Friday, July 08, 2011

Which way will Nancy go?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is back at the bargaining table — but it’s not yet clear whether she’s willing to make a deal.

Burned by President Barack Obama’s decision to keep her out of negotiations on last year’s tax deal and this spring’s budget bill, sources close to the California Democrat say she is torn between playing deal-maker on a debt limit increase and fully protecting the priorities of Democrats’ liberal base.

That's from Jonathan Allen (POLITICO) and I don't know. Is Nancy Pelosi really eager to sell out the safety net?

I'm not a big fan of Nancy but I find it hard to believe, considering her family's life in politics, that she'd sell out the safety net. So is Allen repeating false spin?

Maybe he's right. Maybe he knows Nancy Pelosi better than anyone. But I don't think he's in her district. I am. And if the safety net is destroyed, Nancy Pelosi has no political career. We will vote in a Green or a Republican.

We can't take her off the ticket with a Democratic challenger and we're aware of that. But we can take her out with another party. And you better believe we will.

As I said earlier, I don't see her selling out the safety net. It would be shocking. And because it would be shocking, it would be the end of her political career.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, July 9, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a verdict (not justice) for Jamie Leigh Jones, protests continue in Baghdad, Nouri threatens blood will be spilled, US House Rep Barney Frank observes, "The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch," and more.

Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.

Kevin Pina: We're now joined again by our special correspondent on the ground in Tripoli, Libya Madhi Nazemroaya. He is also a research associate for the Center on Globalization based in Canada. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Thanks for having me again.

Kevin Pina: So what's going on now? I understand you've been seeing on the ground some of the aftermath of the recent bombing campaign by NATO.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, I just to my shock found out today -- I should be out of this shocked phase -- but I found out today that just down the street from me, a couple of minutes, that a children's center was bombed. And this is a place where lists of children with Down Syndrome and handicapped children -- all these types of children and there lists are there and it was a place where vaccinations were given out and children were helped. That was bombed to smitherrens. And all the records of vaccinations for children were destroyed. And the night before, the United Nations had somebody there working on the files and after 12 o'clock, when they left, the place was bombed to smithereens. And an American couple informed me of this. I was also at a ceremony today, a children's festival, held in honor of some children that were killed in the NATO bombings on the state of Libya.

Kevin Pina: You're listening to Flashpoints on
Pacifica Radio and we're talking directly with Tripoli, Libya with our correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya. Tell me what is the sense on the ground right now? We understand that yesterday the rebels were announcing that several key towns that they were making their drive toward the capitol of Tripoli. What your sense of it there?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: I disagree with those reports. From what I've seen, they're still trying to live in a normal street here in Tripoli. The gates of the city have not fallen to anybody. Yes, it's true that there have been shootings in Tripoli at night -- and it only happens at night. Checkpoints do come out at night but this is part of the destabilization effort against this country. The shootings are random, they're not -- they have no objective. They're at police and they're meant to cause chaos. It's purely for destabilization. Even as I mentioned earlier, their initial protests were held at night. They weren't even real protests. They were destroying property and stuff like that. So I disagree with those reports.

Kevin Pina: Now yesterday we'd also talked a little bit about the US banking role in fomenting the crisis there in Libya and we'd talked a little bit about JP Morgan Chase and I think you were meaning to refer Goldman Sachs as well -- although JP Morgan Chase was involved. You were describing to us how a billion dollars went out of this sort of sovereignty and that Goldman Sachs was responsible.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, Goldman Sachs. I wanted to clarify that. It was Goldman Sachs who was responsible and it happened before the war. Their money went missing and Goldman Sachs -- and there was no record of this. And they made the Libyans an offer -- for them to invest and buy a share in Goldman Sachs. What happened was they pushed for this war as well, it's being said in Libya, as a means to keep that money because they stole Libya's money. And there is some sort of a conflict across the Atlantic between HSBC, Goldman Sachs and a group of other banks in the United States for control over Libya's assets right now. This is something that is being talked about in this country. And I'm very sure in the coming days in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, this will become part of the bigger picture and part of the news.

Kevin Pina: Well who's now doing the banking for the National Transitional Council, the so-called rebel forces that are controlling cities like Benghazi?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Well in Benghazi, the Transitional Council's national bank is run by HSBC. They sent specialists there immediately to do this and to set up the new central bank there. The problem with the central bank -- one of the problems we're having with the central bank, they don't have the authority yet to do certain things and there was three keys -- I haven't found out what these keys are exactly -- and two of them were in Tripoli for the central bank and one was in Beghazi and the one in Benghazi so this delayed things for them. In regards to the national bank in Benghazi, I want to point out that it's following the same pattern as the Central Bank in Bosnia, the central bank in Bosnia, because in Bosnia, that central bank was also run by foreign banking companies and under the Bosnian Constitution cannot be run by a Bosnian citizen, it's run by a foreigner. This is very important to know. What type of a country's constitution says its own nationals can't run its own bank? That's what happened in Bosnia and essentially that's what's happening in eastern Libya in Benghazi.

Kevin Pina: Now we hear that there is resumption of oil exports. But HSBC is, of course, a British bank. And the British government is heavily invested and behind the NATO bombing campaign and the NATO military campaign against Libya, correct?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, that is correct. The British are heavily invested in this project -- as are the French, as are the Americans, and, strangely enough, the Italians and the Turks who are two -- And the Italians and the Turks are losers in this. The Turks were the second biggest trading partners to this country and the Italians were huge -- 40% of Italy's trade would be to Libya. These two countries -- It was a shock to many people that these two countries would turn their backs on the government here and the country here. They are two big economic losers and unless they regain everything -- all their contracts -- they are on the losing end of this war.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya goes on to discuss other topics including that he sees a strong connection between the US backed-war and currency issues. Kevin Pina and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya will continue their conversation on Tuesday's Flashpoints Radio -- Flashpoints airs Monday through Friday on KPFA at 5:00 pm PST and on other stations around the country.

Moving over to the United States, there is no justice in a company town. Vile KBR's corporate headquarters are located in Houston. They bring a lot of blood money into town. KHOU is the CBS outlet in Houston, this is from their video report.

Brad Woodward: After a month of testimony and just ten hours of deliberations, the jury sided with KBR sending Jamie Leigh Jones out of the courtroom in tears. Jones claims she was drugged and raped six years ago while working for defense contractor KBR in Iraq and was suing for $145 million. The jury not only decided that Jones was not raped but that KBR did not commit fraud by inducing her to work for them.

A KBR attorney, Dan Hedges, appeared in the report to explain that KBR intends to continue it's military work -- which presumably means killing US soldiers and contractors via the KBR burn pits and doing so much more to harm the world. KBR, bringing evil to a neighborhood near you. Dan Hedges meanwhile intends to return to the pits of hell until Satan next needs an attorney or a sexual play thing. On Houston's ABC13, Deborah Wrigley filed a report:

Deborah Wrigley: The jury actually announced their verdict about 30 minutes ago and for the former KBR employee who was suing her former employer, it was a stunning legal defeat. Jamie Leigh Jones was hired by KBR in 2005, just in July of that year, and she was stationed in Iraq at a KBR facility. She said that a few days after her arrival there, she was drugged and gang-raped by other KBR workers and part of the allegation not only the rape, but that KBR failed to protect her by failing to disclose "a sexually charged work environment." That amounted to what was a fraud allegation against the company in its hiring of her. Today after just about a day and a half of deliberation, the jury came back immediately said that Jamie Leigh Jones was not raped and that KBR did nothing wrong
in its hiring of her and disclosing the working conditions. [. . .] The verdict stunned Jones. She could be heard crying very loudly in the courtroom and sobbing. She has not yet come out of the courthouse, neither have her attorneys.

I do not know Jamie Leigh Jones, I have never spoken to her. My guess is she was raped. But what I do know is that she was attacked in the court room. Stephanie Mencimer calls herself a reporter. She's actually something else; however, though I have often thought that word in my head I have, to date, never said that word. I'll try to go my grave never saying that word -- even though it so perfectly describes Stephanie Mencimer. The hack who now works for Mother Jones and whose 'reporting' has resulted in numerous objections (including from National Journal columnists), decided to do a little hit piece on Jamie before the verdict was announced.
Stephanie's such a you-know-what.

We're not linking to that garbage. Mother Jones is already a joke -- a Whoreathon for Barack Obama from the rag that once pretended to be independent and unaffiliated with any political party. Now they just whore and do their little attacks on this Republican or that one and pretend that they've really contributed something when all they've done is demonstrated what trash left out in the hot sun smells like.

Little Stephie shows up to list numerous ways in which Jamie's wrong. It's a little piece where Stephie whores for the corporations. I get it, Stephie, you have to grab whatever is thrown at you. I get it. And you're jealous of Jamie because she's strong and she's beautiful. I get it, Little Stephie. Let's you attack the pretty girl and play kill-Mommy, works out all your issues at the same time. Got it.

Not counting cruise-by-the-table junkets, my record for most interviews in one day is 52. I bring this up for a reason. When you give 52 interviews in one day, you can do them by rote and repeat everything you said 52 times. Or you can do a little research on the people who will be (briefly) interviewing you and cater your responses to their interests. So if I was speaking to someone who was known for their sense of humor, I would stress the antics of a day. If I was speaking to someone who was known for their love of food, I would stress the catering, etc. Point being, if you looked at those 52 interviews, if you tried to examine them, you would find many differing details. Not because I was lying but because I emphasized different things.

I don't make a point to talk about myself in my own life let alone here unless it's needed. It's needed now because the thrust of Little Stephie's attack on Jamie's integrity is that in five years, some details of her story have varied. In one day, with 52 interviews, details of the basic stories I shared careened around the room.

That was in one day. It is the nature of memory that we will emphasize different details at different times. I don't think anyone doubts that Daniel Ellsberg is the brave whistle blower responsible for bringing the Pentagon Papers to the public. But if you listen to an interview he gave in 1976 or one he gave in 1996 or one he gave last year, you will hear different details.

There's also the issue of condensing and Daniel or anyone can tell you that when you're told to condense for time (or know yourself you need to), you will leave out certain elements.

Little Stephie offers nothing that I see where Jamie had contradicted herself in the public record. I do see that Jamie sometimes emphasizes this and sometimes emphasizes that.

Let me go personal one more damn time. I was sexually molested long before puberty. It's not a story I like to discuss, it's nothing I ever mentioned to the MSM or alternative press. It is something I will and do speak about with feminist groups. If I'm speaking about it, one of the issues is how much do I want to reveal, how much do I feel like hurting right now at that moment? And to decide that, I look around at the other women and see if there's someone there who looks like she wants to talk, needs to talk but needs a push, looks like she needs to hear some details someone else suffered through in order to have a comfortable place she can step onto and tell her story. If I don't see or sense something like that, you're not getting details from me, you're getting the basic overview and that's all you're getting.

Little Stephie seems to think that if you've experienced a sexual assault, you wind yourself up like a mechanical toy and recite verbatim the same details over and over, never varying from the script. That's not reality. But, again, Little Stephie's 'reporting' tends to get called out repeatedly so reality is like a tropical destination Little Stephie hopes to make it to some day but will probably never visit.

First she should probably try finding a solid editor. Jamie Leigh Jones has stated she was held in a container over in Iraq. Little Stephie writes, "The false-imprisonment allegation didn't surface until two years after Jones' original rape complaint, when Jones hired a new lawyer." If she means what she writes, Little Stephie is writing that Jones never made the allegation until she "hired a new lawyer" over "two years after Jones' original rape complaint." That is what Little Stephie wrote. If that's what she meant, she's a stupid as she is ugly because Jones -- and US House Rep Ted Poe -- have long maintained that. It has always been a part of the story. If Little Stephie meant what she wrote she needs to learn to at least function with the English language -- mastery of it obviously being far beyond her grasp.

According to Stephanie, Jamie can't suffer from agoraphobia -- literally, fear of the market place -- because she had two children and she spoke out and she testified to Congress and she gave interviews and she did this and she did that and blah, blah, blah. Little Stephie lives in a little world where her small thoughts touch the low ceilings and she therefore fancies herself grand. I speak in front of dozens of groups each week about the wars. I can do that if my hair looks like crap, I can do that if I'm about to fall over from lack of sleep. I can do that because it has nothing to do with me, it has to do with what is needed. By contrast? In my personal life that's not the story. If I'm invited to a party (I don't mean a group of us decide to go out, I'm talking arrive at ___ p.m.), my bedroom's going to have at least 20 dresses on the floor none of which provided me the courage to make an entrance. And I may come across no dress that does, ring up the florist to send flowers with my regrets for being unable to show. I am someone who is known to literally sweat over the thought of picking up a ringing phone (unless I use a fake voice to answer). (Strangely, cell phones don't bother me. They're less formal.) No one who knows of me or knows me casually would ever suspect that I have any 'shyness' to me or that I suffer from panic attacks. But Little Stephie seems to think she can stand outside Jamie Leigh's life and diagnose her. I wasn't aware Little Stephie was a trained therapist.

Jamie Leigh can be gripped with fear and not even be able to walk out to the porch to get her mail (as far as I know, she's never claimed that to have happened, I'm using it for an example) but if her child needs milk for the cereal, she can force herself to go to the grocery store. She can be having the worst day of her life and just want to lock herself away in the bathroom, but if ABC News is saying, "Jamie Leigh, we want to tell your story and that of two other women who say they were sexually assaulted," Jamie Leigh can pull herself together and do it. Not because she doesn't suffer from agoraphobia but because it's something she feels she has to do.

I think Jamie Leigh Jones' current attorneys made two mistakes. The first one is asking for that amount of money. I am not saying she doesn't deserve it. I wish rape victims were awarded billions. But I'm saying when you're using a figure that large, you are going to risk turning off a jury. My opinion, the figure was too high. I could be wrong, I often am and it wouldn't be the first time. The second mistake? I'm not sure they could have fixed this one during the trial. But KBR presented a psychological portrait of Jamie Leigh Jones that they tried to insist was at odds with reality or with the way a rape victim behaves or speaks, etc. Her attorneys would have done well to have anticipated that (and it might not have been possible -- what seems so obvious right now may seem so obvious because we know now exactly what KBR did) and to have provided expert witnesses to explain to the jury there is not victim m.o. There is no standardized response.

I don't think Jamie Leigh Jones got a fair trial at all. I can understand if some women choose not to talk or write of this trial. It is frightening and there are times when I do think myself, of similar instances, "We'll let's bury this so it doesn't get used again." "Burying it" doesn't refer to Jamie Leigh. It refers to what was done to her and I really fear we're going to see more corporations attempt this sort of smear. If it happens, attorneys for the victims need to be prepared to do a walk-through for the jury. The victim is being put on trial and her responses are being judged to be out of the 'norm.' So the jury needs to hear (over and over) that there is no norm. Each victim -- female or male -- will respond in individual ways that have to do with their own issues, their own attitudes. The assault leaves an impression, it does not create them, it does not birth them, they do not emerge from an assault alll walking and talking exactly the same. Five people shot in five different robberies are not expected to conduct themselves in exactly the same manner. There is no reason that sexual assault victims should be expected to all act alike.

Jamie Leigh Jones fought for the rights of victims over the last years. That can't be denied. She stated she was raped and, again, while I can't know that it happened, I believe her. As awful as what happened to her in Iraq was, I'm willing to bet today was pretty awful as well. And, again, I can understand a desire on the part of some women to bury this for fear that highlighting it will lead other corporations to attack in the way KBR did Jamie Leigh but I do hope that we're not going to all be slient and let Little Stephie's stab in the back be the last word. What this really does is encourage victims of sexual assault to be silent. If you talk about it, if you think it through -- as one does every traumatic event in life, there's a good chance a corporation's going to use that against you. That's the real message in today's verdict and I feel we need to push back against that. For that reason I'm sharing things here that I wouldn't normally.

In Iraq today, protests continued. In Baghdad, flags were burned by the Great Iraqi Revolution Youth. They burned the Israeli flag. They also attempted to burn the flag of Iran. However, while Nouri al-Maliki's forces were happy to see the flag of Isreal burnt, the Iranian "flag was grabbed and confiscated by Maliki's Intelligence forces dressed in plain clothes." Revolution of Iraq wonders why Nouri's forces grabbed the young man attempting to burn the Iranian flag. The British flag was also burned. No one was arrested for that, no attempt was made by Nouri's forces to stop that burning. The Great Iraqi Revolution states, "Numerous infiltrators as well as characters who had negotiated with the goverment attack the demonstrators and call them Ba'athists." Revolution of Iraq offers footage of the protest in Baghdad filmed by Rami Hayali and also here. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "At least seven anti-government protesters were arrested and beaten by Iraqi security forces as hundreds of angry demonstrators gathered Friday in al-Tahrir Square in central Baghdad" and of the seven "two were still being held". Tawfeeq notes that chants included "Friday after Friday until we get rid of al-Maliki!" The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yannar Mohammed states of one activist, "They carried him, they brought a car and they threw him in the back turnk of the car just in the same way that militias used to do in the sectarian war. They tried to pull another female activist from the window of the minibus because she tried to take a photograph of the kidnapping."

Let's move over to the thug, crazy Nouri al-Maliki. State of Law creates an 'issue' and then he flogs it forever in his attempt to look like a leader. It's amazing, when you consider that he's been prime minister since spring 2006, how much work is required for Nouri to look like a leader -- or at least almost like one. Xinhua quotes Mini Fraud declaring yesterday, "Today, nobody is marginalized in Iraq, I confidently say the government treats all Iraqis, provinces, political blocs and parties equally." Well, yes, the average Iraqi is pretty much treated with disdain and disgust by the so-called government the US installed in Baghdad; however, that's not what Nouri was referring to.

Osama al-Nujaifi is the Speaker of Parliament. Last week, he visited the US and, among other things, raised the issue of the missing billions in the oil-for-food fund. State Of Law is accused of using his absence to fuel a rumor that he called for Sunnis to break off from Iraq and form their own region. Once back in Iraq, al-Nujaifi issued a statement and his comments (original comments about Sunnis in Iraq) were noted in full and that should have been the end of it. However, Nouri can't let it go and continues to distort the remarks in an attempt to inflame Shi'ites against Sunnis -- please grasp this is being done not by 'firebrand' Moqtada al-Sadr but by the prime minister of the country. Salah Nasrawi (al-Ahram Weekly) notes:

During a visit to Washington last month, Osama Al-Nujaifi, a key leader of the Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiya List and holder of the post of speaker of the Iraqi parliament, told the US government-owned Al-Hurra television channel that Iraq's Sunni minority was "frustrated" and might declare "a region" of its own in the country.
"As a matter of fact they [the Sunnis] have strong feelings of frustration. They feel they are second-rate citizens and are not partners in the government," Al-Nujaifi said in an interview. "If this is not solved quickly and in a prudent way before things get worse, they might think about separation or taking measures to ensure their rights," he said.
Al-Nujaifi's unusually blunt remarks prompted criticism from Shia leaders, who accused him of sectarianism and separatism. Some 75 Iraqi Shia MPs asked for a debate in parliament and demanded an apology from Al-Nujaifi.
However, so far Al-Nujaifi has remained defiant, and upon returning from Washington he told a press conference that "the formation of such regions is a constitutional right", referring to the Iraqi constitution written after the US-led invasion, which declared Iraq to be a federal country and gave its different groups the right to form autonomous regions.

He is correct that it's a constitutional right. He has also warned what could happen thus far and has not, despite Nouri and others lies, called for it to happen. Al Rafidayn reports Nouri spoke at length yesterday and, reading the article, you may be struck by all the words Nouri used while never noting the issue al-Nujaifi actually raised: rising Sunni discontent. That was what al-Nujaifi was speaking of. He wasn't proposing a division, he was offering a warning. Instead, State of Law and Nouri have distorted it into "Iraqiya wants to break up Iraq!" Iraqiya isn't Sunni. It is a Sunni - Shi'ite alliance. Jason Ditz ( quotes Nouri proclaiming that if Sunni's secede, "If it happens, people will fight each other and blood will reach to the knee." Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) saracastically notes, "Wait a minute! Is this a national leader using extreme rhetoric to threaten condign punishment against those who rebel against his government? Isn't that what Moamar Gadafy was accused of doing? Wasn't this indeed the whole casus belli of West's war on Libya? Then we must immediately intervene militarily to save the innocent civilians of western Iraq from this threatened bloodbath! We'd better send troops into Iraq right away to stop this raging heinous monster!"

When not distorting facts to make Iraqiya the 'evil doer,' State of Law focuses on the West. Al-Rafidayn reports State of Law has concocted a convoluted plot -- it would require Miss Marple to decipher -- in which the West is using Kuwait to destroy Iraq's economy. It's another attempt by an increasingly unpopular faction to play us-against-them in the hopes of shoring up support.

Because the crazy never ends, we're still on Nouri. Al Mada reports that he also declared yesterday that Iraq is immune to change sweeping the region. File that under "famous last words."

In this toxic climate, Jalal Talabani prepares to host a second house party. Al Sabaah reports that the president of Iraq intends to host various political factions at his home tomorrow. Along with addressing outstanding issues or 'old business' like the Erbil Agreement and the failure to appoint heads to the security ministries, Talabani also intends to discuss his recents meet-ups with officials in Iran and Greece. New Sabah notes that Talabani has been doing many one-on-one meetings (including with Nouri) ahead of the big meet-up. Al Mada reports that Moqtada is raging about US Vice President Joe Biden's upcoming visit -- the worst keep secret in Baghdad after Nouri's poor comb-over. And if you need another reason Jay Carney needs to stop lying through his teeth, the article quotes him at length (his denial of discussions to extend the US military occupation) -- providing much amusement for Iraqis, no doubt, while also further cheapening the US image in Iraq (and who would've thought that was possible).

Turning to some of today's violence, Reuters notes 2 Sahwa were shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar, a woman's corpse was discovered in Abu Saida, assailants in Iraqi military uniforms shot dead 1 Sahwa in Baquba, a Bahdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a police officer was left injured in a Kirkuk shooting, and, dropping back to Thursday night for both that follow, a Falluja car bombing left ten people injured and a one Iraqi soldier was injured in a Baghdad attack.

As yesterday was winding down, news reports began to emerge about Iraqi artificats being returned to Iraq. Lily Kuo (Reuters) reported, "An ancient bead necklace, terra cotta tablets from ancient Babylonia depicting Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, and posters of deposed leader Saddam Hussein were among artifacts that U.S. officials returned to the Iraqi government on Thursday." Jason Ukman (Washington Post) explained, "An estimated 15,000 pieces were stolen from Iraq's National Museum in pillaging after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and many more are believed to have been smuggled out since then by U.S. military personnel and contractors. More than half of the items that have turned up in the United States or elsewhere have been repatriated to Iraq, but treasured items remain missing." There was no blame to be found in the articles -- the antiquities apparently walked out of Iraq by themselves -- but at least there were no efforts to spin it as "THE US DOES IT AGAIN!" in those two articles. Marieke van der Vaart's "Iraqi antiquities looted in war returned: U.S. helps restore cultural heritage" (Washington Times) was nothing but spin "U.S. helps restore cultural heritage." The antiquities were looted not because the giant looters, armed to the tooth, battled US forces in downtown Baghdad and managed to whisk various artificats out of Baghdad and then out of the country.

The US military refused to protect the museum. It was right next to the oil ministry. That got protected. The Bush White House decided that was a priority. Donald Rumsfeld made jokes about the looting. Rumsfeld declared, at a press conference, "The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over and over and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times and you think, 'my goodness, were there that many vases?' Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?" And when he was saying this, the press was chuckling, eating it up. People in New Orleans take needed food -- which would have spoiled quickly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina -- and a segment of the US press wants them shot and killed. But Iraq's museum is looted, treasures are taken, possibly lost forever, and the US press thinks it's cute and funny and finds Donald Rumsfeld endearing. Boy, did they turn on him quick when he was no longer Secretary of Defense. So they're not only suck ups, they're disloyal ones at that.

There are no bragging rights to "We found them!!!" The US government should have made the Iraqi museum a priority, it should have been a secured site. The refusal to do what was required aided the looting. British archaeologist Paul Bradford (Portable Antqiuity Collecting and Heritage Issues) notes the news and feels that "the US authorities are all-too-eager to show what they managed to stop at their porous borders and repatriated with the usual ceremony and the usual speeches and backslapping. Even if it is mostly rubbish."

In other news, there have been two important rulings for Iraqis who were held in British detention. Amnesty International UK explains:

Following two landmark judgments from the European Court of Human Rights yesterday, Amnesty International is once again calling on the UK authorities to act decisively to ensure accountability for actions of UK armed forces and officials in Iraq for alleged human rights violations.
In the first of the two cases, Al-Skeini and Others v the United Kingdom, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK was required by the European Convention on Human Rights to conduct independent and effective investigations into the killing of six civilians during security operations carried out by UK soldiers in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
The Court found the UK had failed to ensure such investigations in five of the six cases, in violation of article 2 (right to life) of the Convention. Significantly, the Court rejected arguments by the UK that the Convention did not apply to the UK's operations because they occurred outside the UK's ordinary territory. The Court held that the fact the UK was an occupying force over the territory in question and therefore exercised public powers there meant the Convention applied. Such a situation, the Court held, was one among a range of scenarios where the Convention applies outside the ordinary territory of European states. (Another example the Court cited was where a state exercises effective physical power and control over an individual by taking him or her into custody, somewhere else in the world).
In the second of the two cases, Al-Jedda v the United Kingdom, the European Court found that the prolonged internment of Hilal Abdul-Razzaq Ali Al-Jedda, for more than three years in a detention centre in Basra, Iraq, run by British forces, violated his right to liberty and security under the European Convention.
The UK claimed that Al-Jedda was not entitled to the protection of the European Convention at all. It argued that the United Nations alone was legally responsible for the detention, since, it argued, UK forces were acting as part of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, under a specific mandate from the UN Security Council. The UK also argued that, even if it was legally responsible for the detention, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions authorised internment and this would override any contrary obligations the UK had under the Convention.
The Court rejected the UK's arguments, finding that it was indeed legally responsible for Al-Jedda's internment by its forces, and that nothing in the UN mandate disentitled him to the protections of the ECHR. The Court therefore found his internment to violate article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the Convention.
Amnesty has long been concerned by the UK's narrow interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, and its ongoing attempts to deny or limit the applicability of its obligations under international human rights treaties, and domestic laws intended to implement those obligations, to the conduct of the UK's armed forces overseas. This narrow interpretation has led to the denial of an effective remedy to many individuals whose rights have been, or are alleged to have been, violated by the conduct of UK service personnel. Amnesty has frequently emphasised that the UK's human rights obligations extended extraterritorially to anybody within its power or effective control and that the UK could not avoid accountability simply by claiming the rights did not apply. These arguments have been further vindicated by yesterday's rulings from the Court.
Following the judgment of the European Court, Amnesty calls on the UK to ensure that it implements the judgment, including by conducting independent, impartial, thorough and effective investigations into the killings in the Al-Skeini case, as well as with respect to other killings by UK armed forces in Iraq during the same period. The UK must also ensure that victims of serious human rights violations committed by UK armed forces during their operations in Iraq are provided with effective remedy and reparation for those violations.
While Amnesty welcomes the rejection of the UK's arguments that human rights treaty obligations did not apply at all in these two cases at the European Court, it remains concerned by any implication in the reasons given in the Al-Jedda judgment that a UN Security Council resolution might in theory, if it were clearly enough worded in this regard, allow or even oblige states to act in a manner inconsistent with their obligations under international human rights law. Given the Court's findings in the case about the specific resolution and actions at issue, the hypothetical question of whether some other resolution might have had a different legal effect did not squarely arise. Amnesty considers that no Security Council resolution purporting to authorise, let alone oblige, states to act in contravention of fundamental principles of human rights could ever in that respect be valid under international law.
The case of Al-Jedda concerned one of the so-called "security internees" detained without charge or trial by the UK contingent of the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Hilal Al-Jedda was arrested by US soldiers in Iraq on 10 October 2004, apparently acting on information provided by British Intelligence services. He was taken to Sha'aibah Divisional Temporary Detention facility in Basra city, a detention centre run by British forces, and held there, without charge or trial until his release on 30 December 2007 over three years later. This type of detention, sometimes called "internment", is prohibited by the European Convention (except perhaps under a valid derogation in certain types of emergencies - the UK did not seek to rely on any derogation in this case).
The case of Al-Skeini relates to the death of six Iraqi civilians at a time when the UK was recognised as an Occupying Power under international humanitarian law. They were: Hazim Jum'aa Gatteh Al-Skeini, aged 23, shot dead in the street by the commander of a British military patrol; Muhammad Abdul Ridha Salim, a teacher aged 45, shot and fatally wounded by a sergeant in a military unit who forcibly entered his brother-in-law's house; Hannan Mahaibas Sadde Shmailawi, aged 33, shot and fatally wounded by gunfire during an exchange involving a British military patrol while she was eating a family evening meal in her home; Waleed Sayay Muzban, aged 43, shot and fatally injured by a lance corporal during a military patrol while he was driving a minibus; and Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, aged 15, allegedly beaten and forced into the Shatt Al-Arab river by British soldiers where he drowned.
The sixth death, that of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist aged 26, in September 2003, occurred after he was tortured over a period of 36 hours while detained by British troops. A court martial in the UK of seven UK military personnel in relation to the case of Baha Mousa concluded in March 2007. By the end of the proceedings, six of the seven defendants had been acquitted of all charges. One soldier had pleaded guilty to a charge of inhumane treatment - a war crime - and was acquitted of the remaining charges. The court martial confirmed that numerous individuals had been responsible for inflicting unlawful violence on Baha Mousa and other detainees. However, as the judge remarked, many of those responsible were "not charged with any offence simply because there is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks".
In May 2008 a public inquiry was announced into the circumstances of the case, which concluded its oral hearings in October 2010 and is expected to deliver its final report in September 2011. In light of the Inquiry the European Court determined that the father of Baha Mousa, Colonel Daoud Maousa, the sixth applicant in the case of Al-Skeini was no longer of victim of a breach of the procedural obligation to conduct an effective, independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances of his son's death, under Article 2 (the right to life).

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "9th Circuit Shows Leadership" went up yesterday, noting that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did what Barack said he'd do but, years later, still hadn't gotten around to doing: end the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) reports on the court's decision and the reaction to the decision overseas:

"I'm ecstatic," said one soldier stationed in Baghdad, adding that he planned to meet Thursday night at a military coffee shop with other gay soldiers to celebrate.
"We won't be loud or obnoxious, but we will show solidarity and resolve," the soldier said by e-mail, speaking on the condition of anonymity while the ban remains in effect.
Military officials in Iraq said Thursday that the approximately 47,000 troops deployed here had completed training courses on schedule. But when asked, one official said there was no way of knowing how many courses had been conducted in Iraq, suggesting only that there had been many.
At Bagram air base in Afghanistan, an Air Force staff sergeant who also requested anonymity said the court decision would probably add to the confusion about the end of the policy.
"A lot of people thought it all ended back in December and thought we were done," the staff sergeant said in an interview. "People are frustrated. They're waiting and thinking, 'It'll be any week now,' and they'd just like it to get done."

And finally though the cry from DC politicians is that the belt must be tightened and spending must be cut, Donna Cassata (AP) reports that the House voted today, 336 for, 87 against, to provide $649 billion to cover the wars for another year. US House Rep Barney Frank is quoted observing, "The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch."

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Joan Baez needs to get accountable

9th circuit shows leadership

Is there a bigger fraud than Barack Obama. It wasn't all that long ago that he was bragging publicly of how he ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell, remember? But it was the 9th Circuit that ended it and they did so yesterday. Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "9th Circuit Shows Leadership" documents that milestone. Let's elect the 9th Circuit president.

With so many causes dear to her heart, it is hardly surprising that Baez soundbites are easy to find. "I've never had a humble opinion," she once said. "If you've got an opinion, why be humble about it?"

Humble? How about accountable?

You stuck your damn nose into a Democratic Party primary and whored for Barack Obama. The same Barack Obama, JOAN WHORE LIAR BAEZ who's continued the Iraq War. Remember when you used to be opposed to it?

Remember when you claimed to want to end it?

You haven't run from a position so quick since you shared that female lover with Janis Joplin, have you?

But unlike your bed partners, this had a HUGE impact. And you've never taken accountability.

People in Libya are dying right now as a result of the man you WHORED for.

So why don't you try accountability?

Because you're bravado is as screeching as your high notes these days.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, July 7, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, more US soldiers are announced dead, Chair of the Joint Chiefs talks US forces in Iraq beyond 2011, Camp Ashraf betrayed?, and more.
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.
Kevin Pina: So give us an update, what's going on on the ground there?
Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya: Well I did look at some of the press reports being released saying that the gates of Tripoli had been reached by the rebels. That is totally untrue. That is not happening whatsoever. Nothing like that has happened whatsoever. In fact what I am hearing here is contradictory to what the press is saying in North America and Western Europe and that's the western mountains have been regained by the Libyan military -- or as they call it in their reports pro-Gaddafi forces. So there's total contradictions on the ground here and from what I'm seeing there. I also went to the Washington Post, Reuters today. They seem to be getting information from some person named 'Niz.' They all -- If you look through the wires, you're going to see 'Niz said this, Niz said that'. And most of the reports are unverified. They're just quoting Niz, but they're unverified. And I happen to notice while looking through these reports that they're saying he's been talking to them or contacting them through secure internet services. Secure internet services or secure internet lines usually mean like an embassy or something like that. So what is the press doing here? Another thing that was brought up by a Libyan I was talking to while looking at these reports was that the United States government -- especially President Obama -- is establishing shadow internet and shadow phone lines in so-called authoritarian countries as a means to remove the regime. Now if somebody did that in the United States, I think that would be seen as an act of aggression. That's unacceptable. We can't have these type of double standards. And, yes, today was -- today and actually for a while tensions have been brewing between south Sudan and north Sudan. nothing is said Barack will occupy western Sahara where they've actually built fences, you know, fences just like the Israelis have in the West Bank and nothing was said there. The ICC is out to lunch about what happened in Georgia, they still haven't come up with a verdict. But they look at Gaddafi and, in a couple of days, they come up with convictions based mostly on media reports from what I've went through looking at everything that ICC's putting together. So people here are united. They're united more than ever. And that's the feeling you get in Tripoli. It's not what the media is portraying. It's not going to fall anytime soon. There's no rebels at the gates. It's totally different on the ground from what I see here than what the press is reporting.
Kevin Pina: You're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that's the voice of Mahdi Nazemoraya. Mahdi is speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, what about news reports -- Well, explain to me first, what is this shadow phone system you're referring to.
Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya: Well reading through the press releases, the wires, there's talking about how secure alternative -- not as in alternative media but alternative internet sources that the governments of these countries can't control are being set up in these countries as a means for so-called activists or opposition groups to organize to overthrow the government. That's basically what they're doing. And this is in the press. Take me to task, listeners should take me to task and look this up. You can find this in the mainstream media where they're talking about shadow internet and shadow phone lines the government can't control. If anybody did that in my country Canada or the United States or they did it in Britain, France, Belgium -- they would end up -- It would be seen as an act of treason. You can't do that. I'm not saying the state [has] to control the internet but you can't set up a system to overthrow the government. That's a hostile act.
Kevin Pina: And you know of course that they barely averted a vote in the US Senate yesterday to support the NATO-led war effort in Libya. It looks as if they're going to try to -- the Democrats are going to try to -- push another vote later next week. And all of this is, of course, predicated upon what is being called a victory that is in sight.
Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya: I don't see a victory in sight. I think that's just talk. I think it's part of the psychological warfare against this country and it's people -- yes, against its people. I want to point out there's a war against the people of this country. When you bomb places that are food storage sites and you bomb places where money is made and when you bomb civilian structures, it's a war against the people, trying to break their spirits.
Former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney (2008 Green Party presidential candidate) was part of a fact finding mission to Libya earlier and Lucy Grider-Bradley -- who has worked with various members of the US Congress including Cynthia and US House Rep Gwen Moore and who is the former program director for Northeast Georgia Black Leadership Council -- also took part in the fact finding mission. On this week's Black Agenda Radio -- hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network -- they highlight remarks by lucy Grider-Bradley and Cynthia McKinney.
Glen Ford: We asked Lucy Grider-Bradley if what she saw felt like a war to her?
Lucy Grider-Bradley: Absolutely. I felt bombs, the effect of bombs dropping in the distance. I saw billowing clouds that came up after the horrible sound and the building that I was in shaking. Billows of white, smoke-like substance that turned black as if watching a horror movie. I saw the effects of that bomb. I saw a 30-fooot crater in the middle of a home that belonged to Muammar Gaddafi's son -- where his son was killed and 3 of his grandchildren also murdered from the effects of that bomb. I mean, how do you get a 30-foot hole in the middle of your house? Well I can tell you what I saw -- the results of a UN-US-NATO bomb. The delegation saw a lot. We saw people trying to go about their daily lives, not knowing when the next bomb was going to drop or knowing where the bomb was going to drop. But in spite of it all, they gathered ever evening at the place where the grandchildren and the son were killed to show their support for their leader. I wonder if that kind of thing was happening in the United States, if we would get out and rally behind a leader who was dropping bombs and murdering people -- Black people especially. I don't think I'd be part of that party. But the Libyans definitely support their leader and show it every night despite the fact that there might be bombs dropping. And I also want to say civilians have been murdered. Not just military folks. So the bombs aren't dropping just on what the UN calls military outposts, they're dropping in residential areas in Libya. I think it's important that that point is made over and over and over again.
Glen Ford: And when President Obama denied that he had to comply with the War Powers Act because he was not engaged in hostilities with Libya, how did you feel having just returned from there?
Lucy Grider-Bradley: Well can I just say that I don't listen to him so I didn't hear him say that so I really don't have an opinion. I think about him like I felt about President Bush: If you see his mouth moving he's probably lying.
The Cynthia McKinney excerpt is from her speech at the National Black Theatre in Harlem.
Cynthia McKinney: During the time that I was in Congress, I was asked to take positions that were absolutely not true but people wanted to use my Black face in order to put forward their own agenda. And their own agenda was anti-Black. So they wanted to use the integrity that I had, they wanted me to lease it to them for a small price. In fact, one person, a media person from New York told me that if I just took a particular stand against Sudan then I could be be in Congress for the rest of my life. But what they wanted me to say was a lie. And I did my research, as I always do my research, and I understood what they were asking me to say was not true and so therefore I declined. [Next sentence is drowned out from applause to previous sentence.] But this leasing of the Black face and oppressing people of color within black face was something that moved me and, in fact, when I filed the Articles of Impeachment against George Bush and Dick Cheney, it was important for me to include Condoleezza Rice because she knowingly chose the wrong side. And I went to an elementary school in my district as I was trying to campaign for re-election and there big as day the school, Black History Month, is celebrating who else but Condoleezza Rice. So Condoleezza Rice becomes the role model for our young people. Colin Powell, who lied to the world, becomes a role model for our young people. So this is what they want us to become but this is certainly not what I can contence. So as I am blessed to be able to travel around the world, one of the things that sticks out to me is how Black America, at one point, had moral authority no matter where you went in the world. And if you had a USA passport and your skin was Black, you were respected. You were loved. Because people around the world understood our struggle, understood our oppression and they understood our resistance to the imperial face of the United States. But not so anymore. How long do you think we're going to get a free pass? And now the ultimate insult to my integrity is that we have a Black man bombing Africa. The ultimate insult.
Jason Ditz ( reports that a vote in the House came close to cutting off approproations: "A broader bipartisan amendment from Reps. Amash (R - MI) and Kucinich (D - OH) narrowly failed, with a vote of, 199 - 229. [. . .] Still, the Cole (R - OK0 Amendment, a less ambitious version, managed to pass, which prohibits any funding for equipment, training or advice related to the Libya War in the bill." This morning, before the vote, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich's office noted, "A bipartisan agreement to support an amendment with the broadest coalition of support has been reached by 15 Members of Congress. The bipartisan amendment is cosponsored by Justin Amash (R-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Ron Paul (R-TX), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Burton (R-IN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Pete Stark (D-CA), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Richard Nugent (R-FL)." Alan Silverleib (CNN) notes of the Amash-Kucinich measure, "A relatively slim majority of Republicans voted in favor of the measure, while a large majority of Democrats opposed it."
One of the most interesting aspects about US coverage of the Status Of Forces Agreement being extended or replaced is how the White House keeps saying Iraq will have to ask and reporters run around DC looking for unnamed officials to comment while ignoring what's been and is being reported in the Iraqi press. You might say, "Well the US press feels it's more professional and therefore isn't interested . . ." To which the obvious rejoinder is, "The US isn't interested in Iraqi press or Iraqi reaction? That makes the US press just like the US government.

Today Al Sabaah reports that a unified statement is expected before the end of the month from Parliament. Of course, if recent reports that Nouri intends to sign off on a memorandum of understanding with the US government prove to be correct, the Parliament can say whatever it wants, they will have been bypassed (not unlike the way he bypassed them at the end of 2006 to extend the UN mandate and, again, at the end of 2007 for the same reason). Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that State of Law insiders (Nouri's slate) say Moqtada al-Sadr is the stumbling block currently and that Nouri is weighing the threats Moqtada has made to reactivate the Mahdi milita. State of Law worries about the so-called 'gains' that have been made being lost if the US military leaves. Not all in the political slate are worried about Moqtada and some point out that Nouri is the leader of the Armed Forces as well as the Minister of Defense and Interior so he will have the support of most political blocs when he makes his evaluation. From outside the political slate, some are less optimistic and many point out that the decision should not be Nouri's alone (Osama al-Nujaifi, not noted in this article, has repeatedly maintained that this is a decision that must come before Parliament). Adm Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, weighed in this afternoon. David Alexander (Reuters) reports that Mullen was "at a luncheon with reporters, maintained that "Iran" (presumably the government of) was supplying Shi'ite militias in Iraq with "high-tech weapons" to kill US soldiers "the forensics prove that." Any agreement to keep US troops on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011, Mullen argued, should include some provision that Iraqi forces will address this alleged supplying of weapons to Shi'ite militias. Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) observes, "The condition for a U.S. troop extension poses a challenge to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Shiite Muslim political party has struggled to manage Iran's political and military influence." Meanwhile Charley Keyes (CNN) puts the red across White House flunkie Jay Carney's freshly-facialed face by reporting, "Mullen confirmed that discussion are underway. 'Negotiations are ongoing,' Mullen said, adding that any final decision would be for the presidents of Iraq and the United States. He said any agreement with Iraq 'has to be done in conjunction with control of Iran'." Tuesday at the White House, Carney played dumb (you were playing, right, Jay?) and insisted about any extension that "I really don't have any more information on that possible outcome, because, again we haven't even gotten a request." If negotiations are going on, there are requests on both sides. Helen Thomas (Falls Church News-Press) explains:
As for pulling our troops out of Iraq, don't hold your breath. There are all kinds of official hints that our withdrawal from Iraq may take a longer time than the end of the year deadline.
James F. Jeffrey, the U.S envoy to Iraq, told reporters recently that the U.S would consider keeping some of the 40,000 troops in Iraq to provide security. Of course, some Iraqi officials who have played ball with the U.S. occupation would like us to remain in the country. But the car bombings and explosions have not stopped.
Obama has ordered the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan, the beginning of the end of the 10-year war. As for Afghanistan, we had more reason to go in (although there were neither Afghans nor Iraqis involved in 9/11).
Obama had one big chance to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan - the day after he took the oath of office. He could have saved thousands of lives and would have been called a hero by many. Instead, Obama maintained the Bush War scenario and kept the wars going.
America has to decide who we are -- and why we are trying to sell democracy with guns and bombs.
Today there are more US deaths in Iraq. The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe Tweeted:

Lara Jakes (AP) reports the bombing was "outside the main American military base in Baghdad". Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) adds, "Officials believe an explosively formed projectile, many of which are manufactured in Iran, was responsible. The weapons are designed to penetrate layers of armor." As of 10:00 AM EST this morning, the Pentagon's count of US military personnel killed in the Iraq War stood at 4472. -- 51 of those deaths since Barack pronounced the end of 'combat operations' August 31st. Last month, 15 US soldiers died in the Iraq War.
Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh is now the host of RT's Adam vs. The Man which airs on RT each weeknight at 7:00 pm (EST). Yesterday's broadcast included this commentary:
Adam Kokesh: Hey, remember that time Barack Obama was a senator and he was just running for president? You remember when he said the first thing he was going to do as president was pull US forces out of Iraq?
Footage of Candidate Barack Obama: I will promise you this that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.
Adam Kokesh: Yeah. But then remember that instead the first thing he took to the bank was all of your bail out money? Well it turns out there's still too many kinks in that whole getting out of Iraq thing to make it a reality. We were slated to finally pull out by year's end. Yes, 2011. But now the AP is reporting that the White House is offering -- "offering" -- to leave 10,000 US troops behind. Iraqis expressed their gratitude today by shooting at some American convoys. Now that's what I call friendly fire. It's good we're showing so much generousity towards the Arab world, surely the tide of anti-Americanism will turn if we stick it out just a little while longer. Seems the Pentagon is crossing their fingers for a troop request from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government in Iraq but I'm going to guess just one way or another they'll find or create a way and a reason to stay.
Jack Cafferty (CNN) observes the same promises from Barack and notes that "Now as that deadline for military withdrawal from Iraq approaches, he's apparently prepared to break that promise. Gee, what a surprise."
On the topic of crossed fingers -- in terms of lying, not good luck -- how do you tell a group of people to disarm and swear that you'll protect them and then don't? Ask Barack Obama who refused to repudiate the acts of George W. Bush so he embraced them. The Bush administration promised the residents of Camp Ashraf (approximately 3400 Iranian dissidents in Iraq) that they would be protected. They've instead been repeatedly slaughtered. The most recent blood bath, April 8th, by the Iraqi military was so bad that US Senator John Kerry termed it a "massacre." Sunday Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) filed an important report on Camp Ashraf. Recapping, US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey can't understand why residents of Camp Ashraf (who unarmed after the US government promised to protect them) don't want to leave their area and disperse throughout Iraq living as, in his word, "refugees." Nima Sharif's "US gives Iranian Opposition Choice: Die or Commit Suicide" (Stop Fundamentalism) points out:

The fact of the matter is that the residents of Camp Ashraf who died last April – 36 of them including 8 women – were killed when the Iraqi military forces raided their camp. That makes Ambassador Jeffery's remarks refereeing to a "place a bit safer" puzzling. Does he mean that there is actually a place in Iraq where Iraqi forces cannot attack the residents and have no access to? Logic suggests that if the Iraqi forces are determined to slaughter the members of the Iranian main opposition movement, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), they can do so anywhere in Iraq. Moreover, what does he mean when he say "a bit safer?" Does he mean that next time less people will be killed and that is acceptable to the U.S.?
But in reality, since Camp Ashraf currently receives some minimal international attention, the only place that is "a bit safer" for the residents in Iraq is in fact Camp Ashraf.
The camp residents have already announced their complete agreement to the European plan for their resettlement outside Iraq to resolve the situation once and for all. They consider that the only party disagreeing with their relocation outside Iraq would be the Iranian regime; rather it wants all the 3400 residents of the camp to be destroyed. In fact it has been the Iranian regime and its Iraqi collaborators who have been calling for their relocation inside Iraq for the past few weeks.
But I have made it clear in all discussions with the Iraqi Government that we are not willing to enter into any negotiations with them unless four key pre-conditions are met. Firstly, the military forces must be withdrawn from Camp Ashraf. Secondly, the siege of the camp which has gone on uninterrupted for more than two years, involving hundreds of loudspeakers blaring high decibel threats and propaganda 24 hours a day - plus interruptions to vital medical, energy and water supplies - must immediately stop. Thirdly, there must be an independent inquiry into the massacre on April 8 - with the perpetrators identified and brought to justice. And fourthly, those critically injured during the April 8 attack must be given immediate access to proper hospital care. In other words, the Iraqi government must restore an environment as near to normality as possible in Ashraf, before negotiations can begin on the long-term resolution to this crisis.
Only if these conditions are met will we have confidence that the Iraqi authorities really do intend to bring this situation to a positive conclusion. But during this period of transition the UN will have to take control over the safety and security of the camp, ensuring the residents receive all necessary living and medical supplies. At the same time, a committee will be set up to take the plan forward - consisting of key individuals from the EU, US, UN and Arab League as well as members of Iraq's government and parliament, residents from Camp Ashraf and the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Baroness Ashton and the EU Foreign Affairs Council, together with the US President and the UN Secretary General, must now back this solution and throw their weight behind it in order to ensure that the lives of 3,400 Iranians are saved and Iraq moves along a path upon which respect for human rights and the rule of law is prevalent, in a land which has been mired in violence for too long.
QUESTION: A couple of months ago, a senior State Department official rolled out a U.S. plan for relocating the residents of Camp Ashraf, saying that there was a concern in this building that they face the potential for more violence against them if they stay where they are. The head of that group is now going around telling media outlets that they're rejecting this plan sort of outright, that they won't consider it. I'm wondering if that rejection has been communicated directly to you, and is there a Plan B if the U.S. -- what's the next step as far as the U.S. is concerned regarding the Camp Ashraf situation?
MS. NULAND: We are continuing to work with the Government of Iraq, with the Ashraf leadership, with all of our international partners on a plan to relocate the camp. This is an ongoing dialogue. We want to see this done in a way that avoids further violence and leads to a long-term solution. So this is an ongoing process and our goals, I think, remain the same, which is to see an appropriate settlement of the issue.
QUESTION: But if they're rejecting this plan, then clearly, you have to find another path to reach those goals, don't you?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don't want to speak to the specifics of the negotiation that we're having, both with the Iraqi Government and with the Ashraf leadership. I think those talks will continue.
Asked about it today, Nuland was confused as to when she'd last addressed it declaring, "I don't have anything to -- new to report with regard to the MEK status on the terrorist list. I did speak to the Ashraf issue yesterday or the day before. Just to reiterate, we continue to work actively with the Government of Iraq, with the Asraf leadership, with our internal partners to come up with a plan to relocate the Ashraf residents and we're still working on that together."
Reuters notes that today's violence included 1 woman being shot dead in Baquba and her husband being left injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left four people injured.
Turning to the US where Barack Obama's promise to end Don't Ask, Dont Tell didn't result in it ending but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did what Barack refused to do and yesterday announced the end of the discrimination. As Marcia observed yesterday, DADT was overturned "not by Barack. It took adults to end it and Barack's just an overgrown (and spoiled) child." A child who likes to play war.
15 US soldiers died last month in the Iraq War. One of them was Sgt Matthew Gallagher. Sean Teehan (Boston Herald) reminds that his loved ones have to deal with both the loss and the military's 'confusion' -- they told the family he died conducting a house sweep and have since backed off of that statement and now state his death is under investigation while insisting it was a 'non-combat death.' Teehan opens with Katie Gallagher, "The 22-year-year-old widow of Army Sgt. Matthew R. Gallagher lay across the flag-draped casket of her husband yesterday, burying her face in her arms before succumbing to sobs." The Cape Cod Times notes, "A funeral Mass is set to begin at 11 a.m. [today] at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in North Falmouth. Burial at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne will follow. Gallagher is the 11th soldier with ties to Cape Cod to die in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2006." Spc Dylan Johnson also died last month. Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reports on the 20-year-old's memorial yesterday:

Jeff Johnson told mourners that a few things agitate him in his daily life and that a few things agitated his son, as well - primarily the heat and dust of Iraq.
He said his son has now left him with a valuable lesson - "to ignore the small agitating things and to concentrate on loving your family and friends every day, because none of us will ever know when it is our June 26."
The soldier's mother, Joy Sehl, also spoke to mourners, telling them of her heartbreak but also saying how proud she was of her son.
She read a tribute from one of her son's best friends, Pfc. Anthony Santiago of Placerville, Calif.
Santiago wrote that he had always wanted a little brother and finally got one when Dylan Johnson entered his life.

Last month Iraq War veteran James Keenan apparently took his own life. Elizabeth Dinan (Sea Coast Online) reports he died June 29th ("self-inflicted gunshot wound") and suffered from PTSD which Greg Chabot ("who served in an Army National Guard artillery unit with Keenan") says took his life, "He was one of the younger guys, very squared away and wouldn't hesitate to help another guy out. I don't know if he slipped through the cracks or was overlooked." Sheila Keenan says of her son, "My son, my hero. I'm not angry. I know why. They can't deal with what happened." Yochi J. Dreazen (National Journal) observes, "In 2010, 301 active-duty, reserve, and National Guard soldiers committed suicide, up from 242 in 2009. In 2008, the military's suicide rate exceeded that of the general population for the first time ever."

Meanwhile Leroy and Rosie Torres continue to raise awareness of the effects of the burn pits. In Iraq and in Afghanistan, the military and contractors are exposed to burn pits which aren't safe and which are used to burn off everything (including medicines) producing damaging fumes. Leroy Torres is an Iraq War veteran who was exposed while serving. KRIS TV reports:

We last spoke with him in January when the cold air was taking it's toll on his lungs.
Now, he is getting treatment in Denver at the National Jewish Medical Center, but he says the cost for medical bills is also taking its toll.
"Unfortunately, I haven't been successful with the VA. They denied my claim- my reimbursement. All of that was denied," he said.
As Leroy continues fighting for his own health and benefits, his wife Rosie, who we also met back in January, says she is fighting for awareness and help for everyone affected by burn pits.
Last month, she went to Washington DC to meet with legislators.
She says she spoke with local Representative Blake Farenthold, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and more about how to make changes on national policies which she says are preventing these victims from getting adequate care.
Her focus: creating a national registry for burn pit victims.

Evan Bayh proposed a national registry for burn pit victims. He put forward a bill and even appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to testify on behalf of the bill. Senator Jim Webb -- who, months later, would go on to screw over Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange -- blocked the bill from going forward and it died in committee. Bayh elected not to run for re-election and no one else in the Senate has picked up this issue and run with it. Bayh and Senator Byron Dorgan regularly explored and investigated this issue via the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Like Bayh, Dorgan decided not to run for re-election in 2010.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Queen of Hearts has spoken

POLITICO reports on Arianna Huffington. She was in London and decided to stick her nose into a press scandal over there and declared if it had happened at Huffington Post she would have seen to "everybody being fired" -- then quickly adding, "everybody involved."

Uh,, we got you the first time, Queen of Hearts. She would have fired everyone.

We also learn what offended her the most about the scandal: (her words) "different culture, journalistically, where you basically hire an investigator to tap into phones and where you pay for sources."

I can see how that would bother Arianna and how it would never happen at Huff Post -- Arianna pay sources? She doesn't even pay her bloggers!

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Barack pretends to want to cut waste but continues to waste trillions on the wars, Iran and Iraq firm up their friendship, denials fly all over about the US military staying in Iraq beyond 2011, and more.
Starting with Libya. Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.
Kevin Pina:The US Congress delayed a vote for a resolution supporting the NATO-led air campaign in Libya amidst reports of new bombing raids on Tripoli just this weekend. This comes on the heels of last week's revelations that France had flouted a UN resolution barring arm shipments to Libya by providing guns, ammunition and rocket launchers to Libyan forces opposed to Muammar Gaddafi The French government has since said that the armaments provided to elements aligned with the Libyan National Transitional Council were intended for defensive purposes only. However, no sooner had the French provided that qualifier, Libyan rebel commanders announced offensive military plans to take the capitol of Tripoli. And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and now joining me from Tripoli, Libya is once again our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Thanks for having me, Kevin.
Kevin Pina: So I understand that the bombs fell again this weekend on the capitol Tripoli. Give us an update, what's going on on the ground there?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Well the last time I talked to you, right after we finished our discussion, bombs had started falling and very close to me actually. I was in a civilian residential area at a fact-finding NGO, talking to the organizers there and during the middle of our conversation: Bombs. I've talked to foreigners living here. Italians, people from other Arab countries and Europe, even a Canadian who lives here. They've gotten so used to the bombs they can tell the difference between a missile and a bomb from the noise -- what's hitting what. Their lives have changed. The Italian lady I talked to who lives here, she was never into politics or the media or scrutinizing it until she lived here because she's saying what the media is reporting is her life and a total contradiction of reality. She can't get the reality of her life to-to correspond with what she's saying about Libya. She's totally disgusted about what's happening. So, yes, they've been bombing at night, they've been bombing during the day and there's been flights overhead on the hour almost.
Kevin Pina; And so what are the effects of the bombings been? Have they been hitting military targets? Have they been -- saying they're hitting military targets but striking civilian neighborhoods again as they did in the past?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: They have not been hitting military targets. There's no more military targets to hit after the first two days. There's nothing military left. All they've been doing is carpet bombing this place. That's essentially what it's coming down to. It's a watered down form of carpet bombing and they've been giving aerial support to the forces opposed to the government and Col Gaddafi here. That's what they've been doing. They've been bombing places that have nothing to do with war, have nothing to do with commanding control, they've been bombing civilian areas. I've taken pictures of them, others have. They've bombed food storage facilities. They've bombed a place where bank notes are made. They've bombed the university -- one of the main universities. They've bombed medical facilities and hospitals. They bombed a place used to bring oxygen for people in the hospital. Like oxygen needed in hospitals. They haven't bombed any military -- Libya really doesn't have a strong military at all. In fact, I was telling somebody today, what we're seeing on the ground is mostly volunteers and semi-organized people, people of all walks of life. They're fighting against the Libyan people, they're not fighting against the Libyan military because all or most of these people are volunteers who are fighting for their country.
Kevin Pina: Now we had talked about this last week, you had said that there was going to be a large demonstration in Tripoli against the war and against NATO's bombing campaign. We had this discussion about whether they were coming out pro-Gaddafi or whether they were coming out pro-Libya. And you had made it very clear that they were pro-Libya more than they were pro-Gaddafi. What happened with that demonstration? Did it happen? Did it occur?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Let me point out that many of these people like Col Gaddafi, not all of them. It is pro-Libya first, yes. But a lot of them, they know or they see Col Gaddafi and Libya as being on the same line. And, yes, I was at the protest. It was remarkable, it was big. It was energized and no one forced these people to come. And I want to point something out, Kevin. All the people in Tripoli -- not just Tripoli, in Libya, the part of Libya that are not of the rebels are armed. The government's armed them. Every house is armed here. They have civilian defense contingency plans here that's been put into effect. It's not that organized but there's neighborhood watches, there's neighborhood armories, there's green tents in every neighborhood, every house has weapons that have been distributed. If these people wanted to get rid of Col Gaddafi, believe me, they could have. They all have arms --
Kevin Pina: So let me just interrupt real quick, Mahdi. So you're saying that there has been a campaign by the Libyan government to arm the population. And that if the population wanted to overthrow Gaddafi, they're armed and could do that now?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: 100% there have been independent journalist here who have verified this. And you can easily find this on the internet now with pictures, with descriptions of these civilian defense contingency plans. And it wasn't recently that this happened. Col Gaddafi said at the start that they were going to arm the people and if they wanted to get rid of him, they could have.
Turning to the illegality of the LIbyan War, at Antiwar Radio, they've posted Horton's interview with Matthew Rothschild where they discuss his article "Stop the Bombing of Libya" (The Progressive). Excerpt.
Scott Horton: You start out by describing the extent of the war going on over there --whatever the president wants to call it. And you know I think, gee there's so many wars for people to keep up with, it can be hard. I'm amazed when I saw your assertion here that NATO has conducted 11,500 sorties in Libya thus far.
Matthew Rothschild: Isn't that amazing? I mean here we have a campaign that was started ostensibly to protect civilians and to impose a no-fly zone. Well it didn't take 11,500 sorties to impose a no-fly zone and to protect civilians in Libya from an imminent massacre -- that was what we were sold. No, this is a campaign that's entirely different from it's intentions right now. It may have been entirely different from the intentions that were sold to us at the very beginning because, look, there's no reason why these bombing raids should have continued after the no-fly zone was imposed because, at that point, Muammar Gaddafi could not have sent in his pitiful airforce to bomb those people who were supposed to be in such peril. So the no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya was accomplished really within 48 hours and everything else since then has been something designed to do quite a great deal more than what the UN signed off on and that was to protect civilians. Now what's going on now is a campaign to get rid of Gaddfi and seize the oil in Libya for US control of the oil supplies in the Middle East which is, of course, what the Iraq War was largely about to and what our connivance with Saudi Arabia's been all about for the last many decades.
Scott Horton: Well now, there's so much there. I guess first of all, it's probably worthy of note that "no-fly zone"? It's been months since we even heard anybody talk about that. I kind of almost forgot it's supposed to be a no-fly zone.
Matthew Rothschild: Yeah and it's certainly not applying to NATO. NATO's flying all over the place. And the amazing thing about Obama's doctrine here is that the War Powers Act doesn't apply. And the reason he's saying the War Powers Act doesn't apply -- and if Bush had said that I think the peace movement in the United States would be in the street in the tens of hundreds of thousands. Obama's reasoning just gives a justification for the next president to go in and attack any country that doesn't have a decent air force or surface to air missiles because what he is saying and what his lawyers are saying is that the War Powers Act doesn't apply right now because our military is not at risk of being killed because essentially we've so wiped out the Libyan air force and surface to air missiles that there's no chance that our bombers are going to be shot down -- or almost no chance -- and so they're not really in a zone of hostilities which is what the War Powers Act was dealing with. Well that's -- this is a crazy doctrine then because the United States now has carte blanche to go attack any weaker country as soon as its air force has been obliterated.
Scott Horton: Well, yeah, and funny about that, the lawyer for the Pentagon and the lawyers at the Justice Dept, they didn't buy that argument for a minute. They were over-ruled by the president.
Matthew Rothschild: Yeah, it's extraordinary when the president's own lawyers want to follow the law and the president of the United States doesn't. That gives you an idea of just how far out there Obama has gone in expanding presidential war powers. This from a presidential candidate who played footsie with the left, played footsie with the progressive peace movement, said he would never unilaterally engage the US military overseas unless there was an imminent threat against the United States which there wasn't. Gaddafi didn't attack the United States, he didn't represent a threat to the United States. [Former] Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates even admitted that on TV. I saw him when he said it. And my jaw kind of drops because, you know, why are we there if he's not a threat to us? And yet Obama has expanded this idea that he, the president of the United States, and, of course, future presidents can go start a war or at least a bombing crusade anywhere they want without asking Congress' permission, without getting Congressional authorization. After all the Congress has the sole power to declare war under Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. And now he wants to completely violate the War Powers Act which he's violated three times now. He violated it at the beginning because the War Powers Act says a president can go in without Congressional permission at first if there's an imminent threat against the United States -- there wasn't an imminent threat. And then within 60 days of that the president has got to get approval from Congress -- Obama didn't get approval from Congress. And then 30 days after that the president is supposed to withdraw those troops if he hasn't gotten Congressional approval -- and, of course, Obama hasn't gotten Congressional approval and hasn't withdrawn the bombers. So he's really in illegal territory here and he's kind of gloating about it.
Onto Iraq. Yesterday Lara Jakes (AP) reports 10,000 is the number of US soldiers the White House is floating to Iraq to keep with an understanding that Iraq will respond by September to the offer. Jakes reports, "Already, though, the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials in interviews with The Associated Press." Today David S. Cloud and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) add that the White House has "made its proposal now in hopes of spurring a request from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government, and to give the Pentagon time to plan, the officials [in the administration] said. The troops would be based around Baghdad and in a small number of other strategic locations around the country, the officials said." Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) explains, "While that word 'offer' has been repeatedly used by US officials named and unnamed in recent months, a better word might be 'pleading'." ABC News Radio adds, "In Washington, D.C. keeping American support forces in Iraq past the deadline could start a mutiny in the president's own party." Zeke Miller (Business Insider) points out, "The plan would put Obama on the wrong side of his promise to remove all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2011." Ryan Blethen (Seattle Times) observes, "We have no business staying in Iraq. We shouldn't have been there in the first place. Obama must live up to his campaign promise to get us out of Iraq. We have wasted too many lives and too much money. It is time to leave the rebuilding of Iraq to Iraqis and turn our attention to fixing our own country." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that offer is being made "despite vows to bring U.S. forces home by the end of the year." She also notes Vice Adm William McRaven told Congress a "contingent of commando forces should remain in Iraq." Last Tuesday, McRaven appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and this was the exchange:
Ranking Member John McCain: Adm McRaven, do you believe that the United States should have a residual force in Iraq in order to assist -- with particularly special operations, functions and intelligence?
Vice Adm William McRaven: Sir, I think that it would be mutually beneficial to us and the Iraqis if in fact that was the case. Obviously, remains to be seen whether the Iraqis will want us to stay past the intended drawdown time. But clearly there is still a threat in Iraq. And a small, soft presence there I think would be advisable.
Ranking Member John McCain: And if you look at recent US casulties, the situation -- at least in some respects -- politically as well as militarily has shown some deterioration. Would you agree?
Vice Adm William McRaven: Sir, I would. Statistically that appears to be the case, yes, sir.
And the denials grow even less believable. Pentagon spokesperson Col Dave Lapan declared today that stories about the US government having a number in mind that they would like to remain in Iraq? Untrue, huffs Lapan. "The process for troops to remain in the country after the date begins with an official request from the Iraq government and no such request has been made. Until the government of Iraq makes a request, there is no number." At the US State Dept, Victoria Nuland was in denial mode:
QUESTION: With regards to Iraq situation, especially that they haven't requested officially for the U.S. troops to remain there, if it doesn't happen, what is the take on that? I mean, is there an action plan on the – Iran's effort to influence Iraq situation?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that we have grave concerns about what Iran has been doing in terms of supplying weaponry and trying to stir up violence in Iraq. Ambassador Jeffrey spoke to this yesterday, trying to exploit the current situation. That said, we have a lot of confidence in Iraqi security forces and in their ability to maintain security in Iraq. We continue to say that if Iraq were interested in some residual U.S. presence staying in Iraq, we would be willing to have that conversation. But at this point, we haven't had a request.
QUESTION: But there is two key position in Iraq Government. Defense and internal ministry hasn't got any minister there. These are two key position. Are you confident within the – Iraq's government to handle their conflicts internally? Because they don't seem to be reaching any substantial unity amongst themselves.
MS. NULAND: This is democracy in action in Iraq. They are involved in trying to take their internal situation to the next level. So from our perspective, we continue to work with them on the full range of issues, including the security situation today and the security situation as we head towards the end of the year and the withdrawal of the remainder of forces.
Andy, did you have something?
QUESTION: May I have one more question?
MS. NULAND: I think we've done it on that subject.
QUESTION: A follow-up on Iraq?
QUESTION: I've got an Iraq one.
MS. NULAND: Lots of Iraq today. (Laughter.)
While the relationship with the US remains in doubt, Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports, "Iraq on Wednesday signed six agreements of cooperation with its neighbor Iran during an official visit of Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad." Alsumaria TV adds, "Iranian First Vice President Mohamed Rida Rahimi arrived to Baghdad on Wednesday heading a senior delegation to discuss bilateral relations between both countries." Press TV notes, "Iraq is currently the third trading partner of Iran after the United Arab Emirates and China. Tehran seeks to turn Baghdad into its first trading partner, Rahimi told reporters ahead of his official visit to Iraq on Wednesday." And before that visit takes place, Aswat al-Iraq observes that Iraq has sent Rafi'e al-Issawi, Minister of Finance, to Tehran yesterday where he met with Mohammed Riza Rahimi. AAP notes of the Baghdad meeting that the two countries representatives made a promise "to strengthen ties and put the past behind them, even as Washington accuses Iran of supplying new and more lethal weapons to anti-US militias." Aswat al-Iraq reports former MP mithal al-Alousi decried the visit and deals stating, "Iran wants to compensate its loss in Syria by controlling Iraq. Signing these agreements proved that Iraq lost its independence before the Iranian regime." al-Alusi is a former Ba'athist who was already in Germany when Saddam Hussein put his name on a hit list. The US was happy to bring al-Alusi back to Iraq and happy to see him become part of the government. They weren't bothered at all that right before the war -- December 2002 -- he took part in the seizure of the Iraqi embassy in Germany. Even more interestingly, al-Alusi was a member of Parliament and on the de-Ba'athification committee until he visited Israel in the fall of 2004 at which point he was kicked out of Parliament and off the committee -- kicked off via a law outlawing contact with 'enemy states' -- the current Parliament and the de-Ba'athficiation committee used that 1969 law. From Saddam's era. While claiming to be against the Ba'ath Party and all it did, they used that law to get rid of al-Alusi in 2004.
QUESTION: Iranian vice president was visiting Iraq today, and he said that Iran is ready to build and provide security to Iraq. He added that the relation between the two countries has reached a very high level. Do you have any reaction to this?
MS. NULAND: I don't. I don't.
QUESTION: Why not?
MS. NULAND: I think I've already spoken to our – (laughter) – I think I've already spoken to our concerns about Iran's intensions and Iran's activities in Iraq.
Aswat al-Iraq notes that President Jalal Talabani met with thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and quotes Kurdish MP Fuad Maasoum insisting it was a success and paves the way for a meet-up next week among all parties. Meanwhile Iraq remains without potable water and Al Rafidayn reports Iraqis are resorting to bottled water which are overpriced. The article estimates it will require $100 million to fix Iraq's water infrastructure alone. Despite the lack of potable drinking water, Iraq is moving forward with plans for an agricultural revival, Al Sabaah reports, including a major investment in livestock.

Turning to the United States. Yesterday, Elaine Quijano followed up on her earlier CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley report. Last week, she reported on how, if your loved one takes their own life or dies in a training exercise, you receive no condolence letter from the president. Yesterday, Quijano reported that the White House announced they will do condolence letters to those whose loved ones take their own lives in a war zone. Dan Lothian (CNN) makes it more specific, "In the statement Tuesday, the White House official said a review had been completed, and the president will send condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat operations" (and notes that CNN has been reporting on this issue since 2009). In her report last week, Elaine Quijano noted:

Sara Conkling didn't receive one either, for her daughter, Jessica.
"She was willing to put her life on the line and she did lose her life doing it," Sara says. "But it doesn't count as much to them."
Conkling was a Marine Corps pilot training for deployment in combat when her helicopter crashed in San Diego. She was 27.
Families of active duty military who die in stateside training accidents do not receive presidential condolence letters. But Sara Conkling says her daughter's sacrifice deserves that recognition.
Sara says, "You'd like people to have appreciated and understand what she did, that she was important and her loss is a big loss."

The policy change does nothing for Sara Conkling or others in similar situations. While it's good news for those who lose a loved one to suicide, it does nothing for those like Conkling. A change should have covered both. Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) notes that condolence letters will be sent out by both President Obama and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
US President Barack Obama held a Twit-fest. He was allegedly talking about the economy and how to help improve it but the only time he mentioned 'war' at any real length was the war on drugs. (Click here for transcript.) This despite the fact that Kim Geiger (Chicago Tribune) reports "The House began debate Wednesday on a $650 billion spending bill to fund the Pentagon and continue paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill increases the Pentagon's budget by $17 billion for fiscal year 2012, a spending hike that comes at a time when Congress and the White House are in heated negotiations over the deficit and reigning in federal spending." $650 billion dollars. If you've forgotten last week's press conference (where Barack acted like a dick and bitchy), Ava and I noted:
Take Barack Obama and his tantrum at the press conference last week (here for transcript). At the top, Barack declared that "$4 trillion in savings" had to be found and the best he could offer was apparently cutting the "tax break for corporate jet owners." So proud of this 'plan' was he that he mentioned it six times in his press conference. US House Rep. Eric Cantor responsed that cutting that tax break will save $2 billion and that he didn't see that as a big deal.
Six times he boasted about this $2 billion 'saver.' But he wants to spend $650 on wars and that's a $12 billion increase. David DeGraw (at Pacific Free Press) explains:
When Obama launched his re-election propaganda campaign to trick the American public into thinking that he intends to end the Af-Pak War, he said that the "War on Terror" has cost $1 trillion over the past decade. While that is a staggering amount of money, he was being deceitful once again.
As you may have heard, a newly released study by the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University revealed that the cost of the War on Terror is significantly greater than Obama has said.
The little passing coverage the study received in the mainstream press cited $3.7 trillion as the total cost, which was the most conservative estimate.
The moderate estimate, which the mainstream media ignored, was $4.4 trillion. In addition, interest payments on these costs will most likely exceed $1 trillion, which brings the total cost up to at least $5.4 trillion.

Yesterday, by a 12 to 1 vote, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution calling on the White House to end the wars and to spend the money domestically instead. Council member Bill Rosendahl is quoted by Fox 11 News stating, "We're spending $1 trillion over there. We should be investing in education, health care and infrastructure. We need to focus on ourselves and stop playing big shot all over the earth." Council member Janice Hahn, who is running for Jane Harman's old set in the US Congress, states, "This country, I believe, is war-weary. It's time to invade this country with resources. We know that our schools need more resources. We need to spend more money creating jobs. We need to get our economy back up and running." But, again, Barack avoided the issues in his pretend press conference today.