Saturday, August 25, 2012

Idiot of the week Matthew Rothschild

Weekend.  Yea!  :D  A lot of e-mails came in about Tony.  He still doesn't know today.  I think that's disgusting to let people wonder like that if they're going to be laid off. 

Okay, Idiot of the Week is . . . Matthew Rothschild.  And I wouldn't have thought it was possible after the crazy ravings of Dave Lindorff that I noted earlier this week.  Crazy ravings that are a Democratic talking point it turns out -- there are eight similar stories to Lindorff's published Friday and Saturday (you can find several at CounterPunch).

So how did Matthew pull ahead?  By being the idiot he almost always is.

He writes a column denouncing some preacher with a radio program.  And I'm reading hoping it will be good.  It isn't.

Wisconsin's decided not to perform a bad and corny play, in fact they banned it.  And Matthew is furious because he's a lover of tired old jokes.

He's not a lover of freedom, of course.

Anyone who believes in rights wouldn't be writing about Pastor Crazy.

See, Pastor Crazy just objected to the play.

Pastor Crazy didn't have the power to ban it.  And Pastor Crazy didn't ban it.

As usual, Matthew is a suck up to the powerful.

He talks to people and they blame a body known as the DNR and they're right, Matthew's the idiot.  The DNR is the one who caved and banned the play.

That's who Matthew should have gone after.

Pastor Crazy can be as insane as he wants provided he's not a physical threat to anyone.  That's America.  And Pastor Crazy can speak as loudly and stupidly as he wants.  That's his free speech.

DNR is the one who caved and the one who censored.

But Matthew hates God and those who believe in God so he always starts to drool when he can attack any religious figure.  And as he drools and his little half-inch penis throbs in his underoos, he types away never noticing that he's calling out a crazy instead of going after the real power.

Always useless, always Matthew, idiot of the week.

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

Friday, August 24, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Moqtada's followers are attacked in Sadr City, refugees in Iraq and outside continues to need asylum, the PKK and Turks boast of their 'kills,' US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wants the answers to some questions, and more.
With Iraq, the temptation for some news outlets is to make 'good news.' You can't manufacture good news and you look ridiculous when you try -- and if you're a US official trying to manufacture good news, your latest wave of Operation Happy Talk usually slaps you in the face -- meaning within 24 hours of your remarks being published, a large wave of violence hits Iraq.
But one Iraqi family did get some good news, real good news, genuine good news. Chris Thompson (Windsor Star) reported this week on the Putrus family. They left Iraq in 2009 and were fortunate in that their refugee applications were processed. They ended up in Canada and it was there that they bought one of the two winning Lotto tickets for a $3 million jackpot which means they won $1.5 million:
The family celebrated with a dinner at Mandarin restaurant, a Chinese buffet.
Faiz plans to continue working as a granite designer at Granite Design Works for now but plans to start his own small business in the future, Faraj said.
"He told his boss he won that kind of money and he took a vacation," Faraj said.
The family is also planning to buy a new larger house and possibly rent out the modest bungalow they currently own.
The family, who are Christian Chaldean, lived in Baghdad in 2008 when they travelled to Syria to say goodbye to an aunt who was leaving to claim refugee status in Canada.
The situation in Baghdad was chaotic and violent.
"Killing, robbing, and our house got on fire," said Faraj.
While the family was in Syria, they received word from Baghdad that the family home had burned to the ground, and everything was lost. It was then they decided not to return, and would follow the aunt to Canada.
"We didn't stop our life," Faraj said.
Again, that would be actual good news. Canada's goal is 2,500 Iraqi refugees admitted each year. That goal is one less than the US has admitted this year. Yes, Canada is much smaller than the United States. As of their most recent tally, FY2012 has seen only 2,501 Iraqi refugees admitted to the US. FY2010 was the first year the current administration, President Barack Obama, was solely responsible. (FY2010 started October 1, 2009 and ran through September 30, 2010.) That year, the number was 24,021 -- a drop of over a thousand and each year since has seen a bigger drop (in FY2011, only 9,388 Iraqi refugees were admitted). Anybody remember this:
We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.
That's from a July 14, 2008 column in the New York Times entitled "My Plan for Iraq." Barack Obama wrote that column (or his name was put on the byline). Lot of talk for very little action. Iraqi refugees continue to suffer and the United Nations counts 29,453 Iraqis who fled for Iraq for safety that have been forced to return as a result of actions in Syria.
Syria and Iraq share a border, it's Iraq's neighbor on the north-west side. Earlier this week, Patrick Markey and Alistair Lyon (Reuters) reported, "Syrian government forces fought rebels on Wednesday for control of a military base and an airfield near the eastern town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, a local Iraqi official and a Syrian rebel commander said."
The conflict in Syria continues with fears that it might impact Iraq in terms of violence. For now, it's only impact on Iraq has been the refugees who have left Syria. Today UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards addressed the issue of Syrian refugees seeking Iraq:
Meanwhile in Iraq, Syrian refugees staying in schools are being relocated to Al Qaem camp. Seven schools have so far been vacated with a further nine schools still occupied by some 1,760 refugees. The school year resumes in Iraq in early October. 1,691 people are now residing in the Al Qaem camp, while some 100 Syrians have left the camp and returned to Syria. During the last week, 24 left the camp to live with relatives. UNHCR will shortly begin to expand the camp by 230 tents in anticipation of new arrivals. The number of Syrians crossing into Iraq has slowed over the past week, although the refugee population increased slightly in the Kurdistan region. Across Iraq the total number of refugees stands at 15,898. The number of Iraqi refugees returning from Syria to Iraq has continued despite fewer people returning over Eid due to a shortage of buses from Damascus. Most of those returning home are heading to Baghdad. Several of those returning told UNHCR protection staff at the border they had been attacked or robbed on the road between Damascus and Al-tanf on the Syrian border, losing all their money, telephones and some documents. Some returnees say they are assessing the security situation in Iraq before deciding to stay.
This is part of regional issue. IRIN noted Monday, "From April to August, the number of Syrians registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq nearly quadrupled, from 40,000 to more than 155,000, with recent marked increases in Jordan and Iraq. About 75 percent are believed to be women and children." For UNICEF, Salam Abdulmunem reports on an Iraqi refugee camp:
Recently, the local Department of Education, with assistance from UNHCR and UNICEF, started a summer school to help the children make up for lost time. Almost 150 boys and girls are registered in this school. But with the new academic year quickly approaching, a shortage in space is anticipated for almost 500 children who have already been registered to join the regular school.
Later, when I visit the nearby UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space (CFS), I meet Perween Abdulaziz, a social worker who works with the NGO Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and runs the CFS. Ms. Abdulaziz tells me that, while some of the children have seen violence, most of the children’s fears come from hearing their parents talk about an uncertain future. The structure and activities provided to them through the school and CFS are essential to bring back some sense of stability to their lives, she tells me.
That's Dohuk which is in the Kurdistan Region Government. The KGR's received positive reports as a result of UN inspections of their refugee camp. Sadly, that is not true of all of Iraq.  For example, last week Rudaw reported on a camp in Anbar Province (which Nouri's Baghdad-based government is over):
Iranian Kurdish refugees residing in Waleed camp suffer from lack of services such as drinking water, electricity and a medical center. In addition, Iraq’s Ministry of Interior is pressuring them to leave.
Waleed is located in Anbar province in the west, near the Syrian border. The camp -- which accommodates 120 Palestinian families, 24 Kurdish families and 19 Arab families from Ahwaz, Iran -- was established in June 2009.
For the past three months, the Iraqi government has been using various tactics to force the families to leave the camp, such as removing basic services like electricity and water. However, residents of the camp have been defying the government’s decision.
Nouri's never shown any respect for refugees. As the waves of refugees fleeing Iraq reached record levels and became the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948, Nouri made noises about giving some of the oil millions to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to help cover the costs but Nouri never forked over the money. When the Syrian refugees need somewhere to go, Nouri's original response was to insist that Iraq couldn't handle refugees. Only after he was shamed on the world stage did he take the refugees in and then he shoved them into either abandoned or unused buildings. Now he's trying to force them out because the unused buildings were often schools and Iraqi children are resuming their school year.
On the subject of refugees, one of the persecuted groups in Iraq that has often elected to leave the country for safety reasons is the LGBT community. Last month Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project had some success with regards to Iraq's LGBT refugees:
IRAP’s advocacy on behalf of LGBT Iraqis with the Dutch government has led the Netherlands to change their policy toward LGBT asylum seekers from Iraq, who now have a presumption of asylum. The reform also includes the creation of a set allocation for the admission of LGBT Iraqi refugees, along with a new expedited process. Around two weeks ago, we led a private fact-finding tour for a representative from the Dutch Office of the Asylum Minister. This was in addition to significant research conducted about the plight of LGBT refugees in the are and the resultant news coverage we received in conjunction with two other NGOs.
For IRAP talking about the issue on Dutch National News: buitenland/39940/ doodseskaders_op_homojacht_in_ irak
Sunday's New York Times featured James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" on the front page, an article about the White House's knowledge that Iraq is helping Iran "skirt economic sanctions" and how Barack was "not eager for a public showdown with Nouri." Today the editorial board for the Detroit Free Press weighs in on the issues -- and notes the Times' article -- observing:

On the bright side, some American taxpayers may be relieved to learn that Iraq's sanction-busting activities signal nothing more than the vitality of public corruption; sound strategic arguments support Iraq's continuing official hostility toward Iran.
But the practical impact of that corruption is essentially the same. The likelihood that at least some of the billions the U.S. and its allies have supplied to Iraq is being used to systematically undermine allied strategic objectives in the Middle East is enough to sour any U.S. taxpayer on continued support for the Malaki government.

This morning I praised the editorial but didn't see anything changing and provided several examples of 2008 when the corruption and waste was regularly noted in Congress and nothing ever changed. I said I'd love to be wrong. Maybe I am wrong and maybe that's already apparent.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee released the following today:



In Letter to Secretary Panetta, Secretary Geithner, Ros-Lehtinen Requests Details of Iran's Involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan

Asks What Obama Administration, Iraqi and Afghan Governments are Doing to Counter Tehran's Efforts

Friday, August 24, 2012
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner requesting details on Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen also is asking the Administration for information on the Iraqi and Afghan governments’ actions in addressing the Iranian regime’s attempts to gain influence within these countries. For a signed copy of the letter, please click here. Text of the letter follows:
Dear Secretary Panetta and Secretary Geithner:
I am writing to raise concerns about Iranian attempts to circumvent U.S., European Union, and other bilateral and multilateral sanctions through use of the financial sectors of Iraq and Afghanistan, and about what the Administration is doing or considering doing to counter these efforts effectively.
As described in two New York Times articles over the past week, and on the heels of the recent Treasury designation of the Elaf Islamic Bank in Baghdad, the Iranian regime is trying to access the financial sectors of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the energy sector of Iraq, to provide Tehran with crucial foreign currency reserves at a time when sanctions are having an effect.
Reports indicate that the Elaf Islamic Bank is still allowed to participate in the Iraq Central Bank’s daily auction, at which commercial banks can sell Iraqi dinars and buy United States dollars. These auctions are a crucial pathway for Iranian access to the international financial system. As Iran seeks to bolster its reserves of dollars and other convertible foreign currency to stabilize its exchange rates and pay for imports, the Iraqi government reportedly not only allows companies and individuals to circumvent the sanctions but also does not enforce penalties for non-compliance.
Further, the status of joint Iraqi-Iranian oil fields raises potential sanctionable upstream activities, which are particularly concerning given reports that some Iranian oil is finding its way to Iraqi ports for export.
A similar potential challenge to sanctions implementation and enforcement exists with Afghanistan. Kabul and Kandahar are now reportedly being utilized as financial centers through which the Iranian regime can circumvent sanctions. According to press reports, Afghan money traders said they were told this month by American officials not to conduct business with Arian Bank, an Afghan bank owned by two Iranian banks, because the Iranian regime was using Arian to move cash in and out of Afghanistan. Given longstanding difficulties encountered by the U.S. and other responsible nations with Afghanistan’s widespread corruption and lack of financial controls, I am concerned not only that Afghanistan could be transformed into a mechanism used by the Iranian regime to circumvent sanctions, but that such an arrangement could inadvertently provide Tehran greater leverage over the Afghan government.
Accordingly, I would appreciate if you would provide the following information (which, given its potential sensitivity, may be transmitted in classified form):
  • the overarching U.S. strategy to address these Iranian efforts to evade sanctions;
  • what actions the U.S., our allies, and the Iraqi and Afghan governments are taking to counter such sanctions evasion;
  • whether the Administration will condition security cooperation with Iraq and Afghanistan on such activities with the Iranian regime;
  • which Iraqi and Afghan banks, or other financial institutions, maintain correspondent accounts with designated Iranian banks or their affiliates;
  • a determination as to whether joint Iranian-Iraqi oil fields are sanctionable under the Iran Sanctions Act; and
  • an analysis of the impact of Iran’s use of Iraqi and Afghan financial institutions on the effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral sanctions regimes.
Given the U.S. investment of blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is vital that the Iraqi and Afghan governments cooperate with the U.S. and other responsible nations to address the Iranian threat. Failure to cooperate should be met with a reconsideration of bilateral security arrangements.
Thank you in advance for your assistance. I look forward to receiving your response.
US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was not Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee until January 2011. Past examples of Congressional leadership on Committees really don't apply to her so possibly, for once, something actually will come out of this. I hope so and would love for the Detroit Free Press editorial board to be 100% correct and myself 100% wrong.

Today Moqtada al-Sadr's Baghdad office was targeted with a bombing which, Baghdad Operations Command tells Alsumaria, resulted in the deaths of 2 people with "several" more left injured. There are conflicting reports with two bombs placed uner the speaker's podium for Friday prayers or with the attack being done via mortar.. All Iraq News reports 3 dead and eleven injured with two bombs -- one near a booth by the podium. UPI notes the death toll from the bombings has climbed to two. In addition, a Baquba roadside bombing has left two police officers injured. All Iraq News notes 4 corpses discovered dumped in Mosul (all had gunshots to the head). AFP adds a Khan Beni Saad bombing targeted a Shi'ite family and claimed 1 life with three more injured. All Iraq News notes a fire broke out in a nightclub near Baghdad's National Theatre killing six people. AP reports that the fire was "set off" by assailants with a bomb and grenades and that, along with the 6 dead, twelve  were injured.
Turkey and the PKK continue to add up 'wins.' Alsumaria notes that the PKK announced today that they have killed 22 Turkish soldiers (from August 22nd to the present) and that they have injured twelve others while kidnapping an official of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Reuters reports Turkey announced 16 PKK were killed by Turkish forces by Thursday and UPI adds that, on Friday, Turkey's government boasted "at least 21 members" of the PKK had been killed. (See the earlier "Turkey and the PKK" from this morning. Again, we've attended this dance before.) Late today, Dogan News Agency reported the PKK released Hayrullah Tanis, the official they had kidnapped on Thursday.
Turning to the US, where the presidential election is underway, Chris McGuire (Schlepp Films) has made a series of humorous ads calling out GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Chris McGuire created something, he gets a link. I make an exception for creativity. McGuire gets a link otherwise I'm not interested in your columns -- that you all know are funny -- 'taking on Mitt.' Your columns are embarrassing because you're so ill informed about the man you're whoring for. Again, McGuire was creative and he got a link. Respect the arts. We're more interested in covering the two campaigns made up of four women, two presidential tickets. The four: Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri Honkala and Roseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan. Click here to sign a petition calling on Ms. magazine and Women's Media Center to cover her campaign and the other female candidate for president Roseanne Barr's campaign
conspiracyanalyst (WTF RLY?) reports on the Chemtrails confrence and notes:
Roseanne Barr and Cyn­thia McK­in­ney were spe­cial guests, they were not in the orig­i­nal line-up. Hav­ing them there increased the sense of activism that this con­fer­ence was more than just about gain­ing knowl­edge about the lat­est advance­ments of the NWO, it was in fact about a move­ment. It was the chance to make a dif­fer­ence in our world through both tra­di­tional and non-traditional chan­nels, and it was of course about get­ting the word out to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. If Roseanne Barr can draw atten­tion to this issue, then bless her for her celebrity. If we can laugh at the ridicu­lous cir­cus of pol­i­tics, and stand up in the front row for truth then the pres­ence of politi­cians are more than wel­come, they are nec­es­sary.


If people in this country had any brains in their head, they'd vote 3rd party. Ron Paul, Jill Stein, Roseanne Barr, someone who isn't a total moron with their head so far up big business' collective ass that they can't see cars coming when they try crossing the street. Even ALF would be better.
We need to start branding politicians with the companies that own them. You know: "Property of:" then list the company names. The more you saw & the types you saw would determine whether you should bother voting for them. I'd also like to see fist fights in the Senate & House like they have in other government meetings in other countries. I've said it before but it would make things more interesting & some reality TV company could make money from it. It's practically Jerry Springer anyway; we may as well be honest about it.
So, why would Roseanne Barr be the best president ever:
1. She wasn't born to money. She came from lower income so she knows what that's like. Her entire TV show concept was based off that experience. That's better than the mainstream politicians you see who generally came from money or are part of some political dynasty. I feel she's more "of the people" than most folk in politics.
2. She conquered Hollywood. When she started out, she actually took command on her show. Most people in her shoes would be all docile & meek. She wasn't. People probably call me a bitch; I feel if people are calling a woman a "bitch" and saying she's "difficult," she's probably doing something right.
If she did this in Hollywood, do you honestly think she'd let some s[**]thead career politician push her around? Or some high power lobbyist? I can't see that happening. I'd hope she'd tell the prick just where to go; we need more people willing to do that sort of thing. If she told Hollywood execs where to go early in her career, I could see her doing the same thing to some Washington insider.
We leave Roseanne's campaign to move over to Jill's.  Bart Gruzalski (CounterPunch) weighs in on why he's supporting Jill Stein's campaign:
Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President of the United States, promises a Manhattan-project jobs program that would ignite our economy, repair our crumbling infrastructure, and put the US in the lead at the forefront of the world’s newest and hottest technologies. She will put forward the health care policy most of us wanted in 2009: the public option, effectively Medicare for everyone. She will withdraw our troops out of Afghanistan and implement the advice George Washington gave in his farewell address: “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” Jill Stein will bring to the table a demand for an equitable tax system, not one in which the wealthy pay too little and we the 99% have to close schools, fire police, and shutter fire stations to make up the difference. Climate change and food security are at the top of her agenda, as is getting the money out of politics. A Jill Stein presidency will herald the liberation of a democracy currently hijacked by wealthy Americans like the Koch brothers and by corporate banksters like Lloyd Blankfein the CEO of Goldman Sachs. From the perspective of those of us in the 99%, the only plausible reason to fail to vote for Jill Stein is that voting for her will take votes away from Obama who would be better for the 99% than Romney. Let me explain why this fails to show that we should not vote for Jill Stein.
My explanation requires we distinguish the significant issues that affect all of us in the 99% from those issues that divide us. Some of the issues that unite us include the need for jobs, a vibrant economy, accessible health care for all, a fair tax policy, a democracy in which we have a voice, security from foreign threats, and an environment that will allow us to live healthily as well as allow our children and grandchildren to live healthily after us. The emotionally inflammatory issues that divide us are promulgated by the media, politicians, and even some religious leaders. These red herring issues draw us away from the basic issues that unite us: our economy and a vibrant democracy.
And Janelle Sorensen with the Stein campaign notes 3 ways to show your support for the Stein-Honkala ticket:
First of all, thanks to everyone who has volunteered, donated, and helped spread the word up to this point! We’re definitely gaining momentum!

As you know, this battle is far from over and we need all hands on deck every single day to make a dent in the corporate machine known as the United States presidential campaign.

So, let’s dive in with three easy ways to help today:
1. Make sure you’re connected to us! Since we don’t have a multi-million dollar budget for paid advertising like our competitors, social media is one of our best options for raising awareness. And, if you saw the impact it had for the Howard Dean campaign, the revolution in Egypt, and even the protests in Madison - you know it’s an imperative force for advocacy. We need all of you with us everywhere you can be!
(FYI - There’s not much happening on those latter two platforms yet, but we’re hoping to ramp things up in the coming months!)
2. Help us get media coverage on three target outlets: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and The Rachel Maddow Show. These three sources could help us reach millions of sympathetic voters!
On Facebook - Leave a message on their walls, privately message them, comment on their posts - whatever it takes to get their attention (respectfully please!):
On Twitter (copy and paste - or create your own tweet!):
  • PLEASE @StephenAtHome - have #Green Party #POTUS candidate @jillstein2012 on the @Colbertreport!
  • Hey @TheDailyShow - how about having #Green Party #POTUS candidate @JillStein2012 on the show?
  • Hey @maddow - how about having #Green Party #POTUS candidate @JillStein2012 on the show?
3. Donate! The Green Party is the only one that doesn't accept corporate donations. It makes these campaigns all the more challenging, but it also ensures we are only beholden to the people - you. Not Wall Street. Not the 1%. Every donation helps!
Thanks so much for your continued support! Together, we can reclaim democracy!!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Worries for a friend

Thursday.  Almost the weekend.  Tony, my friend, is waiting to find out if he's laid off.  They have to give him 30 days notice.

And it looks like the announcement is coming but they won't tell them.  That would really piss me off.  There will be lay offs.  But whether it's him or not, he doesn't know.  He's got bills like everybody else and on top of that he's got to worry he's going to be out of work.

I have no idea why they string people along like that, but they do.

And it's driving Tony crazy.  He was feeling good over the weekend and on Monday.  Then people came in to do estimates on outsourcing.  And if they outsource, he's probably out of a job.  So that really made him angry and also depressed.

And it's hard going to work day after day when you don't know if you're going to be fired.  Should you watch your money?  Even when all you want to do is go get some beers and forget everything?

So that's pissing me off, the way he's being treated.  (And if he gets fired, I just might name his employer and list all the things they do wrong.

In other words, don't screw over my buds!

Danny Schechter's got a good column at ZNet about miners.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, a former US Ambassador to Iraq is arrested, either a Syrian plane or another country's plane en route to Syria violated Iraqi airspace today . . . or it didn't, the secretive Erbil Agreement gets some attention, a member of the National Alliance has an arrest warrant issued against him, Veterans for Peace announce their plans for the next few weeks, Ian Wilder calls for Gallup to include Jill Stein's campaign in the presidential polling and more.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is in the news today.  It's not good news.  January 15, 2009, Crocker was at the White House being presented with the Medal of Freedom by Bully Boy Bush.  Condi Rice, John Negroponte and Laura Bush among the one watching.
Members of the Foreign Service bring this valor and professionalism to their work every single day. And there is one man who embodies these qualities above all: Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Over the years, Ryan has earned many honors, including the Presidential Meritorious Service Award and the rank of Career Ambassador. Today I have the privilege of honoring Ambassador Crocker with the highest civil award I can bestow: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It has not been bestowed yet. The son of an Air Force officer, Ryan Crocker has never been your typical diplomat. For social engagements, he likes to tell guests, "no socks required." For language training, he once spent time herding sheep with a desert tribe in Jordan. For sport, he has jogged through war zones, and run marathons on four continents. And for assignments, his preference has always been anywhere but Washington. During his nearly four decades in the Foreign Service, Ryan Crocker has become known as America's Lawrence of Arabia. His career has taken him to every corner of the Middle East. His understanding of the region is unmatched. His exploits are legendary. He has served as ambassador to five countries. He has repeatedly taken on the most challenging assignments.  The man has never run from danger. As a young officer during the late 1970s, Ryan catalogued Saddam Hussein's murderous rise to power. In 1983, he survived the terrorist attack on the American embassy in Lebanon. In 1998, as the Ambassador to Syria, he witnessed an angry mob plunder his residence.   After any one of these brushes with danger, most people would have lost their appetite for adventure.  Not Ryan Crocker. In the years since September the 11th, 2001, I have asked Ryan to hold numerous posts on the front lines of the war on terror, and he has stepped forward enthusiastically every time.    
The spotlight today shined for less than honorable reasons, though it was formal since he had been formally arrested.  Jeff Humphrey and Rob Kauder (KXLY4) reports Crocker "was arrested
on August 14 by the Washington State Patrol for hit-and-run and DUI in Spokane Valley."  The driver of the other vehicle (a semi) was not harmed in the accident that Crocker is charged with.  In addition, he is alleged to have then fled the scene.  When police found apprehended him, his low score on the breathalyzer was .152 (he blew twice).
When he was awarded the honor in January 2009, then-White House spokesperson Dana Perino declared, "It was a surprise for Ryan Crocker, that he was getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- a surprise, I think, for everybody.  But we kept that a secret because he is a very humble person, Ambassador Crocker.  And I can't think of anybody more deserving."  And today, the humble person is in the news for reasons no one wants to be in the news.  He continued as Ambassador to Iraq under President Barack Obama until Barack nominated Chris Hill and, in 2011, Barack nominated him and the Senate confirmed as US Ambassador to Baghdad -- a post he held until last July.  Hopefully, if this is an alcohol problem, he'll get the help he needs.  If this was less of a disease and more of bad jugment, hopefully, he'll learn a lesson from it.  Regardless, I take no joy in his arrest for drunk driving and hope he addresses whatever took him to this point. 
From what is known to what is unknown at this time: Did fighter jets fly over Iraq into Syria and did they do so with Nouri al-Maliki's approval?
 Alsumaria also reports that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq states that military aircraft breached Iraqi airspace to fly into Syria and drop bombs.  All Iraq News adds that a warplane was seen over Husaybah and that it went into Syria and bombed Abu Kamal repeatedly.  Alsumaria also notes that Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi is denying that any warplane entered Iraqi air space to bomb Syria.   However, AFP reports that an unnamed Iraqi official tells them the plane was Syrian and that it did enter Iraqi air space.
Husaybah is a city in Anbar Province on the Euphrates River right next to the Syrian border.  Syria is one of the countries that Iraq shares a border with, the others being Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. 
The alleged plane and its nationality are still in doubt (again, an unnamed official told AFP it was a Syrian airplane which would have left Syria's air space to fly briefly in Iraqi airspace before doing a u-turn).  If it wasn't a Syrian plane and it didn't enter Iraq from Syria?
With 15,000 US troops in Kuwait it might be a natural conclusion that the plane launched from Kuwait.  However, Kuwait is on the south east corner of Iraq and Syria is on the north west.  If the plane came from Kuwait, Basra and Najaf, among other major cities, should have spotted it unless it did a major climb from Kuwait over Muthanna Province and  became more visible (decreased altitude) as it passed over Anbar Province.   Saudi Arabia is the south and southwest and a plane could have flown over Iraq from Saudi Arabia to Husaybah (and then to Syria) in much the way a plane would have flown from Kuwait.  Jordan is right below Syria and borders Iraq on the west (slightly south) and a plane from there would have to make a half circle to enter Syria through Husaybah as would a plane from Turkeky which is directly above Syria and shares a northwest border with Iraq.
It is possible that a war plane, even a US war plane, could have flown from Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.  If it originated in Jordan or Turkey and flew that path into Syria, it would have done so to conceal that it was originating from Jordan and Turkey.  The most likely explanation would be that it was a Syrian plane that, for whatever reason, flew out of Syria and then right back in.  After that, the most likely explanation would be that it was a US war plane that flew from Kuwait.  If the flight originated from Iraq, it would have to be a foreign plane (due to Iraq's lack of air power) and would have best originated its flight from Al Asad Air Base which is in Anbar Province and near the Euphrates River.  The Wall St. Journal's Sam Dagher Tweeted:

Just spoke to activist in Albukamal on #Syria #Iraq border says regime forces in airport & two bases on outskirts & mortars fired from there
From the unknown to the know, All Iraq News reports that MP Kazam al-Sayadi survived a sniper's assassination attempt on his motorcade today in Kut (Wasit Province).  In addition, Alsumaria reports that a Syrian artillery shell landed on a Anbar home and two Yazidis were kidnappend in Mosul.  Clashes also took place in nothern Iraq.  Reuters notes that the Turkish government is claiming that "Turkish troops have killed 16 Kurdish guerrillas in an operation in southeast Turkey targeting militants who launched a bomb attack on a military convoy that killed five soldiers, the local governor's office said on Thursday."    Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."   Press TV states, "At least 21 people have lost their lives in fresh clashes between Turkish army and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the volatile southeastern Turkey." Al Jazeera notes that the Turkish government states their actions were "in response to a bomb attack [by the PKK] on a military convoy that killed five soldiers."
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (Daily Star) weighs in on the topic of violence in Iraq:
What are we to make of the increase in violent deaths in Iraq during June and July? Is it a sign of a long-term upsurge in violence since the U.S. troop withdrawal? Who are the culprits?To begin with, it should be noted that violence in Iraq often follows cyclical patterns. That is, insurgent groups normally step up their operations as summer begins, and around the time of religious festivals, when pilgrims (frequently traveling on foot) are easily exposed to attacks. Thus, in June, there were waves of bomb attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims who were commemorating the death of Moussa al-Kadhim, the great-grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.
That is why one should be careful in extrapolating from short-term trends to warn of growing sectarian tensions and a return to civil war in the near future. Today, the insurgent groups responsible for attacks on civilians and a large number of attacks on government officials are entirely Sunni, since Shiite militant groups such as Kataeb Hizbullah have disbanded following the pullout of U.S. forces.
The two main organizations are Al-Qaeda in Iraq, now virtually a native force, and the Baathist Naqshibandia, which is led by Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who is still at large. He appeared in a video last April to denounce the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and complain of an Iranian-American-Israeli conspiracy to take over Iraq.

Today AP reported that the Islamic State of Iraq had issued a statement proclaiming they were behind violent incidents "from late June until the second half of July." Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that the Iraqi judiciary has issued an arrest warrant for Anbar Salvation Council president Hamid al-Hayes accusing him of terrorism.  The outlet notes that Haydes had condemned the recent waves of attacks, including as late as the start of the week.  Hamid al-Hayes is Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes and a member of the Iraqi National Alliance (Nouri's State of Law, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc and others make up the National Alliance).  In 2009, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted:

Anbar Salvation Council

Hamid al-Hayes
Date of Founding & Notable Moments
September 2006
Seats in Parliament
None, at the time of the 2005 elections the founders of the movement were still cooperating with al-Qaeda.
Seats in 2009 Provincial Elections
One of the three groups to grow out of the Awakening councils in Anbar province, the Anbar Salvation Council is the first major Sunni organization to join the INA.

Al-Hayes' position is very close to that of Hatem al-Suleiman and his
Anbar National Salvation Front, who joined the State of Law coalition. The two share a strong opposition to the Iraqi Islamic Party. The division between them appears to be mostly the result of a struggle for leadership and a different tactical decision about which alliance to join.
Sheikh al-Hayes told Alsumaria today that he was prepared to "accept and respect" the arrest warrant and surrender himself, stating that the gates to his houe are open.  He calls the charges frivilous and say they result from police chief being angry at him.
Back to the issue of the Kurds, Hemm Hadi (AKnews) reports, "British MP Nadhim Zahawi has created an e-petition in the British government in a bid to get recognition of the genocide against Kurds in Iraq."  The petition reads:
We urge the Government to recognise formally the Genocide against the people of Iraqi Kurdistan and to encourage the EU and UN to do likewise. This will enable Kurdish people, many in the UK, to achieve justice for their considerable loss. It would also enable Britain, the home of democracy and freedom, to send out a message of support for international conventions and human rights. The Genocide perpetrated over decades, known collectively as the Anfal, began with the arabisation of villages around Kirkuk in 1963. It involved the deportation and disappearances of Faylee Kurds in the 1970s-80s, the murder of 8,000 male Barzanis in 1983, the use of chemical weapons in the late 1980s, most notably against Halabja, and finally the Anfal campaign of 1987-88. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people perished, families were torn apart, with continuing health problems, and 4,500 villages were destroyed between 1976 and 1988 undermining the potential of Iraqi Kurdistan's agricultural resources.
The petition currently has 2,373 signatures.
Tuesday, Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, traveled to Baghdad.  With all the problems in Iraq, you might think Dempsey was there to use 'soft power' and press for aims that involved something other than murder.  You would be wrong.

Sunday's New York Times boasted  James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" about the White House's knowledge that Iraq is helping Iran "skirt economic sanctions" and how Barack was "not eager for a public showdown with Nouri." But Dempsey rejected the notion that he'd even raise that issue when he spoke to Dan De Luce (AFP), "The four-star general said he would not press the Iraqi government on reports that it may be allowing Iran to ferry supplies to the Syrian regime through Iraqi territory or helping Tehran circumvent financial sanctions."  Sunday, AEI's Max Boot weighed in at the right-wing Commentary on the the Times' article and Iraq:
A great deal of that success [in Iraq] has been undone, alas, by two bad decisions made by President Obama: First the decision to back a coalition headed by Nouri al Maliki in forming a government even after Maliki finished second in the 2010 election. If the U.S. had gone all out to support the winning slate, led by Ayad Allawi, the result might well have been a government in Baghdad far less amenable to Iranian influence than the current one.
This initial mistake was made much worse by Obama's failure to negotiate an accord to allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq past 2011.
And the whole point of Dempsey's visit was the Syrian war.  Despite the increasingly loud whispers at the State Dept grow about another secret prison in Baghdad run by Nouri's forces, you might think Dempsey explored that issue but you would be wrong there too.  Nor were the rights of prisoners -- many of whom have been held for years without trial -- addressed.

Though Gen Ray Odierno frequently had to address the political situation with Nouri when Odierno was the top US commander in Iraq and though Iraq is in the midst of a political crisis initiated by Nouri's refusal to honor the Erbil Agreement (after he used it to get his second term as prime minister), Dempsey had no interest in raising that issue either.
Following Iraq's March 2010 elections, the country entered a political stalemate due to Nouri al-Maliki.  He wanted another term as prime minister yet his State of Law slate had come in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Per the Constutiton, per the will of the voters, Ayad's group should have had first crack at forming a government (one of them -- most likely Allawi -- should have been named prime minister-designate and given 30 days to form a Cabinet -- form a Cabinet means full Cabinet, not partial, not I'll-do-it-later -- you transfer from prime minister-designate to prime minister based on whether or not you're able to form a Cabinet).  Nouri refused to let it happen, Nouri dug in his heels and pouted.  The White House backed Nouri (this is Barack's administration -- and that's what Max Boot is talking about above).  They didn't back the Iraqi people or the Iraqi Constitution.  After eight  months, they went to the political blocs and basically asked, "What do you want in exchange for allowing Nouri a second term as prime minister?"  And from this was drawn up the US-brokered Erbil Agreement which was then signed of on by the leaders of the political bloc in November 2010.  But Nouri got named prime minister-designate (and a month later moved to prime minister -- despite not having named a full Cabinet -- nearly two years later, he's still never nominated people to head the security ministries) and then tossed aside the Erbil Agreement.  Since the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr's group have been calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement. 
Question: To date, Iraqi citizens do not know the content of the first convention of Arbil, and I do not think they will know it. The question is why is there a blackout regarding this issue?
A: The convention in Arbil has really turned into a mystery baffling the Iraqis. It seems that the convention has terms, which the signing parties do not want to reveal either because these provisions are inconsistent with the constitution or contradictory to what some parties say to the media. I hold all signing parties responsible. It seems to me that there is a tacit agreement, imposed by the interests, that no party shall reveal the real text of terms that have been agreed upon.
Turning to the United States, Veterans For Peace has issued the following statement:
Veterans For Peace216 South Meramec Ave
St. Louis MO 63105
(314) 725-6005(office)(314) 725-7103 (fax)
For Immediate Release - August 23, 2012

Why Veterans For Peace will protest the RNC and the DNC
Veterans For Peace will have members protesting at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. VFP President Leah Bolger explained why:
"Social change, including the abolition of war, does not come from supporting one political party over another, but from changing the culture and influencing all major parties. Women did not vote themselves the right to vote. The civil rights movement did not trade in nonviolent action, education, and mobilization for electoral campaigns. The labor movement was not built by what the labor movement spends its money on today. And when our grandparents passed the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning war, they did so by placing the criminalization of war in the platforms of the four largest parties in the country.
"A peace movement that only opposes wars when the president belongs to one party is not a peace movement. It's a partisan campaign that uses the pretended desire for peace as bait and activists as props. What we need far more than campaigning is movement building. We need to organize people to bring our popular demands to the government as a whole. The government is no longer divided into the three traditional branches. The two branches are the two major parties. Congress members and even Supreme Court Justices are loyal to their parties. We must demand that both parties adopt platforms for peace. Our economy cannot withstand further war preparation any more than our consciences can bear the consequences.
"We also need to help the public abandon the pretense that one of the parties is already peaceful. President Obama in the past three-and-a-half years has escalated war in Afghanistan and continued it in the face of overwhelming public opposition. He's invented a new kind of war using drones and launched such wars in numerous nations, building intense hostility toward the United States. He keeps a list of "nominees" for murder. On the list are adults and children, Americans and non-Americans. He holds meetings with his staff on Tuesdays to decide whom to kill next, and then kills them.
"President Obama launched a war on Libya against the will of Congress. The military is larger and more expensive now than it ever was under President Bush. It's more secretive, with the CIA fighting some of the wars. It's more privatized. It's more profitable. It's in more nations. And it's swallowing a greater share of government spending. President Obama has forbidden the prosecution of CIA torturers. He has created a legal and bipartisan acceptance of what we recently protested as scandalous outrages, including imprisonment without trial. And now he has announced that the United States, without Congressional authorization or public approval, is engaged in assisting one side in a civil war in Syria -- even while continuing to threaten war on Iran.
"Veterans For Peace knows that both parties are responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Military spending is the sacred cow that neither party will touch. It matters little which party is in power. The Congressional-Military-Industrial-Media Machine just keeps humming along.
"Veterans For Peace will be in Tampa not to protest the Republican Party, but to protest our government's grotesque military spending. We will be in Charlotte not to protest the Democratic Party, but to protest the abominable killing and destruction being done in our name. VFP will continue to point an accusing finger at the military monster that is our government, and to protest its illegal actions and misplaced priorities in every way we can."
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
In the United States, four women make up two presidential tickets, but you might not know that due to lack of covearge.  The four:   Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri Honkala and  Roseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan.  To get Ms. magazine's blog and Women's Media Center to cover the two presidential campaigns (coverage isn't doing one article on the two women -- though thus far they haven't even offered that -- coverage is a regular feature on the campaigns), you can sign this petition.
Ian Wilder (On The Wilder Side) notes that Jill Stein's being ignored and left out of the Gallup poll and Ian's providing ways that you can let Gallup know they need to include Dr. Jill Stein:
AP reports today that the Stein - Honkala ticket will be on the ballot in Pennsylvania. Candidates who are not part of the Democratic-Republican duopoly have to fight for ballot access at election time -- just to be on the ballot they have to fight. Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan are right now attempting to get on the ballot in Hawaii, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Lousiana, Montana and Michigan:

Volunteer NOW to get BarrSheehan on Ballot in Hawaii-Kansas-Louisiana-Michigan-Montana-Nebraska-SouthDakota-Wyoming 
Check out the new banner 4 Barr-Sheehan 2012. Download and it post it anywhere!
Obviously #BarrSheehan2012 supports a woman's complete and unquestioned right to reproductive freedom over her own body!
We care!  BARR SHEEHAN WILL WORK TO MAKE PEACE AN URGENT ISSUE IN 2012! Obama/Romney don't want it to be. PLEASE RT