Friday, April 23, 2010

Iraq slammed with bombings

Multiple bombings today in the Iraqi village to Khaldiya. Reuters counts 7 dead and 10 injured in at least seven bombings. BBC News adds, "They were planted among several houses belonging to police officers and a judge." NPR also noted in hourly headlines that police and a judge were targeted. They also offered Quil Lawrence for a few seconds from Baghdad in what will probably be developed into a larger report and, if so, will show up here later today. In addition, CNN noted two Baghdad bombings aimed at mosques which claimed 3 lives and left seventeen people injured. Before updating the death toll to 8 and adding Baghdad car bombings have claimed 21 lives this morning with forty-five injured. CNN counts 61 dead currently (across Iraq) with one-hundred and twelve injured according to Iraqi police. Reuters states 56 are dead in Baghdad alone -- which would mean at least 64 reported deaths this morning. (56 in Baghdad, 8 in Khaldiya.)

When Nouri brags for no reason, reality tends to slap him upside the head. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) fails to grasp that and types the following: "The deaths of the two leaders and the killings and arrests that followed -- with 12 more suspected insurgents seized in raids in Baghdad and Mosul, in the north, on Thursday -- may be the most significant blow yet to a still deadly movement here that only a few months ago appeared to be regrouping, the officials said." He's first out of the gate this morning and presumably the article will get better as the day goes along. May be the most significant blow?

It doesn't appear anything's been blown -- except several bombs. Doesn't appear anything's been stomped out. Despite all of Nouri's blustering throughout the week. By the way, with all of his statements, shouldn't he have at least once -- at least once -- noted that the Sunday operation resulted in the death of a US service member (Staff Sgt James Patton)?

Meanwhile Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports on a meeting yesterday between the Iraq Army and tribal sheiks (Sahwa) in what was hoped to be a way to reduce violence:

Although tribal leaders and armed groups turned against Sunni Arab insurgents in 2007, friction continued between the community and the army brigade, known locally as the Muthanna brigade. Commanders past and present have a reputation for mass round-ups in their effort to crush a onetime stronghold of the insurgency. Meanwhile, militants have used the farm region to launch attacks; seven soldiers were killed in the area in the last two weeks.

TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Harwood (NYT and CNBC), Janet Hook (LAT) and David Shepardson (Detroit News). And Gwen's column this week is "Remember Dorothy Height" who passed away this week and Gwen and company have dipped into the archives to provide a 2003 video interview Gwen did with Dorothy Height. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Dona Edwards, Nicole Kurokawa and Irene Natividad on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's the effects physical discpline can have on children (more likely to bully). For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Narrative
A former member of a Muslim extremist group tells Lesley Stahl the reason for the increase in home-grown jihadists like the U.S. Army major accused of shooting 13 at Ft. Hood is an ideology called "the narrative," which states America is at war with Islam.

Boosting Brain Power
More people, especially college students trying to improve their grades, are illegally boosting their brain power by using prescription "smart drugs" like Ritalin and Aderall, meant for those with attention deficit disorders. Katie Couric reports. | Watch Video

Competing Against Time
Byron Pitts reports from the construction site of the future Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland, Calif., where there's a race to complete the new, earthquake-resistant span alongside the old structure, which authorities fear cannot stand up to the next large earthquake. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, April 25, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), John Dickerson (Slate and CBS) and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (NYT). For the second hour (international news roundup), Diane is joined by Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Roy Gutman (McClatchy) and Trudy Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer). That's a strong second panel and hopefully there will be some time for Trudy Rubin to speak of what's happened to her driver in Iraq. Her columns run in the Philadelphia Inquirer and are carried by many other newspapers but there seems to have been particularly strong interest in the one about the driver earlier this week (or today, if you read the Denver Post).

In the US, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee continues to highlight the economy and finances in a number of videos this week. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. And this week, they've addressed reforming Wall Street in their videos. Chris Dodd has offered several easy to follow ones throughout the week and again has a new one. Senator Jon Tester also has one worth watching. We're noting Senator Maria Cantwell's video here today.

In addition, the DPC notes:

The Clean Energy and Environmental Accomplishments of Senate Democrats in the 110th and 111th Congresses

As the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day approaches, many people will reflect on the significant steps the nation has taken to improve the environment and protect our natural resources. While real progress has been made since the first Earth Day in 1970, work continues to help provide current and future generations with cleaner air, cleaner water, reductions in pollution, the elimination of hazardous waste sites, and stronger natural resource protections.

Senate Democrats have been honoring those efforts since regaining the majority in 2006 by aggressively promoting a legislative agenda that includes strong clean energy, environmental, and natural resource protection provisions. This Fact Sheet details the many legislative clean energy and environmental accomplishments Senate Democrats have achieved during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

111th Congress

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) enacted a number of important energy and environmental provisions aimed at creating jobs while simultaneously improving the environment. The most significant of these provisions is the historic investment in clean energy. The law provided $66.8 billion (as calculated by the Congressional Research Service) through a combination of tax incentives, federal funding, and loan guarantees providing for a significant expansion of clean energy deployment, job creation, and a better environment.

While the recession and tight credit markets had threatened to derail clean energy growth, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is accelerating - and is projected to continue to advance - the development of clean energy technologies. These positive impacts were recently detailed in reports on the growth of certain renewable energy industries in 2009.

Wind. In 2009, the United States broke all previous records by installing over 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy. This one year growth in wind energy generation increased the nation’s total wind energy generating capacity by 40 percent (25,000 MW to 35,000 MW) [AWEA; Last Accessed 4.16.10].

Solar. In 2009, the nation’s total solar energy electrical capacity surpassed 2,100 MW and total thermal capacity reached nearly 24,000 megawatts‐thermal. The 481 MW increase in the nation’s solar electricity generation represents a 37 percent increase from 2008 levels [SEIA; Last Accessed 4.16.10] and [SEIA; Last Accessed 4.16.10].

Geothermal. In 2009, the United States had a total installed geothermal capacity of close to 3,100 MW, an increase of 176 MW from 2008. The 176 MW of geothermal energy installed in 2009 surpassed the combined total of newly installed geothermal from the previous three years (2006, 2007, and 2008). Even more promising, another 161 MW of geothermal were in the final stages of development before coming online and more than 7,000 MW are in earlier phases of development [GEA; Last Accessed 4.16.10].

Going forward, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is projected to continue to spur growth in clean energy deployment. According to a recent Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook, the nation is expected to deploy 10,000 more megawatts of electricity from renewable energy resources in 2010 than it would have had the legislation not been passed. Further, the Outlook anticipates that, by 2020, the United States will generate 37,000 more megawatts of electricity from renewable energy resources than it would have had the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act not been enacted [EIA; Last Accessed 4.16.10].

In terms of job creation, many of the nation’s renewable energy industries have also been experiencing strong growth. These trends were recently detailed in reports on the growth of certain renewable energy industries in 2009.

Wind. In 2009, the number of people employed in the wind energy industry reached 85,000, which is an increase from 50,000 two years ago. The number of wind manufacturing facilities also increased by 39 and the United States now has over 200 facilities located across the United States.

Solar. In 2009, the number of people directly employed by the solar industry rose to approximately 25,000, an increase of approximately 25 percent from 2008 levels. Additionally, the Solar Energy Industries Association most recent Annual Report found that in 2009 alone “its employees supported an additional 7,000 induced jobs for a total economic impact of 17,000 new jobs in 2009.” Going forward, because growth in the solar industry is expected to continue with the total number of jobs in the solar industry or supported by its supply chain reaching 60,000 by 2010 [SEIA; Last Accessed 4.15.10].

Geothermal. The Geothermal Energy Association estimates that the 7,000 MW of geothermal energy under development will create 29,750 permanent jobs [GEA; Last Accessed 4.15.10].

In terms of the environment, the EIA has projected that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will avert the energy-related emission of approximately 225 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent between 2011 and 2013.

Omnibus Public Land Management Act

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 represents the most significant piece of natural resource legislation passed by Congress in 15 years. The law designated over two million acres of wilderness; added over 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, 2,800 miles of National Trails, and 330,000 acres of National Conservation Areas; codified the National Landscape Conservation System; and authorized the Forest Landscape Conservation Service and measures to improve our oceans, coasts, Great Lakes, and water resources. For detailed information on the natural resources accomplishments in the law click here.

FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act

The FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, passed in the Senate in March 2010, included a number of provisions that would help to promote clean energy deployment and reduce harmful emissions. For instance, the legislation requires the FAA to issue guidelines for the construction of wind farms in the proximity of critical FAA facilities, creates a program that would reduce emissions from airport power sources and increase energy efficiency, and authorizes funding for programs to develop alternative fuels, especially renewable fuels, that can be used in existing aircraft engines.

Closing the Black Liquor Alternative Fuel Loophole

In March 2010, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act closed a tax loophole that had allowed paper and pulp industries to claim an alternative fuel tax credit not intended for their industry. This loophole had allowed certain industries to mix a byproduct known as black liquor that is created during their normal operations with diesel fuel, which actually encouraged the use of fossil fuels rather than alternative fuels.

U.S. Capitol - Energy and Environmental Improvements

In May 2009, at the request of Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) announced that, unless backup capacity is needed, the U.S. Capitol Power Plant would use natural gas, instead of coal, as the sole fuel source for steam used at the Capitol complex to heat buildings and water. For more information on this action click here.

Additionally, the AOC, in part through the direction in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, has embarked on a number of sustainability initiatives across the Capitol complex to reduce energy consumption, conserve natural resources, protect the environment and, in the long term, save taxpayer dollars. The AOC has installed more than 15,000 compact fluorescent bulbs, low-flow water fixtures, and daylight-harvesting systems that take advantage of sunlight levels, reducing the need for electric lights, and installed solar panels in a Senate parking lot to power new lights. For more on these actions click here.

Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environmental Protection Agency Appropriations

The Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill for the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency included numerous provisions that are import to protecting the nation's natural resources and environment. For instance, the legislation allocated $2.1 billion to the clean water state revolving fund to help communities improve their wastewater infrastructure critical to preventing sewer overflows that can cause significant water quality problems. The legislation also provided more than $450 million ($158 million more than the enacted Fiscal Year 2009 level) for the Land and Water Conservation Fund which allows federal land management agencies with the financial resources to acquire lands for the national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and monuments and to help protect other lands through conservation easements.

Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations

The Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill for the Department of Energy continued the work by Democrats to encourage greater investments in clean energy research and development by providing $2.24 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. For too long a major deficiency of the nation’s energy policy was that the government and the private sector’s acceptance of stagnant investment in clean energy research and development while the nation’s energy challenges were becoming more acute. For more information about the efforts of Senate Democrats to increase investments in clean energy research and development click here.

110th Congress

And we will close with this from US House Rep John Hall's office, "Congressmen Adler, Ackerman, and Hall Announce New Legislation to Fix Broken VA Benefits Appeals Process:"

Washington DC – Today, Congressmen John Adler (NJ-3), Gary Ackerman (NY-5), and John Hall (NY-19) announced new legislation to fix a broken appeals process that is leaving hundreds of veterans without the benefits they deserve. Recent news reports describe how more than two hundred veterans are being denied the chance to appeal for their benefits after missing a rigid and arbitrary deadline with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (known as the Veterans Court).
“This claims process is failing our veterans,” said Congressman Adler. “I find it outrageous that the brave men and women who never hesitated to serve our country are cast aside over an arbitrary deadline. Our veterans deserve better and I will work to ensure they receive the benefits they are owed.”
“We need to change the appeals process so that it works for veterans, rather than against them” Congressman Ackerman said. “It is unconscionable that veterans with service connected disabilities are being denied the right to appeal VA decisions because of an arbitrary deadline that many are incapable of meeting due to the very service connected disabilities from which they suffer. We can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they made, and now we must do all we can to help them receive the benefits that they rightly deserve.”
“No veteran should be denied benefits over a bureaucratic technicality,” Congressman Hall said. “I look forward to taking this bill up in the committee I chair, the House Veterans Subcommittee on Disability Affairs and Memorial Assistance. I want to thank Congressman Adler for the leadership he has displayed in bringing this bill forward, and I thank Congressman Ackerman for his support of this measure.”
The Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act (H.R. 5064) would require the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (Veterans Court) to hear appeals by veterans of administrative decisions denying them benefits when circumstances beyond their control – often the very service-related disabilities that entitle them to benefits – render them unable to meet the deadline for filing an appeal.
A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Henderson v. Shinseki, ruled against allowing a veteran to pursue his appeal because he missed a deadline. David Henderson, the plaintiff, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia as result of his active-duty service in the Korean War. The government denied his benefits claim in 2004 and dismissed his appeal because he missed a filing deadline – by just 15 days. Mr. Henderson asked the Veterans Court to excuse his late filing because it was caused by his service-related disability, a claim his psychiatrist supported under oath. The Veterans Court refused to do so, and a divided Federal Circuit affirmed its decision.
The legislation introduced by Reps. Adler, Ackerman, and Hall would require the Veterans Court to excuse late filings if the veteran demonstrates “good cause” so that meritorious benefits claims aren’t denied their day in court. Additionally, the Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act requires the Veterans Court to reinstate untimely appeals already dismissed as a result of that court’s failure to toll the filing period for good cause.

E-mail questions. Why provide World Can't Wait conference transcript if it may have been paraphrases?

The conference is important and should have been reported and covered by independent or 'independent' media. While a word or two may be wrong -- may be -- the gist is there. The greater danger is not that I remembered wrongly but that I heard Dahr Jamail wrongly due to a feed issue. I caught what I caught as we were driving to another group to speak to about the Iraq War and the feed was fading before we pulled up. Had that not happened, I would've included Elaine Brower and Matthis Chiroux final statements. But I thought the video would be up the next day and that I could stream it then.

It's not up this morning. The conference does matter, peace does matter, building (rebuilding) the peace movement does matter. World Can't Wait deserves much credit for always opposing the illegal wars, regardless of who is in the White House.

In terms of yesterday's snapshot, we dropped back to a Tuesday hearing. Why? I thought the hearing was important and I had noted in the Tuesday snapshot that we'd be covering it. There wasn't room on Wednesday. In terms of US House Rep Joe Wilson, he mentioned the organization Hidden Wounds at least twice. We included a link and included that section because it would be great if more members of Congress were part of volunteer organizations. I don't believe -- despite an angry e-mail -- that it's a "partisan" organization. If you do and that bothers you, stay away from it. And if that sounds a little I-don't-care on my part, I'm not in the mood. People need to deal in realities and the realities are that very few are addressing Iraq (groups or media) and very few are addressing the veterans. We deal with what we have hear. There are outlets that we now include that, in better times, we probably wouldn't. But the coverage has dropped off the map.

In terms of how many Congressional hearings we'll cover a month, I didn't make a promise -- and Congress can sometimes be out of session for nearly a month. On a regular month, I would hope to include at least six to eight hearings that I attended but note that I attend some hearings that don't apply here and that I attend some hearings that we don't have room for. I felt Wednesday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing was so important that it needed to pretty much be the entire snapshot. That's a call I made. And there is very little coverage in newspapers and on TV of hearings so I can justify it (to myself) that way.

Back to Joe Wilson, a drive-by insists that I included his remarks because I was attempting to rehabilitate his reputation. US House Rep Wilson is not someone I agree with politically on many issues but he is also not the caricature the media painted him to be. Though it is not my goal to rehabilitate his reputation (nor do I think it needs that -- his constituents know and like him), if it appeared to do that or even did that for one person, good. He was caricatured by the media and he is a hard working member of Congress who actually cares about many issues. There are people I can't stand in the Congress. Joe Wilson is far from being on that list. He's a Republican, I'm a Democrat, we disagree on many issues. But he's not the caricature the media made him into.

What was the point of Wilson and Chair Susan Davis' exchange being included? US House Rep and Dr. Vic Synder has a good exchange. But I felt that Davis and Wilson's comments laid groundwork for future issues -- meaning, I think the answers provided (or sort of provided in the case of Carr) are ones that should have been heard and that will be touched on again.

Lastly, what about the rest? Most of the time, if I attend a hearing Wally, Ava and Kat do as well. They're under no obligation to write about it. There are times when a hearing is so long and/or has so many issues that Kat will say, "I'll grab some of it." And there are times when it's so long and/or has so many issues that Wally and Ava will as well. That's great but you shouldn't expect it of them. They're doing a hundred things every week as it is. It should also be noted that we do frequently attempt to write up a piece at Third on the hearings. Sometimes it works (and makes it up there), sometimes it doesn't (and doesn't get published) and sometimes we just don't have the time. But the four of us are on the road speakign to various groups about the Iraq War. The idea that they're then going to blog at night in depth about a hearing? That's asking a bit much.

That covers as many e-mails to the public account as I can this morning. The e-mail address for this site is


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