Saturday, October 20, 2012

21 dead at least 50 injured in today's violence

Aren't we glad Barack 'ended' the Iraq War.  He brought 'peace' to Iraq.  And to Libya too, right? If you can reduce reality to a headline, there are days when you can believe those lies.  Today's not one of them.

The Voice of Russia hails today as "the deadliest day in Iraq since September."  Yang Lina (Xinhua) reports two roadside bombings in Iraq led to 11 deaths fifty people being injured.  Al Jazeera explains, "The blasts struck about 500 metres from a shrine where two revered imams are buried, damaging nearby shops and buildings, according to police, who confirmed the casualty figures.The attacks came as many shoppers were out buying new clothes in anticipation of the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins in about a week." Kareem Raheem, Suadad al-Salhy, Patrick Markey and Sophie Hares (Reuters) quote an unnamed police officer declaring, "We heard a loud explosion so we ran to see what happened . . . there was big mess near the explosion scene, clothes, toes, food and bodies were everywhere.  Many wounded people were shouting and looking for their relatives."  A store owner tells AP, "When I came out, I saw burning carts and merchant stalls, and children crying and women screaming out of fear. The whole place was full of panic."

 Of course that wasn't the only violence.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "In separate incidents, gunmen killed two Baghdad police officers and another officer was fatally shot outside his house, the officials said."   And Yang Lina (Xinhua) reports, "In a separate incident, gunmen attacked a lawyer's home on Saturday morning in Albuaath area east of Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar province west of Baghdad, and shot him dead, a different source said." Still going, BBC News reports, "A prison official was shot dead in another district of Baghdad. In yet another attack, a soldier was killed in the northern city of Mosul."  Alsumaria reports that an armed attack in Nineveh Province (approximately 25 miles from Mosul) left 4 security officers dead.

Al-Shorfa reports, "The Iraq Interior Ministry on Saturday (October 20th) announced that a special security plan is in place to protect citizens during Eid al-Adha celebrations next week. "  Well that's good.  A plan for next week.  I guess this week, Iraqi citizens were just left to fend for themselves.  The outlet adds that the seucrity forces did stop attacks on electric towers.  So there were priorities.  The dead and wounded just weren't on that list of priorities.

When they do try to provide safety, the government appears to be insane and stupid.  Not just with the mass arrests which sew distrust in the government but with how they harmm the eco-system.  They are worried about insurgents in Babil Province, All Iraq News reports, so they are draining dry the lakes and lagoons.  Iraq has serious water concerns and they're going to drain lagoons and lakes?  Iraq has problems with packs of wild dogs roaming.  There's claims that, over the summer, a large snake ate a child.  And you're going to drain lakes and lagoons?  Taking away a water source for animals -- including wild dogs -- and sending whatever was living in the lake and lagoon areas into residential areas?

Ibrahim Ibrahim (Al Mada) reports that the Parliament's Integrity Comittee is conducting a new investigation and Committee MP Hussein al-Asadi states that senior government officials are using their positions to obtain state property and to benefit from the use and sale of it.  In other scandals, Nouri fired Sinan al-Shabibi as Governor of the Central Bank (despite Article 103 of the Constitution making clear that he doesn't have that right -- Parliament does).  Since then a warrant's been put out for al-Shabibi who is said to be in Europe.  An unnamed MP tells Al Mada that Nouri fired al-Shabibi because the man refused to loan Nouri $63 billion that Nouri said was for the government's budget.  Al Mada notes that Moqtada al-Sadr is calling out Nouri's attempts to politicize the Central Bank and he also asks where is the reform that Nouri promised in early 2011?

Meanwhile Alsumaria informs that "hundreds of teachers" took to the streets in Basra today to protest the lack of advances in education and their living conditions.  In addition, they demanded the government imporve the public services and address the crumbling infrastructure.   In a possible response to the teachers, Alsumaria reports State of Law MP Mohammed Chichod has stated that basic services can wait and that it is more important that the government focus on the military and weapons.  (State of Law is Nouri's political slate.)  In related news, 21 young children currently live in a Baghdad prison with their incarcrated mothers, Al Mada reports.

The political crisis continues in Iraq.  All Iraq News reports President Jalal Talabani met with Nouri al-Maliki today to discuss that topic.  Alsumaria adds that a satement issued after the meet-up said it was important to respect the Constitution and the signed agreements.  That's a win for Jalal.  The signed agreements refers to the Erbil Agreement (a legal contract Nouri broke creating the current political stalemate) and Nouri doesn't like to acknowledge it.  However, a member of the group that split off from Iraqiya tells All Iraq News that, while he appears to be engaging in talks, Nouri is secretly working behind the scenes to sideline the opposition parties and form a majority government.

The following community sites -- plus Pacifica Evening News, Adam Kokesh, Jody Watley, C-SPAN, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Susan's On the Edge, the Independent and  --  updated last night and today:

The e-mail address for this site is

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I Hate The War

Dogs.  Tonight, we're talking dogs.  And -- rest assured, Michael O'Hanlon -- we're talking the four legged variety.

In Thursday's snapshot, this appeared:

So I'm at a daily paper visiting a friend who's an editor when a name reporter decides he's going to make small talk while the editor's on the phone and hijacks the computer to show me "something you won't believe.  It's so sad."  Wrongly, I assumed I was about to see the children of Falluja.  Wrong.  I saw a dog from Australia that people around the world are donating to because it lost its snout saving a child.  And the dog's coming to -- or now in -- the United States with a friend and will have surgery at one of the UCLAs (Davis?) and, turns out, the dog's also got tumors and a sexually transmitted disease and -- On and on, it went.  Now I love dogs.  And if someone wants to send a terminal dog across the globe for  reconstructive surgery of a snout, that's their decision.  But I do think it's very sad that people want to pull up a picture of this dog and oh-and-ah over it and these same people will not even look at the children of Falluja.  
I thought that was pretty clear.  To community members it was.  But to a number of visitors e-mailing the public account, I had just declared war on dogs.   

They might need to try re-reading.  In the meantime, we'll share a few dog stories tonight.

Provided we all remember  what Tim Arango (New York Times) reported last month:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

No, visitors, I don't hate dogs.  I'll share three dog stories.

I wanted a dog growing up. Couldn't have one, I was told.  We already had a dog.  So one day, while walking through the city I lived in, probably four-years-old but maybe five-years-old, I ventured down a residential street I hadn't been on before and a dog -- a little black and brown puppy -- followed me home.

That was the story I told.  That was not the truth.  I saw some puppies against a fence and walked from the sidewalk to the fence on the side of a house and began petting them through the fence.  In time the others scattered but one remained licking my hand.  Looking around and seeing no people, I opened the gate and the puppy came out of the fence.  I closed the gate and started walking back to the sidewalk, then through a park, then on the way home.  The puppy did follow me home.  But I did let him out of the gate.  I did steal him.

So there's story one.

Back in September,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

Over the years, I've learned to let go of guilt for many things I did up to the age of 18.  I'm not sure that it's a result of maturity so much as my 'hard drive' has gotten filled with so many other things to feel badly over that there wasn't room for everything.

The key thing I feel guilt over as a young adult, the earliest thing I now beat myself up for, is the dog I was just talking about.  I was in college.  I was working jobs (due to not taking the major my family wanted me to, I had to put myself through college in the early days).  I did not have time to make it home.  When I did, there were various people to talk to in the family, friends, etc.  And there was ____ looking over hoping I would play with him.  And I usually managed an hour -- my visits usually lasted less than 24 hours and then I'd fly back to college -- to take him for a walk.  But the last time, while he was alive, that I visited, I didn't.  It was raining, I was there for five hours.  Anytime I looked out in the back, he was waiting and wagging his tail.  Before I left, I spent five minutes with him.  That's it.

As you can probably figure out, the dog was dead within a week.  I feel so awful for that to this day.  I should have taken him out.  It was raining, yes, but he wanted to go for a walk.  And he was older now (that's not me saying I didn't take him for a walk because I was worried about his age -- I honestly didn't think about his age) and he loved those walks.

And I failed him on that last visit and he never failed me.  He was the most amazing friend.

Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

Again, that's what I'm still guilty for.  There are many other things that I'm guilty for but that's the oldest one.

One visitor wrote, "Unlike you, I don't hate dogs.  You've probably never even had a dog!"  Actually, I've had several dogs -- and other animals -- over the years.

I don't currently have a dog.  I do have horses.  I've told Betty her kids could have a dog and I've told Ty and his partner that they can get a dog.  (They live with me.) I'm not opposed to dogs.

But I don't have one currently.  I could argue, "I'm hardly ever home" and that it would be hard for a dog to travel on a plane -- especially since I like big dogs.  We've had small dogs, but my dogs have always been German Shepherds and Irish Setters.   I like big dogs, they're easier to dance with.  I'm not joking.  If I have dog they learn to dance.  They get on their hind legs and I hold their paws or they put their paws on my shoulder and we dance.

The last dog we had was an Irish Setter.  The kids (my kids) had a Border Collie, two other dogs and an Irish Setter.  When the Irish Setter died, I got another one for the kids but, not wanting to push it off as "here's the replacement!," I just said, 'I got this dog, if you want to play with it that's fine.'  They didn't in the early days (which was fine) but within two months they were attached to it.  Near the end of the 90s, I came home (from a trip out of the US) to find the kids very upset because the Irish Setter was sick and the vet said there was nothing that could be done.  He was in the downstairs hall, at the back of the house and wasn't going to move.  He'd found the only position he was comfortable in.  The vet informed me of that when I asked about options -- such as taking him to the vet to be put to sleep or taking him upstairs to my bedroom which is where he liked to sleep. Traveling?  No.  He'd be in too much pain.  Maybe, if we were quick, we could get him up the back stairs --  Forget it, when we even tried, he howled.  So I went up to my bedroom, grabbed the pillow he had made his own years ago -- he'd taken it from the bed and put it in the corner he slept in -- and grabbed a pillow off the bed for me.  And I stayed there with him, petting him for about seven hours until a little after midnight when he passed away.  We had a funeral for him.  The other dogs the kids had now live with them and probably I just haven't been in the mood for a new dog because that was the first of many important deaths that came one after another -- one a month -- for about three years.

No one wants to talk about  what Tim Arango (New York Times) reported last month:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

So there are three dog stories and, no, I don't have anything against dogs.  I'm sure I'll have another big dog soon, one you can go running with.  I didn't insult the dog that was harmed when I brought her (I believe it was a female) up in the snapshot.  My point was that the children of Falluja are suffering and that's also a tragedy but their suffering hasn't become an internet sensation.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, October 19, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, 4 British families get good news, Senator Patty Murray wants to know when an announced review into diagnoses changes is going to start since it still hasn't, State of Law launches more attacks on Barzani, new details about the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi emerge, and more.
Starting with veterans, in the US veterans have struggled with many issues they shouldn't have to.  Some struggles may truly be a surprise.  Many struggles aren't.  Many struggles are a sign that proper planning was not done when the government sent people off to war.  This is a point US House Rep Bob Filner very skillfully made September 30, 2010:
Chair Bob Filner: It struck me as I looked at a lot of the facts and data that we-we see across our desks that, as a Congress, as a nation, we really do not know the true costs of the wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. [. . .] We all look at the data that comes from these wars. It struck me one day that the official data for, for example, the wounded was around 45,000 for both wars.  And yet we know that six or seven hundred thousand of our veterans of these wars -- of which there are over a million already -- have either filed claims for disability or sought health care from the VA for injuries suffered at war -- 45,000 versus 800,000? This is not a rounding error. I think this is a deliberate attempt to mask what is going on in terms of the actual casualty figures. We know that there is a denial of PTSD -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a 'weakness' among Marines and soldiers to admit mental illness so we don't even have those figures until maybe it's too late. We all know that women are participating in this war at a degree never before seen in our nation's history and, yet, by whatever estimate you look, whether it's half or two-thirds have suffered sexual trauma.  The true cost of war?  We know that over 25,000 of our soldiers who were originally diagnosed with PTSD got their diagnosis changed or their diagnosis was changed as they were -- had to leave the armed forces, changed to "personality disorder."  And not only does that diagnosis beg the question of why we took people in with the personality disorder, it means that there's a pre-existing condition and we don't have to take care of them as a nation.  Cost of war? There have been months in these wars where the suicides of active duty have exceeded the deaths in action. Why is that?  When our veterans come home from this war, we say we support troops, we support troops, we support troops? 30% unemployment rate for returning Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans. That's three times an already horrendous rate in our nation. Guardsman find difficulty getting employment because they may be deployed. Now a democracy has to go to war sometimes. But people have to know in a democracy what is the cost. They have to be informed of the true -- of the true nature -- not only in terms of the human cost, the material cost, but the hidden cost that we don't know until after the fact or don't recognize.  We know -- Why is it that we don't have the mental health care resources for those coming back? Is it because we failed to understand the cost of serving our military  veterans is a fundamental cost of the war? Is it because we sent these men and women into harms way without accounting for and providing the resources necessary for their care if they're injured or wounded or killed?  Every vote that Congress has taken for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has failed to take into account the actual cost of these wars by ignoring what we will require to meet the needs of our men and women in uniform who have been sent into harms way. This failure means that soldiers who are sent to war on behalf of their nation do not know if their nation will be there for them tomorrow.
That pretty much says everything about the planning and the funding and how both were lacking.  Bob Filner was Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Comittee at that time and credit to him and US House Reps Harry Teague, Ciro Rodriguez, Jerry McNerney, Walter Jones, George Miller and Jim Moran who all attended that hearing while almost everyone in the House had already bolted and gone back to their districts to focus on their re-election races.  Bob Filner did a great job serving veterans as a member of Congress.  He's decided not to seek re-election to Congress and instead is running for Mayor of San Diego.
He will be missed in Congress.  Veterans are fortunate to have other champions in Congress.  One of those is Senator Patty Murray whose office issued the following yesterday:
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Sen. Murray Calls on Secretary Panetta to Provide Timeline for Promised Military Review of PTSD and Behavioral Health Diagnoses
In the aftermath of the misdiagnoses of servicemembers in Washington state, Murray calls on the Pentagon to move forward with nationwide review of mental health diagnoses since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began
Letter also calls for information on efforts to collect missing unit military records that could prove critical if certain health care problems arise from service in Iraq or Afghanistan
(Washington D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting next steps and a timeline for the execution of a critical military-wide review of PTSD and behavioral health diagnoses made since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.  The review, which Secretary Panetta promised following the misdiagnoses of severvicemembers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, has seemingly stalled since being announced on June 13th.
"The Department must act with a sense of urgency in order to complete this review and to act on its findings in coordinating with other ongoing efforts to improve the disability evaluation system."  Murray wrote to Panetta.  "Each of these efforts is vital in ensuring servicemembers truly have a transparent, consistent, and expeditious disability evaluation process."
"Senator Murray's letter also addressed her concerns that records for military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are often used to provide information on potential health and exposure issues be carefully identified, located, and collected.
The full text of Senator Murray's letter follows:
October 18, 2012
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Panetta:
I am writing to express my concern about two distinct issues, which taken together impact the disability evaluation process for servicemembers and veterans.
At the outset, I very much appreciate your ongoing efforts to address behavioral health diagnoses and care both within the Integrated Disability Evaluation System and throughout the Department at large.  In June, as part of this ongoing effort, you announced a comprehensive Department-wide review of mental health diagnoses.  Shortly after the announcement, I had the opportunity to meet with Under Secretary Conaton to discuss some of the initial steps the Department had taken in preparation for this review.  However, it appears that progress on this effort may have stalled.  I am writing today to request the Department's next steps and timeline for execution of this review.
The Department must act with a sense of urgency in order to complete this review and to act on its findings in coordinating with other ongoing efforts to improve the disability evaluation system.  Each of these efforts is vital in ensuring servicemembers truly have a transparent, consistent, adn expeditious disability evaluation process.
My second concern relates to the ability of the Department, and specifically the Army, to identify and account for many records for units that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The lack of access to documentation of the locations and fucntions of specific military units interferes with the ability of both servicemembers and veterans to obtain evidence of military service that may result in adverse health conditions now or in the future.   As we have learned from prior conflicts, this lack of documentation all too often leads to hardship for veterans in establishing a relationship between miltiary service and a specific medical condition.
The lack of accessible documents may also impede future research efforts if health care problems arise from service in Iraq or Afghanistan.  For these reasons, I would like to know the current status of efforts to identify, locate and collect records for units that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I also urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure unit records are properly archived and accessible.
I appreciate your attention to these requests and look forward to our continued work together to strengthen both the disability evaluation system and behavioral health diagnoses and care and to ensure our servicemembers and veterans have access to critical military documents.
Patt Murray
To tie the two together -- because this is really not new -- Bob Filner was speaking of a policy to change a diganoses from PTSD to "personality disorder" because someone was deciding the government shouldn't pay what the government owed.  Someone was deciding that the role of government was to get over on veterans, not to deliver to veterans what had been promised.
And you'd think the shame of doing that would stop it.  You'd think they'd stop changing diagnoses.  But people continue to do that.   This year, Senator Murray's found it happening in her home state of Washington.  She's repeatedly attempted to get answers -- not just as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (though she's repeatedly asked for answers in that role) but also, for example, using her position as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to question Army Secretary John McHugh about the changing diagnoses.
There is no excuse for diagnoses to have ever been changed.  There's even less excuse for refusing to start the promised review of changed diagnoses.  To be clear, there's even less excuse for Leon Panetta to avoid starting the promised review.  Leon is Secretary of Defense.  I like him, I've known him for years -- since he was in Congress.  I like Leon.  But that doesn't change the fact that as Secretary of Defense it reflects poorly on him that the review has not started.  It doesn't change the fact that he needs to do his job.  I didn't care for Robert Gates and was appalled to see the press fawn over him (in the months long farewell tour coverage as well as in that awful farewell press conference that immediately went off the record so the press could hug him and get their photos taken with him -- as someone in the entertainment industry, I'm used to excited fans, but this was a press acting like teeny boppers mooning over some heart throb of the moment).  The fact that I like Leon doesn't mean that I don't think he should be evaluated when he leaves office.  There are not two standards here.  Gates should have been evaluated on key issues (instead, he was only evaluated on granting press access) such as military suicides and military sexual assaults.  Those were two key problems in the military and he should have been evaluated on how he addressed those (and other key problems).  Leon should be judged by those and also by issues like this scandal and the failure to launch a review in a timely manner.  Leon Panetta needs to provide an answer to Senator Murray -- more than that, he needs to launch the promised review.
The Paterson Press notes another need, in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Veterans Council wants to inscribe the names of three local Iraq War veterans who died while serving in Iraq on the Veterans Memorial Park monument.  The three fallen are Spc Gil Mercado, Spc Farid Elazzouzi and Sgt Christian Bueno-Galdos.  The Paterson Veterans Council is staging a beefsteak dinner November 5th as a fundraiser: "Donations to the Nov. 5 beefsteak are tax-deductible and can be made to the Paterson Veterans Council, 296 Maitland Ave., Paterson, NJ 07502. For information, call Tony Vancheri at 973-303-3523."
"It's eight years [since her son died at the age of 21 while serving in Iraq] and it still hurts,"  England's Sue Smith explains today as the British courts tell four families of the British fallen they have permission to sue the Military of Defence over deaths that could have been preventable.  Steve Anderson (Independent of London) reports, "Relatives had argued that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment which could have saved lives and should pay compensation."  ITV explains, "They were nicknamed mobile coffins and, in 2006, Private Lee Ellis died when one of them was blown up by a roadside bombing."  Sue Smith  is the mother of Private Phillip Hewett who died serving in Iraq from a roadside bombing while in a Snatch Land Rover.  She tells Channel 4 (link is video and text):
Sue Smith:  This is a case of an employer owing his staff the right duty of care.  Take away the uniform and everything else and it's simply a man or a woman doing their job and they should be respected for doing that job  the same as anybody else. [. . .] I think it's despicable.  They knew the vehicles were no good but it's also this dismissive attitude of it doesn't matter, they're like action men, if we break them, we can throw them in a junk pile and nobody can do anything about it.  And if they're really badly broken, they can be buried.  Well, it doesn't work like that.
Along with the family of Philip Hewett, the family of Cpl Stephen Allbutt, Private Lee Ellis and Lance Cpl Kirk Redpath have been granted permission to file suit.  The Allbutt family attorney Shubhaa Srinivasnh tells the Telegraph of London that it's a "landmark" decision and, "We maintain that the MoD's position has been morally and legally indefensible, as they owe a duty of care to those who fight on behalf of this country."    Ann Salter (International Business Times -- link is text and video) hails the verdict as "historic" and notes the families can now "sue the Ministry of Defence for negligence and inadequate equipment" as a result of the ruling made by the London Court of Appeals.  BBC News' Nick Childs speaks with Sue Smith (link is video). Excerpt.
Nick Childs:  Why are you trying to go through the UN Convention on Human Rights to deal with this - this issue?  When the court of appeal has said these claims can be pursued in terms of care and negligance through the courts here?
Sue Smith:  The negligance is for wives or dependants because that's a compensation claim.  I'm not claiming compensation.  I'm claiming that the soldiers have a right to life which is something that the MoD seemed to say that if they're on exercise or anything like that abroad, they're not covered by that. 
[. . . ]
Nick Childs:  How have you felt about the Ministry of Defence as you've gone through this-this legal proces.?
Sue Smith:  Well they're just pen pushers as far as I'm concerned.  They've got no idea.  They're not living in this world.  They're not the ones going out in substandard vehicles -- or were.  I'm not sure what they're doing now.  But at the end of the day, they're people that are arguing who haven't actually lived the life that we're living.  They've got no idea.  So how can they sit there and say that these boys have no right to life? They're not the ones sitting in the back of the vehicle that might blow up at any moment.
In Iraq, violence continues.  Alsumaria reports 1 elderly man was shot dead in front of his family as he stood in front of his Baghdad home and a Diyala Province bombing targeting a police officers home left 1 police officer dead and six people injured.  In addition, AFP notes Iraqi officials today announced bombing and shooting attack late yesterday outside Balad left 4 Pakistani men dead.  All Iraq News reports 1 man dead in a Mosul roadside bombing (which police state they believe he was planting) and 1 male corpse and 1 female corpse discovered in Mosul (gunshots to the chest and head).
On security issues, Margret Griffis ( reported yesterday, "A number of Sahwa members quit their jobs and abandoned their posts in Hawija and Kirkuk. The men say their demands have not been met, but local leaders are asking them to remain on the job. The Sahwa were to have been folded into the military, but the central government has refused to fully do so. The payment of salaries has also been slow at times. Because the group is made of Sunnis, many who are former insurgents, the central government has been wary of them if not outright antagonistic. About 8,000 Sahwa are in the Kirkuk region. Should they all abandon their posts, it would be a significant blow to security."
Deutsche Welle covers Nouri's attack on the Central Bank noting that this all began back again a year ago -- this was when the political stalemate transitioned into a political crisis. The outlet notes that the talk in Iraq is that there are political reasons behind the sacking of the Governor of the Central Bank.  From yesterday's snapshot:
This week, charges were brought against Sinan al-Shabibi, the governor of the Central Bank, and he was replaced.  Al Mada reports that Parliament's Legal Committee is saying the actions were both rash and illegal.  Nouri does not control the Central Bank and he cannot fire a governor with it.  They point to Article 103 of the Iraqi Constitution which has two clauses pertaining to the Central Bank:

First: The Central Bank of Iraq, the Board of Supreme Audit, the Communication and Media Commission, and the Endowment Commissions are financially and administratively independent institutions, and the work of each of these institutions shall be regulated by law.
Second: The Central Bank of Iraq is responsible before the Council of Representatives.  The Board of Supreme Audit and the Communication and Media Commission shall be attached to the Council of Representatives. 

The second clause puts the Parliament over the Central Bank.  (The third clause, not quoted, puts the Cabinet over the Endowment Commission.)  Michael Peel (Financial Times of London) reports an arrest warrant has been sworn out for "Sinan al-Shabibi and 15 of his colleagues."  Peel also observes, "While no evidence has yet been produced about the allegations, analysts and business people have raised concerns about the way the government has handled the case.  Some observers see it as an extension of efforts by Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister, to extend his control over important security and financial institutions, a charge the governmnet denies."
Iraq Business News notes  that "there has been tension between the Central Bank and the government for years. In January of last year, Nouri al-Maliki secured a court ruling placing the Central Bank under the control of the cabinet, rather than the parliament, much to the displeasure of al-Shabibi."  My apologies, I'm not aware of that decision.  The Parliament either isn't or doesn't consider it a valid decision.
Let's note this week's war of words by first dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

Today Al Mada reports Yassin Majeed, an MP with Nouri's State of Law, is declaring that KRG President Massoud Barzani is a threat to Iraq. Majeed held a press conference outside Parliament to denounce Barzani. Alsumaria notes that among Barzani's supposed outrageous offenses is objecting to the infrastructure bill and objecting to the recent weapons shopping spree Nouri's been on ($1 billion dollar deal with the Czech Republic, $4.2 billion dollar deal with Russia). All Iraq News notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani issued a statement noting that, at a time when they are trying to resolve the current political crisis, the remarks are not helpful.
And now to Tuesday's snaphsot:

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports today that State of Law is rushing to walk away from Majeed's remarks after Talabani and Iraqiya both called out the "reckless" remarks yesterday.  Alsumaria reports Iraqiya stated there was no way to justify the remarks and called on everyone to condemn the remarks and this method to destroy a foundation of unity.  In addition, All Iraq News notes the Kurdistan Alliance announced yesterday that there is no political difference between Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani and that the Allliance's statement was in response to the verbal attack on Barzani from Majeed.  Hussein Ali Dawed (Al-Montior) notes Talabani statined "he considered these statements a 'call to war'."  State of Law has never walked away from their constant smack talk before.  The difference here appears to have been a united push back from the blocs at the same time that Nouri wanted it to appear he was trying to reach an understanding with everyone and be a national leader.  Majeed's remarks were in keeping with State of Law's trash talk in the past.  A month ago -- or maybe a month from now -- they wouldn't have raised an eyebrow and are part of State of Law's never-ending attacks on other politicians.
KRG President Massoud Barzani will be visiting Moscow shortly.  This trip to Russia was planned weeks ago. Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports today that State of Law MP Mohammad Chihod is stating that the trip is so Barzani can destroy the weapons deal Nouri signed with Russia. 
State of Law is a bunch of losers, liars and thieves.  They lost the 2010 election, they lie constantly and they stole the post of prime minister.  They are also stupid.  So possibly Chihod is so dumb that he believes what he's saying (or maybe he shares Nouri's paranoia?).  But Barzani can't break the contract.  And unless he has some previously unknown magical power, he can't force Russian President Vladamir Putin to break the contract either.  Now he may be a very charming man and might be able to use all that charm to slow delivery.  But he can't stop delivery.  A contract is a contract.
I grasp that's difficult for State of Law to understand because in addition to everything else they lack honor and integrity.  They break contracts.  So they assume everyone else must as well.  If Russia were to break the contract with Nouri without just cause, it would be very difficult for Russia to interest other countries in buying weapons from them.
Nouri's State of Law came in second in the March 2010 elections.  Since the Iraqi Constitution meant that Nouri wouldn't get a second term, he dug his heels in and spent over eight months (Political Stalemate I) bringing the country to a standstill while the US White House -- which fully backed Nouri -- went around telling political blocs that they needed to be mature and put Iraq first.  Grasp that lie.
Grasp that the White House told all the other political blocs -- that Moqtada al-Sadr, that's Ibrahaim al-Jafaari (National Alliance) -- that they were stopping Iraq from moving forward.  All the other leaders by wanting to stick to the Constitution were harming Iraq.  Not the little bastard Nouri who refused to honor the Constitution or the will of the Iraqi people.
Then the US government rolls up with a proposal that everybody give a little to get a little.  Give Nouri a second term as prime minister and what is it you want?  What can Nouri give you? 
That's what the White House did.  So the Kurds wanted many things but among them Article 140 of the Constitution implemented.  (Article 140 was supposed to have been implemented -- per the Constitution -- by the end of 2007; however, Nouri refused to do so.  It is how disputed areas will be resolved -- census and referendum.  The Kurds want Kirkuk so does Baghdad.)
The White House negotiated the contract, which would become known as the Erbil Agreement.  It swore that the contract was valid, legal and binding.  So all the leaders -- including Nouri -- signed off on it. 
Nouri grabbed the second term that the Erbil Agreement delivered and Nouri then refused to honor the contract, he broke the contract.  That's why the country's in a political crisis at present.  It's not a mystery. 

Turning to the issue of the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, there are new items in the news cycle.  First, the background via the House Oversight Committee hearing this month:
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
Today's items in the cycle include the assertion that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice's statements that the attack grew out of a protest over a YouTube video are backed by intelligence at the time and the administration had no way of knowing any better.  Nonsense.  And there's actually a push back on this spin from the press.  AP reports, "Within 24 hours of the deadly attack, the CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington that there were eyewitness reports that the attack was carried out by militants, officials told The Associated Press. But for days, the Obama administration blamed it on an out-of-control demonstration over an American-made video ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad."  CNN also offers reality that contrasts with the administration's latest claims:
But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, told CNN that the panel had information from the intelligence community within 24 hours of the incident that it was a military style attack.
"If you look at all of the information leading up to (the attack) from an intelligence perspective, it's really confounding how you can come to a conclusion and then promote it for days in the face of all of that information that this was about a video," Rogers said.
Reality, the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy went to Congress September 12th and briefed staffers on the attack.  He called it terrorism.  Reality, the attack was seen by State Dept types ('types' because the CIA also saw this) in real time.  Reality, a little over 50 minutes of the attacks is on video.  Reality, the FBI has no objection to Congress reviewing the video but they don't have it.  At this point, it is not disclosed who has possession of the video other than that they are in the executive branch and they are not law enforcement.  The White House is refusing to turn the video over to Congress.
All of these realities were established in the House Oversight Committee hearing.  We attended the hearing and reported on it in real time:  "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot," Kat reported on the hearing with "What we learned at today's hearing," Ava reported on it with "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing" and Wally reported on it with "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment." 
If your outlet of choice -- say The NewsHour on PBS wasted your time by refusing to tell you about those realities and instead offered a 'style' report, you really need to demand that your news outlet of choice covers the damn news.  A lot of people are talking -- like Bob Somerby -- who clearly were not at the hearing and really need to inform themselves before speaking.  These days you assume that what was reported was what happened at your own peril.  That hearing was important and full of revelations.
So one of the items was Susan Rice's alleged innocence which, again, has been pushed back on.  And should be.  Another item in the news cycle is the cables released today.
A diplomatic cable sent by Ambassador Chris Stevens from Benghazi hours before the attack on the U.S. Consulate that killed him was largely devoted to the rising security threats in and around the city.

The cable, sent to the State Department, was released Friday by the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California. It is among more than 160 pages of documents that paint a picture of persistent and unpredictable violence in and around Benghazi this year and an often fractious debate about resources for diplomatic security.

In the September 11 cable, the ambassador refers to a meeting nine days earlier in which the commander of Benghazi's Supreme Security Council "expressed growing frustration with police and security forces" being too weak to keep the country secure.

Another paragraph refers to the "expanding Islamist influence in Derna," a town east of Benghazi, amid reports linking "the Abu Salim Brigade with a troubling increase in violence and Islamist influence."

The Abu Salim Brigade was prominent among the opponents of former strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

The ambassador refers to another meeting on September 9 in which commanders of unofficial militia claimed that the Libyan Armed Forces depended on them to secure eastern Libya, and even supplied them with weapons.

The White House is not being honest when they claim that it was 'intel.'  The tape exists, the attack was monitored in real time, CIA agents were wounded in the attack and made clear that it was not a protest that descended upon the Consulate.  But not only are they not being honest there, the document release makes clear that there was reason for concern -- serious concern -- and that the administration ignored those warnings.  Four Americans died.  It's time for the White House to get honest.

The news is fake, your wasted tax dollars are real (Ava and C.I.)

a radio
National Public Radio (or PBS) couldn't exist currently without your tax dollars.  Should it be  taken off public tax dollars, it could follow another model (most likely listener donations would continue and they'd take more corporate money and provide more on air commercials billed as non-commercials).  But for now, it gets tax dollars.

Operating with money from all American people, it should be representing all American people.  It doesn't.  People like Bill Moyers ensured, at its inception, that the CPB would be controlled by Congress.  They did that by refusing to create an independent revenue generator.  In England, at the same time, there was a TV tax (known as a license fee) that provided funds for the BBC.  That model was known and proposed.  Democrats like Moyers objected because it would give the CPB -- Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- too much independence.

Yes, Virginia, ugly people do make overs too.

Hard to believe when you look at Bill Moyers today, but, yes, he has had a make over.

The opponent to independent public broadcasting now likes to self-present as its biggest champion.

Back in the day, when he wasn't targeting gays in the Johnson administration, Bill was doing his part to ensure that public broadcasting in the US -- PBS and NPR (to a lesser degree at that time Pacifica Radio -- at that time, Pacifica was much more independent than what it is today) -- would be controlled by the two party duopoly in the United States.

"You keep saying you're done with Bill Moyers and you keep coming back to him."


Believe us, we have better things to do.  We've documented the sexism of his previous show (here and here, if you're new to the topic) and his current show  (here) and how women make up so few of his guests.   We've documented his questionable 'reporting' and how he disgraced PBS in 2008 and we told you about it before the last straw for PBS news correspondents -- when a PBS commercial presented him as part of  PBS news team.  They were offended.  We'd told you long before the commercial how much his 'ethics' and his slanting and misrepresenting had ticked off reporters for PBS.  We told you he wouldn't be returning with PBS and, sure enough, they don't produce his current show.

But if you're going to talk about the CPB and the need for public broadcasting to serve the public, there's no point in lying about that unless you want to be Bill Moyers -- and we work out too much every day to ever settle for his body, thank you very much.

Someone we'd much rather talk about is Harry Shearer.  You may remember that besides his acting, he's also known for many other things including the most powerful documentary of 2010 The Big Uneasy.  And if you remember that, you're probably aware of the nonsense NPR pulled on him.  Harry was hoping that he'd get some serious NPR coverage. All he got was Talk of the Nation which isn't considered a big show in the way that Morning Edition and All Things Considered are. 

We like Harry and the documentary is brilliant.  However, if NPR had taken the position that, "You've been on one of our prestige shows and so we need to cover other things on the other shows," we would have been okay with that.  We're not really fond of press junkets that result in the same performer on every magazine cover and every TV morning show.  So had NPR taken the position that, "We've given you exposure and now we need to give someone else exposure," we could live with that and even defend it.

But what they told him instead was, that for booking reasons, they have a "dibs list" that allows certain shows to get a guest as an exclusive.  Strangely, no such concern exists regarding PBS and NPR personalities which is how Jim Lehrer and Michele Norris get multiple bookings when they have a product to promote -- a product that NPR does not benefit from the sales of but that NPR turns over the public airwaves to in order to promote in some sort of taxpayer-sponsored Home Shopping Network moment.

So the above establishes that the CPB  is set up to be controlled by the duopoly parties and that, even when it has nothing to do with elections or funding, NPR still choose not to play fair.

Did the "dibs list" apply to Jill Stein?

We ask that because All Things Considered, to their credit, provided a vice presidential debate October 6th between Green Party presidnetial candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Is that why Jill Stein hasn't been on Morning Edition this month? She was arrested this week at the presidential debate.  Even that didn't prompt a story on Morning Edition.  Is Jill on a "dibs list?"

We wondered that this morning as Morning Edition finally found third party candidates.  Mara Liasson did a 4 minute, 38 second report on Gary's run and that of Virgil Goode, Constitutional Party's presidential candidate.  We're glad Mara reported on the two and don't even quibble over her reporting.

But we're talking Morning Edition.  Which means if third parties got 4 minutes and 38 seconds, pretend candidates should get even more.  Thereby explaining the 4 minutes and 41 seconds wasted on a made up candidate.  Is that all Planet Money does with their NPR funds?  Mental masturbation?  And a supposed third party candidate -- that doesn't exist, that's made up -- is then critiqued by a Democratic Party operative and a Republican party operative?

We're missing the news or analysis on NPR where a Green is brought in to critque the Barack - Mitt debate.

That awful Planet Money segment existed solely to mock third parties ("Move to another country!") and re-inforce the duopoly system ("If you don't like" Barack Obama or Mitt Romney).  What a load of crap and what a misuse of taxpayer money.

National Public Radio is rarely national and even less about the public.  These days, more and more, it's not even radio as the online streaming continues to increase and over the airwaves listenership continues to drop.

How very telling that they cram two candidates into one segment while jerking off about a fake candidate for a longer segment.

They're not serving the public and that is why the funding model needs to change.  If it does, NPR might become more about the public.  It might become more about the corporate.  But quit pretending that it's public radio currently.

And quit pretending that you're having honest discussions about how to determine who should be at the debates.  We've already shared that if you make one state's ballot, you should be onstage at the debates.

We propose that because we're  thinking people -- unlike the 'experts' NPR offers.  Those 'experts' start explaining percentage of the national vote and blah blah blah as if the US elects the president via the popular vote.  The electoral college is how the  president is elected and that's based on states.

Unless/until that changes (we support a move to the popular vote), if even one state could potentially vote their electors to you, then you should be on that stage.  If you are before the voters in even one state, you belong on the debate stage.

While Morning Edition does a lousy job of covering third parties (Mara's report today is a rarity), Brian Montopoli has filed two very important reports for CBS News this week -- click here and here



For those who wonder: As noted before, we aren't voting for president in the 2012 election.  No candidate has spoken to us and earned our vote.  And we've been hugely disappointed in the third party candidates -- especially one who's used a campaign not to fight for change but to play Team Mascot for the Democratic Party.

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