Friday, January 13, 2012

The posers

First, give it up for C.I.  What a week.  She had to go to London for a number of reasons.  She managed to live on London time and get stuff up online at more or less the regular time.  What an amazing week for her.

17 strong pieces of writing (and Isaiah did a comic for 18 entries so far this week).  Amazing job by her.

In the 4th one from the top, C.I. again covers endorsements.  She notes I have endorsed Ron Paul (and I have) but that she hasn't endorsed anyone and doesn't plan on doing so.

I'm sorry she has to go over this again.  I don't personally believe those e-mailing to insist she's endorsing this person or that were sincere.  I think they were trying to work the ref.  If they try to do so now, it will make no difference because she's not responding to that topic again and she's not reading those e-mails or hearing about them from people working the e-mails.

It's really amazing how someone refusing to fall in line angers the worker bees, the drones.

I've never seen my side (the left) be so pathetic.  The fear must be what drives them at this point and it's really sad.  They'd rather attack people for supporting Ron Paul and his anti-empire stance than respect that stance, one they were supposed to share.

I agree with C.I. that the last four years have been a gift, illuminating the realities about so many posers.

I'll be voting for Ron Paul in the primary.  It will be my first time ever voting in a Republican primary.  But I will support those against empire.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 
Friday, January 13, 2012,  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq arrests 4 American citizens, Nouri unleashes the crazy on the Turkish Prime Minister, Joe Biden and Barack Obama both speak to the Turkish Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) like embarrassed parents attempting to smooth things over, Nouri finally decides that the pilgrimage that's been going on for a week now might need extra security protection, Saleh al-Mutlaq calls for Nouri to step down, and more.
The Iraq War and the Afghanistan War have produced many veterans.  Many services are needed, many resources are overtaxed.
In San Diego a vacant building could house close to fifty veterans.  KGTV's 10 News reports, "Dr. Robert Smith presented the plan which he said is particularly necessary in the San Diego area as it has the largest population of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the nation at 28,000."  But the psychiatric facility found objection at the Mission Hillas Town Council hearing by some parents who say that a school across the street from the vacant building means children could be at risk.  Jeanette Steele (San Diego Union-Tribune) adds "neighbors are wary, saying it's not a 'vets versus kids' equation.  They ay it's a great facility but there must be better places to put it in sprawling San Diego."  If they're worried about danger to the kids, a vacant building in a city, as a general rule, tends to attract more problems than an occupied building.  That's drug use and drug dealing, that's a safety hazard for children (who naturally enjoy exploring and may enter a vacant building) and so much more.  The facility would be a medical one.  There's no guarantee that it would be any more safe than any other medical facility, or any less safe.  There are many reasons to oppose a new facility -- veterans or otherwise -- coming into a neighborhood but one that would fill a building that now stands empty?  Ex-Navy nurse Mary Rushton is quoted stating, "When these veterans fail the program and are asked to leave, that's the end of the VA's responsibility.  Who knows what could happen? From not controlling their emotions and reactions, things along those lines.  I don't think these kids need to see anything."  And what's really sad is that's from a former Navy nurse.  The government sent people to war, there's no need to hdie that reality from children.  Are they at risk?  By the nurse's argument everyon across the country is at risk.  I believe schools are supposted to have their own safety procedures.  Does she not trust the school?  We know she doesn't trust the veteran.  In the comments, Tikvah Organics' owner Cyndi Norwitz makes this point:
Unbelievable. There are children in every neighborhood, so are these people in opposition saying these vets aren't welcome anywhere? There are schools in most neighborhoods too. As for being across the street from a school, that seems ideal to me. When school is in session (plus the hours before and after), the place is swarming with staff. What could be safer than that? My daughter's in first grade and I would have no problem with a center like this being across the street from her school
Hugh Lessig (Virginia's Daily Press) reports on Hampton Veterans Administration Medical Center's program which issues housing vouchers to veterans in need: "The bad news? Business is bomming here in Hampton Roads" and the veteran population they served used to trend to 40 to 60 years old but is now starting to decrease in age to their 20s and 30s.  Meanwhile in Illinois, homeless veterans continue to increase in numbers.  Susan Frick Carlman (Naperville Sun) reports  the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans needs to open a second home and raised the issue at a town hall.  US Senator Dick Durbin offered a non-reassuring, "I've got to look for new ways to help you, and if I can, I'll find some.  If you've got the dedicated volunteers and professionals to make it work, it's a heck of an investment."  If San Diego is the norm 9i hope it's not), then, should money be found, the shelter would next face the issue of finding a location that didn't have all the neighbors clutching the pearls.
Finding the money should be easy, after all the government's worked so very hard to refuse to give veterans the proper disability rating to save money (and cheat veterans).  But sometimes veterans win in spite of it all.  Michael Doyle (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "After three years of legal maneuvering, a federal judge in late December quietly approved the settlement that covers [Iraq War veteran Chris] Crotte and about 2,100 other veterans who've been medically discharged since 2002 with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Under the settlement, one of several similar efforts now under way, affected veterans discharged with PTSD will get better benefits, including lifetime health care and post-exchange privileges.  The affected veterans had been discharged with disability ratings that were way too low to receive such benefits."  On the subject of PTSD, the University of California San Francisco's Steve Tokar reports of a new study on women veterans and PTSD:
Women who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan were involved in combat at significantly higher rates than in previous conflicts, and screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder at the same rate as men, according to a study led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
"While women technically are not supposed to serve in direct combat, this research demonstrates that, in reality, they are experiencing combat at a higher rate than we had assumed," said lead author Shira Maguen, PhD, a clinical psychologist at SFVAMC and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF. "At the same time, it shows that men and women really don't differ in how they react to the stresses of combat."
Women in the U.S. military gradually have been integrated into combat roles since the early 1990s, and today comprise about 14 percent of Americans serving in uniform. Of roughly 2.2 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 255,000 have been women, according to the Pentagon. Under current U.S Army rules, women are not officially assigned to units whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground, but can be assigned to other roles in combat zones.
The study of 7,251 active-duty soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is the first study, the authors say, to include gender as a variable in examining responses to four combat-associated traumatic experiences: killing, witnessing someone being killed, exposure to death (seeing dead soldiers or civilians) and injury.
Earlier this week, Laura Unger (Lousiville Courier Journal) observed that "almost 15 percent of today's active-duty troops are women;" however, health service for women continue to lag. For example, "VA hospitals don't provide obstetrics, for example, and most don't offer mammograms on-site. Medical centers on U.S. military bases, meanwhile, transfer women to civilian doctors for certain high-level care." In addition women who serve often face what H. Patricia Hynes (Truthout) calls another battlefield:

These same women have found themselves, concurrently, caught in a second, more damaging war - a private, preemptive one in the barracks. As one female soldier put it, "They basically assume that because you are a girl in the Army, you're obligated to have sex with them." Resisting sexual assault in the barracks spills over to the battlefield, according to many women veterans, in the form of relentless verbal sexual harassment, punitive high-risk assignments and the morbid sense that your back is not being watched.
The double trauma of war and sexual assault by "brothers-in-arms" within a culture of impunity for perpetrators may explain why a 2008 RAND Corporation study [1] "found that female veterans are suffering double the rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] than their male counterparts." Patricia Resick, a psychiatrist who researches PTSD in women for the Veterans Administration (VA), asserts "sexual trauma is a more significant risk factor for PTSD than combat or the types of trauma that men generally experience." Resick adds that sexual trauma, unlike combat trauma, is caused by people who are supposed to bond with you and protect you, and that betrayal by those you need to trust with your life deepens the harm.Military sexual trauma (sometimes referred to as MST) is so extreme that it is even more likely to cause PTSD in women than civilian sexual trauma ­­- because of military culture.
Many veterans and contractors also suffering from exposure to burn pits.  For some the exposure has cost their lives.  Next next month, the first ever scientific symposium will be held in New York.

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012

sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University

Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
Medical Center

This program is made possible by support from the
Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.


* Register with your credit card online at:

* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211

For Information Email:

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5

Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
Tim Bishop

9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.

9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)

10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
Nashville, TN)

10:40 - 11:10 BREAK

11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)

11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark

12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)

12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)

Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source

1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)

1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)

2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
Brook University)

2:40 - 2:50 BREAK

2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)

3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

Continuing Medical Education Credits

The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
In other veterans news, Justin Raimondo ( has taken up the cause of Cpl Jesse Thorsen who is facing reprimand for sharing the stage, in uniform, with US House Rep Ron Paul in Iowa. 

The War Party's lynch mob was out for Thorsen's hide the very next day, with
Democratic party shill Paul Rieckhoff, head of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America,
declaring:"Our troops are many things to many people. Heroes, parents, diplomats,
victims, villains, victors. But as the GOP Primary races roll through New
Hampshire this week, there is one thing that all of America must understand
they're not: political props.
And that's not just my opinion, it's the law.
"This is why so many of us in the military and veterans community were
so shocked and outraged last Tuesday night when we saw Corporal Jesse
Thorsen step up to the microphone in uniform and
endorse Ron Paul for President. We know the law -- the military law
under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). We know
Article 88
of UCMJ prohibits contemptuous speech by commissioned officers against
the President and certain elected officials at penalty of court-martial."

Rieckhoff is off his rocker: the section of the complicated and often
contradictory regulations being invoked against Thorsen has nothing to do
with "contemptuous speech," but with engaging in partisan political activity
while in uniform. Here is what Thorsen had to say at the Paul rally: do you
hear any "contemptuous speech" in these remarks? I thought not. However,
if you're a
Democratic party operative like Rieckhoff -- who has served as
official party spokesman – you do indeed hear "contemptuous speech" in
Thorsen's condemnation of President Obama's foreign policy. CNN did an
interview with Thorsen earlier, but
cut him off when he started to talk about
how our interventionist foreign policy is opposed by most soldiers -- which is
why Paul has garnered more donations from military personnel than all other
candidates combined.
In Iraq, Al Mada reported this morning that 4 Americans -- 2 men, 2 women -- have been arrested in Iraq. They were carrying weapons according to the governor of Baghad, Salah Abdul Razak. They were in a BMW which was stopped at a checkpoint and they were discovered with weapons. They displayed some form of identity badges but they were arrested and our in police custody with the Sixth Brigade conducting the investigation.  Alsumaria TV quotes the governor stating:
The four Americans were arrested in a popular residential area that doesn't include vital sites. Detainees testified in preliminary investigations that they were ensuring the region's security. [. . .] Security forces could have shot them for penetrating the area without the consent or knowledge of authorities. There are strict orders to shoot any person that penetrates the area without the consent of operations' command. [. . .] Iraq's security is an internal affair that doesn't concern Americans even if they were intelligence members.

Despite the fact that this news, via the Al Mada story, was up, in English, at The Common Ills before 8:00 am EST, no one asked about it at the State Dept press briefing. Despite the fact that many of the reporters attending the State Dept press briefings read Arabic, no one asked about it.  Despite the fact that foreign press attends the State Dept press briefings, no one asked about it.  And the New York Times didn't report it.
And the history books forgot about us
And the Bible didn't mention us
And the Bible didn't mention us
Not even once
You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
-- "Samson," writen by Regina Spektor, first appears on her Begin to Hope
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) states, "Expect a lot of more of these kinds of incidents in the coming days. While there hasn't been much coverage of the incident in English, it's being heavily covered in the Arab and Iraqi media. Arresting and exposing American operatives in Iraq is going to be politically popular and the local media will eat it up. A lot of ambitious political forces might find it useful to be seen on TV arresting an armed American. Armed Americans traveling around Iraq, whether security contractors or intelligence operatives, are going to be an endless source of potential crisis."
In Iraq, the political crisis continues.  Nouri started it and now he wants to expand it, apparently, to go beyond Iraq's borders.  How else to explain his attacks today on the Prime Minister of Turkey?  Today's Zaman reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has harshly criticized Turkey for its what he said 'surprise interference' in his country's internal affair, claiming that Turkey's role could bring disaster and civil war to the region -- something Turkey will itself suffer."  Interfere?  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cautioned that the political crisis could lead to a civil war in Iraq and has called on parties to start a real dialogue to resolve the issues.  That's really not "interfering."  But what has Nouri so ticked off is that Erdogan also stated the very plain fact that Nouri started the political crisis.  It's a fact, Nouri doesn't like facts, but that doesn't change the status.  AFP quotes  Nouri stating, "Recently, we noticed their surprise interventions with statements, as if Iraq is controlled or run by them.  Their latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs . . . and we do not allow that absolutely.  If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs, and if they talk about our disputes, we can talk about theirs.  Turkey is playing a role that might bring disaster and civil war to the region, and Turkey itself will suffer because it has different sects and ethnicities."  It's always funny when Nouri unleashes his crazy in public.  That was what bothered the French government the most about the White House backing Nouri in 2010, that Nouri was clearly unstable and that's who Barack wanted to rule Iraq?  Crazy Nouri.  KUNA reports Nouri and Erdogan were on the phone Thursday discussing the situation in Iraq.  And now, today, Nouri's parading the crazy.  At this rate, the bullet to the head so many observers feel is in Nouri's immediate future just may come from his own gun.
While Nouri was showing the world how unhinged he is, the Turkish Press reports that Erdogan was speaking on the phone with US Vice President Joe Biden about Iraq: "Reportedly, Erdogan said to Biden that if Iraq distances itself from the culture of democracy, efforts previously exerted for peace and stability will be wasted. Sources added that Erdogan and Biden also indicated that authoritarian and sectarian policies will never benefit Iraq and that Turkey and the US consider benefit in holding dialogue and consultations regarding the developments in Iraq."  In addition, Erdogan spoke with President Barack Obama.  The White House issued the following today:
Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan spoke by telephone today about issues related to democracy, security and development in the Middle East and North Africa region; this was their first conversation in the New Year.  The two leaders discussed recent developments in Iraq and their continued support for an inclusive, partnership government that brings stability, democracy and prosperity to the Iraqi people. They agreed that the U.S. and Turkey should continue to support the legitimate demands for democracy for the Syrian people and condemned the brutal action of the Assad regime.  The two leaders discussed Iran's nuclear program and how Iran should engage with the international community in this regard.  They agreed that U.S. and Turkish teams would remain in close contact on ways that Turkey and the U.S. can support the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa.
Poor Nouri.  UPI reports Iraqiya spokesperson Haidar al-Mulla declared today no national conference "can take place so long as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains in power".   Al Mada reports that the expanded meeting (not the national conference) is set for this Sunday. This follows the meet-up Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had this week. The three are scheduled to attend the Sunday meet-up along with heads of the main political blocs. Whether a national conference follows after that is open to debate. Al Mada also reports that the National Alliance has demands for attending any national conference and they include that the meet-up takes place in Baghdad and that "no Saddamists or terrorists" be invited. Following up on that thread of insults, Al Rafidayn reports that Yusuf Qaradawi, head of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, now stands accused of being an agent of Israel and the United States. Alsumaria TV notes that debate continues on where the national conference would be held (KRG President Massoud Barzani will not attend if it's held in Baghdad). And Barazani is now saying -- from scrawl on Alsumaria website -- that he won't attend any national conference if the Erbil Agreement is not implemented. Continuing his surprising recent pattern of 'elder statesman,' Moqtada al-Sadr continues to talk like a leader. Alsumaria TV reports he is calling on everyone to stay calm and not let differences tear the country apart.

Nouri kicked off the political crisis last month by targeting Iraqiya. Among other things, he wants Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his office and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested.  Adam Schreck (AP) reports that al-Mutlaq declared in an interview today that Nouri needs to resign.  He fails to quote Saleh al-Mutlaq directly. Considering that these type of interviews lead to endless charges by politicians in Iraq, Schreck needed to quote al-Mutlaq word for word.  He didn't.  And the confused don't just include Iraqis, they include AP staff.  It was really embarrassing for the AP today at the State Dept press breifing to try to ask a question about the interview when the reporter (for AP) was unsure of what AP was stating al-Mutlaq had said.  From the State Dept's official transcript (link is text with video option, press briefing was conducted by spokesperson Victoria Nuland):
QUESTION: We have an interview with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister al-Mutlaq today, where he calls Prime Minister Maliki a tyrant or  something. I think it was a dictator, and he talks about getting (inaudible) of Iraq. Do you have a comment on that?
MS. NULAND: We saw the interview, obviously. What we are continuing to do, as we've said a number of times in the last few days, is to impress upon senior Iraqi politicians the importance of direct dialogue with each other to resolve their differences and to work towards a solution that represents the interests of all Iraqis for an inclusive government and that's within the Iraqi constitution.  We don't think it's helpful for Iraqi politicians to be hashing out their differences in the media. We'd much rather see them sit down together. In that regard, we are encouraged that Prime Minister Maliki, President Talabani, Speaker Nujaifi have all begun a process of working out the parameters for a national conference that will focus on a political solution that represents the interests of all Iraqis. That's something that we support. As you may know, Deputy Secretary Burns arrived in Iraq this evening and will have consultations with a broad cross-section of Iraqi leaders tomorrow.
QUESTION: Can I just ask a quick follow-up?
QUESTION: Do you have any expectation of when this conference might finally take place, and would the U.S. participate in some way either as an observer or as a monitor or facilitator to this?
MS. NULAND: Well, certainly, on the latter point, our goal is for Iraqis to talk to each other. There's no expectation that we would be in the room for that. That said, we have encouraged all parties to get to the table. With regard to the timing, I think that's exactly the kind of thing that the Iraqis are trying to hash out now.
Niqash interviews Tareq al-Hashemi:

NIQASH: In terms of the charges of terrorism against you, you have always insisted upon your innocence. But if that is so, then why did you leave Baghdad and why don't you return there?

Tariq al-Hashimi: I left Baghdad on Dec. 17 so I had left the city before the testimonies of my guards [against me] were broadcast on TV. I came to Sulaymaniyah after an official invitation was extended to me on Dec. 15 by His Excellency, the President of the Republic [Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani]. The invitation was extended to me and my colleague Khodair al-Khozaei [also a vice president] in order for us to attend the presidency's council meeting.

NIQASH: So you're saying you were not trying to escape the arrest warrant?

Al-Hashimi: No, I did not run away. I am confident that the judiciary and the Iraqi courts will uphold my name and reputation in due course.

NIQASH: So why don't you just return to Baghdad?

Al-Hashimi: Because I don't trust the judiciary in Baghdad. This is why I officially requested that the government transfer my trial to Kirkuk. This is a legitimate request under Article 55, which gives the defendant the right to request a change of location for a trial.

Meanwhile Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) weighs in on the crisis and possible motivations:

A closer look at Hashemi's arrest warrant shows that Maliki's move had little to do with Hashemi himself. Although the aging statesmen has been a headache for Maliki's coalition in recent years, his mischief was always "controllable" as the man threatened to walk out on cabinets over and over - but never took the bold move.
He does not command a militia that roams the streets, has not been convicted of any treason and certainly is not "Saudi Arabia's number one" in Iraqi politics.
The charge brought against him is of operating a militia in the post-2003 order that is accused of killing political opponents. Big deal - by Iraqi standards. If Maliki wanted to go by an anti-militia yardstick, then he would have to arrest his prime allies Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim, who respectively run the Mehdi Army and Badr Brigade, two Iran-affiliated military groups.
Hashemi's warrant, pretty much as he has been saying all along, is 100% political, aimed at arm-twisting and scaring the Sunni community at large, which he represents.
Maliki is worried that the Arab Spring will soon reach Baghdad, now that the Americans have left, only this time it won't be society at large rising against an aging despot; it will be the Sunni minority that ruled Iraq since creation of the modern country in the 1920s, against the Shi'ite majority that came into power after the 2003 toppling of Saddam. 

In other news,  Al Mada reports that MP Rafi Abd al-Jabbar (Sadr bloc) is objecting to the continued presence of the (US) CIA in Iraq, stating it undermines Iraqi sovereignty and continues the US occupation.  And Press TV reports this morning that 35,000 security forces are now being deployed to protect the pilgrims. The question is, since Arbaeen ends tomorrow, and since the pilgrims have been attacked since last weekend, why, only now, are these 35,000 being deployed?  Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) report, "Iraq's Shiite-led government took unprecedented security measures Friday to protect Shiite Muslim pilgrims observing the high point of a religious occasion from attacks by extremists. Meanwhile, car bombs targeted officials in the polarized and volatile northern city of Kirkuk." The two car bombs left twenty-six people injured.  In addition, Reuters notes a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a Mosul suicide bomber took his own life and left two police officers injured (two suspects were killed in the assault as well), a Hamman al-Alil roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Baquba roadside bombing injured three Iraqi soldiers and 1 corpse was discovered in Khanaqin.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm sticking with him

Elaine, so many of you want me to know, Ron Paul as president would be scary!!!!

I am going to repeat, he's got no control over abortion.

He might appoint an anti-choice justice to the Supreme Court.  That is possible.

If so, he won't be the first to do so.

I'm not going to be terrorized by the Democratic Party, sorry.

You can only threaten me so long, after that moment is reached, I just don't give a damn.

People need to grasp what a president actually does and what Congress does.

I grasp that there are people making scaring you about Ron Paul into a cottage industry.

If you have a candidate you're happy to vote for, I congratulate you, regardless of whom it is.

I am happy to be supporting Ron Paul.

He would defend the Constitution (which is especially important in someone overseeing the Justice Dept.) and he would stop these empire wars.

That matters to me.

Other issues?

I believe we have a Congress.  I believe it's an independent body.

Plus, I know I don't want to live in fear or vote for a War Hawk.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 11, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the Kurds say "no" to Nouri, the political crisis continues, the US comes off disinterested, a mayor is assassinated in Iraq, and more.
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, burn pits have been used.  This means all the waste -- including medical -- is burned in an open area.  Many US service members and contractors were exposed to these leading to respiratory illnesses and worse.  In 2009, the practice was finally banned by the US government.  Sadly, neither the war in Iraq nor the war in Afghanistan began in 2009.  Many service members and contractors suffer from exposure to burn pits.  Next month, the first ever scientific symposium will be held in New York.
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012
sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University
Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
Medical Center
This program is made possible by support from the Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
* Register with your credit card online at:
* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211
For Information Email:
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Program Obejctive: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman       
                        Tim Bishop
9:00 - 9:30         Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
                        Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
9:40 - 10:10       Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
                        Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)
10:10 - 10:40     Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
                        King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
                        Nashville, TN)
10:40 - 11:10     BREAK
11:10 - 11:40     Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
                        Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
                        Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)
11:40 a.m. -      Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark
12:10 p.m.        Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
                       Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)
12:10 - 12:20    Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
                       River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
                       Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)
12:20 - 1:20      LUNCH AND EXHIBITS
                       Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
                       University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
                       Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
                       Synchrotron Light Source
1:20 - 1:40       Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
                      Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
                      Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)
1:40 - 2:10      Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
                      and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
                      Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)
2:10 - 2: 40     Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
                     (Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
                     Brook University)
2:40 - 2:50     BREAK
2:50 - 3:15     Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
                    Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
                    and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)
3:15 - 3:45    Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
                   Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
                   Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
3:44 - 4:15   In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
                  (Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
Continuing Medical Education Credits
The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM.  Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
We will note that again (probably in several snapshots).  Any typos in the above are mine.  That was sent to me in a PDF last month.  I did two or three lines on it and said we'd note it in full (when I had time to convert the file, print it and then type it up).  I completely forgot and they're so kind they're not one of the ones who ever send a reminder.  (Some people e-mail you something they want highlighted at 10:20 a.m. And then e-mail you an hour later and an hour later and an hour later and hour later . . .)  My sincere apologies for forgetting about it.
And the burn pits cause damage to those breathing in the chemicals.  Other damage is unknown.  But improperly disposing of chemical waste, for example, has led to the increased cancer risks at Camp Lejeune.  That's an issue many work on but Senator Richard Burr -- Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee -- has long highlighted. He and Senator Kay Hagan introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 211 which won the unanimous support of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee but has not had a floor vote.  US House Rep Brad Miller has a similar measure in the House of Representatives. Former US Senator Elizabeth Dole (Raleigh-Durham News & Observer) addressed the issue yesterday:
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I fought to expose the facts about the Camp Lejeune water contamination and to expedite notification to all potential victims. My legislation requiring the Pentagon to provide such direct notification through a registry was signed into law. The Corps, however, has not utilized the registry to directly inform military families about the EPA's determination.
The provision of medical care for the people made ill by the contaminants in the installation's drinking water must now be addressed through the legislative process. The cost of that care may eventually be high in terms of dollars. We must, nevertheless, meet our nation's ethical and moral responsibilities.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., are to be commended for their sponsorship of legislation that would provide medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs for individuals who suffer from one or more of these cancers or other health effects and who are known to have served or lived at Camp Lejeune during the years in question. Passage of their legislation and its enactment into law are the necessary next steps.
Former US Senator Evan Bayh repeatedly attempted to create a national Burn Pit Registry with no success.  Maybe now that the Senate's chief objector to the registry is set to leave at the end of the year (Jim Webb -- who also objected to the Agent Orange benefits the VA created), it can be championed again and this time passed?
Camp Lejuene should make you wonder what the effects from these burn pits will be on Iraqis in the future? (As well as the people of Afghanistan, but our focus is Iraq.)   And don't expect the US government to make public any risk assessment they've carried out or might carry out in the future as well as the effects from the depleted uranium and white phosophorus used in the second 2004 assault (November) on Falluja. Last week Dahr Jamail reported for Al Jazeera from Falluja and noted the huge increase in birth defects  and there has been "a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer" since the second assault.  Dahr shares:
Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.
Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.
"This is the first instance of something like this in all our family," Rahim told Al Jazeera. "We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?"
John Glaser ( adds, " columnist Kelley B. Vlahos wrote a brilliant piece in April 2011 in The American Conservative cataloguing the scientific support behind the conclusion that this ongoing suffering in Fallujah is caused by the U.S. weapons used in America's siege of the city in 2004."
Thomas Seiberg (The National) reports, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime miniser has started a bid to end the power struggle in Iraq, warning that religious strife had turned the neighbouring country into a 'sea of blood'. Mr Erdogan was scheduled to talk to Nouri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, by telephone yesterday. There was no word on whether a statement would be released afterwards." Today's Zaman adds, "In a telephone conversation late on Tuesday, Erdogan told Maliki that transformation of mistrust into animosity toward a coalition partner will negatively affect democracy in Iraq, a veiled warning to the Iraqi prime minister that his latest arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is a blow to democracy in the war-torn country." Hurriyet Daily News reports on a speech Erdogan gave Tuesday "to his party's parliamentary group" in which he alluded to Nouri al-Maliki, "Without naming him directly, Erdoğan slammed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying 'a positive outcome cannot be expected from a mindset which is sending tanks to besiege the homes of ministers from his own coalition'." Nouri started that as soon as he returned to Iraq after his meet up with Barack Obama in DC. Saturday, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) reported, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." Nouri received praise yesterday as well, Al Mada reports. The militant group Army of the Mujahideen declared support for Nouri and his efforts to form a "single and unified Iraq" . . and that they claimed that they had been behind the rocket attack on the Green Zone ceremony celebrating the creation of the Iraqi Army.

Iraq's political crisis continues. Al Mada notes that President Jalal Talabani has called for a meeting next week for a 'wider' conference and that he had a meeting yesterday with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Nouri. Al Sabaah states that KRG President Massoud Barzani has stated he will not attend but will send an emissary to the conference and that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has praised the efforts of Talabani to start a national dialogue. But, Al Mada adds, if the conference were held in the KRG, Barzani would attend and that his office is stating any national meet-up should be in a mutually agreed upon location. Supposedly, later this year, the Arab Summit will take place in Baghdad. This summit has been repeatedly postponed due to safety concerns. Safety concerns might be among the reasons that Barzani feels the meet-up should be held in the KRG. Safety concerns might include that another of Nouri's supporters might rocket attack the Green Zones. Dar Addustour explains the wider conference next week will involve more participants -- this is not the often called for national conference but a conference to explore the national conference. Alsumaria TV elaborates that next week's planned conference will include more representatives in the political process. As for the national conference, Aswat al-Iraq quotes State of Law MP Ali al-Alaq stating, "The reason behind holding the conference in Baghdad is to show its sovereign role following US forces withdrawal and as an emblem for national unity."
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about Iraq. We still have 15,000, 17,000 civilians there, as I understand it. Are you confident that they're safe?
SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: We're confident that we have an Iraqi government and an Iraqi security force that is capable of dealing with the security threats that are there now. The level of violence has been down. It's been down for a long time. And even though we've had these periodic acts of violence, that's something we've experienced there for a long time. But the bottom line is that the Iraqis can provide good security and that our people can be secure in what we they're doing there.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But I mean, the fact of the matter is, we've had over 100 people killed just this week there, have we not? As this-- these various attacks have come about, and...
SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: Bob, you're right. We're going to see those kinds of acts of violence take place. But when you look at the level of violence overall, it is down and it has been down, mainly because the Iraqis have been able, effectively, to develop good security. And that's important.

Americans (and the world) have heard that bulls**t of "we're going to see those kinds of acts of violence take place" since 2003 following the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner.  It's Tony Hayward BP time: "We're sorry.  We're sorry."  Because it is and has been the standard response, it doesn't address the political crisis and makes the administration sound either uninformed or uncaring (or both).
Senator John McCain: Secretary Panetta mentioned in Iraq. In all due respect, Iraq is unraveling. It's unraveling because we didn't keep a residual force there because the President of the United States pledged to get out of Iraq [clears throat] and we could have kept a residual force there and kept some stability. Instead, it's unraveling and Iran's influence is increasing. And there's every possibility you could see a very chaotic situation --

Bob Schieffer: You think there's a civil war coming there?

Senator John McCain: I think there's clearly an unraveling going on which could eventually lead basically into three different kind of states in Iraq. We needed to keep a residual force there and that is what the Bush administration envisioned and that is what we should have done. We never gave them a number until, in the words of General Dempsey, the numbers cascaded down to 3,500. The Iraqis were ready to deal on this issue. The administration did not give them a number. And so what the perception is now, particularly in that part of the world, is that the United States is weak and withdrawing. And that is also having its effect in other places including emboldening Iran. Leading from behind is not what this world needs. And we still do have the best military in the world. And we still do have the most efficient and we still do have the most effective ways --

Bob Schieffer: Well let me just ask you, you heard Secretary Panetta said he's confident that there's an Iraqi army in place that could protect those 15 to 17,000 Americans that are still there. Are you confident that those people are safe?

Senator John McCain: Of course not.

Bob Schieffer: And what would happen? We have to go back?

Senator John McCain: No, I think we would have to withdraw them. Look, what Secretary Panetta may not understand -- and I have great admiration and respect for him -- that the situation is unraveling. The Vice President of Iraq is now hiding out in Erbil. There is militias and death squads operating. There is a breakdown in the Iraqi government. And there will be increased tensions on the border between the Kurdish areas of Iraq and the other areas of Iraq. And all of these could have been avoided if we had led rather than followed.

One party sounds concerned, the other sounds ho-hum.  Remember what happened to Tony Hayward as he did his blah-blah over and over and the world grew more and more enraged?  He and BP parted ways.  And there was no public outcry of, "How could they do that to Tony!"  There was a sense of he got what he had coming.  Why the administration -- which responded so poorly during the Gulf Disaster -- thinks Tony Hayward's is the behavior to role model is beyond me.  If this remains their approach and presentation, don't be surprised if a number of people begin saying, "Well, I don't agree with John McCain but he cares, you can tell he cares." 

Ali Hussein (Al Mada) reports on the political crisis and speaks with a member of Parliament to ask whether the current situation was planned by Nouri or whether it was a huge miscalculation on Nouri's part? The feeling is that Nouri's sparked a crisis which leaves the country's very future "hanging by a thread" and Iraqis had expected this time to be one of peace and hope, having survived Saddam and the US occupation; however, now the political scene grows "darker and darker" and Nouri attempts to seize power from his political rivals. Iraqi politicians fear that Barack Obama made a miscalculation (regarding US troops) and that this will be "the last bullet fired on Iraq."
Yes, it is a crisis.  Jon Hemming (Reuters) reports the Kurds aren't willing to hand Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi over to Baghdad.  Nouri officially started the crisis by charging al-Hashemi with terrorism.  The vice president was already in the KRG at the time and has remained there as President Jalal Talabani's house guest. That they weren't just going to hand over was covered in Monday's snapshot, that was the point of the press conference the spokesperson for the judge held.  Hemming reports Kurdish officials state that Nouri should accept al-Hashemi's request for a trial held somewhere other than Baghdad. (Nouri controls the Baghdad courts.)  It's doubtful any political rival of Nouri's would feel comfortable being tried in Baghdad.
Reuters notes today's violence includes the assassination of Mayor Saeed Hamdan in Hit, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left five people injured, and, dropping back to Tuesday night for the next two a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left nine people injured and a Qaim attack on a police checkpoint in which 3 police officers were killed (and 1 assailant).
Turning to Iraq discussed in the US.  And e-mails.  Contrary to what some visitors e-mail, I haven't endorsed anyone for president.  I haven't said, "I'll vote for ___ for president."  As Elaine noted last night, what I'm actually leaning towards is just not voting for the first time in my adult life.  Before yesterday's snapshot went up, before it was even dicated, I knew someone would e-mail to insist that saying Steve Inskeep should focus on policies and not fashion would be seen as an endorsement of Mitt Romney and sure enough it was.  Sunday night, I noted John McCain which led to a lot of dumb e-mails.  A number of visitors seem to think he's running for president in 2012.  A smaller number saw it as my attempt to raise Jon Huntsman profile.  Oh, I am crafty!  'Noting John McCain's remarks on Iraq,'  I secretly thought, 'will allow Hunstman to win the New Hampshire primaries!'  Right?  Because McCain endorsed . . . Romney.  Get your facts straight.  But, some insisted, John was noted and Leon Panetta wasn't and I never, ever noted Rick Perry's comments from the weekend so I must be endorsing Rick Perry.
Let's start with Rick Perry. Of all the GOP contenders, Perry's gotten slammed the hardest here.  That's because he was a governor and we cover Iraq and I note deaths and I note when NO ONE in the state of the fallen, not one politician, issues a public statement about the death.  He was governor -- he is governor -- and Texas has lost a number of service members in the Iraq War.  His failure to do what my governor (Jerry Brown) does immediately is appalling.  And we've called him out repeatedly.  Saturday night, I wasn't in the mood for Iraq as noted near the end of this entry.  I wasn't in the mood for all the people who won't recognize the realities of the deaths and the destruction.  I was not in the mood.  I did mention the Perry thing to Jim (who was reading over my shoulder as I wrote the Saturday night entries) and he and others (not Ava and I) attempted a piece on that for Third that never worked out.  (I didn't read it, I wasn't in the mood.) 
Monday's the first time it could have appeared and New Hampshire was Tuesday.  I've slammed Perry harder than any other GOP candidate and now, a day before the primary, I'm going to slam him again?  I didn't see the point (nor did I want to wade through a transcript of the debate).  We've covered his failure to note the fallen, in his role of governor, we've noted his attack on Barack Obama regarding the parades is insane considering (a) he (Perry) can't even note the fallen and (b) he's a governor.  He can put on a parade tomorrow if he wants one.  (However, I was told Texas had decided to hold their parade in November on Veterans Day.  If true, Perry may need to explain why that is if he's going around demanding others hold parades.)
John McCain was noted over Leon Panetta.  Panetta is Secretary of Defense.  Panetta is also someone I know.  That has not prevented me from calling him out on hearings or other issues.  But to do that, I need to have the energy to do it.  Having worked all Sunday morning on Third Estate Sunday Review (including Ava and I doing a major rewrite of our TV piece at the last minute Sunday night to include other topics and make the piece harder hitting at Jim's request), I just wasn't in the mood to take Leon to task if he needed it.  And the way things work, when I have no energy left at all is when I usually have to find it due to events.  Also true, I know Leon meaning I know when he's not telling the truth, I know when he's lying.  If he was lying -- and these days there's half a chance of it due to administration policies -- I just wasn't in the mood to take someone I know and like to the woodshed.  That's why we went with McCain.   We'll go into this topic one more time Thursday night (not in the snapshot) and that will be it for this topic here in 2012.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ron Paul has strong New Hampshire showing

Ron Paul came in second tonight in the New Hampshire GOP primary with over 23% of the votes.

He had a good speech where he joked about how they (he and his supporters) were called "dangerous" and how that was a good thing.  While he was speaking, his supporters were chanting "President Ron Paul! President Ron Paul!"

That would be something, wouldn't it?

We could finally put a stop to empire and do like many European countries have by focusing on our domestic needs.

Some idiot will feel the need to e-mail me that Ron Paul will destroy domestic needs or some such b.s.  I'm not interested in your ill thought out, uninformed views.  You need to turn off Democracy Now and all the other crap you've been listening to, grow the hell up and realize what a president does these days and what she or he doesn't do.

They declare wars.  They start undeclared wars.


Congress is over that.  Ron Paul would have a bully pulpit to argue from but he would not effect spending on domestic programs.

I talked to C.I. this morning a little before elven and she was telling me about this e-mail accusing her of supporting this person or that person.  (From visitors, not from members.)  She said, "I'll get e-mails after I do the snapshot today because I'm defending Mitt Romney from bad journalism."  But there are some visitors who can't accept the fact that she's not endorsing.

She didn't endorse in 2008, she's not going to endorse here.

She'll tell you who she won't vote for.  She will not vote for Barack.  Other than that, she's not thinking about voting except to think about NOT voting for the first time in her life.

I'm endorsing Ron Paul.  I've been endorsing Ron Paul.

I'm not C.I.

Get this, though.  It's not just if she defends someone from bad press that she's accused of endorsing someone.  She's ignored Rick Perry and she's being accused of endorsing him since she didn't call out his weekend remarks.

Why would she?

The primary was today.  She's not going to get involved in that nonsesne and she's already called out Rick Perry pretty clearly.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills:
Tuesday, January 10, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, if the media doesn't cover realities for Iraqis why would you blame the American people for not knowing about them, the State Dept continues their public lackadaisical presentation, and more.
To put a face on war, Susie Day pens the essay "Dead Iraqis Occupy Wall Street" (Monthly Review):

With the war in Iraq now officially over and the Occupy Wall Street movement less visible, life in New York was expected to return to normal. Instead, several recent passersby in Manhattan's financial district have reported seeing thousands of deceased Iraqi civilians taking up residence at Zuccotti Park. The park served for two months in the fall of 2011 as a protest base for thousands of OWS activists.
Although the Iraqis remain largely silent and immobile, some witnesses claim to have seen individual deceased mothers, students, and the elderly holding up the backs of old pizza boxes, on which have been scrawled the English words, "Remember Me."
Public reaction has been mixed. Some say the dead are "occupying" the park in nonviolent protest; others accuse the Iraqis of faking their own deaths in order to flout U.S. immigration laws. The Bloomberg administration, having evicted hundreds of living protesters from the park in mid-November, has thus far maintained a wary tolerance.

Meanwhile John Robles (Voice of Russia -- link is text and audio) interviews De
John Tirman (Washington Post) mused on US President Barack Obama's speech. (For the record, as we noted the day Barack gave that speech, if you're president of the United States you don't say "nearly 4,5000 members of the US armed forces who died in Iraq," you give the exact number or you and your staff haven't done the job needed.) Tirman
notes Barack's speech included nothing about the dead or injured Iraqis and offers, "This inattention to civilian deaths in America's wars isn't unique to Iraq. There's little evidence that the American public gives much thought to the people who live in nations where our military interventions take place."

We're always so quick to blame the American people.  Why is that?  Do they control the newspapers and the radio and the TV?  If people should care -- and I believe they should -- then the media should be covering it.  If it's not being covered, it's really cowardly to blame the American people when you haven't said one damn word about the American media.
How would the American people know about, for example, Iraqis right now? 
Traveling sea gull?
If the media's not covering it, then that's a media issue, it's not an American people issue. Quit blaming We The People for the crimes of The Few The Media.  As the year drew to a close on December 31st, McClatchy and NPR closed their Baghdad bureaus, joining ABC, NBC and CBS, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe and countless others, go down the list.  How are Americans supposed to know the realities for Iraqis when they can't get coverage of Iraq?
But don't worry, they're spending their money and time well.  For example, if NPR were still providing coverage from Iraq, listeners of Morning Edition might not know, thanks to Steve Inskeep, that Mitt Romney spoke at a Saturday event in "jeans and an open-collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up."  Here's some reality, if Steve Inskeep wants to work for Women's Wear Daily, he needs to try to get hired there.  It might not be easy, their standards are a bit higher than those of National Public Radio.  But while he's on NPR doing 'news' -- and this is true for others at NPR as well as PBS -- unless Mitt Romney -- or any other candidate -- shows up for a speech in just underwear or nude, it's not really news what they're wearing.  It's chatter.  It wastes our time.  It ensures that real issues are never addressed.  It's not news.
While the bulk of All Things Media Big and Small ignore Iraq, independent journalist Dahr Jamail has returned to the country.  Dahr (Centre for Global Research) observes, "As a daily drumbeat of violence continues to reverberate across Iraq, people here continue to struggle to find some sense of normality, a task made increasingly difficult due to ongoing violence and the lack of both water and electricity. [. . .] Iraq continues to have a cash economy; meaning there are no credit cards, almost no checking accounts, no transfer of electronic funds, and only a few ATMs.  Iraq lacks a functioning postal service, has no public transporation, nor a national airline -- and most goods sold in Iraq are imported."
And if you turn away
because there is no lesson here
I will hold my awkward bowl,
with all its cracked stars shining
like a complicated lie,
and fasten a new skin around it
as if I were dressing an orange
or a strange sun.
Not that it was beautiful,
but that I found some order there.
-- "For John, Who Begs Me Not To Enquire Futher" written by Anne Sexton
As noted Saturday, "What did protesters tell CNN last month? They begged CNN not to leave Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Why? Because when the press left, Nouri's forces would attack the protesters. (And did.) Across the world, we all have the power to shine a light on what's going in Iraq."  Today Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link is video) files an important report:
Jomana Karadsheh: Last month, Oday al-Zaidy and a small group of people gathered in a Baghdad square to celebrate the US media withdrawal planning to burn the US flag.  But more than 200 security forces swarmed around them, banned us from filming and stopped the protests because they said the group had not obtained a permit.  But they still managed to burn the flag.  Oday and others were beaten up and detained for a day. Security officials say, they assaulted policemen, something the group denies.  "Democracy in Iraq is an illusion," Oday says.  "An American illusion and an American lie.  Whoever wants to see that for themselves, should come and see what's been happening in Iraq since February 25th."  That's when thousands of Iraqis -- partly influenced by the Arab Spring -- took to the streets of cities across the country protesting against corruption and a lack of basic services. [Gun shots are heard and security forces move in.]  But from the start, they were met by a fierce crackdown.  The government denies an orchestrated effort to put down protests, saying there were just minor violations committed by to put down protests by individual security officers.  Activists groups disagree.  Human Rights Watch says the violations have been systematic and ongoing documenting dozens of cases where protesters were beaten up, detained and, in some cases, even tortured.
Human Rights Watch's Samer Muscati:  People are afraid to go to demonstrations, are afraid of being rounded up, of being assaulted, of being beat up, of being followed to their own homes.
Jomana Karadsheh:  And this is what has happened almost a year since the protests began here in Baghdad's own Tahrir or Liberation Square the scene is very different from last February. Activists say the crowd here has significantly dwindled over recent months and most of those present on this Friday say they are supporters of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  This crowd behind me has been chanting against two of the prime minister's two main political rivals -- Ayad Allawi and Saleh al-Mutlaq.  Banners like these around the square praise "the wisdom and courage" of Mr. Maliki.
Human Rights Watch's Samer Muscati:  I think really we are at a critical juncture and we are at a crossroads and Iraq right now, from what we see, is a budding police state.  And hopefully that will change but all indications now are that things are actually going to deteriorate even more.
Baghdad Operations Command Spokesperson Qassim Atta: Our country is still suffering from terrorism and security forces are highly sensitive and ready for the worst possibilities and it is their right to protect public security. There should be no generalization.  These human rights organizations can visit Tahrir Square every week to see the protests.
Jomana Karadsheh: But those who dare venture out have a different story.  As we try to speak to this protester, we're interrupted by government supporters.  Protesters say they're intelligence agents. For now, there are still some who refuse to back down despite the intimidation campaign. 
Iraqi Male: The Republic of Iraq! Every time he's dead! Kill! Dead! Kill! Why?
Jomana Karadsheh:  As this man cries out against the government, Maliki's supporters move right in, drowing out the calls for change.  Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Baghdad.
 A police state.  Well aren't we lucky the US isn't spending billions training the Iraqi police.  Oh.  Wait.  The US tax payer is on the hook for training the potential police of a police state.  Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) explained in October, "Since 2003, the United States has spent about $8 billion to train, staff and equip Iraqi police forces. With the U.S. military preparing to leave Iraq at the end of December, responsibility for the police training program transferred to the State Department this month. The department has requested $887 million to continue operating the program this fiscal year."
When not busying themselves with preventing freedom of assembly, Nouri's thugs focus on other speech issues, like journalism.  Dahr Jamal (Al Jazeera) reports:
According to [Iraq's Society for Defending Press Freedom's Oday] Hattem, if a journalists reports critically "that means this journalist will lose his life".
Like Hussein, Hattem sees the situation worsening on all fronts.
"The political and freedom of speech situations are both descending," he said. "Maliki launched an attack on freedom of speech in February 2010, when he arrested tens of journalists and human rights activists after the beginning of demonstrations in Baghdad."
US President Barack Obama, during a December 12, 2011, press conference with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, had nothing but high praise for the state of press freedom in Maliki's Iraq:
So we're partnering to strengthen the institutions upon which Iraq's democracy depends - free elections, a vibrant press, a strong civil society, professional police and law enforcement that uphold the rule of law, an independent judiciary that delivers justice fairly, and transparent institutions that serve all Iraqis.
Three days later, Iraq's Society for Defending Press Freedom filed an appeal with Iraq's High Federal Court against Maliki's government and its "Journalists Rights Law", which the group said contradicted four articles from Iraq's constitution. 
And that's what the US has backed and continues to back.  Even now.
Let's note some of today's violence.   AFP counts 8 dead and seventeen injured in today's violence including a Saadiyah roadside bombing which claimed the life of Iraqi military Col Hassan Ali and injured three of his bodyguards. Mazin Yahya (AP) counts 10 dead today and emphasizes three young boys -- all ten or under -- killed in a Tikrit roadside bombing.  Both note a Shurqat sticky bombing which claimed the lives of 2 people who worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and left another injured.  Reuters also notes a Baghdad home invasion in which 1 "Iraqi private bank manager and her husband" were killed last night.
Vestnik Kavkaza reports, "The US has made a big mistake by withdrawing from Iraq, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, reports. Erdogan met his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg and reminded him that he had warned US president and vice-president about repercussions from such step. The Turkish premier noted that the situation in Iraq remains tense and inter-religious conflicts may arise at any moments. Turkey is a neighboring state and cannot remain indifferent to the situation. He added that Iran is planned to be involved in the process." KUNA also notes Erdogan making public statements of concern about what's taking place in Iraq and they offer this context, "Erdogan made these remarks amidst political conflict between the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's rule of law coalition and the Iraqiya List after a judicial committee issued an arrest warrant for vice-president Tareq Al-hashimi on terrorism charges."

Meanwhile the US government has nothing to say. As we noted Sunday, that's how you end up the loser. More and more statements are being made about the state of Iraq. By other countries. And the US response? At the State Dept for two weeks they more or less parroted the same response guessing (correctly) that doing so would mean reporters would lose interest. And by the end of last week, journalists had given up -- a stance that continued yesterday.

So as the crisis continues in Iraq and as people -- in the US and around the world -- see various government officials weighing in, don't be surprised when the attitude is: "The US destroyed Iraq and now they just don't care."

They're begging for that to be the image.

And heaven forbid the crisis grow worse and really bloody. At which point the reaction will be, "Why didn't the US government even give a damn?"

(They never gave a damn because, beginning in 2006, they made the decision that Nouri was the US future and mattered more than Iraqis. This lack of concern for Iraqis was a thread in the Bush administration and one picked up and continued by the Barack administration.)

Adam Schreck (AP) notes, "Administration officials acknowledge that Iraq is mired in its worst government crisis since Hussein's ouster, with no obvious answers because of longstanding sectarian and regional rivalries, and newer schisms caused by political maneuvering. The task is Iraq's now, they insist, with the United States only advising and providing aid." On the first sentence, it's a shame they refuse to indicate that publicly on the record. On the second sentence, it's a shame they're such liars. How many billions is the US pumping into Iraq this year? And how many weapons are being sought by Iraq right now? And how desperate is Iraq to get out of Chapter VII at the UN? Those are only some of the influence levers the US has.
In today's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about Iraq and offered more banal statements.
QUESTION: Toria, I forget, is it today that she's speaking with the staff in Iraq?
MS. NULAND: Yes, she spoke to them this morning. She did.
QUESTION: Yeah. What did she say?
MS. NULAND: She had a phone call yesterday with our staff in Afghanistan and she had a phone call today with our staff in Iraq. These were New Year's Day calls. Both of those staffs work extremely hard, seven days a week in most cases. They work under extreme conditions. And I think it was an opportunity to thank them for the work that they both did last year and to give them a pep talk going forward, because they're both also shepherding important transitions in our relationships with both countries.
QUESTION: Right. And on the Iraq part, is there any early indication of how things are going now that the transition is happening?
MS. NULAND: In terms of the State Department picking up --
QUESTION: Troops out. Yeah. Right.
MS. NULAND: -- the lead, we're working it through. As we've said from the beginning, this is -- it's a daunting effort, but we believe that we're up to the task. I think you've seen that that Embassy's been extremely busy, led by Ambassador Jeffrey, in its work with all of the Iraqi political parties to encourage them to talk to each other and encourage an Iraqi-owned process of national dialogue among the key leaders. So that continues, as do all of our civilian support opportunities and our training opportunities.
No concerns expressed at all.  You know who the administration is sounding like, right?  Tony Hayward, BP's Tony Hayward, during the Gulf Disaster.  In fact, they're sounding worse than that, they're sounding like South Park's parody of Tony Hayward.

People are paying attention the political crisis -- people in the US, people around the world.  And the administration is choosing to sound like Tony Hayward.  Not a smart move.

Along with attempting to have Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested, Nouri is also attempting to have Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq arrested. Though Parliament has refused to take up Nouri's demand (Nouri cannot strip anyone of their Cabinet post, he needs the approval of Parliament), Dar Addustour notes Nouri is already attempting to find a replacement and is eyeing Jamal Karbouli. Al Mada adds that Nouri began discussions with Karbouli about this post on Sunday. Hayder al-Khoei had an article Sunday at the Guardian which Al Mada summarizes here. al-Khoei is reminding that the conflict is (thus far) between political rivals and not sects. Ayad Allawi, for example, heads Iraqiya and he is of the same sect as Nouri al-Maliki. We'll note the second to the last paragraph from the Guardian article:
Interestingly, and perhaps even more telling, Ayatollah Sistani blamed politicians for the recent crisis without taking sides. In 2005 Sistani stood by the Shia political parties and helped them get into power. Today Sistani refuses to meet politicians, regardless of sect, because he believes they have failed to provide services. Again, there is a Najaf-Baghdad complex at play that has received little attention.
Turning to the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:
Tuesday, January 10, 2012              (202) 224-2834
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Thursday, January 12, 2012, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will hold a listening session to hear from area veterans on local challenges and to discuss her efforts to improve veterans care and benefits nationwide.  Senator Murray is Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.  Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she hears on Thursday to bring local concers to Washington, D.C.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
          Local veterans
WHAT: Veterans listening session with Senator Murray
WHEN: Thursday, January 12, 2012
             1:15 PM PT
WHERE: VFW Post 379
               118 S. 5th Ave.
               Yakima, WA 98902
It is the 10th anniversary of the illegal prison on Guantanamo.  John Robles (Voice of Russia -- link is text and audio) interviews Debra Sweet. Excerpt.

John Robles: My first question regards the National Defense Authorization Act, under which an Indefinite Detention Clause was passed, also censorship under the SOPA act. Starting with the PATRIOT Act, it seems like human rights have been stripped away one after the other in the US. Would you characterize the US as a police state?

Debra Sweet: I don't know that I would characterize the US across the board as a police state. Certainly, in many other countries and historically there are places where people can't even gather, not to mention US-backed states, where protesters have been shot and killed during the Arab Spring with impunity. A lot of that comes back to the US backing of very authoritarian governments around the world. One can say that, since 9/11, since the Bush regime used the attack on the World Trade Center as a pretext to unleash an endless war on the world, apparently it's been continued by the next administration. Civil liberties and the protection of the first ten amendments have been, which are known in the US as the Bill of Rights, has been severely restricted and now we see that what the US instituted 10 years ago, on January 11th 2002, when it opened its illegal prison in Guantanamo, it allowed the US for years to hold men with no access to Habeas Corpus right, no charges against them. And, in fact, there have been very intense court battles within the US to try to get those men any rights at all. And, in fact, 171 are still being held indefinitely. All this has become a model, as a way that the US can keep people indefinitely without charges and now, as you are mentioning, under the law that Barack Obama signed last Saturday, on the last day of the year, there is a situation where the US now, through the President, can hold people indefinitely under custody of the US military. And this definitely includes US citizens, as well as anyone else. This is under charges "suspicion of involvement with terrorism". You may call it a police state -- and it has a real fascist tinge to it, because it's setting out a situation where people can be grabbed based on what the President thinks you are thinking about and presumably held by the military forever either in this country or outside of it. And we understand that the US has employed "black sites", third-country prisons, in addition to what it's done in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo.
Debra Sweet is with The World Can't Wait which is not only noting the 10th anniversary of the opening of the illegal prison in Guantanamo but is also calling for actions this week including Wednesday January 11th:

Sign up for Washington DC action

Andy Worthington's Appearances Around the Country
Protests in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco and More

January 11, 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo. A broad coalition of groups: Center for Constitutional Rights, Code Pink, No More Guantánamos, Pax Christi Physicians for Human Rights, Torture Abolition and Survivors Network, Voices for Creative Non-Violence, War Criminals Watch, War Resisters League, Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International USA and World Can't Wait - is calling for a major demonstration in Washington, DC and solidarity actions elsewhere to ensure accountability for torture, unlawful detention and other human rights violations committed by the US government in the name of national security. And to demand:
• the closure of Guantánamo by ending indefinite detention and military commissions;
• the end of torture and impunity for torture;
• the end of unlawful detention at Bagram and all US facilities;
• the end of Islamophobia and discrimination;
• and support for all detainees either being charged and fairly tried, or released to countries that will respect their human rights.

The primary action in DC is a human chain of 2,771 people in orange jumpsuits representing the people still detained without charge or fair trial at Guantánamo and Bagram stretching from the White House to the Capitol. We will chant, we will hold signs, we will not be silent.

Find out more about Guantánamo, Bagram, indefinite detention and torture.