attack. When his plane crashed, fighters took Gilbert's body from the plane and a year later, in 2007, his body showed up as a prop in a propaganda video. Ariel Walden (KFYO) reports that his parents received the news last Friday. Jim Douglas (WFAA) offers a video report on the news, speaking with the parents, widow Ginger Gilbert Ravella and government officials. Excerpt.

Jim Douglas: The last time we saw Kaye Gilbert she was crying because the government told her that her son's case was closed, that no one would look for the remains of Major Troy Gilbert in Iraq.

Kaye Gilbert: Please, please help us get him home.

Jim Douglas: Now they will.

Kaye Gilbert: You cry when you're sad and you cry when you're happy. But today is a happy, happy day.

Jim Douglas: Air Force and MIA officials told the Gilbert's their son's case is so extraordinary that an Undersecretary of Defense to give it special consideration. The first time that's ever been done.

So they've reopened the search. And did so Friday. 

Today Joel Fortner (Air Force News) reports that more of the remains of Troy Gilbert were discovered.  His widow Ginger Gilbert-Ravella tells Fortner, "We have prayed for this for almost seven years and we've never given up hope nor will we ever give up.  We have always known finding Troy's remains would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack or a grain of sand at the beach.  Though our deepest desire is that his entire body would be returned to the US, we are grateful for this."

Still with the US, we're getting to the fakery of today.  Before we do, let's note   US political prisoner Lynne Stewart  remains behind bars.  For the 'crime' of issuing a press release, she was eventually tossed in prison.  The 'crime' happened on Attorney General Janet Reno's watch.  Reno has her detractors who think she was far too tough as Attorney General.  She also has her supporters who see her as a moderate.  No one saw her as 'soft.'  Reno had her Justice Department review what happened.  There was no talk of a trial because there was no crime.  No law was broken.  The Justice Department imposes guidelines -- not written by Congress, so not laws -- on attorneys.  Lynne was made to review the guidelines and told not to break it again.  That was her 'punishment' under Janet Reno.  Bully Boy Bush comes into office and the already decided incident becomes a way for Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to build a name for himself. He goes on David Letterman's show to announce, after 9-11, that they're prosecuting Lynne for terrorism.

Eventually tossed in prison?  Even Bully Boy Bush allowed Lynne to remain out on appeal.  It's only when Barack Obama becomes president that Lynne gets tossed in prison.  It's only under Barack that the US Justice Depart disputes the judge's sentence and demands a harsher one (under the original sentence Lynne would be out now).  Lynne's cancer has returned.

She needs to be home with her family.  Her time is limited and it needs to be spent with her loved ones.  Lynne's a threat to no one -- not today, not ten years ago.  She's a 73-year-old grandmother who has dedicated her life to being there for people who would otherwise have no defenders.  Even now in prison, she shows compassion towards those who have had none for her.  Barack Obama needs to order her immediate release.  If he fails to do so, then it should be a permanent stain on his record.

Back in September on Black Agenda Radio (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  hosted by Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford, Glen spoke with attorney David Gespass about efforts to help Lynne.

Glen Ford:  People's lawyer Lynne Stewart continues to fight for a compassionate release from prison where she's serving a ten year sentence for zealously defending her client.  Stewart is suffering Stage IV breast cancer but the Obama administration has turned down all of her pleas to be released to her family and doctors.  In Birmingham, Alabama, we spoke with David Gespass, a former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

David Gespass:  My initial position was she never should have been convicted in the first place and certainly should not have gotten the kind of draconian sentence she did.  But beyond that, I think even under the old guidelines, she was entitled to compassionate release given the severe nature of her health and the cost to the government to provide care that would otherwise be provided with her family at home.  Given the new guidelines -- and I think the only possible reason not to release her would be just pure vindictiveness. 

Glen Ford:  Lynne Stewart suffering Stage IV breast cancer is certainly no danger to anybody's community.

David Gespass:  And she was never much of a danger to begin with other than the fact that she was a really vigorous advocate for the clients that she represented.  At this point, she can't practice law because of the conviction.  There is nothing that could cause any harm by her release and an enormous amount of harm could be caused by her staying in prison.

Glen Ford:  Lynne Stewart is in prison because she was a zealous defender of her client.

David Gespass:  That's exactly right.

Glen Ford:  Isn't that the lawyer's job?

David Gespass:  Absolutely.  And I think her prosecution was a warning to defense lawyers that they should not do their jobs as vigorously as they are required Constitutionally to do -- particularly in cases involving allegations of so-called 'terrorism.'

Glen Ford:  So zealotry in defense of, oh, a Wall Street firm is quite alright?

David Gespass:  That's exactly right.  And defense of police officers.  It seems that the only pro criminal defense rulings that we get from judges these days are for members of Congress and police officers.

Glen Ford:  Have you seen a chill among the ranks of progressive leaning attorneys?

David Gespass:  On the contrary.  I think that for most people who have seen this -- it's sort of redoubled their efforts not to be intimidated.  And I think that as much as that was what the government's aim was, I just don't think they succeeded.  And I think that the outpouring of support for Lynne during her trial and since then really indicates that people who are advocates for the poor and the disenfranchised are not going to be intimidated and are going to continue the struggle.  And I think that's particularly evident in the Guantanamo cases and the work that defense lawyers have done there.

Glen Ford:   Lynne Stewart's case is as political as you get and I guess the decision not to allow her compassionate release was determined at the highest political levels.

David Gespass:  Undoubtedly.  You know, if this were a routine case, I think that, under the circumstances, compassionate release would have been almost automatic.  Of course, this administration has been particularly unwilling to show any compassion to anyone convicted of a crime.  So it's on some level not shocking that they're not going to stick their necks out for Lynne because they won't do it for people getting fifty years for selling an ounce of marijuana or something.

Glen Ford:  Yes, in terms of administrations, how does this one rank on the compassionate scale?

David Gespass:  I'd say at the bottom.  This administration has yet to pardon a single convict.  And I think that's probably a first.  Given particularly now when people are talking about how draconian and counter-productive these mandatory minimum sentences are for drug offenses especially, the fact that this administration refuses to even consider releasing people who have been low level involvement in drug transactions that have gotten these absurdly long sentences, it's just indicative of either just meanness or political cowardice.

Glen Ford:  So in terms of law and order administrations, this Obama administration could be categorized as the most law and order in our memory?

David Gespass:  Yes  if one wants to consider law and order as locking more people up for longer periods of time, I suppose.  And they've also deported more undocumented immigrants than anyone in history.  And the attacks on the administration for not doing enough are just so frivolous under the circumstances. They've been terrible about it.

Dropping back to last week's  Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights).  Heidi Boghosian read the letter Lynne wrote for the National Lawyers Guild convention last month in San  Juan, Puerto Rico.

Brothers and Sisters of the National Lawyers Guild
I wanted to send you this most important Health Bulletin–Not Personal (pause) but on the steady evisceration of the Right to Counsel, the bulwark of all we do.  Within the last weeks, a suspect was forcibly detained for crimes against the US.  He was taken from Libya to an offshore (ship?) where he was being interrogated, read tortured.  When the Public Defenders of the Southern District of New York, where his case is ostensibly pending, attempted to have counsel appointed for him, they were turned down in no uncertain terms by Judges using the now all too common weasel words.  But this is not a new phenomenon–it is apparent over and over again and the question remains–what are WE, who claim to be the last protection against an overreaching state going to do about it?
How important is this ?  I need to tell a couple of anecdotes about lawyering–my dear deceased friend Bill Kunstler in the tumultuous years in which the FBI-JTTF was rounding up the remnants of the Underground, Sekou Odinga, a member of the Black Panthers and then the Black Liberation Army, related to me that he had been detained in a Queens NYC precinct for many hours, was being water boarded by the police in one of the toilets, and was really feeling it badly when all at once he heard the booming voice of the Great Kunstler echoing through the hallways demanding to see his client and he knew that he had been saved.   The other story was one that I told at an earlier convention and a young lawyer from San Diego wrote to tell me that it had turned her life around.  After my arrest, Ralph and I were stuck in Manhattan traffic, when a bicycle messenger pulled up and tapped on my window.  When I opened it he said in an excited and joyous voice “You THE Lawyer !!  You the LAWYER !!!   Indeed I was and Indeed it was and is my greatest ambition and accomplishment to be THE lawyer.
Back in the day and I mean way back, when this adversary system had its origins, the accused had the right to select a champion to fight for their rights and I mean fight–jousting, swordplay, mace and chain -- ok perhaps a little hyperbole, BUT the message is clear -- we were hired for our brawn as well as brains, our courage as well as legal acumen.  We need to get courage and creativity in combat, back into the equation.   It’s not about schmoozing the prosecution or the Judge.  How many courtrooms have I walked into where there was not one friendly face -- there was just me and the client ?  Even the stenographers were hostile !  And that's ok because I was there for only one reason, the one I took an oath to zealously pursue, the defense of my client.  Was it fearsome personally?  Of course.  But to do otherwise was more so.
I urge everyone to return to the days of robust lawyering.  Be Bill Kunstler in the precinct.  Be “THE LAWYER” .  Be the champion who defends fearlessly.  When I say that the right to counsel is being eviscerated I mean that the forces of the empire are very busy removing the nerves, the hearts and guts of the Fifth Amendment and leaving it a shell of what it was and can be.  We are the opposition that need to gather our shields and swords in its defense and be selfless and brave. Let us press forward.  Instead of the derision we often face, let us all strive to be “the Lawyer” respected and honored.

And Law and Disorder Radio notes these phone numbers you can use to show your support for Lynne.

  • Phone Campaign For Lynne Stewart To Be Let Out Of Prison Under Compassionate Release
  • Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons – 202-307-3250
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-353-1555
  • U.S. President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111

  • You could show support for Lynne by calling those numbers.  Or you could just refuse a piece-of-crap award.

    Bill Clinton got an award today.  I don't begrudge him.  After all the lies and attacks Barack Obama launched on Bill in 2008, I don't begrudge Bill enjoying the moment where Barack praises him in public.  Sports figures?  I could care less.  But there are three people who should have turned down that damn 'honor.'

    Ben Bradlee says he's a journalist; however, a journalist doesn't accept an award from a president who's declared war on the press and illegally spies on them.  Ben Bradlee disgraces himself more than he did a few decades back when he was having sex on a front lawn.  Ben has a nice face, he's never had a nice body.  No one needed to see that.   No one.  Let's move on.

    There's Gloria Steinem.  Trina left the following up at Ms.:

    I would expect Ms. Steinem to turn down the ‘honor’ in the name of political prisoners such as Chelsea Manning and Lynne Stewart and the US government’s attacks on NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden and other whistle blowers, as well as due to the spying on the Associated Press and due to the government’s attacks on NYT reporter James Risen. This is not a secret or hidden knowledge.
    In addition to The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, The Sunlight Foundation and many others have reported on it.
    As a young woman in the 70s, I saw Gloria Steinem as the face of truth and justice.
    That she would take an award from a government waging wars and spying on the American people is deeply disturbing. That the attacks on the press do not bother journalist Gloria Steinem is very sad.

    For that, Trina's been attacked.  She asked me not to go after the idiot here.  So I'll instead just note, here's the thing about feminism, it doesn't mean being a doormat.  I know Gloria's misled millions of women, but feminism is not about being a doormat.  It's also not, "Oh, someone insulted Gloria!  I must attack!"

    Gloria enriched herself financially with feminism.  I've known Gloria for decades.  We were friends until 2008 when I cut her out of my life.  I know all the lies.  Like, "Gloria didn't get rich off feminism!"

    Yes, she did.  It turns out feminism wasn't that profitable so Gloria's not Donald Trump, but she sure as hell got wealthy off it.  There are many feminists who did not get wealthy.   Kathie Sarachild did not get rich. Gloria's cult did manage to shut Kathie out of most feminist encounters and attempted to remove her from the movement.  At some point, Gloria could have called them off.  But repeatedly, she's played innocent and stayed silent as various women were drummed out of the movement if they dared to question The Doctrine of Gloria.

    She also worked for the CIA as a college student.  She says she didn't after.  For years, I believed that.  In 2008, I took the blinders off and found out a lot about Gloria.  I have no idea whether she did or didn't work for the CIA but the fact that she lied so often and so repeatedly means I don't trust a word out of her mouth anymore.

    In 2008, a lot of people wanted to get involved in the Democratic Party primaries.  Those attempting to influence my political party needed to be of my political party or they needed to identify themselves for what they really were.  If they're endorsing a candidate, we have a right to know if they're a Democrat or not.  Here, I outed conservatives, I outed Communists and I outed Socialists.  The Democratic Party primary is supposed to be where we pick who are candidate will be.

    As I went along, I was confronted by a friend with Barack's campaign who stated that I was giving Gloria a pass because she supported Hillary.  No, I wasn't outing her because she'd lied to me for years and I'd stupidly believed her -- even, at first, accusing my friend with Barack's campaign of more dirty tricks.  But he backed it up and then some.

    Gloria's a Socialist.

    And she injected herself into the Democratic Party primary.  As she had done for years.  Her actions in 1976, for example, on behalf of the Democratic Party were called out by feminists.  Looking back, and I called her out on her actions, I don't know what to say.  Except, even now, I'm shocked that a Socialist would so whore herself out for the Democratic Party.

    Gloria's betrayed feminism repeatedly. She's there to reap the rewards of press attention but a serious examination of her actions demonstrates she hijacked a movement to turn it into her fan club.  One of her worst acts, most cowardly and now most damaging, was hiding the fact that she's a Socialist.

    There's nothing wrong with being a Socialist.

    But for her to tie that deception onto the movement, to make it appear that Socialism is something to hide or be ashamed of?

    She's created the groundwork for those who insist feminism is a secret plot or a lie or trickery to now have their 'proof.'  She owes many apologies to the feminist movement.  First and foremost, as she gears up for her 80th birthday, she needs to make public that she's a Socialist and apologize for deceiving the public all these years.  She also owes a big apology to Socialism because by hiding in a political closet, she prevented many women and men from considering as a viable option.

    At Third, We wrote about how Gloria needed to refuse the award in "Editorial: Little Gloria, hypocrisy at last."  In it, we gave Oprah a pass because who believes a word Oprah says?

    But then a White House friend told me Oprah asked that she be described at the event as a "journalist." Reality TV and talk shows do not make you a "journalist."  Using your bad talk show to sell the Iraq War does not make you a journalist.  In 'honor' of Oprah and her 'journalism' and to 'honor' her selling of  the Iraq War and booking her 'friend' Judith Miller, let's note and quote Joan Rivers from her latest comedy film, Don't Start With Me.

    Joan Rivers: Right.  Oprah and Gayle.  Just 'good friends.'  Okay, whatever.  Perhaps.   All I know is I don't lick my best friend's vagina.  That's all I know.  My good friend is Margie Stern.  I don't say, "Margie [sticks out tongue and licks], let's go to Macys. [Sticks out tongue and licks.]  Then we'll have a pedicure.  [Sticks out tongue and licks.] Lunch."

    History is full of betrayers and deceivers who lied to the people in order to be honored by the royal courts.  Ben Bradlee, Gloria Steinem and Oprah are the only latest in a centuries old embarrassment.

    Monday, The Huffington Post reported:

    James Risen, the New York Times reporter ordered to testify against a confidential source, called on journalists to fight back against government's attacks on press freedom.
    He currently faces jail time if he refuses to testify against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent charged with leaking classified information. Risen spoke at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism on Thursday where, according to the Daily Californian, he said it was time for journalists to “surrender or fight.”
    Risen — who has spoken out against the government before — said that the war on leaks threatens the integrity of the press and its reporting. “The basic issue is, can we continue as journalists to protect and offer the confidentiality to someone who knows something going on in the government but doesn’t want to go public?” he said. 

    But tonight, journalists Ben Bradlee and Gloria Steinem -- as well as 'journalist' Oprah Winfrey -- elected to accept a Presidential Medal of Honor.

    There is no honor among whores.

    The ISO (International Socialist Organization) has decreed that there will be support for Syrian rebels.  That's why Gloria and Women's Media Center keep pimping war on Syria, for those who are confused.  There's no independence for Gloria, just marching orders she takes from an organization which is known this year, certainly, for its non-stop attacks on women.  That's not feminism.

    I have no respect for the ISO. If you're interested in learning about socialism, you'd be better off, in the US, following WSWS where they do maintain a set of ethics and don't whore for war when a Democratic President wants it.

    Naomi Klein, when she was still new to the scene, foolishly thought that reporting in The Nation meant holding people accountable.  As she quickly learned, she could hold a Republican (James Baker)  accountable for war profiteering  but to note how Mad Maddie Albright was doing the same was really not acceptable to the ISO element at The Nation.

    Mad Maddie's back in the news today.  David Lerman (Bloomberg News) reports the vampire zombie rose to speak in Chicago:

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the U.S. must overcome a loss of trust from Arab nations that’s developed since the Iraq war as it seeks a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.
    “In many different ways, there was an erosion of trust in terms of what we were doing there,” Albright said of the Iraq war in a session today at “The Year Ahead: 2014,” a two-day conference in Chicago hosted by Bloomberg LP. 

    With the blood thirsty War Hawk Mad Maddie Albright (who thinks a standing military means its there for her own capricious adventures) to lead, what could possibly go wrong?

    For the answer to that question, just look to Iraq which is yet again slammed with violence.  The western media focuses on Bahgdad.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes 7 car bombings and 2 roadside bombings have left 47 dead in Baghdad with one-hundred-and-thirty-two more injured.  RTE, RTT and Russia Today also focus on Baghdad (to distinguish themselves, RT presents a xenophobic statement by the UK's John Wright).  Mohammed Tawfeeq updates his report here.

    Outside of Baghdad?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 military officer was shot dead outside his Shura Village home, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead outside his Mosul home, a Falluja roadside bombing left 1 police member dead and two more injured, a second Falluja bombing left three police members injured, a Baquba sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injured, and Jalal Talabani's chief body guard was shot dead in the KRG.  All Iraq News adds that 1 "Iraqi Army postman" was shot dead in Mosul as he delivered mail.  Cheng Yang (Xinhua) reports, "In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a young man was killed and his father critically wounded when a sticky bomb attached to their car detonated in the town of Buhruz, near the provincial capital city of Baquba, a provincial police source told Xinhua.  Separately, four bombs planted to houses in the eastern part of Baquba, went off in the morning and caused damage to the houses and slightly wounded two children, the source said."

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 421 violent deaths so far this month.  BBC News reminds, "The UN says 979 people - including 158 police and 127 military personnel - were killed in violent attacks in October. More than 6,500 civilians have died since January."

    About the death of that chief body guard of Jalal Talabani's,  Colonel Sarawr Hama Rashed.  Xinhua reports that he was shot dead in his Sulaimaniyah home "in front of his wife" and that he was "the chief bodyguard of Iraq's president."

    Jalal Talabani is the President of Iraq.  Or he's supposed to be.  The question continues to be: Can you be the president of a country you're not in?  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

    So questions need to be answered regarding not just why the body guard wasn't in Germany but also regarding Jalal's real health condition because despite months of claiming that he'd be returning any second, Jalal still hasn't.  And he's still not spoken in front of any recording camera and all visits by Iraqi politicians are refused.  For 11 months now, he's not performed his duties and he's been out of the country.  The Iraqi people deserve answers.  

    As the lies about Jalal continue so do the rains in Iraq.  All Iraq News notes 12 homes collapsed in Babel due to flooding and  4 people drowned in Najaf due to the flooding.  That's attributable to Nouri al-Maliki who's failed to improve the infrastructure despite being prime minister since 2006.  Improved civil construction would eliminate the standing waters.  Instead, an out-dated sewage system (last worked on in the 1970s) gets backed up and allows the waters to stand.   In Diwaniya, a home collapsed killing a mother and daughter.  That's very sad but the collapse of the home from heavy rains is nature, it's not an effect of Nouri.  Another woman in the same city died of electrocution.  That was from flooding in the home.  Most likely that is Nouri's fault.  The heavy rains pooled in the streets, there was not adequate sewage drains on the streets to pull the water elsewhere and the woman's home flooded.  That's government's fault, not nature.  Yesterday's snapshot noted that Nouri was stating each province in need would receive 200 million dinars.  Oops.  He got his headlines for 'leadership' and then his petty nature took over.  Al-Shorfa reports today that the deal is now 200 billion Iraqi dinars for all of Iraq's provinces -- not for each.  In addition, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran explains:

    Following the heavy rainfall last night in Iraq, flood covered the entire of Camp Liberty. Water has accumulated many of the sections reaching up to half a meter in some parts.
    No one can go around the camp and transportation has stopped completely. This has caused great problems for the residents at the camp.
    This is while water accumulated from the previous rainfall that occurred 10 days ago had not been removed. Restrictions and lack of required systems has hindered the residents from being able to confront this catastrophe.
    The widespread flood has also caused serious problems for the hunger strikers whom are on their 81st day, preventing transfer of those who face critical problems to the Iraqi clinic at the camp. This has caused great risk for the lives of the hunger strikers.

    On Camp Ashraf, I need to do a disclosure.  We got an e-mail from someone connected with the movement.  I didn't read it.  Shirley responded to it on my behalf at my request.  That's as close as we're getting.  If that offends someone, my apologies.

    We have defended the Ashraf community for years now.  When Jon Corzine and others were being targeted by the US government for their work on this issue, we defended them.  What I did not note then was that, while visiting friends at the Justice Dept at that time, I was asked if I would submit to official questioning because I was on 'the list.'  I sat for 15 minutes of questions.  It was ludicrous to assume that I'd take money from anyone but I did offer my bank records willingly.  They were not examined, the offer was not taken up.  But for what I'd written here, I was questioned.  My response was not to go silent on the issue and not to move away from it.  If anything, we got louder in our defense of the Ashraf community.   No charges were brought against me because I had no involvement with the Ashraf community.   That's why I nod to the people in yellow suits at the Congressional  hearings but don't approach them.  

    I will continue to support the Ashraf community here -- as long as they're in Iraq and as long as we're here online.  But I will also continue to maintain a wall.  Nothing against the community, but I am independent and I think my voice here has more value as a result.  I also wish to remain able to say, if questioned again, "No, I have not any contact with any representative or member of the Ashraf community."  The Ashraf movement is more than welcome to e-mail articles or press releases and we'll note them when we can.  But I do not have private conversations with the movement.

    Prashant Rao and Jason Ditz have important articles.  Hopefully, we'll have room for both tomorrow.

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