September 5, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the US accuses Iran of
using Iraqi airspace to fly weapons into Syria, Nouri's security forces
attack social clubs in Baghdad, one year after the assassination of a
journalist there is still no one charged in the death, the lies about
war fly out of North Carolina, and more.
Yesterday the embarrassing Democratic National Convention began. Ruth Conniff (The Progressive
was late in getting her whoring on but this is the woman who bragged on
KPFA that she didn't know anyone who'd fought in the Iraq War. Didn't
know them and apparently didn't want to get to know them because it's
really not that hard, Ruth. Nor are facts though Ruth is a fact
molester who should be on a neighborhood watch. Writing today, she gets
her whore on in a number of ways. First, she praises Michelle Obama's
embarrassing speech. As Marcia noted yesterday
, "The Washington Post reports
that Michelle Obama explained today her role in the DNC convention
tonight was to explain her husband. That may be but there's something
very sad about the fact that anyone has to explain who the president is
and goes to the fact that he is so hollow at his core and so
meaningless." Four years later and she had to explain, to the American
people, who her husband was? Apparently all that golfing didn't leave
much of an impression.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act does not, as Michelle Obama claimed, "help women get equal pay for equal work" at all. As Rebecca pointed out last night
all that act does is let you sue a little longer. If Barack wanted
equal pay for equal work, he could have pushed that. He didn't. But
now he wants to inflate his meager resume?
got creative with this claim as well, "That's why Barack has fought so
hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he
wants every young person to fulfill their promsie and be able to attend
college without a mountain of debt." No, that would be Dr. Jill Stein's
desire, the Green Party candidate. Barack doesn't give a damn.
dirty secret in all of this, carefully hidden in the media, is the
active role of the Democratic Party and specifically the Obama
administration in the assault on higher education. At the most
fundamental level, the Democrats have colluded with the Republicans in
the systematic starvation of education while diverting society's
resources into endless wars, tax cuts for the rich, and bank and
Despite Obama's claims
that he is doing all he can to "make college more affordable," he has
implemented a whole battery of measures to attack student borrowers—a
broadside attack on the young generation.
July 1, 2012, the federal government has ended the in-school interest
subsidy for graduate and professional students with Stafford Loans. This
relatively little-reported event was enacted as part of the 2011 Budget
Control Act. It will substantially increase the cost of graduate
school, already notoriously expensive, and will add an estimated $18
billion to student debt burdens over 10 years. Seventy-six percent of US
graduate school students borrow to cover tuition, and their yearly
costs vary from $15,000 to $45,000 for tuition alone.
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 eliminated the grace period
benefit (a six- or nine-month window after a student leaves school when
no payments are due) for loans made in academic years 2012-2013 and
2013-2014, automatically increasing the net cost of the loan.
effective immediately and retroactively, students are only eligible for
six full-time years of the Pell Grant, a decision primarily affecting
low-income adults working their way through college. The measure will
eliminate benefits for 63,000 recipients. Also, students may no longer
receive two Pell Grants in a year or receive summer school funding. The
government has also modified the amount families are expected to pay,
the Expected Family Contribution, so that fewer students will be
eligible for the grants.
Smaller Pell Grant
awards of $277 to $550 have been cut completely. Also eliminated are
the Pell Grants for students who pass the "ability to benefit" test but
have not been awarded a high school diploma or GED.
convention itself is an assult on education by being held in
anti-teacher Charlotte (anti-teacher, anti-union) and by the little film
attacking education which then featured a panel with human education
leper Michelle Rhee. Change.org may have been forced to drop Rhee and her lunatic fringe group
(which wants to end the "public" in public education to allow for a
corporate take over) but damned if Barack didn't make sure that piece of
trash had a prominent spot at his convention.
you're like Ruth Conniff and barely pay attention to the world around
you, not only do you not know anyone who served in Iraq, you also don't
recognize an assault on education when it's right before your eyes. If
only Ruth could work as hard as she did in 2004 when she wrote that hit
piece on Ralph Nader for her trashy magazine.
wants you to know that, "The most progressive side of the Democratic
Party was on full display (after Rahm Emanuel left the stage)." Really?
What about when Tammy Duckworth was on the stage?
Is anyone less informed than Ruth Conniff?
Duckworth was hand picked by Rahm to run in 2006. A lot of people
forget that race now or just remember it because Tammy lost big on what
should have been a Democratic seat. But Emanual and Tammy thought she
could run in this district (that she wasn't living in) and jump over
Christine Cegelis who had taken on Henry Hyde in 2004 and come close to
toppling Hyde. Now it was supposed to be Christine's race. (If you're
late to the party on this, there are many articles you can refer to but
the strongest is probably Matt Renner's September 2007 piece for TruthOut
If audio archives existed, we'd point to Laura Flanders radio show in
2006, during the primary where she talked up Tammy Duckworth like crazy
only to have her listeners explaine that the progressive candidate in
that race was Christine. To Flanders credit, she didn't rage or act
like she was perfect. She acknowledged her mistake and booked Cegelis
onto the show.)
But the problem was Christine
actually was and is a progressive. For example, she wanted an end to
the Iraq War -- a clear difference between herself and Tammy Duckworth
-- one no one's supposed to comment on today. If there's anything more
oblivious than Ruth Conniff, it's POLITICO which is surpised that
"Right applauds Tammy Duckworth's speech." That's not a surprise, she
is a right-winger.
number is huge and it's so huge that the VA tries to backpeddle and
present it as less than it is. Most recently we saw that in the July
18th House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense
and Foreign Operations hearing. VA's Undersectretary for Benefits
Allison Hickey was testifying. From that day's snapshot
Chaffetz: Madam Under Secretary, Mr. Manar, I think accurately
points out in his testimony that in order to solve the problem, you need
to know exactly what the problem is. And I see a major discrepancy in
some of the numbers and I want to help clarfiy that. In youre
testimony in talking about the integrated disability evaluation system,
you say, "We went from 240 day average in the legacy system to 56 days"
and it goes on. And there's a definition of the backlog. The House
Armed Services Committee staff and the House Veterans Affairs Committee
staff on July 13 of this year which was not too long ago gave a briefing
to these two Committees. It says in here that the current monthly
average completion time is 408 days. You say it's 56 days -- 54 days --
yeah, 56 days -- and they say it's 408 days. Can you help clarify
that for me please?
Thank you, Chairman Chaffetz for your question. First of all, allow me
to clarify by stating a few basic definitions so also, as I say things,
you can understand what words I'm using and their context We have,
in the inventory and pending an overall number of 854000. That's not
backlog. Those are claims that even as we've been sitting here for the
last ten to fifteen minutes, more claims have come into us from veteran
service members and
Jason Chaffetz: Okay, let me stop you -- let me stop you right there.
Let me stop you right there. On July 16th, which is not very long ago,
the Monday morning workload report says there are 919,461 claims. You
say that number is -- what did you say that number is? 860,000
Allison Hickey: The numbers I'm using are 854,000 --
Jason Chaffetz: Okay, so we're off by about 50 or 60 thousand. And
we're talking about something that is just couple of days old. Why the
discrepancy on those number?
Allison Hickey: Chairman Chaffetz, our backlog -- I mean our inventory is a dynamic inventory.
Chair Jason Chaffetz: I know but that's less than ten days so --
Allison Hickey: Chairman, I'm happy to answer the questions if I'm allowed an opportunity.
Jason Chaffetz: Sure I want to know. You're saying that that number
is 800 and something thousand and I'm just saying that the VA's report
says it's 919,461. That's of July 16th --
Allison Hickey: Chairman, I'm happy to answer the question if I'm allowed an opportunity.
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Ma'am, just answer the question. Yes.
Allison Hickey: Thank you very much.
Chair Jason Chaffetz: -- That's why I asked the question.
Hickey: Thank you very much, Chairman. The numbers that I'm using are
from the endpoint of a month. Probably the end of May. So you
probably are using the end of this week's report. I chose not use a
floating number that continues to change over time and over dates and
over weeks. So I used an end of month number to be able to to talk to
you, to be able to have a solid number to hvae a discussion around.
House Rep and Subcommittee Chair Jason Chaffetz had the correct number.
Notice the disregard on VA's part. They could have used a number only a
few days old. Didn't want to do that. And Allison Hickey, who is
offering the number, can't even state what the numbers from: "Probably
the end of May." Probably? You're testifying that the backlog is X and
you can't tell the Subcomittee when that number was generated? Can't
or won't? There's no one in the VA that should be running for public
office. Everyone of them should instead be begging veterans for
And if Mitt Romney had any brains
at all, he'd unearth the story the press buried, where Eric Shinseki,
VA Secretary, admits in an open session of Congress that he knew nearly
nine months before the start of the fall 2009 college semester that the
GI bill checks would not be ready. For those who've forgotten, VA's
idiocy and refusal to do its job left many veterans forced to take out
short term loans, left them without apartments and some didn't get
checks until after Christmas 2009, which meant their children did
without Christmas. Tammy Duckworth was a part of the VA during that,
she has a lot of nerve trying to run for office on her 'record.'
Eric Shinseki: I'm looking at the certificates of eligibility uh being
processed on 1 May and enrollments 6 July, checks having to flow through
August. A very compressed timeframe. And in order to do that, we
essentially began as I arrived in January, uh, putting together the plan
-- reviewing the plan that was there and trying to validate it. I'll be
frank, when I arrived, uh, there were a number of people telling me
this was simply not executable. It wasn't going to happen. Three August
was going to be here before we could have everything in place. Uh, to
the credit of the folks in uh VA, I, uh, I consulted an outside
consultant, brought in an independent view, same kind of assessment.
'Unless you do some big things here, this is not possible.' To the
credit of the folks, the good folks in VBA, they took it on and they
went at it hard. We hired 530 people to do this and had to train them.
We had a manual system that was computer assisted. Not very helpful
but that's what they inherited. And we realized in about May that the
530 were probably a little short so we went and hired 230 more people.
So in excess of 700 people were trained to use the tools that were
coming together even as certificates were being executed. Uhm, we were
short on the assumption of how many people it would take.
was told the plan wasn't executable. He brought in independent
consultants. They told him the same thing. Congress was never, ever
informed of this problem nor were veterans. And when fall 2009 rolled
around, veterans didn't have their checks.
wasn't a surprise as the press has apparently agreed to pretend. By
Shinseki's own testimony, early in his term, he was told the plan
couldn't be executed, he even brought in independent consultants who
told the same thing.
He refused to inform
Congress. Veterans suffered as a result. He should have been fired but
Barack Obama's provided no oversight of the VA and that's why the VA
backlog has grown and grown and grown.
There's no excuse for it and Tammy Duckworth is the last person to finger point at anyone else.
ridiculous Ruth Conniff claimed, "A full-throated defense of labor and
of keeping American jobs at home was also a rousing theme, with many,
many references to Obama's rescue of the auto industry." Who got
rescued, you idiot? The managers, the owners? Yeah. The workers? No,
they got screwed in the bail-out. All those dollars tossed at Big Auto
which then wants to tell the workers that they'll have to give us this
benefit and that cost of living . . . As Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) observes
today, "Frankly, who wants to be the one to point out, in the middle of
the festivities, that Michelle Obama was just a Chicago Daley machine
hack lawyer who was rewarded with a quarter million dollar a year job of
neutralizing community complaints against the omnivorous University of
Chicago Hospitals? She resigned from her $50,000 seat on the board of
directors of Tree-House Foods, a major Wal-Mart supplier, early in her
husband's presidential campaign. But, once in the White House, the First
Lady quickly returned to flaking for Wal-Mart, praising the anti-union "death star" behemoth's inner city groceries offensive as part of her White House healthy foods booster duties.
What an idiot Ruth Conniff is. But look where she works -- at the so-called Progressive
which was started by followers of a third-party but is today so wedded
to the Democratic Party that Socialist Matthew Rothschild can't stop
embarrassing himself. They finally 'cover' Jill Stein. Why, she's even
the cover story! "The Third-Party Dilemma
This is where a pudgy, middle-aged man who lied to his readers and
listeners for years and only came out as a Socialist in early 2009 after
he was outed (here and at Third) as one. So what's this third-party
In nine brief paragraphs, Matty Roth ponders -- never finding an answer -- whether it's worth voting third party or not?
course, Rothschild will never write a piece like that about the
Democratic Party. So what we're left with is that hideous cover --
where what's supposed to be Jill Stein is given a neck like a giraffe --
a neck that in shape, contour and length portrays her as a snake -- but
you're not supposed to notice that, kids. And you're not supposed to
notice that she's got more lines o her face than either Barack or Mitt
Romeny. You're not supposed to notice that her drawn eyebrows aren't
just on different levels, one is actually significantly bigger than the
other. You're not supposed to notice what they've done to her hair or
all the way the cover poisons you to Stein and third-parties.
nine paragraph cover story. And this only after Jill Stein speaks to
Matthew who, in turn, writes another article about himself. Matthew,
your hand wringing is not more important than the issues Jill Stein is
attempting to raise, issues you choose to ignore.
Ed Krayewski (Reason) notes
that last night's speakers offered that Barack "ended the war in Iraq
[. . .] but the 'status of forces agreement' that governed the
departure of U.S. troops was actually negotiated between Iraqi and U.S.
officials in late 2008, under the auspices of President George W. Bush.
In fact, none other than the Huffington Post
actually pointed out that as president, Obama was actually interested in keeping troops in Iraq past the agreed-upon 2011 deadline
explaining that 'the president ultimately had no choice but to stick to
candidate Obama's plan -- thanks, of all things, to an agreement signed
by George W. Bush.' Just six months before the Bush deadline, Obama
tried to foist 10,000 U.S. troops on the Iraqis past 2011
Rivera and her family (husband and two kids) went to Canada in early
2007 with only what they could carry on their small family car. She was
on leave from Iraq and horrified by what she saw while serving.
Already a believer in Jesus Christ when she deployed, the horror
deepened her spirituality and her conviction to do the Lord's work as
she understood it.
What happened to her is no uncommon. Agustin
Aguayo also was a practicing Christian when he deployed to Iraq.
Seeing war up close deepened his own faith and religious beliefs. That
is why he stopped carrying a loaded gun while deployed in Iraq and why
he found he could no longer participate in the Iraq War.
like any relationship, is not static nor is it taught to be. Regardless
of the religion, there is the belief that, for example, in times of
crisis, the power of religion can carry you through the experience when
you could not make it through on your own. (Hence the modern day
parable of the two sets of footsteps in the sand that becomes one as
your higher power carries you in the darkest of times.) Faith is not
stagnant which is why religious scholars spend so much time pursuing
knowledge, why followers do not attend one service their entire life but
continue to attend to deepen their understanding and beliefs.
and Agustin's experiences are in keeping with their religions which do
allow for faith to grow and deepen. The US military has refused to
recognize that and has found itself in the questionable (legally
questionable) position of interpreting faith and judging faith. The US
military will not allow an Agustin Aguayo or Kim Rivera to become a
conscientious objector, they will argue that they were practicing a
religion when they went to Iraq and that if they had objections they
should have been lodged prior to deployment. (Lodging the objection
prior to deployment, to be clear, does not mean someone will get C.O.
status.) They will refuse to recognize that faith and spirituality are
not fixed and that they can grow and deepen over time and due to
While alleged man of peace won't do a thing to help war resisters, Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman writes a letter to the editors of the Toronto Star
advocating for Kimberly Rivera to be allowed to stay in Canada:
is a reason why there are now more young American and Canadian soldiers
who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have taken their own lives
than there are soldiers who have died in combat. There is a reason why
our dear family friend -- 23 years old -- returned from service in
Afghanistan, a fractured and struggling young soul. There is an age old
question "What if they gave a war and nobody went?"What
Kimberley Rivera and others like her are courageously saying is that
when young soldiers go into combat and look long and hard at those they
are fighting against, they often recognize the inherent humanity of
their "enemies," understand that they too have children and elderly
parents and pets who love and depend on them, and recognize that
destroying this other soldier's or civilian's life and soul would also
destroy their own.Kimberley Rivera took that long hard look.
And she made a very courageous choice. Please contact Stephen Harper and
tell her that we want Kimberley and her family to stay in Canada.
the pro-DNC posts I'm seeing on my wall from people who should know
better are making me nausea. It's amazing how people have forgotten the
last 4 years of invasions, the increase in drone bombings, the use of
States Secrets Privilege, continuing the Patriot Act, the harassment and
retaliation against whistleblowers, essentially torturing Bradley
Manning, warrantless wiretapping, Bagram Air Force Base, the kangaroo
courts of GITMO, protecting the Bush Administration from any and all
prosecutions, lying about the Gulf and the BP Oil Spill... I am sad for
America. - (Jon)
In Iraq, the violence continues. Xinhua reports
female judicial investigator Amal Ahmad and a police officer were shot
dead by assailants on motorcycle as the two were leaving the
Tux-Khurmato court building. AFP adds
that an attack on a Samarra checkpoint left 1 Sahwa dead and three more Sahwa were injured in a Baladruz bombing. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports
2 attacks in Ramadi have left 5 police officers dead.
In other violence, Alsumaria reports
that armed forces in police uniforms attacked various social clubs in
Baghdad yesterday, beating various people and firing guns in the air.
They swarmed clubs and refused to allow anyone to leave but did make
time to beat people with the butss of their rifles and pistols, they
then destroyed the clubs. AFP adds
"Special forces units carried out near-simultaneous raids at around
8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday 'at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and
Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons,'
said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
'Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten,' the
official said." The assaults were ordered by an official who reports
only to Nouri al-Maliki. In related news the Great Iraqi Revolution posted video Friday
of other attacks on Iraqi civilians by security forces and noted, "Very
important :: a leaked video show Iraqi commandos during a raid to Baaj
village and the arrest of all the young men in the village .they
threatened the ppl of the village they will make them another Fallujah
and they do not mind arresting all village's men and leave only women .
they kept detainees in a school, and beating them, u can see they burned
a car of one of the citizens"
Iraq, a journalist has been murdered. In addition to being a
journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to
create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis.
Al Mada reports
Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior
Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad
home. Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the
chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service
reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi
security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the
February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times
didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did. And now the man
is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real
degree. Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news
magazine" with pithy little human interest stories? (That is not a dig
at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR
to talk of an Iraqi college this week.) So while the Times missed the
story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as
usual), Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:Four
journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after
they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were
handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by
soldiers from an army intelligence unit. "It
was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a
group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet,
who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in
black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a
picture of the new democracy in Iraq." A picture of the new democracy in Iraq, indeed.
Today Prashant Rao (AFP) notes
a year later, despite claims that they weren't responsible and that
they would get to the bottom of it, the government has still not solved
the assassination (or, I'd argue, even really investigated). Rao notes:
friends and supporters insist he has not been forgotten, with the radio
station he worked at planning a special day of programming, and
journalists and activists organising events and demonstrations in his
memory this week."Hadi would say what people wanted to say
but couldn't -- they didn't have his courage," said Karnas Ali,
technical director at the Demozy radio station where Mehdi broadcast
three 90-minute shows a week."His programme was the kind of work that makes enemies," Ali said."Whenever I read his comments, I would tell him he was writing a suicide note."Mehdi's
radio show, Ya Sameen al-Saut ("You, Who Can Hear This Voice"), was
known for its sharp criticisms of official incompetence and corruption.
Without Borders expresses its concern over an official investigation of
journalist Mohamed Abdu Hamu, better known as Biradost Azizi, who was
summoned to a police interrogation concerning reporting of his that
angered major political forces in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq.
was summoned to the Siwan police station in Sulaymaniyah on 5 September
for questioning. The order to appear followed a complaint concerning
Azizi's reporting involving the Syrian civil war filed by two members of
the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The party is the Syrian offshoot of
Turkey's armed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He was released
after several hours, but the investigation is ongoing.
interrogation of a journalist following a simple complaint, without
formal charges being filed, raises deep concern over the functioning of
the Iraqi Kurdish
justice system," Reporters Without Borders said. "The apparent aim is to
muzzle a journalist who has reported critically on the PKK's use of the
Syrian conflict for the organization's own regional ends."
Azizi is a native of Qamlishli in northeastern Syria who took refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan after Syria expelled him. The complaints against him followed publication on the website of Nawa
radio of his reporting on a confrontation between supporters of the
Syrian uprising and PYD members in Amuda, in the Kurdish region of
northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border. "This case is about
politics," Bazizi said when contacted by Reporters Without Borders.
Last June, the press freedom organization expressed its concern
over Azizi's safety, following threats against him by the PKK and its
Syrian affiliate, as well as a murder attempt. At the time, Reporters
Without Borders demanded that authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan investigate the matter and take all steps necessary to protect Azizi's safety.
Likewise, the organization called on the PKK to openly condemn the threats against Azizi. In an email, the party responded: "We
have never and will not threaten anyone because of his opinion and
attitudes, as we stand solid in the face of violence and the policy of
threat and intimidation, whether it is physically or verbally, and we
believe in constructive dialogue approach as the only way for the
convergence of political views".
Nevertheless the PKK and PYD have never publicly condemned the threats that Azizi faces because of his professional activities.
On the political front, Dar Addustour reports
that US Vice President Joe Biden will present a plan ("roadmap") to
Nouri in the coming days on how to resolve the ongoing political
stalemate. Biden was supposed to have already visited Iraq, the outlet
reports, but has been waiting for President Jalal Talabani to return.
While Joe Biden's arrival is delayed, three US Senators are in Iraq. Senator John McCain Tweeted this morning:
Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are all in Iraq. When McCain calls it
"the final tour of the three amigos," he's referring to the fact that
Senator Joe Lieberman's term is expiring and he chose not to seek
that the three have called out what they say are flights of weapons to
Syria by the Iranian government with Iran using Iraqi air space for the
flights. Nouri is saying he wants proof from the US first. Silly
Nouri. Has he forgotten what happened to Afghanistan when they asked
for proof of Osama bin Laden's connection to the 9-11? Colin Powell
declared they'd get the proof after they handed bin Laden over and then
the US began bombing Afghanistan. AFP adds
"Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham told reporters
in Baghdad that while Tehran had told Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki the
planes were carrying humanitarian aid, the US believed they had military
equipment on board." This evening Alexander Marquardt and Dana Hughes (ABC News) report
that Nouri's spokesperson declared "that the U.S. has not proven its
claims that Iran is sending arms to support the forces of Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad."