FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, April 10, 2014 (202) 224-2834
Murray joined in Senate chamber by Senator Elizabeth Dole and caregivers from across the country
“There is no way we will sit by and let caregivers and veterans face this on their own -- not when we can make it at least a little bit easier.”
(Washington D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor to introduce legislation aimed at making critical improvements to how we support our ill and injured servicemembers and veterans and their caregivers. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act follows the release of a RAND Corporation report commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation that calls attention to the challenges faced by America's military and veteran caregivers. Sen. Murray was joined in the chamber by Senator Elizabeth Dole and caregivers from around the country who could be directly impacted by this legislation. Senator Murray helped lead congressional efforts to establish the original veterans caregiver benefits program and as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee pushed VA to stop delaying implementation of the program.
“Like so many of our men and women in uniform, our nation’s military and veteran caregivers don’t ask for much. In fact, rarely do they ask at all,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Too often these caregivers sacrifice their income, their relationships and even their own health to look after their loved one who is ill or injured as a result of serving our country. These caregivers provide a critical support system for our nation’s heroes in situations that many times mean the difference between life and death. It is our duty as a nation to not only provide those who have served with the care and services they’ve so rightly earned, but ensure those looking after them are also afforded these much-needed resources. I’m honored to introduce this legislation today as a major step in improving and expanding on the original caregiver benefits program and am so grateful for Senator Dole’s vision and commitment to this issue in calling the nation to action. I urge our colleagues to join us in this bipartisan effort to support these hidden heroes.”
"Last week we released the results of the RAND research my Foundation commissioned. The evidence-based study is the basis for our national call to action for support of America's military and veteran caregivers,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “Just one week later we celebrate the leadership and patriotism of Senator Patty Murray who is taking swift action on the legislative front and providing an example for bipartisan members of Congress to follow as we pursue increased, holistic support for America's hidden heroes.”
Sen. Murray's bill introduction comes one day before First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will host former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Senator Elizabeth Dole at the White House to discuss the findings of the RAND report, as part of their Joining Forces initiative.
READ bill text.
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
On Congress, we covered the Wednesday's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in Wednesday's snapshot. Ava covered it last night with "No accountability at the VA (Ava)" and Ruth continued her coverage of Tuesday's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with "Laughable John Kerry says retirement is the same as death."
From the US Congress to the Iraqi Parliament, April 30th is the day Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections. Along with determining who will serve in Parliament, the elections are supposed to determine who will be named prime minister-designate (supposed to, hasn't happened so far). Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:
Still on the subject of the campaign posters, Iraq's always useless Ministry of Women (headed by a woman who doesn't believe women should have rights) is having a fit. Kirkuk Now reports males are taking photos of themselves kissing the posters of some female candidates. If there's a problem with this it would be that it may be (or may be interpreted) as ridiculing female candidates. But the Ministry of Women? It's "immoral," they say. It's kissing a poster. Again, the Ministry's headed by Nouri's hand picked anti-women woman.
We'll note this Tweet from Ruwayda Mustafah today:
Kholoud Ramzi (Niqash) reports today on how all the posters being mocked:
Election campaign posters are telling cynical Iraqi voters nothing – there is barely any information on political aims or manifestos. So ordinary Iraqis are getting their own back with ridicule, sarcasm and some judicious photo shopping.
Election campaigning started in Iraq last week with literally thousands of would-be politicians trying to win around 22 million voters’ hearts and minds by election day, April 30. And the cities and towns of Iraq are now filled with campaign posters and placards, the streets are full of candidates shaking hands, kissing babies and distributing alms to the poor.
But all of this is also having an unintended effect in many quarters of Iraqi society. Outdated slogans, empty rhetoric and unnecessarily dramatic or heroic poses on placards have become fuel for ordinary Iraqis’ cynicism about the political process and fodder for jokes and mash ups. None of the information available really offers anything useful or allows voters to read a manifesto that would help them decide who to vote for and why.
A poster for Ahmad Jassim, who apparently represents the interests of the poor and unemployed, was ridiculed because the candidate was posed “like Rose, in the movie Titanic”. Some Facebook wits altered the picture to make it look as though the candidate was facing Leonardo DiCaprio.
Kenneth Pollack offered an idiotic analysis last week. I'm used to whorish American 'analysts' who pin all the blame on the government of Iran and ignore what the US government is done so this wasn't all that surprising:
Iran wields considerable influence in Iraq, unquestionably more than any other foreign country and far more than the United States. It was Iran that ultimately engineered Nuri al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister in 2010 by strong-arming the Sadrists to back him. It was the Iranians who preserved his rule in 2012 by convincing Jalal Talabani to refuse demands to call for a vote of no-confidence—a vote that Maliki seemed likely to lose.
Pollack is with Brookings and to their credit and his credit they at least pay attention to Iraq but I'm just not able to stomach the whoring.
Iran's government probably was involved in the decision and certainly the First Lady of Iraq makes pilgrimages to Iran all the time. However, as Americans, we should be holding our own government accountable.
And Pollack doesn't have any desire to do that. The US government was all over Talabani to prevent the vote against Nouri from taking place. They pressured him with face-to-face visits, they pressured with phone pleas (including from Vice President Joe Biden). We covered all of this in real time. It's nearly two years later and Pollack won't cover it but will point out that Iran supposedly pressured Talabani (I don't doubt that they did but I don't know that they did -- I do from State Dept friends that the US government pressured Talabani -- the same way I know that the State Dept asked for net censorship and got it and we'll probably be writing about that here in a few days).
The no-confidence vote was an attempt to oust Nouri.
Because the US government demanded Nouri get a second term as prime minister even those his State of Law lost the 2010 parliamentary elections to Ayad Allawi. How did they do that?
They brokered an extra-constitutional contract (The Erbil Agreement). The US told the leaders of the political blocs that Nouri had refused to step down for 8 months following the 2010 election and he could go for 8 months more. As Nouri refused to step down, the government was at a standstill (this is the political stalemate) and the US flattered the egos of the leaders telling them they were the bigger persons and that they could do what was right for Iraq and sign this legally binding contract and let the country move forward.
Now that was playing to their egos and flattering them. That didn't get to sign over a second term to Nouri. To get that, their had to be quid pro quo. So, for example, to get the Kurds on board, it was written into the contract that Article 140 of the Constitution (which would resolve who gets Kirkuk -- the KRG or the central government out of Baghdad).
All of these various promises were written into The Erbil Agreement and Nouri put his binding signature to it like every political bloc leader. Nouri used the contract to get his second term. He immediately then said it couldn't be implemented immediately.
He stalled on delivering his end of the promises. That was November 2010. By the summer of 2011, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya were publicly calling for Nouri to implement the rest of the contact -- the part of it where he kept his promises to them.
At this point, Nouri's spokesperson starts the contract wasn't legal.
As Nouri continued to refuse to implement his end of the contract, pleas were made for the US government to help -- this contract was sold with the backing of the White House ("the full backing," Talabani was told). The pleas fell on deaf ears. As the contract was still not implemented at the start of 2012, the Constitutional measure of a no-confidence vote was raised. By April, Moqtada had signed onto the notion. He repeatedly stated in public that Nouri could end the move towards a vote at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement.
They began gathering signatures and got enough. The signatures then go to the President (Jalal) who forwards them onto the Parliament.
Under intense pressure from the US government -- and, Pollack says, from the Iranian government -- Jalal invented these 'powers' where he was supposed to vet signatures. He wasn't. Nor was he supposed to say, "You did sign it? Okay, would you sign it now? Are you really, really sure?" He trashed the signatures.
Then he ran to Germany, pretending he had a serious medical problem.
As we were noting last week, call it karma, call it the universe, whatever, it has a way of slapping back.
Jalal had elective knee surgery. But he lied that he had a life threatening medical problem and had to leave for Germany to be treated. He lied because the fallout from his unconstitutional actions was huge.
But Jalal's in Germany now, has been for about 16 months now. And he really has had a life threatening problem. So maybe he shouldn't have lied in May of 2012 because the universe made his lying true.
Pollack, if he got honest, probably could do a good analysis. The crap he offered last week wasn't a good analysis. It included this garbage:
In addition, Muqtada al-Sadr’s bizarre and unexpected decision to disband his political party and withdraw from politics has further benefitted Maliki. Many former Sadrists are expected to sign on to Maliki’s SoL coalition.
Is Pollack that stupid or he is that much of a whore?
I have no idea but I read those lies and just want to scream. We already covered this b.s. spin that Moqtada's followers were going to flock to Nouri. It's xenophobic and pretends that Shi'ites will support any Shi'ite. From the February 18th snapshot and we're using "--------" to note the beginning and the ending of the excerpt:
Moqtada al-Sadr was strong armed into supporting Nouri -- strong armed by the Iranian government. His followers never supported Nouri.
More than that, they clearly rejected him.
Does no one remember what happened in 2010?
For one thing, immediately after the elections Moqtada threw it to his supporters 'who he should back?'
Have we all forgotten that?
From the April 7, 2010 snapshot:
That interview took place Monday and while there is no coalition-sharing government/arrangement as yet from the March 7th elections, Friday and Saturday, another round of elections were held -- this to determine whom the Sadr bloc should back. Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left). Following the invasion, Ayad Allawi became Iraq's first prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari became the second and Nouri al-Maliki became the third. It's a little more complicated.
Nouri wasn't wanted, Nouri wasn't chosen. Following the December 2005 elections, coalition building took place and the choice for prime minister was al-Jaafari. But the US government refused to allow him to continue as prime minister. The Bush administration was adamant that he would not continue and faulted him for, among other things, delays in the privatization of Iraq's oil. Though the US had no Parliamentary vote, they got their way and Nouri became the prime minister. al-Jaafari had won the vote with the backing of al-Sadr's bloc, just as he won the vote that took place this weekend. The vote can be seen as (a) a show of support for al-Jaafari whom Sadarists have long supported and (b) a message to the US government.
Stop lying that Nouri benefits from Moqtada dropping out. He doesn't.
The Sadr bloc can't stand Nouri -- that's been obvious in Parliament for the last four years.
Moqtada's supporters can't stand Nouri either. They remember his attacks on them in 2008 in Basra and Sadr City. Moqtada is seen as supporting the poor, Nouri's done nothing for the poor. BRussells Tribune carries an Al-Monitor article from last week by Amal Sakr which opens:
The head of the Model Iraqi Women Organization, Athraa Hassani, provided Al-Monitor with this information, quoting World Bank officials who discussed these statistics during a meeting in Turkey with a number of members of civil society organizations seeking to find a solution to the poverty crisis in Iraq.
Hassani questions the accuracy of the poverty rates announced by the Iraqi government, affirming that these rates are continuously increasing because of a rise in daily violence and spike in unemployment rates in addition to a weakening of the Iraqi economy.
Based on the World Bank’s figures, this would mean that out of Iraq’s 34.7 million citizens, more than 9.5 million individuals are living below the poverty line.
Nothing has happened since 2010 to increase Nouri's standing among Sadr supporters. In fact, since 2010, the efforts Moqtada and Ayad Allawi have worked on have probably resulted in greater support for Allawi which has let Nouri fall even lower. Probably.
But what is known is that Sadr supporters did not support Nouri in 2010. They didn't support when the March 2010 voting took place and they did not support a month later in the poll Moqtada carried out.
There is nothing to indicate that Moqtada's followers would support Nouri -- there is ample evidence to demonstrate that they won't.
Equally true, Moqtada's not retired. We pointed that out weeks ago when he returned to Iraq. Prior to his return, we pointed out that his 'retirement' didn't really mean anything. It didn't mean he couldn't be prime minister, it didn't mean anything. And that was before he came back to Iraq. And repeatedly denounced Nouri (which, again, means his followers will not be supporting Nouri).
Joel Wing (Musings On Iraq) offers an analysis which includes:
In March and April the Sadr movement continued to criticize Prime Minister Maliki. From March 10 to 12 Sadrists held rallies in Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Basra, Kirkuk, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babil, Wasit, and Diyala against the premier for his remarks belittling Moqtada al-Sadr. There were also reports of attacks upon Dawa offices, which were played down by both parties so that the election didn’t get sidetracked by violence. March 23, Sadr’s Ahrar List said it opposed Maliki serving a third term, stating that other parties and the Iraqi people wanted change. It went on to say that Maliki had failed to secure the country or to provide political stability. Continuing with that line on April 3 Sadr gave a speech calling Maliki a dictator who was leading the country towards one party rule by banning his opponents. Sadr was joined by parliamentarian Jawad Shahlya from Ahrar and independent lawmaker Saban al-Saadi, both of which had been barred from running in this year’s vote. Sadr went on to accuse the prime minister of attempting to marginalize Sunnis by launching military operations in Anbar. Sadr finished by calling on Maliki to step aside so someone else could try running the country. Finally, on April 5 Shahlya claimed Maliki was attempting to pass a law that would give him broad powers that would lead to the declaration of a state of emergency and the dissolution of the parliament.
Of Nouri's coalition, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) observes, "The election campaigning has also made it clear that a lot of the candidates for al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc are first-time political wannabes, who are not well known in political, business or social circles. Some have said this is because the State of Law wants MPs who will toe the bloc’s line, unlike high profile defectors like senior MPs, Hussein al-Asadi and Jawad al-Bazzouni, who have both left al-Maliki’s Shiite Muslim coalition to join the also-Shiite-Muslim-dominated Citizen, or Muwatin, bloc." Among Nouri's other serious challengers? The head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim. Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) reports:
In an April 5 speech, Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Citizen Coalition, said that his coalition’s reform-minded approach is based on three tenets: the need for Iraq to be ruled by a competent team without wasting time on managing crises; the necessity to adopt a clear legal road map to restructure the Iraqi state; and the initiation of a real administrative revolution in state institutions.
Rudaw notes another development:
In a major gathering in Erbil this week, Iraqi Sunnis declared a new alliance whose aim is to block a third term for Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, after the upcoming April 30 legislative elections.
The Karama (Dignity) Alliance, led by Iraqi Sunni businessman Khamis Khanjar, comes at a time when the country's large Sunni minority has turned its back on the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, accusing Maliki of neglecting Iraq's Sunnis and Sunni regions.
Neglect? Neglect would be a step up from the terrorizing that Nouri's doing to Anbar currently. National Iraqi News Agency reports 5 civilians ("including a child") died from the bombings with fourteen more injured. Meanwhile, Nouri's ordered the same bombings in Ramadi and NINA reports people are fleeing their homes, being rendered refugees, as a result.
He's also begun bombing sections of Baghdad. Far from the Green Zone, of course. NINA notes:
The MP, Hamid al-Zobaie held "The government and the security forces responsible for the lives of citizens in the areas of Baghdad's belt ."
He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "There are safe areas in the belt of Baghdad, especially west of Baghdad , far away from the events of Fallujah , and the government and security forces should protect them not bomb them , on the grounds that the security forces shelled randomly , yesterday and today , areas on the outskirts of the Zaidan area, west of Baghdad , which led to the killing of two citizens and wounding eight others . "
As BRussells Tribunal points out, the European Parliament has called out these attacks on civilians and did so in the European Parliament resolution 27 February 2013 on the situation in Iraq:
Is deeply concerned about the continuing acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population, vulnerable groups and religious communities; calls on the Iraqi Government and on all political leaders to take the necessary measures to provide security and protection for all people in Iraq, in particular members of vulnerable groups such as women, journalists, young people, fundamental rights activists, trade unionists and religious communities, including Christians; calls on the Iraqi Government to ensure that the security forces comply with the rule of law and international standards;
It's a shame other bodies and government officials can't call out these War Crimes. The White House not only can't call Nouri out, they can't stop arming him, it's like an addiction with them.
In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 police members were shot dead in Mosul, 1 person was shot dead in Sab'a Bour, 5 people were shot dead near Alboudajjah Village, and the corpses of 2 women and 1 child were discovered in Hamzah-algharbi. All Iraq News notes Joint Command announced they killed 5 suspects in Ramadi and left two more injured, 2 people in a moving car were shot dead in Mosul, and three members of the same family were injured in Salah il-Din when they were shot as they were distributing election leaflets for the Iraqi Alliance. Alsumaria reports the brother of a federal judge was shot dead west of Mosul, 1 of Nouri's soldiers stabbed to death a civilian to the south of Mosul after angry words were exchanged, 1 military captain was shot dead (by a gun with a silencer) to the north of Baquba, a Yathrib roadside bombing left 1 farmer dead and two of his children injured, a Mosul battle left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three people injured, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 44 suspects in Falluja, 1 police member was shot dead and two more injured at a checkpoint near Baiji, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Abu Ghraib. Xinhua adds, "A car bomb went off in the capital Baghdad's eastern district of Alamein on Thursday evening, killing seven people and wounding 39 others, an Interior Ministry source said. Five people were killed and 16 others injured in another car bomb attack near a hospital in Sadr City, a Shiite district of northeastern Baghdad, the source said."
On violence, AFP's WG Dunlop Tweets:
Nick Turse Tweets:
If this is a surprise to you, you clearly missed Ted Koppel's reports (on NBC and NPR) in December of 2011.
At the end of yesterday's snapshot, we noted Dan Primack (Fortune) report on Dropbox, how the 'grunge' band Pearl Jam was part of the business and now from US Secretary of State Condi Rice was as well. I noted "greed" and that Eddie Vedder was now in bed with Condi. This resulted in a string of e-mails from visitors who objected to my calling for Condi to step down from Dropbox and referred to the "posts you wrote condemning her and colleges that brought her to campuses to speak."
All I can say is, "Who's your dealer? You're obviously getting some primo weed."
I didn't call for Condi to step down. Let's move to my "posts" about her being on campus. I speak on campuses against the wars, the illegal spying, etc. I don't call for people not to speak on campus. I've written nothing like that, I've dictated nothing like that. I never wrote a word about Condi and the campus issue. You're confusing me with someone else -- and not someone in the community because I made my opinion very clear on this in a 2013 roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin.
This is it at its most basic. Everyone who can speak on a campus should. Campuses should be a forum for free expression. Because I speak on a campus doesn't mean everyone's required to attend. If they oppose me, they're more than welcome to protest. One of the scariest protests would be my arriving to find no one (or just a tiny handful) of people in the room waiting to hear me.
To put this in terms of Condi Rice. She has every right to speak on any campus. And people have every right to attend or not to attend. They have every right to protest. They even have the right to heckle. That's free speech.
I've never called for Condi or anyone not to be allowed on campus. And I've defended students protesting and heckling when the news media has rushed to condemn students for those actions. Both speaking and responding are part of free speech.
One e-mailer notes Charles C.W. Cooke's National Review post about a petition calling for Dropbox to drop Condi. I'm told, in the e-mail, I'm responsible for that. For the record, I don't know anyone at the National Review so I have no pull with what they print (Cooke's calling out the petition to be clear). I'm not Charles C.W. Cooke so I'm not responsible for what he writes. That leaves the petition. I didn't write it, promote it or link to it. I personally don't believe in online petitions. Sorry. I think they're garbage and for the very lazy to feel like they accomplished something. If you're opposed to something, write a letter or an e-mail. Signatures collected online don't carry a lot of weight with advertisers, networks or, really anyone. If you want to protest and be taken seriously, write something.
Scott Shackford (Reason) notes this of Condi today:
There has been some outrage in response to the idea of Rice "thinking" about privacy. In 2005, Rice defended President Bush skipping the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) Court and not bothering with getting warrants to place National Security Agency (NSA) wiretaps on foreigners in the U.S. with suspected terrorist ties (despite concerns at the time from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress).
Those are concerns and they can be discussed.
But to be really clear here, I was calling out Eddie Vedder. I don't like Eddie. This is not new, nor is it news to him. I have openly loathed him -- and made clear to him why -- since the 90s.
I think he's a variation on REO Speedwagon. REO's not the worse thing out there, but they're not grunge and they're not alternative. Neither is Eddie. He's a poser and a fraud. In 2000, he did one of those brief bits of bravery he's so known for (take a stand and then fold). He supported Ralph Nader's presidential campaign. I was supporting Al Gore. But I was forced to defend him and it pissed me off because, even though it was the right thing to do, I knew that after the election Eddie would be back on board with the Democratic Party, playing more Democrat than thou and disowning third party and independent runs. Sure enough he did.
He's a creep whose vanity knows no bounds. The whole point of his telling then-President Bill Clinton not to make a statement about Kurt Cobain's passing was the trashy little Eddie was jealous as usual. His untalented hog calling never passed for singing beyond the deeply drunk and he's never been able to write a song that was either coherent or particularly melodic.
I was (and remain) against the Iraq War. Where Eddie stood is still open to debate all this time later. (See this 2003 BBC report if you're not getting how confusing his stand was -- hate Bully Boy Bush but support the war in Iraq -- he's such a cheesy ass salesman.) But in all of my years speaking out publicly against the Iraq War, I've never felt the need for violence. Eddie could only 'communicate' whatever the hell he was trying to say by beating up a mask of Bully Boy Bush onstage at a concert. Seems like some little boy was trying real hard to prove he was a man by resorting to violence.
And that's the reality of Eddie that the fans never seem to grasp. He's all pose and he's the most reactionary 'left' artist you'll ever meet.
Having 'punched out' a Bully Boy Bush mask, I do think Eddie needs to drop Dropbox. But I also know Eddie. He's a cheap whore. He's not going anywhere. He may make a statement ('We won't use Ticketmaster again!') but it'll only last long enough for a few brief headlines. He's a fake.