Saturday, August 06, 2011

Oh, his silly words

Did you hear Barack's pathetic remarks on Friday after the jobs report came out? He insisted "things will get better" and "We are going to get through this."

Does he think he just arrived on the job? Or that we're not all thinking, "He's been in the White House for almost three years now. What's this nonsense about 'we are going to get through this'? We have been getting through this without him all this time."

He's such a little s**t.

The first order of business should have been jobs. Instead, he focused on bailouts -- strong arming the House into going along with TARP after the elections -- and then gave a gift to the insurance lobby that bought him with ObamaCare.

He should have focused on jobs. But he didn't care about the little voters. He didn't care and thought that he was so beloved that they would stomach any betrayal and still be on his side.

He really is a fool.

An empty suit with no ideas or plans for the future who wanted the presidency just for the title and, as a result, America suffers.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, August 5, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Ban Ki-Moon gets a new special envoy to Iraq, talks continue to extend the US military presence in Iraq, Barack places two million ahead of thirty million (in an apparent attempt to make up for releasing the killers of 5 US soldiers -- blood money doesn't wash, Barack), Nouri attempts to ensure protests do not get covered, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is the special correspondent on Libya for Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints. Over the weekend, his latest article (for the Centre for Research on Globalization) addressed the apparent plan (by the US and NATO) to divide Libya into three individual countries and notes the historical efforts to do this, "There have been longstanding designs for dividing Libya that go back to 1943 and 1951. This started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to the "federal system" imposed on Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951." On today's second hour of The Diane Rehm Show, Al Jazzera's Abderrahim Foukara spoke briefly of the possible plan to "partition" Libya.
For those who've forgotten, US President Barack Obama never served in the military but sure does love to send the US military into war. (The term for that is "chicken hawk.") A CIA-backed group of exiles (sounds a lot like Iraq, doesn't it?) wanted control of Libya and began a 'civil' war. March 19th, on the 8th anniversary of the ongoing Iraq War, Barack announced that the world was getting another war, though he insists that the war not be called a "war." Fancy Pants was out of the country when he gave his speech which included:
Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
[. . .]
I've acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.
Please note, these were comments to the press as he traisped through Latin America. There was no White House address proper to inform the American people what was being done in their name. As the US Embassy in London noted, "The United States will contribute its 'unique capabilities at the front end,' he told reporters traveling with him in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19. Obama added that the use of force was not his first choice and 'not a choice I make lightly'." Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of Libya. While exiles funded by the CIA (and later by France and other governments) may have wanted him out, the Libyan people living in Libya didn't seem to share that desire then and do not share it now. What the Libyan War has done is take those who were doubtful or unsupportive of Gaddafi and made them firm supporters. Why? Because being attacked by an outsider tends to bind people together all the more tightly -- that is the purpose of a common enemy. What Barack insisted would last only a few weeks has now lasted months. The effort to allegedly protect civilians has bombed food warehouses, water plants and medical centers. Children have been killed by the NATO bombings and, yes, that does include some of Muammar Gaddafi's grandchildren -- something that should result in universal shame not cries of, "We got his six-year-old! We took his six-year-old out!"
Recent reports indicate that continued military operations in Libya are imposing increasing hardship on civilians and may have also resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. Yesterday's Washington Post reports that "a hospital worker in western Libya said that NATO froces struck a local hospital on Monday and killed seven people, including three doctors" in Zlitan, Libya and may have also bombed food warehouses. In addition, The Washington Post reports that residents of Tripoli are experiencing significant gas shortages and high food prices. If the reports of civilians killed by a NATO strike are true, the U.N. and the International Criminal Court must take immediate actions to hold member states and NATO's top command in Libya accountable.
It is an illegal war. Barack did not get authorization for it. He has refused to follow the War Powers Act. And the side he backed is questioned more each day. As James Kitfield (National Journal) pointed out on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) today, it's becoming obvious that enough work was not done on researching the 'rebel' side. That's becoming obvious because of a development last week: a member of the Transitional Council was killed. The Transitional Council is the so-called 'rebels' fighting to 'free' Libya. Thursday of last week on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya about the death (Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday).

Mahdi Nazemroaya: Abdul Fatah Younis has been declared dead. The circumstances around it exactly aren't known. We'll know at the press conference. And CNN will be present, BBC, Sky News, as well as various international news services.

Kevin Pina: Well Mahdi, explain to us who this man was and why it's so important. And obviously this is a breaking news story, you're breaking news on Flashpoints that this man was confirmed dead.

Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well this man was the former Interior Ministry of the government in Triopoli. He's a longtime friend of Col Gaddafi as well and he's also a member of the group of young Arab officers who started the revolution with Col Gaddafi. So it was actually a big surprise when he defected and joined the Transitional Council in Benghazi. Now his death, as I mentioned, the circumstances around it aren't known. I've heard different things I'm going to have to confirm. I was told that the rebel forces, the so-called rebels, have claimed that they killed him themselves because he was about to defect --

Kevin Pina: Defect back?

Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes. He was going to do a second defection. Because a lot of the rebels are also tired of the fighting and I've heard that there might have even been negotiations for them to end the fighting and to come back. But anyways, I've also heard that he probably could have been killed by the government side. So this is not clear and it has to be confirmed.
This was a major development. Sunday at Third, we pointed out, "And what message does it send to defectors when they learn that the defector they put in charge of their forces was never trusted? The message is that no one in the so-called rebels trusts anyone. That's some form of team building exercise . . . for losers." Justin Raimondo ( wrote an in depth column on the meaning of the murder. Excerpt:
Aside from the general barbarity of this act, which gives us a glimpse of what the rebel regime will look like if and when they take power in all of Libya, look at the curious factional line up in the rebels' internal power struggles. Although the Official Story, as promulgated by the NTC, keeps changing -- initially, a "pro-Gadhafi" faction in Benghazi, an "armed gang," was blamed for the killing, but there are too many Western reporters in town to keep a lid on the truth (or some approximation of it) for long. Now we are told that those responsible for the killing -- rebel soldiers -- have been arrested. However, whomever gets the Official Blame in the end isn't what's interesting: the real scoop is that our boy, Haftar -- think Ahmed Chlabi, Libyan version -- is aligned with the Islamists against the more secular elements, defectors like Younes and the Benghazi lawyers who make up the civilian leadership of the rebellion.
As in the Balkans, where US-trained and-funded "Kosovo Liberation Army" guerrillas fought alongside al-Qaeda's legions and NATO forces, so the same alliance is fighting to "liberate" Libya. It is as if a time machine has thrust us back in the Clinton years -- and indeed these are the Clinton years, redux, at least in the foreign policy realm, as this is the policy area that has been ceded to the Clintons by a disengaged and generally hapless President Obama. All of which puts in a new perspective recent boasts by top administration officials and various "experts" that we are on the verge of finally defeating al-Qaeda. Why, then, are they allying with Osama bin Laden's Libyan legatees?
From the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show today:

James Kitfield: One thing about the Younis situation that worries me is that he was summoned by the Council itself, the Transitional Council apparently thought he had done something wrong and somewhere between being summoned and getting to the Transitional Council, he was murdered. So -- his tribe is now up in arms saying they may break off from the rebellion.
In an analysis published by WSWS yesterday, Peter Symonds explains, "The unexplained killing last week of the Libyan rebel military commander, General Abdel Fatah Younis, has highlighted the divided and unstable character of the NATO-backed Transitional National Council (TNC) and the military stalemate in its efforts to oust the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The assassination has provoked a series of comments by British and French ministers that effectively reverse months of US and NATO propaganda predicting the imminent fall of Gaddafi."
Again, from the second hour of today's Diane Rehm Show, National Journal's James Kitfield:
James Kitfield: And one further complicating factor. People aren't really talking about but I believe it's in September the UN resolution that really okayed this runs out and given that NATO has gone way beyond what it originally said it was going to do which was just to protect people from massacre from the air to bombing command centers and taking out tanks, it's very hard for me to imagine that they get an extension of that [resolution] through the [United Nations] Security Council so that means that there might be a due-by-date on NATO airstrikes and power for this and that further complicates it.
When we quote from The Diane Rehm Show, we generally give one link. There are multiple today due to the fact that it was pointed out to me that last Friday's snapshot did not include any link for the excerpt. We were rushing (me dictating and my friend typing) and that was among many things that were forgotten. My mistake and my apology. To make up for it, we have included a link every time we noted it in this snapshot. On Diane's second hour today, CNN's Elise Labot had much to say on several topics and I'm passing that over to anyone in the community who wants to grab that at their site tonight.
2008 presidential candidate and former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney went on a fact-finding mission to Libya and has gone around the country since returning speaking out against what is happening. Black Agenda Report features many of her talks about Libya (some with video and some with just audio). She and others have more reports back coming. We'll run the full announcement tomorrow but there's not room in the snapshot. This is from the announcement:
A continuing mobilization against the U.S. war on Libya has taken place in cities across the country. Packed, standing room only audiences at major meetings have heard former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney report on her June fact-finding trip to Libya with the Dignity delegation. In every meeting the message rings out: Stop the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya.
In the coming ten days Cynthia McKinney is scheduled to speak at meetings in Boston on Saturday, August 6, in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 7, in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 9. McKinney will speak at the Millions March in Harlem of August 13 along with Minister Farrakhan and other opponents of war and sanctions on Libya and Zimbabwe. She is scheduled to speak at 2 meetings in North Carolina on Sunday, August 14 hosted by the Black Workers for Justice in Rocky Mount and later at a historic civil rights church in Durham.
To see Cynthia speaking at Riverside Church, click here. The release notes that Cynthia spoke to a standing-room-only audience at Newark's Abyssinian Baptist Church. Quoting from the release:
A Full listing of the current tour follows and is available at:
National-tour, now to 19 cities, organized by International Action
Center in coordination with many antiwar and
community organizations from July 7 to August 28, 2011.
July 7 Thursday- Houston, TX
July 9 Saturday - Peacestock, Hager City, WI & Minneapolis, MN
July 10, Sunday – Albany, NY,
July 11, Monday –Washington DC,
July 14, Thursday – Northampton MA,
July 24, Sunday –Atlanta, GA
July 28, Thursday – Newark, NJ,
July 30, Saturday – New York City, NY
August 6, Saturday – Boston, MA
August 7, Sunday – Los Angeles, CA
August 9, Tuesday – Vancouver BC, Canada
August 13, Saturday - NYC with Millions March in Harlem
August 14, Sunday - Rocky Mount, and Durham, NC
August 19, Friday – St Louis MO
August 21, Sunday - Pittsburg, PA
August 25, Thursday - Baltimore, MD
August 27, Saturday – Detroit, MI
August 28, Sunday – Denver CO
If you're able to see Cynthia on the remaining dates, you should make the effort. She's been the strongest voice against the Libyan War and a real leader on this issue. (And she's an amazing speaker on any topic.)
Turning to Iraq, today United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated he intends to appoint Garmany's Martin Kobler as the special envoy to Iraq, replacing Ad Melkert who has held the post since 2009. (And Ad Melkert has proven highly ineffective when you measure the needs-to list he was given with what was actually accomplished. When you've failed to accomplish what you were supposed to, you may be tempted to spin reality in the progress report you provide the Security Council.) So who is Martin Kobler?
The Goethe Institut has described the 58-year-old as "a globe-trotting diplomat." Gamal Nkrumah (Al-Ahram Weekly) offered of him in a profile, "He is a disarming mixture of joshing informality and intense enthusiasm, and appears to like questions rather more than answers." Current reports on the announcement (AFP, DPA, Reuters, etc) tend to ignore the three children and his spouse. The latter is surprising because in 2006, Britta Wagener was news. That's when her husband (Kobler) was Germany's ambassador to Egypt and and he made the second in charge at the embassy was Britta Wagner. Complaints were filed over it, there was a protest at a staff meeting in December of 2004 and issues of conflicts of interest were raised. If you read German, you can click here for one report on the issue. Also not being discussed is the fact that he's going from Afghanistan (UN Mission in Afghanistan) to Iraq at a time when so many are going the opposite way.
Kobler was previously Germany's Abassdor to Iraq for roughly one year (August 2006 through September 2007). Of that period of time, he told the Goethe Institut, "I never experienced anarchy before living in Iraq. In 2006 there was no trust, no system, nothing to give a backbone to the society. The situation had stripped people of all morality. At any moment children could be kidnapped, held for ransom, anyone might be caught in a bomb blast. It made me realize that Fate alone decides if you are born into a protected childhood."
Let's stay on the topic of diplomacy to note this Tweet by Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf about Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari.
jane arraf
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Yes, the topic of non-withdrawal, Al Mada reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament is stating that they have not agreed to go along with or approve the plan to keep the US military in Iraq under the guise of trainers. The spokesperson calls it a betrayal of Iraqis and notes that if the issue was really training there would be no need to specify how many US soldiers would remain in Iraq. Jane Arraf adds:
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
Mohammed A. Salih (Christian Science Monitor) explores feelings on the issue in Kirkuk and finds many who want the US military to remain such as Mohammed Jassim who states, "Ideally, I would not want US soldiers to be ehre. But the reality makes me want them to stay. If they were leave now problems and tensions might emerge. There are many sides who don't want things to go well here." Part of the reason many in Kirkuk may want US forces to stay is that their oil-rich region is still a huge question mark. This despite the fact that Constiution of Iraq called for the issue to be resolved with a census and a referendum no later than the end of 2007. Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then, he is prime minister now. He refused to follow the Constitution.
With the exception of Chris Hill (one-time US Ambassador to Iraq -- who infamously told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that it was "just an old fashioned land dispute"), diplomats with various governments and the United Nations have publicly spoken of how important resolving the issue of Kirkuk is to the future and stability of Iraq. Due to the oil there, everyone wants it. Due to the historical expulsions of various groups in differing waves, claims are made on the region. The central government out of Baghdad wants it and the Kurdistan Regional Government wants it. Tensions run high between Arabs and Kurds over this issue and these tensions threaten the future of Iraq as the RAND Corporation's recent report, entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops," noted. (See the July 26th snapshot for more on the RAND report.) While Arabs and Kurds are the large parties disputing who has the right to Kirkuk, they are not the only groups of people in Kirkuk. Among others, there are the Turkemen who first came to Kirkuk as far back as 1055. It's a very complex issue and the plan was to have it resolved by 2007. Despite that being written into the Constitution, it did not happen and the fate of Kirkuk remains unresolved today.
Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) observes that "the Kurdish bloc, the largest gainer in the Iraq War, hopes for a long-term presence of the American soldiers, especially in the disputable region of Kirkuk. Worries from the other religious party Sunni Muslim will be deepened as the Shiites in neighboring Iran will expand its clout without the threats posed by the U.S. military." Of course, Jalal Talabani has already stated his opinion that US forces need to remain in Iraq stated it to Chinese Television. From that interview last month:
Axes: On the subject of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, there are media reports talking about the agreement of the Iraqi parliament on this issue, hoping to keep U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of this year, while White House also hoped to extend the stay of troops U.S. in Iraq, what is your opinion on the subject of the withdrawal of U.S. forces or keep them?

President Talabani: First, this news is not true, that the Iraqi parliament decided anything for the survival of U.S. forces, the Iraqi parliament to now did not study the subject, well known that relations between Iraq and the United States determined agreement (SOFA), which provides for the evacuation of U.S. forces at the end of this year, as well as our (the strategic framework agreement) on the principles of relationships, the parties of Iraq and the U.S. insist on this agreement, which sets political and trade relations, cultural and technological ... etc. The theme of the survival of U.S. forces in Iraq, First extension of the agreement is not possible because the extension of the agreement requires approval by two thirds parliament and this can not be obtained, while you remain a number of American forces for training or not? I chaired the days before the two meetings of leaders of Iraqi political attended by all political actors, some views were clear and some are not clear, for example, the direction of the Sadrist movement, which to them (40) deputies in the parliament is the categorical rejection of the presence of U.S. forces, the direction of Kurdish leadership is to keep U.S. forces a limited number, at least in the disputed areas, and the rest They still studying this topic, Voattiyna Mhlten of Iraqi political parties to give us an answer within the prescribed time about whether they agree with the survival of a number of U.S. troops, and not all the troops, the Americans also do not want to keep all their forces, and proposed is that the number of U.S. troops for training, of course I want to say a thing which is that according to the reports of officers and the military leadership of Iraq, the military leadership of the Air Force, Navy and armor and infantry filed reports to the President and the Prime Minister in these reports say where he can not protect the Iraqi Air and the sea of ​​Iraq and the Iraqi border after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, say they can protect the internal security but can not protect the atmosphere air, land and sea, our aircraft, American aircraft that we purchased had not yet reached, if reached need to be a period of training as well, for the Navy do not have boats enough to protect sea, which for us is very important, because the only source of the great Iraqi oil is the sea so we if hampered the export of oil will affect our economy, our line of oil passes through Turkey, this line is not sufficient for the export of oil, we now produce more than (3) million barrels per day and over the next year, God willing, we get to (4) million, then we need two others, we intend to extend another line through Syria, and run the old line passing through Syria broken now, as well as the oil pipeline to Aqaba through Jordan, only then we can export the quantities of oil we produce in the country, and as I said, Iraqi experts believe that Iraq remains a need to protect the air, sea and training the Iraq on the weapons that we bought from America, weapons, armor, Abrams tanks and aircraft (F16) and (F18) that we bought, we bought from America all were new to the Iraqis, we need the training, I noticed during the discussions between the Iraqi political forces that there is a tendency for the survival of a limited number of U.S. trainers, and the survival of a larger U.S. troop is not there a strong desire, as I said there is opposition to the survival of these forces by some forces.

Aswat al-Iraq reports that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met last night to continue discussions about keeping US forces in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Karamatullah K. Ghori (Asia Times) notes of the reasons (excuses) being given to argue for keeping US troops in Iraq:

In touting the line that Iraqi forces are inadequate to rise to challenges that remain largely undefined beyond the cryptic excuse of sectarian divide, the generals betray an appalling disregard for their own failure to train their Iraqi proteges sufficiently. If they couldn't do it in eight years, despite all the resources and numbers at their command, what's there to lend confidence to anyone that they'd be able to find the holy grail of a competent and fully trained Iraqi security force with a thinned-out and scaled-down presence?
Iraqi politicians, representing the full spectrum of the country's myriad factions and clans, do seem to a certain extent to subscribe to the American angst on account of the Iraqi troops' half-baked ability to take charge of the gargantuan task of keeping the country secured against anarchy.

As part of the deal to open discussions (and to keep US troops in Iraq -- Nouri wouldn't have given in just for 'discussions'), Nouri's agreed to finally create the security council to be headed by Ayad Allawi that the Erbil Agreement promised last November. Al Mada reports that State of Law is attempting to fast track the issue through the Parliament and stating that no additional conditions have to be met to create the council.

Protests swept the MidEast and that included Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki tried to distract (his 100 days), tried to suppress (beating and jailing reporters covering the protests) and his assault continues. The Great Iraqi Revolution published the following:

The Green-Zone government will start pursuing and prosecuting the Iraqi activists and protesters who are using the Facebook to share protests news through the Articles of the - Electronic Crime Act - . The preliminary reading of the NEW E-Crime Act was a few days ago and here's its articles :

Article 4 - Whoever starts or runs a website with the intent to execute programes or ideas to disobey the public order or promote , facilitate or implement such actions will be sentensed with life imprisonment and a fine of not less than 25 million Iraqi Dinars and not more than 50 Iraqi million Dinars .

Article 6 - A sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than 25 million Iraqi Dinars and not more than 50 Iraqi million Dinars will be executed if any citizen uses the computers or the internet with intent to commit one of the following acts :
1- Creating chaos in order to undermine the authorities using the country's electronic systems .
2- Provoking an armed rebellion, threatening of starting it or promoting it , inciting sectarianism, disturbing security or public order or offending the country's reputation.
So the corrupt government has started a new law to use it as an excuse to pursue us and silence our voices, is this the "democracy" of the "new" Iraq ? the democracy that we lost our independence and 1.5 million Iraqi casualties for ?

Last week in al-Rifeiat, a US-Iraqi mission resulted in the deaths of at least 3 Iraqis (some reports say four). The New York Times' Tim Arango has covered the events here and here. Today Aswat al-Iraq reports on a joint-raid by the US-and Iraqi forces in a the village of Kidhr in which 1 small boy and a police officer were killed by the joint-forces and the child's father was left injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing left twelve people injured and that there was a Baghdad rocket attack on the Green Zone. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes a Baghdad sticky bombing wounded two people.
Turning to the United States where President Barack Obama offered a number of proposals today. We disagree with his tax rewards for hiring veterans but before we get to that, we'll note this from Senator Patty Murray's office:
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee commended President Obama on outlining new initiatives to promote veterans employment. Chairman Murray is the author of the bipartisan Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which takes major new steps to put our nation's veterans into fulfilling jobs when they return home. Senator Murray's bill, which has companion legislation in the House of Representatives and is co-sponsored by 32 Senators, cleared the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on June 29th and is set to be considered by the full Senate in the fall.
"The President clearly knows that getting our economy back on track and getting our veterans back to work go hand-in-hand. Our veterans are disciplined, experienced, team-players with the unique expertise our employers are seeking. But we have to make sure they get their foot in the door.
"That's why I'm working to pass the bipartisan Hiring Heroes Act in the Senate which provides job skills for every single member of the military who's separating from service. My bill, which has been passed out of Committee with unanimous support, will for the first time ensure that we are making the most out of the enormous investment we make in our servicemembers. Instead of patting them on the back for their service and letting our veterans go into the job market alone, my bill equips them with the resources needed to help find a rewarding career.
"I welcome the President's bold ideas and initiatives to this effort and look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead. But I also hope to give this effort the jumpstart it needs now by putting the Hiring Heroes Act on his desk as soon as possible."
The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011
A bill to improve job training and placement services to ensure veterans who have served and sacrificed for our nation have jobs when they come home. Bipartisan legislation that for the first time takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the skyrocketing unemployment rates for our veterans.
Veterans have the skills, determination, discipline and talent to succeed in the twenty-first century economy. But too often they face unique challenges that translate into trouble finding a job or starting a business.
· Department of Labor data estimates that the unemployment rate for veterans age 20-24 has been as high as 27 percent.

· With the President's announcement that 33,000 U.S. troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of 2012, added to those already returning from Iraq, the problem of veteran unemployment will only grow larger.

· Returning veterans face certification barriers-- medics who return home from treating battlefield wounds can't get certifications to be an EMT or to drive an ambulance and truck drivers are unable to get CDL licenses.
Helping veterans find employment provides an income to support their families; creates self- esteem and pride; and is critical to avoiding veteran homelessness.

· The Institute of Medicine, citing a study by the National Center for Homeless Veterans, found an inability for veterans to translate military skills into civilian employment as being a primary cause of homelessness. It is also widely acknowledged, including in a recent RAND study, that employment difficulties are a serious risk factor for suicide among veterans.

· The dignity and security that work provides are critical in addressing some of the biggest challenges veterans are facing including skyrocketing suicide statistics, problems at home, substance abuse, and even in rising homelessness among our young veterans.

The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 is a landmark bill that for the first time authorizes programs aimed at improving the transition from servicemember to civilian employee.

· Provides job training for service members leaving our military by ensuring that every transitioning servicemember participates in DoD's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides job skills training including resume writing, interview skills, and job search information. Currently, the TAP program is not mandatory even though we have a 27% unemployment rate among young veterans.
· Provides a fast track to federal employment for veterans by allowing them to start the process of getting a job without having to wait months for their veterans preference. This will help more veterans have a job waiting for them the day they leave the service.

· Will finally move forward with helping service members transfer the skills they learned in the field back to civilian jobs by beginning to cut the red tape around training and certification barriers.

· We have invested billions of dollars in training our young men and women with new skills to protect our nation. Every servicemember receives formal training for a specialty within their service in addition to training in other areas such as leadership and strategic planning. When servicemembers leave, those valuable skills leave with them. Concurrently, many elements of the Government need dependable people with those same skill sets. It benefits the Government and the servicemember to keep them in the Federal system, and to streamline that process.


· The bill is paid for by allowing the VA to collect a home loan fee from those who utilize the benefit more than once.
· There is also additional cost savings DoD savings from unemployment payments. Military unemployment payments have doubled since 2008. The military paid $882 million in unemployment benefits last year, up from $450 million in fiscal 2008. The 2011 figures are trending even higher.

Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct

News Releases | Economic Resource Center | E-Mail Updates

We have endorsed the Hiring Heroes Act, it is needed and we applaud Senator Murray and the others for their hard work on the issue. But we do not endorse what Barack proposed today. Steve Vogel (Washington Post) reports of Barack's announced plan, "The proposed tax incentives would provide companies a $2,400 credit for hiring an unemployed veteran and $4,800 for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed six months or longer. An existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with a service-connected disability would be increased to $9,600." The plan is already a flop on arrival. I've spoken with three members of the Black Caucus today to find out what the reception was from their constituents to this proposal? Not pleased.
Not a surprise. African-Americans have been hit hard by the Great Recession and a record number cannot find employment -- you have to drop back over fifty years to find a comparable situation. African-Americans can rightly make a claim to historical inequalities that require a remedy -- that is the legal basis for Affirmative Action. There is no legal basis at all for rewaring employers for hiring veterans. At a time when the country faces massive unemployment, Barack wants to waive through a tiny segment of the population which cannot claim any historical grievance. Supposedly people serve to protect the nation and for other noble ideas. If the nation is indeed a democracy, you're not going to put a class of non-aggrieved citizens ahead of all others.
If you use the figures bandied about, there's a million veterans needing employment now and another million to be added next year. The official unemployment rate is currently 9.1%. It's actually much higher and a conservative, but realisitc, estimate would be at least 16%. Barack's saying these Americans don't matter, don't hire them, don't employ them, hire these veterans and we'll give you thousands and thousand of dollars. (The White House estimates they'll spend $120 million in the next two years on this.)
That's not fair, that's not right. Senator Patty Murray's bill attempts to ensure that veterans are on equal footing. That means, for example, if you were a medical assistant in Afghanistan and you're applying for a related job in the US, you have certification from the military that allows you to be credited with and recognized for the training you've already recieved and the abilities that are your own. That would allow you to compete with anyone else with similar civilian experience for that job. Because in the civilian world, the person would have gotten a certification. Currently, in the military, certifications and licenses for various tasks (even including truck driving) are not awarded. So you return to civilian life with skills but with no documentation that you can show. That's not fair, that's not right. Senator Murray's bill aims at equalizing the playing field.
We support that 100%. We even support training centers for veterans to give them additional skills. But when you walk into a room for an interview, you should be on equal footing. The government stating (whispering), "Hire the veteran and we'll pay you cash for doing so," destroys equal footing.
Senator Murray's office has been very careful in their use of figures. When they use a figure, they can back it up. Not everyone has been so precise and the figure appears to be created by each news outlet. Again, I've spoken to three members of the Black Caucus today and, no, I wasn't surprised at all that people are voicing disbelief to their representatives about this plan. Barack proposes to give 2 million veterans a preference in hiring when, as Leo Hindery Jr. (Huffington Post) pointed out last February, 29.6 million Americans are unemployed. The numbers are not on Barack's re-election side.
By now, over 30 million Americans are unemployed. As they remain unemployed, they now have a target for their ire: Barack and his scheme to place veterans ahead of them. What was the crime of these 30 million which necessitates they be punished? That's what Barack's scheme does, it punishes the already unemployed. Not only does that not grab votes from the unemployed, but it also donesn't grab votes from the employed -- many of whom worry that next month may bring the layoff and they're seeing no relief from the White House, no action from the White House to help them. But they see Barack wanted to grand stand and take away their shot at equality by giving tax dollars -- their tax dollars! -- to companies for hiring veterans.
If the thought was, "Well, it will help us with veterans and veterans families." No. No, it won't. There are many reasons Ron Paul -- not Barack Obama -- leads on campaign donations from the military enlisted. And today's stunt is seen very poorly by the many veterans and veterans families already angered at Barack for his 'dance with terrorists' -- wherein he released the killers of 5 US service members in order to curry favor with a foreign government. For those late to the party, we'll again drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
The decision to release those people already strikes veterans and veterans families with the same sense of outrage expressed over the attack of the USS Liberty and that had many, many years to build. If Barack thinks a little blood money will wash that away, he's sadly mistaken.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

FSRN earns praise

Free Speech Radio News deserves some credit for providing some truth about Iraq. The guest was Phyllis Bennis and they devoted six minutes to it.

I have called out FSRN before so I feel I really need to point out that they did a great job.

Contrast FSRN -- which only has 30 minutes -- with Democracy Now!'s embarrassing performance. A brief headline, I believe two sentences from Amy Goodman and then a quote from the US military.

Amy Goodman is not about peace. She is about war.

She made her decision when she decided to whore.

If you doubt that, you need to ask yourself where her Libya War coverage is?

No daily reports, no special segments. Nothing.

She's a whore for the administration.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, August 3, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, US Senators Patty Murray, Jay Rockefeller, Max Bacus and Robert Casey work to determine how many veterans are taking their own lives, Jane Arraf demonstrates (without show boating) why her knowledge of Iraq is second only to the legendary Robert Fisk, Matthew Rothschild demonstrates that if you're too dishonest to call out Barack then you're also dishonest enough to try to rewrite facts in order to make your bad column more 'pleasing,' and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, Saturday the jounalists of the Libyan Broadcasting Authority issued the following statement:
In an act of international terrorism and in violation of UNSC resolutions, NATO targeted the facilities of the Libyan Broadcasting Authority in the early hours of this morning. 3 of our colleges were murdered and 15 injured while performing their professional duty as Libyan journalists.
NATO admitted the crime sighting "silencing Gaddafi's propaganda machine" as a justification for such a murderous act.
We are the employees of the official Libyan TV. We are not a military target, we are not commanders in the army and we do not pose a threat to civilians. We are performing our job as journalists representing what we wholeheartedly believe is the reality of NATO's aggression and the violence in Libya.
We have the right to work in a safe environment protected by national and international law. The fact that we work for the Libyan government or represent anti-NATO, anti-armed gangs views does not make us a legitimate target for NATO's rockets.
As journalists, we demand that we get full protection from the international community and ask our brothers in the profession from all around the world to stand against such attacks targeting media personnel.
Foreign journalists in Tripoli, Reporters without Borders and human rights organizations: we appeal to you to make your moral and professional stand clear on this issue.
We are hopeful that your media organizations will help us highlight this important issue and come out in support of our just cause.
Thank you.
Muhammad Ahmed Mukhtar
Abdelwanis Sulaiman Elsayed
Abdelwahid Muhammad Ali
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war. Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday.
Kevin Pina: The situation on the ground in Libya continues to heat up following the killing of Abdul Fatah Younis who was the chief of staff of the so-called rebels in Libya. One thing that is being under-reported in the press here and throughout the world is that NATO actually intervened on behalf of one of the rebel groups in Benghazi last Friday and over the weekend, we also understand that NATO bombers also took out three antenna dishes for Libyan television but also killed three journalists. Apparently killing journalists is one way of supporting free speech in Libya today. Here again is our special correspondent Mahdi Nazamroaya who is on the ground in Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Thank you for having me.
Kevin Pina: So let's start of course with what happened in NATO's intervention which is not reported in the press at all in the internal conflict among the so-called rebels who appear to now to be tearing each other apart.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes. Just a few days ago in Benghazi riots broke out as well as protests, separate protests, and armed struggle as well between different groups. Members of the biggest tribe in Libya, Warfalla, were attacked during a meeting that they had discussing ways to get rid of the Transitional Council. The building they were in was attacked. It's unconfirmed but it's believed that 160 members of the Warfalla tribe were killed during this meeting. There was also armed fighting between Abdul Fatah Younis' tribesmen who actually opened fire on members of the Transitional Council especially after the press conference that announced his death, actually murder is the proper way to put it. So in Benghazi fighting has broken out. In Tobruk fighting has broken out. In Darnah, fighting has broken out. The Libyan people there are beginning to take up arms against the Transitional Council. I've been told that some of them were actually waiting for the right moment and it seems that the Transitional Council is in a very, very hard place right now.
Kevin Pina: And that's the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya, our special correspondent, speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. He is also a research associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Montreal, Canada. Now, Mahdi, what we also understand -- it's interesting because as you're describing all of this internal strife and battle and warfare among the so-called rebels themselves at the same time the west was making announcements of advancements and military victories they were making in the field.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well they've been doing this the whole time, this is not unusual, it's not strange, it's not new, but it's not true. They have not been making advances. I was just looking at an article from the Guardian from last month, how they were saying Tripoli was reached. The reporter, he wrote this report in Tripoli. I'm looking at the Telegraph right now from July 6th and it's talking about covert guerilla war in Tripoli and how Tripoli's about to fall and there's three fronts to the east of the Libyan capital. They've been talking about this for a long time, there has been no gains. It's the other way around. The tides are turning. The Transitional Council is in a very hard spot and this is what's forced NATO and it's coalition to intervene to help the Transnational Council attack Libyan citizens in the east. The Libyan people in the east are trying to throw off the yoke of the Transitional Council which essentially is NATO. In fact, Qatari armed vehicles have been seen in Benghazi and Qatari troops are in Benghazi as well as well as others from the Gulf Cooperation Council who have been putting down the protests and the armed struggle that's trying to remove the Transitional Council from power and bring back the legitimate government of Libya in Benghazi.
Kevin Pina: Well that might for a lot of our listeners who are wondering why Al Jazeera is embedded with the rebels, now we hear Qatari troops are actually fighting against people in the east on behalf of people with the Transitional Council inside of Libya according to our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya who is joining us directly from Tripoli, Libya.
At this point Mahdi reads the letter in that we noted at the top and then the two discuss it. Okay, a friend at KPFA asked if I'd note something. I'm going to but I'm not a fake like Amy Goodman so I'm not going to schill. First off, we walked away from Flashpoints Radio for a reason. Even now there are community members who are upset that I'm highlighting it. I understand that and I respect their feelings. Why are they upset? Because they have not forgotten when Ray McGovern and Dennis Bernstein engaged in attacks on two women in their effort to promote Julian Assange. This is disclaimer within disclaimer. But since we're on Julian, I know Gareth Peirce and like her. She's his new attorney. Unlike the Julian Booster Wagon, we noted in real time what incredible f**k ups his attorneys were, we noted -- and were the only ones who did -- the judge's disbelief at the filings and the witnesses Julian's attorney's provided. (As stated then, Julian's lousy attorneys were no reflection on his guilt or innocence. They were and are incompetent. The judge all but stated that in the court room.) Gareth's long history speaks for itself and she'll do a wonderful job representing Julian. And starting with her taking over the case, I'm out of it in terms of commentary unless those two women get attacked again. The women may or may not have been raped. My position here was we don't know what happened, we weren't there. And if Ray McGovern, Naomi Wolfe and others had taken that position, Julian's reputation wouldn't be so bad right now. But instead, they chose to insist the women were this and that and every awful thing in the world. When Ray, Naomi, et al's claims were demonstrated to be lies, they not only didn't issue a correction or an apology, they continued to repeat the lies. Two women who may or may not have been raped were torn apart because some little babies had to protect their hero. That's not what we're supposed to do on the left.
But because that's what McGovern and Dennis did on Flashpoints, there are people that will not listen to the show anymore. And I do understand that and I do respect it. The reason we started highlighting it was because when we (Wally, Kat, Ava and I) were speaking to various groups in the spring, the Libyan War kept coming up. We're there to discuss the wars, so that was fine. But it was very, very hard for people to find coverage they felt they could trust. Al Jazeera, for example, destroyed its reputation with the Libyan War. (Amy Goodman revealed herself to be a fraud to a number of college students with her silence on the Libyan War.) Kevin Pina was guest hosting Flashpoints Tuesday through Friday and he and Mahdi were covering Libya Tuesday through Thursday (and doing a great job). That's why we included the program and that's why I have e-mailed and individual apology and an explanation to every community member who has complained that we are highlighting Flashpoints.
KPFA is in fundraising mode. I was asked to note that and to note that Flashpoints has been the only place on Pacifica Radio where you have gotten Libyan War coverage regularly. (Robert Knight may be noting it on his show. He's on WBAI and I wasn't asked by any WBAI friends to make any comments.) Dennis needed a rest and is back from his vacation with a voice that still sounds sore. He has publicly thanked and praised Kevin and Mahdi for their work and he is said to be determined to continue Flashpoint's leadership on the Libyan War. If you appreciate the coverage and you want to donate and can afford to, the number is 1-800-439-5732. You can also safely contribute online. You can make a one time donation or you can make a donation where they charge your credit card X amount every month. Pacifica Radio is public radio and, if you itemize your deductions on your taxes, your donation is tax deductable.
My own opinion -- feel free to disagree -- Dennis can cross a line when he's passionate about something. That does not excuse what happened to those two women (the on-air trashing) for me. But it does help me understand it. When he crosses a line, if someone points that out, he usually gets it. That has been the pattern in the past. So if you're on the fence about donating and want a reason to, there you go. I don't think he'd trash the two women today. (I doubt most would, the backlash was too severe.) Also true, while a huge number were still playing the sexist and nonsense card of "That awful President Hillary Clinton . . .," Dennis was pointing out that she is Secretary of State and responsible for her actions there but if you're unhappy with White House policies and actions, Barack Obama was actually elected president in 2008 and you should take your complaint there. Though that is so basic to this community, it is something that a large number of lefty males have struggled with and a large number continue to struggle with it. And male or female, it's something a number of KPFA on-airs continue to struggle with.
If you're not going to donate, you're not going to and you don't owe anyone (including me) an explanation. But whether you donate or not, do remember that, as Dennis pointed out on air yesterday, Flashpoints did what Pacifica Radio is supposed to. And let me point out what Dennis didn't because he was being kind: Flashpoints did what Pacifica Radio is supposed to -- but none of the others did. (Again, Robert Knight most likely has covered this with guests and reports on WBAI.) All that air time to fill. And we've had talk about TV shows and we've had trivia. Since when is Pacifica Radio broadcasting Entertainment Tonight? When all other news outlets are droning on in the same pro-war voice, Pacifica Radio is supposed to provide the voice of dissent, the voice of the silenced. One show did that and if you want to donate to Flashpoints for that reason, great. But grasp that one show did its job while a lot of shows did nothing. (And if you want to donate to Flashpoints but aren't able to while it's airing live, you can donate at any time and note on the phone -- 1-800-439-5732 -- or in your online donation that you are donating because of the work Flashpoints has been doing.) End of pitch.
Each month the Army releases their data on suicides. The press covers it and any information released by the other branches as well. Reading in the paper (the monthly release is usually just noted in the print media), you can be left with the impression that these are the military suicides but they are not the only ones. Those who have discharged and left the service have become "veterans" and not "service members." Veterans deal with many issues like readjustment to civilian life, attempting to find employment (in a bad economy and in a climate where young male veterans of the current wars have one of the worst rates of unemployment in the country), attempting to re-establish relationships, as well as, for some, other issues such as PTSD.
Veterans taking their own lives because the system failed them (or their pain from what they experienced while serving is too much to handle) are paying the costs of war and they are paying it with very few aware because their numbers are not tracked.
Many have decried this lack of record keeping including Senator Daniel Akaka when he was Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Patty Murray back then as well as since she became Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Murray and three other senators are attempting to resolve the 'mystery' around veterans suicides and to get this cost of war out in the open. Her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.'
"One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals," the Senators wrote. "In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care."
In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

July 20, 2011

The Honorable Dave Heineman

Chair, National Governors Association

444 North Capitol Street

Suite 267

Washington, DC 20001-1512

Dear Governor Heineman:

As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.

One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.

This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.

Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation's veterans.

Patty Murray
John D. Rockefeller IV
Robert Casey
Max Baucus
Turning to the Iraq War, news came late yesterday that the Iraq had agreed to launch official negotiations with the US on the US military staying in Iraq beyond 2011. As Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "Long after most reporters had rushed home to beat the 1 a.m. curfew still in force, Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Nuri Shawis emerged to read a statement to state-run television saying the attendees recognized the need for further training of Iraqi military forces." And as we'll note, curfew or not, Jane Arraf reported on it yesterday. As did AP's Lara Jakes and Mohammad Ali Harissi for AFP -- those three's reports were noted in yesterday's snapshot.
Yang Lina (Xinhua -- link has text and video) reports, "Iraq's political leaders have given the government the green light to begin negotiating a deal with the U.S. The deal would keep American troops beyond the end of 2011 to train Iraqi security forces." Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) point out, "As a candidate, President Obama promised to end the Iraq war, so the White House has been reluctant to call openly for U.S. troops to remain."

So, yes, that makes the start of acknowledged negotiations major news. (Even if the New York Times runs a paragraph by AP and refuses to file their own story on the issue. Talk about caught sleeping on the job -- and, no, that's not a slam at Tim Arango who is pursuing a different story and doing follow ups. He is not the only one who could have written the story and when Mullen went into Iraq, he did so with reporters.)

Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) observes, "After weeks of wrangling and lots of US pressure it appears to be a breakthrough. After a five hour meeting in presidential compound here in Baghdad there was an announcement that a deal has been reached that presence of US military trainers would be raised in parliament." And as noted yesterday, Jane Arraf Tweeted about the big meet-up so refer to her Twitter feed for many more details about what was discussed by the Iraqi political blocs beyond US troops. And, if you visited her feed this morning, you saw that the supposed official stated position of the Sadr bloc is they're not going to block the move if everyone else goes along with it (US troops in Iraq beyond 2011) but that she (Arraf) was meeting up with a Sadr official to find out what their position actually entails.

Of the negotiations, Press TV notes, "The move, which is opposed by the Iraqi people, comes after a visit to Baghdad by the outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who has urged the al-Maliki government to make a decision whether it wants an extended presence of American forces in Iraq." This week in Baghdad, a petition calling on US forces to leave Iraq at the end of the year got 2.5 million signatures. Another number is offered by Stars & Stripes, "The U.S. has offered to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline." As Dar Addustour notes, the meet-up of the political blocs took place at Jalal Talabani's home (Talabani is the President of Iraq).

Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN quote
the Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nouri Shawees stating, "After extensive discussions, the leaders of the political blocs headed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have agreed to let the Iraqi government start negotiations with the American side only on the issues of training and under the Strategic Framework Agreement." In an active and functioning media, that statement alone would result in multiple columns, analysis and discussions. As it is, it will probably sail right over most heads (the meaning of it). Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) elaborates further, "The leaders agreed that any request to keep U.S. military trainers in Iraq would fall under a general security agreement with the United States and would not require signing a new accord to keep U.S. troops in the country into 2012, according to Talabani's office. U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Iraq did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night."

The only non-Iraqi press outlet I see offering analysis of the news at this point is the editorial board of the Khaleej Times:

With pressure coming in from Washington to decide at the earliest if it wants the remaining troops to stay or leave, Maliki faces a tough task. His tenuously cobbled coalition government is at a risk of falling apart in case a decision is made in favour of retaining American forces for longer than the December 2011 deadline. Facing violent opposition from some of his coalition partners -- concerning further prolonging of US forces in the country -- Maliki is in a catch-22 position in trying to choose the lesser of the two evils. For the security in Iraq is far from stable and is in fact worse than before, according to a recent report presented before the US Congress. According to the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Junior, the security situation is at an all time low.
Though an earlier military assessment in May lauded the improvement in security, it was misleading and based on a comparative assessment of the situation to that in 2007. As a matter of fact, according to Bowen, Iraq is facing enhanced security threat from Shia militant factions that have contributed to the spread of violence and instability. An increase in targeted killings of US soldiers and Iraqi officials and attacks in Baghdad over the past many months is testament to the fact. In addition, the Iraqi military capability is as yet not on track.

The start of negotiations is major news. And it did come late yesterday. So some needed to play catch up today. Understandable. If they, in fact, caught up.
There are 20 headlines to stories on The Nation's main page currently, not one has anything to do with Iraq. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman gave it two sentences plus a quote from Adm Mike Mullen. A military officer, grasp this, had more to say on Democracy Now! about war than did that 'peace loving' Amy. (Some may say, "She covered the debt ceiling!" Finally. And too damn little too damn late. Ava and I documented that in real time she did nothing "TV: The unexamined (American) lives" and "TV: The Age of Fakery." She only cared after the fact. See Elaine's "The Goody Whore" from last night.) And then there's Matthew.
The Progressive offers a piece by Matthew Rothschild, a weak and inaccurate piece. Maybe he shouldn't have written a damn thing?

Mike picked Matty Rothschild as Idiot of the Week and boy had Matty earned that honor. A month or so back, Matty was going to get ripped apart by me over his so-called concern for civil liberties. If you're concerned for civil liberties and do a "McCarthy Watch," you do that the same regardless of who is in the White House. He can rip Bush apart, he just can't call out Princess Barack. Now because Matthew called out the Libyan War and (rightly) noted it was an impeachable crime, I wrongly thought he had left the Cult of St. Barack and was more than willng to table the critique of how he does a McCarthyism Watch when it's Barack and when it's Bush.
If you're wondering what it looks like, you can see it in his hideous column "Pentagon Presses to Stay in Iraq, with Immunity!" Oh, that runaway Pentagon!
Poor Barack, the ultimate victim. No one listens to him! The Pentagon does what it wants!
I'm sick of this crap. He is president. People like Matthew Rothschild lied and whored to get him the Democratic Party nomination. He's now the president hold him accountable. I am so sick of these pathetic little babies and Matthew is the King of them.
From his embarrassing garbage:
All U.S. troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of this year.
This has not only been Obama's pledge. This is the precise wording of the security agreement between the Iraqi government and the United States.
But now the Obama administration wants to keep U.S. troops beyond that date, so the Pentagon's been negotiating with the Iraqis to extend the American presence there.
Okay, that wasn't Obama's pledge. That's a damn lie. Barack would not have gotten the Democratic Party nomination if he was promising that all troops will be out of Iraq at the start of 2012, three years after he takes office. That's a damn lie.
Secondly, after "Obama's pledge," Barack's never responsible again. It's not Barack that wants the US to stay in Iraq, it's "the Obama administration." Matthew Rothschild is such a damn chicken, such a pathetic coward, that he can't call out Barack Obama.
I don't like Barack. I didn't vote for him. I won't vote for him in 2012. But I'm not the one pretending he's a weakling, I'm not the one pretending he has no strength or power. I recognize he's the president of the United States. That's something that the Cult of St. Barack that gifted him with the nomination can't own up to.
The Pentagon is NOT negotiating.
"Brave" Matty can call them out but he's wrong. Robert Gates, when he was Secretary of Defense, was required to note the time issue and that it was passing when speaking to Nouri or Jalal Talabani. Leon Panetta has infamously noted the time issue since becoming Secretary of Defense. Adm Mike Mullen went to Iraq to convey how serious the government was taking the issue.
Their efforts were to prompt action. They are not negotiating anything. James Jeffrey, the US Ambassador to Iraq, is the public face of negotiations (as Ryan Crocker was when he was the US Ambassador to Iraq). He is assisted by State Dept employees the administration has tasked for this issue.
This is not who Hillary Clinton has selected, it's not her issue. Joe Biden and Samantha Power are tasked with Iraq on the orders of Barack Obama. Hillary is not involved. You see her with her Iraqi counterpart from time to time, she does receive most visiting Iraqis but she and Nouri are not close and anyone who can't grasp that can't remember Hillary's public remarks about Nouri when she was in the Senate. That's the practical reason Hillary's not over Iraq. There are other reasons as well. Samantha Power is elevated to her position because, although Joe Biden has a great relationship with many Iraqi politicians (including the Kurds), he also made comments, when he was a senator, about Nouri that Nouri has not forgotten. (Hillary and Joe both rightly called Nouri a despot at one point or another and it's not forgotten on Nouri's side. And they were not one time remarks. Nor were they unique remarks in the Senate. Back then, Baraba Boxer was among the many calling out Nouri as a Little Saddam.)
If that's news to you, that's still not an excuse for ever thinking that the Pentagon would be negotiating -- or that they would do so against the wishes of the president.
Matthew throws caution and facts to the wind in this sentence: "Because even as Admiral Mullen was making his pitch, U.S. troops along with Iraqi troops were raiding a village, killing three men, including a tribal elder who was seen in handcuffs, and wounding five others, including two little girls."
No. You can't alter facts and keep them as facts. Mike Mullen arrived in Iraq on Monday. The incident Rothschild's referring to took place LAST WEEK. This appears in Saturday's second entry: "and, dropping back to Friday night, a "joint U.S.-Iraqi air landing on al-Rifeiat tribe's village in Balad township of Salahal-Din Province" today resulted in the deaths of 4 Iraqi civilians (and six being injured)," Mullen arrived on Monday. You can't alter the facts and claim that they're still facts. Yes, Matthew Rothschild, it does make the story play better, but it's not fiction and you can't alter the facts. (And if you're interested in this story, Tim Arango has filed two reports on it so far -- here and here.)
What Matthew Rothschild is really doing when he refuses to call out Barack Obama, when he invents blame for the Pentagon and when he alters time lines to make the story more 'pleasing,' what he's really doing is demonstrating how Judith Miller was able to write for The Progressive. She did. Long before her bad reporting helped sell the Iraq War, she was writing for The Progressive. And meeting the very low standards required from that magazine.
While Panhandle Media can't get the story right (including that currently the blocs aren't considering impunity -- read yesterday and today's reports in the Arab media and in some of the English media as well), Jane Arraf is all over the ins and outs, both in terms of the agreement to negotiate and what led to it Nouri's promised Ayad Allawi that Iraqiya can pick the Minister of Defense and that the national security council promised in the Erbil Agreement will come to be and Allawi will head it -- as Arraf notes, this mean that there may be "enough support for the agreement to be passed by parliament, even with the opposition of the Sadrists. If you're generous, Moqtada's bloc has 40 seats. There are 325 MPs (though only around 225 tend to show up at any session).

Violence continued overnight. The Belfast Telegraph notes, "Four Iraqis have been killed in two successive bomb attacks targeting a shop selling alcohol in western Baghdad, police and health officials said." AFP adds, "The explosions come shortly after the beginning of Ramadan, during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until dusk. Ramadan began on Monday for Iraq's Sunnis and a day later for the country's majority Shiites. Also on Tuesday evening, unknown gunmen shot dead Iraqi army Lieutenant Colonel Azad Mohammed Ahmed in the Khadra area in the south of Kirkuk while he was driving to his house with one of his guards." Reuters adds that last night 2 cab drivers were shot dead in Hilla, that a bomb went off in a Tikrit car claiming 2 lives and leaving one person injured, that a rocket attack in Baghdad injured two police officers, two Ramadi bombings claimed 7 lives and left eight people injured and Reuters updates the death toll for Tuesday's Baghdad bombings targeting an alcohol store -- the new death toll is 3 police officers (sixteen people are said to have been injured).