Wednesday, May 02, 2012

You raised him



No, preezy is making me queasy because his nonstop campaigning is looking, well, sleazy – and his ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn't have killed Osama bin Laden is just the beginning of it.
In a political culture that long ago surrendered to the permanent campaign, Obama has managed to take things to a new level. According to statistics compiled for a book to be published this summer, the president has already set a record for total first-term fundraisers – 191 – and that's only through March 6. 

Read more here:



Starting in the US with a jury verdict.  Levi Pulkkinen (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports a federal Jury in Seattle has returned a verdict "late Monday" which found Catholic Community Services wrongly terminated Grace Campbell's employment upon learning that the Washington National Guard sergeant had been ordered to deploy to Iraq.  It is against the law to fire someone because they are being deployed or will be deployed.  The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act is among the legislation that forbids this.  However, at a February 2nd House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee hearing, many witnesses and House members seemed unaware of this fact.  There was talk of the need for a law.  No, there is only the need for education of that law and enforcing that law is the quickest way in the world to educate employers about it.  They start having to pay hefty fines, they'll suddenly learn that law.
Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP represented Grace Campbell and they've released the following statement:
A federal jury today in Seattle awarded $485,000 to Washington National Guard Sergeant Grace Campbell and found that her employer had engaged in willful discrimination and harassment based on her military service. In 2008, Sergeant Campbell's civilian employer Catholic Community Services fired her from her position of ten years when it learned that she was set to deploy for active service in Iraq. After her termination, Sergeant Campbell served in Iraq from October 2008 to August 2009, returning home to the Everett area without civilian work.
Catholic Community Services' hostile treatment of Campbell began in 2006 after she returned from active duty at the U.S. Mexican border. During Campbell's activation, her position with CCS was left unstaffed. Campbell's manager and her co-workers resented Campbell's absence and the increased workload. Upon her return, Campbell's manager and co-workers began a systematic campaign of harassment and discrimination that included threats by Campbell's manager to fire Campbell if it was learned that she had volunteered for duty.
Campbell complained repeatedly to multiple levels of management at Catholic Community Services about the discrimination, but it continued unchecked. In an effort to find relief, Campbell made a complaint to the Employer Support for Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the Department of Defense national committee tasked with providing support to the Guard and Reserve in their civilian employment. In December of 2006, a retired Naval Reserve Commander with ESGR met with Campbell's managers in an attempt to resolve the problems Campbell was facing at work. Despite ESGR's involvement, the hostile treatment of Campbell continued on into 2007 and 2008.
In February 2008, Campbell told CCS co-workers that she was preparing to deploy to Iraq later that year with the Washington National Guard 81st Brigade. On March 20, 2008, Catholic Community Services fired Campbell.
Campbell's attorneys James W. Beck and Andrea H. McNeely, Partners at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, are pleased with the verdict. "This was a situation which never should have occurred," said Beck. "Sergeant Campbell told her employer about the ongoing discrimination on at least three occasions, but there was never any formal investigation or decisive action to stop the treatment." The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA") prohibits harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against Guard members related to their service. "This is a vindication of the rights of Grace Campbell and those like her who make sacrifices in their civilian lives to serve their country," said McNeely. "Moreover," said Beck, "when the time came at trial for CCS to produce a key document that it claimed was central to its reason for terminating Campbell, the company had destroyed the document." After a two year job search, Campbell is now employed as a receptionist with the Department of Social and Health Services in Seattle.
What happened is not an isolated incident, it's happened across the country and unless businesses realize it's much smarter to settle out of court, look for more reports on jury verdicts against companies who have illegaly fired people because they were deployed or were going to be deployed.  Again, firing someone for a military deployment is against federal law.
Elsewhere, Kuwait wants justice as well.  The Kuwait Times reports, "Kuwait yesterday 'stressed need' for Ira'qs continuing regular deposits in the UN war compensation fund in line with relevant international resolutions.  Kuwait stressed the need for continuation of reuglar deposits in the Compensation Fund, as provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 1956 (2010), of five percent of the proceeds from all export sales of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas of Iraq . . ."  This position was made clear by Khaled al-Mudhaf who addressed the Governing Council of the United Nations Compensation Commission yesterday.  al-Mudhaf chairs the Public Ahtority for Assessment of Compensations for Damages Resulting from the Iraqi Agression.  (Kuwait also has a successful international race car driver by that name and a World Champion Trap Shooter by that name -- the latter of which competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.)  The amount still owed, according to al-Mudhaf's statements, is $16 billion. 
The remarks are not just a call for billions to be paid, they're also a bit of realtiy for Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq.  In the lead up to the March 27th Arab League Summit in March, Nouri made efforts to establish ties to Kuwait and Kuwait ended up standing by Nouri at the Summit, the only major country that did.  Over half the heads of state of Arab countries refused to attend with some, like Qatar, making a public statement that this was an intentional boycott.  But Nouri had Kuwait and some Arab officials whispered to the press that Kuwait was prostituting itself.  If that were true, it would appear that Kuwait has now made clear to Nouri the bill for a paid escort.  If the whisper was a slur against the reputation of Kuwait, then Nouri's still learned that all his visits and public woo-ing didn't mean a thing.  This also hurts  
26 April 2012 –
The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which settles the damage claims of those who suffered losses due to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, today made a total of $1.02 billion available to six successful claimants.
The latest round of payments brings the total amount of compensation disbursed by the Commission to $36.4 billion for more than 1.5 million successful claims of individuals, corporations, Governments and international organizations, according to a UNCC news release.
Successful claims are paid with funds drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is funded by a percentage of the proceeds generated by the export sales of Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products.
The Geneva-based UNCC's Governing Council has identified six categories of claims: four are for individuals' claims, one for corporations and one for governments and international organizations, which also includes claims for environmental damage.
The Commission was established in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the UN Security Council. It has received nearly three million claims, including from close to 100 governments for themselves, their nationals or their corporations.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey (Pravda) weighs in calling international compensation a "joke" and insisting that Iraq has been treated unfairly due to the fact that there's "no mention of cross-drilling of oil, tapping into Iraqi fields, there has been no mention of compensation payable to Iraq, and other countries, for the invasion by NATO countries."   On the topic of big money, AFP runs today with the report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's report that US taxpayer dollars may have gone to Iraqi insurgents, resistance, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, etc.  This is the topic Eli Lake (Daily Beast) was reporting on yesterday, "A 2012 audit conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and released to the public on Monday found that 76 percent of the battalion commanders surveyed believed at least some of the CERP funds had been lost to fraud and corruption."
Yesterday,  the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction released April 2012: Quarterly Report To Congress. As the report notes, the US State Dept is spending $500 million of US taxpayer dollars on training the Iraqi police for the 2012 Fiscal Year.  Let's talk about that training:
AFP reports they're on a US military base being retrained.  BBC reports: "A programme has been under way for more than a month for comprehensive assessment and re-training of all national police unites -- a process called by the Americans 'transofrmational training.'"  James Hider (Times of London) reports that since 2004, "US forces have been re-training the Iraqi police, but the programme has had little impact" and that a "survivor of Monday's mass kidnapping . . . described how half a dozen vehicles, with official security forces markings on them, pulled up and men in military fatigues rounded up all the Sunnis in the shops."
That's not today.  That's from the October 4, 2006 snapshot. Let's drop back to February 8th:
We covered the November 30th House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program?  Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter didain for the program.  When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue."  The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?  Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it."  She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government.  But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name.  That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States."  He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
Brooke Darby noted that he didn't deny that comment or retract it; however, she had spoken with him and he felt US trainers and training from the US was needed.  The big question was never asked in the hearing: If the US government wants to know about this $500 million it is about to spend covering the 2012 training of the Ministry of the Interior's police, why are they talking to the Deputy Minister?
After 8 years of spending US tax payer dollars on this program and on the verge of spending $500 million, why is the US not talking to the person in charge ofthe Interior Ministry?
Because Nouri never named a nominee to head it so Parliament had no one to vote on.  Nouri refused to name someone to head the US ministry but the administration thinks it's okay to use $500 million of US tax payer dollars to train people with a ministry that has no head?
There's no mention in the report that the Iraqi government is matching that $500 million with $500 million of their own.  That may be one of those facts we have to wait to find out about "later this year," to quote another section of the report.  Going through "Iraqi Funding" notes many efforts but not on police.  And yet last December 7th, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconsturction, specifically raised that required matching fund when he appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform's Nationl Security Subcommittee.
US House Rep Raul Labrador: So what other problems have you found with the police development program, if any?
SIGIR Stuart Bowen: Several.  Well, Mr. Labrador, we pointed out in our audit that, one Iraqi buy-in, something that the Congress requires from Iraq, by law, that is a contribution of 50% to such programs,has not been secured -- in writing, in fact, or by any other means. That's of great concern.  Especially for a Ministry that has a budget of over $6 billion, a government that just approved, notionally, a hundred billion dollar budget for next year.  It's not Afghanistan.  This is a country that has signficant wealth, should be able to contribute but has not been forced to do so, in a program as crucial as this.
To be clear, this isn't optional.  To be even more clear, the White House should never have committed $500 million without Iraq having met the matching fund requirement -- required by Congress. 
Where is the oversight?
It's not coming from the press.
Eager to flaunt both ignorance and incompetence Kareem Raheem, Aseel Kami and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) and AFP ran with the 'official' figures provided by the Iraqi government for deaths due to violence in the month of April.  The death toll is 126.  That's based on figures from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior.
That's what the incompetent wire services told us.  They forgot to tell you that the Ministry of Defense has no minister -- Nouri never nominated anyone so he could illegaly take charge of it -- and the that Ministry of the Interior has no minister -- for the same reason. 
And the Minister of Health?
This may be the worst demonstration of press whoring in Iraq currently.  Salih Mahdi Motalab al-Hasanawi held that post in Nouri's first term and holds it in the second term and is falsely described as "a Shi'ite Muslim, but independent of any political party."  That's not how you describe him -- though the press does and he does on his Facebook page.  Reality: In 2009, he joined what political slate?  State of Law.  Nouri's State of Law.  He's not independent.  He may not be a member of a political party (Nouri's political party is Dawa) but he chose to join -- in September of 2009 -- Nouri's State of Law.  He belongs to a political slate, he is not independent.
So Nouri's flunkies issue some figures and whores in the press who don't have the self-respect or training to do what a reporter does runs with those awful lies.  They make no effort to provide alternate counts or any context at all.  They simply take dictation and say, 'This is what offiicals say.'  It's whoring, it's not reporting.
The IBC count is 290 for the month of April. (Click here for screen snap.)  Iraq Body Count tracks reported deaths in the press and notes that their count is not a complete count.  Once upon a time, the press was happy to provide the IBC count, now they just whore.

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