day 45

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about those clouds of oil because, of course, there are live feeds. I'm looking at one here at BP.com, live camera feeds of what's going on underground. And I guess as a layman, what I'd really like to see is a bunch of pipes in the water and nothing else. But what I see are huge clouds of what look oil still spewing up into the ocean.
HARRIS: There still is oil spewing up, and it is really hard to tell from those feeds exactly how much - it's impossible, actually, to tell from those feeds how much oil is actually going up the pipe. It's possible that a significant amount is right now. It's also possible that they're still trying to fine-tune the system and figure out how to draw that oil up without creating methane ice crystals. That's been a problem that has dogged previous attempts to do this.
If that natural gas mixed in with the oil gets in touch with ocean water, it can create these ice crystals that can plug everything up. So that's the main concern. That was why they had that methyl alcohol - that green-tinted stuff -flowing around last night. So...

that's from morning edition (npr) today. today is day 45 of the gulf disaster. new york times notes that admiral thad allen is insisting that 'some oil' is being captured. how much?

can't say.

then why assert it at all?

you better believe if it was good news, we'd know all about it. you only stall like he did when you've got bad news and are uncertain of what you're discussing.

of today's attempt, abc quotes barack stating, 'it is way too early to be optimistic.' too early?

no, barack, it is too late. and you've done too damn little throughout.

mark guarino (christian science monitor) reports:

Far north of the Gulf, restaurant owners and wholesalers are tracking where the oil slick is traveling and trying to glean just how much impact it will have on menu prices and consumer perception. There are already reports of tar balls and oily substances in the Florida Keys, and worries are rising that this summer’s hurricane season will push the oil around Florida's southern tip, where it could enter the Gulf Stream and head north to the fishing grounds off the mid-Atlantic coast.
Jim Filip, owner of Doris & Ed’s, a 90-seat seafood restaurant in Highlands, N.J., is tracking the oil’s path via computer projections he finds on the Internet. He stopped buying seafood from the Gulf four weeks ago, not because he believes it is tainted, but because he doesn’t want to lie to customers who are now asking about the origin of his shrimp and oysters.

good thing this disaster took place when the economy was doing great.


you're right. the economy was doing awful. so there's nothing positive about the gulf disaster and barack obama and his handlers better stop trying to spin this s**t.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, June 4, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, there are four vying for the role of prime minister in Iraq, Iran in northern Iraq?, and more.

Today on NPR's
Diane Rehm Show, Susan Page filled in for Diane and the second hour's guests were MBC TV's Nadia Bilbassy, Christian Science Monitor Howard LaFranchi and PoliticsDaily.com's David Wood.

Susan Page: Well Iraq's high court ratified the results of the national elections that were held on March 7th, Howard, who won?

Howard LaFranchi: Well according to the uh the Supreme Court ruling bascially what they did was uh verify that the uh bloc led by uh Ayad Allawi uh who is a uh a secular Shi'ite that his bloc won the most seats. Uh the problem is that they didn't win uh anything near a majority. Coming in second, just uh a few seats behind was the bloc of the current prime minister Maliki. And uh so now uh although it sounds great that okay finally there's a ruling and uh the results have been certified but now the-the jockeying and the-the power struggle shifts to Parliament because someone is going to have to come up with a uh coalition that will be a majority -- to be able to form the government. Uhm. Last -- or recently anyway [C.I. note,
May 4th] -- Maliki sort of envisioning this formed a coalition with the forces of uh . . . [pause] the Islamic Sh'ite Movement of uh of uh Sadr uh a name that I think many Americans will be familiar with.

We got to break in, there's too much wrong there. What the hell is he saying? He doesn't know what he's saying. He's got some names he almost knows and tosses them out but does so wrongly. Nouri's State of Law formed a power-sharing coalition on May 4th with the Iraqi National Alliance slate. Ammar al-Hakim and his Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council are part of that alliance along with 17 other components/parties as well some independent politicians. Moqtada al-Sadr is also a member of the Iraqi National Alliance with his Sadr bloc. His bloc won the most seats of any component/party in the Iraqi National Alliance (40, followed by ISCI and Bard Organization with 18 seats. The INA, chaired by Ibrahim al-Jaafari, holds 70 seats in the new Parliament. Ayad Allawi heads Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament. Nouri al-Malki heads State Of Law which won 89 seats in the Parliament. State Of Law's power-sharing coalition with the Iraqi National Alliance gives them 159 seats currently (after Parliament is seated, the candidates are MPs and cannot be removed by their party and replaced with another candidate on their party's list -- once seated, some members of some blocs may decide to cut their own deals). 163 seats are needed for the government (prime minister and council) to be formed.

Howard LaFranchi (Con't): Uhm but the question will be the-the right to try to form a government will go first to uh uh --

Nadia Bilbassy: Allawi.

Howard LaFranchi: Allawi and the question will be if he will be able to succeed.

Susan Page: And, Nadia, is this taking longer than we expected.

Nadia Bilbassy: I think every time I come on The Diane Rehm Show I ask the same question.When they going to from the government and, I think, I don't have an answer. Probably September. I mean it's a good thing the highest judicial body in Iraq has certified the results because that means that they're no disputed anymore. And we heard from Prime Minister Maliki who said, 'No, we won, we have to recount it by hand. We have to do this, we have to do that.' So now it's over except for two seats that were disputed -- ultimately, it's not going to effect the results. As it stands now, 91 and 89 for Allawi [she has the totals backward, Allawi's slate has the 91]. The problem now it is jockeying for power. Who is going to form the government and, funny enough, it reminds me of Israel because, if you remember, Kadima won the election but they couldn't form the government and therefore it lost so it doesn't mean the winning party who got the popular vote will ultimately form the government. What we have seen now is actually Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki trying to go and coordination with the second larg -- third largest bloc which is the Iraqi National Alliance which includes Sadr and Hakim and others. The problem is people already see it as a Shi'ite domination and it's not just Shi'ite domination but Shi'ite religious domination and that will alienate the secular and the Sunnis. So the problem now is where do you go now? The President Jalal Talabani has 15 days to ask the Parliament to convene and after they nominate the Speaker and the Deputy Speakers they will go forward to ask the winning party -- which is Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya Party -- to form the government.

Susan Page: Now, Nadia, says that the government may not be formed until September. We have an August deadline for the reduction of US troops in Iraq --

Nadia Bilbassy: I mean, I hope it's [government formed] before.

Susan Page: Yeah, we hope it's before. But it's obviously taking quite a bit of time and no end yet quite in sight. Could this imperil the timetable for the withdrawal of US troops, David?

David Wood: I don't think so, Susan. We're going to have General Ray Odierno, top US commander in Iraq, briefing at the Pentagon in about an hour so we'll get an answer from him. But he met with President Obama this week and what he said was that the withdrawal of US combat troops was on track and they will all be gone by August 31st. About 50,000 US military personnel [troops] will be left in Iraq, but let me stress they are not organized in fighting units. [Apparently, they're instead organized in sewing circles. Quilting bees?] And they are largely technicians and administrators so that if violence does break out and the US is needed they will have to come back in from the outside.

They are combat troops. That's what the US military trains the troops for. When Barack first presented this laughable idea of "noncombat" troops being left in Iraq, Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) rightly -- and repeatedly -- expressed bewilderment over how Barack could 'create' this category. Since then
Thomas E. Ricks has called it out repeatedly and many others as well. Ricks has, in fact, been the most elequent on this topic. On The Diane Rehm Show, for example, March 4th, Ricks observed, "I hate the phrase 'combat troops.' There is no pacifisit wing of the Marine Corps or the 101st Airborne. And I think it's effectively a lie to the American people. When they hear 'I'll get combat troops out,' what they hear is 'No more American troops will die' -- and that is blatantly untrue. And I think the sooner the president addresses that, the better for him." Exactly. We'll include David Wood's uninformed comments. I went back and forth on it but the reality is we'll return to them months from now in order to hang him with his own words. Joost R. Hiltermann examines the current situation in "Iraq's Summer of Uncertainty" (New York Review of Books):The outlook is ominous. As the politicians dither, governmental institutions -- never particularly effective -- could become paralyzed, as senior officials fear for their careers if they make decisions that would anger Iraq's future rulers. Uncertainty over the country's prospects could spread through society and the economy. In a political vacuum, outside regional powers would almost certainly gain greater influence and be tempted to meddle more than they already do. The United States, which has been so eager to depart that it failed to craft an exit strategy, would then have trouble being heard over the din. Lacking strong support in Baghdad, parties and politicians would have little choice but to seek succour in neighbouring capitals, insinuating these states' countervailing interests into what is already a combustible mix. And Iraq's insurgencies could get a second wind, again making violence the primary mode of politics.

Alsumaria TV states Iraqi National Alliance's Bahaa Al Araij is stating that an announcement will be forthcoming and that while State Of Law is going with Nouri, the Iraqi National Alliance will nominate their chair Ibrahim Al Jaafari and Adel Abdul-Mehdi. Ibrahim al-Jaafari was Iraq's second post-invasion prime minister. He was also the first choice, following the December 2005 elections, to be (remain) prime minister; however, the US government objected to him and Nouri al-Maliki was then chosen as a compromise candidate. In the 2005 elections, he had the support of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers. That allowed him to defeat Adel Abudl-Mahdi by a single vote in those elections. Adel Abdul-Mahdi currently serves as Iraq's Shi'ite vice president (Iraq has two vice presidents) he belongs to al-Hakim's political party. al-Jaafari spent his exile time in Iran and England while Abdul-Mahdi spent his exile time in France. Nouri spent his exile time predominantly in Syria and Iran while Allawi spent significant time in England. All potential prime ministers (thus far) are former exiles.

Nouri wants to continue in the post. There is opposition to that within the Iraqi National Alliance. Tossing out their two most popular figues from the last election appears to indicate that they do not see the power-sharing coalition as a rubber stamp for Nouri's continued reign.

Nouri's close ties with Iran have not resulted in Iraq's territorial sovereignty being respected.
Tuesday some reports maintained the Iranian military had entered northern Iraq while other reports insisted no entry had taken place:

Sherko Raouf, Shamil Aqrawi and Matt Robinson (Reuters) report that there are rumors (denied by Kurdish officials) that Iran has entered northern Iraq but that over 100 Iraqi families have fled the area in the last seven days. Sunday Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN)reported the Iranian shelling claimed the life of 1 teenage Iraqi girl in nothern Iraq. Xinhua (link has text and audio) identified the 14-year-old as Basouz Jabbar Agha. As with the Turkish military, Iranian military claims their target is the PKK -- a group identified by many countries (including the US) and the European Union as a terrorist organization and one that has established a base in nothern Iraq (among other places). [They would actually claim their target is PJAK and we're not drawing a line between the PKK and PJAK here -- they have the same leader, the same goals and are 'mingled' in the northern Iraq bases.] The PKK seeks an official Kurdish homeland (usually within Turkey) and points to decades of persecution. One of their leaders is Abudllah Ocalan who has been in a Turkish prison since 1999. The BBC reported over the weekend that he was rumored to have announced "he was abandoning efforts for dialogue with the Turkish government." Hurriyet Daily News reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will hold a terrorism summit on Wednesday (Turkey labels the PKK a terrorist organization). Meanwhile AFP quotes an unnamed "security official" stating that Iranian troops have moved "three kilometers" into northern Iraq. Caroline Alexander and Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) quote KRG spokesperson Kawa Mahmoud stating, "These reports about an Iranian incursion into Krudistan are totally false. There may be Iranian activity near the border, but there is no incursion." The reality? At this point unknown. Iran's most recent invasion of Iran (December 2009) was greeted with denials from some Iraqi government officials and from some Iranian government officials. But the violation of sovereignty did take place.

This afternoon,
Leila Fadel and Dlovan Barawri (Washington Post) report that Nouri's officials deny the Iranian military has entered northern Iraq; however, "Incensed by the intensity of the attacks and what they say is a brazen ground movement nearly two miles into Iraqi territory, Kurdish officials have reached out to the central government to stop the Iranian incursion and continued shelling, said Jabar al-Yawar, the spokesman for the peshmerga, the Kurdish regional force." Meanwhile the PKK in northern Iraq announced the end of their ceasefire with Turkey's military. This announcement came as KRG President Masoud Barzani was in the midst of a five-day visit to Turkey -- his first in approximately five years. Mehmet Ali Birand (Hurriyet Daily News) opines, "We shouldn't expect Barzani to grab a weapon and fight for Turkey up in the mountain or fight against the PKK. No matter how much he dislikes this terrorist organization and is against the interests of Iraqi Kurds, this means a war between Kurds. That's why we shouldn't expect Barzani to fight for Turkey against the PKK. But on the other hand, we expect him to take measures and stop the PKK strolling around freely. We can do this only by acting together." Today's Zaman reports, "While expressing support for the Turkish government's efforts to engage its Kurdish population with the aim of ending decades of fighting with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has killed tens of thousands of people, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani on Thursday also voiced regret over the deaths of young people in the conflict between Turkish security forces, no matter if they are Kurdish or Turkish."

Today's violence,
Reuters notes, included a 2 Mosul roadside bombings which claimed 2 lives and left six people wounded and a Mosul car bombing which injured three people.

Earlier this week, we noted BP wants to get their unskilled hands on more Iraqi oil.
Ben Lando (Time magazine) reports on this topic and it appears the US government is using US officials -- military and civilians -- as whores for BP: Major General Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in southern Iraq, towered over dozens of fellow visitors on a recent dusty morning in the Rumaila oil field in Iraq's oil capital Basra province. With U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill nearby, Brooks chatted up the president of Iraq operations for BP. In November BP signed a contract along with Chinese partners to develop the field. Rumaila was first drilled by BP a half century ago, but the company, along with other foreign oil companies, was kicked out in the 1970s when Iraq nationalized its oil sector.A US commander and the US ambassador do not need to whore their positions by accompanying BP around. That's disgraceful and oh, so telling. So as Iraq continues to struggle, remember that Chris Hill, when not on a crying jag from his manic depression, could be found showing the fellows of BP a good time out in the oil field.

At the Pentagon today, Gen Ray Odierno gave a briefing that was song and dance and someone break it to him that he lacks rhythm. He spun like crazy and as you heard that significant markers showed improvement and this one and that one was arrested, you may have been reminded of "WORLD CUP TO BE ATTACKED BY AL-QAEDA!" How'd that work out? Apparently, it was spin. But it sure did eat up airtime on CNN and take us far, from reality. Today was nonsense. We'll note this section of Odierno's remarks:

There will still be bad days in Iraq. There are still violent elements that operate inside Iraq. There violence is less than it was before but it's still violence. And we will continue to work with the Iraqi security forces to improve their capacity and capability to deal with the violence to continue to increase stability inside of Iraq and to continue to increase the capability of the government as we move forward.

We've seen Odierno testify to Congress, we've seen him manipulate the media (giving them a non-answer they mistake for an answer). In all that time, for any paying attention, one thing is obvious, when Odierno lies, he closes his eyes. To see him at the podium today was to really see that personal tic play out.

F16s are something the press is running with. Butt Ass Stupid apparently being an easy way to. They tend to ignore the most important remark in that exchange: "This will be an evolving process over the next few years." What will be? Determining and turning over F16s to Iraq. Iraq's Air Force is not ready. A sale of F16s would help them somewhat but would not make them ready. This has not changed and that was a key point from the briefing to those paying attention. Odierno misdirected and controlled the press conference but that tends to happen over and over and the press never pays attention, never learns and still can't identify even one of his uncomfortable tics let alone his lie tic. Again, when he's lying, he closes his eyes while speaking. Jim Wolf (Reuters) is one of the few paying attention and he's the one who asked about the F16s. He also did a follow up.

Jim Wolf: But they wanted something to be there by the time US combat troops completed their withdrawal at the end of next year. Are you saying that if this is going to take years the US won't be able to meet that request?

Gen Ray Odierno: Well I think what they'll have is they'll have some Air Force capability, they'll continue to build some capability, not fighter aircraft. The fighter aircraft will come some time after 2011. Like we do in many other countries as we sell them aircraft.

Jim Wolf reports on the briefing

Yesterday's snapshot addressed Don't Ask, Don't Tell at length. Today To The Contrary (PBS) has a discussion on the policy and how it effects women and minorities. The weekly program broadcasts on PBS and each week it also offers an exclusive online segment which, this week, is on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Bonnie Erbe is the program's host and producer and her panelists this week (from the right) are Linda Chavez and Karen Czarnecki and (from the left) Melinda Henneberger and US House Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton:

Bonnie Erbe: All of this comes just as a recent survey finds minorities and women are disproportionately effected by the ban. In 2008, 45% of troops discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell were minorities yet minorities made up 30% of the military that year. And while female troops made up 14% of the military, they accounted for 34% of discharges. So what's going on here? Why -- Why, first of all, are minorities and women disproportionately discharged like this?

Linda Chavez: I don't think we know the answer based on this one survey. I actually was a bit skeptical about, certainly, the figures on minorities. It didn't make sense to me. The women made a little more sense to me. I think it is more likely -- and probably going to get myself into trouble here -- but I think it's more likely that a lesbian would be comfortable in a very masculine role in the military. So the fact that there might be more lesbians in the military than there are gay men --

Bonnie Erbe: Actually, let me throw a, you know, mine your way as well. I called the head of the Service Persons United and more often the threat of -- of falsely outing a woman is used to get her to succomb to sexaul advances than a lesbian, an actual lesbian. So some of this is happening at least because a guy hits on a woman, she tells him to go take a hike and he runs to their commander and says, "She's a lesbian."

Melinda Henneberger: Well it would have to be that, right?

US House Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton: Well no, it isn't that. And this is why this law is so cockeyed: It's Don't Ask, Don't Tell. So the fact that she's a lesbian and somebody thinks she's a lesbian should have nothing to do with this. You have to out yourself. Now this is subject to great abuse because what is outing yourself -- saying, "I am a lesbian" -- mean? Does it mean that someone's tricked you into saying what you are? I hope that this study [Pentagon review] that is going to be out before this goes into effect also looks at this. This is contra-indicated. I also agree with you [Linda Chavez] for one thing, in the minority community, there is enough homophobia so that people would tend to surpress it, leave aside Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And for women, one does wonder if that is real abuse of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell process which lends itself to that anyway.

Karen Czarnecki: I always thought Don't Ask, Don't Tell was supposed to be a compromise. Keep it to yourself, we don't want to hear about it. And so at least it could keep the peace in the military. The fact of the repeal? I don't know how it's going to effect anybody. They couldn't study anything because of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell so I think, similar to what you're [Linda Chavez] saying, we don't know enough about how this will effect. It will make some people happy, it will make other people angry. It's going to be a whole mix of emotions as this evolves.

Bonnie Erbe: Melinda, John McCain says he's going to fight it in the -- fight lifting the law in the Senate because to allow gays to serve openly would effect morale. Agree? Disagree?

Melinda Henneberger: I strongly disagree and I think that based on what I've heard from PoliticsDaily's war correspondent, he says he has yet to meet the soldier in the field who has time to worry about such a thing or who has voiced that in a very, very long time. So, no, I think that is a minority view that -- John McCain is in a tough political primary right now

Linda Chavez: Well I also think it's a generational thing, Melinda, because I think if you check people in John McCain's generation or even in my generation, they're going to be much more dubious about this. But if you talk to young people -- who are the people serving in the military now -- I think we've become much more accepting of gays in all walks of life and so I think they're going to be less uncomfortable.

Melinda Henneberger: I agree with what [pointing to Karen Czarnecki] --

US House Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton: Fortunately we have the Army and the Air Armed Forces has big experience in this. If you want to talk about effecting morale, I'll tell you this without fear of contradiction, 1948, straight-away, Blacks and Whites must be in the same unit. If you think that White Americans -- this is before the '54 decision [Brown v. Board of Education], before any law of any kind had been passed, were ready for that, I can tell you that what made them ready was that they were in a command structure. And if that command structure does its work, I'm not even a little bit worried.

Bonnie Erbe: Alright. Thanks for watching TTC Extra. Whether your views are in agreement or To The Contrary, please join us next time.

TV notes. Of course,
Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. On PBS' Washington Week, Peter Baker (NYT), Michael Duffy (Time) and Doyle McManus join Gwen around the roundtable or at least in the NO WOMEN ALLOWED Club House. Seriously, Gwen, where the hell do you get off booking three men? Do you know how many times Gwen books an all female roundtable. As Maya Rudolph's character Jodi would say on Bronx Beat, "0.00." Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's bonus is a discussion on whether female soldiers suffer more under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The SwindlerTo understand how Bernard Madoff could have done what he did, listen to so-called "mini-Madoff" Ponzi schemer Marc Dreier tell Steve Kroft in his first television interview how he scammed $400 million.
Watch Video
The Case Against Nada ProutyFormer FBI and CIA terrorism fighter Nada Prouty was herself accused of aiding terrorism, but in her first interview, she denies she was anything other than a patriot. Scott Pelley investigates her case. Watch Video
The SharkmanAnderson Cooper dives unprotected with great white sharks and the South African who's spent more time up close with the ocean's most feared predator than anyone else. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 6, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

We'll close with this from Andy Worthington's "
Torture and the 'Black Prison', or What Obama is Doing at Bagram (Part One)" (World Can't Wait):For eight and a half years, the US prison at Bagram airbase has been the site of a disturbing number of experiments in detention and interrogation, where murders have taken place, the Geneva Conventions have been shredded and the encroachment of the US courts -- unlike at Guantanamo -- has been thoroughly resisted. In the last few months, there have been a few improvements -- hearings, releases, even the promise of imminent trials -- but behind this veneer of respectability, the US government's unilateral reworking of the Geneva Conventions continues unabated, and evidence has recently surfaced of a secret prison within Bagram, where a torture program that could have been lifted straight from the Bush administration's rule book is still underway.

nprthe diane rehm show
the washington postleila fadel
delovan barwarialsumaria tv
todays zaman
hurriyet daily news
time magazineben landothe new york review of booksjoost r. hiltermann
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week
the world cant waitandy worthington


'the costs'

The message from Florida tourism leaders has been optimistic: Come visit oil-free beaches.
Now, the message is a bit more somber: Check with us before you come.
As crude from the gushing
Gulf of Mexico well lingers less than 10 miles off the Florida coast, regional leaders and oil response crews brace for its environmental and economic impact. The slick could hit the pearly-white sands of the Pensacola, Fla., beaches by this weekend.

that's from rick jervis' 'florida warily watches as oil creeps up on coast' (usa today). and i think that's how things are going to go. we'll get good articles like his but not the larger 1 that's so needed.

for example, on npr's all things considered yuki noguchi did a report about the costs of the gulf disaster.

and it was good. it covered many things.

but where was the loss?

the loss isn't just the cost of the clean up.

the loss is the damage done.

and, in fairness, how do you put a price on a dead pelican? how do you pretend you can figure out the worth of a dolphin?

do people get that the pelicans have died (not all, i'm referring to the victims that really are not getting noted), dolphins, all the sea life has suffered. and where is the acknowledgement of that?

where's the acknowledgement of the people who have gotten sick due to the chemicals used.

and where's the cost of the longterm damages.

on the last 1, some 1 might say, 'you'd have to estimate that!' well all these costs are estimates.

and i'm just left unhappy when we talk about 'the costs.'

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, June 3, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, violence claims at least 4 Iraqi lives today and leaves at least 39 injured, the PKK calls off its ceasefire, and more.

Defense Dept announced late yesterday, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., died May 30 at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, of injuries sustained April 18 from a non-combat related incident at Dahuk, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. For more information, media may contact the Fort Bliss public affairs office at 915-568-4505." WAVY (link has text and video) adds:"It was his goal to give back to this country that was doing so much for him," said mother-in-law Jackie Dayton. "He saw it as way to take care of his family."He was not yet an American citizen when he enlisted in the Army at the age of 36."I never thought he would get into the Army at such a late age," Dayton said. "I never did, but his intellect spoke volumes for him."Bill Sizemore (Virginian-Pilot) reports he took his oath of citizenship one month prior to his deployment to Iraq and that his survivors include Teresa Dayton-Regalado, "a 13-year-old daughter who lives in Peru" and "three stepsons in Virginia Beach: Andrew Dayton, 19, Derrick Dayton, 17, and Richard Dayton, 13." In addition, the US military issued the following today: "BAGHDAD -- A U.S. Soldier died here Wednesday from injuries sustained in a non-combat related accident. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." Meanwhile AP reports that 1 US soldier died yesterday in Baghdad ("noncombat related incident") according to USF. Those deaths will bring the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4402. And the number may be 4403. Tim Stanley (Tulsa World) reports on the death of Spc Mark Andre Harding: ". . . on Friday, he died at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa of complications from a cranial injury. His death has not yet been officially declared service-related, although he had been treated for a traumatic brain injury while in the service, according to a Veterans Affairs spokesman. Harding was 21." Were there not any deaths announced today the next paragraph would have been the opening because it's an important issue.

"When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men, and a discharge for loving one." So reads the tombstone of Leonard Matlovich, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force. After 12 years of outstanding service, Matlovich wrote a letter to his commanding officer explaining he was gay. This was March 6, 1975 and he was then subjected to a week long hearing (starting September 16, 1975) at Langley Air Force Base. Nearly 22 year before Ellen DeGeneres declared "Yep, I'm Gay" on the
cover of Time magazine (April 14, 1997), Matlovich appeared on the cover of Time magazine (September 8, 1975) announcing "I Am a Homosexual." ( where he was released from the military. Matlovich fought back for years, eventually taking a settlement (including an honorable discharge and $160,000 in back pay). (Martin Duberman covered the hearing for the New York Times Sunday magazine in "The Case Of The Gay Sergeant; Leonard Matlovich's strange trial betrayed a profound shift in American attitudes -- and not only toward sexuality" with an indepth look at the witnesses and events -- including Matlovich being asked to sign a statement swearing he would never practice same-sex relations and you can click here for Time magazine's much more brief September 1975 report on the hearing.) 35 years after Matlovich began his fight for equality within the military, the battle continues.

KPFT's Queer Voices (out of Houston -- and Mike covers it at his site) is among the programs that features This Way Out's weekly newswrap and we'll note this from the latest:

A critical US Senate Committee and the full House of Representatives each took steps this week to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in America's military. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16 to 12 to approve a repeal admendment to the annual national defense authorization act earlier in the day on May 27 and the House voted 234 to 194 later that night comfortably above the required 217 to add the amendment to similar legislation. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican on the Senate panel to vote for the amendment while Senator Jim Webb of Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it. Five Republicans in the House, breaking with their party's stated opposition, supported repeal. [. . .] The drama is far from over; however, some Republicans have vowed to filibuster on the entire defense spending bill if it includes the repeal provision when it comes up on the Senate floor in June and the White House issued a statement deploring some of the specific appropriations for military hardware in the House passed bill generally pushed by Congress members whose districts financially benefit from them. The statement warned that the Pentagon has indicated that it doesn't need nor want some of those military products and the president might veto the entire measure if those appropriations remain. Meanwhile Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates confirmed in a video message to the troops that the ban remains enforced and Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the pro-repeal Servicemembers Legal Defense Network cautioned that, "It is important for all lesbian and gay active duty service members including the reserves and the National Guard to know they are still at risk. They must continue to serve in silence under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law that remains on the books." While most LGBT advocacy groups applauded the progress made on repeal this week, not everyone was celebrating. Kip Williams, co-chair of the new grassroots queer rights group GetEQUAL was among the non-celebrants: "The sad fact remains that this vote in Congress won't stop the firings of lesbian and gay service members," he said in a media statement. "We keep asking the question 'When will the military discharges end?' -- and have not yet received an answer from the legislative and executive branches. It is the president's moral responsibility to issue an executive order banning the firings under Don't Ask, Don't Tell until the process can play itself out. LGBT Americans, especially those serving our country admirably in uniform, need their 'fierce advocate' now."
Lt Dan Choi and Capt Jim Pietrangelo -- each twice arrested for handcuffing themselves to the White House gates to protest Don't Ask Don't Tell -- announced that they've begun a hunger strike because the actions this week don't end the anti-les-bi-gay policy fast enough. Choi, a West Point graduate, fluent Arabic linguist and Iraq War veteran outlined their three demands to Newsweek magazine. "Stop firing people," he said. "Stop the study that insults everything America is by considering the question of whether or not discrimination is America. And replace the current military discriminatory policy with comprehensive non-discrimination policies."

Marcia noted, "Again, I support Dan Choi. I like him. He's a real leader. But I wish he wasn't on the hunger strike. I just don't see this ending well. I hope I am wrong." This community supported the hunger strike staged by CODEPINK in the summer of 2006. But some of us took it seriously. Others, who swore they'd stay on it until the Iraq War was over didn't. (I am not referring to Diane Wilson or Cindy Sheehan who took the hunger strike very seriously.) Hunger strikes have a long political history but when that one ended, Ava and I made it clear that we would never endorse a hunger strike again and that we were surprised and caught off guard by that one. (The US has enough eating disorders without further equating strength with starvation through political action.) We're noting Dan's hunger strike now. What does that mean?

Jessic Green (Pink News) reports it has thankfully ended and that he and James Pietrangelo "abandoned the protest yesterday evening after supporters voiced fears for their health. Unfortunately, Dan has "hinted" it may come up again. It is a political action but we won't support it. I'm sorry I've spoken to too many groups over the years about body issues and eating disorders. It used to just be young girls and young women. Then it became more and more boys and young men. Some of the males -- not all - are gay. I just cannot personally support a hunger strike again. We'll continue to note Dan, he's a wonderful leader but this is a longterm issue (eating disorders) that many people struggle with and I am very uncomfortable sending any sort of message that we show strength or garner attention by starving ourselves. That's me. Others can do what they want, especially if they're adults. (But I am very glad Dan and Jim are off their hunger strike and think it would be great if they would stay off but they're going to do what they think is best and more power to them on that.) And to be very clear (because as usual Lez Get Real is yet again attacking Dan -- we're not linking to that site ever again), I am sure the strike was powerful and sparked many thoughts, I just personally do not support hunger strikes (for reasons outlined above). Overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell will require a variety of actions and each person should pursue the ones they can tolerate (go beyond comfort zone). Rev. Irene Monroe has long covered issues of equality and she breaks down the basics on where things really stand for San Fransico Bay Times:

But at the end of the day of all this historic voting, last week, the plight of our LGBTQ service members remained unchanged. Investigations and discharges for being an openly LGBTQ service member will continue on as usual. Why? Because the Pentagon has not completed its study, reviewing how to maintain the military's "unit cohesion" while integrating LGBTQ service members. December 1 is the day the country will know the results of the Pentagon study. We will also know if the welcoming mat will truly begin to unfold for our LGBTQ service members.

That's the reality. For fantasy, see
this ridiculous editorial in the Vacaville Reporter. Nothing is "virtually assure[d]." Nothing except a year long study will take place. A study? Has anyone ever done a study? You start out with one set of beliefs, that doesn't mean you end with them. The study is supposed to find out what the military rank and file feel about the issue and about how to best implement a change. The study could very well argue that the best way to implement a change has yet to arrive and that the policy (discrimination) should continue. USA Today offers a much more reality-based editorial here. Sean Kennedy (New York Magazine) notes that the bill doesn't include an anti-discrimination measure (would it be covered by Bill Clinton's executive order -- possibly unless a future president issues an executive order nullifying Clinton's). Today Ryan Grim (Huffington Post) outlines some of the craven deal making that led to the nothing yet to brag about moves by Dems and informs that one-time KKK cover boy Senator Robert Byrd insisted that there be sixty days after the review is released before any repeal can take place. So in other words, you can attempt to legally buy a gun and submit to a background check quicker than Byrd would have people come out. You can get your hands on a gun quicker than you can be open about who you are? Some old men in the Congress really need to retire and Robert Byrd is one of them. In fact, maybe we need to pass amendments wherein death in office might result in state's seeking compensation from the Congress member's estate for the costs of special elections?

Adm Mike Mullen is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he spoke at Fort Bragg yesterday.
Martha Quillin (Raleigh News & Observer via Miami Herald) reports, "Openly gay recruits will likely be admitted into the military, and the services will adjust to their presence, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a group of soldiers at Fort Bragg on Wednesday." The military's Sgt 1st Class Michael J. Carden quotes Mullen stating, "The law needs to change. Fundamentally, it's an issue of our values. It's very critical for us as an institution, and I'm hard-pressed not to support policy and a law that forces individuals to come in and lie everyday." At Iraq Veterans Against the War, Wes Davey offers a look back at the policy and he's incorrect when he writes of Bill Clinton, "Members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle did everything but pour boiling oil over him, and in the end he settled for a compromise that did absolutely nothing for gays and lesbians serving in the military." If it did nothing, Bill's actions wouldn't have outraged anyone. The "Don't Ask" aspect was never seriously implemented (and court cases should have resulted from that) by the military. But to say it did nothing is to rewrite history. George H.W. Bush was against gays serving in the military and so was Ronald Reagan (decorating his house and dining with him or comforting them over the loss of longterm partner were apparently different for Reagan) and you can go back further on that. But the policy was that the witch hunts were taking place. Don't Ask, Don't Tell revolved around the premise that your sexuality was your business.

Today we can rightly see it didn't go far enough (something Bill himself admitted and listed as a regret in his final presidential interview with Rolling Stone). But with the climate at that time, this was a huge step. It went from "You're sick and disgusting!" to "You have no right to stick your nose into my sexuality." When the policy is repealed (which may or may not be in December), it'll be a futher step forward. But it's wrong to say that it did nothing ("absolutely nothing"). It also helped establish new boundaries (ones of respect) for a national dialogue that's been taking place since 1993 on this issue. Bill took a hit on it, he didn't walk away from it. He pushed it as far as he could at that time. I personally wish he would have brought back it up but I'm also aware that gas bags like Michael Tomasky were already sharpening their knives on gay rights and that the balance in Congress was shifting away from Democrats (whom Wes Davey rightly notes did not all agree that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly). And to clarify, Michael Tomasky (and Toad Gitlin and other left, White, male, presumably straight gas bags) led an attack on LGBT rights (and on feminism and Latinos and all subgroupings except African-Americans -- they were too scared to attack the Civil Rights Movement but not to say it's work was "done") following the Don't Ask, Don't Tell passage. That's not noted in any of the histories. These screaming mimis hissing "identity politics" and attacking those attempting to work towards equality had quite the platform and very few people confronted them directly (Ellen Willis, as always, didn't run scared from the crazies and did reject their nonsense). History is the tale of progression. Before 1993 (immediately before), the military's policy was that any gay male or lesbian wasn't fit to serve. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a step away from that. And the attacks on this step did not come solely from the right-wing, centrists and supposed leftists attacked the policy as going too far, as distracting from 'real issues' and much more. That's the real history and it goes beyond what Congress did and what Bill did and what a few others did. This was a national dialogue and there were many, many players. (And the Tomaskys big fears were that the Democratic Party -- by embracing equality -- was running off White male voters and would never win an election that way.)

How does this relate to Iraq? Well the LGBT community is persecuted. You have LGBTs in the US military and they are Iraq War veterans. So you can justify it that way if you need a reason for why it's in the Iraq snapshot and in it at such length. But this is a really important issue (and I'm glad Wes Davey and IVAW weighed in -- I've only picked apart one sentence of Davey's and that just because I do not care for the revisionary history that's set in on that time period and is now being taught to other people -- such as Davey -- as fact) and there are a lot of people (including Tomasky) who are starting to whisper that Democrats need to move away from it now as election season creeps up on the country. So we'll probably go into this issue in this much length many more times this year.

Moving on to . . . Turkey.
KRG President Masoud Barzani is in Turkey on a five-day visit, his first since 2004 and his first since becoming president of the KRG which notes, "President Barzani, who is heading a senior KRG delegation in this visit, will discuss with the Turkish leadership several issues of mutual concern including bilateral trade relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region, border security and Iraq-Turkey relations." AFP adds, "The separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought Ankara since 1984, has bases in remote mountains in Barzani's autonomous region in northern Iraq, which it uses as a launching pad for attacks on Turkish targets across the border." AP reports that Barzani met today with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's Foreign Minister, and the PKK was one of the topics the two discussed. Today's Zaman adds:"Turkey wants all regional relations and the historical course in its region to normalize," Davutoglu told a joint press conference with Massoud Barzani, head of the regional administration in the north of Iraq, in Ankara.Davuto─člu said, "of course, we will respect our borders, and implement all factors that are the requirements of international law, but we will know that we can build our common future with all the sister nations."

Meanwhile a not unexpected announcement was made today.
Shamal Arqawi (Reuters) reports that the cease fire the PKK had with Turkey is now off according to "PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees [. . .] in Kurdistan." Not unexpected? Over the weekend PKK leader (one of them) Abdullah Ocalan, in prison in Turkey since 1999, stated he was no longer engaging in any dialoge with the government of Turkey. That announcement laid the groundwork for the PKK in the KRG's announcement today.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The winner was Iraqiya with 91 seats in the new Parliament, followed by State Of Law with 89. To rule, the a power-sharing coalition -- there are 325 seats in Parliament -- must be built and must number at least 163 MPs. Nouri al-Maliki heads State Of Law and wants to continue as Prime Minister of Iraq. He has formed an alliance with the Iraqi National Alliance (which puts him 4 seats short of the needed 163).
Alsumaria TV reports that there are rumors -- which State Of Law is denying -- "that talks between State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance have failed." The current discussion have been over how to select candidates for prime minister. While the Iraqi National Alliance does not say they have split, they do say that "negotiations are not progressing." The United Nations notes, "The Security Council today welcomed the certification of the results of Iraq's parliamentary elections, three months after the polls were staged, and urged the country's political leaders to re-double their efforts to form an inclusive and broad-based government.The 15-member panel calls on 'all political entities to respect the certified election results and the choices of the Iraqi people,' according to a statement to the press read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the Council's rotating presidency this month." The US military issued the following yesterday:

The Commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq, General Ray Odierno, congratulated the people of Iraq and the Iraqi Supreme Court after the high court announced the certification of the March 7th election results. When Iraqis voted in large numbers at the polls on March 7th, they demonstrated their desire to build a brighter future with a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq. The elections were viewed by the Iraqi people, Iraq's regional neighbors, and the international community as credible and legitimate, and today's certification of the results formally affirms this fact. The leaders of Iraq continue to demonstrate that they support a transparent political process for all Iraqis carried out in accordance with the Iraqi constitution and the rule of law. The Iraqi people strongly support a participatory form of government that holds elected officials accountable for their actions and benefits all Iraqis. They reject the bankrupt philosophy of violent extremists. It is time for all parties involved with the political process to form an inclusive and representative government that will work together toward Iraq's future. We look forward to the seating of the Iraqi government and the opportunity to strengthen the long-term strategic partnership between the sovereign nation of Iraq and the United States of America.

Voting has not resulted in a new government and Nouri's cabinet really didn't do anything to improve Iraqi lives. An
Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy notes that the ration program has again been cut: "The Iraqi ministry of trade decreased the number of food substances provides by the card. Now, Iraqi families are given only flour and oil because for many months, the ministry which is renowned for corruption failed in providing the other basic needs like sugar, rice and many other things. In fact, the ministry canceled all other staples formerly included in the monthly rations like tea, cleaning substances, legumes and other things. Moreover, the ministry decided to deprive those whose monthly income is more than two million Iraqi Dinars ( about $ 1700) from their share of the rations because their high income."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Sinjar car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twelve people injured in an area "mostly inhabited by Yazidis," a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four police officers, a Mosul cart bombing which injured three people, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured one police officer, a Baghdad bombing (targeting a train) which injured fourteen people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people (and apparently targeting "a deputy agriculture minister") and a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one person.


Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul.

Meanwhile in England,
Owen Bowcott (Guardian) reports on what would be England's second known deportation of Iraqis -- forcible deportation. The last one, you may remember, resulted in a British plane landing in Iraq and Iraqi guards refusing to allow everyone to disembark so the plane returned to England. Bowcott notes that approximately 70 Iraqis will be forcibly deported Wednesday, June 9th: "The operation, deporting them via the central provinces of Iraq, is in direct contravention of United Nations guidelines. The UN high commissioner for refugees opposes forced returns to the area because of continuing suicide bombings and violence. The UN guidance was explicitly restated last autumn after the UK attempted to deport 44 men to Baghdad. That abortive operation resulted in Iraqi airport officials refusing to admit all but 10 of the men. The rest were told to reboard the plane and flown back to the UK."

We'll close with this from Tina Susman and Nicole Santa Cruz' "
New Orleans: Protesters Rage at BP" (World Can't Wait):Despite pelting rain and occasional blasts of thunder, some 200 people gathered in New Orleans' French Quarter on Sunday to hear speakers demand the ouster of BP and other oil giants from the gulf region and to plead for volunteerism to save turtles, birds and other wildlife. Organized by locals in the last week, the rally was publicized through social networking sites, including Twitter and a Facebook group, BP Oil Flood Protest. Homemade signs waved by the boisterous crowd spoke to the anger: [. . .] "BP oil pigs" and "Kill the well now." And one sign, "BP sleeps with MMS" spoke to what President Obama has called a "cozy" relationship between oil companies and federal regulators at the Minerals Management Service. Many speakers, including the president of the United Commercial Fishermen's Assn. and an environmental studies professor from Loyola University in New Orleans, assailed what they saw as the inadequacy of BP's response to the spill. More people took the stage after showing up and asking to have their say. "I'm a little upset that the perpetrators of a crime that killed 11 people are still in charge of the crime site," said musician Dr. John, an impromptu speaker, referring to the crew members who died after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20.

iraqwavythe virginian-pilotbill sizemorekvaltulsa worldtim stanley
the raleigh news and observermartha quillin
reutersalistair lyontodays zaman
the guardian
the world cant waittina susmannicole santa cruz


put a cork in thad allen

BP's woes over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster increased today when the company's latest attempt to contain the spill foundered as a result of a saw getting stuck in the pipe from which the oil was gushing.
Remote-controlled equipment on the sea bed, a mile beneath the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, positioned a diamond-edged saw against the bottom of the damaged pipe from which up to 19,000 barrels of oil are spewing daily.
Engineers were hoping to make a clean cut across the pipe to allow a custom-built cap to be put on top, to siphon the oil to tankers on the surface. But after the saw jammed, a second device had to be taken down from a nearby ship, further delaying efforts to contain the spill, which is now in its fifth week.

that's from terry macalister and ed pilkington's article for the guardian. they quote u.s. adm. thad allen and that joker's really starting to get onto my s**t list. he needs to start taking it seriously and stop treating like he's shopping in home depot.

in fact, it seems like he and others in the coast guard are not protecting the oceans or the country, they're working for b.p.

that's how it's coming off.

the entire thing is a p.r. disaster for obama. it's showing how stupid his handlers are.

any 1 can spin good times - especially to a slavish press - but his handlers don't have the 1st clue of what to do in a disaster.

here's a hint for them, put a cork in thad allen's mouth, he's not helping and his attempts at 'folky' are offensive.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Wednesday, June 2, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the cost of the illegal war continues to rise, Ayad Allawi outlines his strategy, Obama and Odierno meet up, and more.

We'll start with some of the financial costs of the Iraq War for the US.
The Institute for Public Accuracy issued the following today:

JO COMERFORDComerford is executive director of the National Priorities Project, which analyzes budget choices. She said today: "Over the weekend, the National Priorities Project Cost of War counter -- designed to count the total money appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- passed the $1 trillion mark. "Taxpayers in Natick, Massachusetts have paid $206.9 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For that amount, instead of implementing a proposed 4 percent cut for Natick's libraries in 2011, the town could double its total current library budget, and pay for it for 56 years. "To date $747.3 billion has been appropriated for the U.S. war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The pending supplemental making its way through Congress will add an estimated $37 billion to the current $136.8 billion total spending for the current fiscal year, ending September 30." See NPP's Cost of War counters. For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. To form the next government, the magic number is 163. No political party or slate reached that number. The leading slate was Iraqiya which won 91 seats. They were followed by State Of Law (Nouri al-Maliki's slate) with 89 seats, the Iraqi National Alliance with 70 seats and the Kurdistan Alliance with 43 seats, minorities have 8 seats, Gorran has 8 seats, Iraiq Accord Front has 6 seats, Unity Alliance of Iraq has 4 seats, Kurdistan Islamic Union has 4 seats and the Islamic Group of Kurdistan has 2 seats.
Speaking on BBC's HARDtalk today, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi outlined a strategy though talk of and focus on the violence may have prevented some from absorbing that.

Ayad Allawi: This is what we are seeing now. There is, again, a new trend of sectarianism emerging in the country which can be -- which can be very bad and this is causing a lot of violence already.

HARDtalk: Do you understand those Shi'ites though who say, "Look we were ruled by Sunni regime, we were ruled by Saddam Hussein. We know that your party is backed heavily by Sunnis and we just don't want to go down that road again. We're not willing to take that risk."

Ayad Allawi: No -- Well, uh, you know, it's uh, the-the Iraqiya is Sunni and Shia, it's not --

HARDtalk: No, but you were heavily backed of course by Sunnis.

Ayad Allawi: Because they wanted to see change. As the Shi'ites voted for us, the Sunnis voted for us. The Sunnis want to see change and of course they don't want to align themselves with Shi'ite groups so they found a secular group which is us and they voted for us. And I think they should be encouraged. And people want to see change in the country ultimately. They don't want to be -- to have the country stagnate on sectarian issues and bases.

HARDtalk: You've warned that unless there is a deal, the country is in danger, and I quote you, "of descending into a new sectarian war." That's very strong language. What are you saying there?

Ayad Allawi: I am saying that if sectarianism comes to Iraq again, depending upon, of course, the drawdown of the American forces and withdrawal, this would lead the country into severe violence unfortunately as we have witnessed in 2005, '06 and '07.

HARDtalk: Are you worried -- you sound as if you're worried in particular about the reactions of the Sunnis who backed your party. That if they feel that they're being sidelined and left out of any government deal by Nouri al-Maliki and other Shi'ites that they will do something.

Ayad Allawi: It's not a matter of them doing something. It's a matter of getting Iraq back into the sectarian beginning when things went very bad -- because sectarianism is associated with extremism. And if this visits Iraq again and the landscape is reversed now back to sectarianism then of course Sunnis and Shi'ites will clash.

HARDtalk: I suppose the ultimate conclusion to that is that it still could lead to this very real worry that people have had for many years of the breakup of Iraq.

Ayad Allawi: Unfortunately. I hope this is not going to happen. I think Iraq is still holding itself very tight. Definitely sectarianism will cause a lot of trouble to the country.

HARDtalk: Aren't you fueling all of these splits though by talking about sectarianism. I was talking to an Iraqi friend of mine and she said very clearly, "Look, I'm secular too -- lilke Allawi. But he's destroying the country. He needs to accept that he's not won this election. He can't become prime minister. He needs to either do a deal with Nouri al-Maliki or just leave the political stage and let someone else get on with trying to form a government.

Ayad Allawi: No, we are -- Of course, we are ready to make a deal but we have won the elections definitely. The seats we have --

HARDtalk: But you're sixty or seventy seats short of an overall majority. That's --

Ayad Allawi: Fine. Everybody is short. Not only us. But we don't want to merge with a sectarian outlook -- whether it's Sunni or Shi'ite. That's why we think and believe our natural allies are the Kurds and will be the Kurds. And we are looking into the smaller groups that have formed the new Parliament -- are forming the new Parliament. And I think this will give us the edge again. But here we are not talking about this. We are talking about two separate issues. One is the spearheading the formation of the government and the second issue is the vote of confidence by the Parliament. It is not necessarily that we are going to get the vote of confidence. Of course, then people like Maliki and others will try their luck. But definitely as far as we are concerned, we should spearhead the formation of the government.

HARDtalk: This would seem on the face of it a very dangerous moment for Iraq.

Ayad Allawi: It is. It is very critical. And that's why everybody has said this is an important milestone for the country.

Key points (in terms of freshness) from the interview: "That's why we think and believe our natural allies are the Kurds and will be the Kurds. And we are looking into the smaller groups that have formed the new Parliament -- are forming the new Parliament. And I think this will give us the edge again." Is it possible? Assuming that the current power-sharing coalition between State Of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance holds and assuming he meant only the Kurdistan Alliance, that's 43 plus 91 for 134. 29 seats would still be needed. Gorran might come on board (might not) to give an additional 8 seats. for example. But if the SOL and INA power-sharing coalition held, that would mean Iraqiya would need -- plus the Kurdistan Alliance -- all the groups (Gorran, Unity Alliance, Iraqi Accord Front, Kurdistan Islamic Union, Islamic Group of Krudistan and the minorities) to not only reach the magic number but to ensure that SOL and INA didn't reach it. At 159, the coalition is only 4 seats away from the magic number.

And with the above, you have a little bit of information. Not all.
Waleed Ibrahim, Ahmed Rasheed, Suadad al-Salhy, Jim Loney, Mark Heinrich and Eric Beech (Reuters) report that the Supreme Court ratification of the vote yesterday was "final" and that Chief Judge Midhat al-Mahmoud declared the new parliament will need to be called "into session within 15 days." Leila Fadel (Washington Post) adds, "The court decided that the largest bloc on the day the 325-member parliament convenes will be the first contender to appoint the prime minister and cabinet. It is unclear whether the ruling is binding, but the tentative merger of Maliki's coalition with its Shiite rival, the Iraqi National Alliance, could mean that Allawi's bloc, most popular among Sunni Arabs and secular Iraqis, won't get to form the government." When Parliament is seated (sworn in) what else can happen? Bloc voting can fall aside. Once your sworn in, you are an MP. You can't be replaced by your political party. Right now you can be. And the two candidates that weren't signed off on (one from Iraqiya, the other from the Iraqi National Alliance) are being replaced by their respective political parties. Once you're an MP you may or may not stay in a bloc vote. You may cut a deal. You may loathe Allawi or al-Maliki so much that you cut a deal. Any number of factors could figure into this. Should that happen, Nouri and Ayad will not only need to make deals with individuals in attempts to woo, they'd also need to make sure those already showing support remained firm.

Persecution.org notes that the 325 MP seats include 5 for Christians: "In total, 14 seats out of the 325-seat legislature are held by non-Msulims, five of which are Christians. In comparison, Christians held two seats last term." In other Iraqi Christian news, John Pontifex (Catholic Herald) reports on the continued violence aimed at Christians and notes, "It is not clear whether the objective is primarily political - to force Christians out of Mosul into the neighbouring Nineveh plains - or is purely an act motivated by religious bigotry. What is beyond dispute, however, is that Church leaders see a strong government as a pre-requisite for reducing the security risk." Evan Williams (England's Channel 4 News) is embedded with the United States Third Infantry Division explored Mosul for last Friday's broadcast of Unreported World. Williams blogged:

On February 27 this year, he said, three Arab gunmen entered their family home shouting that they had to leave. When Father Marzan's father and two brothers tried pushing the them out of the house, the gunmen opened fire killing all three men instantly.
Father Marzan wouldn't allow us to film his mother, but as he started to describe in detail how her husband and sons were brutally gunned down in their own home, I had the horrible sudden realisation that I should have asked the old lady to leave the room. The look of pain and shock on her face was almost unbearable, as if someone were going to walk in at any moment and tell her it was ok and they were all still alive.
Father Marzan is priest in the Chaldean Church, one of the world's oldest Christian communities, founded 2000 years ago among the Assyrian people of northern Iraq, who have been here for millennia.
They have suffered pogroms and attacks in the past, of course, from the Persians, Arabs and Turks. But a new level of violence is now driving many out of the country for good. When the Americans invaded in 2003, there were about one million Christians in Iraq. Now, Church leaders told us, half have already fled the country and more are trying to leave.

The US military is training police forces in the area and they (Iraqi security forces) tell Williams their guess for what happens when the US departs is "civil war."
Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reports from the area (Hamdniyah) and notes threatening calls to nuns and a bombing of the Immaculate Virgin convent, the flood of refugees the violence is creating and, "The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government panel tasked with monitoring religious freedoms around the world for the State Department, recently recommended that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton designate Iraq as a 'country of particular concern' because of the violence against Christians and other religious minorities." AINA notes, "In a recent BBC radio interview, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams lamented that the 'level of ignorance about Middle-Eastern Christianity in the West is very, very high.' According to Williams, many even well informed Westerners think Middle East Christians are primarily 'converts or missionaries,' rather than indigenous communities that predate Islam. Of Tony Blair and George W. Bush, the archbishop surmised their Christianity was 'on the whole, a very, very Western thing,' and, 'I don't sense that either of them had very much sense of the indigenous Christian life and history that there is in the region'."

Meanwhile, the always embarrassing
Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) makes the usual idiot of himself today with a whine that could be entitled, "Iraqi Christians Have It Easier!" Based on what, he never can say. He can whine about more of them being in the US (on the first page, burying on the second page the UN point that they make up a huge precentage of Iraq's external refugees) and he can hiss and boo. It's really embarrassing. Elizabeth Campbell of Refugees International might want to think twice before speaking to him again. Her comments are taken out of context and reassembled by Peter to push the story he wants. (Read her comments carefully, she's not backing up the thesis Peter is proposing -- her conditionals undercut his thesis.) The Monitor itself might want to ask why Peter (or as I always think of him: DICK) is pushing something as news when it's not news, it's his opinion. This isn't a column, it's passed off as reporting. He has no proof, the UN does not release the figures he would need, Campbell gives him conditional quotes, and there's no independent backing, just DICK PETER writing about his hunch as if it were fact. For the record, that press pulling that sort of crap? That's exactly what led Mary Baker Eddy to start the Christian Science Monitor. DICK PETER is not only an embarrassment, he's a disgrace to the news outlet.

Yesterday, assertions were made and denied that the Iran had entered Iraq. Xinhua reports, "The Iranian troops entered the Iraqi semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan on Tuesday, Dubai-based Arabiyah Pan Arab news television reported. The Iranian troops have entered 5 km inside the Iraqi territories, the channel said without giving further details about where exactly the incursion took place." Aysor Armenian News adds, "Iranian troops were operating three kilometers inside Iraqi territory following a series of clashes in recent days between Iranian forces and rebels of Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an Iraqi official said, requesting anonymity." The Kuwait Times runs an AFP report making the same assertion; however, Iran's Fars News Agency quotes KRG Minister of State for Peshmerga Affairs Jafar Mustafa stating, "Infiltration of the Iranian forces into the soil of Iraq's Kurdistan region is a baseless and false claim. We have not witnessed anything like this."

Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports, "But the Green Zone now is American no longer. On Tuesday, Iraq took full control of the 4-square-mile enclave in the heart of Baghdad that, to many Iraqis, symbolized so much of what went wrong with the U.S. military presence in Iraq. At a brief ceremony held beside a bomb-damaged palace, the battalion of U.S. military police that had been advising Iraqis at Green Zone checkpoints cased their colors and prepared to redeploy to a base near the Baghdad airport, and is to depart this summer." Let's translate, having conquered (killed off the natives and run off those they couldn't kill) the West, the fort was turned over to sympathizers who will continue to run it as an outpost. In Sly's report, is all of world's history for any paying attention, repeating yet again and, as always, sold as a breakthrough, an advance, and done so via silencing the dissenting voices. The Green Zone belongs to Nouri now and all that might have had other claims will be shut out. Those against the US occupation will not be heard from. Those suffering under the government the US military propped up will not be asked for an opinion. Today Obama met with General Cust -- General Ray Odierno. This afternoon, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton declared on Air Force One:

To start, I've got a readout for you on the President's meeting with General Odierno, which he made -- which he had before we left. The President met today with General Odierno to review security and political progress in Iraq. General Odierno provided a positive assessment of the current security conditions and the ongoing transition of responsibilities to Iraqi security forces ahead of the change of mission of U.S. forces at the end of August. The President and General Odierno also discussed the encouraging step taken by Iraq's federal supreme court to certify election results, as well as U.S. support for an inclusive government formation process. The President thanked General Odierno for his service to the nation.

Margaret Warner (NewsHour, PBS) interviewed Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday. He is the Turkish Foreign Minister. If you
click here, you get an extended interview. And it's not real 'extended' if that should translate into "in depth." Why did PBS interview an official from another country? If it was to illuminate or inform viewers, they failed at that task. If it was just to fill out air time and to offer their chance to chase after the same damn topic every other outlet is obsessing over, they achieved their goal. Yesterday, we were noting that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Prime Minister, would be holding a terrorism summit today and addressing the issue of the PKK. Guess PBS didn't think that was important. Guess PBS didn't feel that Americans might benefit from any discussion of that -- or any information on it. AFP reports KRG President Minister Massud Barzani is in Turkey today, "making his first visit to Ankara as regional president". AFP also reports:A soldier and two outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, members died in the latest clash in Turkey's Southeast near the Iraqi border, local officials said Wednesday. The clash erupted late Tuesday near the Cukurca town in Hakkari province, when a group of PKK members fired on a group of soldiers on patrol duty, the provincial Governor's Office said in a statement. Seems like Margaret Warner should have asked about the PKK, doesn't it? Seems like the American people would have benefited from a dialogue on this issue. But they didn't get it. Israel's the 'hot' topic but, for the Turkish government, the PKK is the most pressing internal and external issue. And has been for some time. Some people may support the PKK, some people may not. But no one will never know where they stand or might stand when issues are not addressed. Warner spoke at length to Turkey's Foreign Minister. The day before Turkey holds a terrorism summit to address the PKK. When Barzani is in the country and represents northern Iraq where the PKK has set up another base. And the violence continues. But there wasn't time to address any of that on The NewsHour? No, there was time for it, it just wasn't judged 'hot.' When PBS chases after the 'hot' topic, we're all in trouble. This visit that The NewsHour ignored? Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) states it's being hailed as "a breakthrough for regional stability." Hurriyet Daily News reports that "Barzani is one of the most criticized regional leaders in Turkey as he has been seen as the protector of the PKK in northern Iraq." The Turkish Press reports that he will meet tomorrow with Ahmet Davutoglu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey.

Ahmet Davutoglu. Hmm. That name is so familiar. Why is that name so familiar? Oh, that's right, that's who Margaret Warner was speaking to Tuesday night on The NewsHour. Again, she didn't ask about Barzani, she didn't ask about the PKK, she didn't ask about the terrorism sumit. Apparently referring to Barzani's visit -- and having noted the violence, US State Dept Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley stated yesterday that "iraq and Turkey are involved in high-level discussions about" the PKK.

Harold W. Geisel is the Deputy Inspector General of the US State Dept.
Charley Keyes (CNN) reports on new findings from that office: the US Embassy in Baghdad cannot do inventory and has apparently lost or had stolen from it "vehicles and millions of dollars of other equipment, from cell phones to medical supplies" -- the medical supplies include oxycodone and morphine. Matthew Lee (AP) explains the findings cover July 2009 through November 2009 and quotes the report stating, "Embassy Baghdad has had difficulty controlling and accurately accounting for its U.S. government property."

Liu (Xinhua) reports that a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured, another injured two people and "In northern Iraq, the body of an Iraqi soldier who was kidnapped late Tuesday night in eastern Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, was found by the Iraqi police on Wednesday, a local police source said."

Turning to business news, yesterday in Shanghai, Iraq took part in the Shanghai World Expo.
Xinhua quotes Iraqi diplomat Rahman L. Muhsin stating, "Iraq has overcome many difficulties in participating in the Shanghai World Expo and opening the pavilion at last." Rebecca Santanna (AP) quoted Iraq's Minister of Oil Hussain al-Shahristani declaring of the price of oil per barrel, "On the one hand it is sufficiently high to encourage investment, to develop marginal fields, mostly outside of OPEC countries. [. . .] On the other hand it is not too high to adversely affect the recovery of the world economy. I think we are at the right balancing point." The price of oil per barrel as this is being written is a little over US$72. Carl Mortished (Times of London) reports:

A clutch of big oil multinationals has entered into service contracts with the country to develop several huge oilfields, including Rumaila, a monster that already delivers 1.1 million barrels per day, almost half of Iraq's current output.
BP is charged with raising the bar at Rumaila and by 2016 it expects output to reach a plateau of 2.8 million bpd, a level greater than the present output of every Opec state except Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Oh, yes, the lovely and responsible BP.
Cameron Scott (San Francisco Chronicle) has a photo essay on BP and it's 'care' of the Gulf, this is from his intro to the photos:

One cleanup worker took a New York Daily News reporter on a
tour of alleged forbidden areas after watching pelicans trying to get oil off of themselves -- "They keep trying to clean themselves. They try and they try, but they can't do it" -- and discovering a dolphin carcass with oil "just pouring out of it."
AP photographers have gotten a few snaps, too, but relative to the number of journalists trying to get stories out of the area, the number of photographs is pretty low. If only BP's spill cleanup efforts (about which, detailed post tomorrow) were as successful as its press containment efforts appear to be.

xinhuaaysor armenian newsthe kuwait timesfars news agency
the christian science monitortom a. peter
the washington postleila fadel

the los angeles timesliz slythe associated pressrebecca santanathe san francisco chronicle
pbsthe newshourmargaret warner