Saturday, March 24, 2012

The National Alliance calls for the national conference to take place

Friday, a prison break in Kirkuk saw 19 prisoners on the loose. Today brings news of arrests -- of 22 arrests. 19 break free and 22 are arrested? No. None of the prisoners have been arrested. Reuters explains the 22 arrests are of police officers and guards with the prison who are being blamed for the escape (the prisoners took of "the ventilator in a bathroom and us[ed] blankets to escape through the opening"). AFP adds, "The prisoners were alleged Al Qaeda insurgents and fighters belonging to Ansar al Sunna, a Salafist group that has claimed several attacks against US and Iraqi security forces" and quotes Jamal Taher Bakr, Kirkuk Provincial Police Chief, stating that the police continue to search for the (still missing) 19 prisoners.

Terrorist is the catch-all used repeatedly and that, in ten years, the region will object to because it will have such a bad image. At that point, governments will complain about the term forgetting how quick they themselves were to repeatedly use it. Continuing that thought, Today's Zaman reported yesterday, "As Turkey paid its final respects to five special ops police officers who were killed in clashes with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Şırnak on Wednesday, security units killed 13 PKK terrorists and lost one of their own in the third day of clashes with the PKK in a forest bordering Bitlis and Siirt on Friday." The PKK is a group that fights for a Kurdish homeland. Their problems with Turkey are rooted in a century of oppression by the government and the promise of concessions in the last decade that did not come to pass. Kurds in Turkey continue to suffer. End the discrimination, you end the reason for the PKK to exist. Continue the discrimination and expect more reports like this one late today, "Turkish security forces have killed 15 female Kurdish militants in an operation in the south-east province of Bitlis, close to the border with Iraq." AP covers the death of the 15 women here. Mumtazer Turkone (Sunday's Zaman) has a very interesting column which opens:

The language of violence is a complicated language. To convince people, to bring people to an end it is normal to use a complicated language.
Because of this it is not correct to logically construe the given messages. Because most of the time the words that are being said are being used like a weapon to obtain an end. The government’s language that fights terror creates this complicated language’s symmetry as natural.

Northern Iraq borders Turkey. Jacques N. Couvas (IPS) covers Turkey from a variety of angles and we'll note the Iraq section of the analysis:

Turkey has become an indispensable ally for the United States, in part because of uncertainty over Iraq’s future following the departure of U.S. troops in December.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta held talks in Ankara the day after the troops’ withdrawal ceremony. A few weeks earlier, American drones stationed in Iraq had been transferred to the U.S. base at Incirlik, in southern Turkey.
"I suppose many more Turkey-based drones will be flying over Iraq in order to continue monitoring things," says Soli Ozel, a professor at Kadir Has University and expert on the Middle East.
In December, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said Washington had proposed to Turkey to take over the influential role of training Iraqi military personnel, after the U.S. pullout.
"We will be considering it," confirmed Unal.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also held meetings with Gul and Erdogan in December, and on March 13, CIA chief David Petraeus a last minute stop here to meet the PM and the director of the Turkish National Security Agency (MIT).
Similar activity by American high-ranking defence and intelligence officers had been observed last spring.

Al Rafidayn notes today that the PKK has issued a warning to the Turkish government stating that Turkey should not interfere in Syria. Kirmanj Gundi (Kurdish Aspect) offers an analysis of the longterm Kurdish struggle and we'll note this section on the US dealings with the Kurds:

Perhaps the most heartbreaking attempt for Kurdish freedom occurred in the Aylool Revolution, which started in September 1961 under the leadership of General Mustafa Barzanî and lasted until 1975. In 1975, an international conspiracy through the mediation of Henry Kissinger, the then Secretary of State took place in Algiers and is known in the Kurdish history as the “Algiers Agreement.” In reality, it should be known as “the Algiers Betrayal.” A few years before, in 1972, American administration had convinced the Kurdish leadership that America would assist them to achieve autonomy within the Iraqi state. However, three years later in Algiers, America breached its “honor” and betrayed the Kurds. In the agreement, Henry Kissinger, “the Master of Treachery,” brought the two adversaries, Iraq and Iran, to the negotiating table, and agreed to stop providing aid and pursuing the goal of Kurdish autonomy.
General Barzanî sent a desperate plea to Kissinger and asked him for the US aid. He stated, “Our movement and people are being destroyed in an unbelievable way with silence from everyone. We feel, Your Excellency, that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people, who have committed themselves to your country’s policy. Mr. Secretary, we are anxiously awaiting your quick response.” Again, Barzani’s plea was ignored by the US officials, and no one replied. Additionally, Kissinger turned down repeated Kurdish requests for humanitarian aid for their thousands of refugees.
The American betrayal brought human catastrophe to the people of Kurdistan. The Kurdish Leadership under General Barzanî had put all its trust in America at the time and was looking up to America to shed the light of her democratic principles on the Kurds in the larger Middle East. Nonetheless, when Kissinger testified before the US Congress, he was asked about the sudden change in the US policy regarding the Kurdish abandonment, he callously replied “One should not confuse the business intelligence with missionary work.” Subsequently, in an Op Ed piece he wrote for the New York Times, Kissinger criticized American leaders that they were no longer giving Iraq “the attention it deserved.”
This duplicity and heartless act of American officials might never have surfaced if it were not for an investigation in 1975 by the U.S. Congress Select Committee on Intelligence, which was chaired by New York Democrat, Congressman Otis Pike. In his investigation, Congressman Pike concluded that neither Tehran nor Washington wanted the Kurds to prevail. He further concluded that the Kurds were never more than “a card to play.” A useful tool, which the US used to weaken Iraq’s “potential for international adventurism.” The Pike Committee also reported that “The Kurds were encouraged [deceived] to fight solely in order to undermine Iraq.” After the abandonment of the Kurds by the US, Barzanî revealed his view to the media outlets and said “We did not trust Shah of Iran, but we trusted America.” General Barzanî believed that America was “too great a power to betray a small people like the Kurds.”

In Iraq today, Al Mada reports that Kurdish MP Chuan Mohammed Taha has declared that the Dawa Party (of which Nouri al-Maliki is the leader) is in danger of isolating itself from the Iraqi political scene as it pursues actions that are autocratic. Iraq has an ongoing political crisis. Nouri's ignored it and insisted it can't be addressed (via a national conference) until after the Arab Summit. Prior to the Arab Summit, he stalled with a variety of other tricks. Iraqiya is talking of raising the political crisis at the Arab Summit. Xinhua reports that Nouri is now stating that the preparations committee will meet (again and again and again) in April. The issue that caused this political crisis? Nouri's refusal to abide by the Erbil Agreement. Xinhua explains:

Iraqi political blocs frequently accused Maliki of evading his commitments in implementing the terms of power-sharing deal that he earlier signed.
The deal, which also known as Arbil agreement, was brokered in November 2010 in Kurdistan region in northern of the country. It paved the way for forming Maliki's current government after the Iraqi political rivals ended their differences that lasted eight months following the parliamentary elections on March 7, 2011.

There been over five prep meetings already. Al Mada notes that the National Alliance issued a statement Saturday declaring that the process needs to be accelerated and that the national conference needs to take place soon. The statement notes that the alliance met on Thursday and Friday with Ibrahim al-Jaafari chairing the meeting and they feel Iraq is at risk while this issue remains unaddressed.

Last Saturday, the news was that a group once affiliated with Moqtada al-Sadr had released an American. Dar Addustour reports that the Promise Day Brigade insists that the American was a military corporal and not a contractor or private citizen. And in violence, Xinhua notes that 4 Iraqi soldiers and 1 police officer were killed in Baghdad Thursday in a Baghdad roadside bombing and that today a Falluja roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured, a Falluja home bombing targeted Awakening leader Shiekh Khaldoun Eliwi's home and which injured three members of his family and an armed assault in Baladrouz left 1 police officer shot dead outside his home.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Carole's back catalogue" went up earlier this evening. She has another music piece that will go up Sunday morning.

The e-mail address for this site is

 Under Attack (Tim King)

This is a repost from where Tim King and many others do great work. Under Attack Over Articles Revealing Suspected Illegal Nuclear Weapon Use

Tim King

Individual makes numerous false claims and they are landing everywhere; this article offers clarity about our reports.

Not actual image of Roger Helbig
Not an actual image of Roger Helbig
Special thanks:

(SALEM) - It has come to our attention that an individual by the name of Roger Helbig, has been going to great effort to damage our reputation over reports referencing the possible use of illegal weapons-grade nuclear arms in both Fallujah, Iraq and Gaza, Palestine.

First, the two reports are reviews of investigations conducted by a respected, if somewhat controversial British scientist named Christopher Busby. Those of us in the world of journalism who report the findings of groundbreaking professionals like Dr. Busby, can be equally controversial, but that does not mean we are inaccurate, nor does it open us up to being fodder for vicious attacks, with ridiculous and damaging claims that are patently untrue. The sad truth and the bottom line, is that reports of this nature are harmful only to political and business interests that are involved in military activity that is illegal under international law.

These are the two reports:

Mar-14-2012: Victims of Israeli Attacks in Gaza Contaminated with Uranium - Tim King

Nov-04-2011: Birth Defects Reveal Weapons-Grade Enriched Uranium Used in Fallujah, Iraq - Tim King

There are good reasons for being curious over the well established possibility that some type of illegal, undisclosed nuclear device was used in Fallujah, Iraq. The rate of birth defects has literally skyrocketed since the U.S. operation there in 2003, and that in itself is a tragic, long story that I am personally connected to. There are established international laws and specific treaties that regulate the use of nuclear devices. If these laws and regulations were violated, it is up to the media to bring it forward. Nobody else is going to do it.

My Documentation of Congenital Heart Defects Near Fallujah

For me, the story about this problem begins when I was embedded as a reporter at the al Asad Marine air base in Iraq in the summer of 2008. I had the rare chance to shoot and produce a report about a U.S. Navy doctor who was working with Israeli, U.S. and Jordanian officials, to transport Iraqi kids out of the country, for badly-needed surgeries to repair congenital heart defects, in order to survive, literally.

I don't know for sure that these beautiful little kids lucky enough to have the attention of this incredible Navy Corpsman Doctor attached to the U.S. Marines, were victims of this bizarre radiation contamination that has been documented by Dr. Busby in Fallujah, but it seems distinctly possible as Fallujah and al Asad are less than an hour's drive apart, both in al Anbar province, and all three of the families I worked with had to travel to get to al Asad, they did not live in the local area.

Regardless of whether these kids are from Fallujah, which again I suspect they are, I have included this video because it documents the congenital heart defects that are affecting the children born in Iraq since 2003. This report, Marine Corps, Jordan and Israel Offer Hope for Iraqi Child Heart Patients, was filed on 21 September 2008, five years after the birth defects began surfacing, the age of the kids in this report corresponds with that timeframe.

First Fallujah Report

Though I covered this story in 2008, I would not understand for more than two years, how it all potentially tied together. We first explored the actual issue of birth defects and heart problems in Fallujah kids, in January 2011, after was contacted by a group of doctors from both Fallujah, and Genoa, Italy, who evaluated the birth defect increase and several other criteria. The article, Four Polygamous Families with Congenital Birth Defects from Fallujah, Iraq, truly opened our eyes to the notion that something was specifically different in Fallujah.

Images from Fallujah, babies born 2003 and later.

The article begins by stating...

    Since 2003, congenital malformations have increased to account for 15% of all births in Fallujah, Iraq. Congenital heart defects have the highest incidence, followed by neural tube defects. Similar birth defects were reported in other populations exposed to war contaminants.

I try to imagine what it would be like to learn that 15% of all newborns at my local hospital were being born with defects and deformations, and I really can't. People would be up in arms. In Iraq of course, many do not survive, all are certainly not even documented. The extensive review of this problem, authored by several doctors who are listed with the article, ends by stating:

    We conclude that the high prevalence of birth defects in Fallujah is impairing the population’s health and its capacity to care for the surviving children. These defects could be due to environmental contaminants which are known components of modern weaponry. Investigations of metal contaminants, and elucidation of the types and body burden of metals, combined with simultaneous registry of the population’s reproductive history, will allow the identification of families at high risk and will facilitate therapeutic measures to remediate the damages.

The highway from Kuwait to Iraq is still littered with the remnants
of Iraqi forces. photo by Tim King, summer 2008.

Depleted Uranium

Before dismissing the possibility that an undisclosed nuclear device was used in Iraq, consider that a serious problem already exists with the controversial use of rounds with depleted uranium (DU), which is only one step down from a nuclear bomb as the rounds are radioactive.

There is little doubt; whether it is intentional or not, that both Iraq and Kuwait, were used as a live human testing ground for 'dirty weapons'. The image to the right is the 'Highway of Death' that many Americans likely remember columns of Iraqi troops traveling back to their country on, as planes annihilated, or perhaps exterminated them. with the DU rounds. Today soldiers and Marines passing this place in military buses have lead curtains blocking them from radiation.

On 21 March 2011, we published the article Recalling the Battle: History Repeats Itself on the 8th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq by Jeff Archer, that relays a damning first-hand account, underscoring the use of DU
weapons by the U.S. government; it has been a nightmare for Iraqi people since the 1991 U.S. war, remembered for the ensuing slaughter of defenseless, retreating Iraqi soldiers.

The sacrifice in this war came in reverse. More Americans were killed in accidents than combat in this Desert Storm, however inexplicable diseases have haunted these veterans in the years following.

A truck in Iraq extremely damaged in combat- very likely
DU contaminated. photo by Tim King.

Archer wrote:

    In the buildup to Desert Storm, no one seemed concerned about U.S. nuclear weapons. Many were shocked to learn that the U.S. used radioactive projectiles, made from spent uranium, against the Iraqis. When Desert Storm ended, several hundred tons of spent uranium were sitting in the desert in Kuwait and southern Iraq. Late in 1991, the British Atomic Energy Authority issued a secret report on the use of spent uranium in Desert Storm.
    According to the document, uranium was used in tens of thousands of armor-piercing rounds fired at Iraqi vehicles by U.S. aircraft and U.S. and British tanks. According to Lt. Colonel Vincent Macchi, a combat commander in Desert Storm, “Every attack aircraft in the air and on the ground carried them.”
    The Atomic Energy Authority went on to say that there was enough uranium in the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq to potentially cause 500,000 deaths. It added that the sheer volume of uranium did indicate a significant problem.

With regard to the 1991 war; there was never any need for western forces to spend billions of dollars sending a massive coalition to the Middle east, only to defeat Iraqi forces, which had long been loyal to the U.S. as an ally. The forces of Osama bin Laden were in Saudi Arabia; a key ally of Kuwait, known for religious Wahhabi fundamental Islam. They had freshly returned from defeating the Soviets as part of the Mujaheddin in the Afghan Civil War between 1979 and 1989, bin Laden was incensed with his own government for not allowing his veteran fighters to take care of business. This is the beginning of the man's hatred for the U.S. Remember also, that the same Iraqi forces had just a few years earlier, attacked Iran in a bloody war covertly funded (hardly) by the U.S. government. It was revenge for the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

Landing at Baghdad Airport 2008 photo by Tim King

Baghdad Airport - 2003

Later in the article, Archer discusses a very controversial hot point in what may have been far more of a dirty war than we have been told. An army officer involved in the battle for the Baghdad Airport in 2003, says the U.S. government used a neutron bomb to kill Iraqi forces in underground tunnels. A neutron bomb kills people but its signature is small in comparison to the atom bomb or other devices. Finally, the neutron bomb does not destroy property. It contaminates the area where it is deployed, but buildings remain standing.

    In July 2006, an article written by Captain Eric May, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. Army, published by the Lone Star Iconoclast, alleged that the Battle of Baghdad, which began at Saddam International Airport, was far more devastating to the U.S. forces. This was no conspiracy theorist looking for publicity. Additionally, he held knowledge that few writers about Iraq have: keen expertise in the areas of military tactics and U.S. military intelligence.
    Captain May made another allegation that was not mentioned in the mainstream press. He thought that the outnumbered U.S. military used a neutron bomb at the airport to stop the Iraqi troops.
    Captain May entered the U.S. Army in 1977 and served for 14 years. He eventually received advance intelligence education and he spent years in deciphering messages, mainly from the former Soviet Union.

I know some Americans are repulsed by the idea that their country may have committed this act, or more accurately, series of alleged acts, but if the information is true, then it is probably also true that Israel is now following suit and using the weapons on the civilian population of Gaza. If this is not cause for alarm, nothing in this world is.

Iraqi forces load in HUMVEE's at Baghdad Airport. Photo by Tim King

Jeff Archer interviewed Captain Eric May in the same article, who said:

    The most extreme thing I picked up is that the Battle of Baghdad was started at the airport with the U.S. forces being overwhelmed. It wound up being a six-hour firefight at close quarters and my surmise is that our side was running out of ammo and somebody decided to go nuclear. That seems to be universally acknowledged by everybody on all sides, except the American.
    Evidently, what happened was the U.S. G.I.s buttoned up inside their armor, which cuts down the transmission of radiation, and some sort of nuclear devices were used at Baghdad Airport. Since then, American battle doctrine has been revised to allow commanders to do exactly the kind of things that I’m inferring from my sources that were done at Baghdad Airport. In other words, they retroactively retrofitted the doctrine.
    The nuclear threshold is a very fuzzy thing in this war anyway. We already went over using D.U. (depleted uranium). That already, arguably, makes it a nuclear war. Of course, you see why Battle of Baghdad One had to be covered up. How the hell do you go into a war where you say you’re going to remove an evil madman because he has weapons of mass destruction and you bring them with you?

If this happened in Baghdad, there is no reason to suspect it did not also happen at Fallujah. If it happened there, then it likely is being used in Israeli attacks on Palestine, as Dr. Busby's published research indicates. We are critical of Israel in many reports and frequently illustrate for our readers, the latest war crimes Israel commits against civilian targets in the Gaza Strip. Of course you know what happens when media dares to criticize Israel's politics.

Nazi Allegations?

Nazi Allegations?

It isn't enough that this man Roger Helbig, on his slander and libel mission, suggests we are peddling bogus information about the illegal use of undisclosed nuclear weapons; he also goes off in a different direction with another paragraph of an email sent to God only knows how many people, suggesting we are Nazi's because we carry news from groups that stand for the battered population of Palestine.

Artwork by Carlos Latuff, friend of
in Rio de Janeiro. To see more of his work, visit: Latuff Gallery

This is part of what Helbig has sent to one of our associates: it fairly mirrors what I am hearing from others about similar contact from the same source:

Why do you have a link to this site? Are you a group of Neo Nazis? This article is completely bogus. Christopher Busby has long had connections with certain Iraqis and probably Hamas or Hezbollah as well. He has been lying about depleted uranium for years. Tim King does not care. If he is not a Neo Nazi, he certainly likes to associate with them.

First of all, I don't know who Dr. Busby or other people named in this attack, may or may not have association with. However I can tell you that regularly carries reports from Ezzedeen AL-Qassam Brigades - Palestine, the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, of course; that is the only possible way to learn what is taking place in Gaza as Israel continually illegally attacks that population with weapons manufactured and paid for by the U.S. government like drones and F-16's. Hamas news is far more honest than the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) press releases, which we also receive regularly and sometimes use, at least in part. It's hard sometimes because we also have reporters in Gaza, and we often can't use IDF news because we know they are not credible. We have covered a lot of news about this part of the world; thousands of stories over the years.

We never mince any words about this and we consistently work with Israeli peace groups and carry Israeli writers and articles from Ha'aretz and other Israeli media. Do we support Israeli war crimes and apartheid, 'Jewish only' roads and separate laws for Jews and non-Jews? No, we vehemently oppose these things because they are purely racist policies that Israel has maintained and increased for more than sixty years. We regularly carry reports about similar Genocidal apartheid governments like Sri Lanka, constantly in fact, and we expose ethnic cleansing, war crimes and human rights violations everywhere in the world. We do not apologize for our criticism of utterly immoral warlike behavior nor do we care at all what religion the various players are, or are not.

We also share material with Al Manar, which is the Hezbollah news agency out of Beirut, Lebanon, you bet; Dr. Franklin Lamb, international attorney originally from Salem, Oregon, and I both also write for Al Manar. My articles examine things from the U.S. perspective, while Franklin moves between Beirut and other key areas in the Middle east constantly filing new articles that rarely resemble the filtered western media reports on CNN and Fox, etc.

We devote a lot of time and attention to this part of the world and our material is fresh, honest and specifically does not benefit the military/industrial/complex which has pushed the earth to the edges of existence in many ways. Al Manar considers the plight of the Palestinian refugees living in miserable camps, always subject to violence from both Israel and Lebanon's Christian political arms.

And to accuse our group of being Nazi? I have to wonder if any individual who would suggest that, when we are down in the dirt racism fighters, is even stable, or of course, perhaps, working for the nuclear industry. Just today I published an article about how our writer Dr. Phil Leveque, captured 26 Nazi officers almost single-handed during WWII. One of our biggest ongoing local stories involves Civil Rights violations of African-American guards and prison inmates in the Oregon prison system.

I have news for Roger Helbig: you're going to pay for your damages, and so will anyone else who undertakes this type of attack on our honest, legitimate efforts to educate the public. You can not attack a brave news group that has every right to publish anything we want to publish, as long as it is true, by trying to undermine our business foundation, contacting our advertisers and claiming we are Nazi's. We on the other hand, see that you don't even hesitate to state outright and clearly, that you are trying to affect our livelihood; that is a serious thing to have written friend.

One agency we know of that this individual wrote to, provided a distinguished journalism award last year. After this group set him straight, he sent this message to them:

    I am glad that the clubs are not Neo Nazi and am sorry I even implied that they might. Thank you, for writing. King is not possible to deal with so I am looking to hit him where it hurts in his pocketbook. I really doubt that his advertisers, etc. want to support someone who agrees with these people. Douglas Lind Rokke spoke here and the master of ceremonies David von Kleist produced Rokke's first video "Beyond Treason", King has posted articles from Bob Nichols, Rokke's mouthpiece Neo Nazi American...

This defaming individual uses and then retracts his insult, 'Nazi' - to describe people who are associated with anti-nuclear, anti-war, pro-government accountability journalists, activists, writers and film producers. 'Beyond Treason' is a film that exposes the morally bankrupt businesses like 'Monsanto' that brought Americans and Vietnamese this lasting gift called 'Agent Orange'. The same company behind genetically modified food (GMO) which is a public hazard in the opinion of a growing number of experts.

Here is the description for 'Beyond Treason':

    It reveals a history of profiteering by chemical companies such as Monsanto Company who used war as an occasion to sell their latest products, such as Agent Orange. The film gives details of US government testing of chemicals on its own citizens such as Operation Whitecoat and MKUltra. The film makes a compelling case that this policy is responsible for Gulf War syndrome, still referred to by the US military as a 'mystery illness'. The film suggests that the symptoms have a range of causes including cost cutting on safety equipment by military contractors, exposure to depleted uranium (DU) munitions or other unlicensed chemicals as well as intentional experimentation on American soldiers by the US military.
    - Beyond Treason - Wikipedia

Roger Helbig needs to get it through his head that being critical of dangerous U.S. military and business practices and Israeli war crimes and the possible undocumented use of nuclear arms, does not make one a 'Nazi' and he should read the 14 April 2010 article, Israel's Declining Sperm Quality Tied to Depleted Uranium Exposure, which will make him very unhappy, as the information comes 100% from Israeli doctors and the research initially was published in Israel, not that he won't likely find a way to call them Nazi's too.

False Claims Regarding Fukushima

Helbig implies that the dignified scientist Dr Chris Busby, has been "scamming the frightened mothers of Fukushima" which is a spurious lie.

I can easily back this up.

In fact not a single thing could be less true; there are absolutely no reported 'scams' and anyone who pays a slight amount of attention can see that Dr. Busby has been a scientist for a long time.

Nothing could be worse, or more dire, about the situation Fukushima parents are facing, than this video that shows parents meeting with officials from Tokyo who refuse to provide answers, or take urine samples of young children from the parents, and are then literally chased to the elevator and out of the building by very angry people.

This video incidentally, was sent to our newsroom by families in Japan who specifically created it with English subtitles so a U.S. audience could perhaps begin to comprehend the tragedy they are living with.

It is a fact that the government of Japan has abandoned the families of the Fukushima prefecture and there are fewer stories in existence that are sadder about the Japanese government, the same that turned its back in years past on Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors.

The Tokyo government has refused to conduct testing of children and the parents are infuriated by this. Dr. Busby was involved in trying to find answers; anything to help the families abandoned by their government to certain radiation contamination. Isotopes affect children differently, Japan is guilty of severely undeserving its populace, and that is putting it very lightly.

The only mothers in Fukushima who aren't frightened, are those who are already dead. This is the fault of an extremely hazardous nuclear energy plant and a tsunami that caused it to melt down, not Dr. Busby's.

Now, in case there are any questions left, and I suspect there are not, except maybe how much I intend to sue Mr. Helbig for... I thought it was proper to include not all, but some of Dr. Busby's background:

Dr. Christopher Busby Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Dr. Christopher Busby

  • In 1999 Busby stood as an Election Candidate for the European Parliamentary elections.
  • Busby was a member of the British government sponsored Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE), which operated from 2001 to 2004.
  • In 2001 he was appointed to the UK Ministry of Defence Oversight Committee on Depleted Uranium (DUOB).
  • In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Liverpool, in the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology.
  • In 2004 he was named Leader of Science Policy for (EU) Policy Information Network for Child Health and Environment PINCHE based in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
  • Busby is a visiting professor at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster researching the toxicity of heavy metals to the human body. In 2008 he was a visiting researcher at the German Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Julius Kuhn Institute.

According to his CERRIE biography:

  • As member of the International Society for Environment Epidemiology, he was invited to Iraq and Kosovo to investigate the health effects of depleted uranium in weapons used by allied forces on populations. He has also given presentations on depleted uranium to the Royal Society and to the European Parliament. He was a member of the UK Ministry of Defence Oversight Board on Depleted Uranium.
  • Busby was the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks, an informal committee based in Brussels, which produced a report for CERRIE.

Anyone who would like to let Roger Helbig know how you feel about him, is welcome to drop him a line, at

And then I Googled this guy and lo and behold, he is no stranger to this behavior, check this simple search, the results refer to his being a retired Air Force Lt. Col. who likes to bully people: Google search results for 'Roger Helbig'

Other articles referencing Dr. Chris Busby on

Mar-14-2012: Fukushima Radiation Spreads Worldwide - George Washington Special to

Aug-29-2011: Japan is Venting Radiation High Into Atmosphere - Jack Nounan for

Aug-16-2011: Nuclear Nightmare in Fukushima, Japan Much Worse than Revealed -

And finally, if you care about our efforts, particularly in light of this development, please help us by sending a donation, we seriously need it as ad revenue is very limited, and we aren't doing this to make money. Your support allows our attention to remain with content which is vital. There is a PayPal logo at the top of Please help us fight the good fight.

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Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.

Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.

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The costly Arab Summit underwhelms Iraqis

At the start of the Iraq War, the United Nations estimated there were 34,000 Palestinian refugees in the country. The Thabet organization has issued a press release stating that the 7,000 Palestinian refugees still "in Iraq are the target of killing, displacement, and systematic detention." It is asking for the Arab Summit League (the summit is scheduled to take place in Baghdad next week) to address the issue. It is among several issues that Nouri al-Maliki would prefer to keep off the agenda. KUNA notes, "The Arab Laywers Union (ALU), a non-government confederation of the bar associations of the Arab countries, on Saturday urged the upcoming Arab Summit to confront the dangers of fragmenting the Arab nation."

Ramad al-Fatash (DPA) reports Nouri declared today that 9 countries have confirmed their participation in the summit. He refused to list them but he did insist on Iraqi television, "More presidents and kings continue to say they will come to Baghdad." AFP notes that Iraq has now spent (in US dollars) $450 million on the summit. Al Mada observes that Baghdad hosted the summit in 1978 and in 1990 but that didn't prepare for today where already the streets are full of security forces and the people are barely present, giving it the appearance of a ghost town. Al Rafidayn explains the summit means the Iraqi theatre will be closed, TV shows wills top filming, that the Iraq stock market will shut down (Sunday through Wednesday), that cultural meeting places in Baghdad will be vacant, that the Iraqi Federation of Football has had to postpone games, that printing press will be closed -- making newspapers near impossible and that the media will have a very hard time covering the summit and that the Iraqi people will have an even harder time finding Iraqi coverage of the summit. Already noted this week was that the security measures in Baghdad was making travel throughout the city cumbersome and lengthy and that this had led to an increase on produce and goods sold in the local markets. The prices only continued to increase as the goods continued selling despite the high prices. Dar Addustour notes that the goods sold better than usual due to people attempting to stock up ahead of the summit when mobility will be even more limited. All of which may explain Al Mada encountering a lack of enthusiasm (at best) and hostility (at worst) from Iraqis when they try to gauge reaction to the planned summit. The people feel it is a show for the leaders and may allow certain countries to get certain things but that it will mean little for Iraq and that it means even less to their own lives.

That may also be a reaction to the large amounts of money spent on the summit at a time when Iraq still lacks potable water in most areas, still suffers from high unemployment, etc. A large portion of the money spent has gone to 'beautifucation' in a way that might please the late Lady Bird Johnson but possibly few others. Lara Jakes (AP) explains, "As it prepares for the estimated $400 million pageant, downtown Baghdad looks little like the battle-ravaged capital it has been for years. Freshly planted flowers adorn squares and parks across the capital. Roads have been repaved, trash swept up, buildings repaired and painted, and brightly colored lights drape trees and streets."

Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri told reporters yesterday that all the logistic and security planning for the summit had been completed. Al Sabaah notes that today he was scheduled to meet with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to provide them with a reporting of what is planned and what precautions have been taken.

It'll be interesting to see the response to Nouri's order that no Iraqi politician attends without his permission -- not even the leader of political blocs. Al Mada reports that Nouri's people have made a list of 70 Iraqi politicians whom they've invited to attend and that they are the only ones. Otherwise, there are standing orders for Iraqi forces to prevent any politician in the Green Zone from attempting to enter the summit -- this order apparently allows for shooting. Jalal Talabani is a leader of a Kurdish political party -- and some see him as a leader of Kurds, at least in Baghdad -- but, as president, he is supposed to preside over the summit so presumably his name doesn't need to be on the list. Political opponents of Nouri's state that he's attempting to monopolize both the summit and the guests who will be attending.

The following community sites -- plus the Guardian, Jane Fonda, the ACLU and Indybay Media, -- updated last night and today:

Our focus is Iraq, we're not covering the recent tragedy in Afghanistan. But Michael Jansen is a reporter we've often noted for Iraqi coverage (usually with the outlet the Irish Times) so we will note Jansen's "Opposite sides of same coin" on the massacre. Kat's "Kat's Korner: Carole's back catalogue" went up earlier this evening. She has another music piece that will go up Sunday morning.

The e-mail address for this site is

Kat's Korner: Carole's back catalogue

Kat: Sometimes I just hate Motown. That's what I'm thinking Wednesday night as I'm zooming through Amazon's MP3s. See I bought the Diana Ross and the Supremes boxed set years ago when it came out. It had three discs. Plus a bonus disc. The bonus disc was live tracks. And it was quickly stolen from my place during a party in 2001. So I spent forever on the auction sites until I found it on Ebay and spent twice what the boxed set had cost. Why not just by a new boxed set? At that point, Motown was only selling the set without the bonus disc. Motown's always screwed up and that's why artists like Diana Ross should have sold more than they have.

For example, I see that you can now buy an MP3 album containing every Supremes album of the 1970s. That's after Diana left. You can buy all of those albums -- that most people avoided in real time -- and avoided for good reason -- but you can't buy all the Supremes albums from when Diana fronted the group and made it an international music sensation. In what world does Motown's 'logic' make sense? Isn't that a bit like collecting all the 10,000 Maniacs recordings after Natalie Merchant leaves?

I think we all know that Motown needs to release Farewell. That's a live album, the last by the Supremes with Diana. It's their farewell performance in Las Vegas, January 14, 1970. Let me explain how awful Motown is. The kiddies may not remember it but by 1984, CD sales were on the rise. By 1986, the shit was pronounced (from cassette to CDs). There were magazines published listing various groups and the CDs that they had. It was a CD boom. Anything you could put out by a name artist had a chance of selling. And Motown's biggest name artists should have been doing great. But Motown execs didn't seem to know who Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye were.

Which is how Farewell comes to be released on CD (under a new title, Captured Live On Stage) in 1992. That's not only after the CD boom where consumers were switching formats and grabbing back catalogue for their collections, but a year after grunge hits. Again, Motown doesn't have a damn clue. (But Motown hasn't been Motown since Berry Gordy sold it in 1988.) A sure seller that also needs to be released is Diana Ross & the Supremes Sing and Perform Funny Girl, and, again, it's a sign of stupidity that this album isn't on the market. Not only does it contain some of Diana's finest performances, it would be purchased by Diana fans, by Supremes fans, by Funny Girl fans, etc.

I could go on and on -- and did, talking to the computer -- but I ended up flipping through other favorite artists and that's how I learned Carole King had just released (Feb. 28th) Welcome Home as an MP3 album. The 1978 ten-song album is currently $9.49 at Amazon. (She's also released it on CD -- first time in the US -- $8.11 at Amazon.)


The late seventies weren't a great time for Carole or for Carole fans. 1976's "Only Love Is Real" was the last minute of greatness for Carole on Ode Records and then she switched to Capitol. Her Capitol debut, 1977's Simple Things, went gold and that was strictly on her name because that is an awful album. 1978's Welcome Home might have also gone gold but 1978 is also the year Ode elected to release Her Greatest Hits: Songs of Long Ago. It was the first Carole compilation and it sold like crazy. Not like Tapestry, but like crazy. It did not lead people to also pick up Welcome Home.

"Main Street Saturday Night" not only kicks off Welcome Home but also got a little AOR airplay when the album was released. It's awful. A year before, Simple Things' "Hard Rock Cafe" had made it to number thirty despite being an awful song and maybe Carole thought a sound-alike track could do the same feat? Welcome Home's single proper was "Morning Sun." So she was courting audiences on the one hand with pedestrian rock and on the other with country. If you picked up the album in the stores, you saw "Disco Tech" kicked off side two and you got the point quickly: Carole didn't know who she was.

And that worked for her on 1973's Fantasy when she explored various identities. But there was no unifying theme to the album unless it was tracks that sounded as if they'd been spit-shined and assembly-lined as they prepared to be shipped too Genericville. The playing was too clean.

Most didn't bother to listen (the album made it to 104 on the Top 200). Those who did were treated to two new Carole classics. "Changes" is Carole in the sort of simple vocal she'd use again for "One Small Voice" (1983's Speeding Time) with a simple arrangement, singing about something universal, "In my limited vision, I don't understand, why anybody, has to lose a friend . . ." By contrast, "Venusian Diamond" was pure song craft, a writing exercise, and a successful one, that sounded (as it was intended to) like the Beatles circa 1967 and 1968.

If you're a collector, you'll want to download the album immediately (I did). If you're not but you are a Carole fan, I'd suggest you purchase "Changes" and "Venusian Diamond" for 99 cents a piece and then decide if you're willing to take the plunge.

And Carole fans should take note, April 10th, Carole's A Natural Woman: a Memoir is released. Yes, the notoriously press-shy Carole has written her own story and she's found a voice as natural as the one world fell in love with when Tapestry was released.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 23, 2012. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Human Rights Watch calls for an investigation into whether or not someone was tortured to death, security sources say the targeting of Emo youths in Iraq is back on after the Arab Summit and that this time the ones targeted will be Iraqi girls and young women, even with the GAO pointing to problems the Pentagon denies there are any, and more.
There is a success story in Iraq. You'd think the White House desperate for someone to paint the illegal war as a success would have seized upon it but, even though Jane Arraf reported on it for Al Jazeera last weekend, the White House and other Operation Happy Talkers somehow missed it. This is a transcript to Arraf's video report:
Jane Arraf: It's a small step pronouncing a word but for parents and children, it speaks volumes. Without this institute, some of these children wouldn't even be making eye contact. Eleven years ago, there were no schools for autistic children, so one of the parents started her own. Nibras Sadoun was doing field research in special education when she adopted an autistic child rejected by his mother.
Nibras Sadoun: There are a lot of obstacles in the country and there were huge needs as well. So we tried to pull together the efforts of the founders, specialists and parents to establish a solid base that can serve this segment of society.
Jane Arraf: The Al Rahman Institute, named after her son, has since grown into six centers around the country -- all without Iraqi government funding. The latest just opened in Baghdad. Iraq's education ministry doesn't have any programs for autistic children. It considers them slow learners. Here in the middle of Baghdad, this is a safe place for children, a refuge. But there are only a few dozen children who have been lucky enough to come here and hundreds on the waiting list. Autism is so widely misunderstood here that a lot of children like this spend their entire lives locked up at home. Mariam has been here for a year. She's five-and-a-half but, before she came, she couldn't say "Mama" or ask for water. Her father says her progress is basic. But having somewhere to bring her during the day is a lifesaver.
Nizer Mustapha Hussein:She's a very active child and she plays with everything. Thank God, we found this place. Her mother can't cope with her at home because she can't control her.
Jane Arraf: The children have varying degrees of autism, a lot have other neurolgical or developmental problems as well. Autistic children have trouble communicating or interacting with others. At school, they teach them basic skills. Their biggest problem is lack of qualified staff. Dealing with autistic children takes training and dedication and the determination to find a place for children who don't easily fit in the world around them.
A small number of autistic children and their families can say their lives have improved. Of course, this improvement did not result from any US military project or US State Dept project and didn't result from Prime Minister and All Around Thug Nouri al-Maliki sliding over any dollars from the billions he sits on. As is so often the case with autism around the world, improvements came as a result of families of those effected doing more than their part.
The Autism Support Network highlights a report Lara Logan did for CBS News in 2008 on autism in Iraq. In the report, Logan observes, "The problem for autistic children in Iraq is that almost nothing is known about this condition. Incredibly, the only doctor who did treat it, who founded this center in the name of his own autistic son, has fled the country. He left behind these social workers who try their best to help but even they haven't been paid in four months." Click here for the CBS report with text and video. However, do not e-mail me and say, "C.I., you're wrong about the report. It aired on February 11, 2009." I have no idea what the problem with CBS and dates is this week. We noted Nancy Pelosi's "off the table" 2006 interview on 60 Minutes earlier this week and didn't link to 60 Minutes. Why? You click on that 2006 60 Minutes report and you've got a 2009 date. I didn't want the e-mails. That interview was well covered in real time (we linked to the World Can't Wait commentary the day after the interview aired). Autism is not usually well covered. So we're linking to CBS. But it aired in 2008. If you doubt it, click here, it's the video at YouTube, uploaded by CBS News on August 10, 2008. If you need further convincing, drop back to the August 12, 2008 snapshot when we first noted Lara Logan's report.
Silence on the improvement for the small number of autistic children able to attend one of the six centers may have also been ignored by the White House due to the fact that the rate of autism in Iraq may be influenced by the various chemicals and weapons and pollutants and toxins the US goverment introduced via many methods of delivery (including burn pits). Last week, Cindy Sheehan wrote about being in Stockholm with the Iraq Solidarity Group to observe the anniversary of the invasion and speaking with an Iraqi doctor who went over a number of stastics:
Two million dead during the sanction years; 1.5 milliion dead after 2003; incidences of leukemia in children in Fallujah and Basra skyrocketing by a factor of ten times normal; clean water and electricity are still in short supply; and the US occupiers do not work for the people of Iraq.
[. . .]
Of course we know that the US used depleted uranium coated weapons in Iraq and the region is now poisoned by the radioactive waste from DU for 4.5 billion years --- that is one of the reasons that incidences of leukemia are on the rise.
One woman who does activism to ban all nuclear weapons, including DU, said that now in Iraq, a woman's first question after giving birth is not: "Is it a boy or a girl," but, "Is it normal?"
No wonder the White House decided to skip the topic of Iraqi children. For more coverage of the damage to the environment and its effects on the Iraqi people, you can refer to:
"Normal" doesn't begin to describe the ongoing political crisis in Iraq or Nouri's attempts to have Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested (he claims al-Hashemi is a terrorist) which are seen as part of the same political crisis and part of Nouri's attempt to lash out at political rivals. (Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya which came in first in the March 2010 elections while Nouri's State of Law came in second.) al-Hashemi was in the KRG when Nouri issued the warrant and he has remained in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region as a guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani. The KRG has not assisted Nouri in his witch hunt and Nouri has responded by ordering the arrests of people working for al-Hashmi. Amer Sarbut Zeidan al-Batawi was one such pe
Wednesday, Tareq al-Hashemi charged that his bodyguard had been tortured to death. We covered these issue in yesterday's snapshot. Today Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation into the death:
(Beirut) – Iraqi authorities should order a criminal investigation into allegations that security forces tortured to death a bodyguard of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Human Rights Watch said today.

Iraqi authorities released Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi's body to his family on March 20, 2012, about three months after arresting him for terrorism. His family told Human Rights Watch that his body displayed signs of torture, including in several sensitive areas. Photographs taken by the family and seen by Human Rights Watch show what appear to be a burn mark and wounds on various parts of his body.

"The statements we heard and photos we saw indicate that Iraqi security officers may have tortured Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi to death while he was in their custody," said
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "It's essential for the Iraqi government to investigate his death and report publicly what they find."

The family said that al-Batawi's death certificate listed no cause of death. They said that before his arrest, the 33-year-old married father of three was in excellent health.

"I could barely recognize him," a close relative told Human Rights Watch on March 22. "There were horrible marks and signs of torture all over his body. He had lost about 17 kilos [37.5 pounds] from the day they arrested him."

Iraqi authorities have denied the torture allegations. On March 22, Lt. Gen. Hassan al-Baydhani, chief of staff of Baghdad's security command center and a judicial spokesman, said al-Batawi died of kidney failure and other conditions after refusing treatment. When asked by reporters about the photographic evidence that al-Batawi had been tortured, Baydhani replied, "It is easy for Photoshop to show anything," referring to a digital photo-editing software.

As the United States was pulling its last remaining troops from Iraq in December 2011, Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant for al-Hashemi on charges he was running death squads. Al-Hashemi has taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan and refused to return to Baghdad, saying he cannot receive a fair trial. Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have so far declined to hand him over.

An unknown number of other members of al- Hashemi's security and office staff have been arrested since late December and are also in custody, including two women. On March 22, al-Hashemi told Human Rights Watch, "I have made repeated requests to the government to find out who else in my staff has been arrested and where they are being held, but they have not responded."

Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to release the names of all those detained and the charges against them, and to ensure that they have access to lawyers and medical care.
Today Al Mada reports that security sources are stating that young Iraqi women and girls are about to be targeted by the militias in part of the ongoing attacks on Iraqi youths thought to be Emo and/or gay. One source stated that the militias have pulled back and 'softened' their approach recently but only due to the fact that the Arab League Summit is approaching. To avoid embarrassing Nouri, they militia's basically about to take a vacation and plans to return immediately after the summit at which point they will "hunt down girls" and security sources are also stating that some security forces may be assisting the militias in these upcoming actions. If you're new to this topic, Scott Lang's column for the Guardian provides a strong overview of what's taking place:
A new killing campaign is convulsing Iraq. The express targets are "emos", short for "emotional": a western-derived identity, teenagers adopting a pose of vulnerability, along with tight clothes and skewed hairdos and body piercing. Starting last year, mosques and the media both began raising the alarm about youthful immorality, calling the emos deviants and devil worshippers. In early February, somebody began killing people. The net was wide, definitions inexact. Men who seemed effeminate, girls with tattoos or peculiar jewellery, boys with long hair, could all be swept up. The killers like to smash their victims' heads with concrete blocks.
There is no way to tell how many have died: estimates range from a few dozen to more than 100. Nor is it clear who is responsible. Many of the killings happened in east Baghdad, stronghold of Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (the League of the Righteous). Neither, though, has claimed responsibility. Iraq's brutal interior ministry issued two statements in February. The first announced official approval to "eliminate" the "satanists". The second, on 29 February, proclaimed a "campaign" to start with a crackdown on stores selling emo fashion. The loaded language suggests, at a minimum, that the ministry incited violence. It's highly possible that some police, in a force riddled with militia members, participated in the murders.
It's logical to compare this to the militia campaign against homosexual conduct in 2009, which I documented for Human Rights Watch. Hundreds of men lost their lives then. Gay-identified men have been caught up in these killings as well, and Baghdad's LGBT community is rife with fear. Yet there are differences. The current killings target women as well as men, and children are the preferred victims. It's not quite true to say, as some press reports have suggested, that "emo" is just a synonym for "gay" in Iraq. Rather, immorality, western influence, decadence and blasphemy have come together in a loosely defined, poorly aligned complex of associations: and emo fashion and "sexual perversion" are part of the mix.
Turning to 'security' in 'free' Iraq.  Thank goodness foreign troops are out is the public pose of Nouri.  But it appears that privately he's attempting to get foreign military back into Iraq. 
The Sun Daily notes, "Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said Malaysia is prepared to sen[d] a special peacekeeping team on a humanitarian mission to Iraq if the costs of operation were to be sponsored by other countries." The Defense Minister is quoted stating, "There's a request for Malaysia to sen[d] a team to Iraq and one particular country has also agreed to bear the costs of operation, but since the country has yet to keep its promise, we cannot send the team to Iraq." Meanwhile Reuters notes a Kirkuk prison break that has 19 prisoners on the loose.

Still on security news, KUNA reports, "All necessary security precautions have been taken in preparation for upcoming Arab summit due to be hosted by Baghdad in the end of this month, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced on Friday." The Arab League Summit is set to take place next week in Baghdad. Alsumaria TV notes the announcement as well and -- a press release from the Ministry of Interior -- and that the release claims that terrorists are attempting to create an atmosphere of hysteria. An atmosphere of hysteria? Like Nouri's comments reported by Al Rafidayn that Tuesday's attacks was carried out by terrorist including security officers inside the Iraqi security forces? Citing an unnamed security source, Al Mada reports that Nouri has ordered the closure of at least one bridge and that Baghdad barrier walls are going back up. It's already been reported that Baghdad's about to impose a seven-day 'holiday' and that Bahgdad International Airport will be closed to commercial flights. Salam Faraj and Abdul Jabbar (AFP) observe, "The Iraqi capital's already gnarling traffic has all but ground to a halt, and the government has declared a week of holidays on the days surrounding the March 27-29 summit to encourage people to stay at home." Iraq's a country already plagued with high unemployment and rocketing inflation. Now Faraj and Jabbar report that the prices in Baghdad markets are soaring due to transportation issues as a result of the barriers and checkpoints that have been going up.

On the topic of violence, Charles Tripp (Open Democracy) offers:

Violence in Iraq has now become a central part of the practice of power, both by the government and by certain non-governmental agencies, some of them bitterly opposed to, but others enmeshed in the webs of government practice. For the government of Iraq under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the ever unfinished project of re-establishing the power and thus, he hopes, the authority of the central state has often taken a violent form. This has been clear ever since the campaigns in 2008 that saw a reconstituted, if not always very effective, Iraqi army reconquer a number of Iraq's provinces, with campaigns in the south in Basra, the east of Baghdad, the north in Mosul and the north-east in Diyala.
At the time and in the context of the country's emergence from a bloody civil war, these campaigns were strongly supported by the US and others who saw this precisely as a token of the 'resolve' and the 'seriousness' of the fragile Iraqi government. The fact that al-Maliki had attached to his personal command perhaps the most effective and ruthless of the units of the reconstituted Iraqi armed forces, the Baghdad Brigade, was believed to assist the state-creating project. Equally, the close and some might say politically unhealthy interest that al-Maliki took in officers' careers, promotions and transfers within the Iraqi armed forces through his own Office of the Commander in Chief was regarded as merely fitting if he wanted 'to get the job done'.
The problem, as many Iraqis began to discover, lay in what else was coming into being as a consequence. In public, the military presence was meant to symbolise al-Maliki's grip on power and his capacity to restore order, as his coalition 'The State of Law' promised. It was highly visible and clearly aimed at demonstrating both that the withdrawal of the US forces in 2010/2011 would not leave Iraq defenceless, and that the government was in full control. The effect, however, in the words of one Iraqi was that 'we live as under an army of occupation'. Given the continuing threat of violence from insurgents of one kind and another, this may have been reassuring for some. However, it also seemed to bring with it the idea that any kind of open or public opposition could and should be met with force. Most notoriously, this was evident in the ferocious response in 2011 to any Iraqis who dared to demonstrate during 2011 in the spirit of the 'Arab Spring'. Thus, whether in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, or in Basra, Mosul or in the Kurdish region in Sulaimaniyya, peaceful protestors were killed, abused and beaten up on the orders of authorities for which violence has become the default response to opposition.

And the political crisis continues in 'free' Iraq. Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram Weekly) notes the various elements of the crisis beginning with Nouri's second term as prime minister and then emphasizes the speech KRG President Massoud Barzani gave this week (Tuesday):

Barzani also said that Baghdad had asked the Kurdish administration to let Al-Hashemi leave Iraq in order to avoid being put on trial, something which amounted to accusing Al-Maliki's government of hypocrisy.

"Our response was that we do not work as [people] smugglers and we won't do it," Barzani told a gathering of his Kurdistan Democratic Party in Erbil, the Kurdish provincial capital, last Thursday.
Barzani also lambasted the Baghdad government over other long-running disputes, such as oil and power-sharing with the central government. He renewed criticisms of Al-Maliki's authoritarian style of government and of his alleged attempts to marginalise the Kurds and Sunnis.
"Some in Baghdad believe they are the rulers of Iraq and want to work unilaterally," he said. "They are losers who have failed to give Iraq anything, unlike what we have done for our people in Kurdistan, and they want us to be like them," Barzani said, echoing criticisms by many Iraqis that al-Maliki's government has failed to bring security and restore basic services to Iraq some seven years after assuming power.

Speaking in the region's capital of Arbil on Tuesday, Barzani said the partnership that had built the national unity government in the country is now completely non-existent and has become meaningless. Barzani stated that if the political deadlocks remained the KRG parliament would declare independence for the Kurdish region. He also said that the oil-rich Kirkuk had to be incorporated into a future independent Kurdistan.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki kept his job only with Kurdish support after his party fell short of a majority in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
Covering Barzani and Nouri's conflict, Turkish Weekly emphasizes one section of Barzani's speech:

"There is an attempt to establish a one million-strong army whose loyalty is only to a single person," Barzani said in the speech in Arbil. He claimed that al-Maliki and the government were "waiting to get F-16 combat planes to examine its chances again with the Kurdish peshmerga [fighters]," referring to a government order for 36 warplanes from the United States. "Where in the world can the same person be the prime minister, the chief of staff of the armed forces, the minister of defense, the minister of interior, the chief of intelligence and the head of the national security council?" he asked.
Jasim Alsabawi (Rudaw) notes attacks on Barzani from various members of Nouri's circle.

"We strongly disagree with [Mr. Allawi's] characterization of our relationship with the government of Iraq and the role we have played to keep the Iraqi political process on track." Who said that?  Head liar for the State Dept, Victoria Nuland and Ben Birnbaum (Washington Times) quotes her latest lies as he reports on Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi:

Mr. Allawi headed the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc in Iraq's 2010 elections. The bloc won two more seats than Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law alliance, but Mr. al-Maliki was able to form a government under a 2011 power-sharing deal.
That deal, which gave several ministries to Iraqiya, was supposed to have given Mr. Allawi control of a new strategic policy council, but the former premier declined the post when Mr. al-Maliki refused to cede it much authority despite what he called U.S. guarantees.
"The policymakers promised to support this, but ultimately and unfortunately, none of this has happened, and the United States forgot about this power-sharing completely," Mr. Allawi said. "I think the United States deliberately is taking Iraq out of the screen because there is a gross failure in Iraq."
Monday and Tuesday, we noted that various left and 'left' programs and magazines were ignoring the 9th anniversary (Monday was the anniversary). An e-mail came in about Uprising Radio. Despite the fact that its segment aired on Wednesday and despite Sonali Kohlhatkar's embarrassing stab in the back of Aghan women to show her love for Barack Obama (we addressed this community wide in 2009 including in an all woman roundtable featuring all women who do community sites as well as Gina and Krista who started and do the first community newletter the gina & krista roundrobin), I did attempt to listen. While I'm sure Ann Wright had something of value to say and would guess that Kevin Zeese did as well, I can't stomach Sonali's garbage. I can't stomach her ignorance, I can't stomach her 'hugs for empire' and I can't stomach her damn cowardly soul.  For example, to say that 100,000 Iraqis have died in the Iraq War was probably 'brave' prior to the October 2006 publication of Lancet Study which found over a million had died. To say it today on a left outlet, on Pacifica Radio, is to be a damn liar. I'm not in the mood for her garbage. We've fought this fight before, we shouldn't have to fight it again. (For those late to the party, United for Peace & Justice, when it was still pretending to care about ending wars, was pimping lower numbers after the study was published by the Lancet. Elaine and I called it out repeatedly -- and not just here -- and Elaine laid down the damn law -- offline -- and got UFPJ to change the number. I'm not in the mood to refight battles that were already won because Sonali wants to be the cheap trash of empire. Her show gets pulled from the permalinks tonight when I'm by a computer. -- I dictate the snapshots over the phone. And anyone with UPFJ who wants to play and pretend that Elaine didn't force UPFJ to change their numbers should know that I'm more than happy to make private e-mails public on this topic. Elaine did it, she deserved applause for it in real time and she never said a word -- she did do a post at her site noting the number was changed but never noting all she had done -- online and especially offline -- to force that change.)
The US Goverment of Accountability Office wrote to Congressional Committees:
According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Indianapolis (DFA-IN), fiscal year 2010 active Army military payroll totaled $46.1 billion. For years, we and others have reported continuing deficiencies with Department of the Army military paryoll processes and controls. In November 2003, we reported that weaknesses in processes and controls resulted in over -- and underpayments to mobilized Army National Guard personnel. In April 2006, we reported that pay problems rooted in complex, cumbersome processes used to pay Army soldiers from initial mobilization through active duty deployment to demobilization resulted in military debt to battle-injured soldiers. In June 2009, we reported that the Army did not have effective controls for processing and accounting for military personnel federal payroll taxes because of weaknesses in its procedures and controls for assuring accurate and timely documentation of transactions. In July 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General reported that the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) made potentially invalid active duty military payroll payments of $4.2 million from January 2005 through December 2009 for the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.
These reported continuing deficiencies in Army payroll processes and controls have called into question the exten to which the Army's military payroll transactions are valid and accurate and whether the Army's military payroll as a whole is auditable. The Army's military pay is material to all of the Army's financial statements and comprises about 20 percent of the Army's $233.8 billion in reported fiscal year 2010 net outlays. Accordingly, Army active duty military payroll is significant to both Army and DOD efforts to meet DOD's 2014 Statement of Budgetary Resources and audit readiness goal.
That's from the cover letter to the GAO's report, released yesterday, entitled [PDF format warning] "DOD FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: The Army Faces Significant Challenges in Achieving Audit Readiness for Its Military Pay." These issues were the subject of a joint-hearing yesterday of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management (Chair is US House Rep Todd Platts) and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Committee (Chair is Senator Thomas Carper). Appearing before the two Subcommittees were the Army Reserve's LTC Kirk Zecchini, the GAO's Asif Khan, the Army's Director of Accountability and Audit Readiness James Watkins, the Army's Director of Technology and Business Architecture Integration Jeanne Brooks and Aaron Gillison, the Deputy Director of Defense Finance and Accounting Service-Indianapolis.
Yesterday's snapshot covered LTC Kirk Zecchini's testimony which included being stationed in Afghanistan and going without a month-and-a-half's pay because of some auditing error and how he does have a family to support and had to dip into savings to cover that period of time (not to mention the stress this causes -- he noted that these sort of periods of no pay are so common you can't walk through the dining halls without hearing someone discussing how it has just happened to them). We're going to briefly note the an exchange from the second panel which really sums up the entire second panel.
US House Rep Gerry Connolly: I guess one of the things I would just say to the panel is, it seems to me, progress achieved notwithstanding, we need to move from sort of the administrative clutter to the human level. No soldier on the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else serving in uniform ought to -- on top of everything else -- be worried about whether the spouse and kids back home can pay the bills. That ought to be our goal, bottom line. 'That part, we got your back. Don't worry about anything but the mission, we've got the rest of it.' And it's very difficult to hear testimony as we did this morning from LTC Zecchini that in the middle of Afghanistan, on the warfront, he's worrying about trying to pay the bills back home and so's his spouse, so are the kids. That's a very human concern, a very legitimate one. We may never get to perfection. It's a big, complex system with lots of change orders. Bigger than any private sector enterprise. I understand. But that ought to be our goal. It's a human goal. We need to be seized with a mission. This isn't about numbers. This is about men and women and their lives. And I just -- I say that as somebody who's managed a big enterprise. If that's our mentality, we will fix this problem. And I commend it to you. I know that you are committed but we need to redouble that commitment so that we never have that kind of testimony again and LTC Zecchni and his colleagues never have to worry about that again. Mr. Watkins, in your outstanding testimony, you indicated that you were pretty confident we were going to meet the deadlines we've set four ourselves to finally have a certifiable audit like most federal agencies. The Pentagon's not like most federal agencies so we understand the complications. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that we will in fact meet that deadline finally?
James Watkins: Representative Connelly, I'm very confident. I'd rate it about 8.
US House Rep Gerry Connelly: Okay. Thank you. Mr. Kahn, your testimony, if I understood you correctly was the GAO found appreciable progress had been made on the fronts we're talking about. Is that correct?
Asif Kahn: Some progress has been made but there's a lot more work that needs to be done to meet the 2014 deadline.
US House Rep Gerry Connelly: That's on the audit?
Asif Kahn: Correct.
US House Rep Gerry Connelly: What about on the issue of accurate payroll?
Asif Kahn: That continues to be a problem.
US House Rep Gerry Connelly: Statistically how much of a problem is it from the GAO's point of view? The Chairman [Platts] was talking about 250 but obviously the problem has to be bigger than that, given the size of our armed forces.
Asif Kahn: Well let me just pick up from where you left. Our sample of 250 was a statistical sample. That means the results could be generalized or extrapolated over --
US House Rep Gerry Connelly: And if we extrapolate, what would we say?
Asif Kahn: We could not say anything on the accuracy or the validity of Army's active-duty pay for Fiscal Year 2010.
US House Rep Gerry Connelly: But are there metrics we can -- I mean, if we don't have some metrics for these folks to measure against and to gauge progress than it remains anecdotal. Based on that statistical sample, what percentage of active-duty military do we feel suffer from mistakes in their payroll.
Asif Kahn: I mean that -- based on that, that will be very difficult to say because -- I mean getting two payroll records out of 250 doesn't really say much.
US House Rep Gerry Connelly explained that without some sort of basic estimate, it was impossible to know if this is a problem that's improving or if it's getting worse. His goal is to reduce it to zero. But he explained he has no idea where the problem stood without some basic numbers that the Congress could work with. Chair Todd Platts echoed him on that and also noted without a basic number they not only can't estimate how many people are being effected by this (not receiving pay in a timely fashion) but they also can't estimate how much "time and effort and money" it's taking the government to correct these problems when they arise.
Chair Thomas Carper followed by asking for some general reactions from the second panel. Khan was very clear about the problems. The Pentagon witnesses, by contrast, were optimistic and things were great, and, oh, we have figures, we do, we do, we do, we do. But Kahn was then asked what he thought about the responses and he was very clear that there was no documentation at present -- despite what Pentagon witnesses were saying. Kahn explained that the problem remains, "This is a real problem. The length of time it took to provide the documentation? It's not really going to enable an auditor to stay there and to give a valid audit opinion in a timely fashion. And the other one is the issue of supporting documentation. Regardless of the robustness of the system, the auditor will need access to the supporting documentation, the underlying records of the information which is maintained in the system. So those are the two points that need to be recognized. One is the timeliness and the other is the accuracy and the validty of the information in the system."
Chair Thomas Carper: I think in responding to the GAO's work, the Army's official letter to the GAO said -- and I'm going to quote it, "We appreciate your confirmation that no significant issues were identified in your review of the miltiary pay accounts for the Army." That's part of what it said. "We appreciate your confirmation that no significant issues were identified in your review of the military pay accounts for the Army." I think based on what we've heard from you and some from the Colonel [], it just seems like a bit of an odd comment based on your testimony. Do you believe, as the Army stated, that your audit showed no significant issues?
Asif Kahn: Our report has been very clear in highlighting the deficiencies in the Army's processes and systems. The deficiencies in the processes and systems really increase the risk of inaccurate payments -- just like I'd mentioned before. So that along with the timeliness -- with the timeliness of which information is presented, those are very significant issues -- both towards the accuracy and the validity of the information in the system and also to be able to get ready for an audit whether it's 2014 or 2017. So the issues tha we've highlighted, they're very significant.
And that is the second panel.  The auditors point to problems, the Pentagon thanks them for saying hello.  The Pentagon is in denial about the problems.  To even themselves?  Who knows but they obviously wanted to play dumb in public.  As long as they continue to do that, look for this to drag on forever and for more and more service members to suffer with wrongful pay and no pay.