Saturday, May 23, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, May 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, USA Today's editorial board lies for Barack Obama, an insider's account of the fall of Ramadi emerges, Haider al-Abadi is again refusing to allow Sunnis to enter Baghdad, why you shouldn't believe 'truthy' Mike Morrell, we again review the attacks on Jean Seberg, and so much more.

The lies about Iraq never end.  USA Today's dim-witted editorial board fashioned a series of hogwash statements that they hope idiots will applaud -- idiots on my side (the left) because it's little more than self-stroking.  And that the editorial board of any supposed objective paper thinks they can get away with lying demonstrates that the crisis in journalism which helped sell the Iraq War continues to this day.  Case in point:

Obama's policies have indeed made things worse. But in arguing that he should have kept troops in Iraq longer, his critics skip over the inconvenient fact that he pulled out on a schedule negotiated by Bush.

No, that's not a fact.

Here's a fact for the lying whores of USA Today's editorial board: The SOFA was a three year contract.  That's all it was.  It was not the end of the US occupation of Iraq.

I'm sorry that you're too damn stupid or too dishonest to tell that truth.

However, we told it in real time the day the White House released the SOFA -- Thanksgiving Day, 2008 -- look it up in the archives -- we published the SOFA in full and I wasted my Thanksgiving night reading and analyzing it.

I went on to repeatedly explain that this was the replacement for the yearly United Nations mandate.  That wasn't a controversial call and it had been made in the April 10, 2008 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing by then-Chair Joe Biden and by then-US Senator Russ Feingold among others.

It did not mean that the US left at the end of 2011.  It only gave coverage for 2009, 2010 and 2011.  A new contract could replace it.

For noting that reality, I endured three years of e-mails telling me I was wrong, I didn't know what I was talking about, the SOFA meant it was the end, blah blah blah.

At one point, I got very irritated and pointed out here that everyone who's broken a contract with a multi-national but managed to keep the seven-figure salary, keep standing.  Oh, what, only me?

Yeah, so just stop talking, stop pretending you know a thing about contract law unless, like me, you've walked out on a contract and did so with no legal consequences because you were smart enough to read and comprehend the contract and see where the wiggle room was.

Who was right?  The thousands e-mailing with their 'expertise' or me?

In 2011, Barack Obama began serious discussions about a new SOFA with the Iraqi government.  In 2010, he backed Nouri al-Maliki -- who had lost the 2010 elections -- because Nouri had promised he would allow US troops to stay on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011.  Vice President Joe Biden declared it was a "sure thing" with Nouri as prime minister.

And it could have been. But Barack wanted a smaller number than Nouri did.

Nouri feared a military coup.

Only a military coup.

He terrorized the Iraqi people -- with the Iraqi military and other forces -- and didn't fear them.

The politicians?

The US government had a way of keeping them in line -- a method former Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi described to Iran's Press TV in 2008 "as a matter of blackmailing" and "political blackmail."

That just left the Iraqi military whom Nouri encouraged to break the laws and disobey the Constitution.  And if they'd so quickly do that, why wouldn't they also launch a coup against him?

Nouri wanted thousands of US troops to protect him from a coup.

US Senator John McCain has repeatedly accused Barack of tanking the SOFA talks.  The reason he makes that charge is because McCain was repeatedly in Iraq including in 2011 when he spoke to various leaders about what was needed to get a new SOFA through Parliament?

Like Nouri, they wanted more US troops.  (Nouri also conveyed that to McCain but McCain was not relying solely on Nouri's stated needs.)

To put this before the Parliament (the 2008 one went before the Parliament and 'passed' -- it didn't pass, there weren't enough votes for it or members present), they needed to have a sizable force or it just wasn't worth the political risk they'd be taking (the risk being the backlash from the people as well as from Moqtada al-Sadr and his movement which represented the largest and most sustained element in Iraq calling for all US troops and officials to leave the country).

Barack wouldn't budge on the number and it wasn't worth it politically to Nouri who was also getting promises from Tehran that if he didn't extend the US occupation of Iraq, he could count on Iranian forces to suppress any attempted coup which might take place.

USA Today insists, "But in arguing that he should have kept troops in Iraq longer, his critics skip over the inconvenient fact that he pulled out on a schedule negotiated by Bush."

USA Today is the one skipping over inconvenient facts such as the one where Barack Obama attempted to get a new SOFA.  Here's Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) reporting in October of 2011:

President Obama’s announcement on Friday that all American troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year was an occasion for celebration for many, but some top American military officials were dismayed by the announcement, seeing it as the president’s putting the best face on a breakdown in tortured negotiations with the Iraqis.
And for the negotiators who labored all year to avoid that outcome, it represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail. But officials also held out hope that after the withdrawal, the two countries could restart negotiations more productively, as two sovereign nations.

The tens of thousands is what Nouri stated he would back.  When McCain accuses Barack of tanking the talks, he's making that accusation based on the fact that it was known 5,000 was unacceptable to Nouri.

That doesn't make McCain's accusation true but that's the basis for his charge.

That's too confusing for the editorial board of USA Today.

So let's really underscore that Barack Obama sought to extend the SOFA.  This is from one of Barack's rare press briefings (this one is June 19, 2014) and he's speaking with CNN's Acosta.

Q    Just very quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq?  Any regrets about that decision in 2011?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me; that was a decision made by the Iraqi government.  We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces.  We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is, is that they're provided immunity since they're being invited by the sovereign government there, so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they're not somehow hauled before a foreign court.  That's a core requirement that we have for U.S. troop presence anywhere. 

The Iraqi government and Prime Minister Maliki declined to provide us that immunity.  And so I think it is important though to recognize that, despite that decision, that we have continued to provide them with very intensive advice and support and have continued throughout this process over the last five years to not only offer them our assistance militarily, but we’ve also continued to urge the kinds of political compromises that we think are ultimately necessary in order for them to have a functioning, multi-sectarian democracy inside the country.

Samantha Power has stated to various friends that Nouri was willing to give on immunity if Barack would increase the number of US troops and, when he wouldn't budge, Nouri wouldn't either.

But right there, Barack saying he was trying to get an agreement.

So USA Today needs to learn how to be factual and how to tell the truth.

The problem the press has is that they suck up to whomever is in office.

They're little whores to the powerful.

FAIR used to make that point but fell silent when Barack took the White House.

It's why they're useless and why everyone can laugh when a Republican is in the White House again and suddenly FAIR is aghast over the press worship and over the amount of money spent on inaugural balls -- when it was Bully Boy Bush occupying the Oval Office, FAIR thought it unseemly -- at a time of war -- to be holding these lavish balls.

I've been talking to several friends -- high up in the Democratic Party -- about the sudden interest in WMD.

It's been explained that this is how Hillary wins.

If the entire Iraq War is about WMD then Hillary can play the "I'm just a little girl who misunderstood intelligence.  I'm only a little girl."

So that's why we've suffered through this talking point for nearly two weeks.

Let's be really clear on something here, if Iraq had WMD, if nuclear weapons had been discovered in Iraq in April of 2003, it wouldn't have made the Iraq War "right," "legal" or "ethical."

WMD is a distraction.

That's all it was in real time.

It was a fear based talking point meant to silence debate and discussion and distract from the illegal nature of attacking a country that has not attacked you.

Hillary's not a little girl.

She's rather heavy and dumpy -- even for her age.  And she's a woman, not a girl.

Most of all she was an attorney.

She has a functioning knowledge of the law -- it's how she so often skirts it successfully and semi-successfully.

Even if the delicate flower was misled by intelligence -- she wasn't -- she still knew Just War theory -- it was very big when she was in college due to what was taking place in Vietnam.  So she needs to be asked about the Iraq War.  Not about the distraction of WMD, but about how someone who knows the law could support illegal actions, a war of aggression.

A lot of people are getting damp panties and jizz in their briefs over the latest 'revelations' from Mike Morrell.


Do you think he's telling the truth?

What are you basing that on?

That's his mouth's moving and words are coming out?

If so, you're really stupid and I'm not in the mood to sugar coat it.

You're pretty damn stupid.

Anything Morrell's saying he is pre-approved by the CIA to say.

His book has already been vetted by the CIA and they've removed anything they don't want him to say.

Now some truth may be coming out.

It may not be.

But what is known is that every word he's saying is permitted by the CIA.

Do Morrell's words indict the CIA in any way for the Iraq War?


They exonerate the CIA.

Since there are so many dumb people so quick to swallow Morrell as the standard bearer of truth, let's walk through that slowly.

Morrell is making a case in public that the CIA is good, noble and accurate and was misused by Bully Boy Bush.

Every word and story Morrell shares has been submitted to the CIA ahead of time and received CIA approval to be repeated.

You really want to put your faith in Mike Morrell?

Well if you want to be that stupid, go for it.

On the left, anyway, we used to be a lot smarter about the CIA.

Yes, we had name 'academics' on the left who were really recruiting tools for the CIA.

As I've shared before, I know that from personal experience when, in college, the CIA attempted to recruit me.  And that professor is still alive.  And continued to work with the CIA while being seen as a left hero.  (Someone's going to be sweating over this snapshot -- and should.  I get really bitchy when I'm surrounded by liars.  Right now, I'm flicking my Bic lighter and determining whether or not I'll burn the left playhouse down.)

We also had 'reporters' like David Corn who were always, by coincidence surely, breaking favorable stories for the CIA.  In fact, if you remove the CIA from Corn's work, his body of work pretty much is non-existent.  'Reporters' like Corn have always served as mouth pieces of the CIA -- and The Nation and other magazines have gladly embraced that.

Today, ridiculous people like Amy Goodman present CIA contractor John Cole (alias Juan Cole) as a trusted voice.

The CIA has learned from the FBI which long sought out the entertainment industry to portray them in a flattering light.  And too many people will watch, for example, Jennifer Garner's Alias and say, "That whole Rambaldi's tomb and eternal life is fiction" while failing to grasp that the fiction also includes the portrayal of the CIA.

The spy agency that was never to operate on US soil against American citizens is always protected by the press.  We've for years noted it was the CIA and Newsweek (of course, Newsweek which was always a cover for CIA agents throughout the world) who destroyed Jean Seberg.

And we've noted the cover up.

We've decried it here since 2005 repeatedly.

As a result the lie that Joyce Harber destroyed Jean Seberg has been modified.

Modified, not corrected.

Here's Crapapedia:

In 1970, the FBI created the false story, from a San Francisco-based informant, that the child Seberg was carrying was not fathered by her husband Romain Gary but by Raymond Hewitt, a member of the Black Panther Party.[23][24] The story was reported by gossip columnist Joyce Haber of The Los Angeles Times.[25] and was also printed by Newsweek magazine.[26] Seberg went into premature labor and, on August 23, 1970, gave birth to a 4 lb (1.8 kg) baby girl. The child died two days later.[27] She held a funeral in her hometown with an open casket that allowed reporters to see the infant's white skin which disproved the rumors.[28] Seberg and Gary later sued Newsweekfor libel and defamation and asked for US$200,000 in damages. Seberg contended she became so upset after reading the story, that she went into premature labor, which resulted in the death of her daughter. A Paris court ordered Newsweek to pay the couple US$10,800 in damages and also ordered Newsweek to print the judgement in their publication plus eight other newspapers.[29]

They reference a book in their footnotes.  Did they read the book?

I've got that book, I've had it for years and I know the author.  David Richards does not say what they say his book said.

But at least Newsweek is now included in the official account.

As we've gone over repeatedly -- and we always will because I  made a promise decades ago and I keep my promises -- Joyce Harber printed a blind item in May of 1970.  A blind item is when a gossip columnist floats something.  When Miguel Estrada was taken down as a Bully Boy Bush nominee, for example, Media Whore Online was doing blind items that suggested someone a lot like him was gay and trolling an infamous DC park after hours.  Was the item true?  Probably not.

Which is why they didn't name Miguel.  But they made sure anyone reading would think it was Miguel.

Joyce was handed the item by her editor (who got it from the FBI though he's repeatedly lied about that fact and for years lied that he had supplied it to Joyce until he was confronted with a photo copy of the original note where he passed it on to Joyce).  She ran it.

Jean Seberg was a friend.  I liked Jean, I will always defend her.

But most people reading Joyce's column didn't know who the hell she was talking about and probably would've assumed it was Jane Fonda.  Jean was a huge star in France.  She really wasn't a star in America.  She was famous.  But if you were thinking some actress was impregnated by a Black Panther leader, you'd think Jane Fonda because (a) she was working with the Panthers and (b) she was the biggest name in film during that time period with the possible exceptions of Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand.

Joyce's blind item in May of 1970 did not name Jean (nor did The Hollywood Reporter's blind item in July: "Hear a Black Panther's the pappy of a certain film queen's expected baby, but her estranged hubby's taking her back anyway.").  It was Newsweek, months later, that printed Jean's name -- not a blind item -- and declared that even though she was still married, the father of her child was actually a Black Panther.

This was humiliating on many counts including the fact that she and Romain were publicly a couple, were going to raise the baby as their own and Romain had standing in France that this rumor did not help.  It was also a lie.  She was not carrying the child of any American.  The father was a Mexican activist.

Here she was a woman struggling to have a film career in America and she'd just been branded a "whore" by Newsweek -- that's what saying that this pregnant wife of Romain Gary's is if she's married to him and carrying another man's child.  Ingrid Bergman's film career ended for much less.
Here's what Newsweek printed:

Can a small-town girl from Iowa find happiness in Paris?  It seems so, despite the ups and downs of her marriage.  "It's wonderful," smiled movie actress Jean Seberg, 31, when reporters looked in on her in a hospital in Majorca, where she was recuperating from complications in her pregnancy.  "We are completely reconciled -- ironically just when our divorce pages are finally coming through."  She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in October is by another man -- a black activist she met in California.

Our so-called left press and leaders had lied for decades about reality.

They had glommed on a gossip columnist (Joyce) and used her to trash the FBI.

The FBI had nothing to do with the Newsweek article.

And only Newsweek named Jean Seberg.

Their entire paragraph is a lie.

The quote from Jean was made up.  She didn't tell Newsweek that.  Even the 'reporter' (Edward Behr) who filed the 'report' noted he had not been able to speak to either Jean or Romain.  He was in Paris so he also couldn't observe her smiling in Majorca -- not even with a really long telescope.  He was in Paris and his source (one of his two sources) was CIA.

He was doing the bidding of the CIA which is what Newsweek always did in that time.  Newsweek's editor Kermit Lansner then ordered that the 'report' be beefed up and included in Newsweek's gossip column "Newsmakers." (Kermit's interaction with the spy community began when he served in Navy intelligence, just FYI.)

Which part of that seems normal?

Leave out the made up quote.

In what world does a supposed news magazine publish the 'news' that a pregnant woman is having the child of someone other than her husband of someone other than who she says the father is?

In what world does that happen when the woman is already in the hospital for complications to her pregnancy?

Find me the journalist ethic that backs up any of that -- there is none.

The FBI wanted Jean destroyed.  They were inept at best.  The CIA took over the operation and Jean lost the child.

We know (some) of what the FBI did to destroy Jean.  We know far less of what the CIA did.  Jean made her life in France, she was harassed constantly.  But a FOIA won't reveal what the CIA was doing to Jean (driving her insane).

The CIA works very hard to shape their image with the entertainment industry.

Next time we cover this, we'll probably tell the tale of how the CIA 'nudged' (blackmailed) an actress to prevent a film bio on Jean Seberg from being made.


Some may say, you've covered this topic before (see this for our first in depth mention here).

But to me this is very important for a number of reasons.

Jean was a friend.

Her son ended up an orphan (Romain took his own life in 1980).

The Nixon administration used the FBI and the CIA and Navy intelligence and other military intelligence to spy on and harass Jean.  Even after 1970.  And, in fact, the harassment continued after Nixon resigned in disgrace so someone might want to pursue whether Gerald Ford continued those policies or whether the agencies continued them without presidential authorization.

It's not a minor story.

It's a very significant story that goes to the government can tear a citizen apart and get away with it and even be assisted by the so-called free press.

When we started calling these lies out online, Steve Rendall and FAIR and the Beacon Hill Press and others were glad to omit Newsweek -- which is the most damaging -- it proves CIA involvement and Newsweek was the only one that printed Jean's name.

So that we've been able to move the conversation to the point where at least Newsweek's actions are noted (if still underplayed)?  I'll take it as a win.

And with the spying going on today, the story of Jean Seberg is more important than ever.

So if Bob Somerby can waste a week (hiding from Benghazi -- the Susan Rice apologist hasn't been so disgraced since he attacked former US diplomat Joe Wilson) yammering away about whether or not a football was deflated and pretending that passes as serious work, we can once again cover Jean Seberg.

On a related note, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.  When you make a docudrama, you're always at risk of your sources being wrong.  Kathryn's film is probably very wrong.  It is not, however, pro-torture.  It is also not now a bad film.  Only if you're an idiot who believes the CIA tells the truth, did you take the film as factual.  It's a gorgeous film and it's a moving film.  It tells a story.  I've never claimed that it told the truth and Kathryn's never pretended that her biggest sources weren't CIA -- so I never expected it to tell the truth.  It's a thriller and a little bit more reality based than that awful Matt Damon film The Green Zone which worked so hard to rewrite reality including making the Judith Miller character a reporter for the Wall St. Journal and not the New York Times. Seymour Hersh, "The Killing of Osama bin Laden" (The London Review of Books) is probably closer to reality of what actually happened and, on that, you should be paying attention to those who attack Hersh.  Not question, attack.  For example POLITICO's Dylan attacked.  He wrote a 'summary' of the article calling out Sy for points Sy didn't make.  When things like that take place, you should ask yourself who a 'reporter' is really working for?  Again, people can question Sy Hersh, they can even disagree with him.  But if they're making a point to lie about what he said, you need to ask yourself who they're working for.

Meanwhile, Nour Malas and Ghassan Adnan (Wall St. Journal) report:

While some of his Sunni kinsmen in Anbar province set about working with Shiite militias on a strategy to oust Islamic State, Emad al-Jumaili was making a very different kind of plan.
The tribal elder was busy preparing to guard his home and family from those same militias.

“I have always said I would much prefer to be killed by a Sunni terrorist organization than a Shiite terrorist organization,” said Mr. Jumaili.

And that's where it stands.

Not surprising at all.  In June of 2014, Barack declared Iraq's crises could only be resolved by "a political solution."  But there has been nothing more than empty words provided.

There's been no effort at including Sunnis.  Haider al-Abadi may be the new prime minister but he's operating out of Nouri al-Maliki's old playbook where Sunnis are (at best) treated as second-class citizens.

Dropping back to Wednesday's snapshot:

  • Refugees were totally expected.

    Are we really supposed to believe that Haider al-Abadi was again -- again -- taken by surprise?

    Because it is also very easy to read this as yet another example of the targeting of the Sunnis.

    When Haider pulled this earlier, there was great outcry from all Iraqis -- including Shi'ites.  It was noted that Baghdad belonged to all and that Haider's actions were discrimination and possibly illegal.

    And yet, weeks later, he's doing it again.

    At today's US State Dept background briefing on Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers' Hannah Allam raised the issue:

    HANNAH ALLAM: Okay. First of all, on the refugee issue, what are you – what are the discussions with Abadi about letting people in? I mean, you’ve got thousands of people stranded, four days, they can’t go back, they get killed, they won’t let them in even with a sponsor now.

    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So I understand – again, I’ve been told as of this morning that the bridge has been open for refugees with a sponsor with a place to – what that means is that they need a place to go in Baghdad because you can’t just have a – otherwise, you just have a really chaotic situation which can quickly get out of control. So the bridge has been open to refugees with a sponsor in Baghdad. And the UN, again, who is doing just heroic work, is working to set up facilities for those who are on the other side of the bridge. That’s what’s happening as we speak, so hopefully, I’ll have a little more for you in the next 24 hours or so.

    Allam's report on the briefing can be found here.

    Was the bridge opened?


    Hannah might want to try reporting on that.

    AFP notes Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Deputy Prime Minister in Iraq and a Sunni, held a press conference today decrying the closing of the Bzeibez bridge and stating, "Preventing citizens from entering their capital is a crime.  The constitution does not allow anyone to forbid a citizen from entering any province."  BBC News adds, "There are reports of children dying of dehydration in the heat, UN Deputy Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq Dominik Bartsch told the BBC. It is unclear why the Bzebiz bridge was closed, though there have been concerns that militants could mingle with the displaced and infiltrate Baghdad."

    Children are dying of dehydration.  That's who Barack's slipped into bed with this time, Haider al-Abadi.

    This is why Haider isn't trusted.  Things either never happen or that happen only long enough for a photo op.

    The whole point of installing Haider as prime minister -- and he was installed by the White House -- was to give Iraq a fresh start or even the hope of one.

    But he's turned out to be as bad as Nouri al-Maliki.

    No one wants to read the writing on the wall.

    They want to offer excuses.

    They want to claim that he needs to be indulged and shouldn't be held to rules of accountability.

    Remember that?

    When they made the same argument about Nouri al-Maliki?

    And how that indulgence led to the current crises?

    So, yeah, that's a winning 'strategy' -- doing the exact same thing that led to the crises to begin with.

    Reuters maintains, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shi'ite, sent Shi'ite paramilitary groups out to Anbar to try to retake Ramadi despite the risk of inflaming tensions with the province's aggrieved, predominantly Sunni population.  But he had little choice given the poor morale and cohesion within government security forces."

    A Kurdish Peshmerga commander tells  Rudaw that Haider's Special Operations forces not only bailed but did so before Ramadi fell and that he personally told Haider what was happening but Haider looked the other way:

    Two days prior to the ISIS attack we had accurate information that the Special Operations had packed up and abandoned their base in Ramadi.
    I personally relayed the information through the chain of command and contacted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
    I informed him of the photo and video evidence and location of hundreds of army vehicles and Humvees of the Special Operations forces assembled and about to abandon Ramadi.
    I explained to PM Abadi the exact location of the forces on the map. It was 4am. They flew a plane to the place I told them and took photos of the assembled vehicles. They learned that the intelligence was correct and that indeed the forces were getting ready to withdraw.
    Later that day more than 200 army vehicles abandoned their posts and their withdrawal led to the defeat of all other forces that were in Anbar to fight.
    Why did the Special Operations act this way? I personally think there was a political reason behind it.
    As a military commander, I don’t think PM Abadi or the Ministry of Defense have any authority over the Special Operations. Or it could be that the Shiite forces close to Maliki committed this act in order to embarrass and bring down Abadi’s government.

     Margaret Griffis ( counts 25 violent deaths across Iraq on Friday.

    Isakson Commemorates Memorial Day on Senate Floor

    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and his office issued the following:

    FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2015
    Contact: Amanda Maddox 202-224-7777
    Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999

    Isakson Commemorates Memorial Day on Senate Floor
    “When we go home tonight we’re at peace and comfort knowing we’re in a safe nation … because of the men and women who have worn the uniform, sacrificed and gave their lives so America could exist today.”
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor in honor of Memorial Day:
    “As chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee of the United States Senate and on the eve of Memorial Day, I think it's appropriate that we pause for a moment. We debate as Democrats and Republicans today on the floor of the Senate -- currency, trade, national security, fast-track, the issues of the day -- in a contentious debate. We do so freely. We do so without fear of retribution…
    “When we go home tonight we're at peace and comfort knowing we're in a safe nation … because of the men and women who have worn the uniform, sacrificed and gave their lives so America could exist today. I think it's only appropriate that each of us on the Senate floor take a moment to pause and give a prayer for our soldiers who have risked their lives and gave their lives for our country.
    “For me as chairman of the [Senate Veterans’ Affairs] Committee, I make an effort to go to the American cemeteries all over the world to make sure we're still taking care of them and honoring those who sacrificed in the way they should be honored. I want to share with the Senate a brief story to point out how important Memorial Day really is.
    “On Memorial Day in May of 2007, I went with Senator Burr and other members of the Senate to the American cemetery in Margraten in the Netherlands, where over 8,000 Americans are buried who fought in the Battle of the Bulge to root the Nazis out of Germany and liberate the Jews from the concentration camps. They were successful, but they died. I walked down the rows of crosses and stars of David looking at each name, ostensibly looking for Georgians to say a brief prayer for them. But I came to the end of row H toward the back of the cemetery, [to the] last cross in that cemetery, and it said the following: Roy C. Irwin, New Jersey, died December 28, 1944. A tear welled up in my eye because that's the day I was born…
    “Seventy years later, I've existed as a free person in a free society, elected to the United States Senate, served in the military myself, raised a family, have nine grandchildren… because of Roy C. Irwin, who on the day I was born died in the battlefields of the Battle of the Bulge in the Netherlands fighting for democracy, freedom and the liberation of Europe and saving the Jewish people.
    “No matter what we debate and how contentious it gets, we must remember what Memorial Day is all about. It's about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for you and I to engage in this debate and to move our country forward.
    “One other point: We should say a special prayer for the parents of young Americans who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current wars today. We had a tragedy with the fall of Fallujah, we had a tragedy with the fall of Ramadi [and] we need those parents to know their sons and daughters did not die in vain. They died for a cause that ultimately will prevail because we as senators will see to it that America does what America always does:  …liberate the oppressed of the world and only ask for one thing when we leave, a couple acres to bury our dead who sacrificed for democracy, freedom and liberty.
    “So on this Memorial Day, as chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I say thank God for the American soldiers who fought and died for our country and thank God for the United States of America.”


    Understanding, Appreciating and Saluting Our Soldiers (Detroit's Public Television Channel 56)

    Detroit's Public Television Channel 56 has Memorial Day programming:

    Understanding, Appreciating and Saluting Our Soldiers

    Detroit Public Television/Ch.56 Partners with Michigan State University on Veterans Book

    And - Special Programming, Resources On-Air & Online All Weekend Long

    As we head off for Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to showcase an incredible weekend of programming from Detroit Public Television that will honor our soldiers. 
    But first, we wanted to highlight a project we are very proud of…
    Over the last six months, we have worked with Michigan State University on a new book, One Hundred Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians. This guide has sections on military structure, culture and families, demographics, work, money, deployment and discharge, politics and resources for more study.  The goal of this guide is to help us all understand and appreciate our military.
    The book is the product of an excellent program, led by MSU’s Joe Grimm, which develops guides for understanding important communities.  Their work on this project has been outstanding.  It is a pleasure to work with the team at MSU.
    You can take a look at the book and purchased a copy by visiting
     As for our weekend line-up…
    Detroit Public Television (DPTV) will honor our military men and women with special on-air and online programming, starting tonight at 10 p.m. with the Lincoln Awards: A Concert for Veterans and their military families, during which veterans will be recognized for their sacrifices and achievements.

    This will be followed at 11 p.m. with In Performance at the White House: A Salute to the Troops, as President Obama welcomes stars such as Willie Nelson, Mary J. Blige, Common, and others, as well as performing members of the armed services to offer a musical tribute to the service and sacrifice of our troops.

    Tomorrow night at 9 p.m., we join The Homefront to explore the true stories of military families, their sacrifices and resilience. And, on Sunday, May 24 at 3 p.m. tune in to A Company of Heroes, a documentary on the men of Easy Company, one of the most revered combat units of World War II. At 4 p.m., see Omaha Beach: Honor and Sacrifice, followed at 5 p.m. by Nickles from Heaven, which recounts the first African-American U.S. paratroopers. Then, at 8 p.m. see the National Memorial Day Concert with hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. This annual tribute to America’s military heroes will honor those disabled for life; spotlights children who lost a parent to war; and honors the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.  Finally, at 11 p.m. on May 24, we present Detroit: Our Vietnam Generation, filmmaker Keith Famie’s conversations with Detroit-area veterans, including the late Bill Bonds.

    Spend part of your Memorial Day with DPTV as we air Vietnam War Stories at 11 p.m. This film will feature veterans reflecting on their service, the sacrifices they made and the strong bonds they formed with fellow soldiers.

    In addition to our on-air offerings, we invite you to join us online at and check out our resources for veterans and their military families, including special videos with local veterans telling their stories and links to valuable resources.
    Finally, if you missed it when it first aired, tune in to the third episode of the award-winning series, Beyond the Light Switch online at whereby producers travel from coast to coast to learn about and document the shifts in thinking taking place in the U.S. military, in business and in communities and the new ideas and products that could help reduce our energy use by relying on alternative sources of electrification.

    Spend this Memorial Day with Detroit Public Television as we pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to save ours.  Have a wonderful Memorial Day.  All the best.

    Paralyzed Veterans of America Presents Legislative Priorities Before Congress

    Paralyzed Veterans of America issued  the following this week:

    Paralyzed Veterans of America press release header
      May 20, 2015
    Media contact:                  
    Lani Poblete 202-416-7667            

    Washington, DC—Today Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Al Kovach Jr. testified before Congressional leaders expressing the organization’s concern with funding levels for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the availability of the Comprehensive Family Caregiver Program to pre-9/11 veterans and their caregivers, and the major construction problems that currently plague the VA.

    “The funding levels outlined in the FY 2016 VA appropriations bill that recently passed the House of Representatives suggest that Congress (particularly the House) is not committed to addressing the internal capacity problems that the VA faces, first and foremost, the Spinal Cord Injury & Disease service line,” stated Kovach. “Moreover, it reflects an attitude that suggests the VA should figure out how to do more with less. But taking care of veterans on the cheap was never part of the deal when our country mortgaged its future on the lives of the few who came forward to protect it.”

    He went on to state:  “If Congress is serious about fixing the problems with timely access to high-quality care and timely delivery of appropriate benefits, then it needs to get serious about the funding levels it will provide for the VA.”

    In his testimony, National President Kovach also addressed the inequity of the VA Comprehensive Family Caregiver program that currently only provides comprehensive benefits to caregivers of service-connected veterans injured after 9/11.

    “No reasonable justification can be provided as to why veterans injured prior to 9/11 should be excluded from the caregiver program.  No single group of veterans understands the necessity of caregiver support better than Paralyzed Veterans’ members.”

    Currently, the majority of Paralyzed Veterans members are excluded from these VA caregiver benefits because of the current date requirement. The law also excludes veterans with serious illnesses or diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS), both of which have a catastrophic impact on activities of daily living, and eventually leave veterans dependent upon caregivers.

    Also of deep concern to the organization are the major construction problems that currently plague the VA, particularly in Denver, Colorado, and that the VA appropriations bill slashes requested funding for Major Construction by more than $580 million.

    In his oral testimony Kovach urged Congress to restore that funding: “While there are certainly valid concerns about construction projects such as Denver, Orlando, and New Orleans, all other construction projects—and the veterans whose access to health care rely upon there completion—are now being punished by this congressional decision.  We call on Congress to restore the significant dollars that you have stripped from the major construction request.”

    Finally, Kovach expressed some optimism that Congress and the VA will develop a workable solution to complete the Denver VA medical center.  He emphasized: “We are encouraged by the VA memo on Denver outlining a way forward on this project and we hope that the Committees will address this request with the urgency and seriousness it deserves before reaching the authorization cap.” He concluded: “We urge Congress to give Secretary McDonald an opportunity to fix this problem created by his predecessors.” 

    Read President Kovach’s full written statement from May 20, 2015 at


    Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

    As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (

    Isakson Talks Veterans' Issues on C-SPAN Newsmakers


    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and his office issued the following:

    FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2015
    Contact: Amanda Maddox 202-224-7777

    Isakson Talks Veterans’ Issues on C-SPAN Newsmakers
    “We owe our veterans everything. However we’re going to deliver it, we’ve got to deliver it.”
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will be featured on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” this Sunday, May 24, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. ET and 6:00 p.m. ET.
    In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, Senator Isakson will discuss the importance of taking care of our veterans after they’ve risked their lives for the sake of our country. He also talks about the importance of veterans’ health care and reforming the culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) so that tragedies like last year’s wait time scandal at the VA hospital in Phoenix never happen again.
    “We can’t shortchange somebody who risked their life for you and I,” says Isakson in the interview. “We need to make sure [veterans] get the benefits we pass and promise them. We also need to make sure we can deliver the benefits that we promise in the future… There should never be an equivocation over giving a veteran the services they have earned, they fought for and they risked their life for.”
    In the interview, Isakson discusses the importance of serving all veterans – World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and everyone in between – while reflecting on his formative years during the Vietnam War Era.
    “I’m a product of the Vietnam Era… and I lost some of my best friends in Vietnam. I remember the sacrifice and the tragedy our country went through,” Isakson continues. “We need to make sure in the latter years of their life, they’re getting the care they deserve… We owe those veterans just as equally as we owe the Afghan and Iraqi veterans and the World War II veterans and I’m going to see to it that they get it.”
    “We owe our veterans everything. However we’re going to deliver it, we’ve got to deliver it.”
    You can watch Senator Isakson’s interview online now, or live on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday, May 21, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. ET and 6:00 p.m. ET.
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Michigan Greens Support New Fracking-Ban Petition Drive

    The Green Party of Michigan notes the following:

    Ecological Wisdom      *  Social Justice
    Grassroots Democracy  *  Non-Violence

    Green Party of Michigan

    **  News Release  **
    **  ------------  **
        May 22, 2015

    For More Information, Contact:
    Chris Silva, GPMI Chair
        (313) 815-2025

    John Anthony La Pietra, GPMI Media Committee

    Michigan Greens Support New
    Fracking-Ban Petition Drive
        The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) is supporting the latest effort
    to ban horizontal hydraulic fracturing -- known as fracking -- in the
    state of Michigan.

        A petition drive by the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan kicks
    off statewide today, aiming to gather signatures to put the matter
    before voters in 2016.  The new law proposed in the petition would ban
    both fracking and frack wastes from Michigan.

        "High-volume horizontal fracking is not the kind of fracking that's
    been done here for the last sixty years," says Candace Caveny of Lapeer,
    GPMI's 2014 candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  "It's a new process the
    industry just began using in the 1990s.

        "They drill wells down thousands of feet vertically, then more
    thousands of feet horizontally -- and then they inject a toxic mix of
    chemicals, sand, and water at great pressure.  Nitrogen may be inserted
    to speed the hardening of the concrete casing.  Enormous amounts of
    fresh water are used and polluted beyond recovery, and Michigan
    residents will be left to deal with the toxic wastes virtually forever."

        Linda Cree, a Green Party member from Michigan's Upper Peninsula
    and a former co-chair of the Green Party of the United States Eco-Action
    Committee, agrees.  "Fracking poses an unacceptable risk to our health,
    our land, and our waters.

        "Luckily, here in Michigan we have the political tool of the ballot
    initiative.  This allows grassroots people to propose legislation when
    they see an urgent need that's not being addressed by our elected
    politicians.  With corporate dollars speaking so loudly, we the people
    have to take it upon ourselves to stop this destructive practice."

        John Anthony La Pietra of Marshall, GPMI's 2014 Attorney General
    candidate, is one of many Michigan Green volunteers joining this year's
    petition drive.  "We urge Michigan voters:  sign the Ban Fracking
    petition.  Then next year, we can all vote YES to ban horizontal
    hydraulic fracking and frack wastes from our state."

        GPMI's platform has called for a statewide ban on fracking since
    2012.  And the party has supported the drive for a grassroots ban since
    the first petition in 2013.

        The petition drive will be discussed at GPMI's next statewide
    membership meeting, scheduled for Saturday, June 6 at Michigan Migrant
    Legal Aid in Grand Rapids.  For more information about GPMI and its
    platform, visit

    You can also “like” the Green Party of Michigan US Facebook page

    and follow GPMI's Twitter feed @MIGreenParty

    #  #  #

    created/distributed using donated labor

    Green Party of Michigan
    PO Box 504
    Warren, MI  48090-0504

        GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental
    issues in Michigan politics.  Greens are organized
    in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Each
    state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its
    own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:

        Ecological Wisdom
        Grassroots Democracy
        Social Justice
        Community Economics
        Respect for Diversity
        Personal/Global Responsibility
        Future Focus/Sustainability

    TRILLIONS STOLEN! Get it back! (David DeGraw)

    David DeGraw notes.

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    Online version #Freedom

    Call to action...


    TRILLIONS STOLEN!! Get It Back!! Rally At Central Banks Worldwide, June 20 #WaveOfAction

    The only thing that stands between us and unprecedented global prosperity is the shortsighted greed of global bankers... +Read Call to Action & Watch Video

    Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend,