"Defeat George W. Bush!" (Peter Breschard, Dissident Voice):
How can any reasonable person vote for George W. Bush again?
Why would any sane American cast a ballot for Bush to serve a fourth
It’s horrific enough that we still have troops in Afghanistan but in
this present term, George W. has stepped out of line so many times, it
boggles the mind.
Remember the sweetheart deal he cut with the giant pharmaceutical
companies three years ago? He effectively tied the hands of the entire
U.S. government and allowed the druggies to steal as much as they want.
America has to pay whatever price the drug companies say? No
Remember how George W. finally got Bob Dole’s health care hustle
passed? George signed a bill which forced millions of Americans to fork
over trillions of dollars to private insurance companies. How’s that for
a Republican wet dream? He didn’t allow universal health care to come
up for discussion. Remember when he promised he’d never sign a bill
which didn’t at least contain a public option? And what a boondoggle.
This government has never before forced a citizens, just because they
happen to be breathing, to purchase a product from a private company.
What a precedent. Who knows what you’ll be forced to buy next? Buy
Kleenex, it will save the government oodles of money. You think that’s
funny? There’s precedent for it.
And how about that Wall Street bailout? Sure, maybe it had to be
done, but shouldn’t he at least put one or two of the crooks from the
Street in jail for a couple of months? Must be that prosecuting other
Ivy League guys simply isn’t done.
If you didn't get it, Breschard's referring to Barack. It's a clever tactic. Some readers will start reading, check the date, see it is from this year and realize it's about Barack.
Bully Boy Bush has now had three terms. He doesn't deserve a fourth.
People are imprisoned falsely, on fake evidence in many cases, the Constitution is shredded and he's got one war after another.
That's not what people who voted for him in 2008 thought they were getting.
Maybe Breschard's strategy will wake them up?
I hope so. Something needs to.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Chaos and violence, UNAMI's mandate is
extended another year, Tareq al-Hashemi discusses the case against him,
Iraqi forces continue to attack protesters but Iraqis continue to
protest, the US Congress hosts a hodgepodge of a hearing with one
member possibly getting trippy, and more.
This morning, US House Rep Jeff Miller noted that "in 1961 John F.
Kennedy said we'd put a man on the moon, eight years later, we were
there. We're talking about an integrated electronic health records by
2017. Why could we put a man on the moon in eight years and we're not
starting from ground zero on the electronic health record -- why is it
taking so long?" He was asking that of the Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki who were
appearing before a joint-hearing of the House Armed Services and House
Veterans Affairs Committee.
Of course no real answer was given. A grinning -- apparently amused --
Shinseki began his non-answer by declaring that "I can't account for the
previous ten years." Though he didn't say it, he also apparently
couldn't account for the three years that he's been Secretary of the
VA. Three years and seven months. You'd think Shinseki would be able
to speak to the issue. He couldn't. He could offer that he met with
Panetta four times this year with plans for a fifth meeting. This was
the same amount he met with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
but, apparently, in a few months less time. I have no idea what that
or his ridiculous grin was about.
But I do think Shinseki may have inadvertantly provided an answer for
the delay when he went on to declare, "It's taken us seventeen months
to get to an agreement that both Secretary Panetta and I signed that
describes the way forward." There's the problem right there.
Back in March 2011 what was Shinseki bragging about? As Bob Brewin (Nextgov.com) reported
"Veteran Affairs Sectretary Eric Shinseki said Thursday he and Defense
Secretary Robert Gates agreed on March 17 that their departments would
develop a common electronic health record system." So that was agreed
to in March 2011. But it took Shinseki and and Gates 17 months to
figure out how? There's your time waster right there. And it was not
needed. Shinseki and Panette did not need to 'invent' a damn thing.
This is not a new issue. VA has long ago addressed what they need with
regards to records and DoD has identified the same. And after this had
been done (and redone), Robert Dole and Donna Shalala served on the Dole
-Shalala Commission coming up with many of the same things. The Dole
-Shalala Commission was established in 2007 and formally known as the
President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded
Warriors. Appearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee
February 7, 2008, VA's Dr. James Peake testified that this electronic
record was "a critical recommendation in the Dole-Shalala Commission
The hearing meant nothing for progress on that issue. It was an
embarrassment. Leon Panetta can take comfort in the fact that he's only
now about to hit the one-year mark but Shinseki was sworn in back in
January. Shinseki will get easy press at the end of his term and no
one will complain about the foot dragging, the refusal to utilize the
work that was already done -- that tax payers footed the bill for over
and over -- and instead to take a laid back and non-rush attitude
towards something identified as "critical" by a presidential commission
back in 2007.
US House Rep Susan Davis would ask about the lack of coordination
between VA and DoD and also about "the kind of counselors that are
needed for this" -- the influx of veterans expected as the Afghanistan
War draws down -- and will be aware of the service member issues and
resources and veterans issues and resources? Training was the reply
from Panetta to a question that probably required something more than a
Other issues were brought up. For example, Sequestration was
discussed. This is an automatic measure that will kick in if the buget
is not balanced. Established in the hearing is the Veterans Affairs
will not be effected but the Defense Dept will be.
Chair Buck McKeon: As I've already said, we know there's high
unemployment among our veterans -- our young veterans. And we know with
the 487 billion cut in defense, we will have a hundred thousand leaving
the military. We will have another hundred thousand if the
sequestration takes effect. What plans do you have to ensure that these
service members will not go from the front lines to the unemployment
lines? And how do you see potential reduction in the Defense workforce
resulting from the sequestration and what effect will that have on --
what will you be able to do to try to move them into some kind
of meaningful employment? Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Leon Panetta: Well I sure as hell hope sequestration doesn't happen.
Chair Buck McKeon: I'm with you.
Secretary Leon Panetta: It would be -- as I said -- time and time
again, a disaster for the Department as far as our budget is concerned
and as far as our ability to respond to the threats that are out there.
And it would have a huge impact. It takes -- It doubles the cuts in
the military. It would obviously add another hundred thousand that
would have to be reduced and the impact of that on top of the reductions
that are currently going to take place would place a huge burden on the
systems to be able to respond to that. I think that it would be near
impossible to do the work that we're trying to do and make it work
effectively. I think that we can handle what we've proposed in our
budget and the drawdown numbers that are coming now. We've tried to do
this pursuant to a rational strategy over these next five years. And I
think the systems that we are working on and what we are trying to put
together in place, I'm confidant in that. But if sequestration should
happen and be put on top of it, I think it could really strain the
Chair Buck McKeon: Mr. Secretary, could you please give us that input for the record.
US House Rep Buck McKeon is Chair of the House Armed Services Committee,
House Rep Adam Smith is Ranking Member. On the House Veterans Affairs
Committee, the leadership is Chair Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Bob
Filner. There are many things that will be takeaways from today's
hearing. But the real take away should be Shinseki's ridiculous
statement about the 'progress' on the eletronic medical record front,
"The fact that we've agreed upon a concept is, I think,
Listening to that, it was hard not to recall Ranking Member Filner's
opening remarks, specifically this: "The issues that we have, we've been
talking as a Congress and with the Executive Branch for many, many
years. Decades in fact. We've got to break down the bureaucratic
stuff that keeps us from having a common health record system. I mean
it just -- People die because that system is not integrated enough. It
seems this is not beyond our capacity to get those systems integrated."
He said those words before either witness had spoken. 20 years in
Congress did not make Bob Filner psychic but it has made him one of the
most informed members of Congress on veterans issues.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: In a democracy where you need obviously
the support and vote of people to go to war, the cost of war is a pretty
important item to understand. And treating our veterans is obviously
part of the cost of war and should be considered that. I have tried on
several occasions to add an amendment to any war appropriations, 15 to
20% surcharge because that's the difference in your budgets for
veterans. And of course since we've been borrowing money for war,
nobody wants to borrow the money for veterans. So it's not looked on
kindly. But part of the cost of war, you know, we have the statistics
show about 6,000 killed in action -- I'm sorry, 5,000 killed in action
since 9-11. And almost 50,000 wounded. And yet those who have showed
up at the VA for help -- and I know there are different definitions and
different circumstances -- I think it close to or could be over a
million. Why is there such a disparity between -- and it's important for
the public to understand what is the cost of war? How do you account
for a million veterans seeking help for problems in war and only 50,000
considered casualties? Mr. Panetta, I'll go to you first since you know
how to manipulate the two minutes, you're looking to him, I know, so
you don't have to answer?
Secretary Leon Panetta: Well, no, I mean it's -- it clearly is
the-the impact of war over the last 10 years and how it's effected those
who have served and they do return. When they come back, the reality
is that, uh, not -- not all of them -- not all of them are getting the
kind of care and benefits they should get. And it's our responsbility to
try to respond to those kind of needs as they return. This -- look,
this system's going to be overwhelmed. I mean, you know, let's-let's
not kid anybody, we're looking at a system that's already overwhelmed.
The likelihood is that we drawdown further troops and, uh, as we -- over
these next five years, assuming sequester doesn't happen, we are still
going to -- we are going to be adding another hundred thousand per
year. And the ability to be able to respond to that in a way that
effectively deals with the health care issues, with the benefits
issues, with all the other challenges. That is not going to be an easy
challenge. And, uh, the cost, you talk about the cost of-of war, this
is always part of the cost of war. It's not just dealing with fighting,
it's also dealing with the veterans who return and that is going to be a
big ticket item, if we're going to do this right.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I just hope you'll look at that boot camp idea as a way to really get at that issue.
What idea? Ava
's covering it tonight at Trina
US House Rep Silvestre Reyes noted his hope that they could do more
joint-hearings like this and, earlier, Ranking Member Bob Filner had
noted they had tried repeatedly to do a joint-hearing like this with the
two Secretaries but had been unsuccessful. If they do have another
hearing, they might want to have a basic topic. I have never sat
through such a disorganized hearing or heard someone muse at length --
and mistakenly, he would be corrected after -- as US House Rep Hank
Johnson did in the middle of the hearing. What was the point of any of
those remarks -- none of which were questions? You had two minutes to
ask either or both Panetta and Shinseki questions and instead you
offered some sort of enjambment poem?
Even in a scattershot hearing, that stood out. Why did he even show up? I asked Betty
father on the phone if veterans issues aren't a concern in the area?
(Betty's father, who is a veteran, is also a constituent of Hank
Johnson's.) And he couldn't understand why his representative wasted
the time instead of utilizing it. I sat through it and I still don't
know what that nonsense was?
"Back from the Battlefield" is probably too broad of a topic for a
hearing, let alone a joint-hearing. But many people did raise important
issues in their time. Take US House Rep Loretta Sanchez who sits on
the Armed Services Committee.
US House Rep Loretta Sanchez: In preparing for this hearing, I asked
my staff back in Orange County to go through the casework we have with
respect to veterans in transtion. And although we have a great
relationship with our VA in Longbeach and we have two clinics -- one in
Santa Ana and one in Anaheim -- in our district, the reality is that the
most troublesome area with respect to these cases involved the quality
and the lack of health care for our service members who are
transitioning from active or having been called up and now out into the
veteran world if you will. And, in fact, I have a lot of veterans who
come to my office and they express real concern about not receiving
treatment or having a longtime to wait for a speciality doctor, for
example. In Longbeach, it would be oncology where we must be
short-staffed or something of the sort. And the other really big
concern for them is being prepped up for surgery and then somebody on
the surgery team then doesn't show up -- out of whatever -- and then the
surgery is postponed.. And it isn't until these people come to my
office and we call in directly that we're able to get that
rescheduled. So my question is how are you addressing these types of
concerns with respect to health care and why, if a surgery's scheduled,
why aren't people showing up to be on that surgery team? And, more
importantly, why does it take a Congressional office to call to ask that
it be rescheduled?
Of course Shinseki had to take it for the record (meaning his office
will respond to her questions after they've looked into the matter,
respond outside the hearing). But you better believe veterans in her
district are about to find rescheduling postponed surgeries a lot
easier. She used her time wisely and served her constituents --
probably better than anyone else present (and that was just her first
Contrast that with Johnson's "spread my love for you publicly" and
"true gentleman" and "the underdog is now on top" rambles. Offering up
bios "become the Secretary of the Army -- Chairman of the Army? Or
whatever. Uhhhhmmm. Hmmm." At the end of his pause -- word -- pause
-- stumble what is one to say?
"Far out!"? "Groovy!"?
Maybe: "Who's holding?"
He stops his ramble to note he's hearing thing and then attempts to
reproduce the sound. When told his time has expired, he responds,
Again, what do you say after all that?
No one was served by that crap. No one. And if you're going to tell a
witness their own biography, have your facts straight. But better yet,
don't waste everyone's time with that garbage to begin with. It's a
real shame Johnson doesn't seem to believe that he has veterans in his
district and that they have needs that should have been addressed. That
was embarrassing and there's no excuse for it. Maybe Jay Leno
was right and we should be drug testing members of Congress
I have no idea but enduring that nonsense was like one of those
Congressional townhalls where you are all waiting hours to way in on an
issue but everyone has to first endure the idiot who brought a guitar
and can't sing and can't write a song but wants to force all gathered to
endure his little ditty as he stands at the mike.
It was a distraction and a diversion. Fortunately, others had serious issues to explore. Such as suicide.
US House Rep Mike Michaud: Quick question, and I want to read from a
Veterans Service Organization letter that they actually sent to Senator
[Jim] Webb just last week. And just part of it says, "The only branch
of the military to show a marked improvement decreasing the number of
persons taking their own life is the United States Marines. They should
also be praised for their active leadership from the very top in
addressing the problem and implementing the solutions. The remaining
services have yet to be motivated to take any substanative action. "
Secretary Panetta, I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan several times and
I've looked the generals in the eye and I've asked them what are they
doing personally to help the stigmatized TBI, PTSD? And the second
question is: Do they need any help? I get the same answer over there as
I do over here in DC: 'Everything's okay. We've got all the
resources we need. We don't need any help.' But the interesting thing
is someone much lesser ranked came up to me, after I asked the general
that question, outside and said, "We need a lot more help." And he
suggested that I talk to the clergy to find out what they are seeing
happening. And I did that trip and every trip since then. And I'm
finding that our service members are not getting the help that they
need. And my question, particularly after looking at this letter that
was sent to Senator Webb, it appears the Marines are doing a good job so
why is it so different between the Marines, the Army and other
branches? And can you address that?
Secretary Leon Panetta: You know -- Obviously, there's no silver
bullet here. I wish there were to try to deal with suicide prevention.
We-we have a new suicide prevention office that's trying to look at
programs to try to address this terrible epedemic. I mean, we are
looking. If you look at just the numbers, recent total are you've got
about 104 confirmed and 102 pending investigation in 2012. The total
of this is high,, almost 206. That's nearly one a day. That is an
epedemic. Something is wrong. Part of this is people are inhibited
because they don't want to get the care that they probably need. So
that's part of the problem, trying to get the help that's necessary.
Two, to give them access to the kind of care that they need. But three
-- and, again, I stress this because I see this in a number of other
areas, dealing with good discipline and good order and, uh, trying to
make sure that our troops are responding to the challenges -- it is the
leadership in the field. It's the platoon commander. It's the platoon
sergeant. It's the company commander. It's the company sergeant. The
ability to look at their people, to see these problems. To get ahead of
it and to be able to ensure that when you spot the problems, you're
moving that individual to the kind of-of assistance that they need in
order to prevent it. The Marines stay in close touch with their people.
That's probably one of the reasons that the Marines are doing a good
job. But what we're stressing in the other services is to try to
develop that-that training of the command. So that they two are able to
respond to these kinds of challenges.
US House Rep Mac Thornberry also raised the issue of suicides, noting Time magazine's
recent cover story (July 23rd issue), Mark Thompson &; Nancy Gibbs'
"One A Day: Every day, one U.S. soldier commits suicide. Why the
military can't defeat its most insidious enemy." He raised the issue of
"33% of all military suicides have never deployed overseas at all and
43% had deployed once." Panetta confirmed that statistic from the
article was accurate. Panetta argued that suicide is on the rise "in
the larger society" and that this is reflected within the military.
Chair McKeon wanted to know if the age group committing suicide in the
military was reflective of the age group doing the same in the civilian
sphere? Shinseki stated that in the age group of 15-34, suicide is the
third leading cause of death and, in the age group of 25 to 34, it is
the second leading cause of death.
There are three more members of Congress we may note from the hearing tomorrow.
The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)
for another year, while also reiterating its encouragement of further
progress in the country's security, humanitarian, human rights and
In a unanimously adopted
resolution, the 15- member body encouraged the Government of Iraq "to
continue strengthening democracy and the rule of law, improving security
and public order and combating terrorism and sectarian violence across
the country, and reiterating its support to the people and the
Government of Iraq in their efforts to build a secure, stable, federal,
united and democratic nation, based on the rule of law and respect for
The Council welcomed improvements in the Middle Eastern country's
security situation, while stressing that challenges remain and "that
improvements need to be sustained through meaningful political dialogue
and national unity."
In Qatar today, Al Jazeera landed an exclusive interview
with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. al-Hashemi is being tried
in absentia in Iraq. Nouri has declared him a terrorist. Nouri's court
has consistently ruled against him (this week they won't let him call
President Jalal Talabani as a character witness) and the same court held
a press conference in February announcing he was guilty before the
trial had even begun -- that he was guilty and that he was trying to
kill them. The insanity never ends when Nouri's left in charge of
Iraq. From the interview.
Stephen Cole: Now the Iraq government accused you of running the
death squads against Shia pilgrims, officials and security. What's your
official reaction to that?
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Thank you very much for this
interview. In fact, I could absolutely say there is no crime case.
There is a political case and all of these confessions, in fact, have
been accepted under severe torturing. And one of my guards being
killed. More missing. And unfortunately in fact, I didn't receive any
sort of fair trial as is written in the Constitution. Therefore, I've
been obliged to go and address the United Nations and NGOs to look after
my case, in fact.
Stephen Cole: And you say this is a political case against you.
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: That's right.
Stephen Cole: What do you mean by that? Are you saying a vendetta or what --
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemmi: Well the problem in fact is the
judicial system has already lost its neutrality and lost its
independence and is becoming just an instrument in the hand of the prime
minister -- Mr. Maliki, in fact -- who has a committee very close to
the circles surrounding him. This committee is in fact fabricating files
against the active politicians in Iraq like myself -- all the time
being seen and known as one of the most active advocate of national
security, to the human rights to the stability to known interference of
neighboring countries and I all the time in fact be seen as an
opposition to Maliki and this is why he's fabricating this case and
Stephen Cole: So you're saying that the case is made up against you basically?
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: It's totally been fabricated.
Stephen Cole: Is this a Sunni-Shia conflict or --
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Part of it yes.
Stephen Cole: -- is there any Kurdish involvement as well?
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Part of it is, partially is.
Stephen Cole: Partially?
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Partially. Because I belong to
Iraqiya. Iraqiya is a non-sectarian political entity. And, as your fully
aware, even the chairman, the leader of Iraqiya is a Shia -- Ayad
Allawi. He's not a Sunni, for instance. But regardless of that fact,
part of my political targeting is because my position in my community.
If you were to check innocent people behind bars, it's more than 90% of
them belong to the Sunni community. So the Sunni are in a real tragedy
as far as Iraq is concerned.
Stephen Cole: So once again, you're returning to the fact that you're
being persecuted, in your words, for your political views, your
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: I said partially. I did not say that
exclusively. So I am one of the political advocates advocating and
opposing to al-Maliki and Maliki policy but, at the same time in fact,
that political motivation is partly because I belong to the Sunni
community you see.
Stephen Cole: Alright. Every month there have been coordinated
attacks in Iraq. Using car bombs, mortars, gun fire. Do you think it's
linked to this political crisis? It's linked to Iraq Sunni, Kurdish and
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi: Whether we like it or not, the
ongoing violence is just a reflection of the fragile political situation
"After the initial charges were filed, he fled to Iraq's autonmous
Kurdish region." Oh, they think they're clever in being pejorative. Reality
The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011
rolled around. The press rarely gets that fact correct. When December
2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a boycott of the council and
the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry
. Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at
that point. Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC
where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the
homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya. December 18th
is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled
from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane.
December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .
Nouri caused the political crisis. Most pin the start of the current
stalemate to the above events in December. But it even goes back beyond
that. Following the March 2010 elections, there was an eight month
stalemate as second place Nouri refused to budge or let anything go
forward until the Constitution, democracy and the vote was set aside and
he was given a second term as prime minister. He got away with that
crap because the White House backed him on it. The brokered the Erbil
Agreement which all the heads of the political blocs signed off on --
including Nouri. In exchange for this, you get that. And what Nouri
got was a second term as prime minister. But he took that and then
shredded the Erbil Agreement after he got what he wanted. He refused to
honor the contract. That's what the stalemate's about. It's not
complicated. Since the summer of last year, the Kurds, Moqtada
al-Sadr and Iraqiya have been calling for a return to the Erbil
Agreement. In April when the move towards a no-confidence vote in Nouri
began, Moqtada repeatedly stated that Nouri could stop the effort cold
just by returning to the Erbil Agreement. This isn't complicated, this
doesn't require a forensic investigation.
All Iraq News notes
that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi hosted a meeting of his political slate
last night but that details on the meeting weren't know. They add that
Nouri al-Maliki met with Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq
yesterday (al-Mutlaq is a member of Iraqiya).
In related news, AKnews states
"An Iraqi legal expert said he is counting on the results of the
efforts of the parliamentary committee responsible for monitoring the
oil disputes between Baghdad and Erbil after visiting and meeting with
officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources in the Kurdistan Region,
adding that the crisis will be resolved during the next two days." That
may be but this All Iraq News report
where ExxonMobil's accused of violating Iraq's sovereignty and more by
an MP close to Nouri doesn't make it appear to be a sure thing. In
October, ExxonMobil and the KRG entered into an oil agreement which has
enraged Nouri. Now Chevron's followed ExxonMobil's lead and signed an
oil deal with the KRG. Yesterday, Reuters noted
"Iraq hit out at Chevron Corp over its just-signed oil contract with
Kurdistan, barring it from any oil agreements with the centeral
government in a move meant to deter other companies from dealing
directly with the semi-autonomous northern region."
Meanwhile, as Kitabat explains
Nouri al-Maliki has yielded to international pressure (actually, to
international shaming) and is backing off his previous stance and now
allowing Syrian refugees (not just Iraqis returning from Syria) into
Iraq. AFP notes
that the plan now is for "camps at two of its three border crossings with Syria." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) reports
that one border crossing is open in Al Anbar Province, "But as for
Syrian refugees, the UN is saying there's still no sign of them in huge
numbers. But the Iraqi government has decided to allow in those
refugees and it's discussing with the UN refugee agency putting them in a
camp near the border in western Al Anrbar at the lead border crossing.
That camp now holds Palestinian refugees who've been there for several
years as well as other nationalities but it will be expanded, the UN
tells us, to accomodate other refugees."
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated last month
that the US equivalent of $193 million was needed to assist refugees
from Syria. That figure may be revised shortly because there's a larger
number than expected seeking shelter in surrounding countries of
Jordna, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Last week, UNHCR's Adrian Edwards noted
"The number of Syrian refugees registered or assisted by UNHCR in Iraq,
Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey has almost tripled since April 2012 and now
stands at 112,000. Three quarters are women and children. This actual
number of Syrian refugees is thought to be significantly higher, as
many people seek to be registered only when they run out of resources."
Last week, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, told
the UN Security Council that he'd visited the Syrian refugee camp in
the KRG (semi-autonomous region of Iraq, controlled by the Kurds) and
that the number of refugees in the camp was 7,000. Kitabat notes
that Syrian Kurds are especially choosing to flee Syria for the
Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq. While many are fleeing Syria,
the number of Iraqis fleeing is about 10% (possibly less -- it's around
10% of the official number of Iraqi refugees in Syria). Yesterday UNHCR's Melissa Fleming declared
"The violence in Syria has prompted over ten thousand Iraqi refugees to
return home since Wednesday last week. Many of the returnees have
expressed their fear regarding the ongoing risks to their safety in
Iraq, but said that they had little choice, given the security threats
in Syria." Ammar Karim (AFP) reports
that the returning "find themselves returning to a homeland where basic
services remain poor and unemployment and housing costs are still
high." Widow Faatin Mohammed Hussein is quoted stating, "Life is much
easier in Syria than in Iraq. There you can live in a house for $200 a
month, and finding a job is easy. Here, finding work is difficult, and
housing is very expensive. Where can I work to provide food for my son
that the Islamic State of Iraq posted a statement online claiming that
Monday's attacks which left over 115 dead was the first step in their
"Breaking The Walls" plan which they announced Sunday. They quote from
the statement: "The coordinated jihadist operations have stunned the
enemy and made him lost his mind, and showed the failure of intelligence
and security plans which filled the world with noise and bluster." Prashant Rao (AFP) quotes
from the new announcement: "As part of the new military campaign aimed
at recovering territory given up by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the
war ministry has sent its sons and the mujahedeen on a sacred
offensive during the month of Ramadan. The operations by the jihadists
have stunned the enemy and made him lose his head. It has demonstrated
the failings of the security and intelligence services." Along with the
115 dead, The Voice of Russia notes
over three hundred people were injured in Monday's violence. KUNA reports
"Arab League General Secretariat on Wednesday strongly condemned the
series of bombings that hit some Iraqi cities on Monday, which targeted
security and civilian buildings, causing numerous deaths."
Iraq Body Counts
notes at least 355 people have been killed by violence in Iraq so far this month.
today saw a Diyala Province roadside bombing which left five people
injured, a Diayal Prvoince attack which left 2 police officers dead, a
Diayala Province roadside bombing which left one police officer injured,
a Baghdad roadside bombing which left 4 people dead, 1 government
employee shot dead in Baghdad, an Abu Ghraib bombing that wounded two
security officers, 1 police officer shot dead in Nineveh Province, a
second armed attack in Nineveh left 2 police officers dead, a Nineveh
roadside bombing wounded two soldiers, 1 retired Peshmerga was shot dead
in Kirkuk, a Wasit sitcky bombing which left a police officer and his
wife injured and 2 corpses were discovered in Dohuk Province. Alsumaria also reports
that the FPS director was in his convoy to the south of Mosul when a
bombing targeting him went off. Police state he survived and do not
mention any dead or note any wounds to (him or anyone else). Others
weren't so lucky. AFP reports
a Salahuddin Province car bombing has claimed the lives of a police officer's wife and their four children. Alsumaria reports
a member of Parliament's Security and Defence Committee is calling for
the security strategies to be changed and for all of Iraq to be
protected which is most likely a criticism of the the strategy that
places a premium on securing the Green Zone while other areas of Iraq
suffer. (Additional security and anti-aircraft devices have been put
around mosques and shrines over the weekend. Why? I don't know
apparently Nouri's expecting some sort of invasion of Iraqi skies.) All Iraq News picks up on the story noting
MP Riad Saadi declared that security was deteriorating and that attacks
indicate additional security needs to be sent to other cities. As long
as they're examing causes, they might want to read the report Dar Addustour posted last night about a Thursday assault in Diwaniya
Who was doing the assaulting, I'd argue the police who showed up and
started arresting "dozens" of protesters last Thursday at which point
activists and bystanders responded by throwing rocks at the police who
opened fire on the protesters.
Despite the recent history of assaulting protesters, Iraqis continue to protest. Alsumaria reports
that tonight, in Basra, they turned out by the dozens to protest the
declining electrical service, that they set fire to tires and that the
military and the police were sent in. Nasser Awad tells Aljazeera that
the protest wasn't well planned because it was spontaneous. He also
states that this is just the start and more protests will take place
over the coming nights.
A recent report in the UK Guardian by Charlie Skelton explains that
Western news outlets remain willing victims (or accomplices) in a
propaganda campaign for US -NATO led Syrian intervention being carried
out by skilled and well-financed public relations practitioners.
According to Skelton, "the spokespeople, the 'experts on Syria', the
'democracy activists' … The people who 'urge' and 'warn' and 'call for
action'" against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated
and well-heeled public relations effort to allow NATO forces to give
Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. "They're selling
the idea of military intervention and regime change," Skelton reports,
"and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the "activists"
and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in
many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very
people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and
statistics from these sources isn't necessarily pure news – it's a sales
pitch, a PR campaign."
If one thinks that a revelation of this magnitude would be cause for
other major Western news media to reassess their reportage of the Syrian
situation they would be greatly mistaken. Amy Goodman's Democracy Now
is a case in point. Since the beginning of the "Arab Spring" color
revolutions the foremost broadcast venue of "independent"
progressive-Left journalism in the United States has used its reportage
to obfuscate and thereby advance the campaign for regime change in
Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. The tactics of disinformation and death
squads employed in Libya and Syria should be easily recognizable since
they were refined against popular Central American moves toward popular
enfranchisement by the Reagan administration during the 1980s.
As Finian Cunningham recently observed  Democracy Now's adherents
look to Goodman on a regular basis because of her perceived credibility;
she is the self-avowed " exception to the rulers"—a tireless crusader
against the restrictive corporate media where there remains a "deafening
silence … around the issues -- and people -- that matter most."
Today Goodman's vaunted program is contributing to the very violence
being committed by Western-backed mercenaries against the Syrian people.
Goodman and similar Left media are engaging and convincing precisely
because of their posturing against corporate media control, economic
exploitation and war mongering. Occupying the outer contours of National
Public Radio's milquetoast programming, Democracy Now's self-described
"independent" reportage takes on a certain aura of authenticity among
its supporters --mainly progressives with concerns for social justice
and human rights.
Such characteristics make Goodman and Democracy Now among the most
effective sowers of disinformation. Further, their role in assuaging an
educated and otherwise outspoken audience serves only to aid and abet
the wanton military aggression Goodman and her cohorts claim to decry.
In light of the program's broader coverage of the "Arab Spring," such
reporting must be recognized and condemned as sheer public relations for
NATO and the Obama administration's campaign of perpetual terrorism and
war on humanitarian grounds.