Friday, May 26, 2017

The Iraqi Christians

From the United Kingdom's PROSPECT MAGAZINE:

Down the quiet, polished corridor of a central London hotel, a Middle Eastern archbishop, clad in his black cassock, strides with a purposeful swoosh. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil is here to start raising a staggering $262m, so that Iraqis displaced by Islamic State three years ago can return home and repair their homes.
We speak less than a mile from where MPs approved the invasion of his country in 2003. When we met in 2011, Archbishop Warda told me flatly that Tony Blair had done “much harm to Iraq.” This time, Warda, whose archdiocese in Iraq’s Kurdish region has been co-ordinating aid for around 95,000 displaced Iraqis, wants to talk about the future, and in particular a sort of “Marshall Plan” for the northern Nineveh Plains region.
“We’d like as many benefactors as we can; states, organisations—because this will speed the whole process… and show the [Iraqi] Christians we are serious,” the archbishop told Prospect. The appeal is aimed at Europeans and Americans, he adds, and during his visit to London he met officials from the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development, as well as the Prince of Wales, a vocal supporter of Middle Eastern Christians.
The multi-million dollar figure is how much the ecumenical Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC) has calculated it will cost to renovate 13,000 homes in nine majority-Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains region around Mosul, an area Archbishop Warda describes as “secure but like a ghost town.”
Iraqi Christians’ plummeting numbers—from 1.4m in 1987 to between 230,000 and 275,000 now, raising fears that they could disappear from Iraq in the next few years—have forced collaboration between the hitherto rivalrous Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic Churches.

The Yazidis have the neocon p.r. firm so they get coverage in the media.

But the Iraqi Christians?

They're ignored.

The only population more ignored is the Iraqi Jewish population (said to be down to one person in Baghdad).

They suffer but we're not supposed to notice.

They suffered under Bully Boy Bush, they suffered under Barack Obama and now they suffer under Donald Trump.

Reconciliation has to take place in Iraq for the war to end.

And we, as a country, appear more than happy to ignroe that fact and instead keep dropping bombs and sending in troops.

That's not helped the Iraqi Christians.

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

Friday, May 26, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, the US Senate looks at VA accountability, the cost of the never-ending wars hit six trillion for US taxpayers, and much more.

We're going to start in the US with the Senate and we'll wind down there too at the end of the snapshot.  Senator Tammy Baldwin's office issued the following yesterday.

For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 25, 2017
  (202) 224 – 6225
Bipartisan VA Accountability Reform One Step Closer to Senate Passage
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approves bipartisan legislation, now heads to full Senate for vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT) and fellow cosponsors of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in applauding the bipartisan committee passage of this VA reform legislation.
The bipartisan legislation, which passed the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs by voice vote, would reform the VA by better protecting whistleblowers and providing the VA Secretary with stronger measures to discipline and hold bad employees accountable. The legislation will now move to the full Senate for a vote on final passage.
“Now that our bipartisan legislation has passed committee, we must continue to work across party lines to push our VA reforms forward and make them a reality,” said Senator Baldwin. “Together, we can build a VA that protects whistleblowers, many of whom are veterans working to improve the system. We also need to make sure we are empowering the VA to hold bad actors accountable because our veterans deserve nothing less than high quality service and care.”
Along with Senators Baldwin, Isakson, Rubio and Tester, 19 other senators who are cosponsors of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act urged the Senate to pass the legislation without delay, including Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Kennedy (R-LA), John McCain (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), David Perdue (R-GA), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is widely supported by key veterans stakeholders including the VA, U.S. House VA committee leadership and the American Legion Department of Wisconsin. This legislation has also won the support of several veterans advocacy groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States and key government accountability groups.
An online version of this release is available here.


And we'll note this from a member of the Texas legislature on burn pits.

Exposure to burn pits at military installations in Iraq & Afghanistan may have caused serious health problems for service members & veterans

March 17th the US bombed a building in Mosul.  Civilians were inside.  There have been many attempts to confuse the issue -- I've sat through two Congressional hearings alone where members of Congress offered conspiracies -- but the reality is that civilians were killed.  Now?

BBC NEWS notes, "The United States has admitted that at least 105 Iraqi civilians were killed in an air strike it carried out in Mosul in March."  The Pentagon is saying they killed two snipers and that they were the targets of the strike; however, AP explains "several residents of the Mosul neighborhood told The Associated Press on Friday there were no IS fighters or explosives inside the house struck by the U.S. bomb."

That news surfaced late Thursday.  John Haltiwanger (ELITE DAILY) tracked trends online and noted that the news did not amplify on social media:

Is this is a sign of ignorance of what’s being done with U.S. tax dollars in the Middle East, or just indifference?
Perhaps it’s a mixture of both.
But there’s a strong case to be that made airstrikes that kill civilians aid the cause of terrorist organizations like ISIS.

In real time, in the US, it briefly made the news in a "Donald Trump increased the killings!" type of way.  Meaning that members of the so-called 'resistance' (firmly in debt to the centrist core of the Democratic Party) promoted it as an example of Bad Trump.

In doing so, they revealed that, for them, killing innocent civilians was okay as long as it was less than a hundred at a time.

Which is why they had no objections to the many civilians killed in this same manner when Barack Obama was president.

This further reveals the corruption of the Democratic Party.

The Iraq War was used to give opposition to Bully Boy Bush 'morality.'

And once Democrats got control of both houses, interest in ending the Iraq War (a promise Nancy Pelosi made ahead of the 2006 mid-term elections) vanished.

It's why War Hawks like Debra Messing can sling s**t at Susan Sarandon and get away with it.

Susan spoke out against the war.

And suffered for it.

But the Froth In Their Underpants Hillary Clinton Temple Slaves don't care about that anymore than they care that Hillary voted for the Iraq War and was a war monger as Secretary of State.

There is no repulsion to the US government continuing to kill civilians.

But if they can find a way to hang the blame solely on Donald Trump, you better believe that The Debra Messings and their laughable 'resistance' will find a way to take over the topic of the never-ending Iraq War.

There are other countries bombing Iraq as well.

Samuel Oakford (FOREIGN POLICY) reports:

The United States’ coalition partners in the war against the Islamic State are responsible for at least 80 confirmed civilian deaths from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. military officials. Yet none of their 12 allies will publicly concede any role in those casualties.
These dozen partner nations have launched more than 4,000 airstrikes combined, the vast majority of which were undertaken by the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. However, they have so far claimed a perfect record in avoiding civilian casualties. An Airwars investigation for Foreign Policy has now uncovered evidence that disproves that assertion.
These confirmed deaths caused by non-U.S. airstrikes came to light in the most recent coalition civilian casualty report, released April 30. The report quietly referred to 80 new deaths referenced only as “attributable to coalition strikes to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria from August 2014 to present [that] had not been previously announced.”
Three U.S. Central Command officials confirmed to Airwars and Foreign Policy that the 80 deaths occurred in incidents that U.S. investigators concluded were the responsibility of partner nations. But allies pressured the United States and the coalition against releasing details of the strikes in question.

Back to a focus on the US, Linda J. Blimes (AMERIFORCE) counts the financial cost:

On Memorial Day, we pay respects to the fallen from past wars – including the more than one million American soldiers killed in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam.
Yet the nation’s longest and most expensive war is the one that is still going on. In addition to nearly 7,000 troops killed, the 16-year conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost an estimated US$6 trillion due to its prolonged length, rapidly increasing veterans health care and disability costs and interest on war borrowing. On this Memorial Day, we should begin to confront the staggering cost and the challenge of paying for this war.

Six trillion dollars.


Is that typed right?

Six trillion dollars.

And counting.

For the never-ending Iraq War.

The war that Americans gave the Democratic Party both houses of Congress in the 2006 mid-terms to end.  The war that the American people elected Barack Obama president in 2008 to end.

The war that never ends.

Meanwhile, Ali Arkady's reporting continues to have impact.

EXCLUSIVE: Iraqi photojournalist risks his life to expose torture used by some elite Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIS.
Iraqi troops, once praised by U.S., torture civilians in secret videos

Wrapping up, will now note this from Senator Johnny Isakson's office -- Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

Thursday, May 25,, 2017
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Kristen Hines, 202-228-2967

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., today announced that the Senate will consider the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., ranking member of the committee, on Tuesday, June 6, when the Senate reconvenes after the Memorial Day state work period.
“I am thrilled to see the Senate moving quickly on this important piece of legislation, and I encourage my colleagues to support this measure as we take steps to change the culture at the VA and improve care for our veterans,” said Isakson. “I thank Majority Leader McConnell for his commitment to ensuring our veterans receive the quality care that they deserve.”
In remarks on the Senate floor earlier today, McConnell stated, “[A]fter the state work period, we’ll be taking up a bipartisan bill reported out of Committee just yesterday that will enhance accountability at the VA, improve the care veterans receive, and empower the VA with the tools necessary to remove employees who are failing to perform at the high-quality level our nation’s heroes richly deserve.”
McConnell continued, “We know many challenges remain in ensuring that veterans have access to the care they need and deserve at the VA, but this legislation will further improve our ability to meet our commitment to them. I appreciate Chairman Isakson for his continued advocacy on behalf of our veterans as well as Senator Rubio for his leadership on this critical legislation. I look forward to the full Senate taking up the bill and passing it soon.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was introduced by Isakson, Rubio and Tester on May 11. The measure passed the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs by voice vote on Wednesday, May 24.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is widely supported by key veterans stakeholders including the VA and U.S. House VA committee leadership. It has also won the support of several veterans advocacy groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States and key government accountability groups. Read more about the legislation’s support here.

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans. 

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