Last time, I noted a great NPR text report by Jon Hamilton. It was about bonobos. And I noted it really needed an audio segment. I think it still does; however, Jan e-mailed to inform me that Jon Hamilton discussed bonobo back in January on NPR's SHORT WAVE.
Again, I want another segment, a newer one. But thank you, Jan, for letting me know about the one above.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Iraq and the US set to hold talks regarding the US' continued presence in Iraq, IAVA gears up for a FACEBOOK Live event, and more.
The Biden administration is set to resume strategic talks with Iraqi officials next month on the withdrawal of remaining U.S. combat forces in the country and other matters related to the bilateral relationship.
The talks, which began in June under the Trump administration, would be the first under Biden, who assumed office in January. The discussions are meant to shape the future of the U.S.-Iraq relationship and will touch security, trade, climate and more, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Yesterday afternoon on Air Force One, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the above.
Q I have a question about Iraq. We’re reporting that Iraq has asked for the start of talks about withdrawing the remaining U.S. troops. Can you confirm that you’ve received that request? And do you know when those talks will be starting?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check with our national security team on an update on that, and DOD as well. I can venture to do that when I — when we finish our gaggle.
Later, Psaki would issue a statement. ASHARQ AL-AWSAT quotes her stating:
This will be an important opportunity to discuss our mutual interests across a range of fields from security to culture, trade, and climate. The meetings will further clarify that coalition forces are in Iraq solely for the purpose of training and advising Iraqi forces to ensure that ISIS cannot reconstitute,
No, Joe's not pushing for troops to leave. The president of the United States was Senator Joe Biden when the push for war on Iraq started and he voted for it. He's issued 'apologies' that were meaningless because he never did anything but offer words on the spot and then quickly move on to another topic. He has no desire to atone and he certainly won't cop to what he did. Instead, he blames Bully Boy Bush. In most cases, when a politician claims that they were outfoxed by Bully Boy Bush, the village idiot of the world, I tend to roll my eyes but I guess Joe is just about dumb enough for it to be true. Regardless, Joe is responsible for his actions and his votes. He has refused to take responsibility. Which might go a long way towards explaining why even the threat of court action wasn't enough to make Hunter Biden pay child support for his child? Only when Hunter's finances risked exposure in court in the midst off a presidential election did Hunter finally agree to make child support payments. Dead beat dad. Again, maybe Joe's refusal to take responsibility sets that example?
Jen Pskai's words, by the way, are also quoted by Akanksha Arora (India's REPUBLIC WORLD) but credited to an unnamed "senior administration official." That report was filed before the official statement so either the coordination was already in place or Jen was the anonymous source. Sura Ali (RUDAW) notes, "Three government officials said Iraq sent a formal request to the US, reportedly via US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller, requesting a new round of talks on bilateral issues, specifically on the withdrawal of the some 2,500 troops left in the country." DEUTSCHE WELLE adds, "Former president Donald Trump pursued a policy of bringing US troops home from what he termed 'endless wars,' in a bid to fulfill a 2016 presidential campaign promise." Ellen Mitchell (THE HILL) explains:
Washington and Baghdad in June began negotiating the U.S. troop presence in the country under the Trump administration, and in September it was announced that more than 2,000 of the 5,200 troops there would withdraw.
Then in November, the-President Trump ordered another 500 forces to be pulled from Iraq by mid-January, going against the recommendations of military and national security leaders.
At THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW- JOURNAL, Gabrielle Olya wonders, "How Much is President Biden Worth?" I'd say a grown adult who helps start an illegal war -- one that goes against his won faith and one that the head of his Church spoke out against -- is pretty worthless. Even more so, I'd argue, when 18 years later, US forces are still in Iraq and instead of pulling them home the same worthless man wants to keep them there longer.
But Olya isn't writing about one's soul or core, she's focused on the money -- just like Joe Biden. (How much will his loyalty to financial institutions cost him in the mid-terms -- we're already hearing about it in Zoom chats?) Olya writes:
President Joe Biden’s net worth is $9 million.
Biden once described himself as “the poorest man in Congress.”
His salary as vice president was $230,700.
Joe's a private dancer, a dancer for money and any old music will do.
Reminder, TINA!, the documentary on Tina Turner, starts airing this weekend on HBO MAX. Tina also released a new book at the end of last year, HAPPINESS BECOMES YOU: A GUIDE TO CHANGING YOUR LIFE FOR GOOD.
Water is a big issues in the Middle East and it's a big issue for Iraq. Their neighbors Turkey and Iran keep building dams that threaten Iraq's rivers. In addition to that, there is the heat. RUDAW reports:
Drought has wreaked havoc on farming in the plains near the city of Kalha in Iraq’s southern province of Maysan.
Local farmer Abu Nzar, 52, is desperate for water to irrigate his dried out fields.
Maysan is hardly the only Iraqi province to suffer from a water crisis. Experts blame climate change, as well as the blocking of water flowing into Iraq from dams in neighbouring Turkey and Iran.
“We had created a stream from the Euphrates, but it no longer reaches here,” said the farmer, who notes that many nearby farmers have abandoned their fields and moved to the city. “If this water scarcity is not resolved, we too will be forced to leave because farming these lands without a local water source costs too much.”
According to a 2020 report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and a number of other non-governmental organizations, water shortages have triggered almost 15,000 new displacements in Dhi-Qar, Maysan and Basra provinces as of January 2019.
Back in 2018, Suadad al-Salhy (ARAB NEWS) reported:
Iraq has been negotiating with Turkey and Iran to minimize the effects
of the two countries’ water policies on its territories, Iraqi Deputy
Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rasheed told Arab News on Wednesday.
Rasheed said that the talks were aimed at finding common solutions to an expected water crisis in the summer.
Iraq mainly relies on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and rainwater to provide its fresh water needs. Both rivers originate from outside Iraq, and Turkey, Iran and Syria have controlled the release of water into Iraq for decades.
A decline in rainfall during the past two months, increasing rates of evaporation caused by high temperatures and a lack of water imports from Turkey and Iran, mean Iraq’s southern provinces have been suffering a serious shortage of water.
The crisis is expected to worsen after the completion of the Alesso dam and Turkey’s announcement of its intention to fill the dam’s reservoirs in March.
Iraq last week filed a formal request to Turkey to postpone the filling of the Alesso dam from March to June to help Iraq “overcome the period of water scarcity.”
An Iraqi lawyer and activist has spoken of his detention on
allegations of “insulting public authorities” after his release on
Ibrahim al-Sumaida'i was taken to an unknown location and placed in solitary confinement after a raid on his house in Baghdad on Friday, he said in a statement on Tuesday. His phone was searched and he was unable to leave the room to use the bathroom, he said.
Iraqi security forces arrested Sumaida'i late on Friday, acting on an arrest warrant on the charge of "publicly insulting public authorities" issued by the Al-Karkh Investigation Court in Baghdad, after a representative from the Supreme Judicial Council filed a lawsuit against him.
The warrant was issued following "his attack on official institutions,
describing them with bad words that go beyond the limits of the freedom
of expression," according to a statement
from the Supreme Judicial Council on Saturday, who said he had made
“indecent comments” in a WhatsApp group chat with group MPs and
"The court asked me to apologize for what I said, and I repeat my apology in this statement," said Sumaida'i, adding that he is "astonished” that authorities have lodged lawsuits against people “for having opinions.”
He was released on bail on Monday.
In veterans news, Sara Wilson (PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN) reports:
A bill to establish a veteran suicide prevention pilot program passed unanimously through committee in the Colorado State Senate last Thursday, laying the groundwork to further empower local organizations that serve veteran communities.
Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, a Marine Corps veteran, introduced the bill in late February as one way to address veteran suicide and suicidal ideation. It calls for the Colorado Department of Human Services to establish a five-year pilot program in El Paso County, the home of the Air Force Academy and the region in the state with the highest population of veterans.
The program would partner with local nonprofits to offer “no-cost, stigma-free, confidential and effective” behavioral health care for post-9/11 veterans and their families, according to the bill text.
Staying with the topic of veterans issues, IAVA is hosting a FACEBOOK Live event this Thursday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 23, 2021
New York, NY – On Thursday, March 25th, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO Jeremy Butler will be joined by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike Bost (R-IL) and IAVA Member Advocates Sarah Letts and Corey Foster for a Facebook Live event focused on women veterans and burn pits and toxic exposures. The event will conclude IAVA’s virtual fly-in advocacy week.
“As veterans, we know the importance of working together for the greater good,” said Ranking Member Bost. “That’s exactly how we’re going to get veterans back to work and fully recovered from COVID-19, improve services for women, support those suffering from toxic exposure, and more. I’m ready to listen and learn from these leaders on Thursday about the challenges post 9/11 veterans are facing and the solutions IAVA is bringing to the table.”
Throughout the week, IAVA’s Member advocates are meeting with lawmakers from both parties to discuss the crucial issues facing the veteran community, including impacts from burn pits and toxic exposures, the veteran suicide crisis, the needs of women veterans, equitable access to VA healthcare, and more. Videos of the event will be recorded and available on IAVA’s website and social media channels.
“IAVA is laser focused on raising awareness and enacting real change for veterans and their families,” said IAVA CEO, Jeremy Butler. “And what a fitting way to end our advocacy event – with fellow veterans and Ranking Member Mike Bost, rallying for the betterment of our veteran community.”
This Facebook Live event will provide an overview on IAVA’s history of advocacy across legislative issues, including women veterans and toxic exposure. The event will also highlight personal stories from IAVA Member Advocates. There will be time allotted for viewers to ask questions throughout the event.
“I am so appreciative of the opportunity to represent IAVA members and veterans in general in discussing my experiences of combat toxic exposure, from burn pits to poorly treated water in degrading plastic bottles,” said Sarah Letts. “And I am encouraged by the focus on the treatment of and services for women veterans. Please join us in this important discussion.”
“I look forward to having a candid conversation about the needs of female veterans and the impact of burn pits and toxic exposures,” said Corey Foster. “It’s critical that as a collective group we raise awareness about these important issues so we can facilitate positive change for veterans and their families.”
Biographies of the Member Advocates for this week are available here. IAVA’s CEO Jeremy Butler and Member Advocates are available to meet with the media upon request through email@example.com.
Jeremy Butler, CEO, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Representative Mike Bost (R-IL), Ranking Member of House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
Corey Foster, Member Advocate
Sarah Letts, Member Advocate
IAVA Announces Facebook Live Event with Ranking Member Bost During Virtual Fly-in
WHEN: Thursday, March 25th at 5:00pm EST/ 2:00pm PST
WHERE: Join the Facebook Live event here. The event is open to the press.
Jeremy Butler serves as IAVA’s Chief Executive Officer. Jeremy joined IAVA with 15+ years of experience providing substantive and strategic counsel to leaders in high-profile government and private sector offices, including the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. He graduated from Knox College with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. He is a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy Reserve. Butler regularly contributes to national media outlets across the country.
IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.
And we'll winddown with this from Disabled American Veterans' Tom Jenkins:
Twelve years ago, Donna Joyner had to make a difficult decision when her husband, Dennis, needed rotator cuff surgery on his shoulder. When his arm was put out of commission, Dennis—a triple amputee who was injured during his Army service in Vietnam—temporarily lost the use of his last remaining limb along with his ability to push his wheelchair.
Donna, who worked for the DAV Department of Florida, chose to resign from her full-time position to take on the full-time role as her husband’s caregiver—a role she had already been performing throughout their 40 years of marriage.
“It was really tough because that decision was made in about a day and there was no choice,” said Donna. “We just dealt with it. And, you know, at first I was furious. I had two years until I actually would get a pension, and everything went out the window. At first I was like, ‘Gee, what else?’ Then I thought of my husband whom I would do anything for. It’s just what you do.”
For the next 12 years, the Joyners kept moving forward with no formal medical training and no means of compensation for Donna’s role as a caregiver, including her lost wages and retirement income. Dennis, a member of Chapter 16 in Orlando who served as DAV national commander from 1983 to 1984, not only personally knew the importance of having a family caregiver but also knew the struggle that thousands of others like them faced.
The Joyners finally found relief last year. After years of helping DAV’s push for disabled veterans of all eras to be made eligible for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers—the program that provides training for caregivers, along with a modest stipend and respite care, among other resources—the expansion of which began Oct. 1. On that date, in accordance with the VA MISSION Act of 2018, the VA began accepting program applications from Phase 1 veterans, those whose injuries or illness was incurred on or before May 7, 1975.
For Dennis and Donna, the timeline from submitting their application to receipt of support services was a matter of weeks—and the program has already made a world of difference.
“It provides a lot of different resources,” said Dennis. “It provides contact with the caregiver’s office in your area. You can call and talk with someone if you need advice, assistance, or they can help you figure out certain things.”
In addition to an extensive training program, caregivers like Donna have answers and support for issues that have loomed over them for decades.
“It was quite scary, not knowing what would happen to Dennis should something happen to me,” said Donna. “Thankfully, I did have family backing me up. However, I think of all the people that don’t have that, and where do they go? Now they have a resource to go to. Now, I can turn to the caregiver program and say, OK, we need some help in this direction.”
“The expansion of the comprehensive caregiver program for families like Dennis and Donna Joyner has made a world of difference in their day-to-day lives and provided more peace of mind about the future,” said DAV National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “This program provides needed training, support from VA staff, and tips that remind caregivers it is important to take care of themselves so they can provide the best care for their veteran or loved one. Dennis can rest assured that if Donna is no longer able to care for him at some point, there are now other options. For Donna, just the acknowledgment and support this benefit brings helps her continue on in this critical role and feel like she is not alone anymore.”
Along with the changes to the caregiver program, the Campaign for Inclusive Care, created to actively include caregivers in veterans’ medical care, will now begin to filter across the VA. The campaign, in partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, aims to equip medical professionals with training to better support both veterans—specifically those receiving geriatric, polytrauma and traumatic brain injury care—and their caregivers.
Veterans with a 70% or higher single or combined service-connected disability rating are considered eligible within the Campaign for Inclusive Care.
For the Joyners, changes like these have been a long time coming, and despite the decades of financial difficulty and emotional strain, the support comes at a crucial time for them and for many veterans of Vietnam, Korea and World War II.
“You take on a lot when you’re a caregiver,” said Donna. “I might be getting older, but I’m doing probably more than ever.”
The following sites updated: