Thursday, August 30, 2012

Burying themselves in the hate

I'm not really sure what purpose Lance Dickie's Seattle Times column is supposed to serve.  Just to spew hate?

He didn't like the RNC convention. 

Not sure that justifies the hatred spewed on, among others, Ann Romney.

Somebody, maybe it was Condi Rice, maybe it was the governor of New Mexico, said Thursday night that we are not a country that envies one another's success.  Whoever said it hadn't met Lance Dickie's whose jealousy of Ann Romney is unsettling and disturbing.

I would like to read commentary on the convention that didn't start from the premise that Republicans have fangs and cloven hoofs.  I really am getting sick of this nonsense.  C.I. had the best entry this morning call the nonsense out.  Please make a point to read it.

And make a point to grasp that when you pour so much hatred on, you're not just bothering me, you're making people question you and what you support.

I am very proud of the fact that I never mocked Sarah Palin or treated her like an idiot.  I don't think she's an idiot.  But a lot of people slammed on her and it was 'the thing' to do.  But Sarah Palin is someone with drive and, yes, guts.  And by being lucky enough to see her humanity, I've been able to share my views here with people who don't necessarily agree with me but are willing to listen.  I thank all of my readers who read and that includes the ones who do not sign off on the same lists of beliefs I have. 

I wonder who people like Lance Dickie think they are reaching?

The undecided will most likely be turned off by the hatred aimed at Ann Romney.  The devoted already agree with him and I can't imagine any Republicans agreeing after his attack on Mitt's wife.  So he's written yet another hymn for the chorus.

If the election is close and his hero Barack loses, do you think Lance will take accountability?  Do you think he will ask himself how he could have covered the conventions in a way that reached out instead of just preaching to the choir?

Probably not.  He'll just write another hateful column attacking someone else.  

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Canada announces they will deport Kimberly Rivera, Mitt Romney has two proposals for veterans, the Iraqi Parliament releases a list of the most corrupt ministries, Amnesty International asks Iraq to stop the executions, Jill Stein release her first commercial since winning the Green Party's presidential nomination, and more.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a solid idea on veterans and education.  We noted that in yesterday's snapshot.  There's so much -- a great deal of it nonsense -- going on that the idea's really not getting the attention it should so we're going to open with it.  As Ari Shapiro (Morning Edition, NPR) reported today, speaking to the American Legion, Mitt Romney proposed that veterans attending college on the Post 9/11 GI Bill get in state tuition.
Ari Shapiro:  Romney offered new ways to expand veterans' education, jobs, and health care.  For example, he says veters should get in-state tuition rates no matter where they live.  And he wants people with military training to get trade credentials more easily.
Mitt Romney: And any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a tri-care provider at the VA's expense.
Ari Shapiro: Tri-care is the military's health care program.  Less than three hours after he touched down in Indiana, Romney was back on a plane to Tampa where he will accept his party's nomination to be president tonight.
Yesterday, we noted Mitt Romney's in-state tuition aspect.  That is a wonderful idea.  Everyone should be praising that.  Barack Obama (and other campaigns) should be grabbing it.  If someone says, "Barack, you stole that from Mitt!" -- the reply is, "When a solid idea comes along, you promote it.  You don't worry about where it came from, you do what's best."  And this is a great addition to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 
Yesterday, I did not note the TRICARE aspect because I wasn't aware of it.  From his speech, here is Mitt Romney speaking about the in-state tuitition and about TRICARE:
The problems with the VA are serious, and must be fixed. We are in danger of another generation of veterans losing their faith in VA system. On my watch, that will not be allowed to happen.
The Obama administration has also requested $12 billion in TRICARE fee increases.  I will not ask our wartime military to shoulder more sacrifices while the rest of government grows.  I will not ask our service members -- active or retired -- to pay more for their health care to free up room for Obamacare.  
I will keep faith with our troops and our veterans -- and my administration will do better by them.  I was astounded to read about a federal building in Virginia that became structurally unstable in 2010 because so many veterans' claims had stacked up inside it.  I am going to make reforming that agency a personal priority of mine -- and I've already started thinking about the policies I will put in place to make it work better for you.
I will modify the Post 9/11 GI Bill so that any veteran wishing to continue his or her education is eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of residency.         
To make it easier for veterans to find employment in skilled trades, I will work with the states to create a common credentialing and licensing standard, and encourage credentialing organizations to recognize and grant credit for military training.
Right now the VA has a shortage of mental health care professionals.  I will hire more -- and any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a TRICARE provider at the VA's expense.
I have said before that this must be an American Century.  And to accomplish that, we must have the strongest military and the strongest economy in the world.
US House Rep Bob Filner, Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and currently running for San Diego Mayor,   He has addressed the backlog at VA in many hearings.  As Romney's remarks portray it, this sounds like points made by Bob Filner (and others) and it's a solid idea as well. If I seem less enthused, it's only because I'm not surprised by that idea because others have proposed it.  I'm glad Mitt Romney's proposing it.  I wish all the candidates running for president would make that part of their campaign.  With the in-state tuition idea, not only is it a great idea, it's one I've never heard proposed before yesterday and I've been attending the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings and covering them here for about six years now.  Both ideas are solid and America's veterans would greatly benefit.
Someone's going to scream in an e-mail to the public account, "You've endorsed Mitt Romney!"  I didn't endorse in 2008, I'm not endorsing now.  People are mature enough to decide whether to vote and if to vote who to vote for.  (Thus far my plan is still not to vote in the presidential election.  I will vote on other races.)  I do, however, endorse Mitt Romney's two proposals.  They are great proposals.  Again, I wish all the campaigns would adopt those proposals.   It does not kill me or upset me or bother me to say, "Those are two solid and amazing proposals from Mitt Romney.  Good job, Mitt Romney."  It's a real shame that partisan hacks are ensuring we're not talking about those two proposals -- both of which can easily be done and both of which would immediately improve the lives of veterans. 
That's a goal that I would hope we could all agree on: improving the lives of veterans.  It would be really nice instead of attempting to split us everytime, we could work together on at least one issue, if we could show just some of the maturity, leadership and compassion that Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Richard Burr practice every day when it comes to veterans issues.
Staying on veterans issues, the Canadian Press reports that Iraq War veteran Kimberly Rivera "must leave Canada by Sept. 20."  Kimberly Rivera is the first female war resister to publicly seek asylum in Canada.  She is from Texas, from the D-FW (Dallas - Fort Worth) area.  She stated in July 2009, "I want to stay in Canada, with my family, because the Iraq War is immoral, illegal and I couldn't in good conscience go back.  The amount of support I'm getting from Canadians is amazing.  The parents of my kids' friends, MPs and even strangers on the street keep telling me that they can't believe the votes in Parliament aren't being respected."   Dropping back to the December 4, 2007 Iraq snapshot:

Courage to Resist profiles war resister Kimberly Rivera explaining how she ended up checking out and moving with her husband and children to Canada: "Kimberly Rivera grew up in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb east of Dallas.  She had never thought of becoming a soldier until she was seventeen and the Army recruiters visited her home to meet with Kimberly and her parents.  The recruiters offered money for college that her family did not have.  Her mother was supporting Kimberly, her father, and her two sisters after her father suffered a work related accident.  She took an aptitute test for job placement out of 'curiosity', but later signed up to be a mechanic.  She was given an elistment date following graduation for the Army Resevers."  She was released from the military due to pregnancy at the end of 200.  With the costs of raising two children, she decided to re-enlist and found herself stationed in Iraq.  "I felt like I was losing my mind.  I was so close to death so many times.  It scares me now.  My life as I knew it was falling apart and I was unable to pull it together.  I was surrouned by males who were filled with filthy comments and talking about all kinds of sexual things.  I was there for three months and was scared that some of the guys might try to get me to trust them just so later they could have their chance to abuse me."  A not uncommon nor unrealistic fear based on reported cases of sexual assault in the military.  "While in Iraq losing soldiers and civilians was part of daily life.  I was a gate guard.  This was looked down on by infantry soldiers who go out in the streets, but gate guards are the highest security of the Foward Operation Base.  We searched vehicles, civilian personnel, and military convoys that left and came back every hour.  I had a huge awakening seeing the war as it truly is: people losing their lives for greed of a nation and the effects on the soldiers who come back with new problems such as nightmares, anxieties, depression, anger alcohol abuse, missing limbs and scars from burns.  Some don't come back at all.  On December 21, 2006 I was going to my room and something in my heart told me to go call my husband.  And when I did 24 rounds of mortars hit the FOB in a matter of minutes after I got on the phone . . . the mortars were 10-15 feet from where I was.  I found a hole from the shrapnel in my room in the plywood window.  That night I found the shrapnel on my bed in the same place where my head would have been if I hadn't changed my plans and gone to the phone."  The death of an Iraqi civilian and a base visit by an Iraq father and his daughter took place before her leave.  While in Texas on leave, she and her husband made the decision to go to Canada.  In the Iraq War, there are many resisters who never go public.  Of those who go public, Stephen Funk is the first to resist.  Camilo Mejia is the first Iraq veteran to resist, Jeremy Hinzman is the first resister to go public in Canada, Ehren Watada is the first officer to resist, Eli Israel is the first to resist while stationed in Iraq and Kimberly Rivera is the first female resister to go public in Canada.

City News Toronto has a photo of Kimberly and her family.   Kimberly and her husband moved to Canada with Christian and Rebecca.  They're now the parents of four children.  Katie and Gabriel were born in Canada.  The CBC notes, "Rivera's lawyers have argued in Canada's federal court that their client would likely face a court martial and jail time, possibly up to five years, instead of an administrative discharge if she is deported because of her political opposition to the war."  Patty Winsa (Toronto Star) speaksnotes with Alyssa Manning, Kimberly's attorney, who notes that while 94% of deserters end up with an administrative discharge, it's different for war resisters who've spoken out, "There is evidence that people who speak out publicly against the war in Iraq are targeted for differential prosecution once they've returned to the United States.  There is a very small percentage that are selected for prosecution and court martial and the evidence demonstrates that in that small percentage are people who have spoken out against the war in Iraq."
Charmaine Noronha (AP) notes War Resisters Support Campaign spokesperson Michelle Robidoux states that future moves include asking Minister of Immigration Jason "Kenney to grant the family humanitarian and compassionate consideration and allow them to stay."  Speaking on the phone to two friends in the Canadian Parliament today (House of Commons, both are members of the New Democratic Party), this is not seen as an isolated incident but part of a move to target the remaining US war resisters in Canada who have not received aslyum or citizenship.  Rivera is seen as "this month's target" with others lined up for the immediate future.  The New Democratic Party, specifically under Olivia Chow direction, repeatedly brought measures before the House of Commons to protect war resisters.
Chow's most recent legislative attempt was in March of last year.  The Liberal Party MPs refused to support the measure and walked out.  They were happy at other times, the Liberal Party, to pretend to care about war resisters.  Robidoux and others will try many strategies to save Kimberly and her family as well as other war resisters -- the courts and public officials such as Kenney are their best shots.  During Vietnam, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau granted asylum to war resisters -- those evading the draft and those who had been inducted and left the service.  He didn't pass a law for it.  The law isssue is complicated by the sign-off portion in Canada and it was a dead end before the Liberals decided they no longer cared for war resisters.  If Jason Kenney or another individual or individuals is spotlighted by the War Resisters Support Campaign as someone to write and make the case for granting the Rivera family the right to remain in Canada where they have made their home, we will note that here. 
During the current US wars, Darrell Anderson was the first war resister publicly seeking asylum in Canada that turned around and came back on his own.  Robin Long was the first to be deported by Canada.  Only two have won in court so far: Dean Walcott and Chris Vassey.  Many have had more success by not going public and applying for citizenship and visa through other means.  If there's a lesson for future US war resisters, it may be that the easiest way is to not go public.  Not going public will make it harder for the movement to grow but it may make it a lot easier to be granted asylum.  Not going public also means a message is sent about Canada and those in government better realize they can't shut out war resisters and also have Canada seen as a principled country and a beacon of hope, one of the world's most advanced countries.  Canada's solid image is based in part on their behavior during Vietnam.  (I'm referring to the government here.  During the current wars -- the Iraq War is still going on, the Canadian people have been very clear about their desires and goals.  The government has refused to recognize that and support it. But the Canadian people, as a whole, remain dedicated to advancing peace. It's something worthy of praise and it's a shame their government, thus far, refuses to embrace tha generous and giving spirit.)
For now, Kimberly and her family remain in Canada.  Meanwhile War Criminal Tony Blair struts across the globe like a free range chicken.  Today he is in South Africa where, Eye Witness News informs, "A group of protesters gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday to protest against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair."   Faranaaz Parker (Mail & Guardian) reports:
There has been growing anger over the invitation extended to Blair from local groups who had opposed the Iraq war. The South African Muslim Network has said that it was considering holding protests outside the summit venue, sit-ins and legal action against Blair.
On Wednesday the South African Press Association reported that the Society for the Protection of our Constitution (Spoc) had filed a complaint with the South African Police Service and that a "crimes against the state" docket had been opened. A case number was issued and the matter will now go to the national director of public prosecutions for consideration.
It's hard to determine whether Tony Blair is suffering from the effects of Mad Cow or if he hopes the rest of us are.  News 24 reports on his recent comments:
"What I say to these groups is this: 'Why don't you actually go and protest against the people doing the killing?'" he told the paper.
"The vast majority of people dying from terrorist activity [are] Muslim on Muslim violence," Blair said.
Terrorist activity includes illegal war and that's what Blair took part in.  He lied to the people and he ignored the legal advice.  He wanted war and a lot of people died because of it.  he might try getting honest but War Criminals are usually immune to honesty.
Violence never ends in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports that a middle school student was kidnapped in Kirkuk after two cars filled with unknown assailants pulled into his neighborhood and grabbed him and a Ramadi roadside bombing left three people injured while a Hawja roadside bombing left a captain in the Iraqi military and a Sahwa leader injured.

Yesterday brought news of the last 9 of 140 US tanks being handed over to Nouri's Baghdad-based government.   Alsumaria notes that the 140 US tanks are in addition to the 170 tanks Iraq has purchased from Russia. AFP doesn't mention the tanks purchased from Russia but does note the tanks  "are part of Baghdad's efforts to build up its military, which U.S. and Iraqi officials admit cannot secure the country's borders, airspace, or maritime waters."  Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that the US Embassy in Baghdad has declared in a statement that how Nouri chooses to use the F-16 fighter jets is not a concern of the US.  Really?  Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

 In related news, AKnews reports that Monday saw NGOs protesting in Erbil to register their opposition to the US government's plan to sell Baghdad F-16s and that the NGO's issued a statement which included:

The US is selling F-16 fighters to the Iraqi government while the majority of the Middle East regimes who used heavy weapons against their peoples are being pressed on to leave power and to get stripped of their heavy weapons.  The Iraqi government is not under any external threats from the air or the ground from borders.  The purchase of these fighters is not necessary.  Each of these planes have been purchased with a huge amoung of money which the Iraqi government could use on providing services to the people and reconstructing the country.  The government could buy passenger planes instead of F-16s.  Our concern and fear of the Iraqi government's purchase of those planes stems from our experience with the former Iraqi governments that used heavy weapons against their people.

Please note, that's not a concern to the US government.

And where is Nouri right now?

Oh, that's right: Iran.

The government in Tehran publicly summoned him on Tuesday and he scooted right over.   According to  James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" (New York Times) earlier this month, the White House knows Nouri's government is helping Iran circumvent economic sanctions.  And now the F-16s will be turned over to Iraq with the US Embassy in Baghdad declaring how Nouri uses them and what he does with them is not any business of the US government's?

I seem to recall the last time a similar statement was made.  And it was conveyed though diplomatic staff as well.  Anyone else remember?  April Glaspie?  July of 1990, US Ambassador to Baghdad Glaspie conveyed to Saddam Hussein that, "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.  Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America."  That was a bloodbath (and why the UN has kept Iraq in Chapter VII all these years later).  Remember that should another blood bath follow.  The US government has yet again refused to stand up for humanity and instead given tacit approval to a dictator to carry out his most macabre fantasies.

Nouri's been on an execution kick this week with at least 26 hangings so far for the week, nearly 100 for the year.  The Voice of Russia reports European Union Policy Commissioner Catherine Ashton "says that the growing number of executions in Iraq is openly at variance with the global trend towards the abolishment of capital punishment."  KUNA adds, "The UK government urged Iraq on Thursday to halt executions, after reports emerged that 26 people said to be linked with terrorism were executed over the past few days."  Though Nouri tries to render the executed invisible to ensure that no one can question the legal judgments, they were alive, they had names, they had families.  Habib Toumi (Gulf News) reports on one of the executed this week:
Mazen Mohammad Nashi Al Masawi is said to be among those executed by the Iraqis, but no formal statement has reached the family.
"We never suspected anything about Mazen heading to Iraq," Mohammad, the father, said. "He was a student at the Business and Management College at the King Abdul Aziz University and spent most of his free time at home. He looked normal and behaved normally and he did not exhibit any sign or indication of extremism or fanaticism," he said, quoted by local daily Okaz on Wednesday.

On the executions, Amnesty International issued the following statement today:
Iraq must halt executions
Amnesty International reiterates its urgent call to halt all execution in Iraq following reports that 26 people were executed this week and fears that others might be executed in the coming days.
A spokesman of the Iraqi Ministry of Justice reportedly announced that on Wednesday 29 August five people had been executed. Two days earlier, according to the Ministry, already 21 people had been executed, including three women.
Amnesty International has spoken to Iraqi human rights activists who have confirmed that three women aged between 23 and 49 years, one of them convicted for terrorism related offences and the others for murder were among those executed this week
These latest executions bring the total number of people executed this year to at least 96. This is a significant and worrying increase compared to the previous year. According to Amnesty International's information, in 2011 a total of at least 68 people were executed in Iraq. Amnesty International's concerns are compounded by the flaws in the Iraqi criminal justice system.
Since the death penalty was reintroduced in Iraq in 2004, hundreds of people have been sentenced to death and are now on death row. Amnesty International has denounced throughout the years that many trials of those sentenced to death failed to meet international standards for fair trials, including that "confessions" obtained under torture or other ill-treatment had been used as evidence against them. Some Iraqi television stations continue to broadcast self-incriminating testimonies of detainees even before the opening of a trial, undermining the fundamental right of defendants to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Amnesty International is urging the Iraqi authorities to refrain from using the death penalty, commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment and declare a moratorium on executions. This year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have both called for the establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty in Iraq.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty – the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life.

As already noted, Nouri is in Tehran, Al Mada reports on that. AGI explains, "Nouri Al-Maliki will present Iraq's plan for the Syrian crisis at the summit of non-aligned countries in Teheran.  The two key points in the plan call for an end to the violence and the formation of a national unity government 'which includes all the components of the Syrian population'."    AFP elaborates, "Maliki was to outline the initiative, under which a Syrian regime figure would negotiate with opposition groups and elections take place under international and Arab League supervision, in a speech to the Non-Aligned summit Tehran."  In Iraq, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been tasked with explaining the recommendation.  Prensa Latina reports, " In an address to Al-Alam television channel during the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said his country will not break its relations with Damascus despite regional and international press."
Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the Parliament's Integrity Committee has found that the most corrupt ministries in Iraq -- Ministries of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Electricity.

On the disappeared, all this time later, there is still no amnesty law.  Currently in Mosul and Baghdad, inmates in two prisons are on hunger-strikes (more prisons may have joined this) calling for the passage of an amnesty law.  Nouri's been accused of rushing through executions to ensure that they take place before any amnesty law might stop them.  Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri's State of Law is insisting that people are wrong when they say State of Law is stalling on the amnesty law.   And possibly State of Law is telling the truth?  This could be just another example of how State of Law lacks the ability to lead on any issue.

And while State of Law denies accusations that they are stalling on the long-planned amnesty law, Al Mada reports that they're also demanding the enactment of a law to ban Ba'athists.  Ba'athists were the dominant party in Iraq under President Saddam Hussein.  Paul Bremer implemented the White House's desired purge of Ba'athists from government following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.  The call for a law and the demand that the Justice and Accountability Commission begin purging will no doubt be praised by the usual goons (the same ones who openly wished Nouri would steal the 2010 election, for example).  But the reality is that in early 2007, Iraq accepted -- Nouri signed off on -- White House benchmarks calling for reconciliation and ending the Ba'athist purge.

The Ba'athists have already been purged.  This really isn't about that.  What it's about is the provincial elections which are scheduled for 2013 and the parliamentary elections which are scheduled for 2014.  A lot of Nouri's opponents were eliminated from running in the 2010 parliamentary elections through creative use of the Accountability and Justice Commission -- a commission that Iraq's Parliament thought had lapsed.  Already a goonie in the US has praised the return this year of the commission.  There's nothing to praise here.  And, again, Iraq was supposed to be moving towards reconciliation.  (Equally true, the Iraq Inquiry presided over by John Chilcot in England has heard from one witness after another -- UK government officials -- about how this purge was the worst thing for Iraq and how much damage it has done and continues to do.)
Back to the US and the presidential race.  Tonight in Tampa, the RNC concluded but not before they officially proclaimed Mitt Romney to be their presidential candidate.  Paul Ryan is his running mate.   NPR continued their live coverage (expanded All Things Considered) and did a good job all week with their coverage.  When I said that to an NPR friend, he asked if we would note NPR live blogged the convention as well.  Yes, I will note that and even link to Mark Memmott's Thursday live blogging.  Qualifier: I'm not a Republican.  As a Democrat, it appeared to me that NPR was being very fair (especially when compared to other MSM outlets).  A Republican might see it differently.  It's their party and I would gladly concur that a woman or a man who is Republican and followed the RNC coverage NPR provided would be a better judge than I am on this matter.
In his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney declared, "What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound.  It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs.  What America needs is jobs.  Lots of jobs."
On the Republican National Convention, yesterday's snapshot noted Tom Brokaw's critique that the RNC hadn't mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan on Tuesday.  Brokaw's criticism was accurate and was also non-partisan (non-partisan in that he had no axe to grind and non-partisan in that he accurately portrayed Dems and Republicans marching off to war in 2003).  Yesterday the wars were noted.

The RNC e-mailed the public account to note that veterans Jeanine McDonnell and Chris Develin-Young spoke.  This is Jeanine McDonnell introducing Chris Devlin-Young:

Good evening, I am proud to be one of the 212,000 servicewomen who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.
As a 24 year old Virginian in Iraq, I worked with some of the most courageous men and women this nation has to offer, and we were united in a singular cause: to protect the nation that we love.
It has been my privilege to serve alongside heroes of every service. Defending this nation and its citizens is not without sacrifice for service members and the families who support them.
And that's why we need leaders who don't play chicken with our nation's defense. We need leaders who will invest in defense -- not abandon it.
And that's why we need Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Now, it is my honor to introduce Chris Devlin-Young, a hero in his own right, a former Coast Guardsman and a two-time Paralympic gold medalist in alpine skiing. Chris.

After that Chris Devlin-Young introduced Senator John McCain:

Thank you. It's wonderful to be with you tonight.
In 1982, while flying in heavy fog during a Coast Guard mission, our plane crashed, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down. While my career as a Coast Guardsman ended, a new world of service began for me.
27 years ago, this California boy was introduced to ski racing at the first Veterans Administration Winter Sports clinic. I decided then and there to dedicate myself to racing and coaching other injured veterans.
Being a gold medal Paralympian gives me a whole new way to honor and serve my country. Being the coach of paralympic medalists gives me a way to honor and serve others.
I believe that we can all serve no matter what our challenges. Because it's not about what you've lost in life but rather what you are able to give.
And now, it is my honor to introduce a hero who has given of himself regardless of the price. He is the son and grandson of admirals, a decorated naval pilot, a war hero, and the senior senator from the great state of Arizona -- Senator John McCain.
Condi Rice spoke Tuesday night.  The former Secretary of State got a ton of criticism.  Stupidest came from Slate where  a bunch of idiots pretend to work.  Sasha Issenberg opened with:
Condoleezza Rice's turn on stage seemed to be evidence of a speaker in
 search of an argument, as though a production company lined up a star
 actor cast before determining the plot.
You stupid f**king moron.  Why don't you take general studies degree masquerading as a degree in journalism and shove it up your ass.  You're not qualified to make the criticism you strive for.  An actor or actress cast in a production company would not be lined up "before determing the plot."  You stupid f**king moron.  A production company (film) might do so before getting a script, a production company (theater) might do it before choosing a play.  But, you deeply stupid f**king moron, they would not do it before "determing the plot."  You're not capable of art references because your education has so failed you.  Stick to dragging your knuckles on the ground because you might manage that but you can't handle allusions to the world of art.  You've demonstrated that.  In your attempt to prove how awful Condi Rice was, all you demonstrated was how you had no grip on vocabulary and no understanding of what you were attempting to allude to. 
There was no reason to try to go Dowdian [Maureen Dowd] but if you're going to try to pretend that you have the education and background for that sort of reference, you need to understand the concepts which you so clearly do not.
And for any who think that may be a little too harsh, for this site it is not.  I have lost faith in many things at many points in my life, but I have never lost faith in art and I don't take kindly to little pishers who seem to feel they're qualified for discussions which so clearly float above their heads.
And why Condi?  The RNC sent her speech to the public account late this morning.  We don't have space for the full speech, but here's a sample of it (I'll run it in full tomorrow morning):
And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal – as men and women in the Middle East demand it.  Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder,  "Where does America stand?"
Indeed that is the question of the moment- "Where does America stand?"  When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question – clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place.  The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.
To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.  I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made – yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest.  Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty.  We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer – they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom.  And we owe them our eternal gratitude.
I know too that it has not always been easy – though it has been rewarding – to speak up for those who would otherwise be without a voice – the religious dissident in China; the democracy advocate in Venezuela; the political prisoner in Iran. 
It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies– or to help the world's most desperate— the AIDs orphan in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia; the world's poorest in Haiti.   Yet this assistance – together with the compassionate works of private charities – people of conscience and people of faith— has shown the soul of our country.
And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough.  But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum.  My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice.  We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality — that our leadership abroad and our well being at home are inextricably linked.   They know what needs to be done.
Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined.  And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength.  Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's hands.
We must work for an open global economy and pursue free and fair trade – to grow our exports and our influence abroad.  In the last years, the United States has ratified three trade agreements, all negotiated in the Bush Administration.  If you are concerned about China's rise – consider this fact – China has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements and is negotiating 20 more.  Sadly we are abandoning the playing field of free trade – and it will come back to haunt us.
We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp.  We have a great gift of oil and gas reserves here in North America that must be and can be developed while protecting our environment.  And we have the ingenuity in the private sector to tap alternative sources of energy.
If Condi's speech speaks to you, great.  We're not going to fact check it. I don't care for it.  It's the argument for the war in Iraq and the argument for more wars.  That's what she believes in, she didn't hide and our site here is a rejection of those beliefs.  We can allow her to have her say and we're all mature to either agree or disagree with her and no one needs footnotes at this late date on Condi Rice.  Though I didn't care for the content of the speech (with the exception of personal notes she made, I actually was glad she made her references to her childhood), she delivered it very powerfully.
This was the big foreign policy speech at the convention.  Possibly because it was that and because Condi's a woman, that's the one the RNC chose to send to the public e-mail account (  Maybe for another reason altogether, I have no idea.  But we noted a nice size sample of it and tomorrow I'll note it in full in a morning entry and attempt to find a video for it as well.
In terms of the election, we're interested in the two presidential campaigns made up of four women.  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 campaignOver 250 people have signed onto the petition so far.  Some sign and leave comments and we noted some of the comments in Sunday's "Women Win When Women Run: The conversation Roseanne and Jill are inspiring" at Third -- and "women win when women run" is a theme that repeats in the comments with several people signing noting that theme or expanding on it.
Ian Wilder (On The Wilder Side) notes Jill Stein has released her first commercial:
Jill Stein: A Green Party president means an end to unemployment, to foreclosures, to student debt, to climate change and an end to corporate rule.  We're not talking spare change.  We need a revolution. 
Man nods in agreement.
That's what we deserve.  What we don't deserve is pandering, irresponsible bull[BLEEP]  that passes itself off as campaigning.  I can't believe I just said that but that's how I feel.
Man nods in agreement.
Man rushes to window, opens it and yells, "I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Man on bicycle: I'm for Jill Stein!
Woman holding child opens window and says, "We need a Green president!"
A figure in white at an open window throws up an arm and exclaims, "Vote for Jill Stein!"
Man on bicycle: We need a Green Party president!
Man looking at newspaper shakes his head in disgust and says, "That does it!  I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Woman looks up to the sky and says, "We need Jill Stein for president!"
Camera pulls out and up as chants of "Jill Stein" are heard and we see earth from space.
Jill Stein stands at a city park.
Jill Stein: I'm Jill Stein.  Green Party candidate for president and I approved this message.
"Donate at:"
Roseanne Barr's running mate is Cindy Sheehan and she notes the Peace & Freedom Party has just made the ballot in FloridaCindy will be speaking Monday at rally at Point Richmod Washington Park in Richomond.  The rally kcks off at 10:00 am and she and others will be attempting to hold Chevron accountable.  The Roseanne and Cindy campaign also issued the following a few days ago:

Cindy Sheehan
According to a piece in titled: "'No one really cares': US deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000 in forgotten war,"
the death toll of US troops in Afghanistan has now surpassed 2000 under the watch of President Barack Obama and 80,000 troops still languish in the quagmire.

The presidential ticket for the Peace and Freedom Party, Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan, wishes to express deep condolences to the families of the needlessly killed troops and the people of the Af/Pak region that have been devastated by almost 12 years of war.
"It's not true that 'no one cares,' we passionately care about ending US military involvement overseas to bring the world to peace," said VP candidate, Cindy Sheehan, from her home in Vacaville, California. Sheehan continued, "I am the only candidate in this race that personally knows the tragedy of war...the never-ending mourning for a son that won't return and while Roseanne and I agree the economy is a pressing issue, ending the money-pit of US empire will also bring a boon to our national economic stagnation."
The presidential ticket of Barr/Sheehan has been greatly encouraged that campaign events have been packed by people who also see immediate peace as an imperative issue in the 2012 presidential race even though the two capitalist war parties are trying to avoid the issue of the endless wars at all cost.
The Platform of the Peace and Freedom Party includes a very aggressive plank for world peace:

Peace and International Justice

The drive for greater profits by multi-national corporations which direct U.S. foreign policy is a major cause of war. We stand for peace between nations and the right of all peoples to self-determination. We support an ongoing socialist transformation everywhere. We therefore call for:
  • The U.S. to renounce nuclear first strike, and take the initiative toward global disarmament by eliminating all of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
  • No U.S. intervention anywhere. End all support and aid to repressive regimes and all military and police training aid everywhere. End efforts to destabilize foreign governments. End U.S.-directed economic warfare against other countries. Abolish the CIA, NSA, AID and other agencies for interference inother countries' internal affairs. Withdraw all U.S. troops and weapons from all other countries.
  • Stop all U.S. arms exports and trade.
  • Dissolve all military pacts.
  • Convert from military to peaceful production; reallocate the resulting "peace dividend" for social benefit.
  • Abolish the Selective Service System.
  • No weapons in space.
From the Peace and Freedom Party website

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


"Barack Obama is the first president to create more excuses than jobs."

Wow.  Tim Pawlenty's speech at the RNC tonight was something.  If he'd shown that kind of fire in the primaries, he'd probably have the nomination right now.

I was coming back from an office party and listening to NPR in the car so I caught the RNC.  I wasn't in the mood for music and there's really not much to listen to other than NPR.  And it's certainly better than Air America Radio. 

And they've been offering coverage -- live from the RNC and on their programs -- about the convention.  Ann Romney, for example, her speech was discussed on a program I caught today.  The parts I heard were strong.  I know she and I differ on abortion rights (I support them) but setting that aside, the parts I heard of her speech were really strong, I thought.

I read a column on it that I'm not going to link to because it was all about her looks.  And her age.  Her looks, her age.  And I thought, "Come on."  Seriously, there was so much in that speech to applaud or disagree with and we instead have to endure this babble about her looks?

She's an attractive woman.  I felt the columnist (a woman) was belittling Ann Romney by doing nothing but focusing on Romney's looks.

I just read a bit of nonsense that Tim Pawlenty gave a bad speech.  No.

Here is his speech in full:

Thank you. Thank you very much. Good evening everyone, and welcome to Barack Obama’s retirement party!
Four years ago, we came together for this convention back in my home state of Minnesota, and a lot’s happened since then.
We’ve had four years of Barack Obama in the White House.
Ah, the Obama White House, one bad decision follows another. Hard to say exactly just what his worst mistake has been. There’s so many to choose from: The stimulus. His energy policy. Obamacare. Taxes. Joe Biden.
I hear Joe’s particularly interested in tonight’s proceedings. He even thought about coming here to Tampa. And he’s taking notes because when Paul Ryan speaks, Joe will finally get to hear what a real vice president sounds like!
But you know, President Obama isn’t as bad as people say, he’s actually worse.
The president takes more vacations than that guy on the Bizarre Foods show.
And I’ll give Barack Obama credit for creating jobs these last four years for golf caddies.
Actually, Barack Obama is the first president to create more excuses than jobs! In his view, it’s George’s fault. It’s the bank’s fault. It’s Europe’s fault. It’s the weather’s fault. It’s Congress’ fault. Mr. President, if you want to find fault, I suggest you look in the mirror!
I’ve come to realize that Barack Obama is the tattoo president. Like a big tattoo, it seemed cool when you were young.
But later on, that decision doesn’t look so good, and you wonder: what was I thinking?
But the worst part is you’re still going to have to explain it to your kids.
Next week, Barack Obama will plead with America to give his failed ideas another chance. He’s asking Americans to give him more time and more money.
Well sorry, Mr. President, but you’re out of time, and we’re out of money.
Barack Obama’s failed us. But look, it’s understandable. A lot of people fail at their first job.
Now, our opponents claim to be the party of the middle class. But Democrats don’t understand this fundamental point: it’s really hard for people to be part of the middle class if they don’t have a job!
I know a bit about these things. I grew up in a meatpacking town.
For much of his life, my dad was a truck driver. My mom was a homemaker. She died when I was 16, and my dad lost his job not long after that. And I was the only one of the five kids in our family who had a chance to go to college.
When I traveled the country these past few years, I met Americans from all different walks of life.
If you ask middle-class Americans about their hopes and dreams, they’ll share their heart, but also their concerns.
Can they pay the mortgage? Will they have enough money to buy groceries, or gas for the car? Will they be able to get their kids into college or pay the tuition?
But jobs don’t come from politicians. They come from entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators and risk-takers.
America’s entrepreneurs know taxes are too high, and regulations are too costly and complex. Obamacare frightens them. And they want more American energy.
And they’re collectively making one common plea. They’re saying: I want to grow my business and employ people, but they’re also saying this: Just get the government off my back!
We need to let them know help’s on the way, and help’s name is Mitt Romney.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have the best candidate. This isn’t his first job, or the first time he’s been a leader who has produced results.
He made a success of failing companies. He made a success of the Olympics. He even made government in Massachusetts more effective and efficient.
And now he’s ready to help get America back on track and Americans back to work. He has a plan to strengthen and grow America’s middle class with lower taxes; a government that works for the American people instead of dashing their hopes and dreams; lower energy prices; and greater access to a quality education for all.
There’s one other thing I want to leave you with tonight. It’s important for America to know that Mitt Romney is not only a great leader, he’s also a remarkable person. He’s smart, gracious and wise. And he has this infectious good cheer about him – something I appreciate and something America needs.
Mitt Romney never quits moving. When he sees a problem, he goes after it and finds the solution.
It’s that can-do spirit, combined with a lifetime of service and success that convinced me to support him. And it’s that can-do spirit that we need in the White House, leading America now.
As a former governor, I know that leadership takes optimism, but not blind optimism.
We need a leader who understands the depth of our challenges, but who also doesn’t shy away from them.
Mitt Romney knows what our problems are, and he has the tools, the experience, the energy and the right polices to fix them.
After four years of this president, we need Mitt Romney now, more than ever.
I’m proud to be supporting him for president of the United States, and I know you are too.
And with any luck, in a few months, Barack Obama will at last get some experience in the private sector.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Ibrahim al-Jaafari makes an idiotic statement, 400 Camp Ashraf residents move to Camp Liberty, Osama al-Nujaifi and Massoud Barzani meet up, two prisons in Iraq are now on a hunger-strike for an amnesty law to be passed, Roseanne Barr's campaign releases its first ad, Mitt Romney talks to the American Legion and offers a great proposal for veterans who go to college, and more.

In the land of orphans and widows, Al Mada reports, the poor -- including the widows and the orphans -- labor in the heat in places such as the brick plant where their faces are saturated with smoke and they're exposed to harsh conditions, verbal abuse and worse.  Jmria Ali explains that he starts working at six a.m. and continues to four p.m. with only 30 minutes for lunch.  He says he works alongside children and that he makes 15,000 dinars to the 10,000 the children are paid.  With so many living in poverty, unemployment so high and with inflation hitting Iraq, there are serious money issues in Iraq.  Thus far, Nouri's refused to share money from the oil surplus -- share that money with the people and his Cabinet recently insisted there wasn't any money to share leading Moqtada al-Sadr to politely call that assertion a lie.   Al Mada notes a meeting of political parties and blocs in Basra yesterday in which the consensus was that 25% of the proceeds from oil should be going to the Iraqi people.  This proposal would be popular throughout Iraq. 

While Nouri clutches tightly to the money, he freely orders people to the knoose.  AFP notes Iraq has executed 5 more people today which, when combined with Monday's 21, makes for 26 executions so far this week and "at least 96 the number of people executed so far this year."  The five today were not just Iraqi, they were also foreign nationals.  Alsumaria reports 1 Syrian and 1 Saudi were among those executed and that there are approximately 50 crimes which can result in the death penatly in Iraq.  Yesterday, Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork told Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN), "Our main concern is what were these people actually convicted of?  Terrorism does not tell us very much."  Dar Addustour adds that there are at least 200 executions still to be carried out.  The news outlet notes that an Iraqiya youth leader is calling for Iraq to stop the executions at least until the much talked of amnesty bill is passed into law.  The student accused the government of rushing to carry out executions for sectarian reasons.  Al Rafidayn notes that MP Haider Mulla is stating that they will vote on the amnesty last this Monday.

The claims of voting on an amnesty bill have been put forward repeatedly leading some to doubt that it will happen which is why prisoners in Mosul began a protest yesterday.  Dar Addustour notes that hunger strike continues, with all prisoners also doing a sit-in and stating that they will continue it until the amnesty bill becomes an amnest law -- in addition, the outlet notes that the hunger strike has now spread to the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad as well and is expected to spread to other prisons. 

 Al Rafidayn notes that Brigadier General Nazim Tayeh, with the Interior Ministry, was shot dead in Baghdad as his car passed the airport and they note that a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Riyadh bombing killed 3 security forces and left four more injured and another Kirkuk roadside bombing left two Peshmerga injured.   Bahrain News Agency adds that Brigadier-General Sardqader survived an attempted assassination in Kirkuk which left 3 police officers dead and another three injured.  AFP notes 1 Sunni sheikh was shot dead in Baghdad.

In addition, Dar Addustour reports that thieves dressed as police and driving apparent police vehicles robbed a car of 600 million dinars.  In a security addition, Daughters of Iraq are being brought into the system.  Al Shora reports:

"A decision was made to integrate members of the Banat al-Iraq organisation, the women's armed wing of the Sahwa forces that fought al-Qaeda in Diyala, into the local police force," said Amer al-Khuzaie, the Iraqi government's national reconciliation advisor.

Daughters of the Iraq were the female counterparts of the Sons of Iraq or Sahwa, also known as "Awakening."  From violence to weapons, All Iraq News reports that the US Embassy in Baghdad announced Monday that they had transferred the last 9 Abrams tanks to the Iraqi government -- making 140 US tanks (worth over $815 million) transferred to Iraq.  In related news, AKnews reports that Monday saw NGOs protesting in Erbil to register their opposition to the US government's plan to sell Baghdad F-16s and that the NGO's issued a statement which included:

The US is selling F-16 fighters to the Iraqi government while the majority of the Middle East regimes who used heavy weapons against their peoples are being pressed on to leave power and to get stripped of their heavy weapons.  The Iraqi government is not under any external threats from the air or the ground from borders.  The purchase of these fighters is not necessary.  Each of these planes have been purchased with a huge amoung of money which the Iraqi government could use on providing services to the people and reconstructing the country.  The government could buy passenger planes instead of F-16s.  Our concern and fear of the Iraqi government's purchase of those planes stems from our experience with the former Iraqi governments that used heavy weapons against their people.

On the political crisis front, Al Mada reports that Ibrahim al-Jaafari has declared that there's an open door for reconciliation between Baghdad and Erbil.  At one point, that might have meant something.  Maybe not.  But the reality is that the Kurds don't trust Ibrahim, didn't trust him in 2005, don't trust him today.  And since 2005, they've gotten additional reasons not to trust him.  So the idea that he can reach out with an olive branch is rather laughable.  After the US government, the Kurds were the biggest objection to Ibrahim getting a second term as prime minister following the 2005 elections.  AFP's Prashant Rao re-Tweeted this today:

(Would you support 3rd term for PM?) Jafari: Personally I think 2 terms are enough. However, constitution places no limit on number of terms

And it's those sort of stupid comments by Ibrahim that guarantee no one outside of a small segment of the National Alliance will take him seriously. 

For the record, the press went crazy, in early 2011, over Nouri's 'promise' not to seek a third term.  They were silent for the most part when Nouri walked that promise back the next day.  The promise was made mainly because protests were taking place throughout Iraq and leaders in surrounding countries were at risk of being overthrown.  Iraqis weren't pleased that they went to the trouble of holding an election and ended up with the exact same prime minister, the exact same president and the exact same two vice presidents.  (A third vice president would be added.  At the time of Nouri's promise, there were two.) 

For months now, many have attempted to pass a law limiting people to two terms.  State of Law has very vocally opposed this; however, many Shi'ite politicians have issued public remarks indicating they supported it.  Sunnis and Kurds are opposed to Nouri having a third term.  And now Ibrahim issues his stupid remarks today which make him seem out of touch with the bulk of Iraq's political blocs.

Jalal Talabani may have a little bit more credibility than Ibrahim with the Kurds, Jalal is, after all, Kurdish;  however, he fled to Germany for a reason and remains there for a reason so maybe not.  Dar Addustour reports that Jalal is saying he'll return to Iraq in September and that he's agreed to meet with Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Parliament, when he returns to Iraq.   He is also scheduled to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani and there are rumors of a meet-up with Barzani, al-Nujaifi, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr.

Karwan Yusuf (AKnews) reports al-Nujaifi and Barzani met today and the two addressed the issue of Nouri al-Maliki and "also discussed the repercussions of the crisis in Syria and the seriousness of it moving into Iraq due to escalating violence in neighboring country."

The UN News Centre notes that another 400 Camp Ashraf residents were moved to Camp Liberty (also known as Camp Hurriya) today and quotes Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, stating, "Three-fourths of the residents, 2,400 persons, have now moved to Camp Hurriya.  I thank them for their cooperation, and call on those remaining in Camp Ashraf to act in the same spirit and start preparations for additional moves without delay, in order to peacefully complete the process."

Kobler made no mention of Monday's violence (see yesterday's snapshot) when approximately 20 residents of Camp Ashraf were left injured by Nouri al-Maliki's forces. 

Despite that legal status and the the legal obligation on the part of the US government to protect the residents, since Barack Obama has been sworn in as US president, Nouri has ordered not one but two attacks on Camp Ashraf resulting in multiple deaths.  Let's recap.  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." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."

The residents are trapped in a kind of purgatory.  Unable to leave Iraq, they're being moved to former US military base Camp Liberty.  Approximately 2,000 have been moved so far with 400 more scheduled to be moved this week.  Why can't they leave Iraq?  During Bill Clinton's administration the MEK was delcared a terrorist organization.  Ignoring a federal court order for over two years to re-examine that classification, the Obama administration has kept the MEK labeled "terrorists."  As a result of that label, countries are reluctant to take in the residents.

AP reports that the residents are saying they were beaten and Nouri's adviser Gorges Bakoos is insisting that "we needed to search some of them by hand" -- and apparently a pat down is now done with a clenched first and possibly billy clubs?

Also avoiding mention of Monday's violence is the US State Dept.  The department's spokesperson Victoria Nuland issued the following statement this afternoon:

The United States welcomes today's safe arrival of the sixth convoy of approximately 400 
Ashraf residents to Camp Hurriya, the first such convoy in over three months. We welcome 
and are encouraged by this resumption of cooperation by the Ashraf residents in the 
relocation process as set forth in the December 25, 2011 Memorandum of Understanding 
(MOU) between the Government of Iraq and the United Nations. We call on the Camp Ashraf leadership to continue this progress by cooperating with the expeditious relocation of the approximately 800 remaining residents at Camp Ashraf.
The Government of Iraq has made considerable efforts to achieve a peaceful and secure resolution for the residents of Camp Ashraf, and we urge continued steps to address humanitarian concerns raised at Camp Hurriya by the residents. Recent progress includes 
the commencement of construction on a water purification station linked to an outside water source. The United States encourages these efforts and reiterates its commitment to work towards resolution of humanitarian issues at Hurriya, including sustainable means for the continued supply of water and electricity. The United States also reiterates its commitment to support the safety and security of the residents throughout the process of their relocation outside of Iraq.
As the Secretary of State said on February 29, 2012, "given the ongoing efforts to relocate the residents, the Mujahedin-e Khalq's (MEK's) cooperation in the successful and peaceful 
closure of Camp Ashraf, the MEK's main paramilitary base, will be a key factor in any 
decision regarding the MEK's [Foreign Terrorist Organization] status."

Camp Ashraf residents aren't the only targeted population in Nouri's Iraq.  Success Ucime (Ground Report) observes:

The exodus of the Christian population in Iraq has continued unstopped with the escalation of violence in the country.
This indication is contained in a report by the Open Doors ( a United Kingdom (UK) Registered Charity adding that July 2012 was one of the deadliest months in Iraq since US troops withdrew in December 2011.
Quoting AFP news agency, it observed that attacks took place on at least 27 of the 31 days in July, leaving at least 325 people dead adding that in May, 20 Christian families living in Mosul received threatening letters.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Independent High Electoral Commission Chair Faraj al-Haidari and Commission members Karim al-Tamimi and Osama al-Ani "were found guilty of graft" and received a "suspended one-year prison" term.  Prashant Rao (AFP) obeserved, "There is bad blood between Haidari, a Shiite Kurd, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law list over the aftermath of 2010 parliamentary elections, in which the premier's list came in second to the mainly Sunni-backed Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi."  Alsumaria recaps the long campaign State of Law has waged against the commission since April.  They leave out the fact that a new election law was supposed to have been approved by now for the Electoral Commission and that provincial elections are supposed to take place early next year.  Among the disputes is how many commissioners should be on the board.  All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya declared today that they do not support increasing the number of commissioners and believe it should be left at its present number of 15.

July 19th, Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, appeared before the UN Security Council and stated:

As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. [Gyorgy Busztin], is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities.  The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however.  In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners.  UNAMI stands here ready to actively assist.  

Earlier this month came news that Parliament thought they'd arrived at a stop-gap measure: they'd tack on 35 days to the current Electoral Commission.  AK News quoted the Chair of the Electoral Commission Faraj al-Haidari stating, "A new board of commissioners was supposed to be formed because the delay creates confusion.  The required period to complete the commission's procedures after the ratification of the election law and the budget according to international standards is six months."   Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports a new problem today: Test on applicants for the next commission find them confused as to whether Iraq is a royal monarchy or a republic.  Prashant Rao (AFP) speaks to a variety of MPs who see the future commission as neither fair nor independent and an unnamed "Western diplomat" states, "This is no longer about an independependent electoral commission.  You cannot look at the IHEC issue in isolation . . . The consequences could be bigger."

Turning to veterans issues,  Sherry Mitchell (Hendersonville Star News) reports that Henderson, TN is holding a bass fishing tournament on September 15th and "[a]ll the proceeds from the tournament will be used to support veterans, returning military and their families."  Vietnam Veterans for America has (PDF format warning) the rules and entry form hereSabrina Wu (Patch) reports on the Walk All Our Soldiers Home parade planned for September 22nd in Darien, Illinois.  The Darien Chamber of Commerce notes that the "parade will honor our local military heroes.  Community involvement will be the cornerstrone of the event and we have invited all Darien families to participate in supporting the event by gathering pledges for marching in the parade.  A post parade fun celebration will be held at Darien Community Park." Meanwhile antiMusic notes  country music artist "Tim McGraw just wrapped his HomeFront program this past weekend in Boston, capping off a summer long campaign to award mortgage-free homes to veterans in need at each stop of his summer tour."  At the start of his tour last spring, Tim McGraw announced he'd present a veteran with mortgage-free home on each of his tour's 25 stops.  ABC News Radio reports he kept that promise and states, "Each family had touching stories and made an indelible mark on me.  From the Delucia family's amazing story of recovery and strength through physical injuries the first night in Tampa to the Connor family, who we suprised this past weekend at their new home with a puppy for their daughter Molly. . . I will never foget any of them."  The Call notes the homes were "part of a three-way partnership to recognize the sacrifices of military veterans involving McGraw, Chase Bank and San Antonio, Texas-based Operation Homefront, a non-profit program that provides mortgage-free homes to wounded soldiers. "  Country music artist Faith Hill joins her husband Tim  from December through April when the two of them headline at the Venetian  in Las Vegas.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead notes Suicide Prevention Month is next month and among the events in North Dakota:

Resource fair, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Sept. 10. Programs will include caregiver support, health care for homeless veterans, female veterans, health promotion, disease prevention, minority veterans, suicide prevention and more.• Sept. 9, First Link Walk of Hope for Suicide Awareness and Remembrance, Fargo Civic Center courtyard, 207 4th St. N. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call (701) 293-6462 or email
• Sept. 23, Out of the Darkness Fargo-Moorhead Community Walk, Lindenwood Park, Fargo. Registration begins at 1 p.m. and the walk begins at 2 p.m. To register or for more information, visit

And Out of the Darkness notes:

In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes, claiming more than 36,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Walk to save lives, find an event near you and register today!

Lonny Shavelson (Center for Investigave Reporting -- link is text and video) speaks to Iraq War veteran, Marine Cpl David Smith:

Smith: When I got out of the Marine Corps, I chalked everything that I was feeling up to just being normal. And I met a friend, and he happened to be a Marine. And we just kind of started talking about Iraq and stuff like that, and he could tell that I had some things that I was dealing with.
[On-screen text: That friend was Clay Hunt.]
[He also was waiting for disability benefits.]
Smith: He was the first person who I'd ever really talked to about Iraq, about, you know, some of the more tragic events or some of the more frightening things that happened.
The only way that it was going to happen is if another veteran came and got me and said, "Hey,   I've been there, too, and I know what you're going through."
Clay was just an amazing dude, but definitely had some other issues that he was dealing with.    We became extremely good friends. We'd literally go mountain biking, like, every single weekend – I guess try and clear our heads a little bit.
In March, 31st, I was asleep and my girlfriend came in, and she said, "Clay killed himself."
Clay? My Clay?
It's just kind of wild. Clay was also working on getting a claim through the VA. It's kind of     ironic – I think it was a week or two after he passed that, you know, his approved disability    rating showed up at his house.
From the time that I applied for disability to the time that my disability was finalized, it was        414 days.

Access to medical care -- and timely medical care -- is an important issue for veterans.  Karen Jeffrey (Cape Cod Online) reports:

Veterans on Martha's Vineyard are one step closer to having local medical services restored -- services that will enable them to get treated on the island rather than having to travel to the Providence VA Medical Center in Rhode Island.
U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., announced this week that a contract for veterans services on Martha's Vineyard has cleared one major hurdle: approval by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The contract must now be approved by the Providence VA Medical Center and Martha's Vineyard Hospital, where many of the services would be provided.

Over the weekend, Iraq War veteran Joshua Casteel passed away and IVAW's Jose Vasquez noted, "Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration." Across the country, hundreds of thousands of veterans -- nearly one million per the numbers the VA provided to Congress in July -- are waiting for their claims adjudicated.   Aaron Glantz (Center for Investigative Reporting via the San Diego Union-Tribune) reports:

California veterans who file with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a war-related disability claim are waiting more than nine months on average for a decision, according to a review of VA data.
The review by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that San Diego performs better than the state's other two regional offices in terms of pending claims that have languished longer than the agency goal of 125 days.
In San Diego, the rate of such delayed cases is 66 percent, compared to 94 percent in Oakland and 96 percent in Los Angeles. San Diego claimants are waiting 291 days on average, compared to 363 days in Los Angeles and 346 in Oakland.

In the US,  the presidential election is underway.  Tom Brokaw offered (link goes to video at Huffington Post) that last night at the Republican convention, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan was mentioned despite the fact that both wars were "started by the Republican party and promoted by them in the early stages, with the assent of the Democratic Congress and Democratic Senate."  This morning, Kasie Hunt (AP) reported GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak to the American Legion in Indianapolis today, face-to-face, while appearing at the Republican National Convention in Tampa via satellite to take part in a discussion of veterans' issues with Senator John McCain.  Sarah Huisenga (CBS News) reports, "Romney reiterated his desire to modify the post-9/11 GI bill so that veterans are eligible for in-state college tuition regardless of residency. He also promised to make reforming the Department of Veterans' Affairs 'a personal priority,' citing the 'reproachable failures' in swiftly processing claims, and vowed not to raise rates for Tricare, the military's health care program."  The in-state residency for veterans is a smart idea and something all the candidates for president should support.  It's so obvious now that Romney's suggested it that you wonder why it wasn't part of the original bill.  Huisenga and Hunt are two women covering the campaigns and women reporters are in the minority this election cycle.  Rachel Larris (Women's Medica Center) reported yesterday:

On Monday the Women's Media Center released the shocking statistic, calculated by The 4th Estate Project, that from the presidential primary period (January 1 to April 15) to the general election (April 15 to August 25), 72 to 76 percent of newspaper stories covering the 2012 presidential election were written by men.
The numbers come from a selection of 35 influential newspapers from across the country. Today we wanted to share some of the byline breakdowns for individual newspapers. The numbers reflect only news reports and excludes blogs and opinion columns. For any article with two bylines, the gender of the first name was coded for the entire article.

Though women appear to be fewer in the presidential election press corps, as candidates, they're making real strides.  For example, the vice presidential candidate for the Socialist Equality Party is Phyllis Scherrer (Jerry White is the presidential candidate)  and this election year there are two presidential campaigns made up of four women.  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 campaignOver 250 people have signed onto the petition so far.  Some sign and leave comments and we noted some of the comments in Sunday's "Women Win When Women Run: The conversation Roseanne and Jill are inspiring" at Third -- and "women win when women run" is a theme that repeats in the comments with several people signing noting that theme or expanding on it.

Johnny Green (The Weed Blog) notes and posts Roseanne's first campaign video.  Here's a transcript.

OBAMA On Medical Marijuana

[Footage of Barack speaking at a Minnesota Town Hall in August 2011, via CSPAN]

Barack Obama:  You know a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana, uh, [long pause] as a controlled substance.  The issue then is is it being prescribed by a doctor as opposed to, uh, [pause] you know, well -- I'll - I'll - I'll leave it at that.

ROMNEY On Medical Marijuana

[Romney speaking to a man at a campaign event]

Mitt Romney:  And you have syntheic marijuana that is available.

Man:  Makes me sick.  I have tried it and it makes me throw up.  I have tried all the medications there are and all the forms that come in [inaudible] stimulators or steroids.  I have muscular dystrophy, that's completely against my DNA

Mitt Romney:  I'm sorry to hear that.

Man:  My question for you is would you arrest me and my doctors if I get medical marijuana?

Mitt Romney:  I'm not -- I'm not in favor of medical marijuana being legal.

Man:  So would you have me arrested?

Mitt Romney:  I'm sorry --

ROSEANNE On Medical Marijuana

Roseanne Barr: Dave, you know one thing I want to say is Obama is trying to take our medical marijuana  over there in California and trying to send in federal troops to get our medical marijuana and I'll tell you this, Obama, you'll get my joint when you pry it ouf of my cold, dead fingers.  That's when.  And I know -- I don't want to get Obama's kill list.  You know, I got to look out for drones on my way home now I know.

Supports your right to medical marijuana

The only serious comedian running for President.

Show your support
SEPT 27th, 2012
Oakland, Ca.

Montclair Womens Cultural Arts Club
1650 Mountain Blvd
Oakland, CA 94611-2258 US

6-30 - 8:30 pm
Thursday, 27 September

Roseanne Barr: I'm Roseanne Barr and I approved this message.

Barr/Sheehan 2012

Announcer: Paid for by Rosanne for President 2012

Register Peace and Freedom Party
Vote Roseanne Barr for President
Attend the 27 September event in Oakland

On Labor Day, this coming Monday, September 3rd, we recognize the past sacrifices of working people in their struggles for emancipation, and rededicate ourselves to the movement for workers power in the year ahead. Please join Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, and the rest of the campaign team in marking this holiday by taking part in your local Labor Day events. 
We know that many of you already have Labor Day plans for tabling, marching, and flyering. Check out our revised our flyer (CLICK HERE), and also have a special Labor Day editorial (CLICK HERE) by Jill Stein which you can print out and distribute.
Please be sure to contact to let us know how much you spent on copies.
If you have not already made plans, and don't know where to start, here are three easy steps:
  1. What to do: Round up a few other volunteers (friends, family, coworkers, you name it) ready to help get the word out on Labor Day.
  2. Where to go: Find your local Labor Day events here:
  3. What to bring: Plenty of copies of our halfsheet flyers (CLICK HERE TO PRINT OUT) and of our special Labor Day editorial (CLICK HERE), as well as other campaign materials you have on hand. Please be sure to contact to let us know how much you spent on copies.
Let's get the word out that while the bosses may own two political parties, working people finally have at least one: The Greens.

Another place women are visible in the presidential election this year is in the protest segment.  CODEPINK is currently protesting at the RNC.  Hopefully, they'll have the guts and courage to do as they did in 2004 and protest at the DNC as well.  Jean MacKenzie (Global Post) reports on last night, inside the convention hall:

But as Santorum wound down his speech, a commotion could be heard in the upper reaches of the cavernous hall. A young woman was screaming at the top of her lungs, although her words were indistinguishable to many down below.
It was Alli McCracken, coordinator for the Washington, D.C. office of CODEPINK, a women's organization dedicated to "working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into health care, education and other life-affirming activities."
McCracken, just 23, created quite a commotion.
"I got to speak for three or four minutes before they escorted me out," she said.
Her message was simple: If you claim to be pro-life, then do things that strengthen life. Stop the wars, help women get access to quality health care. Make education affordable.
"I don't think Rick Santorum is any worse than the rest of them," said McCracken. "They are all egregiously offensive in their own way."