Friday, January 13, 2012

Solyndra

Solyndra.  A tale of Barack Obama contributers getting the White House's ear and support and, despite being an iffy company, getting a half-billion dollars in US tax payer monies.  Solyndra quickly went bankrupt.  Now the White House continues to insist that nothing was done in secret or illegal.  Lies.

Darren Samuelsohn (POLITICO) reports:


Senior White House officials fretted just days before the November 2010 election about the bad press coverage they'd face if news leaked of Solyndra layoffs, according to new internal emails released Friday.
"Here's the deal — Solyndra is going to announce that they are laying off 200 of their 1,200 workers," White House deputy energy adviser Heather Zichal wrote Oct. 27, 2010, to her boss, Carol Browner and two other deputies. "No es bueno. Sounds like they will now make this announcement next week but press is sniffing around so it could come out sooner."

This is a rotten scandal and a real press would have gone after this full force; however, we don't have a real press.  Darren Samuelsohn has been covering this story for some time.  One of the few reporters to actually cover this story and cover it seriously.

Between that and the other crap, like the 2009 Halloween Fest at the White House that cost all that morning and let little Sasha and the one who needs a bra act like little princess on the American dime and be entertained by Johnny Depp and others, this administration will go down as being as corrupt as those that made up the Tea Pot Dome scandals.

Ruth usually covers this and John Edwards' scandal.  Since trashy John is back in the news, I told her I would grab Solyndra tonight.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, January 13, 2012,  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq arrests 4 American citizens, Nouri unleashes the crazy on the Turkish Prime Minister, Joe Biden and Barack Obama both speak to the Turkish Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) like embarrassed parents attempting to smooth things over, Nouri finally decides that the pilgrimage that's been going on for a week now might need extra security protection, Saleh al-Mutlaq calls for Nouri to step down, and more.
 
The Iraq War and the Afghanistan War have produced many veterans.  Many services are needed, many resources are overtaxed.
 
In San Diego a vacant building could house close to fifty veterans.  KGTV's 10 News reports, "Dr. Robert Smith presented the plan which he said is particularly necessary in the San Diego area as it has the largest population of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the nation at 28,000."  But the psychiatric facility found objection at the Mission Hillas Town Council hearing by some parents who say that a school across the street from the vacant building means children could be at risk.  Jeanette Steele (San Diego Union-Tribune) adds "neighbors are wary, saying it's not a 'vets versus kids' equation.  They ay it's a great facility but there must be better places to put it in sprawling San Diego."  If they're worried about danger to the kids, a vacant building in a city, as a general rule, tends to attract more problems than an occupied building.  That's drug use and drug dealing, that's a safety hazard for children (who naturally enjoy exploring and may enter a vacant building) and so much more.  The facility would be a medical one.  There's no guarantee that it would be any more safe than any other medical facility, or any less safe.  There are many reasons to oppose a new facility -- veterans or otherwise -- coming into a neighborhood but one that would fill a building that now stands empty?  Ex-Navy nurse Mary Rushton is quoted stating, "When these veterans fail the program and are asked to leave, that's the end of the VA's responsibility.  Who knows what could happen? From not controlling their emotions and reactions, things along those lines.  I don't think these kids need to see anything."  And what's really sad is that's from a former Navy nurse.  The government sent people to war, there's no need to hdie that reality from children.  Are they at risk?  By the nurse's argument everyon across the country is at risk.  I believe schools are supposted to have their own safety procedures.  Does she not trust the school?  We know she doesn't trust the veteran.  In the comments, Tikvah Organics' owner Cyndi Norwitz makes this point:
 
Unbelievable. There are children in every neighborhood, so are these people in opposition saying these vets aren't welcome anywhere? There are schools in most neighborhoods too. As for being across the street from a school, that seems ideal to me. When school is in session (plus the hours before and after), the place is swarming with staff. What could be safer than that? My daughter's in first grade and I would have no problem with a center like this being across the street from her school
 
Hugh Lessig (Virginia's Daily Press) reports on Hampton Veterans Administration Medical Center's program which issues housing vouchers to veterans in need: "The bad news? Business is bomming here in Hampton Roads" and the veteran population they served used to trend to 40 to 60 years old but is now starting to decrease in age to their 20s and 30s.  Meanwhile in Illinois, homeless veterans continue to increase in numbers.  Susan Frick Carlman (Naperville Sun) reports  the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans needs to open a second home and raised the issue at a town hall.  US Senator Dick Durbin offered a non-reassuring, "I've got to look for new ways to help you, and if I can, I'll find some.  If you've got the dedicated volunteers and professionals to make it work, it's a heck of an investment."  If San Diego is the norm 9i hope it's not), then, should money be found, the shelter would next face the issue of finding a location that didn't have all the neighbors clutching the pearls.
 
Finding the money should be easy, after all the government's worked so very hard to refuse to give veterans the proper disability rating to save money (and cheat veterans).  But sometimes veterans win in spite of it all.  Michael Doyle (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "After three years of legal maneuvering, a federal judge in late December quietly approved the settlement that covers [Iraq War veteran Chris] Crotte and about 2,100 other veterans who've been medically discharged since 2002 with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Under the settlement, one of several similar efforts now under way, affected veterans discharged with PTSD will get better benefits, including lifetime health care and post-exchange privileges.  The affected veterans had been discharged with disability ratings that were way too low to receive such benefits."  On the subject of PTSD, the University of California San Francisco's Steve Tokar reports of a new study on women veterans and PTSD:
 
 
Women who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan were involved in combat at significantly higher rates than in previous conflicts, and screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder at the same rate as men, according to a study led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
"While women technically are not supposed to serve in direct combat, this research demonstrates that, in reality, they are experiencing combat at a higher rate than we had assumed," said lead author Shira Maguen, PhD, a clinical psychologist at SFVAMC and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF. "At the same time, it shows that men and women really don't differ in how they react to the stresses of combat."
Women in the U.S. military gradually have been integrated into combat roles since the early 1990s, and today comprise about 14 percent of Americans serving in uniform. Of roughly 2.2 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 255,000 have been women, according to the Pentagon. Under current U.S Army rules, women are not officially assigned to units whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground, but can be assigned to other roles in combat zones.
The study of 7,251 active-duty soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is the first study, the authors say, to include gender as a variable in examining responses to four combat-associated traumatic experiences: killing, witnessing someone being killed, exposure to death (seeing dead soldiers or civilians) and injury.
 
 
Earlier this week, Laura Unger (Lousiville Courier Journal) observed that "almost 15 percent of today's active-duty troops are women;" however, health service for women continue to lag. For example, "VA hospitals don't provide obstetrics, for example, and most don't offer mammograms on-site. Medical centers on U.S. military bases, meanwhile, transfer women to civilian doctors for certain high-level care." In addition women who serve often face what H. Patricia Hynes (Truthout) calls another battlefield:

These same women have found themselves, concurrently, caught in a second, more damaging war - a private, preemptive one in the barracks. As one female soldier put it, "They basically assume that because you are a girl in the Army, you're obligated to have sex with them." Resisting sexual assault in the barracks spills over to the battlefield, according to many women veterans, in the form of relentless verbal sexual harassment, punitive high-risk assignments and the morbid sense that your back is not being watched.
The double trauma of war and sexual assault by "brothers-in-arms" within a culture of impunity for perpetrators may explain why a 2008 RAND Corporation study [1] "found that female veterans are suffering double the rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] than their male counterparts." Patricia Resick, a psychiatrist who researches PTSD in women for the Veterans Administration (VA), asserts "sexual trauma is a more significant risk factor for PTSD than combat or the types of trauma that men generally experience." Resick adds that sexual trauma, unlike combat trauma, is caused by people who are supposed to bond with you and protect you, and that betrayal by those you need to trust with your life deepens the harm.Military sexual trauma (sometimes referred to as MST) is so extreme that it is even more likely to cause PTSD in women than civilian sexual trauma ­­- because of military culture.
Many veterans and contractors also suffering from exposure to burn pits.  For some the exposure has cost their lives.  Next next month, the first ever scientific symposium will be held in New York.

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012

sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University

Location
Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
University
Medical Center


This program is made possible by support from the
Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.


2 WAYS TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

* Register with your credit card online at:
http://www.stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/education/cme.cfm

* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211

For Information Email:
cmeoffice@stonybrook.edu


1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5

Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
Tim Bishop

9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.

9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)

10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
Nashville, TN)

10:40 - 11:10 BREAK

11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)

11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark

12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)

12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)

12:20 - 1:20 LUNCH AND EXHIBITS
Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source

1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)

1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)

2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
Brook University)

2:40 - 2:50 BREAK

2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)

3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)


Continuing Medical Education Credits

The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
 
In other veterans news, Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) has taken up the cause of Cpl Jesse Thorsen who is facing reprimand for sharing the stage, in uniform, with US House Rep Ron Paul in Iowa. 
 

The War Party's lynch mob was out for Thorsen's hide the very next day, with
Democratic party shill Paul Rieckhoff, head of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America,
declaring:"Our troops are many things to many people. Heroes, parents, diplomats,
victims, villains, victors. But as the GOP Primary races roll through New
Hampshire this week, there is one thing that all of America must understand
they're not: political props.
And that's not just my opinion, it's the law.
"This is why so many of us in the military and veterans community were
so shocked and outraged last Tuesday night when we saw Corporal Jesse
Thorsen step up to the microphone in uniform and
endorse Ron Paul for President. We know the law -- the military law
under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). We know
Article 88
of UCMJ prohibits contemptuous speech by commissioned officers against
the President and certain elected officials at penalty of court-martial."

Rieckhoff is off his rocker: the section of the complicated and often
contradictory regulations being invoked against Thorsen has nothing to do
with "contemptuous speech," but with engaging in partisan political activity
while in uniform. Here is what Thorsen had to say at the Paul rally: do you
hear any "contemptuous speech" in these remarks? I thought not. However,
if you're a
Democratic party operative like Rieckhoff -- who has served as
an
official party spokesman – you do indeed hear "contemptuous speech" in
Thorsen's condemnation of President Obama's foreign policy. CNN did an
interview with Thorsen earlier, but
cut him off when he started to talk about
how our interventionist foreign policy is opposed by most soldiers -- which is
why Paul has garnered more donations from military personnel than all other
candidates combined.
 
 
In Iraq, Al Mada reported this morning that 4 Americans -- 2 men, 2 women -- have been arrested in Iraq. They were carrying weapons according to the governor of Baghad, Salah Abdul Razak. They were in a BMW which was stopped at a checkpoint and they were discovered with weapons. They displayed some form of identity badges but they were arrested and our in police custody with the Sixth Brigade conducting the investigation.  Alsumaria TV quotes the governor stating:
 
The four Americans were arrested in a popular residential area that doesn't include vital sites. Detainees testified in preliminary investigations that they were ensuring the region's security. [. . .] Security forces could have shot them for penetrating the area without the consent or knowledge of authorities. There are strict orders to shoot any person that penetrates the area without the consent of operations' command. [. . .] Iraq's security is an internal affair that doesn't concern Americans even if they were intelligence members.

 
Despite the fact that this news, via the Al Mada story, was up, in English, at The Common Ills before 8:00 am EST, no one asked about it at the State Dept press briefing. Despite the fact that many of the reporters attending the State Dept press briefings read Arabic, no one asked about it.  Despite the fact that foreign press attends the State Dept press briefings, no one asked about it.  And the New York Times didn't report it.
 
And the history books forgot about us
And the Bible didn't mention us
And the Bible didn't mention us
Not even once
You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
-- "Samson," writen by Regina Spektor, first appears on her Begin to Hope
 
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) states, "Expect a lot of more of these kinds of incidents in the coming days. While there hasn't been much coverage of the incident in English, it's being heavily covered in the Arab and Iraqi media. Arresting and exposing American operatives in Iraq is going to be politically popular and the local media will eat it up. A lot of ambitious political forces might find it useful to be seen on TV arresting an armed American. Armed Americans traveling around Iraq, whether security contractors or intelligence operatives, are going to be an endless source of potential crisis."
 
 
In Iraq, the political crisis continues.  Nouri started it and now he wants to expand it, apparently, to go beyond Iraq's borders.  How else to explain his attacks today on the Prime Minister of Turkey?  Today's Zaman reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has harshly criticized Turkey for its what he said 'surprise interference' in his country's internal affair, claiming that Turkey's role could bring disaster and civil war to the region -- something Turkey will itself suffer."  Interfere?  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cautioned that the political crisis could lead to a civil war in Iraq and has called on parties to start a real dialogue to resolve the issues.  That's really not "interfering."  But what has Nouri so ticked off is that Erdogan also stated the very plain fact that Nouri started the political crisis.  It's a fact, Nouri doesn't like facts, but that doesn't change the status.  AFP quotes  Nouri stating, "Recently, we noticed their surprise interventions with statements, as if Iraq is controlled or run by them.  Their latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs . . . and we do not allow that absolutely.  If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs, and if they talk about our disputes, we can talk about theirs.  Turkey is playing a role that might bring disaster and civil war to the region, and Turkey itself will suffer because it has different sects and ethnicities."  It's always funny when Nouri unleashes his crazy in public.  That was what bothered the French government the most about the White House backing Nouri in 2010, that Nouri was clearly unstable and that's who Barack wanted to rule Iraq?  Crazy Nouri.  KUNA reports Nouri and Erdogan were on the phone Thursday discussing the situation in Iraq.  And now, today, Nouri's parading the crazy.  At this rate, the bullet to the head so many observers feel is in Nouri's immediate future just may come from his own gun.
 
While Nouri was showing the world how unhinged he is, the Turkish Press reports that Erdogan was speaking on the phone with US Vice President Joe Biden about Iraq: "Reportedly, Erdogan said to Biden that if Iraq distances itself from the culture of democracy, efforts previously exerted for peace and stability will be wasted. Sources added that Erdogan and Biden also indicated that authoritarian and sectarian policies will never benefit Iraq and that Turkey and the US consider benefit in holding dialogue and consultations regarding the developments in Iraq."  In addition, Erdogan spoke with President Barack Obama.  The White House issued the following today:
 
Office of the Press Secretary
President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan spoke by telephone today about issues related to democracy, security and development in the Middle East and North Africa region; this was their first conversation in the New Year.  The two leaders discussed recent developments in Iraq and their continued support for an inclusive, partnership government that brings stability, democracy and prosperity to the Iraqi people. They agreed that the U.S. and Turkey should continue to support the legitimate demands for democracy for the Syrian people and condemned the brutal action of the Assad regime.  The two leaders discussed Iran's nuclear program and how Iran should engage with the international community in this regard.  They agreed that U.S. and Turkish teams would remain in close contact on ways that Turkey and the U.S. can support the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa.
 
 
Poor Nouri.  UPI reports Iraqiya spokesperson Haidar al-Mulla declared today no national conference "can take place so long as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains in power".   Al Mada reports that the expanded meeting (not the national conference) is set for this Sunday. This follows the meet-up Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had this week. The three are scheduled to attend the Sunday meet-up along with heads of the main political blocs. Whether a national conference follows after that is open to debate. Al Mada also reports that the National Alliance has demands for attending any national conference and they include that the meet-up takes place in Baghdad and that "no Saddamists or terrorists" be invited. Following up on that thread of insults, Al Rafidayn reports that Yusuf Qaradawi, head of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, now stands accused of being an agent of Israel and the United States. Alsumaria TV notes that debate continues on where the national conference would be held (KRG President Massoud Barzani will not attend if it's held in Baghdad). And Barazani is now saying -- from scrawl on Alsumaria website -- that he won't attend any national conference if the Erbil Agreement is not implemented. Continuing his surprising recent pattern of 'elder statesman,' Moqtada al-Sadr continues to talk like a leader. Alsumaria TV reports he is calling on everyone to stay calm and not let differences tear the country apart.

Nouri kicked off the political crisis last month by targeting Iraqiya. Among other things, he wants Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his office and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested.  Adam Schreck (AP) reports that al-Mutlaq declared in an interview today that Nouri needs to resign.  He fails to quote Saleh al-Mutlaq directly. Considering that these type of interviews lead to endless charges by politicians in Iraq, Schreck needed to quote al-Mutlaq word for word.  He didn't.  And the confused don't just include Iraqis, they include AP staff.  It was really embarrassing for the AP today at the State Dept press breifing to try to ask a question about the interview when the reporter (for AP) was unsure of what AP was stating al-Mutlaq had said.  From the State Dept's official transcript (link is text with video option, press briefing was conducted by spokesperson Victoria Nuland):
 
 
QUESTION: We have an interview with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister al-Mutlaq today, where he calls Prime Minister Maliki a tyrant or  something. I think it was a dictator, and he talks about getting (inaudible) of Iraq. Do you have a comment on that?
 
MS. NULAND: We saw the interview, obviously. What we are continuing to do, as we've said a number of times in the last few days, is to impress upon senior Iraqi politicians the importance of direct dialogue with each other to resolve their differences and to work towards a solution that represents the interests of all Iraqis for an inclusive government and that's within the Iraqi constitution.  We don't think it's helpful for Iraqi politicians to be hashing out their differences in the media. We'd much rather see them sit down together. In that regard, we are encouraged that Prime Minister Maliki, President Talabani, Speaker Nujaifi have all begun a process of working out the parameters for a national conference that will focus on a political solution that represents the interests of all Iraqis. That's something that we support. As you may know, Deputy Secretary Burns arrived in Iraq this evening and will have consultations with a broad cross-section of Iraqi leaders tomorrow.
 
QUESTION: Can I just ask a quick follow-up?
 
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
 
QUESTION: Do you have any expectation of when this conference might finally take place, and would the U.S. participate in some way either as an observer or as a monitor or facilitator to this?
 
MS. NULAND: Well, certainly, on the latter point, our goal is for Iraqis to talk to each other. There's no expectation that we would be in the room for that. That said, we have encouraged all parties to get to the table. With regard to the timing, I think that's exactly the kind of thing that the Iraqis are trying to hash out now.
 
 
Niqash interviews Tareq al-Hashemi:


NIQASH: In terms of the charges of terrorism against you, you have always insisted upon your innocence. But if that is so, then why did you leave Baghdad and why don't you return there?

Tariq al-Hashimi: I left Baghdad on Dec. 17 so I had left the city before the testimonies of my guards [against me] were broadcast on TV. I came to Sulaymaniyah after an official invitation was extended to me on Dec. 15 by His Excellency, the President of the Republic [Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani]. The invitation was extended to me and my colleague Khodair al-Khozaei [also a vice president] in order for us to attend the presidency's council meeting.

NIQASH: So you're saying you were not trying to escape the arrest warrant?

Al-Hashimi: No, I did not run away. I am confident that the judiciary and the Iraqi courts will uphold my name and reputation in due course.

NIQASH: So why don't you just return to Baghdad?

Al-Hashimi: Because I don't trust the judiciary in Baghdad. This is why I officially requested that the government transfer my trial to Kirkuk. This is a legitimate request under Article 55, which gives the defendant the right to request a change of location for a trial.

Meanwhile Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) weighs in on the crisis and possible motivations:

A closer look at Hashemi's arrest warrant shows that Maliki's move had little to do with Hashemi himself. Although the aging statesmen has been a headache for Maliki's coalition in recent years, his mischief was always "controllable" as the man threatened to walk out on cabinets over and over - but never took the bold move.
He does not command a militia that roams the streets, has not been convicted of any treason and certainly is not "Saudi Arabia's number one" in Iraqi politics.
The charge brought against him is of operating a militia in the post-2003 order that is accused of killing political opponents. Big deal - by Iraqi standards. If Maliki wanted to go by an anti-militia yardstick, then he would have to arrest his prime allies Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim, who respectively run the Mehdi Army and Badr Brigade, two Iran-affiliated military groups.
Hashemi's warrant, pretty much as he has been saying all along, is 100% political, aimed at arm-twisting and scaring the Sunni community at large, which he represents.
Maliki is worried that the Arab Spring will soon reach Baghdad, now that the Americans have left, only this time it won't be society at large rising against an aging despot; it will be the Sunni minority that ruled Iraq since creation of the modern country in the 1920s, against the Shi'ite majority that came into power after the 2003 toppling of Saddam. 

In other news,  Al Mada reports that MP Rafi Abd al-Jabbar (Sadr bloc) is objecting to the continued presence of the (US) CIA in Iraq, stating it undermines Iraqi sovereignty and continues the US occupation.  And Press TV reports this morning that 35,000 security forces are now being deployed to protect the pilgrims. The question is, since Arbaeen ends tomorrow, and since the pilgrims have been attacked since last weekend, why, only now, are these 35,000 being deployed?  Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) report, "Iraq's Shiite-led government took unprecedented security measures Friday to protect Shiite Muslim pilgrims observing the high point of a religious occasion from attacks by extremists. Meanwhile, car bombs targeted officials in the polarized and volatile northern city of Kirkuk." The two car bombs left twenty-six people injured.  In addition, Reuters notes a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a Mosul suicide bomber took his own life and left two police officers injured (two suspects were killed in the assault as well), a Hamman al-Alil roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Baquba roadside bombing injured three Iraqi soldiers and 1 corpse was discovered in Khanaqin.

 
 

Whitney

The funniest sitcom on TV is "Whitney." The funniest and the best.

Ignore the haters including those two ugly jerks that host the 'show' "The Morning After."

This is the funniest show.  New episodes started last night on NBC.

Whitney caught Alex masturbating.  She shrieks, closes the bedroom door and walks into the kitchen area.   Seconds later, Alex comes running out of the bedroom.

"Do you do that every time I go out?"  she wondered.  She said it was okay and not like he was cheating on her.

Alex:  Whit I've been doing that since I was thirteen so if anything I'm cheating on that with you.


Whitney:  At least for me you take off your socks.

He grabs his face with his hands and starts shaking his head and Whitney says, "I'm sorry, do you maybe want to wash your hands?"

Later, Mark comes over and can't figure out what's wrong so Alex tells him Whitney caught him masturbating.  Mark wants to know where and Alex tells him.

Mark:  The bedroom.  How intimate.  I always pictured you as a couch guy.


Alex:  Pictured me?!?!?!?!

Mark says it's no big deal.  It's happened to him before.  At the police academy.  And "you have to own it.
And anytime you see a mirror assume it's two-way."  Poor Mark.  He's probably my favorite male character on the show.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, January 12, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue,  Marc Lynch abuses the factual record, State of Law plays Don Rickles, Erdogan continues to warn about a possible civil war in Iraq, and more.
 
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) decides to play Columbus and 'discover' Iraq today.  It wasn't pretty.
 
If the "last American troops officially left Iraq before Christmas," who's guarding the US Embassy in Baghdad? 
 
Phantom Marines? 
 
Why does Nouri al-Maliki say 700 US troops remain in Iraq as trainers?
 
"Then-candidate Barack Obama promised" 16 months for troops to leave Iraq, starting with when he was sworn in.  You can't just rewrite history.  Events happened, they took place, and you can't pretend otherwise.
 
It's not just wrong, it's insane.  Why the hell would Barack promise 2011?
 
Because of the SOFA?
 
The SOFA wasn't released until after the Iraqi Parliament voted on it.  Does Lynch know when that was?  Probably not.
 
That was November 27, 2008.  A Thursday.  Thanskgiving Day.  Only after that vote took place did the White House release the SOFA.  So Barack promised to do what the American public didn't know? 
 
How is that possible?
 
And why would Candidate Barack agree to abide by a SOFA?
 
Barack's position as a candidate was that Bush didn't have the power to negotiate a SOFA.  He objected to it.  As did Joe Biden.  (And a host of others, but we're talking about the Obama-Biden ticket.)  And it wasn't until after the election that Team Obama's vanished the objection to the SOFA from the official website.
 
These are events that happened and, you, Marc Lynch, have a lot of nerve writing of Iraq "at this point very few care" when you yourself so obviously don't care as evidenced by your very loose living arrangement you have with the facts.
 
Marc Lynch also wants to share some opinions but when you don't even get the facts right, have you really earned that?  I don't think so.  You don't ignore your vegetables and then get to have cake and ice cream.  So sorry.
 
Jeremy Herb (The Hill) reports that Senator Ben Nelson has declared in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that the costs of protecting the US Embassy in Baghdad should be covered by the Iraqi government: "Nelson, who is retiring at the end of the year, pointed to testimony from Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsy at a November 2011 Senate hearing, when Dempsey said that a host nationa has the first responsibility for securing embassies."  In Iraq, US Senator John McCain's discussion on Face The Nation (CBS News) Sunday is in the news.  Dar Addustour features quotes from the interview but they're not always what McCain said. And, in the case of McCain's remarks on Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, you really can't have two quotes because McCain only made one statement on al-Hashemi, "The Vice President of Iraq is now hiding out in Erbil."  So how they're getting two different quotes -- in quotes -- on al-Hashemi from McCain is beyond me.  He was noted in one sentence only.  Al Mada focuses on the reactions to the statements which include State of Law MP Izzat Shabandar dismissing McCain as an American-Israeli War Hawk.  Bahaa al-Araji is with the Sadr bloc and he states that Iraq is not likely to split into three states (McCain: "I think there's clearly an unraveling going on which could eventually lead basically into three different kinds of states in Iraq.").  To clear up one point in Al Mada's reporting, Face The Nation airs on Sunday mornings.  McCain made those remarks on live TV Sunday. To clear up confusion in other reporting -- it was not a "debate."  He spoke one on one with host Bob Schieffer.
 
Turning to the topic of violence, Reuters notes, "Gunmen wearing military uniforms bombed an equipment storage yard belonging to Angola's national oil company near an oilfield in northern Iraq, police sources said on Thursday."  In addition, Reuters reports a Latifiya roadside bombing which left four pilgrims injured, a Baghdad shooting which left 2 police officers dead, a Kifl car bombing which claimed 1 life and left twelve people injured, a Jbela roadside bombing which left five pilgrims injured, a Mosul shooting in which 1 person was shot dead and, dropping back to Wednesda for the last two, a Baaj shooting which left 2 suspects killed and a Baquba roadside bombing which targeted a Sahwa and left three of his children injured.  
 
The pilgrims wounded and killed this week have been observing Arbaee which concludes Saturday.  An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers explains:
 
For generations, Muslims used to commemorate the anniversary of the Arba'inya by walking from everywhere in Iraq and Arab land to the holy shrine in Karbala in spite of many kinds of danger basically death.  Many rulers tried to prevent people from going to Karbala by many ways.  During the Abbasian era which lasted for over a century, the caliphs imposed taxes to prevent people from going to but people paid happily. When they found out that money is not enough to stop people, they ordered to cut one hand from every pilgrim but again, they failed because people gave their hands. At the end the authorities ordered to kill one from every ten pilgrims and one more time, they failed because sacrificed their souls. During the modern history, things didn't change a lot. In Saddam's era, Arba'inya visit meant certain death. Even after 2003, the situation stayed the same. The pilgrims are still a target but this time not for the authorities in Iraq but for the Islamic extremists. The only change was the method. Instead of cutting the hand of pilgrims or killing one of ten, the insurgents chose to kill the biggest number of pilgrims by car bombs, suicide bombers and even poisoned food and drinks. Thousands of men, women and even kids were killed by brutal attacks in all the Shiite cities just because they love Imam Hussein. In fact, the attacks targeted even the Shiite people in others countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan.  But did the extremists succeed? One more time, the answer is no.
 
Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link is video and text) reports on the pilgrimage and speaks to  Said Duraid Mohammed who is making the holy journey.  He tells her, "We are used to bombings.  It is normal for us to face that in our daily life.  And for the pilgrimage and Imam Hussein, we are ready to step on the bombs."  Abdelamir Hanoun (AFP) notes officials estate 15 milliion will make the pilgrimage to Karbala by Saturday.
 
 
Turning to the non-sacred, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spent the last few days noting the dangerous political crisis in Iraq and calling on efforts to address it. From Tuesday's snapshot:
 
Vestnik Kavkaza reports, "The US has made a big mistake by withdrawing from Iraq, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, 1news.az reports. Erdogan met his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg and reminded him that he had warned US president and vice-president about repercussions from such step. The Turkish premier noted that the situation in Iraq remains tense and inter-religious conflicts may arise at any moments. Turkey is a neighboring state and cannot remain indifferent to the situation. He added that Iran is planned to be involved in the process." KUNA also notes Erdogan making public statements of concern about what's taking place in Iraq and they offer this context, "Erdogan made these remarks amidst political conflict between the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's rule of law coalition and the Iraqiya List after a judicial committee issued an arrest warrant for vice-president Tareq Al-hashimi on terrorism charges."
 
 
Thomas Seiberg (The National) reports, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime miniser has started a bid to end the power struggle in Iraq, warning that religious strife had turned the neighbouring country into a 'sea of blood'. Mr Erdogan was scheduled to talk to Nouri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, by telephone yesterday. There was no word on whether a statement would be released afterwards." Today's Zaman adds, "In a telephone conversation late on Tuesday, Erdogan told Maliki that transformation of mistrust into animosity toward a coalition partner will negatively affect democracy in Iraq, a veiled warning to the Iraqi prime minister that his latest arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is a blow to democracy in the war-torn country." Hurriyet Daily News reports on a speech Erdogan gave Tuesday "to his party's parliamentary group" in which he alluded to Nouri al-Maliki, "Without naming him directly, Erdoğan slammed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying 'a positive outcome cannot be expected from a mindset which is sending tanks to besiege the homes of ministers from his own coalition'." Nouri started that as soon as he returned to Iraq after his meet up with Barack Obama in DC. Saturday, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) reported, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." Nouri received praise yesterday as well, Al Mada reports. The militant group Army of the Mujahideen declared support for Nouri and his efforts to form a "single and unified Iraq" . . and that they claimed that they had been behind the rocket attack on the Green Zone ceremony celebrating the creation of the Iraqi Army.
 
The response from Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law political slate? Aswat al-Iraq notes National Alliance MP Ali al-Shalah declared, "Iraq is not an Ottoman province, and never will be." Of course, factually, Iraq was once part of the Ottoman Empire until the British (via the League of Nations) divided it up in 1920. al-Shalah suggested the Turkish prime minister should "attend [to] the Turkish internal affairs, where some Turkish quarters suffer racist violations." If you use the link, you'll be saying, "Uh, you're wrong, he's National Alliance." He's State of Law. And Aswat al-Iraq knew that recently. For example, last week. In addition, yesterday Aswat al-Iraq reported State of Law MP Ibraheem al-Rekabi declared that Turkey was "responsible for the latest crisis among the political entities."  This blame everyone else approach echoes not only Nouri's style but the 'diplomatic' approach State of Law's has been practicing for weeks now such as the December 30th  when Dar Addustour reported State of Law MP Yassin Majid declared that Erdogan should keep "his nose" out of Iraqi political matters.  Political matters?  Aswat al-Iraq terms it "a major political crisis."  If State of Law thought they could bully Erodgan into silence, they were wrong.  Today's Zaman reports he met today with Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) to express "that he is concerned over possible chaos in Iraq caused by anti-democratic and sectarian approaches"  and feels that civil war in Iraq is a possibility if the political blocs can not reach an understnding.
 
 
The sale of arms to Iraq (remember Iraq?) -- $11 billion worth of almost everything, fighter jets, battle tanks, cannons, armored personnel carriers, armor and helmets, even sport utility vehicles -- is going to move forward even though it makes little sense from multiple points of view, including U.S. geopolitical interests. As far as I can tell, the sale is going to go through because "war persists" -- or something persists, a force invisible to reporters and beyond the control of diplomats (at least those who speak on the record).
"The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale . . ." the Times informs us, "despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government."
Well, so much for democracy. So much for talking about anything noble. Excuse me if I seem to be speaking as though I'm surprised. The only thing that surprises me is how quickly and thoroughly our pretenses disintegrate once we're done with them, and how baldly we get on with business as usual. Or rather, business as usual gets on with us.
Maliki's agenda is to cut the Sunnis out of the government, and the Iraqi military has "evolved into a hodgepodge of Shiite militias more interested in marginalizing the Sunnis than in protecting the country's sovereignty," creating conditions ripe for civil war, which the arms sale would grease. Well, moral concerns always play second fiddle in these matters.


Nouri al-Maliki caused the political crisis by targeting members of Iraqiya, his political rivals and the winners of the 2010 elections (State of Law came in second). The targeting included demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his position (hasn't happened yet) and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for terrorism (ibid). Al Mada reports that al-Mutlaq issued a statement declaring no regrets over criticizing Nouri and stating he was behaving like a dictator. In the new statement, al-Mutlaq also declared that Nouri lacks wisdom and State of Law MP Yassin Majid -- apparently the Don Rickles of State of Law -- or at least their Joan Rivers -- responded by calling al-Mutlaq incompetent.  Aswat al-Iraq notes that al-Mutlaq met with the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler and al-Saleh's office issued a statement declaring, "Mutlaq has called during the metting of the United Nations to shoulder its responsibility, highly assessing Kobler's role to settle the problems and find understandings to strengthen democracy in Iraq."  Meanwhile State of Law MP Salam al-Maliki took to the airwaves of Alsumaria TV to proclaim that al-Mutlaq must apologize to Nouri or propose a candidate to take over his (al-Mutlaq's) job.
Alsumaria TV notes, "Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and his Parliament Speaker Osama Al Nujaifi agreed, in a meeting in Sulaymaniyah on December 27, upon holding a national congress for all Iraqi political parties in order to deal with state governance issues and bring forth related solutions."  This week, steps have been taken to get the ball rolling on that. Yesterday came news that KRG President Massoud Barzani would not be attending if the conference is in Baghdad (that's where it's supposed to be held currently). Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Barzani's announcement is still being discussed. Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman states that among the reasons for Barazani's refusal to attend a Baghdad conference the failure of Nouri al-Maliki to implement the Erbil Agreement is chief among them.

Which takes us from political crisis to the Political Stalemates. Political Stalemate I began following the March 2010 elections when Nouri refused to give up power -- despite the fact that his term as prime minister was over and despite the fact that State of Law came in second, Iraqiya came in first. Per the will of the Iraqi people and the Constitution, Iraqiya should have had the prime minister-designate (prime minister-designate becomes prime minister if he or she is able to name a Cabinet in 30 days -- nominate the ministers, get Parliament to vote to approve each one).

The White House decided to back Nouri -- and not the Iraqi people or democracy which makes Barack's ridiculous statements about Iraqi elections obscene -- and when efforts were started to get the UN to appoint a caretaker government, the US blocked those efforts. Nouri was already repeatedly caught running secret prisons. Pretty much every year, Ned Parker would report for the Los Angeles Times on another just discovered secret prison. Nouri would deny it for a couple of weeks. Then, once Iraqi outrage died down, Nouri would allow that it was the only one. And then another would be discovered. And then another. The secret prisons weren't day spas. That's not why they were kept secret. They were off the book locations where torture took place. Under Nouri's command. The White House elected to back a torturer. When some idiot like David Shorr whimpers, "Why should you say Barack owns Iraq?" -- the reply is because he backed a known torturer and not the Iraqi people. And US allies objected to the White House about backing Nouri -- including England and France.

Without the White House's backing, Nouri would have been forced out of the post (his term had expired) and not hung on to it for eight months after the elections.

Political Stalemate I could have continued forever. Nouri was very happy with it. He fired his Minister of Electricity and did so with no oversight from Parliament. He illegally named another Minister of Electricity (he farmed out the duties to the Minister of Oil) again without oversight from Parliament. He did whatever he wanted.

The Erbil Agreement ended Political Stalemate I. The US brokered agreement gave Nouri the post of prime minister. In return, Nouri was supposed to do many things including hold a referendum on Kirkuk (something the Constitution required him to do by the end of 2007 but Nouri ignored the Constitution throughout his first term -- and, again, this is who Barack Obama decided to back for a second term), create an independent national security commission to be headed by Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi, and more.

Nouri got what he wanted and then trashed the agreement. He still could have been stopped -- and should have. 30 days to form a Cabinet. Failure to do so, per the Constitution, means the President (of Iraq -- maybe the use of the term "president" confused Barack?) names another person to be prime minister-designate and they have 30 days. (Actually, the wording is such that the President could conceivably name the same person to another 30 days -- if he or she was willing to put up with any political heat.) Nouri failed to come up with a full Cabinet. He could have been stopped at the end of December 2010 as his 30 days expired. But the US government had made clear he had their backing.

And that was the start of the (ongoing) Political Stalemate II. The failure on Nouri's part to honor the Erbil Agreement.

This week Asawat al-Iraq reported that Iraqiya MP Liqa' al-Wardi stated that Nouri's inability to fill the security ministries was responsible for the deterioration of Iraq's security. She focused on the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior. The third security ministry post is also empty, Minister of National Security. All three are Cabinet positions. All three were never filled (although he was required to). When he refused to fill them at the end of December, Nouri critics declared this a power grab and stated Nouri wasn't filling them so he could control them. US outlets usually insisted that Nouri would fill the posts in a matter of weeks. It is one year and one month later. The posts remain empty and have never been filled. Guess US outlets got punked and Nouri critics were correct.

And finally, in the US, as December (and 2011) came to a close, Senator Amy Klobuchar's office issued the following:
 
 
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced today that President Obama has signed into law provisions she and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) authored supporting survivors of sexual assault in the military as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The Klobuchar-Collins provisions will require the Department of Defense to develop a coordinated policy to ensure the preservation of documents connected with sexual assault reports in the military and provide full privacy and identity protection for the victim. In addition to the provisions, Klobuchar also included an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to guarantee storage of most documents connected with reports of sexual assaults in the U.S. military for an estimated 50 years.
"If an American in uniform suffers the horrific trauma of sexual assault while fighting for their country, they shouldn't have to fight to receive care and pursue justice," Klobuchar said. "This important legislation will now become the law of the land and help ensure survivors of sexual assault have the support they need and deserve."
"Senator Klobuchar's amendment is an important milestone in continuing efforts to establish a sound DOD policy for records preservation vital to veterans seeking VA benefits for conditions related to military sexual trauma (MST)," said Donald L. Samuels, National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans. "The veterans community salutes her leadership and determination on this important issue."
"VFW applauds Senator Klobuchar for her efforts to provide improvements within VA and DOD in cases of sexual assault documentation -- She has been at the forefront of the fight for MST victims. Her amendment will help provide many victims the evidence to validate claims for VA disability for MST," said Ray Kelley, Legislative Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
Until today there has been no coordinated policy across the U.S. service branches to ensure the preservation of medical and other reports connected with sexual trauma. Each service branch has been left to develop its own policy, resulting in inconsistent recordkeeping and frequent destruction of records. Long-term preservation of records can help a victim seek medical and disability assistance, and certain records can also be used as evidence in a later crime involving the same perpetrator.
In recent years there has been an increase in reports of sexual assaults in the military. According to the Department of Defense, there were 3,158 official reports of sexual assaults in the military in 2010. Because most incidents are not reported to a military authority, the Pentagon estimates this number represents only 13 to 14 percent of total assaults -- making the total estimated number of sexual assaults in the military over 19,000 in 2010.
Research has shown that sexual trauma not only hurts the victims, but can also take a toll on their fellow servicemembers by severely undermining unit cohesion, morale, and overall force effectiveness.
Klobuchar's and Collins' Support for Survivors Act, much of which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act, will:
· Require the Department of Defense to develop a policy to ensure the preservation of documents connected with reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.
· Ensure full privacy and identity protection for both the victim and the perpetrator, if known.
· Grant the VA access to documents only at the request of a servicemember, for the purpose of assisting with the processing of a disability compensation claim.
· Allow the Department of Defense to review the data (but not the names of the individuals mentioned in the reports) to improve research and reporting.
Senator Klobuchar's efforts to support military sexual assault victims have been supported by the Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, AMVETS, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and the Wounded Warrior Project. The Support for Survivors Act was also endorsed by the Service Women's Action Network.
###
 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Juliette

 I was just mentioning Juliette Lewis on Monday in "The Firm:"


 Juliette Lewis is the best thing about it acting wise, by the way.  And I mean that as a compliment to her.  She's very good.  (She plays Tammy -- that's the part Holly Hunter played in the film.)

And now POLITCO reports :


Lewis, best known for her roles in “Cape Fear” and “Natural Born Killers,” tweeted on Tuesday, “Let me be clear I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN or a Democrat even.But I like #RonPaul #PresidentPaul. He is anti DefenseAct and 4ConstitutionRights.”

Good for Juliette.  She's always been an interesting actress, exploring and discovering.

 I like her best in "Strange Days" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "The Other Sister."

But I tend to enjoy all of her work.  She's a strong actress.

Now we know why.  She doesn't believe in boxes or sealing herself. 

Remember "The Firm" comes on tomorrow night on NBC -- in the old slot "E.R." used to be in.  (It's replacing "Prime Suspect.")

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, January 11, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the Kurds say "no" to Nouri, the political crisis continues, the US comes off disinterested, a mayor is assassinated in Iraq, and more.
 
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, burn pits have been used.  This means all the waste -- including medical -- is burned in an open area.  Many US service members and contractors were exposed to these leading to respiratory illnesses and worse.  In 2009, the practice was finally banned by the US government.  Sadly, neither the war in Iraq nor the war in Afghanistan began in 2009.  Many service members and contractors suffer from exposure to burn pits.  Next month, the first ever scientific symposium will be held in New York.
 
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012
 
sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University
 
Location
Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
 
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
University
Medical Center
 
This program is made possible by support from the Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
 
2 WAYS TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
* Register with your credit card online at: http://www.stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/education/cme.cfm
* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211
 
For Information Email: cmeoffice@stonybrook.edu
 
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
 
Program Obejctive: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman       
                        Tim Bishop
 
9:00 - 9:30         Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
                        Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
 
9:40 - 10:10       Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
                        Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)
 
10:10 - 10:40     Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
                        King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
                        Nashville, TN)
 
10:40 - 11:10     BREAK
 
11:10 - 11:40     Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
                        Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
                        Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)
 
11:40 a.m. -      Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark
12:10 p.m.        Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
                       Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)
 
12:10 - 12:20    Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
                       River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
                       Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)
 
12:20 - 1:20      LUNCH AND EXHIBITS
                       Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
                       University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
                       Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
                       Synchrotron Light Source
 
1:20 - 1:40       Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
                      Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
                      Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)
 
1:40 - 2:10      Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
                      and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
                      Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)
 
2:10 - 2: 40     Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
                     (Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
                     Brook University)
 
2:40 - 2:50     BREAK
 
2:50 - 3:15     Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
                    Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
                    and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)
 
3:15 - 3:45    Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
                   Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
                   Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
 
3:44 - 4:15   In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
                  (Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
 
 
Continuing Medical Education Credits
 
The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
 
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM.  Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
 
 
We will note that again (probably in several snapshots).  Any typos in the above are mine.  That was sent to me in a PDF last month.  I did two or three lines on it and said we'd note it in full (when I had time to convert the file, print it and then type it up).  I completely forgot and they're so kind they're not one of the ones who ever send a reminder.  (Some people e-mail you something they want highlighted at 10:20 a.m. And then e-mail you an hour later and an hour later and an hour later and hour later . . .)  My sincere apologies for forgetting about it.
 
And the burn pits cause damage to those breathing in the chemicals.  Other damage is unknown.  But improperly disposing of chemical waste, for example, has led to the increased cancer risks at Camp Lejeune.  That's an issue many work on but Senator Richard Burr -- Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee -- has long highlighted. He and Senator Kay Hagan introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 211 which won the unanimous support of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee but has not had a floor vote.  US House Rep Brad Miller has a similar measure in the House of Representatives. Former US Senator Elizabeth Dole (Raleigh-Durham News & Observer) addressed the issue yesterday:
 
 
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I fought to expose the facts about the Camp Lejeune water contamination and to expedite notification to all potential victims. My legislation requiring the Pentagon to provide such direct notification through a registry was signed into law. The Corps, however, has not utilized the registry to directly inform military families about the EPA's determination.
The provision of medical care for the people made ill by the contaminants in the installation's drinking water must now be addressed through the legislative process. The cost of that care may eventually be high in terms of dollars. We must, nevertheless, meet our nation's ethical and moral responsibilities.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., are to be commended for their sponsorship of legislation that would provide medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs for individuals who suffer from one or more of these cancers or other health effects and who are known to have served or lived at Camp Lejeune during the years in question. Passage of their legislation and its enactment into law are the necessary next steps.
 
 
Former US Senator Evan Bayh repeatedly attempted to create a national Burn Pit Registry with no success.  Maybe now that the Senate's chief objector to the registry is set to leave at the end of the year (Jim Webb -- who also objected to the Agent Orange benefits the VA created), it can be championed again and this time passed?
 
 
Camp Lejuene should make you wonder what the effects from these burn pits will be on Iraqis in the future? (As well as the people of Afghanistan, but our focus is Iraq.)   And don't expect the US government to make public any risk assessment they've carried out or might carry out in the future as well as the effects from the depleted uranium and white phosophorus used in the second 2004 assault (November) on Falluja. Last week Dahr Jamail reported for Al Jazeera from Falluja and noted the huge increase in birth defects  and there has been "a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer" since the second assault.  Dahr shares:
 
Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.
Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.
"This is the first instance of something like this in all our family," Rahim told Al Jazeera. "We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?"
 
John Glaser (Antiwar.com) adds, "Antiwar.com columnist Kelley B. Vlahos wrote a brilliant piece in April 2011 in The American Conservative cataloguing the scientific support behind the conclusion that this ongoing suffering in Fallujah is caused by the U.S. weapons used in America's siege of the city in 2004."
 
Thomas Seiberg (The National) reports, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime miniser has started a bid to end the power struggle in Iraq, warning that religious strife had turned the neighbouring country into a 'sea of blood'. Mr Erdogan was scheduled to talk to Nouri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, by telephone yesterday. There was no word on whether a statement would be released afterwards." Today's Zaman adds, "In a telephone conversation late on Tuesday, Erdogan told Maliki that transformation of mistrust into animosity toward a coalition partner will negatively affect democracy in Iraq, a veiled warning to the Iraqi prime minister that his latest arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is a blow to democracy in the war-torn country." Hurriyet Daily News reports on a speech Erdogan gave Tuesday "to his party's parliamentary group" in which he alluded to Nouri al-Maliki, "Without naming him directly, Erdoğan slammed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying 'a positive outcome cannot be expected from a mindset which is sending tanks to besiege the homes of ministers from his own coalition'." Nouri started that as soon as he returned to Iraq after his meet up with Barack Obama in DC. Saturday, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) reported, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." Nouri received praise yesterday as well, Al Mada reports. The militant group Army of the Mujahideen declared support for Nouri and his efforts to form a "single and unified Iraq" . . and that they claimed that they had been behind the rocket attack on the Green Zone ceremony celebrating the creation of the Iraqi Army.


Iraq's political crisis continues. Al Mada notes that President Jalal Talabani has called for a meeting next week for a 'wider' conference and that he had a meeting yesterday with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Nouri. Al Sabaah states that KRG President Massoud Barzani has stated he will not attend but will send an emissary to the conference and that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has praised the efforts of Talabani to start a national dialogue. But, Al Mada adds, if the conference were held in the KRG, Barzani would attend and that his office is stating any national meet-up should be in a mutually agreed upon location. Supposedly, later this year, the Arab Summit will take place in Baghdad. This summit has been repeatedly postponed due to safety concerns. Safety concerns might be among the reasons that Barzani feels the meet-up should be held in the KRG. Safety concerns might include that another of Nouri's supporters might rocket attack the Green Zones. Dar Addustour explains the wider conference next week will involve more participants -- this is not the often called for national conference but a conference to explore the national conference. Alsumaria TV elaborates that next week's planned conference will include more representatives in the political process. As for the national conference, Aswat al-Iraq quotes State of Law MP Ali al-Alaq stating, "The reason behind holding the conference in Baghdad is to show its sovereign role following US forces withdrawal and as an emblem for national unity."
 
 
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about Iraq. We still have 15,000, 17,000 civilians there, as I understand it. Are you confident that they're safe?
 
SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: We're confident that we have an Iraqi government and an Iraqi security force that is capable of dealing with the security threats that are there now. The level of violence has been down. It's been down for a long time. And even though we've had these periodic acts of violence, that's something we've experienced there for a long time. But the bottom line is that the Iraqis can provide good security and that our people can be secure in what we they're doing there.
 
BOB SCHIEFFER: But I mean, the fact of the matter is, we've had over 100 people killed just this week there, have we not? As this-- these various attacks have come about, and...
 
SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: Bob, you're right. We're going to see those kinds of acts of violence take place. But when you look at the level of violence overall, it is down and it has been down, mainly because the Iraqis have been able, effectively, to develop good security. And that's important.

Americans (and the world) have heard that bulls**t of "we're going to see those kinds of acts of violence take place" since 2003 following the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner.  It's Tony Hayward BP time: "We're sorry.  We're sorry."  Because it is and has been the standard response, it doesn't address the political crisis and makes the administration sound either uninformed or uncaring (or both).
 
 
 
Senator John McCain: Secretary Panetta mentioned in Iraq. In all due respect, Iraq is unraveling. It's unraveling because we didn't keep a residual force there because the President of the United States pledged to get out of Iraq [clears throat] and we could have kept a residual force there and kept some stability. Instead, it's unraveling and Iran's influence is increasing. And there's every possibility you could see a very chaotic situation --

Bob Schieffer: You think there's a civil war coming there?

Senator John McCain: I think there's clearly an unraveling going on which could eventually lead basically into three different kind of states in Iraq. We needed to keep a residual force there and that is what the Bush administration envisioned and that is what we should have done. We never gave them a number until, in the words of General Dempsey, the numbers cascaded down to 3,500. The Iraqis were ready to deal on this issue. The administration did not give them a number. And so what the perception is now, particularly in that part of the world, is that the United States is weak and withdrawing. And that is also having its effect in other places including emboldening Iran. Leading from behind is not what this world needs. And we still do have the best military in the world. And we still do have the most efficient and we still do have the most effective ways --

Bob Schieffer: Well let me just ask you, you heard Secretary Panetta said he's confident that there's an Iraqi army in place that could protect those 15 to 17,000 Americans that are still there. Are you confident that those people are safe?

Senator John McCain: Of course not.

Bob Schieffer: And what would happen? We have to go back?

Senator John McCain: No, I think we would have to withdraw them. Look, what Secretary Panetta may not understand -- and I have great admiration and respect for him -- that the situation is unraveling. The Vice President of Iraq is now hiding out in Erbil. There is militias and death squads operating. There is a breakdown in the Iraqi government. And there will be increased tensions on the border between the Kurdish areas of Iraq and the other areas of Iraq. And all of these could have been avoided if we had led rather than followed.


One party sounds concerned, the other sounds ho-hum.  Remember what happened to Tony Hayward as he did his blah-blah over and over and the world grew more and more enraged?  He and BP parted ways.  And there was no public outcry of, "How could they do that to Tony!"  There was a sense of he got what he had coming.  Why the administration -- which responded so poorly during the Gulf Disaster -- thinks Tony Hayward's is the behavior to role model is beyond me.  If this remains their approach and presentation, don't be surprised if a number of people begin saying, "Well, I don't agree with John McCain but he cares, you can tell he cares." 

Ali Hussein (Al Mada) reports on the political crisis and speaks with a member of Parliament to ask whether the current situation was planned by Nouri or whether it was a huge miscalculation on Nouri's part? The feeling is that Nouri's sparked a crisis which leaves the country's very future "hanging by a thread" and Iraqis had expected this time to be one of peace and hope, having survived Saddam and the US occupation; however, now the political scene grows "darker and darker" and Nouri attempts to seize power from his political rivals. Iraqi politicians fear that Barack Obama made a miscalculation (regarding US troops) and that this will be "the last bullet fired on Iraq."
Yes, it is a crisis.  Jon Hemming (Reuters) reports the Kurds aren't willing to hand Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi over to Baghdad.  Nouri officially started the crisis by charging al-Hashemi with terrorism.  The vice president was already in the KRG at the time and has remained there as President Jalal Talabani's house guest. That they weren't just going to hand over was covered in Monday's snapshot, that was the point of the press conference the spokesperson for the judge held.  Hemming reports Kurdish officials state that Nouri should accept al-Hashemi's request for a trial held somewhere other than Baghdad. (Nouri controls the Baghdad courts.)  It's doubtful any political rival of Nouri's would feel comfortable being tried in Baghdad.
 
Reuters notes today's violence includes the assassination of Mayor Saeed Hamdan in Hit, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left five people injured, and, dropping back to Tuesday night for the next two a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left nine people injured and a Qaim attack on a police checkpoint in which 3 police officers were killed (and 1 assailant).
 
Turning to Iraq discussed in the US.  And e-mails.  Contrary to what some visitors e-mail, I haven't endorsed anyone for president.  I haven't said, "I'll vote for ___ for president."  As Elaine noted last night, what I'm actually leaning towards is just not voting for the first time in my adult life.  Before yesterday's snapshot went up, before it was even dicated, I knew someone would e-mail to insist that saying Steve Inskeep should focus on policies and not fashion would be seen as an endorsement of Mitt Romney and sure enough it was.  Sunday night, I noted John McCain which led to a lot of dumb e-mails.  A number of visitors seem to think he's running for president in 2012.  A smaller number saw it as my attempt to raise Jon Huntsman profile.  Oh, I am crafty!  'Noting John McCain's remarks on Iraq,'  I secretly thought, 'will allow Hunstman to win the New Hampshire primaries!'  Right?  Because McCain endorsed . . . Romney.  Get your facts straight.  But, some insisted, John was noted and Leon Panetta wasn't and I never, ever noted Rick Perry's comments from the weekend so I must be endorsing Rick Perry.
 
Let's start with Rick Perry. Of all the GOP contenders, Perry's gotten slammed the hardest here.  That's because he was a governor and we cover Iraq and I note deaths and I note when NO ONE in the state of the fallen, not one politician, issues a public statement about the death.  He was governor -- he is governor -- and Texas has lost a number of service members in the Iraq War.  His failure to do what my governor (Jerry Brown) does immediately is appalling.  And we've called him out repeatedly.  Saturday night, I wasn't in the mood for Iraq as noted near the end of this entry.  I wasn't in the mood for all the people who won't recognize the realities of the deaths and the destruction.  I was not in the mood.  I did mention the Perry thing to Jim (who was reading over my shoulder as I wrote the Saturday night entries) and he and others (not Ava and I) attempted a piece on that for Third that never worked out.  (I didn't read it, I wasn't in the mood.) 
 
Monday's the first time it could have appeared and New Hampshire was Tuesday.  I've slammed Perry harder than any other GOP candidate and now, a day before the primary, I'm going to slam him again?  I didn't see the point (nor did I want to wade through a transcript of the debate).  We've covered his failure to note the fallen, in his role of governor, we've noted his attack on Barack Obama regarding the parades is insane considering (a) he (Perry) can't even note the fallen and (b) he's a governor.  He can put on a parade tomorrow if he wants one.  (However, I was told Texas had decided to hold their parade in November on Veterans Day.  If true, Perry may need to explain why that is if he's going around demanding others hold parades.)
 
John McCain was noted over Leon Panetta.  Panetta is Secretary of Defense.  Panetta is also someone I know.  That has not prevented me from calling him out on hearings or other issues.  But to do that, I need to have the energy to do it.  Having worked all Sunday morning on Third Estate Sunday Review (including Ava and I doing a major rewrite of our TV piece at the last minute Sunday night to include other topics and make the piece harder hitting at Jim's request), I just wasn't in the mood to take Leon to task if he needed it.  And the way things work, when I have no energy left at all is when I usually have to find it due to events.  Also true, I know Leon meaning I know when he's not telling the truth, I know when he's lying.  If he was lying -- and these days there's half a chance of it due to administration policies -- I just wasn't in the mood to take someone I know and like to the woodshed.  That's why we went with McCain.   We'll go into this topic one more time Thursday night (not in the snapshot) and that will be it for this topic here in 2012.