Friday, July 11, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, July 11, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the Kurds take over 2 oil fields, Kurdish Cabinent ministers boycott the Cabinet, a CIA base in the KRG gets some attention, Nouri's War Crimes continue, and much more.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin has never stopped covering Iraq.  The US media withdrawal following the 2008 elections did not include Trudy. She has continued to write columns on Iraq.  Sometimes I agree with her, sometimes I disagree.  But there is no doubting that she cares about Iraq and no doubting that she continues to pay attention to what's happening there.  She has a new column at the San Jose Mercury News entitled "To save Iraq, dump al-Maliki:"

Having ignored Iraq since 2009, the Obama team is now desperately trying to devise a way to prevent its total collapse -- and to roll back the jihadi state newly established on a third of Iraqi territory.
The only slim hope of doing either requires the ouster of the leader whom the United States has backed for nearly a decade, Iraq's paranoid prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Maliki's sectarian Shiite politics have driven Iraq's Sunnis -- a fifth of the country's population -- into the arms of the Islamic State movement (known as ISIS). This jihadi group recently seized control of the country's second-largest city, Mosul, and declared a "caliphate" spanning western Iraq and eastern Syria.

Clearly, I agree with her that thug Nouri needs to go.  Normally, I'd agree with her that they ignored Iraq.  But after calls from State Dept friends and a White House friend today, I'm not sure if they ignore or they just don't grasp.

Today, the White House was in a panic and wanted the State Dept to explain why Brett McGurk -- who's been in Iraq taking various meetings -- had not been passing on what was going on with the Kurds.

The White House was genuinely shocked that the Kurds do not come running when the US snaps its fingers or whistles.  The Kurds -- shocking -- are acting like people who can make up their own minds. Leadership will meet with US officials and have pleasant conversations with the US officials but they will determine what they will do.

Self-determination in the Kurdistan!!!!

It's so shocking to the White House.

The White House friend doesn't read the site but hears enough about it to regularly complain.  The State Dept friends do read it.

So this is where I'm confused.  Trudy Rubin says the administration has ignored Iraq and I've stated that myself.  But since 2012, we've been noting that KRG President Massoud Barzani was a leader on the world stage, that he had become more prominent than Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (also a Kurd) and that, unlike Jalal, Massoud doesn't have a collapsible spine.  He can and will stand up for something he believes in.

We've made some pretty solid calls on the KRG.  We noted, ahead of the elections last fall in the KRG, that the PUK would probably do poorly and that Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, First Lady of Iraq (wife of Jalal) would be held accountable if that happened.  And it did happen and she was.  We noted that video was needed of Jalal if the PUK was not going to lose big in the April 30th election and, sure enough, the PUK put out a video of Jalal just in time for voting.

Let's back up.  December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

Photos like this were released twice.


Both sets were showing Jalal's right side.  Both sets didn't appear to show Jalal connecting with anyone (even in photos where people were around him).  He looked posed.  Social media made jokes about the film Weekend At Bernie's (Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman's characters manipulate Bernie's corpse throughout the film to make it appear Bernie is alive).

Ahead of the September KRG provincial elections, PUK party officials attempted to schedule a meet-up (in Germany) with Jalal.  The Talabani family would not allow it.  It is said the Talabani family demanded Jalal's photos appear on campaign material for those elections.  (It is also said that Hero did not make that request.)  The two dominant parties in the KRG forever had been Barazani's KDP and Talabani's PUK.  But in September, while the KDP remained dominant, the PUK found themselves surpassed by Goran.

The distant third place showing and anger that has been building meant that Hero was asked to (and did) resign as the leader of the PUK.

In the last years, before his stroke, Jalal has been a study in weakness.  He's been a joke.  He would, for example, thunder against the death penalty.  That's fine.  But he is required, as president of Iraq, to sign off on all executions.

So he would thunder he was against the death penalty (which put him at odds with most Iraqis who favor the death penalty) and then just slide the forms needing signatures over to one of his vice presidents who would sign them.

All his bluster and words were meaningless.

He never stopped one execution.  And, as he repeatedly represented himself as someone opposed to the death penalty in one interview after another, Iraqis were left with the impression that Jalal was a fake ass.

Jalal became an object of public ridicule.  His stroke actually saved him from some of the scorn he'd earned.  That's not a surprise to us.  We've talked about it here repeatedly, in real time, as it happened, including when he betrayed the Sunnis, other Kurds and some Shi'ites by 'creating' powers for himself that he didn't have so that he could refuse to forward the petition for a no-confidence vote (on Nouri) to the Parliament.

All of this and so much more the administration was vaguely aware of.  They just lacked the ability to synthesize it into a coherent view of what was taking place and so they were taken by surprise to how the Kurds responded to Nouri's malicious charges that they were aiding or in bed with terrorists.

Mohammed A. Salih (Christian Science Monitor) reports,  "Iraqi Kurdistan careened closer to independence today, with Kurdish forces advancing outside Kirkuk, which they seized last month, to seize two major Iraqi oil fields." Raheem Salman and Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) add "Kurdish politicians formally suspended their participation in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.
[. . .] The Kurdish forces took over production facilities at the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oilfields near the city of Kirkuk, the oil ministry in Baghdad said."  NINA notes the Bai Hassan oil field "produces about 195,000 barrels per day."

On the issue of the Kurds walking out of the Cabinet, Al Jazeera notes:

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said on Friday that Kurdish politicians would stop running their ministries, a day after they had announced a boycott of cabinet meetings.
The ministries affected include Zebari's foreign ministry, the trade ministry, the ministry of migration, the health ministry and the deputy premiership, the Reuters news agency reported.
Kurdish MPs would continue to attend the parliament, elected on April 30, Zebari said, adding the country risked falling apart if an inclusive government was not formed.

BBC News reminds the seizure and the walkout follows an earlier action, "They did so after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki accused the Kurds of harbouring extremists."
 Nabih Bulos (Los Angeles Times) also provides context, "The always-fraught relationship between the two sides escalated sharply when Maliki on Wednesday accused the Kurdish leadership of harboring Sunni Arab insurgents dominating large swaths of the country's northern and central provinces. The Sunni rebellion prompted Kurdish forces to occupy large tracts of Iraqi territory, including the oil-hub northern city of Kirkuk."

The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following statement in response to Nouri's charges of terrorism:

Salahaddin, Kurdistan ( – The Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Region Presidency responded to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s accusation against the KRG.
“He [Nouri al-Maliki] has become hysterical and has lost his balance. He is doing everything he can to justify his failures and put the blame on others for these failures,” read the statement.
The Spokesperson added that Erbil, which Maliki has accused of harboring terrorists, has always been a refuge for the oppressed, including Nouri al-Maliki himself.
“Kurdistan is proud of the fact that Erbil has always served as refuge for oppressed people, including yourself when you fled the former dictatorship. Now Erbil is a refuge for people fleeing from your dictatorship. ISIS and other groups have no place in Erbil, they stay with you. It was you who gave Iraqi land and the assets of six army divisions to ISIS.”
The statement demanded that the Prime Minister apologize to the Iraqi people and step down. “You must apologize to the Iraqi people and step down. You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises.”

As for the two oil fields?  The KRG issued the following statement on today's events:

Erbil, Kurdistan Region ( - This morning, members of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kirkuk Oil Protection Forces moved to secure the oil fields of Bai Hassan and the Makhmour area, after learning of orders by officials in the federal Ministry of Oil in Baghdad to sabotage the recent mutually-agreed pipeline infrastructure linking the Avana dome with the Khurmala field.
The nearby Bai Hassan field and the other fields located in Makhmour district are now safely under KRG management. The KRG expects production at these fields to continue normally. Staff at the North Oil Company that previously operated these fields have been informed that from tomorrow they will be expected to cooperate with KRG management. Those who do not want to do so can leave.
The new pipeline linking Khurmala with Avana was designed and constructed with the express purpose of facilitating export from the Makhmour, Avana and Kirkuk area fields through the KRG pipeline network to help increase revenues for Iraqis, at a time of great need and at a time when most of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline is under ISIS control.
The new infrastructure was built and paid for by the KRG, working in full cooperation with officials and engineers at North Oil Company. However, the KRG learned on Thursday that some officials in the federal Ministry of Oil gave orders to a number of NOC staff to cease their cooperation with the KRG and to dismantle or render inoperable the valves on the new pipeline.
The Avana and Makhmour fields have been unable to export since March because the main Iraq-Turkey pipeline has been damaged by terrorist attacks. The main Iraq pipeline lies mostly within territory recently surrendered by the federal government to ISIS.
Despite the inability to export and the halt to refining at Beiji, the Avana and Makhmour fields were producing about 110,000 barrels of oil per day and utilising the associated gas to help with the operation of the LPG bottling plant in Kirkuk.
But instead of using the new KRG pipeline infrastructure to export the produced oil, officials at the NOC were ordered by Baghdad to re-inject the oil back into a small, disused field in Kirkuk. This politically motivated decision risked causing great damage to the field in question with a permanent loss of most of the oil that has been re-injected. It has also deprived the people of Iraq of much-needed oil export revenue.
From now on, production at the new fields under KRG control will be used primarily to fill the shortage of refined products in the domestic market. This will ease the burden on ordinary citizens caused by the failure of the federal authorities to protect the country's vital oil infrastructure in the region.
The KRG will also claim its Constitutional share of oil revenues derived from these fields to make up for the huge financial deficit triggered by the illegal withholding of the KRG’s 17 percent share of the federal budget by Baghdad.
The KRG has been and always will be open to cooperation and coordination with Baghdad, according to the rights and responsibilities of the Regions as outlined under the Iraqi Constitution. The KRG still hopes that Baghdad climbs down from its policy of punitive political and economic sanctions against the citizens of Kurdistan.
This morning’s events have shown that the KRG is determined to protect and defend Iraq’s oil infrastructure whenever it is threatened by acts of terrorism or, as in this case, politically motivated sabotage.

EFE notes Iraq's Ministry of Oil released a statement declaring, ""(T)his irresponsible behavior ... violates the constitution and the national wealth, and disregards the federal authorities and threatens national unity."

One immediate effect?  Iraq no longer has a Foreign Minister.  Hamdi Alkhashali and Michael Martinez (CNN) report:

In a possible portent of growing factional conflict, a leading Kurdish minister was removed from Iraq's government, and the Kurdish semi-autonomous government took over two oilfields in the north, officials said Friday.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the face of Iraqi diplomacy for a more than a decade, was removed Friday by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, two senior Iraqi government officials said.

There are reports that Nouri's replaced Zebari.

No, he really hasn't and can't.  Were he to nominate someone -- questionable with Iraq's caretaker state currently -- that person couldn't be confirmed because that requires the Parliament.

Now he did something similar in a previous time when a government hadn't yet formed.  When he did that before, he took someone already confirmed by Parliament to the Cabinet and just taxed that person with additional duties and an additional office.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Shahristani has never been confirmed to head a Ministry so it's a stretch to call him "acting" or "interim" anything.  You can call him "illegal" or "unconstitutional."  But that's about it.

The news that Kurds were not robots who awaited US command shook the administration up so badly there was no State Dept press briefing.  However, the State Dept did issue a follow up on Wednesday that we'll note now.

Rewards for Justice: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Taken Question
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 9, 2014
Question: Is there a Rewards for Justice offer for information on Al Baghdadi?

Answer: Yes. Since October 2011 the Rewards for Justice program has advertised on its web site ( a reward offer of up to $10 million for information leading to the location, arrest, or conviction of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Al-Baghdadi also is known as Abu Du’a.
This RFJ reward offer remains active and is currently posted on the RFJ website at


We're not chasing down all the nonsense.  We've been around long enough to remember all the false cries of 'we got him!' by the Bully Boy Bush administration.  There are various leaders of various wings of the elements fighting the occupation government in Iraq.  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the leader of the Islamic State (like AFP, we'll refer to it here as "IS" unless we're quoting someone).

And the main reason we're noting the State Dept statement above is because a Mother Jones friend asked/demanded that Jeanna McLaughlin's "Was Iraq's Top Terrorist Radicalized at a US-Run Prison?" McLaughlin's article is about al-Bagdadi

James Skylar Gerrond, a former US Air Force security forces officer and a compound commander at Camp Bucca in 2006 and 2007, says that he believes Baghdadi's stay at the prison contributed to his radicalization—or at least bolstered his extremism. After Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State a new nation and himself its leader, Gerrond tweeted, "Many of us at Camp Bucca were concerned that instead of just holding detainees, we had created a pressure cooker for extremism." Gerrond is now a civilian working for the Department of Defense.
"Like many Iraq vets, I've been following the situation with ISIS for the last several weeks and trying to understand why things are falling apart so badly in the region," Gerrond tells Mother Jones in an email. "When some of Baghdadi's personal history started to come out, such as the fact that he was detained at Camp Bucca around the same time I was deployed there, I started to reflect on my deployment and what the conditions were at the facility during that time."

Meanwhile Nouri wants lethal US drones over Iraq.  Barack's given him that -- although not control of them.  Barack thinks that somehow leaves him in control.  Patrick Cockburn (Independent) weighs in:

The US is pleased with the way drones have worked in Yemen and Waziristan against small groups of Al Qaeda-associated groups. But these isolated gangs are not a serious threat compared with what is brewing in Syria and Iraq, where there will soon be tens of thousands of trained, well-equipped and fanatical militants under a strong central command.

But there is one important aspect of drone warfare to which Washington has not given enough attention. Drones have hitherto been used largely against ill-equipped tribes people in isolated parts of the world and not against well-organised groups such as Isis.  The latter may not be able to do much against drones at the moment they strike, but it will certainly retaliate later against American or European targets. 

On the drones, Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

A supposedly secret but locally well-known CIA station on the outskirts of Irbil’s airport is undergoing rapid expansion as the United States considers its options in Iraq, where Sunni militants have seized control in many regions.
Western contractors hired to expand the facility and a local intelligence official confirmed the construction project, which is visible from the main highway linking Erbil to Mosul, the city whose fall June 10 triggered the Islamic State’s sweep through northern and central Iraq. Residents around the airport say they can hear daily what they suspect are U.S. drones taking off and landing at the facility.

Now Patrick Cockburn's not the only one questioning the 'wisdom' of Barack's 'plan.'  Mary E. O'Leary (New Haven Register) interviews Senator Chris Murphy and reports:

Murphy said the civil war raging in Syria and Iraq has no respect for the boudaries that were put together by, “as someone said smarter than me, ‘drawn by diplomats after World War I who were lying to each other.’”

He said on the one hand, the U.S. has cast its lot “with a Shiite-Iranian proxy leader (Nouri al-Maliki) fighting a Sunni insurgency. On the other side of the conflict, we have cast our lot with a Sunni insurgency fighting against a Shiite-Iranian proxy leader. We are literally on both sides of the same fight right now.”

As the US continues to (at the very least) indulge tyrant Nouri al-Maliki, Nouri continues his War Crime of collective punishment by bombing the residential neighborhoods of Falluja resulting in 4 dead civilians and seven more injured.  That's today.  For a look at the bigger numbers, let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot:

On the topic of tyrant Nouri, NINA reports Falluja General Hospital released numbers today on the dead and injured from Nouri's bombings of Falluja's residential neighborhoods (which is legally defined as a War Crime).  Since January 1st, Nouri has killed 542 civilians in Falluja and injured 1880 more.
Yet, Nouri keeps getting more bombs and missiles from the US government -- in violation of treaties, laws and the Leahy Amendment.
After the hospital's announcement, another of Nouri's bombings killed 3 civilians in Falluja and left four more injured.

Al Mada reports that Nouri's bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja is increasing -- to the point that people are having to bury their loved ones (killed by these bombings) in local parks, public squares or keep the remains in their freezer while they wait for some form of security or peace to return.

When that will happen, no one knows.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Jurfis-Sakhar battle left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and three more injured, security forces say they killed 4 suspects in an aerial bombing of Muqdadiyah, an Iraqi aerial bombing of Jurfist-Sakhar killed 20 suspects, and a Kirkuk suicide bomber took his own life and the lives of 3 Peshmerga.  AFP notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing and suicide car bombing left 28 people dead and twenty-five more injured. This as Margaret Griffis ( explains, "Human Rights Watch reported that Iraqi forces and Shi’ite militias killed at least 255 Sunni prisoners last month and considers the executions a war crime or possibly a crime against humanity. The group collected evidence from five prisons massacres in the Mosul area, but the government said the allegations were inaccurate. However, there is evidence that Iraq has been killing prisoners in other regions, such as in Hashimiya and in Baquba during the same time period."

Moving over to veterans issues, yesterday's snapshot noted a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following press release regarding the hearing:

 Mother of Marine Who Died By Suicide Takes Fight To Washington

CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or

Mother of Marine Who Died By Suicide Takes Fight To Washington 
Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt, testifies before Congress, stands with IAVA, HVAC Chairman Miller to introduce The Clay Hunt SAV Act

WASHINGTON, DC (July 10, 2014) – Susan Selke, mother of Marine veteran Clay Hunt who died by suicide in 2011, today will stand with members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Congressional leaders from both parties, and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) as he introduces a suicide prevention bill that is named after her late son. This morning, Susan testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee alongside other families, sharing her gut-wrenching story of losing her son to suicide three years ago. As a shocking 22 veterans die each day to suicide, and failures at the VA continue to emerge, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention For American Veterans Act (Clay Hunt SAV Act), is historic legislation that addresses veteran suicide and improves access to quality mental health care. 
“Had legislation like this existed years ago I believe Clay would be here with us today,” said Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt. “All veterans, but especially those struggling with invisible injuries, should not have to go through red tape to get the mental health care they need and very much deserve. They should not have to jump through hoops to get an appointment, or see a doctor. I’m here in Washington because I don’t want any mother, father, sister, brother or friend to have to experience another suicide. Our country is at a crossroads right now as 22 veterans die by suicide each day, at a time when more of our servicemembers are returning home. We need an urgent solution to this emergency and this bill is the first step. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle must get behind our veterans and pass this bill.” 
Susan’s powerful testimony was carried live on C-SPAN3 and can be found in written form here.
“Clay was a friend, leader and patriot. And we’re all here today to honor his memory by carrying on his urgent fight for better care for veterans. Clay led this fight with IAVA in Washington years ago, and his mother is here now to finish it. Susan is a true hero. And IAVA members from across America are here today to have her back. Susan’s courage and determination should inspire all Americans to action,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “We salute Chairman Miller for his strong leadership today and throughout the last few years. He has listened to IAVA members and made suicide a top priority. We also salute Congressman Tim Walz. As a vet himself, he’s always stood by IAVA’s veterans.” 
Rieckhoff continued, “The Clay Hunt SAV Act will change thousands of lives for the better by providing access to top-quality mental health care. We thank the Chairman for his courageous leadership in addressing this issue. With work days on the Congressional calendar dwindling, we urge Congress to move swiftly to pass this legislation before August recess. Taking this step to reverse the suicide trend among our veterans should be a priority, not a political fight. Congress must pass this bill as soon as possible. Our veterans cannot afford to wait for summer recesses and election campaigns. They deserve action now.”
Rieckhoff added: “Combating suicide remains IAVA’s top issue in 2014 as 22 veterans die by suicide a day. In IAVA’s 2014 Member Survey, 47% of respondents said they know at least one Iraq or Afghanistan vet who has attempted suicide, and 40% of respondents know a veteran that has died by suicide. The men and women who served our country and protected us abroad now need our help back home. IAVA has answered the call, and we urge more lawmakers to join us. We also call on the President to respond to this issue. Despite months of the VA scandal, and repeated requests, he has still not met with IAVA and leading veterans groups or answered our calls for an executive order on veterans suicide. It’s time for the Commander in Chief to step up and show our veterans he is serious about our issues.”
“The key to curbing the epidemic of veteran suicides is improving the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health care available to our returning heroes,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Over the past seven years, VA's mental health care staff and budget have grown by nearly 40 percent, but the fact remains, veterans are still committing suicide at a frightening pace. This slow-motion national tragedy is likely to continue as long as the Department of Veterans Affairs sticks to its normal, business-as-usual approach of treating veterans where and how VA wants as opposed to where and how veterans want. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will help create a greater accounting of available services and an enhanced  community approach to delivering veterans suicide prevention and mental health care treatment, which is why I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting it.”
“One veteran lost to suicide is one too many,” said Rep. Tim Walz, the highest ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress. “While the wars overseas may be ending, all too often our heroes return only to face a war of their own at home. While there is no bill that will completely end veteran suicide, this comprehensive, bipartisan measure is a step in the right direction. I’m proud to have worked with Chairman Miller, Rep. Duckworth, a combat veteran herself, and the veteran advocates at IAVA to introduce this bipartisan, important legislation.”
The Clay Hunt SAV Act:
Increases Access to Mental Health Care: 
Amends the requirements for reviewing the discharge characterizations of individuals diagnosed with PTSD or TBI.
Requires a centralized website of all of the mental health care services available within each Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) which will be updated at least every 90 days. 
Increases Capacity to Meet the Demand for Mental Health Care: 
Authorizes the VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists. 
Requires the DoD and National Guard to review the staffing requirements for Directors of Psychological Health in each state.  
Improves the Quality of Care for Troops and Veterans: 
Requires a yearly evaluation, conducted by a third party, of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the DoD and VA.
Provides Continuous, Seamless Care to Troops and Veterans: 
Establishes a strategic relationship between the VA and the National Guard to facilitate a greater continuity of care between the National Guard and the VA. 
Authorizes a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the transition of care for PTSD and TBI between the DoD and the VA.  
Develops Community Support for Veterans: 
Establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services. 
The Campaign to Combat Suicide was designed to raise public awareness of the suicide crisis, demand Congressional action and a Presidential Executive Order to start to reverse the suicide trend.
As part of its Campaign to Combat Suicide, all year long IAVA will activate every element of its membership, programs and partners – both on-the-ground and online. IAVA will incorporate this effort into everything we do from our monthly VetTogethers to our over 500,000-person strong social media community. We will empower our almost 300,000 members and supporters to serve as a ground force for outreach, support and advocacy. And we will travel the country, turning public attention to the issue of veteran suicide and promoting solutions.
A press event will be held at the House Triangle at 2:30 pm. 
Note to media: Email and call 212-982-9699 for requests to interview IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its tenth year, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

Emmy nominations were announced Thursday.  It became the topic for theme posts.  Cedric's "He was almost Emmy nominated" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE WANTS TO GO HOLLYWOOD!" (joint-post) dealt with a nominated short, Marcia's "The Emmy f**k up -- an Academy Award nominee can't also be an Emmy nominee" dealt with a film already nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary now wrongly nominated for an Emmy, Ruth covered nonfiction in "Cosmos is the best nonfiction series," Isaiah covered animated TV show with "The Second Run (and why Bob's Burgers should win)," Kat noted the importance of sound and visuals in "Emmy category that shouldn't be overlooked," Ann noted that only one African-American (Jackee) has ever won the best supporting actress (comedy) Emmy and that there's no person of color nominated this year "How White Was My Emmys," Ann noted she was building on Betty's "Where are the women of color in comedy?," Mike survedy the tired best actor comedy nominees and then focused on the supporting actors with "Where's Andy Samberg?," Rebecca looked at best guest star in a drama with "5 worthy nominees ... and jane fonda," Trina focused on the non-comedy in the nominees for best comedy in "Emmy nominees for Outstanding Comedy" and Stan focused on best actress in a drama with "Give the Emmy to Kerry" Washington for her performance on Scandal.