" airs Wednesday nights on NBC. This was the absolute best episode of the this season or last.
Michelle, married to Alex's brother, visited with Alex's brother for the main storyline and she and Whitney were hilarious.
And the supporting story, thankfully, was Lily saying enough is enough and setting up Roxanne and Mark on their first date -- only she didn't tell them -- and it's a trip to Costco.
So they get out of the store, the three of them, and there's a car basically on their bumper and another on their fender.
Mark: Oh, they really jammed us in here.
Lily: I think it's cozy.
Roxanne: Alright, give me the keys, I'll drive.
Mark: I don't mind driving.
Lily: Yeah, why don't you let Mark drive? It's more traditional.
Mark: I am freezing my nips off. I am getting in the car.
Lily: No, no. I have to sit in the back seat or I'll get car sick.
Mark: I thought sitting in the back seat made people car sick?
Lily: Yeah. I'm an enigma. Deal with it.
Mark moves off and Lily stops him.
Lily: Hey, Mark, would you like to open the door for the lady?
She nods to Roxanne but Mark thinks she means herself.
Mark: Uh. Fine.
Lily: Thank you.
Roxanne smiles and waits for Mark to open her door.
Mark: Don't just stand there, get in the car!
Upset look on Roxanne's face as she gets in.
Roxanne's inching back and forth to pull the car out between the two other cars.
Mark hits some buttons.
Roxanne: What are you doing?
Mark: Turning down the heat. You made it like an oven in here.
Lily: Yeah. It's so hot. Breath mint? No? Just going to keep it natch? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.
Mark: So you're going to want to cut the wheel all the way to the left.
Roxanne: Okay, I am a very capable driver. I drove from Minneapolis to Chicago in a snow storm to get away from a very unstable boyfriend.
Lily (to Mark): Loves to travel!
Roxanne: My God! Now it's freezing.
Mark: You don't know what freezing is. When I was a cop, do you know how many dead deer I had to drag out of frozen lakes?
Lily (to Roxanne): Animal lover!
Mark: You're not cutting the wheel hard enough.
Roxanne: Well this is as far as it goes.
Mark: Well let me help you turn it.
Roxanne: I"m telling you it doesn't go any further. You know what? You better get your hand off that wheel or I will chop it off.
Lily hits the stereo button.
The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" comes on, "Oh, my love, my darling . . . "
It's used in the love scene in the movie "Ghost" with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, remember?
So it's playing and Mark and Roxanne both turn around and look at Lily who just smiles and nods to them.
So that was two scenes I put together. And that's not even the last scene of the three of them where Lily says, "No, no, no. Just like I planned it." :D
It really was a great episode.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, February 14, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's Iraq
releases a journalist, the Justice and Accountability Commission removes
the Chief Justice, the UK Labour Party works hard to say 'we're a
different Labour Party than a decade ago,' and more.
Starting in England where Politics UK noted
A new approach to intervening in foreign countries will be set out by
Labour as the shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy, accuses David
Cameron of failing to learn the lessons from Tony Blair’s mistakes in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ten years after the Iraq War, Labour will attempt to further distance
itself from a conflict which alienated many voters by warning against
the “ideological” crusade against al-Qa’ida favoured by Mr Blair and Mr
In his speech today, Murphy declared
Just as important is the need to understand the culture and character
of a specific country. A primitive understanding of the Afghan
population, culture and geography prior to our intervention severely
undermined attempts to work with proxies and our political strategy was
in its conception insufficiently representative. In Iraq there was a
serious deficit in Western comprehension of the Sunni-Shia or intra-Shia
There is rightly much discussion of ungoverned spaces, but this means
absence of a central authority rather than a non-existence of local
power-brokers who must be navigated. Extremists often understand this
and so must we.
Associated to this, as we all now know, the physical disconnection of a
‘Green Zone’ or an ‘inside the wire’ mentality can impede communication
or cultural empathy. Diplomatic compounds, equally, can be isolated
from local communities, restricting the relationships necessary to
The final lesson I want to mention is the need to understand the
interests of the Forces with whom we co-operate, not just our enemy.
They will have their own interests - and not necessarily those of the
central authority. It took too long for us to see the training of the
ANA and ANP as a strategic priority, and we know that de-Ba’athification
left a lethal vacuum in Iraq. When the UK plays a role in training
local or regional forces, it is essential we view them not just as
auxiliaries but as partners who can inform the strategy behind our
And Murphy's remarks in the speech can be paired with what Labour's Douglas Alexander tells Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) in an interview today
Q: You mentioned Iraq. Over the last 10 years, have you changed your view of that conflict and the British involvement in it?
Well, of course I regret the loss of life and accept that there was a
loss of trust that followed. Had any of us who were in the House of
Commons at the time known then what we know now, that the weapons of
mass destruction weren't there, we wouldn't have voted, indeed there
wouldn't have been a vote. So of course our understanding of the
situation deepened and changed because the evidence pointed against the
existence of weapons of mass destruction when the weapons inspectors did
their work in Iraq after the conflict.
Q: It was clear
within six months of the conflict that the weapons had not been found.
But the way events have panned out of the following 10 years has, for
many people, changed their views of the rights and wrongs of the
A: Sure, if you look at the ledger with a
10-year perspective, the negatives outweigh the positives. Of course, I
don't regret the removal of Saddam Hussein, the relative safety of the
Kurds compared with their previous position. But given the lack of
post-conflict planning, the insurgency that followed the action in 2003,
of course the negatives outweigh the positives in my judgment.
remarks come one day before the tenth anniversary of the largest
protest London ever saw -- and there were protests all over England
February 15, 2003 -- not just in London. The demonstrators were calling
for the march to illegal war to be halted. Laurie Penny reflects in "Ten years ago we marched against the Iraq War and I learned a lesson in betrayal
" (New Statesman
Ten years ago this month, millions of people all over the world
marched against the war in Iraq – and were ignored. I was one of them.
For me, at the age of 16, there were a lot of firsts on 15 February
2003: first truancy, first solo trip to London, first time seeing
democracy rudely circumvented.
Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain into the Americans’ war in Iraq
was an immediate, material calamity for millions of people in the
Middle East. I’m writing here, though, about the effect of that decision
on the generation in the west who were children then and are adults
now. For us, the sense of betrayal was life-changing. We had thought
that millions of people making their voices heard would be enough and we
's Matthew Clark also reflects in "Lest we forget: anti-Iraq war protesters were in the right
Supporters of military intervention in Iraq, both then and since,
have variously smeared the protesters for being pro-Saddam,
anti-American, fellow-travellers of totalitarianism and jihadism,
political ingénues and Chamberlain-style 'appeasers'.
Alastair Campbell, the ruthless and cynical apparatchik who did so
much to promote the war, wrote contemptuously in his diary of
encountering "no end of people coming back from the march, placards
under their arms, faces full of self-righteousness, occasional loathing
when they spotted me".
Shortly before the march, his boss Tony Blair made the
characteristically grandiose and narcissistic observation that
unpopularity was "the price of leadership and the cost of conviction"
and insisted that there would be "bloody consequences" if Saddam was not
The protests didn't stop the war but they do exist to serve notice that
not everyone believed the lies, that everyone wasn't wrong and that 'no
one could have guessed.' They prove false the claims by War Hawks and
other cowardly leaders that they were using the best available data to
make their decisions. As Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) observes
It isn’t the size of our demonstration that those of us against the war
should be proud of, it is our judgement. Our arguments and predictions
turned out to be correct and those of our belligerent opponents were
discredited. Remember the rhetoric? There was “no doubt” that the
invaders would “find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam’s weapons
of mass destruction” (Blair) as well as evidence of how Iraq had
“provided training in these weapons [of mass destruction] to al-Qaeda”
(Colin Powell); the foreign troops would be “greeted as liberators”
(Dick Cheney); “the establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the
Middle East” would be “a watershed event in the global democratic
revolution” (George W Bush).
Those protesting around the
world a decade ago included people who hoped the rallies and marches
would stop the Iraq War from starting, it included people who thought it
might make a difference, it included people who felt it would make no
difference but wanted to be on the record that a war on Iraq would be an
illegal crime, it included people with a number of beliefs. And it had
an impact. Tuesday on Mornings with Steve Austin
(Australia's ABC -- link is audio), Austin spoke with Just Peace
Annette Brownlie. She was one of the organizers of the Brisbane march
ten years ago that drew between 700,000 and 1,000,000 participants. As
with the London protest in England, the Brisbane march was only one of
the protests taking place in Australia that day.
Steve Austin: You started protesting at the age of 16 against the
Vietnam War. Does it sadden you that this type of protest is still
necessary but still appears to be ineffective?
Annette Brownlie: It saddens me that it's still necessary, for
sure. You know, in an ideal lifetime, you would see the fruits of your
labor. But, you know, history isn't like that, is it? It's sometimes
the really big paradigm shifts in human thinking take much longer than
one person's lifetime. And you think about slavery and just how long it
took for people to accept that this was wrong. Think about women's
right to vote, it took a long time for that to take off. And I'm, you
know, I see what we do in the peace movement as being a continuum. And
at some point, we're going to realize that wars, indiscriminate killing
of people, is a crime and it doesn't achieve what you want and it's
The protests didn't stop the illegal war
did object to it and the objection continues to this day. Which is
why, for example, Labour scrambles today. The three in power and
pushing the Iraq War destroyed their political parties. In the US,
Bully Boy Bush destroyed the Republican Party. It lost the White House
and is a joke today no matter what. I'm not saying all their actions
today deserve to be derided but I am saying the illegal war and their
part in selling it has had an effect not just with the people but also
with the press. (For an example, see Elaine noting how NPR's trying to
rewrite Senator Susan Collns.) In England, Tony Blair was in power.
And when he left, Labour should have remained in power for years. But
the illegal war -- and their inability to address it publicly -- has
meant Labour has scrambled for votes in an economic downturn that would
normally have many flocking to them. They are paying the political
price for the illegal war. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard's
Liberal Democratic Party remains in shambles for his selling of the Iraq
War. His party scrambles the same way the Republicans do, the same
way Labour is doing. In Australia, he was replaced with Kevin Rudd --
and Rudd was replaced Julia Gillard -- both are members of Australia's
Of the three countries, England's protesters have had the most impact. Sue Wareham (Age) called
this week for an Iraq inquiry in Australia:
Britain and the Netherlands have both conducted such inquiries,
revealing much that was hidden in those countries' Iraq war
decision-making. Of course, the government and opposition will resist,
counting on the resignation many felt for the past decade to shield them
from public pressure. But the demand for an inquiry into what happened
10 years ago can sow the seeds for a democratic capacity to ensure it
never happens again.
Instead of simply looking back in horror at how Australia
became embroiled in such an ill-conceived and catastrophic conflict, the
inquiry would seek to identify the steps that led to Australia
participating in the invasion of Iraq, in order to understand the
lessons to be learnt and how to ensure we follow better procedures in
has had multiple inquiries into the war -- the start of it and actions
during it. And now Labour has to work to woo voters. Contrast that
with the US where Dick Cheney's Deputy National Security Advisor is now
the spokesperson for the US State Dept. Victoria Nuland is a War Hawk
from a family of neocon War Hawks. So why does she represent the State
Dept in Barack Obama's administration?
Remember Blackwater's massacre in September 2007? From the Monday, September 17, 2007 snapshot
Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported
Sunday that a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi
civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported,
"In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and
unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of
them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were
sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security
forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility
vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash
occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad. CBS and AP report that
Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced
"it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly
involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S.
State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any
foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter
(eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of
Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory."
dead and twenty injured would be the final tolls. That didn't stop
Gwen Ifill from finding the incident amusing on PBS. From the October 8, 2007 snapshot
:Over the weekend on PBS' Washington Week (or Washington Weak) Linda Robinson of US News and World Reports decided to chat and chew the topic with star Gwen:
Robinson: Well Blackwater has about 800 people who are primarily
providing bodyguard service to the embassy personnel. And there are
about, well there are some thousands of other contractors doing this
exact kind of job. So they're moving around the city in convoys and
they apply very aggressive tactics in general. There are some who are
alleging that Blackwater in particular uses much more aggressive
tactics. But let's just set the stage a little bit. Very, very violent
city. You're driving around, bombs are going off, at any unpredicted
time. So what happens is these convoy drivers uses a tactic: they throw
things at people, they sound their horns their sirens if you don't get
out of the way they will shoot. So Iraqi drivers generally pull over as
soon as they see a convoy. The problem is SUVs cannot readily be
identified often from a distance --
Ifill: Yeah, how do you know it's a convoy? How do you know it's not
the military? How do you know -- tell the difference?
That's the problem. Washington Weak
tells you that's the problem. For the record, Robinson informs Gwen
that it's very obvious when it's the military and it's only confusing
when it comes to civilian contractors. So the question is, were Linda
Robinson or Gwen to be walking to their cars at the start of the day
and a car came zooming through with those in it throwing things at them,
would they see that as a problem? Should Jon Stewart attempt to find
out for The Daily Show? In fact, it shouldn't even be a
surprise. Gwen and Robinson should volunteer for it to prove what good
sports they are. After ten to fifteen minutes of drive-bys where water
bottles are hurled at them (the mildest object usually cited in press
reports) from speeding cars, let's see their smiling, bruised (possibly
bloodied?) faces and find out whether they now think that "the problem"
includes a great deal more than being able to tell if a convoy is
approaching? What's really appalling is Robinson admits to being
selective in her report explaining that's why she "set up" because,
apparently, reporters are not supposed to show any sympathy for the
civilian populations they are allegedly covering but instead are
supposed to be act as a p.r. hack for multi-billion dollar
corporations. And the chat and chew only got worse as it was wondered
if this was all just sour grapes due to Blackwater's "success"?
embarrassing was that broadcast -- which did include laughter at the
assault? So embarrassing that Gwen's vanished it from the show's
archives -- even on YouTube. That doesn't erase it from collective
memory nor does it make it okay. Rule of thumb for Gwen -- and Nuland
as well -- when Iraqis die, take it seriously. Your job shouldn't be to
make excuses for the attackers.
Nuland's repeatedly attacked
Iraqi protesters, insisted they were violent and done real damage on the
topic. Yet the only deaths in protests have come at the hands of
Nouri's forces. From the January 26, 2013 snapshot
Friday, Nouri al-Maliki's armed thugs in Falluja fired on protesters killing at least seven (Alsumaria reported another of the victims has died from wounds raising the death toll) and sixty more were left injured. Alsumaria notes
the Iraq's Literary Federation and the Association for Defending Press
Freedom and the General Union of Writers have all called for the
protection of the protesters, decried the violence and are calling for
early elections. Uday Hadim (Association for Defending Press Freedom)
states that putting the military out there was a mistake to begin with
and now the government and the Parliament must tender the resignations
and early elections must take place under the supervision of the United
Nations. Writer Fahmi Saleh points out that the Constitution
guarantees Iraqis the right to demonstrate and protest. In the KRG, Alsumaria reports,
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's
political party) has called on Nouri to remove the military from
protests and to show restraint. All Iraq News notes
that the Kurdistan bloc in Parliament also condemned the assault and
called for Nouri to stop using the military on internal issues. They
also note that the National
Alliance (Shi'ite grouping of various slates -- including Nouri's State
of Law but I'm sure they're not part of this) is calling for a prompt and thorough investigation into the shootings. Alsumaria notes
Iraqiya announced they will boycott all upcoming Parliamentary votes
that are not a no-confidence vote or votes addressing the demands of the
Alsumaria reports that the military was withdrawn from Falluja Saturday. Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) quoted Mustafa Jamal, the brother on one of the 7 shot dead by the military yesterday, stating, "Withdrawing
the army from the city is not enough, I do not know how this will
benefit me and it won't get my brother back." The dead and wounded were taken to Falluja General Hospital [. . .]. Al Mada noted that Falluja residents descended on the hospital in large numbers to donate blood. Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) report that "thousands" turned out for the five funerals in Fallluja Saturday. Al Mada adds that the mourners chanted and marches calling for soldiers who executed the 7 citizens to be handed over. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN -- link is text and video) reported
that Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha who is a tribal leader and a Sawha leader
delivered a statement on television Saturday in which he "gave Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki's government seven days to hand over to Anbar's criminal
court those involved in the shootings." Today the Sheikh tells Al Mada
that he believes the violence was premeditate and planned because Nouri
had declared on TV that the demonstration would be targeted. BBC News adds, "Sunni leaders in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, had earlier
told the BBC that they would attack army positions in the province if
the government failed to bring the soldiers responsible for the
protester shootings 'to justice'." Now here's Icky Vicky Nuland on January 25th, the day of the assualt
.QUESTION: A very quick question: According to reports,
five protestors got killed today in Fallujah, Iraq. Have – are you able
to confirm – during protests by the Iraqi security forces.
MS. NULAND: I’m not in a position to confirm numbers,
but I will say that we are concerned about the use of deadly force
during today’s protests in Iraq. We understand that the Iraqi Government
has now issued a statement indicating that they are initiating a very
prompt investigation into the incidents, and that they have called for
restraint by security forces. We obviously stand ready to assist in that
investigation if asked, but we would also say that as the government
and government forces show restraint, the demonstrators also have a
responsibility to exercise their right to protest in a nonviolent
manner, as well as to continue to press their demands through the
The government, Icky Vicky rushed to
assure, and its forces were "showing restraint." 7 people dead. What
does she consider 'letting the gates open' to be?
Today Human Rights Watch calls
for a real investigation into the assault and they note:According to witnesses who spoke with Human Rights Watch, shortly
after noon on January 25, about 10 soldiers at an army checkpoint
prevented people from reaching a sit-in site. A Fallujah resident who
attended the January 25 sit-in, who asked to be identified only as Abu
Rimas, said that the soldiers verbally provoked a group of demonstrators
as they were walking near the highway toward the sit-in. Abu Rimas said
the demonstrators numbered in the hundreds:
The demonstrators were walking past the checkpoints, at a distance,
and the soldiers started yelling at us. They said, “Why are you coming
here to demand the release of the whores [referring to female detainees]
and terrorists? You are terrorists.” This provoked the demonstrators
and many of them started throwing rocks at the army, and [the army]
opened fire. Some of them opened fire right away, into the air . . . but
some of the soldiers fired into the crowd.
He said the demonstrators were close enough to hear the soldiers
yelling, but far enough away that none of the thrown rocks reached the
Victoria Nuland had nothing to say today about
Iraq. She wasn't asked about it at the brief State Dept press briefing
and she certainly didn't volunteer anything.
Strange because if
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy were declared a 'terrorist' this
morning and removed from the bench, seems like that would be news.
That's what happened to Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud who is also the
President of the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council. Alsumaria reports
'independent' MP Sabah al-Saadi has accused Medhat al-Mahmoud of "crimes against humanity." Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports
that the laughable Justice and Accountability Commission has removed the judge from office. He's a 'Ba'athist,' a
Returning to the topic of the protesters, Shafaq News points out
"Demonstrations and sit-ins still continue in Iraq in protest against
Maliki's policies, as the sit-in in Ramadi had entered its 56 day.
Maliki's government is witnessing recently protests in several areas,
including Anbar, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Samarra, Mosul and a number of
neighborhoods in Baghdad to demand reforms and cancel laws that prohibit
some from participating in the political process, as well as cancelling
Article 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act and release detainees especially women
detainees and achieve balance in the institutions of the state." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) is back in Iraq and offers this take on the protests
Something has broken. Much of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim population appears to have run out of patience with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a religious Shiite Muslim who has ruled since 2006. In recent weeks, Sunnis
by the thousands have carried out a campaign of nonviolent civil
disobedience, closing off the main roads to Fallouja and Ramadi in the
west and mounting demonstrations in Samarra, Baghdad and Mosul.
The rallies are a testament to problems left unresolved when the U.S. military
campaign ended here, and to the new tension that has spread throughout
the Middle East. Angry citizens of other countries have overthrown
entrenched rulers through street protests or armed revolt. In
neighboring Syria, Sunnis have risen up as well, forming the backbone of
the insurgency against President Bashar Assad.
Though the protests have taken Iraq by surprise, they were triggered
by two events no different from many in recent years that have left
Sunnis feeling like second-class citizens: news reports about the rape
of a woman in prison and the arrest of a local politician's bodyguards.
But the original causes no longer matter; they have mushroomed into a
Meanwhile coalitions are forming. All Iraq News notes
that Ahmed Chalabi and KRG President Massoud Barzani have talked and
are saying partnership is the only way to resolve the political crises.
Also partnering up were Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ammar al-Hakim. All Iraq News reports
that the National Alliance head and the head of the Islamic Supreme
Council of Iraq held a joint-press conference last night to
. . . announce their love? They didn't repeat anything new. Mainly Ammar layered praise upon praise on Ibahim al-Jaafari.
That won't end the political crises or the violence but the two men may have provided a chuckle or two. Iraq Body Count
counts 155 dead from violence through Wednesday. The violence continues today, All Iraq News notes
a Mosul home invasion that left 2 brothers dead -- one a soldier, the
other a police officer. The soldier was part of the security detail for
Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. In addition, the outlet notes
a Mosul bombing has left 2 police officers dead and a third injured. Alsumaria notes
another Mosul bombing which left one civilian injured (his legs were amputated) and 1 cleric was shot dead in Kirkuk
"French-Australian journalist Nadir Dendoune has been released from an
Iraqi prison after three weeks in custody, Iraqi and French sources said
Thursday. The 40-year-old reported was jailed in January after taking
'unauthorised' photos in Baghdad." As I pointed out when I filled in for Ruth last week
, he's French. He was very vocal about that in a BBC report -- on tensions in France, alienation among the Muslim community. October 31, 2005, he asked the BBC
"How am I supposed to feel French when people always describe me as a
Frenchman of Algerian origin?" -- over five years ago. Dropping back to the February 8th snapshot
Nadir Dendoune appeared before Baghdad's Criminal Court today wearing a
jacket, jeans and handcuffed. Who? Good question because Nadir's not
supposed to exist. Just Saturday, Karin Laub and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reported Nouri declared, "There are no detained journalists or politicians."
But Nadir Dencoune was 'deatined' and had been for weeks. From the January 29th snapshot:
As we noted this morning, Nadir
Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was
covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly
magazine. His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start
of the Iraq War. Alsumaria explains
the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the
'crime' of taking pictures. (Nouri has imposed a required permit,
issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.) All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.
Nadir is the latest journalist to be targeted in Nouri's Iraq.
A petition calling for his release has already gathered 15,594 signatures and a Facebook page has been created to show support for him. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists have called for his release.Arnaud Baur (Le Parisien) reports
his sister Houria spoke with him today and he told her he was at the
French Embassy in Baghdad, that he has freedom of movement there and has
thanked everyone but he does not yet know when he'll be able to leave
Baghdad. Remi Yacine (El Watan) counts
22 days of imprisonment for Nadir. The Voice of Russia states
he is "freed on bail." Reporters Without Borders released a statement
“The announcement of Dendoune’s release is an immense
relief after 23 days of worry,” Reporters Without Borders
secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “He was arrested simply for
doing his work as a journalist. A campaign by his family and fellow
journalists in France and Iraq has borne fruit. Reporters Without
Borders thanks all the journalists who signed the petition for his release launched by RWB and the support committee.”
Dendoune arrived in Iraq on 16 January to do a series of reports for the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique and the magazine Le Courrier de l’Atlas.
According to the French foreign ministry, he was arrested near a water
treatment plant in the southwest Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora while out
reporting on 23 January.
Moving over to the United States . . . Dr.
David Rudd: I've included in my testimony the tragic suicide of Russell
Shirley. I spoke with Russell's mother over the course of the last
month. I've spoken with one of his dear friends. And I think Russell
is probably typical of the problem -- the tragic problem which will
occur over the coming years. Russell was a son, a husband, a father.
He was a soldier. He served his country proudly and bravely in
Afghanistan. He survived combat. He came home struggling with PTSD and
Traumatic Brain Injury. With a marriage in crisis and escalating
symptoms, he turned to alcohol. He received a DUI and, after ten years
of dedicated service, he was discharged. And part of the rationale for
the discharge was the increasing pressure to reduce the size of the
force. I think we're going to see more and more of that over the coming
years. After the loss of his family, the loss of his career and the
loss of his identity, Russell shot himself in front of his mother.
Having spoken with Russell, I would tell you -- or having spoken with
Russell's mother -- I would tell you that a part of the tragedy is that
we knew that Russell was at risk prior to his death. We recognized,
identified him as an at-risk soldier prior to his discharge, but yet
there were not adequate transitional services in place that allow a
clean connection from an individual to an individual. And I think those
are the sort of things we need to start talking about, we need to start
thinking about. How do we connect at-risk soldiers -- once we identify
them and they're being discharged -- particularly if they're being
discharged against their -- against their wishes -- into the VA system
and how do we connect them with an individual and not just with a
system? How do we help them connect in a relationship that can
potentially save a life? I've included a picture of Russell with his
two children at the end of my [written] testimony. And the reason I've
done that is I think it's important for all of us. When I read the
Suicide Data Report, the one thing that is missing in the Suicide Data
Report are the names of the individuals, the names of the families, the
names of the loved ones that are affected and impacted by these
tragedies. And I think it's important for all of us to remember that.
was speaking before the House Veterans Affairs Committee yesterday as
they explored mental health care issues. He was on the first panel
along with the Wounded Warrior Project's Ralph Ibson, the Disabled
American Veterans' Joy Ilem and Connecticut's Commissioner of Veterans
Affairs Linda Spoonster Schwartz. Rudd spoke of Russell Shirley's
forced discharge and the loss of identity that took place as a result.
Linda Spoonster Schwartz picked up on that theme.
Spoonster Schwartz: The President's message last night [Barack Obama's
State of the Union address] that we're going to have all of these people
coming down. He [Rudd] mentioned a very important point -- some of
these people who have joined, you have an all volunteer force who has
joined. They intended to make this their career and now you have a
drawdown and that is a loss of identity. As a disabled veteran, I had
to leave military service and I had a long time finding a new identity.
she went through, what Russell Shirley went through, is happening for a
number of veterans right now and is about to happen for even more. Dr.
Rudd portrayed Russell Shirley as someone the military knew, prior to
the discharge, would be someone who would struggle with the discharge.
If they knew ahead of time and still couldn't tailor some program for
him, what does that say about their ability to help those whose problems
emerge at a later date?Chair Jeff Miller: Last night the
President announced that 34,000 service members currently serving in
Afghanistan are going to be back home. The one-size-fits-all path the
Department is on leaves our veterans with no assurance that current
issues will abate and fails to recognize that adequately addressing the
mental health needs of our veterans is a task that VA cannot handle by
themselves. In order to be effective, VA must embrace an integrated
care delivery model that does not wait for veterans to come to them but
instead meets them where the veteran is. VA must stand ready to treat
our veterans where and how our veterans want to be treated -- not just
where and how VA wants to treat them. I can tell you this morning that
our veterans are in towns and cities and communities all across this
great land. The care that they want is care that recognizes and
respects their own unique circumstances, their preferences and their
Spoonster Schwartz noted that veterans sought
care that was closest and that might mean skipping the VA if it was
sixty miles away. She also noted that veterans had more access --
outside the office -- to a private sector doctor than to a veterans
"Something somewhere is clearly missing," House Veterans
Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller observed at the start of the
hearing. US House Rep Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member on the Committee.
Member Mike Michaud: Over the years we have held numerous hearings,
increased funding and passed legislation in an effort to address the
challenges of our veterans from all eras. VA spent $6.2 billion on
mental health programs in Fiscal Year 2012. I hope to see some positive
progress that this funding has been applied to the goals and outcomes
for which it was intended and the programs are really working. We all
know that mental health is a significant problem that the nation is
facing now -- not only in the VA but throughout our population. In the
broader challenges is an opportunity for the VA to look outside its
walls to solve some of the challenges that they face rather than operate
in a vacuum as they sometimes have done in the past. One of the most
pressing mental health problems that we face is the issue of suicide and
how to prevent it. Fiscal Year 2012 tragically saw an increase in
military suicides for the third time in four years. The number of
suicides surpassed the number of combat deaths. Couple that with the
number of suicides in the veterans' population of 18 to 22 per day and
the picture becomes even more alarming.
Still on the
issue of health care and veterans, Senator Patty Murray is now the
Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and her office issued the following
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2013
CONTACT: Murray 202-224-2834
Introduce Bill to Expand Health Care for CHAMPVA Children
Would raise maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to 26
to bring program into parity with Affordable Care Act
– Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced
legislation to adjust current eligibility requirements for children who receive
health care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of
Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
a child may stay on a parent’s health insurance plan to age 26. However,
children who are CHAMPVA beneficiaries lose their eligibility for coverage at
age 23, if not before. The legislation introduced today by Sens. Murray and
Tester would raise the maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to age 26 in order to
bring eligibility under the VA program into parity with the private
“As more and
more servicemembers return home from Afghanistan, CHAMPVA will continue playing
a vital role in caring for veterans’ loved ones,” said Senator Murray. “In our ongoing commitment to keep the faith with our
nation’s heroes, this bill ensures CHAMPVA recipients, without regard to their
type of coverage, student status, or marital status, are eligible for health
care coverage under their parent’s plan in the same way as their peers.”
"Allowing young folks to stay on their
parents' health insurance until they turn 26 gives them a chance to finish
school or start their careers without worrying what happens if they get sick,”
Tester. “This bill
makes sure that the children of our most selfless citizens have access to the
same care as the rest of the country."
supports VA-sponsored health coverage for eligible adult children of CHAMPVA
beneficiaries,” said VADM Norb Ryan,
USN-ret., President, Military Officers Association of America. “Such coverage is mandated in law to be made
available for every other qualifying adult child across the nation and only a
technical adjustment to the VA statute is needed to extend it to the grown kids
of our nation’s heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
applauds Senators Murray and Tester for introducing legislation we strongly
support, which would grant adult children of beneficiaries of the Civilian
Health and Medical Program of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) eligibility for
continuing health benefits through age 26,” said Disabled American Veterans National Commander
Larry Polzin. “DAV believes children of severely disabled veterans and of
veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation should be able
to enjoy the same comfort and peace of mind of having health coverage into their
young adult years as every other child in our great nation.”
“This legislation is critical to
ensure that dependent children of severely disabled veterans are afforded the
same health care protection as all other
children,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America President Bill
“It is simply unacceptable that the only children who do not have the benefit
of extended health care coverage are those children of the men and women who
have sacrificed the greatest.”
CHAMPVA is a VA health insurance program that provides
coverage for certain eligible dependents and survivors of veterans rated
permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected condition. CHAMPVA is
a cost-sharing program that reimburses providers and facilities a determined
allowable amount, minus patient copayments and deductible. Once a veteran
becomes VA-rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected
disability, the veteran's spouse and dependents are then eligible to enroll in
Press Secretary | New Media
Office of U.S. Senator Patty
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
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