Saturday, June 07, 2014

Sign of the Times

"What We’re Listening to This Week" (CounterPunch):

Miranda Lambert: ”Gravity is a Bitch” (Platinum)
True Mathematics: “After Dark”  (Select)
Madonna: Music.
Lee Ballinger co-edits Rock and Rap Confidential and writes about music and politics for CounterPunch magazine. Check out RRC’s latest video: Dreamscape.

I thought Ballinger had the most surprising list.

It's one that make you think.  He's chosen two singles and an album. It's an eclectic list.

"This edition's playlist" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

2) Carly Simon's Hotcakes.
3) Prince's Sign of the Times.
4) The Mamas and the Papas' Deliver.
5) John Lennon's Mind Games.

6) Patti Smith's Horses.
10) Joni Mitchell's For The Roses

We chose the above for our albums to listen to while we worked on Third.  I'm a huge John Lennon fan and could listen to him, solo or with the Beatles, pretty much any day of the week.

But I'm going to go with Prince.  Again.


I was a huge Prince fan.

I loved Crystal Ball but that may have been the last Prince album I really loved.  (I haven't hated any.)

Sign of the Times was such a great album.

It was a double disc album.

He paid tribute to some of his influences.  (Such as Joni Mitchell -- "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" contains the lyric, "And it was Joni singing, 'Help Me, I think I'm falling in love again'" -- quoting Joni's "Help Me.")

He f**ked with form and expectations.

The bass line to "Sign of the Times" may be one of his most underrated bass lines.

"Starfish and Coffee" is fantasy, fairy tale and psychedelia.

"I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" features one of Prince's all time best vocals.

He and Sheena Easton throw down on the duet "U Got The Look."

"Forever In My Life" is Prince's best bass vocal.

Every track is amazing and this is one of the classic Prince albums.  I can still remember picking this up in 1987 the day it came out.  I was so excited and so nervous -- afraid it might not live up to my expectations.

I bought it on cassette tape -- then the dominant choice for music consumers.

Somewhere around "Hot Thang," I stopped being nervous and knew this was a classic.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 6, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's War Crimes continue, the UN Security Council struggles with reading comprehension and possibly basic math as well,  more are displaced in Falluja, US Senators issues a bi-partisan call with regards to the VA, we take on a conspiracy theorist, and much more.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office (202) 224-2834
Friday, June 6th, 2014                     
VETERANS: Murray Joins Bipartisan Group of Senators to Urge Administration to Accept Free Private Sector Help to Fix Broken VA Scheduling System
In letter to President Obama, Senators urge top-level private sector review of VA systems
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined a bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators to call on the Obama Administration to accept private sector assistance in fixing the broken Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scheduling system. In the letter, Murray along with Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Richard Burr (R-NC), Al Franken (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), urged the VA to follow the example of the Army, which in 2010 allowed a consortium of leading technology companies to provide expertise in designing a corrective plan, at no cost to the taxpayers, to fix widespread data management issues uncovered at the Army’s Arlington National Cemetery.
“Because of the immediacy of the many challenges at the VA, we urge you to work with us to implement a similar cost-effective, private sector initiative so we can begin restoring the trust of our veterans and the American public in the ability of the VA to meet the commitments our nation has made to our veterans.  Our military men and women, their families, and our veterans deserve nothing less.”
“Engaging the tech sector and the best minds from leading American IT firms produced a comprehensive business plan to help the Army modernize its workflow procedures and upgrade the data management systems at Arlington.  That effort, conducted at no cost to the taxpayers, represented the very best traditions of corporate citizenship,” the senators wrote.
Full text of the letter is below, and a PDF of the signed letter can be accessed here.
June 5, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. President:
Like most Americans, we are outraged at the documented misconduct at the U.S. Veterans Health Administration that has caused our military veterans to face long waits when seeking the medical care they have earned.  That some veterans actually have died while waiting for needed care adds urgency to our efforts to act immediately.  While last week’s preliminary Inspector General’s (IG) report indicated this is a systemic problem that dates back many years, it is our responsibility to take swift, decisive action now.
The IG report details widespread information technology challenges that enabled many of the unacceptable and inappropriate use of scheduling gimmicks and outright fabrication of performance metrics at the VA.  We should be able to move quickly to begin restoring confidence in the VA by addressing these technology and data management problems in the current scheduling system.
This is a crisis that requires immediate action, and we recommend enlisting the expertise of the private sector to provide an assessment and recommendations for improvements to the current IT and workflow challenges at VA.  By calling on our best minds across the private sector in a pro bono demonstration of solid corporate citizenship, we could create a blueprint for achievable action the VA should undertake within 60-to-90 days.  Our veterans deserve this quick action on these urgent issues. 
We already have an effective template that sorts through most of the legal and process issues to allow this type of private-sector assistance.  For example, a 2010 Inspector General’s investigation revealed widespread mismanagement at the U.S. Army’s Arlington National Cemetery, including misplaced and mishandled remains of our warfighters.  The IG report also revealed that Cemetery managers continued to rely upon decades of vulnerable, hand-written paper files in managing burial records.  A consortium of technology companies operating under the auspices of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) jumped in quickly to provide their services and expertise at no cost to the taxpayer.  This task force ultimately worked with the Army to create a legal framework that enabled the Army and Arlington National Cemetery to accept their pro bono help.
Engaging the tech sector and the best minds from leading American IT firms produced a comprehensive business plan to help the Army modernize its workflow procedures and upgrade the data management systems at Arlington.  That effort, conducted at no cost to the taxpayers, represented the very best traditions of corporate citizenship.
We are confident that private sector expertise from across the country could be assembled to provide a similar pro bono service to help fix the challenges at the VA, and we stand ready to assist the Administration in moving quickly to help empanel this group. 
Not every problem requires a government solution.  Because of the immediacy of the many challenges at the VA, we urge you to work with us to implement this cost-effective, private sector initiative so we can begin restoring the trust of our veterans and the American public in the ability of the VA to meet the commitments our nation has made to our veterans.  Our military men and women, their families, and our veterans deserve nothing less.
Kathryn Robertson
Deputy Press Secretary 
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


Meanwhile, Jennifer Jackett (Gospel Herald) reports:

Open Doors International, the "world's largest outreach to persecuted Christians in the most high-risk places," released a top 10 list, comprised of countries in which Christians have experienced the most violent incidents for their faith in Jesus Christ.  The report, based on persecution incidents that have occurred between November 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014, is topped by Nigeria and Syria.
The remainder of the countries that made the list are: 3. Egypt, 4. Central African Republic (CAR), 5. Mexico, 6. Pakistan, 7. Colombia, 8. India, 9. Kenya, and 10. Iraq.

What a proud moment for War Criminal Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq.

He continued his War Crimes today.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri continued bombing residential neighborhoods in Falluja and 3 civilians were killed with eleven more left injured.

Nouri's been bombing Falluja like this for months now, killing civilians since January, bombing hospitals, water plants, electrical plants, you name it.  These are War Crimes and he is a War Criminal.

The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees issued the following on Falluja today:

GENEVA, June 6 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday said that violence in central Iraq's restive Anbar province has displaced close to half-a-million civilians so far this year. "With a deteriorating security situation, it is also becoming harder for humanitarian actors to reach those in need," said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards.
He told journalists in Geneva that the Iraqi government puts the number of displaced since January at 434,000 men, women and children. "However, the full scale of the displacement from this under-reported conflict is unknown, as the Iraqi authorities have had to suspend registration over the past month because of insecurity," he said, adding: "UNHCR believes the current figure is now close to 480,000."
Iraq's new displacement crisis began in January with fighting between government forces and rebels in eastern Anbar. It has continued in various waves as the fighting locales shifted within Anbar. There was further displacement last month when fighters deliberately breached a dam in Anbar's Abu Ghraib district, flooding the area and forcing some 72,000 Iraqis from their homes.
While the floodwaters have subsided, and people are returning to their homes, there are now health and recovery worries. Access to clean water is a pressing concern, because the flooding damaged water treatment plants. Local officials say 28 tanker truckloads of potable water are being delivered to the area every day, but this is only meeting 50 per cent of needs.
There are also fears about further civilian flight from the city of Fallujah. Recent shelling of the city has sparked new displacement and hit a city hospital and water plant there.
"Our field teams report that many displaced people are struggling to cope in desperate conditions, spread out across Iraq," UNHCR's Edwards noted. The highest concentrations of displaced people are in the Anbar and Salah al-Din governorates (provinces), followed by Erbil, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah and Baghdad.
The more fortunate are living with friends and relatives, but others are in tents, schools, unfinished buildings and other types of communal shelters. In Anbar alone, where there are almost 300,000 displaced people, more than two-thirds are living in schools.
"Displaced people tell us housing stock is limited, and increasingly expensive. Most are without income and are going into debt to pay for essential needs. Families say access to housing and food is a top priority," Edwards said.
While UNHCR has provided emergency relief kits to more than 48,000 people and emergency cash assistance to 3,000 of the most vulnerable people, this represents a fraction of what is needed.

"We urgently need to ramp up our response," Edwards stressed while noting that the challenges included difficulties reaching people because of the insecurity; the displaced are spread out across the country; and there is insufficient donor support. A UNHCR special appeal for US$26.4 million launched in March is only 12 per cent funded. "Better funding is critical to help those who are displaced now, and when they return home in the future," Edwards said.

While the UNHCR cares, the United Nations Security doesn't give a damn about Iraq.  They make that clear again today with their latest nonsense.  Here's the first paragraph, see if you can spot the problem:

The United Nations Security Council has stressed its support for the engagement of all political groups in Iraq, where nearly 800 people fell victim to violence last month, on concerted efforts to ensure security for its entire population, particularly in Anbar province, which has been embattled for months.  

Did you spot the problem?

Zoom in on "nearly 800 people fell victim to violence last month."

Last month would be the month of May.

I think we can all agree on that.

800 victims of violence?

There we've got a problem.  Victims of violence would include the dead as well as the injured.  Yes, the injured are victims of violence.

'Okay, they said nearly 800 victim to violence when they meant 800 dead.  Big deal.'

Well, it is a big deal.

The wounded are a big deal.

The wounded have to live in the violence. The dead are lucky in that regard, their suffering ended.  They're not now, for example, living in a war zone but without a limb.

But that's not even the problem.

Yeah, the UN Security Council meant nearly 800 dead.

They meant it but they were too stupid to say it.

You know what else they were too stupid to do?


Read and comprehend.

This is the UNAMI statement containing the figures that the Security Council is using:

Baghdad, 1 June 2014 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of at least 799 Iraqis were killed and another 1,409 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence in May*.

The number of civilians killed was 603 (including 144 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1108 (including 218 civilian police). A further 196 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, and 301 were injured (not including casualties from Anbar operation).
“I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence and terrorist acts that continues rocking the country. I urge the political leaders to work swiftly for the formation of an inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated time frame and focus on a substantive solution to the situation in Anbar”, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG), Mr. Mladenov said.
Anbar excluded, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 932 civilian casualties (315 killed, 617 injured), followed by Ninewa (113 killed 248 injured), Salahuddin (94 killed 146 injured), Kirkuk (22 Killed, 60 injured), Diyala (38 killed 28 injured). 
*CAVEATS: Data do not take into account casualties of the current IA operation in Anbar, for which we report at the bottom the figures received by our sources.

Operations in Anbar
According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the total civilian casualties in Anbar up to 30 May were 195 killed and 499 injured, with 95 killed and 222 injured in Ramadi and 100 killed and 277 injured in Fallujah.

How many people died in the month of May from violence?

If you say "799," you may be stupid enough to serve on the UN Security Council -- in fact, you may be dumb enough to qualify as a permanent member.

799 excludes Anbar Province.  Add the 195 to 799.  The total is 994.

994 deaths is what UNAMI has for the month of May. 994 isn't "nearly 800," it's over 800.

Let's stay with violence.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tikrit bombing left 1 police officer dead. a Baquba bombing and mortar attack left 1 person dead and five more injured, a Baghdad mortar attack left seven people injured, a Hawija attack left one officer injured, a Ramadi battle left 1 Iraqi soldier and 3 rebels dead, a Kirkuk car bombing left three people injured,  and 2 Qadisiyah bombings left one police member and his brother injured.  They also noting fighting in Mosul has left 7 Iraqi soldiers dead and three more injured, six police members injured, 25 rebels were killed, 7 police members were killed and twenty-three injured, 10 Iraqi soldiers dead and fourteen injured, and 2 car bombings left 25 civilians dead and thirty-five injured.  AFP reports that "two suicide bombers blew up vehicles in the Shabak village of Al Muwaffaqiyah, east of Nineveh provincial capital Mosul, killing four people and wounding 45, police and medical officials said." Margaret Griffis ( counts 166 violent deaths today with 101 people left injured.

Moving over to conspiracy theories, nut job MJ Rosenberg (MWD) froths:

The Bergdahl frenzy is the phoniest pretense for Obama bashing since Benghazi. But that does not mean it won't succeed.
In fact, I think it is possible that a Republican Congress will impeach Obama over one or both of those issues (ike President Clinton, he would not be convicted because even a GOP Senate could not muster 67 votes for conviction.)

Is that what you think, you raving nut job conspiracy theorist?

MJ Rosenberg is a graduate of Media Matters which means he majored in sexism and minored in delusion.  He lets the crazy run free because that's what Professor David Brock taught -- carrier monkey that he is.  Excuse me, diseased carrier monkey that he is bringing all of his unethical methods over to the left from the right after he'd burned his bridges there.

Taught by the master teacher in deception and lies, David Brock, a student can learn to make up any lie in the world and pimp it.  That's what the disgraced David Brock did to Anita Hill, after all.  A cheap little liar who has never made amends.

MJ Rosenberg studied under a quack and a liar so he is what he was taught.

But in the real world, there are many reasons to be upset with Barack surrendering 5 prisoners from Guantanamo for one US soldier.

1) The Congress wasn't informed.  First and foremost -- though a 'graduate' from Media Matters would never understand this, those who train under David Brock don't learn the Constitution -- this is a democracy, this is not a monarchy.  Senator Dianne Feinstein is offended by the lack of notification to Congress.  I've known Dianne for years.  I'll say about 20% of her being offended is personal as a member of Congress who should have been notified.  But the other 80%?  That's Dianne being offended -- rightly -- because of her role.  It's not about her.  It's about America's representatives.  That's what Dianne is, she's in the Senate to represent the people of California -- so is Senator Barbara Boxer.  And whatever other faults I have with them, both women do grasp the importance of their roles.  I would argue that's true of other senators as well.  Senator Al Franken takes it so seriously it's almost an obsession.  (And that's a great obsession to have, trying to represent the people of your state.)  Those are just Democrats but there are Republicans -- many -- in the Senate who take this role and this obligation seriously.  We have a system of checks and balances.  We do not have a king in the US.

Glenn Greenwald:

But as even stalwart Obama defenders such as Jeffery Toobin admit, Obama “clearly broke the law” by releasing those detainees without providing Congress the 30-day notice required by the 2014 defense authorization statute (law professor Jonathan Turley similarly observed that Obama’s lawbreaking here was clear and virtually undebatable).

2) Glenn Greenwald has made this very clear: By ignoring Congress to release the 5 from Guantanamo, Barack has made it clear that he thinks he could have released everyone there and closed it.  So why hasn't he?  He swore he'd do it if elected.  Then he got sworn in (January 2009) and broke his promise.  As Glenn has noted, this is a rather big point of the story.  Mike weighed in on that point earlier this week.

3) Any soldier rescued would raise questions.  Jessica Lynch never lied about what happened to her.  I'm really tired of the dicks -- including Rachel Maddow and her phantom penis -- who try to lie about Jessica Lynch or use her name as a punchline.  When she spoke, she spoke the truth.   She was not responsible for the lies and the spin created by an administration trying to rally support for their illegal war.  My point here is that even when the spin was that she was being tortured or harmed, there were still some who wondered why a rescue mission was being carried out for her?  (There was no rescue mission.  She was being cared for -- as she herself notes -- in an Iraqi hospital.  She was not a prisoner.) Even at the height of the administration propaganda, there were people who questioned whether Jessica was 'worth' a rescue.  And, guess what, in a democracy that's allowed.  In a democracy, people discuss issues and find the point where everyone can agree.  That's what self-rule is. So the US soldier who was released in exchange for the five prisoners Barack surrendered, he was always going to be a question mark.

4) Find a better family spokesperson.  I saw that crap this morning.  Good talking points.  Some of them cribbed from here.  But  he should have stuck to what the White House told him.  I picked up the phone while that nonsense was airing and asked, "You didn't tell him to talk about the mom did you?"  Don't talk about the mom.  She may be wonderful, she may be awful.  But she's married to the father and the father has been a bad image on this story since Saturday.  He needs to shave his beard immediately and appear in public and if anyone doesn't like that, my response is, "Grow up, this isn't about him.  This is about his son." You better believe if one of my children were in trouble, I would change anything -- hair, clothes, whatever -- to lessen any hostility towards one of my children.  This isn't about your right to grow a beard.  No one questions that right.  This is about you getting off your ass and helping your son.  Shave the damn beard.

(FYI, when I saw the photos Saturday, I called an administration friend to ask why the hell the father didn't shave before appearing with Barack.  That bushy crap -- not shaped, not styled -- was disrespectful to the office of the president. Worse than that, it fed into the image of 'these are strange people.'  Shave the damn beard.)

5) The White House has offered an ever changing storyline.  That doesn't help.  Each day is a new day for the novelist.  At this point, this late in the game, stop changing the story.  It makes the White House look dishonest.  Bite the bullet and own the decision or continue to have this dominate the news cycle.  See Frank James' "Explaining The Bergdahl Swap Hasn't Been Obama's Finest Hour" (NPR).

6) The terms of the deal have been criticized.  The US got one person, the Taliban got five.  Elise Labott (CNN) noted earlier this week:

While secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was skeptical of early plans to trade Taliban prisoners for American captive Bowe Bergdahl, former officials involved in the process told CNN on Tuesday.
Clinton pushed for a much tougher deal than the one with Qatar that secured the Army sergeant's release in exchange for five terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they said.

Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reports:

Despite that the White House’s claim this week that the United States did not negotiate “directly” with the Taliban to secure the Bergdahl swap, the State Department, Defense Department, and White House officials did meet several times with Taliban leaders in 2011 and 2012 to discuss the deal. The negotiations, held in in Munich and Doha, fell apart in early 2012. But before they did, Clinton had a framework deal drawn up that was much tougher on the Taliban than what ultimately got done two years later.
Three former administration officials who were involved in the process told The Daily Beast that Clinton was worried about the ability to enforce the deal and disinclined to trust the Taliban or the Haqqani network in Pakistan, which held Bergdahl until this weekend. Clinton was so concerned, the former officials added, that she may not have even signed off if the negotiations had succeeded.

In Barack's administration, Leon Panetta headed the CIA and later was Secretary of Defense. David Conti (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) reported Wednesday:

 “I don't fault the administration for wanting to get him back. I do question whether the conditions are in place to make sure these terrorists don't go back into battle,” former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a gas industry gathering in Pittsburgh.
Panetta, who was in the Cabinet for four of the five years Bergdahl spent in Taliban custody, said he opposed a swap for the terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when he was Defense secretary.
“I said, ‘Wait, I have an obligation under the law,'” Panetta said during a lunchtime address at the Hart Energy Developing Unconventionals DUG East conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. “If I send prisoners from Guantanamo, they have to guarantee they don't go back to the battlefield. I had serious concerns.”

That's two people who were in the administration and they're not rushing to dance in the streets.  If members of the administration were skeptical are you really surprised that there are Americans who would be as well?

7) CBS News reports Hillary writes in her book (which is officially released Tuesday) on negotiating with the Talbian:

I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war,

Wow, is Hillary a psychic?

No, she's just got more common sense than MJ Rosenberg.

8) The soldier is a 'deserter' in the eyes of many.  If he self-checked out and had he gone public, we would have covered him here.  We cover war resisters.  I find MJ Rosenberg's sudden concern for war resisters to be suspect.  First off, he only applies it to one person.

We cover war resisters.  We used to cover them all the time, for years and years.  There's just not enough information to cover them as much as we used to.  But we covered them and I know the hate mail that came in for that.  I personally support war resisters.  You don't have to agree with me on that.  But to be so outraged that they were even mentioned?  They are part of history.  They are news.

This is from the April 17, 2007 snapshot:

Starting with war resister news, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, shared Saturday of how his son's struggle has inspired him.  Ehren Watada, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  In February 2006, his court-martial ended a mistrial and his next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th.  Brian Charlton (AP) reports that Bob Watada spoke Saturday at a Honolulu meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists where he explained, "It was because of him that I've gone out and educated myself."  Charlton notes the stroke Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) suffered.  That was in January at the rally in DC, shortly after Bob Watada spoke.  Ann Wright managed to catch Sakanishi as she was falling.
There are many lessons to be learned from Watada and other war resisters.  Ehren Watada  is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia,  Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

That second paragraph?  It appeared daily in every snapshot for about two years.  Maybe longer.

When a non-war resister in Canada attacked me online, we continued to cover war resisters.  When a name mentioned in the list had a freak-fest in the e-mail, we continued to cover war resisters.  (And I continued to cover him.)  We covered them because their stands are important.  We also covered them because of the hate mail from people who were outraged that we would cover war resisters.  There were tons of e-mails every week expressing hate and threats.  I don't back down in the face of threats, I never have.  Threats usually make me determined to continue to do something.

The Iraq War is illegal (it's also ongoing though people in this country don't want to admit that either).  I do not slam anyone for deploying to Iraq.  I also do not slam anyone for refusing to deploy to Iraq (or redeploy).  My non-slam policy does not extend to those who planned and started the illegal war.  But I don't condemn  those who served or those who resisted -- I do condemn those who gave the orders for war and those who continued the war -- that includes liars in the press, cowards and liars in the Congress, it's a long, long list which includes President Barack Obama and former Oval Office Occupant Bully Boy Bush.

Jim Acosta (CNN -- link is text and video) reports on National Security Advisor Susan Rice:

Susan Rice, who on Sunday said Bergdahl served the United States with "honor and distinction," told CNN in an interview that she was speaking about the fact the Idaho native enlisted and went to Afghanistan in the service of his country.
"I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this," Rice said. "But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing."

Great, Susan.  So you'll now praise Joshua Key for doing "a very honorable thing" since he enlisted and deployed to Iraq?  He self-checked out as the press insists Bergdahl did.  Will you take the time to say he served with "honor and distinction"?  What about Camilo Mejia or Kyle Snyder -- both of whom served in Iraq and then self-checked out?

No, you wouldn't, Susan.  You're a hypocrite just like the goons of MSNBC or, for that matter, Media Matters.

I defend war resisters.  I am very aware that many others do not.  So MJ Rosenberg needs to stop his whoring and his hypocrisy.  There is no real caring on his part for war resisters.  He's whoring to protect Barack.

9) This is not the first time Barack has released killers in US custody.  That was the whole point of "Now you're outraged by negotiations with terrorists."  Barack entered into negotiations with the terrorist group the League of Righteous.  That group killed and kidnapped many foreigners in Iraq -- including US service members.  Barack released their leaders -- who had been in US military custody -- to Nouri.  And did so over vocal opposition in the Senate.  He insisted that they would be held in prisons by Iraqis but instead they walked -- on all the charges, they walked.  Nouri set them free.  Now he arms them and gives them uniforms so they can terrorize Sunnis in Iraq.

MJ Rosenberg is an unethical hypocrite.  Those are only nine things about the deal which might trouble Americans.  If it does trouble them, they need to address it, the media needs to address it, it needs to be part of a national conversation.  That's what happens in a democracy.

I can be mature enough to know that as much as I support war resisters, there are Americans who never will.  That's their right.  They need to be true to their beliefs just as I need to be true to mine.  The expression of their beliefs and their objections does not mean they hate Barack, they want to impeach him or any thing else.  But conspiracy theorists like MJ Rosenberg have to see hate everywhere.

As for the soldier in the news, did he self-checkout?

I've stated all week, we don't know what he did and what he didn't do.  (Click here for a three-part video report on him from CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper.)  A few have e-mailed to say we should call him a war resister based on what is known.


We made that mistake about eight years ago.  A family member of a soldier labeled the soldier a war resister  in press interview after press interview and we went with it and the press went with it and we walked it back months later saying ____ was not a war resister. When ___ finally spoke, ____ didn't speak of war resistance.  I can be the biggest idiot in the room but I do learn from my mistakes.
Which is why, despite supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, I won't be supporting her now.  I do learn from my mistakes.  The former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State has held hostage the willing news media with another book she had help writing -- why don't you credit co-writers, you just look stupid and vain otherwise -- and CBS News got an advance copy of the book and noted many things including this passage on Iraq:

"[M]any Senators came to wish they had voted against the resolution. I was one of them. As the war dragged on, with every letter I sent to a family in New York who had lost a son or daughter, a father or mother, my mistake become (sic) more painful."
"I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple."

As we noted this morning, "At this point, Hillary, what difference does it make?"  She should have said it in 2008.  Instead, it's taken her 12 years to get to this point.  A presidential term is four years.  I don't know that American can afford a slow thinker in the post.  She was in pain, you understand, because she had to write letters to families who had lost a loved one.

Her pain?

That's what she goes with?

Her pain?

How hard it was on her to write people whose loved one had been killed in Iraq?

Again, I do learn from my mistakes.  Should she run in 2016, she will not have my support unless she gets honest about Iraq (including about how Nouri is a thug which she knows and has stated) and apologies to Pat Smith and others.

I've said this before.  If Bill Clinton was the person involved, he would have already called Pat Smith and apologized to her.  (Pat Smith's son Sean Smith died in Bengahzi September 11, 2012.  Smith feels misled by Hillary and ignored by her due to Hillary failing to keep a promise she made.  The other three Americans who died that day -- who are known to have died that day -- were Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Chris Stevens.)

Hillary's too politically stupid to grasp that she needs to apologize to Pat Smith.  She's also too politically stupid to come clean on Iraq.  If you wait 12 years to offer anything "plain and simple," people have a right to expect that you have reflected deeply during this time and have something of value to share.  Hillary is being as superficial in her 'reflection' as she was the day she voted for the Iraq War.

elise labott

Thursday, June 05, 2014

What's that smell? CODESTINK

Won't the world be a better place when Medea Benjamin retires or passes away?

Queen of all fake asses, Medea is the whore that never stops charging.  She's always on duty.

With Alli McCracken, Medea pens another bad column.

Alli's a White woman because that's all CodeStink is: a bunch of White women pretending to care about diversity but not willing to have it in their organization.

So the Communist and the Socialist team up to take turns blowing Barack.

They're pretending to write about something -- the same way they pretend to be run of the mill political types.

Closets are for hangers, Medea.

Bitches for Barack, that's all CODESTINK is.

They even staged a 'bring our daughters back' protest.

I hope you caught Chris Floyd's piece on the nonsense of that 'campaign':

Can you see me? Can you see me? I’m holding up a sign. It’s a sign expressing my outrage at an atrocious event in a country far away. It’s a sign showing my solidarity with the victims of violent extremism.

I took a picture of myself with this sign. I posted the picture on social media, so everyone can see it, so everyone can know how outraged I am at this thing that has happened that I heard about on the news. I want everyone to know that I am taking responsibility — no, I am taking ownership of this situation. It is happening to me just as certainly as it is happening to the victims. In fact, the victims actually belong to me. They are “ours” — that’s what my sign says.

“Bring back our girls!” The girls who were kidnapped from that place somewhere in Africa by that group I’d never heard of before the story about this thing was on the news and started trending on Twitter. They took “our girls,” the girls who belong to us — our girls, the girls we have cared about for so long, living there in that country in Africa where nothing has ever happened until this thing happened and got tweeted about the other night. And when I saw other people were taking pictures of themselves holding up a sign about “our girls” — including Michelle Obama; how cool was that! — I downloaded a sign from this website and printed it out and I made a picture of myself with it and put it on the internet to make that group give me back the girls who belong to me and the other people who made signs about this thing.

Then I saw somebody on Facebook said there was this rally for the girls who belong to us because we have always cared about people like them so deeply for so long — anyway, there was this rally down at the park to show that group that sounds like that Sixties band but of course is actually much worse than them that their evil will not stand. And they said that Anne Hathaway — from Les Mis! — was going to be at the rally with a megaphone and one of the signs like the one I’d made a picture of myself holding and put on the internet, where I hope you’ve seen it and retweeted it to all your friends.

CodeStink has become a tired joke.  They have no one to blame but themselves.

Go away, Medea, before I have a Wiccan friend work some magic.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's War Crimes continue, the Iraqi military shoots dead a college student as she sits in the exam hall causing no harm to anyone, the VA scandal continues, Barack's terrorist trade continues to blow up in his face, and much more.

Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the Senate to address VA issues.  Senator Jeanne Shaheen's office issued the following:

In Response to Inspector General Report, bill addresses gaps in VA health system, prohibits bonuses for VA officials
June 3, 2014 (Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation today designed to address the gaps and gross mismanagement of Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) resources that were recently identified in an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report and have led to delayed care for veterans. Shaheen’s bill, the Veterans Access to Care Accountability Act, includes numerous provisions to remedy identified instances of veterans being delayed care, strengthen VA accountability and hold individual VA officials responsible, including through precluding bonuses from being paid to VA officials involved in mismanagement.
“The problems we’ve seen at VA hospitals across the country are unacceptable,” Shaheen said. “We need to do everything we can to make sure that veterans are getting timely access to the quality medical care they’ve earned. If there are problems, we need to know immediately, and those responsible need to be held accountable. This bill will go a long way toward improving oversight of the VA and ultimately providing our veterans with the care they deserve.”
Shaheen’s bill would implement a new random auditing requirement by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Inspector General and other watchdog agencies for VA medical facilities and would require veterans be contacted within 48 hours and scheduled an appointment with an outside medical facility within one week if a report determines veterans have been delayed access to care. The Veterans Access to Care Accountability Act also includes provisions to hold VA officials involved in potential delays accountable, specifically banning the distribution of bonuses to VA officials who may have been involved in mismanagement.
The bill builds off bipartisan legislation Shaheen is co-sponsoring that has been included as an amendment to the FY 2015 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to give the Secretary the authority to fire or demote senior level employees based on their performance. Shaheen, who called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki following the release of the OIG report, has also requested a full briefing on the findings of rapid audit teams deployed across the VA enterprise, including at the Manchester and White River Junction VA Medical Centers that serve New Hampshire’s veterans.

Good for Shaheen.  Sad that there's been so very little Senate action. Various bills are floating around.  That's about all.  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following today:

IAVA Urges Senate to Reach Compromise on Critical Legislation

CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or


IAVA Urges Senate to Reach Compromise on Critical Legislation
President Must Get Involved to Help Restore Confidence within the Department of Veterans Affairs

Washington DC (June 4, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today called for bipartisan cooperation among Senate leaders to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More than 40 bills to reform the VA, and improve benefits and services to veterans, are currently pending before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC). This includes a revised version of the Majority’s veterans omnibus bill introduced on Monday by SVAC Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and a new Republican proposal more narrowly tailored to health care access issues introduced on Tuesday by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). IAVA called for the Senate to advance all legislation that would garner filibuster-proof bipartisan support and would achieve real reform.  

Earlier this week, IAVA CEO & Founder Paul Rieckhoff, joined by IAVA veterans from across the country, unveiled eight steps the Obama Administration and Congress can take now to restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the steps are recommendations from IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda.

“Veterans don’t have time for political games. Reforming the VA requires a concerted national response – and Congress must play its part,” Rieckhoff said. “The Senate can start by working together to pass key initiatives that support veterans and help ensure they get the care they need. With very little time left in the legislative calendar, our members and the wider veteran community do not have time for more rounds of political stunts. 

Rieckhoff added: “This urgency underscores the need for presidential leadership, and why we need a Marshall Plan for veterans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi must sit in a room together and provide the bipartisan leadership necessary to support veterans.”

IAVA is endorsing the Veterans Choice Act of 2014, sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). In the wake of revelations that the VA has been concealing excessive wait times at facilities around the country, it is clear that VA has an issue meeting demand. This bill will serve an emergency need to increase VA service capacity by temporarily authorizing veterans to get quicker care from approved private and community providers if, and only if, the VA cannot provide medical care to the veteran within a reasonable amount of time set by the VA or if the veteran would have to travel beyond a reasonable distance to receive VA care. While IAVA believes that a strong, sustainable, fully-funded VA is necessary for our country to meet its commitment to veterans, IAVA is also open to complementary solutions that augment VA's capacity and ensure that veterans receive the highest quality care possible in a timely manner. 

IAVA is currently reviewing the Restoring Veterans Trust Act of 2014, sponsored by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). This bill is essentially a redesign of the previous IAVA supported veterans omnibus bill that failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate. Following that failed vote earlier this year, military and veterans service organizations, including IAVA, asked Chairman Sanders to work proactively and cooperatively with the minority to craft the re-do of the veterans omnibus bill that has a chance of passing needed reforms through the Senate. Unfortunately, substantive engagement across the aisle has yet to occur, once again rushing critical reforms to veterans care and education to failure. IAVA has made it clear to Chairman Sanders that a pre-negotiated agreement that has a chance of passing is a necessary component of IAVA’s support of any further re-writes of the Senate veterans omnibus bill.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator. 
# # #

Other than bills, where is the Senate?

They're not holding a hearing tomorrow.  It's been postponed.

A veteran said to me today, he was at the April 30th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing (we covered that hearing in the May 1st snapshot), that he couldn't believe that the Chair of the Committee (Senator Bernie Sanders) had stated in that hearing that his Committee would be up in arms if the accusations about Phoenix turned out to be true.

They are true.  The report the Office of the Inspector General released last week confirmed that the books were cooked and two sets of wait lists were kept.  Senator Dianne Feinstein does not serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she does Chair the Senate Intelligence Committee.  She issued a statement Monday and we'll note this from it (I'll post the statement in full tomorrow morning -- there is not room for it to be included in full in this snapshot):

Senator Feinstein expressed frustration that a December 2012 GAO report identified a history of record tampering at VA health care facilities. In March 2013, GAO Health Care Director Debra Draper testified about the report before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Veterans’ Affairs, saying “staff at some clinics told us they change medical appointment desired dates to show clinic wait times within VHA’s performance goals.”
“The 2012 GAO report tells me one thing: that VA knew about this problem many months ago but instead of taking action to fix it, employees created schemes to cover up the problem,” Feinstein said. “This is inexcusable and speaks to deeper problems within the VA.”

On April 30, 2014, Feinstein wrote a letter to VA Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin calling for an expansion of the investigation into the Phoenix VA Health Care System to determine if similar problems were prevalent at other VA health care facilities.

There are senators calling out the scandal and making suggestions for reform.  But the reality is that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has failed to seriously address the issue as a Committee.  I'm not talking historical, I'm talking about since the scandal broke.  CNN was covering this story -- breaking it -- in April. It's now June.

Where's the hearing addressing the scandal?

The House can hold a hearing (and did, last week) but the Senate can't get it together to hold a hearing?

A number of veterans lost trust with Sanders over that April 30th hearing.  Instead of focusing on the news of the day, he wanted to cover acupuncture, yoga and other issues which, quite frankly, were not issues in need of dire attention.  That was the first wrong step by Sanders.  He then became seen as an apologist of the VA -- Chris Cuomo was the first to make that observation and did so in a live interview with Sanders.

I don't know what you do after you weaken or break the bond of trust.  I don't know how you come back from one stumble after another.  But veterans in DC are not very pleased with the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee or with the Committee itself right now.

Announcing this morning that a planned hearing (for tomorrow) was cancelled did not help.

So let's turn to the House of Representatives.  Beto O'Rourke is a Texas Democrat serving in the House.

And he issued this on the survey:

I recently sent an email to all veterans in our database, asking them to participate in a survey to determine the quality and access to care for primary and mental health at the El Paso VA.

Hundreds took the time to respond, and from their responses we’ve compiled a report with important information about access to care for El Paso veterans, including the significant discrepancy between what the VA is telling me and what you are telling me.

For example, for each month between March 2013 and March 2014, the El Paso VHA has reported to me that between 85% and 100% of veterans new to the system seeking mental health appointments saw a provider within 14 days of their appointment request. Our survey shows that on average it takes a veteran 71 days to see a mental health provider and more than 36% of veterans attempting to make an appointment were unable to see a mental health provider at all.

For those who do get an appointment, these sessions are routinely cancelled before they can take place. The survey also found that wait times for primary health were unacceptably long, with over 71.8% reporting that they could not schedule a primary care visit within 14 days of their request.

The recent scandal in Phoenix, where administrators kept secret wait lists and denied care to those they were entrusted to help, proves that we cannot depend on the VA to hold itself accountable. The best way to determine how the VA is doing is to ask the veterans themselves. In doing just that, this report can provide the basis for real accountability and improved service at the El Paso VHA clinic and perhaps serve as the model for allowing our country’s veterans to do the same for the national VA system.

Below are our full findings and steps we will take based on what we’ve learned.

For the full report, click here

Thank you for your service in uniform and your service today on behalf of your fellow veteran. It is an honor to serve you.

It is no longer just Phoenix that the administration admits was using two sets of wait lists -- a public one filled with lies and the real one hidden from the public.  Jim Salter (AP) reports, "VA officials first acknowledged the Midwestern lists in letters last week to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both of Kansas. The letters included information about conditions in the VA's Heartland Network, with unauthorized lists maintained at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana."  Hannah Davis and Angela Smith (KWCH -- link is text and video) report on the use of a "secret wait list" at Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas.  Hanqing Chen (Pro Publica) offers a round up of reporting on the various VA scandals.

CNN notes, "Nearly six in ten Americans give President Barack Obama a thumbs-down on how he is handling the Veterans Affairs controversy, according to a new national poll."

Let's turn to another scandal.  Barack entered into negotiations with the Taliban, agreeing to surrendering 5 Taliban prisoners for one American soldier.  I don't know the soldier, I don't know his story.  I have not insulted him nor have I rushed to gush over him the way some idiots did today.  (The host could still claim to be going where the silences are but that would mean she would have needed to cover Kim Rivera and she didn't.)  He may or may not choose to tell his story.  The military is currently investigating the case.  At present his story is probably best characterized as "no one knows."  So we're not engaging in that aspect of the story.

The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- link is text and video) spoke with former FBI negotiator Chris Voss who stated, "I would have been embarrassed to make this deal. Five for one? I can't see how this was a good deal for us, on top of that, from what I understand, they named the people they wanted."  Elise Labott explores the meaning of the deal here.  Slate's Fred Kaplan tries to argue this was a mere prisoner of war trade.  No.  And the US government wouldn't argue that and couldn't argue that because if the five are prisoners of war -- if the US government admits to that -- then they should have been treated as such but the US government refused to do that and refused to classify them as prisoners of war.  Maria Nybondas (Asser Institute) offers an indepth look at that classification in a 2002 paper.  As Amy Davidson (New Yorker) observed yesterday, " One can’t have it both ways: there are laws associated with prisoners of war, too. The phrase 'P.O.W.' is not just shorthand hand for 'don’t have to go to court'."  Chris Moody (Yahoo News) reports, "Senators are frustrated with President Barack Obama for ignoring a legal provision requiring the secretary of defense to notify Congress 30 days before releasing detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Nouri's War Crimes continue as he continues bombing residential neighborhood.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 civilians were killed and eleven more injured in the latest series of bombings.  These War Crimes have been taking place since January and take place on a daily basis.  The Iraqi people are being terrorized by Nouri.  And it goes beyond Falluja.  BRussells Tribunal notes Sama Laith Mouayad was shot dead.  The college student was sitting in the exam hall of Ramadi's Al-Anbar University when she was shot dead by a military sniper.

Kent State.  The May 4, 1970 assault is still remembered each year.  And yet Nouri's forces kill a college student, shoot her dead as she's sitting in the exam hall, and that's okay?

In what world?

Nouri is a War Criminal who needs to be removed from office.

Instead, the White House can't stop providing Nouri with weapons.  Andrea Shalal (Reuters) reports:

Lockheed Martin Corp this week will deliver the first of 36 F-16 fighter jets to Iraq, marking what Baghdad's envoy to the United States called a "new chapter" in his country's ability to defend its vast borders with Iran and other neighbors.

They're going to do a little ceremony tomorrow in Fort Worth about this 'wonderful' move.

Blood money.  That's what Lockheed's raking in.

Nouri is a War Criminal and he's being provided with the means to further kill the Iraqi people and, yes, he will be sharing technology with the government of Iran.

Another wonderful move by Barack, another genius move.

Today, Nouri gave another weekly speech and now he's wanting a unity conference on Anbar Province.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) types up:

Sheikh Mohammad al-Bajari, an influential tribal leader in Fallujah, told Al-Monitor, “Maliki’s call for holding this conference came too late. He should have called for it when we were peacefully staging a sit-in in the desert, before things evolved.”
“Fallujah and Anbar sheikhs and tribes do not trust the government and the conference’s intentions. If there is indeed a desire to solve the crisis in Anbar, the government will have to show good will. For instance, it should stop the shelling on Fallujah and several other regions, withdraw the army from the cities and hand in the people implicated in the murder of the innocent to the courts,” he added.
Far from the political tensions surrounding the conference, the Iraqi government acknowledged that it was important for the political, security and military courses of action to go hand in hand, rather than separately, to solve the Anbar crisis. This is a development in itself, late as it might be.
Perhaps the debate about Maliki’s late invitation to hold the conference, 18 months after the outbreak of protests in Sunni cities, and five months after the outbreak of bloody confrontations following the Iraqi army’s raid into the Anbar sit-in square late 2013, is not as effective as the different parties’ investing in a positive environment to reach a final solution to the crisis.

It's cute what gets paraded and what is hidden.  For example, the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  But that's not being included, is it?   Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Again, some things get remembered.  Some get buried.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

MP for Alarabiyah coalition Liqaa Wardi , called on international and local human rights organizations to adopt a firm stance against the massacres that Anbar province experiences, especially the "genocide ," against Fallujah, the source said .
Wardi also said in a press statement " what the government forces are doing against the province of Anbar and Fallujah in particular ,situate within the framework of genocide against innocent civilians.
She added : "The murder of a student at the College of Agriculture, targeting doctors, service workers and forcing families to emigrate , but a systematic attempt to break the will of the people of this province who only demanding their legitimate rights to live in safety and peace.

Nouri's a War Criminal and he wants a third term as prime minister.  The elections were April 30th and there's still no government.  Kitabat reports National Coalition spokesperson Maysoun al-Damlouji states bloc leader Ayad Allawi has not yet aligned himself with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's party but he continues to oppose a third term for Nouri. Allawi issued a statement today calling the Parliament weak and noting "the upper hand in any democratic country is the legislative authority, and that this Parliament could not do its role -- even some of the decisions were taken by voting, rejected by the Federal Court." That would be the court Nouri controls, the court that acts as Nouri's rubber stamp.  NINA reports, "The National Coalition called on Tuesday the State of Law Coalition to withdraw their nomination for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for the third term."  All Iraq News adds that Allawi met with Iraqi National Alliance head Ibrahim al-Jaafari and that they discussed the election and the new government.

NINA notes the rumors that Nouri has received backing from the Tehran government for a third term as Iraq's prime minister.  Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

Thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki wants a third term.  His office issued the following today:

His Excellency Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki said in an interview with Al-Iraqiya TV which will be aired at a later time we now have 175 guaranteed votes, but we want more partners who agree with us in the program and principles to be adopted in the next government , and he called on all political blocs to adopt understanding and dialogue in order to form the government as soon as possible and move towards construction and development.
With regards to the adherence of some political blocks and some politicians to what they call red lines against this or that party , Mr. Prime Minister said: I recommend that everyone read the developments well , there has been so many developments during the past four years and none can holds the neck of the political process anymore .
On the goal of the conference, which the Prime Minister called for in Anbar , his Excellency said it is intended to isolate the terrorists and strengthen national unity in Anbar and address reconstruction efforts .
On the issue of exporting oil from the Kurdistan region and its consequent effects , the Prime Minister said, that this act is in violation of the Iraq's sovereignty and Iraq's constitution , it cannot be accepted under any conditions. He stressed that there is no such thing as cutting the salaries of the Kurdistan region, but this is a banner raised for mobilization and incitement.

Nouri may or may not have the votes his office states.  He's prone to making claims that aren't true.  All Iraq News notes, "The Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend and the Kurdistani Democratic Party announced rejecting the nomination of the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, for the third term of the Prime Minister Post."

NINA notes National Union Forces coalition MP Raad al-Dahlaki declared today that Nouri's 175 claim was "nothing but a negotiating message to other political blocs, to try and make them join the convergence to the government of the political majority that calls for it."  Yes, Nouri is lying in an attempt to make it appear a done deal.  He is no closer to a third term today than he was on April 29th but he hopes lying will frighten off challengers.

Nouri's a menace, let's turn to violence.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "Back-to-back car bombs" left 17 dead in Kirkuk.  National Iraqi News Agency reports the death toll increased to 19 and that  1 person was shot dead in Abi Saida Village, an al-Shura school worker was shot dead, a Mosul roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 5 suspects, then they announced they killed 17 more,  1 person was shot dead in eastern Mosul, security forces killed 11 suspects in Alsijr, a western Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured, an Iraqi soldier was injured in a Fadliliyah shooting, a Meshahda shooting left one Iraqi soldier injured, 1 person was shot dead in Ghazaliya, and a Hilla car bombing left 6 people dead and twenty-four injured.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 140 deaths -- that's just in the first three days of the month.  If you add in the 62 noted above, that's 202 deaths.   Yesterday's deaths, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) note, included Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha:  "Abu Risha is the nephew of Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, head of the Anbar Awakening Council -- a group composed primarily of Sunni Arab fighters who turned on al Qaeda in Iraq in late 2006 and joined forces with the U.S.-led coalition."

Moving over to England where an inquiry into the Iraq War began when Gordon Brown was prime minister.

Well that was a long time ago
Sounded good on a
Delicate white-ribbon card

-- "One More Big Time Rock and Roll Star," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears as the flip side of the single "Talk To Me," first appears on CD on the Enchanted boxed set

That was a long time ago.  And yet the report from all those public hearings has still not been released.  The White House -- the current White House, Barack's White House -- has done everything they can to stop the release of the report.

Today, Gary Porter (Daily Post) reports: Bob McFerran is charging a cover up in the decision "not to publish the full exchange between Tony Blair and George Bush" He fears the truth will most likely not be known as a result and he is the father of Peter McFerran who died in a Basra bombing in July 2007 while serving in the RAF.  He is not the only parent of one of the fallen in Iraq who feels this way.  Last week, Rowena Mason (Guardian) reported:

Meanwhile, the mother of a 19-year-old soldier killed in Iraq has said she feels sickened by the decision to publish only partial extracts of the Blair-Bush exchanges before the war.
Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in June 2004, said she believed the former prime minister was laughing at the families and would "walk away from it with a smile on his face".
"I feel sickened," Gentle said. "How will the families get to know the truth? We are just shoved aside. We just feel, what's the point?
"I think Tony Blair has got a lot to do with the decision. He is kind of behind it."
Gentle said the limited disclosure would mean the families were "still going to be wondering" about what had actually gone on between Blair and Bush before the invasion.

"I think it is definitely a whitewash. I feel Tony Blair is going to walk away from it with a smile on his face. I feel he is laughing at us."

Considering all the money being spent to make Ed Miliband  a serious contender for the next prime minister, it's amazing the American 'dream team' doesn't grasp that Miliband can be sunk with this report.  If the British people feel jerked around, it will bring up hostility towards Labour (Tony Blair is a member of the Labour Party as is Ed).  This issue needs to be dealt with fully and honestly.  And, for Ed, quickly.  The American 'dream team' does grasp that Tony Blair needs to be buried and they've done a solid job with regards to that.  But the report needs to come out and needs to come out immediately.  Robert Stevens (WSWS) offers:

A deal reached between the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and the Inquiry will allow only selected “quotes or gists” of discussions to be published from 25 notes from Blair to Bush and more than 130 records of conversations they held. It also stipulates that not a single view expressed by Bush to Blair during the exchanges will be made public by the Inquiry.
The agreement comes after the Chilcot Inquiry had first offered to block out anything from the Bush-Blair documents that the UK government thought should not be included. Indeed, once the government told Chilcot in January 2011 that the Blair-Bush records were off limits this was accepted without a hint of protest.
On May 28 Chilcot wrote to Heywood, “Accordingly, the requests submitted by the Inquiry last summer were for permission to disclose quotes or gists of the content. We have concluded they are sufficient to explain our conclusions.”
The letter further reassures the government that only a glimpse of what was discussed between the conspirators will make it into the report, with Chilcot adding, “We have also agreed that the use of direct quotation from the documents should be the minimum necessary to enable the Inquiry to articulate its conclusions.”
There is no end to the cover-up. Last month it was revealed that a personal letter written by Blair to Bush in July 2002, fully nine months before the invasion of Iraq, reportedly beginning with the words, “You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I’m with you,” has “gone missing” from the US Presidential library.
The inquiry was always a fraud. When setting it up, former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who succeeded Blair in 2007, ensured that no one would be held accountable for anything, let alone be brought to justice.

elise labott

mohammed tawfeeq
chelsea j. carter
mushreq abbas