Saturday, October 05, 2013

Idiot of the week

As we go into the weekend, we have a clear winner of the title Idiot of the Week.

Chad Henderson wanted to be Barack's boi toi so he lied to the press who made him a momentary media star this week.  He had enrolled in ObamaCare.

Oops, he hadn't.  Peter Suderman (Reason) reports:

Chad Henderson is the media’s poster boy for Obamacare. Reporters struggled this week to find individuals who said they had been able to enroll in one of the law’s 36 federally run health-insurance exchanges.
That changed yesterday, when they found Henderson, a 21-year-old student and part-time child-care worker who lives in Georgia and says that he successfully enrolled himself and his father Bill in insurance plans via the online exchange administered at
But in an exclusive phone interview this morning with Reason, Chad's father Bill contradicted virtually every major detail of the story the media can't get enough of. What's more, some of the details that Chad has released are also at odds with published rate schedules and how Obamacare officials say the enrollment system works.

Pulling up his sparkly thong, Chaddie Henderson had to admit to the Washington Post that he had lied.

Poor little Chaddie.  He wanted to be the new Monica Lewinsky.  Let's all join Freddy Mercury for a moment to sing:

You got egg on your face
A big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place

That's Queen's "We Will Rock You."  Poor Chaddie.

Let's give Chaddie another song.

He asks her for permission
To take the car
Light his cigar
Play his guitar
Burn down the barn

He asks her for permission
To tie his shoes
To take a snooze
To read the news
To sing the blues

He's such a good boy
A real mama's boy
She treats him like a toy
He's such a good boy

That's Carly Simon's "Such A Good Boy." She wrote the lyrics and she co-wrote the music with Robbie Shakespeare and Mike Mainieri.  Chaddie's such a good boy, a real mama's boy . . .

Now 2013 is, for me, the year of Norman Pollack.  Have you caught his latest at CounterPunch?  This is the opening paragraph:

Surveillance.  Assassination.  Teleprompter.  Three little words, but, unlike the song, which says, “I love you,” these signify incipient fascism in America under the Obama administration, the “love” bestowed on a systemic-structural formation of advanced capitalism increasingly dependent on military means to forestall a declining position of global hegemony.  Surveillance is the leading edge of a police state in its massive intrusiveness and potential for the punishment and destruction of dissent.  Assassination is the signature modality of so-called counterterrorism, in reality, in its armed-drone application, a flaunting of amoral solipsistic conduct in the world showing contempt for international law and advertising the use of terror without compunction or restraint.  Teleprompter here denotes the construction of an image of fluent skillful leadership disguising an empty vessel filled first by Axelrod then Rhodes until, now finally coming into his own, Obama emerges—still needing artificial means of communication—the Compleat Beguiler, spokesperson for America’s ruling groups and, particularly, its military, defense, and financial communities.  No longer the empty vessel, although dependent as always on speechwriters for a gloss of liberal rhetoric on policies for articulating and advancing US hegemonic global purposes, Obama has taken rapid strides beyond his predecessors in clamping down a national-security mentality on American ideology and political consciousness.

 Read the whole thing and be glad we have such a strong voice.

Stealing from C.I.: 

Community bloggers participating in a theme post on snacks did the following:  Rebecca's "pudding," Kat's "Fudge," Ruth's "Graham crackers," Betty's "Popcorn," Mike's "Cold pizza," Isaiah's  "Heck Of A Job (Snow Cones)," Elaine's "Sea Salt and Vinegar," Trina's "Junior Mints and nachos," Marcia's "Cracker Jacks," Stan's "Pickles" and Ann's "Marshmallows."

It was a fun topic. And I had even more fun reading everyone else's choices.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 4, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the election law is still not passed, the white wash of the birth defects in Iraq is called out, American professor Noam Chomsky offers some truth about Iraq, US House Rep Tim Ryan drives his BMW to Congress (Bitch, Moan and Whine), a new rumor about Iraqi Christians (which comes from an Iraqi Christian), and more.

Yesterday, things really got shrill on the floor of Congress as US House Rep Tim Ryan screeched:

I was against the Iraq War!  The Iraq War was unaffordable! The Iraq War was unpopular! 58% of the American people were against the Iraq War!  Democrats didn't shut down the government! Use the political process!  Which we did and won the House back in '06 and won the presidency in '08 and we wound down the Iraqi War!

KPFA played Little Coward Tim Ryan shrieking over and over yesterday and today.

Tim Ryan is offended that some against ObamaCare are willing to stand up for their beliefs.

If Little Coward Tim Ryan isn't a liar, he's just a little coward who can't take a stand, he's confessed to how worthless and useless he is:

I was against the Iraq War!  The Iraq War was unaffordable! The Iraq War was unpopular! 58% of the American people were against the Iraq War!  Democrats didn't shut down the government!


Try criminal.  It was criminal.

And notice how he can't speak of the human costs of that war.  His own guilt shames him into silence on that.  He has blood on his hands and wants to attack Republicans for doing now what he was too damn cowardly to do?

As the American people are seeing right now, with ObamaCare, what you could have done to stop the Iraq War but refused to do.  Because Tim Ryan was a coward.

How many people died -- and continue to die -- because of the cowardly, worthless Tim Ryan?

He threw a shrill tantrum on the floor of Congress yesterday that basically confesses to his own worthlessness and cowardice.  If he had the same convictions the ObamaCare opponents do, the Iraq War could have cost a lot less lives.  (Maybe even been averted. He started serving in Congress in January 2013.)

Tim Ryan:  Democrats didn't shut down the government! Use the political process!  Which we did and won the House back in '06 and won the presidency in '08 and we wound down the Iraqi War!

No, they didn't shut down the government.  Nor did they end the illegal war as they promised they would if they got even one house of Congress in the 2006 mid-terms.  They did nothing.  They threatened.  They got the White House benchmarks -- and then refused to use them.  (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was the only one in 2008 raising those benchmarks in hearings.) They betrayed the people of America.  And, as Tim Ryan's shrill act should have gotten across, they could have stopped it in 2007 or 2008.  But they chose not to.

Tim Ryan's proud moment is really just another example of the spineless and cowardly behavior Congressional Democrats displayed throughout the Bully Boy Bush years.  In the Barack years?  They can't show strength now either.  They can only whine and bitch.

Today Noam Chomsky Tweets:

  1. Invading Iraq was the kind of crime for which Nazi war criminals were hanged at Nuremberg.

The Tweet comes on the same day The Lancet publishes Paul C. Webster's article questioning the ridiculous report the World Health Organization and and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior 'published' (released in nonsense form) last month on the birth defects in Iraq.  Excerpt:

Researchers in Iraq, the UK, and the USA who have probed congenital birth defects and have published recent peer-reviewed studies also express concerns about the methodology employed by the Iraqi MOH and WHO.
Although WHO says that “at this point no effort to neither substantiate nor negate the findings of other studies can be employed because the study is not aiming to establish cause-effect associations between [congenital birth defects] prevalence and environmental risk factors”, the study issued by the Iraqi Government states that “in recent years there have been several anecdotal reports of geographical regions with an unusually high prevalence of congenital birth defects in Iraq. Most of the reports did not meet the norms for an objective study of birth defects, and a review of the published literature could find no clear evidence to support their findings.”
Samira Alaani, a paediatrician in Fallujah, Iraq, who copublished a 2011 study utilising hospital records to conclude that congenital malformations accounted for 15% of all births in Fallujah since 2003, says the new study cofunded by WHO and the Iraqi Government should have employed hospital records more comprehensively.
Muhsin Al-Sabbak of the Basrah Medical School in Basrah, Iraq, who copublished a 2012 study reporting a 17-fold increase in birth defects in the Al Basrah Maternity Hospital since 1994, warns that the data from Basrah in the new study does not match local hospital records.
Alison Alborz is a specialist on learning disabilities in children at the University of Manchester, UK, who published a 2013 study presenting data from a 2010 survey of 6032 households in four Iraqi governates including data for more than 10 000 children and young people showing a prevalence of congenital birth defects more than 2·5 times higher than reported in the Iraqi Government study. She says the new report gives little information about sampling and does not offer any discussion of whether the districts chosen for analysis “reflect the characteristics of the governorate as a whole”.

The War Criminals are trying to cover their crimes.  The US government put heavy pressure on WHO over this report.  Bully Boy Bush isn't in the White House anymore.  Meaning, the War Crimes continue.  And, in the US, you have to pin the continuation on someone other than Bully Boy Bush.  Can you do the math on your own?  Every day children are born in areas of Iraq with birth defects that are a direct result of the illegal war, covering up a report, hiding it, delaying it, will not change that fact.  As Michel Chossudovsky (Global Research) noted last month, "Furthermore, recent revelations by Hans von Sponeck, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, suggest that WHO may be susceptible to pressure from its member states. Mr. von Sponeck said that 'The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where DU had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers'."

People covering for a War Lord in the White House currently are not people who are helping the children of Iraq. As the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk Christopher Busby (RT) pointed out last week, "Since the outcome is intended to exonerate the US and UK military from what are effectively war crimes, and since the result will be employed to defend the continued use of uranium weapons, all concerned in this chicanery should be put before a criminal court and tried for what they have done.  Their actions are responsible for human suffering and death and cannot be forgiven. This is a human rights issue." The Center for Constitutional Rights' Jeena Shah notes at Huffington Post:

This week, one of the world's most renowned and respected medical journals, The Lancet, joined the chorus of epidemiologists challenging the credibility of a recently-released report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi Health Ministry. The report contradicts consistent reporting of high rates of birth defects in Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003. The WHO's defense of the study despite the critiques from many corners raises questions as to the independence of the international body tasked with monitoring and addressing public health crises around the globe.
Doctors across Iraq report that cancer rates, birth defects, and other environmental health problems have skyrocketed since 2003. In the words of Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist based in Michigan who has been studying the rise in congenital birth defects in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion, "Iraq is poisoned."
Among the toxic munitions used by the U.S. military, depleted uranium, also known as "DU," is known to lead to cancer and genetic defects from exposure to its radiation and carcinogenic chemical properties. Scientific studies also strongly suggest that DU can interfere with the pre-natal development of a fetus.

Please note that US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have recently developed an interest in chemical weapons.  As the Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm has pointed out:

Weapons with depleted uranium were previously used during the first Gulf War in 1991. The city of Basra suffered harshly. In 2004 the US carried out two big attacks against the city of Fallujah. Uranium weapons as well as white phosphorus were used against the civilian population. Many deformed children have been born in Fallujah at the General Hospital since then. In Fallujah, Basra, Najaf, Bagdad, Hawija and other cities children suffer from deformities, cancer and other illnesses.

We have previously encouraged the Swedish government to both nationally and internationally support independent, international investigations about the children and the causes of their serious genetic disorders and the increasing frequency of illnesses. You now have an excellent opportunity to encourage President Obama to reveal the systems and quantities of weapons the US used in Fallujah. This would be of enormous assistance to the research.

President Obama´s Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the US condemns the use of chemical weapons. In order for this statement to be able to be taken seriously President Obama must account in detail for the US use of chemical weapons and demand legal responsibility for the crimes committed. Instead President Obama´s Justice Department has demanded immunity for his predecessor George W Bush and five of his close conspirators for war crimes. No responsible person on a high level in the US administration may be charged with war crimes!

Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi was in Falluja during the second US assault (November 2004).  In a 2011 column at the Guardian, he noted:

I do not see any contradiction in feeling sympathy for the dead US Marines and soldiers and at the same time feeling sympathy for the Fallujans who fell to their guns. The contradiction lies in believing that we were liberators, when in fact we oppressed the freedoms and wishes of Fallujans. The contradiction lies in believing that we were heroes, when the definition of "hero" bares no relation to our actions in Fallujah.
What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit. What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudices that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would have done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.
I understand the psychology that causes the aggressors to blame their victims. I understand the justifications and defence mechanisms. I understand the emotional urge to want to hate the people who killed someone dear to you. But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.
The same distorted morality has been used to justify attacks against the native Americans, the Vietnamese, El Salvadorans, and the Afghans. It is the same story over and over again. These people have been dehumanised, their God-given right to self-defence has been delegitimised, their resistance has been reframed as terrorism, and US soldiers have been sent to kill them.
History has preserved these lies, normalised them, and socialised them into our culture: so much so that legitimate resistance against US aggression is incomprehensible to most, and to even raise this question is seen as un-American.

He has made a documentary entitled Fear Not the Path of TruthHis organization, The Justice For Fallujah Project, notes:

November 18th
Premier screening of Fear Not the Path of Truth
At the
Paulist Center
5 Park St. Boston, MA
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
The screening will be followed by a reception with free food and drinks (no alcohol allowed).

November 19th
Screening of Fear Not the Path of Truth
At the
Old Oak Dojo
14 Chestnut Place, Boston MA

In June,  Alsumaria reported that congenital malformations and rates of cancer are extremely high as a result of the uranium munitions the US military used.  It's no longer unusual for a child to be born with two heads or with just one eye, the report explains, and the health statistics are much worse than in Japan in the aftermath of the US using the atomic bombs.  In Falluja, children born with deformities account for 14.7% of all births.   The report notes that although Iraq has a population estimated at 31 million, there are only 20,000 medical doctors and just over 100 psychotherapists in the country.   Dr. Mozhgan Savabiesfahani also penned a column for Al Jazeera last March:

Our study in two Iraqi cities, Fallujah and Basrah, focused on congenital birth defects. In both cities, the study revealed increasing numbers of congenital birth defects, especially neural tube defects and congenital heart defects. It also revealed public contamination with two major neurotoxic metals, lead and mercury. The Iraq birth defects epidemic is, however, surfacing in the context of many more public health problems in bombarded cities. Childhood leukemia, and other types of cancers are increasing in Iraq. Childhood leukemia rates in Basra more than doubled between 1993 and 2007. In 1993, the annual rate of childhood leukemia was 2.6 per 100,000 individuals and by 2006 it had reached 12.2 per 100,000.
Multiple cancers in patients (patients with simultaneous tumors on both kidneys and in the stomach, for example), an extremely rare occurrence, have also been reported. Dr Jawad al-Ali, a cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, discussed the issue of multiple cancers with Der Spiegel last December. Familial cancer clusters, described as the occurrence of multiple cancers throughout an entire family, were also disclosed in that Spiegel report.  
These observations collectively suggest an extraordinary public health emergency in Iraq. Such a crisis requires urgent multifaceted international action to prevent further damage to public health.

She's right, this is a crisis.  It needs to addressed immediately -- not denied, not covered up.  Cleaned up?  Yeah, as much as it can be, the toxic areas need to be cleaned up and the US government is the one who should be footing the costs.  Former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator  Denis Halliday (Global Research) observes, "This tragedy in Iraq reminds one of US Chemical Weapons used in Vietnam. And that the US has failed to acknowledge or pay compensation or provide medical assistance to thousands of deformed children born and still being born due to American military use of Agent Orange throughout the country. The millions of gallons of this chemical dumped on rural Vietnam were eagerly manufactured and sold to the Pentagon by companies Dupont, Monsanto and others greedy for huge profits.’

"The US Has Left Iraq With An Epidemic Of Cancers and Birth Defects."  That's the number 12 censored story in Project Censored's Top 25 Censored Stories From 2012 - 2013 which is released (in print and digital formats) this coming Tuesday. (Mickey Huff and Peter  Phillipsdiscussed the book today on The Morning Mix on KPFA -- each Friday Project Censored hosts The Morning Mix -- eight am to nine am PST).

Censor is what Nouri al-Maliki tries to do to the Iraq media.  Ali Musa (Al Mada) reports that Nouri's forces shut down the local radio in Balad -- the last station -- accusing it of being a mouthpiece for the poor.  (Yes, the police really said that and, yes, they seem to think there can be no greater horror than giving a voice to the poor.)  For this 'crime,' the radio station was surrounded after the sun went down by the police who quickly took over the station and shut it down.  This is the country, Ali Musa reminds, where over 360 journalists have been killed since 2003.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi journalist organization, noted in this year's report that 2012 was the worst year for Iraqi journalists since Saddam Hussein was overthrown (by foreign invaders).

Protests took place today.   Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Baghdad, in TikritNajafRamadi, FallujaSamarra, Baquba, Balad RuzJalawla, among other sites.   Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21st.   Of today's protests, NINA notes:

Preachers of Friday-prayers called on the sit-inner in their sermons to continue the sit-ins as are the only way to get rid of injustice and abuse policy.
They said in the common prayer which held in six regions of Diyala province : " Iraqi government must not deal with the demands of the protestors in a double standard . Urging worshipers to unify their stand until getting the demands, release innocent prisoners and detainees from prisons.

Kitabat reports that Sheikh Mohammed al-Dulaimi spoke at the Falluja protest and accused the government of supporting militias who target and kill Sunnis.  The Sheikh said that instead of implementing the demands of the protesters, the government would rather target or ignore the protesters.  National Iraqi News offers the Sheikh said, ""The Iraqi government rather than implement the demands of the protesters and adopt genuine reconciliation with people, it tracking and embarrassing the protest leaders, since 9 Months ago claimants the usurped legal rights."

Sheikh Mohammed al-Dulaimi is correct in his accusation:  Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and chief thug of Iraq) is supporting Shi'ite militias.  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke that story last week -- but somehow the US Congress and the rest of the media missed it.  (The media may be playing dumb.  Members of Congress actually missed it, I spoke with several yesterday about Tim Arango's report.)   Arango noted:

In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

And the protesters were targeted today.  NINA notes both the Falluja and the Ramadi sit-ins were targeted with sound bombs.

That wasn't the only violence.  NINA notes a Tikrit bombing claimed 2 lives and left seven people injured, a Falluja sticky bombing killed 1 person and left another injured,  an Anbar Province bombing ("on the road between Hadeetha and Rutba") claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left two more injured, and "One officer and one soldier killed and six police and military men wounded in a suicide attack on Friday, Oct. 4, in a suicide attack against joint military and police checkpoint at the entrance of Heet district, western Anbar province."

The Associated Press reports the targeting of a Sunni mosque in Umm al-Adham with a bombing ("hidden inside an air conditioner) which has left at least 33 people dead and at least forty-five injured.

The Iraq Times reports that Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi declared Nouri al-Maliki must be stopped from wasting the Iraqi people's money.  Chalabi is complaining that Nouri has earmarked $15 million for Somolia.  Chalabi demands to know what gave Nouri the right to give these funds?  Chalabi points out that, in Iraq, many families currently go without food and poverty is widespread.  What does it mean?  Every four years, Chalabi offers criticism of Nouri.  Campaign season is beginning in Iraq.  Musrafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) reports today:

Iraqi politicians are obviously unwilling and probably incapable of offering any consensual solutions to the exacerbating Iraqi crisis before the Iraqi parliamentary elections likely to be held in the middle of next year.
The main reason for this conviction is that the various parties are still hoping the elections will solve the crisis. This is not based on a firm conviction that elections are a democratic means for changing power, but rather on the hope that elections will change the current political map in favor of one party or another, allowing it to impose its vision of the solution.
The truth is, while elections represent a suitable track for venting political tensions, they are not sufficient as an end goal to a crisis, such as the one currently faced by Iraq. This is a country that remains unable to overcome its transitional phase, and is embroiled in conflicts over the foundations of its political processes and the dispute over the method of the state administration, in addition to major security collapses.
For an election to be held, the Parliament must pass a law.  NINA reports:

Rapporter of the parliament MP, for IS coalition , Muhammad Al-Khalidi said " adjorning of today's parliament session to next Monday represent the last chance to vote on the election law.

Khalidi pointed out at a press conference today that "differences on the paragraphs of the election law are still ongoing between the political blocs," adding that "the Presidency of the House of Representatives has given the political blocs the final chance to reach an agree on the electoral law on next Monday.

al-Khalidi is with Iraqiya (IS stands for "Iraqiya Slate).

Thursday at the State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Marie Harf was asked about the visa program for Iraqis who helped the US military.

QUESTION: The other question is related to the mention that the Congress approved the program --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or the funding of the program for the Iraqi visas or those Iraqis who work for U.S.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In the same time, I mean, the other budget allocation is not done for the other activities. I mean, how you can explain that? I mean, it’s like you can spend money for that program but you cannot spend other money for some essential activities?

MS. HARF: Well, to be clear, they voted yesterday to extend the program. I’m not sure about where the funding for it exactly lies, what bucket of money that comes out of. We thought it was an important step that they did come together to vote to extend it. But clearly, we believe that all of our programs are important, and we believe that we shouldn’t have to make difficult choices between competing priorities that are very important to our foreign policy. So I was giving, as an example, of a way Congress has been able to work together on an important priority for us.

Al Bawaba adds:

When the five year old visa plan ended on September 30, it threatened to halt the visa processing for thousands of Iraqis who had helped the American military during the near decade long war. The 2,500 odd interpreters whose visas are awaiting approval are often at risk from extremists who consider them traitors for having helped American forces.
“These are the interpreters, the guides, drivers, people who performed a myriad of functions that were essential for American operations,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat who introduced the first legislation on the program six years ago. “Last night, the United States sent a signal that we are not going to leave them behind.”

The program gets re-instated as Iraq's own visas are called out.  Alsumaria reports:

Iraq ranked second in the world’s worst passports list due to the problems its carriers face to acquire visas, according to Henley & Partners’ Visa Restrictions Index 2013.
Afghanistan came first, followed by Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Occupied Palestine, Eretria, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Lebanon.

However, one Iraqi politician feels that visas are being given out too easily -- to one segment of the population -- by the US.  Alsumaria reports

Member of Parliament Imad Youkhana, affiliated with Al Rafidayn Bloc, accused the American Embassy in Iraq of working on making all the Christians leave Iraq, urging it to cease giving them visas. He also urged the Iraqi Government to intervene quickly and solve this problem.

“The American Embassy in Baghdad and Arbil are working on making all the Iraqi Christians leave by offering them facilitation and visas to the United States under different pretenses”, said Youkhana in a press release of which Alsumaria got a copy. He warned against the dangers of allowing Christian Iraqi families to travel away, namely voiding Iraq of one of its most important component. This is a negative and inacceptable phenomenon.

“Giving visa to entire families is considered a masked ethnic cleansing that uses the pretext of protecting minorities from terrorism”, he revealed, pointing out that “this aims to hide their political failure in Iraqi after they couldn’t take the moral blame of the instability in Iraq post-occupation”.

These charges, true or false, are coming from a Christian MP.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) identified him as such last year (last paragraph of article).

Joan Wile, the author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace and one of the Raging Grannies, will be among those taking part in the following action on October 7th:

CONTACT:  Lionelle Hamanaka, 212-662-5011; Vicki McFadyen,646-8245506; Joan Wile, 917-441-0651 


On Oct. 7, 2013, a number of NYC peace groups will mark the 12th year of our invasion of Afghanistan by rallying at Union Square to demand an end to the war, to ask the question, "Can We Go Home Now?"

Names of the 2,272 fallen U.S, military killed in Afghanistan will be read.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to capture Osama bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group Al Qaeda. 

Mission accomplished!
·     Osama bin Laden is dead
·   There are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.  

The protesters believe there is nothing more to be gained by remaining in Afghanistan.  
  • The government we installed after overthrowing the Taliban is  hopelessly corrupt;
  •  It is clear that some in the current Afghanistan government are in cahoots with the Taliban and are undermining NATO efforts ;
  • Prolonged occupation inevitably creates anti-U.S. resentment, just as we would resent a foreign occupation force within our borders;  Our attempts to "nation-build" a country we don't understand has cost U.S. thousands of casualties and tens of thousands of Afghan civilian deaths, which has only served to radicalize more of the population;
  • The cost of the war is now $120 billion per year, money that should fund new priorities reflecting urgent human needs.
"We are holding this important action so that people will realize the terrible human cost of war," said Vicki McFadyen, Treasurer of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO).

DATE:     Monday, Oct. 7
TIME:       4:30  - 7 p.m.
LOCATION:  60 E. 14th St., opposite Union Square

SPONSORED BY (partial list):  Military Families Speak Out (Metro), War Resisters League NY, Code Pink NY, Granny Peace Brigade, Brooklyn For Peace, Grandmothers Against the War, Manhattan Peace Action, Peace Action NYS 

Added.  Community bloggers participating in a theme post on snacks did the following:  Rebecca's "pudding," Kat's "Fudge," Ruth's "Graham crackers," Betty's "Popcorn," Mike's "Cold pizza," Isaiah's  "Heck Of A Job (Snow Cones)," Elaine's "Sea Salt and Vinegar," Trina's "Junior Mints and nachos," Marcia's "Cracker Jacks," Stan's "Pickles" and Ann's "Marshmallows."

Friday, October 04, 2013

Cold pizza

Tonight is an easy night (good! we went so long in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin!), we're doing theme posts.  The theme?

Favorite snack.

Julia e-mailed Stan last week and we decided this would be our theme post.

For me, my favorite snack is cold pizza.

I love pizza.

I love it hot, I love it warm.  But cold from the fridge?  That's when it's not a meal, it's a snack.

Any cold pizza is great but probably my favorite cold pizza is Canadian Bacon.  Second favorite is pepperoni.  I can take olives or mushrooms on them but just a single topping is fine.

Not as crazy about a supreme pizza cold (onions and bell peppers don't taste right to me cold) but I will eat that as well.

The only thing better than the taste is the moment I open the fridge and discover the slice or two.

Even now, it's a surprise and it shouldn't be.

It's Elaine, our daughter and me.

But I was one of 8 kids and the 2nd youngest.  So the joy of being the first to discover a slice of cold pizza is something that still excites me.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 3, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, kidnappings are part of the violence and there's news there today, still no election law passed by Parliament, oil exports are down, Nouri's also still using those 'magic' wands at checkpoints despite the fact that the man who made and sold them is in a British prison for those defective wands, Senators Robert Menendez and John McCain inform the State Dept aid and weapon sales to Iraq can be stopped by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and more.

James Morrison (Washington Times) reports,  "Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, told a top State Department official to inform the Iraqi government that Congress is growing impatient with its failure to keep the dissidents of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq safe from assaults."

What's Morrison talking about?

As of last month, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

Dropping back to September 16's snapshot:

US Senator Robert Menendez issued a statement on the attack which included, "I hold the Iraqi government directly responsible to protect the community, to investigate this matter thoroughly, and to prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous act. I am deeply concerned for the seven hostages who were taken during this attack. The Iraqi government should act swiftly to determine their whereabouts and ensure their safety. There is added urgency for the global community, as well as for the United States, to help resettle this community outside of Iraq, and end this cycle of ongoing terror attacks."  Seven Ashraf hostages? Nouri's government denied they existed but they did and do. Last week, UNHCR issued the following statement:

These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher issued a statement noting them and the continued attacks on the Ashraf community.  He observed, "The refugees disarmed themselves with faith in U.S. Government guarantees of their safety. If we fail them, nobody will believe us again."

This morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Iran and its nuclear ambitions (or perceived ones).  Senator Robert Menendez is the Chair of the Committee.  Senator Bob Corker is the Ranking Member.   Appearing before the Committee today were two panels.  The first panel was the State Dept's Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, the second panel was Washington Institute for Near East Policy's James Jeffrey (Jeffrey was also a US Ambassador to Iraq -- one of four in Barack's first term and don't forget failed nominee Brett McGurk), the Institute for Science and International Security's David Albright and the Council on Foreign Relation's Ray Takeyh.  

From the first panel:

Senator John McCain:  In the situation as it relates to the Camp Ashraf people, we know that they were Iranian dissidents.  At one point,  they were designated as a terrorist organization.  But the United States government, it's true, gave them an assurance that if they moved [to Camp Liberty] they would be protected.  We know that the Iranian influence has increased in, uh, in Iraq.  In fact, we know now that Iraq is alive and well and doing extremely well moving back and forth across the two countries.  Now there was a murder of, I believe, 51 people who were members of this  camp and many of them had in their possession guarantees from the United States of America that they would not be harmed.   What-what lessons -- First, are these facts true?  And, second, if they are true, what message does that send to people who we say will be under our protection?

Wendy Sherman:  Senator, uh, I share your, deep concern about what happened, uh, at Camp Ashraf.  This was a vicious attack in September 1st and many lives were lost.  And the US continues to press the government of Iraq at every opportunity, at very senior -- at the most senior levels to ensure the safety and security of residents at Camp Hurriya where many of the MEK were moved for better safety.  We strongly and swiftly condemned the attack.  We of course extend  our condolences to the victims' families and we are working with the government of Iraq and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, UNAMI, to peacefully and voluntarily transfer the surviving residents to safety at Camp Hurriya on September 12th.  And we are working for the protection of the people in Camp Hurriya because we do not want a repeat of this.   So, to date, the government of Iran -- of Iraq has moved in over 700 large T-walls, over 500 bunkers, over 600 small T-walls and nearly 50,000 sandbags.  UN monitors visit the camp daily in accordance with the MOU to asses human rights and humanitarian conditions.  But I must say, Senator, the real answer to this, to the safety and security of all the people in the camps -- who wants to live in a camp? -- is resettlement to third countries to get out of Iraq and to get out of harms way.  And I would call on all the people who are here today representing the rights and the interests of the MEK and the leaders of the MEK in the camps and in Paris, uh, to allow this resettlement to go forward because until the resettlement happens safety and security is going to be a risk.  We will do everything in our power to keep people safe in these camps.  But, as you point out, the al Qaeda threat is increasing in Iraq and it is difficult.

Senator John McCain:  And I hope that this issue will be raised with the Iraqi government.  And we in Congress may have to look at the kind of aid and how we are extending that to Iraq if this kind of thing is going to be countenanced by the Iraqi government.  I don't -- I've used up all my time.  And I thank you for your response.

Chair Robert Menendez: Before I turn to Senator [Edward] Markey let me echo what Senator McCain has said in this regard.  And I put out a statement in this regard, I also talked to our Department.  You know, America went to the MEK and we said, 'Disarm and we will protect you.'  And then we ultimately left and that protection has not been there.  You can put up I don't care how many tons of sand bags but when elements of the Iraqi forces actually may very well be complicit in what took place, sand bags aren't going to take care of the problem.  And I agree with you that resettlement is a critical part.  Maybe the United States could be part of leading the way in saying to a universe of these individuals that in fact you can be resettled to the United States.  And that would get the rest of the world to offer further resettlement. But it is unacceptable to lose one more life when American commanders gave these individuals a written guarantee towards their safety.  And it sends a message to others in the world that when we say we are going to do that and we do not, they should not trust us.  And for one thing that this Committee can do since it has jurisdiction over all weapon sales is that I doubt very much that we are going to see any approval of any weapon sales to Iraq until we get this situation in  a place where people's lives are safe.  

First off, I counted at least 15 Ashraf supporters attending the hearing.  (They wore yellow.)  Second, I don't mean to be rude here, but why don't you know your facts?

We were at the hearing today because we knew there was a good chance that Ashraf would be raised.  McCain and Menendez are among those who regularly raise the issue.  So the State Dept should have known that as well.

Instead, it's like an AA meeting facilitated by someone who never did the steps.  To answer McCain's two questions, she had to pull out 'The Big Book.'  The State Dept cheat sheet.  She was reading aloud and had no idea what she was quickly skimming.  That's how she made this mistake:

We of course extend  our condolences to the victims' families and we are working with the government of Iraq and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, UNAMI, to peacefully and voluntarily transfer the surviving residents to safety at Camp Hurriya on September 12th. 

And "we are working" on something that took place September 12th?  She had no idea until she finished her skimming while testifying that the US was not "working" because everyone had been moved out of Ashraf by the 12th.

She still didn't grasp what she'd read:

But I must say, Senator, the real answer to this, to the safety and security of all the people in the camps -- who wants to live in a camp? -- is resettlement to third countries to get out of Iraq and to get out of harms way. 

"In the camps"?  There's only one camp now, Camp Hurriya.  Second, learn.  Do your damn job and learn.  It shouldn't be that damn difficult when you consider all the money US taxpayers are giving the State Dept to work in Iraq (only Afghanistan exceeds Iraq in terms of the State Dept's budget).  Wendy Sherman showed up knowing nothing about the topic.  "Who wants to live in a camp?"

Camp Ashraf was established decades ago.  The residents didn't want to leave it.  Not for Camp Hurriya, not to move anywhere else.  It had become their home.

That's why the international press showed them with tears, the first group forced out.  They were crying because they were leaving their homes.

If you don't grasp that, you shouldn't be speaking on the topic on behalf of the US government.

Wendy Sherman doesn't want to live in a camp?

Got it.

But Wendy Sherman isn't a Camp Ashraf resident nor is she every person on the face of the planet.  Meaning?  What she likes and doesn't like does not get reflected 100% across humanity.  She needs to stop try to be the Voice of All People and instead learn some facts.

We're not done yet because she wasn't done yet showing her ignorance.  She said, "We will do everything in our power to keep people safe in these camps.  But, as you point out, the al Qaeda threat is increasing in Iraq and it is difficult."  First off, no, the US government is not doing everything in its power.  It could take some of the US forces (including the unit Barack sent in fall 2012) and have them protect Camp Hurriya.  Or it could demand that United Nations security forces go in and protect the people of Hurriya.

Second of all, al Qaeda?

How stupid is Wendy Sherman?

She didn't have the brains to realize Ashraf would probably be an issue.  Then she wants to blame al Qaeda?

It was most likely Nouri's forces.  Barring that, it was fighters from Iran who were waived in.

If the State Dept is so stupid they think al Qaeda is in Iran, then the whole world's at risk.

al Qaeda in Iraq is a Sunni phenomenon (created by the Iraq War).  The MEK are Shi'ites from Iran.  The people who want them out of Iraq?  Shi'ites.  Not Sunnis.  al Qaeda in Iraq has no interest in the 3,000 or so MEK.  They're not upset that the MEK has been at war with the government of Iran.  They don't care. It's not their battle.

Wendy Sherman needs to learn her facts before she next offers Congressional testimony.  And here's a little clue for her bosses, tossing her the State Dept big book as a cheat sheet doesn't cover it.  Here's another clue: Pay attention to members of Congress.

We quoted Senator Menendez's statement in full when it was released -- that wasn't even a month ago.  How did the State Dept miss that statement on Iraq?  And what fool didn't realize that Senator Robert Menendez is Committee Chair Robert Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? That used to be chaired by John Kerry, who is now over the State Dept, so I would think there would be a level of awareness.  This is the Committee that provides oversight of the State Dept.

Wendy Sherman was an embarrassment.  Part of that's not her fault.  State Dept witnesses have gotten so lax and -- like Wendy today -- are more concerned with snapping a variation of 'let me finish speaking' then of knowing the basic facts.  That's something to be addressed department wide by the Secretary of State (Kerry).  But going into that hearing she should have some awareness that Iraq -- Iran's neighbor -- would likely come up as a topic in the hearing.

Equally true, 7 Ashraf residents remain missing.  The US government -- including the State Dept -- believes Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug in Iraq, has them in one of his secret prisons.  The UN has called on him to release them.  But, as Alsumaria has repored,  Nouri has issued a statement declaring his security forces were not holding any hostages.  He denies they exist.  That's 7 people the US government swore it would protect.  And Wendy Sherman didn't think this topic would come up?

Let's go back to Chair Menendez for just a moment.

Chair Robert Menendez: And for one thing that this Committee can do since it has jurisdiction over all weapon sales is that I doubt very much that we are going to see any approval of any weapon sales to Iraq until we get this situation in  a place where people's lives are safe.  

On the US and Iraq and weapons, John Hudson (Foreign Policy) reports today that Iraq will not get the US drones that the Iraqi government has been calling for:

Though neither Iraqi nor U.S. officials will say who called off the drones, it's no secret who began discussing them in the first place. In an August 17 trip to Washington, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters that Baghdad is seeking U.S. advisers, air surveillance or drone strikes to combat al-Qaeda's grip on the country. "We cannot fight these increasing terrorist" threats alone, he said. Speaking of drone strikes specifically, he said as long as they were used to "target al-Qaeda and their bases," without "collateral damage," Iraqis would welcome them.
That same month, Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Iraq Lukman Faily reiterated Iraq's interest in drones. "The reason we're now considering drone support is because we need to get better control of the sky so we can track and destroy al-Qaeda camps in the country," Faily told The Cable.
It's not hard to understand why they'd be interested in the unmanned aircraft. On Monday, the detonation of 15 car bombs in Baghdad left dozens dead in an event that would've shocked any other country not embroiled in a civil war. However, in Iraq, it was only the 38th such atrocity in the last 12 months. In 2013 alone, Iraq is averaging 68 car bombings a month. The United Nations reports that 5,740 civilians were killed since January, which is almost two times more deaths than recorded in all of 2010.
Despite the staggering numbers, the U.S. isn't about to open up a new drone war in Iraq. "The use of lethal drones has not been discussed nor is it even under consideration for Iraq," an administration official tells The Cable.

39 minutes.

Yesterday, in Iraq, two more helicopters were shot down (4 died in the first crash, none died in the second).  The drones in question would be presumably be predator drones.  Iraqi air space is already invaded by drones.  First off, drones fly in from Turkey.  Those may be Turkish drones or CIA drones.  In Bully Boy Bush's second term, the Turkish government gave land for a CIA sub-station and got drones in return.  The drones flying in Iraqi airspace may also be part of the CIA presence in Iraq or the US army's Special-Ops forces.  In addition, the Iraqi press has quoted various Iraqi officials insisting that neighbor Saudi Arabia flies drones over Iraq.

Were Nouri's government to get predator drones from the US government, you can be sure they would be used to fire on people -- as opposed to mass arresting them -- and the world saw what he did with helicopters.  A peaceful sit-in is taking place.  The governor of Kirkuk tells Nouri his SWAT cannot enter the province so he avoids the roads and uses the helicopters (the /US supplied) to drop his SWAT in.  And the result?  That would be the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Though they won't be getting drones from the US (for now anyway), they are planning to send something into flight.  Alsumaria reports Abdul Karim al-Samarrai, Minister of Science and Technology, states they will launch a satellite in April.

Oren Dorell (USA Today) reports, "While jihadi fighters spilling over from Syria's civil war are a major factor, the violence is also a result of unresolved political stress between Iraq's Shiite majority and a disillusioned Sunni minority, and shows that the USA needs to rebuild its influence in the country, especially with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said Kenneth Pollack, an analyst at the Brookings Institution."  He quotes Pollack stating, "We've got to rebuild our influence with Iraq and restrain all the different sides. We need to get Maliki to make significant concessions and slowly push both sides to rebuild that deal we hammered out in 2008."

Turning to the violence, NINA notes a Mosul bombing claimed 2 lives and left six more people injured, police Lt Majid Anwar Ahemd's Falluja home was invaded leaving him injured,  a police officer and a civilian were injured when their car was shot up in Shuhada, an Albu Faraj sticky bombing injured one police officer and three civilians, a Mosul roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers and one civilian injured, a bombing near Mosul General Hospital claimed the lives of 5 police officers and left three more injured2 Shabanks (wife and husband) were shot dead in Mosul, a Baquba sticky bombing injured one person2 border guards (Iraqi and Syrian border) were shot dead, a Baghdad football field bombing claimed 4 lives and left thirteen people injured,  and police say they shot dead a suspected bomber in Mosul.  Alsumaria notes the death toll from the football field bombing has risen to 5 (injured is 22) and they note the man in charge of the Mosul Office of Real Estate was shot dead in front of his home.  Of the football field bombing, AFP points out, "The bombing in Madain, south of Baghdad, was just the latest in a string of attacks this year targeting young men playing Iraq's favourite sport."

There was also kidnapping news.  All Iraq News notes that a group of farmers were kidnapped in Samarra.  Why?  They were said to have been cooperating with the federal police forces.  The outlet also notes that kidnappers released some kidnapping victims today and they were then "transported to Tikrit where one of them has lost his mind due to severe torture and passed away when he arrived at the hospital," according to a police source.

On violence, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:

Having lived through years of violence and war, many Iraqis didn’t believe the hype about the recent “summer of terror”. In general, they didn’t think there could be all-out sectarian war again so soon. But over the past few weeks this has changed: real signs of sectarian conflict are starting to emerge again, corpses are being left on streets, and ordinary Baghdadis are starting to worry.
The Shiite Muslim family headed by local man, Abbas, lives in Sadr City, in Baghdad. Recently the family members have been watching TV news reports all about death, violence, murder, kidnapping and internal displacement in their country. Not that far away in the mainly Sunni Muslim neighbourhood of Saidiya, in southern Baghdad, the Sunni Muslim family headed by Mohammed, has been watching the same reports.
And despite their sectarian and social differences, the two families share one fear: that a sectarian conflict is about to start in Iraq again.
Both families have as much reason to fear this as any other Iraqi: A member of Abbas’ family was killed during the last round of sectarian violence when the family was living in the mostly Sunni Muslim area of Amiriya. Meanwhile Mohammed’s brother was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in 2006 – they still don’t know what happened to him but can only assume he was killed.
And Baghdadis in particular know about the signs of sectarian conflict. When violence erupted between 2006 and 2008 between Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims, Baghdad was at the centre of much of the unrest because of the variety of different sects and ethnicities resident here. 
For months now, Iraq has been being tormented by a wave of carefully coordinated bombs and terrorist attacks. Security forces appear to have been unable to stop these – recently one even went off in the mostly peaceful, semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. But although these events are clearly frightening and they terrorize the population, most locals have not believed they were leading to the start of a new sectarian conflict.

Still on violence, dropping back to the June 8, 2010 snapshot:

In November of last year, Rod Nordland (New York Times) explained the 'bomb detectors' in use in Iraq: "The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works 'on the same principle as a Ouija board' -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wantd as nothing more than an explosive divining rod." They are the ADE 651s with a ticket price of between $16,500 and $60,000 and Iraq had bought over 1,500.  More news came with arrests on January 22: "Caroline Hawley (BBC Newsnight -- link has text and video) reports that England has placed an export ban on the ADE-651 'bomb detector' -- a device that's cleaned Iraq's coffers of $85 million so far. Steven Morris (Guardian) follows up noting that, 'The managing director [Jim McCormick] of a British company that has been selling bomb-detecting equipment to security forces in Iraq was arrested on suspicion of fraud today'." From the January 25th snapshot:

Riyad Mohammed and Rod Norldand (New York Times) reported on Saturday that the reaction in Iraq was outrage from officials and they quote MP Ammar Tuma stating, "This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device."  Despite the turn of events, the machines continue to be used in Iraq but 'now' an investigation into them will take place orded by Nouri. As opposed to months ago when they were first called into question. Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) adds that members of Parliament were calling for an end to use of the machines on Saturday.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) notes the US military has long -- and publicly -- decried the use of the machines,  "The US military has been scathing, claiming the wands contained only a chip to detect theft from stores. The claim was based on a study released in June by US military scientists, using x-ray and laboratory analysis, which was passed on to Iraqi officials." 

Today the BBC reports police raids took place at "Global Tech, of Kent, Grosvenor Scientific, in Devon, and Scandec, of Nottingham. Cash and hundreds of the devices have been seized, and a number of people are due to be interviewed under caution on suspicion of fraud."  Michael Peel and Sylvia Pfeifer (Financial Times of London) add, "Colin Cowan, head of City police's overseas anti-corruption unit, said investigators were seeking further information from the public about the manufacture, sale and distribution of the devices. Det Supt Cowan said: 'We are concerned that these items present a real physical threat to anyone who may rely on such a device for protection'." 

The next big news on the 'magic' wands was in the May 2nd (May 2, 2013) snapshot:

The wands didn't work, they were never going to work.  The liar who sold them, and got rich off them, James McCormick, was convicted last month.   Robert Booth and Meirion Jones (Guardian) report, "A jury at the Old Bailey found Jim McCormick, 57, from near Taunton, Somerset, guilty on three counts of fraud over a scam that included the sale of £55m of devices based on a novelty golfball finder to Iraq. They were installed at checkpoints in Baghdad through which car bombs and suicide bombers passed, killing hundreds of civilians. Last month they remained in use at checkpoints across the Iraqi capital."  Today, Jake Ryan (Sun) reports, McCormick, who is 57, was sentenced to a "maximum ten years today."

Robert Booth (Guardian) notes Saad al-Muttalibi ("adviser to Nouri al-Maliki) is insisting Nouri's considering suing on behalf of the victims.  Actually, the families of the victims should be suing Nouri for allowing those things to be used for the last years, even after the wands were globally revealed to be a joke.  The Belfast Telegraph notes that McCormick "showed no reaction as he was told his 'callous confidence trick' was the worst fraud imaginable."  Jake Ryan quotes Judge Richard Hone stating, "The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category.  Your profits were obscene.  You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse."

As we have repeatedly noted, Nouri can't sue.  He doesn't have standing.  Victims may be able to but Nouri would also be named in the suit.  He would be sued along with McCormick.  That's because even after the conviction, the wands continued to be used.  In fact, they're still in use today.

The Press Association notes today:

The fake detectors were still being used at checkpoints in Iraq as recently as two days ago, when a wave of car bombs struck Baghdad, killing 55 people, the Independent reported.
The paper said more than 4,500 people had been killed in Iraq since McCormick's conviction in April.
The Iraqi government had promised the devices would be phased out and replaced by sniffer dogs, but only two provinces in the south of the country have so far installed canine units, the newspaper reported.
Iraqi officials are reported to have complained that contradictory statements have been made to them from the government, leading to delays in the fake devices being banned.
A schoolteacher who witnessed one of Monday's explosions said: "I went through one checkpoint on the way in [to Sadr City] where they had the detectors just before the bombing.
"They look like wands and they are supposed to bend when they spot a bomb. But they are useless, everyone knows that."

That's on Nouri al-Maliki.  And it's not minor.

When a leader of a country puts the people at risk as a result of a fake security device?  He needs to be sued, he needs to be impeached. He is unfit for office.

For elections to be held in 2014, a law has to be passed.   Iraq is supposed to hold elections in 2014, parliamentary elections.  The last ones were in March 2010.

That's not how it was supposed to be.  They were actually supposed to take place in 2009.  But they failed to pass the election law on time.  And what they did pass was unfair so Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi used his veto right to stop the law.  What was unfair?  The Iraqi government made the decision that Iraiq exiles and refugees outside of Iraq could vote.  But they were doing a lousy job with polling stations in the areas that Sunni refugees immediately fled (at that time: Syria, Jordan and Lebanon).  al-Hashemi saw this as an attempt to disenfranchise a group of people and stopped the law.  (He did give consent in time for a new law to be passed, however, the Parliament couldn't get it together to do so in time.)  Under Nouri nothing happens on time.  Each election brings more problems than the one before.  And it would be so nice if, for once, the Iraqi High Electoral Committee and the United Nations Assistance Missionfor Iraq were not having to scramble at the last minute.  (The UN and IHEC need at least three months lead time to prepare for a national election.)  Sunday, September 29th, UNAMI released the following:

Baghdad, 29 September 2013 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, today met with the Parliament Speaker, Mr. Usama Al-Nujeifi, as well as with heads of several political blocs at the Council of Representatives. كوردى
“I urge all political leaders to reach a compromise on the adoption of the draft election law as soon as possible, and to make sure that Iraq adheres to the electoral calendar, according to the constitutionally stipulated timeframe,” Mr. Mladenov said. “The United Nations will continue to work with all political blocs and entities to facilitate reaching an agreement on the draft election law, and will continue supporting the electoral process”, he concluded.

All Iraq News reports that not only did the Parliament not pass an election law today, they're not going to take up the issue again until Monday.  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the Legal Committee met and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi participated in the meeting where it was discussed that the election would take place in all 18 provinces and the Kurdistan Alliance is saying the compensatory seats have to be based on voter turnout.  Amjad Salah and Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) repors on this objection as well.

It's not just that group or just that issue.  Ghassan Hamed and Muhannad Mohammad (Alsumaria) speak with an MP from Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, Hakem al-Zamili,  who reveals it's more than one group and that, if the delays continue, the Sadr bloc is happy to go public about who is blocking the vote.  It may not seem like a big deal right now.  Three months heads up, not that big.  But I remember August 2009.  And how it wasn't going to be a big deal for the legislation to be passed then either.  But it took months.  Plural.  This is nonsense.  These matters are left until the last minute.  The Iraqi people don't deserve this and shouldn't accept it.

On the topic of oil,  Ben Lando's latest article at Iraq Oil Report is entitled "September exports down by 500K bpd."  Today Rudaw covers the topic as well:

Last year, for the first time since 1989, Iraq’s monthly oil production was able to surpass Iran’s production quota inside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Iraqi monthly oil production export hit a high of 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2012, while Iran’s fell from 2.2 million in 2011 to a low of 1.5 million in 2012. This was largely due to tightened US and international sanctions.
Many thought that Iraq had become a stable oil producing country in the region, but one year after achieving the higher production rates Iraq once again became an unreliable source of oil. Production was again down to 2.3 million bpd by July this year.


ben lando