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الأربعاء، 11 فبراير، 2015

Iraq snapshot Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Iraq snapshot Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Common Ills
Tuesday, February 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Brian Williams gets handed a six month sentence, unlike the State Dept we actually pay attention to the speech given by  Rania Al Abdullah (Queen of Jordan), and much more.

This evening Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued a press release which opens:

This evening House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act certifying its passage during an enrollment ceremony. The Speaker was joined by Susan and Richard Selke, parents of Clay Hunt, Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder, and IAVA member veterans who were present for the ceremony. The Clay Hunt SAV Act, which passed the House in January and the Senate unanimously last week, will combat veteran suicide and improve access to mental health care. The legislation is named after Marine sniper Clay Hunt from Texas, who died by suicide in 2011. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) commends Congress for standing with our veterans and passing the bipartisan bill.
The bill now goes to President Obama, who will sign it into law on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Click here to visit a timeline of IAVA’s work on combating suicide.
“We are so thankful for Speaker Boehner holding this ceremony today, and for the members of Congress who helped pass this bill so quickly at the beginning of this session. Last year, Richard and I began this journey to make sure not another veteran faces the obstacles Clay did when accessing mental health care,” said Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt. “While this bill is not a remedy to a complicated issue, it does help address gaps in accessing mental health care. Had legislation like this existed years ago I believe Clay would be here with us today. We are fortunate to see our country is now one step closer to reversing this terrible suicide rate.”

“This is a historic day for IAVA members and veterans nationwide. After a year of hard work urging Washington to focus its attention on veteran suicide, we have finally come full circle,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “We thank Speaker Boehner and Congress for passing this bill and making sure our veterans get the mental health care they so desperately need. We also thank Senators McCain and Blumenthal for leading on this issue and reintroducing the bill as their first agenda items this year. IAVA also applauds Rep. Tim Walz for introducing the House version and Chairman Jeff Miller for his stewardship. Their leadership and commitment to veterans have been vital in this fight. Next, our veterans look forward to seeing the bill signed into law at Thursday’s signing ceremony at the White House. The brave men and women who served our country will now begin to receive the access to the quality mental health care they were promised and rightfully deserve.”

We'll post the release in full at the end of this snapshot.  But we'll open with the above because it's big news and IAVA and Clay Hunt's family worked very hard to make a needed possibility into a reality that will benefit many, many veterans.

 Now we're going to move over to the issue of celebrity and liar Brian Williams.  He'd be a paragraph were it not for all the drive-by e-mails.  I don't buckle under pressure.  No, I push back.  So all the little whiners -- most of you citing your love of MSNBC and Comedy Central -- grasp thatGina long ago defined this site as a private conversation in public sphere.

You're free to listen in but you don't dictate the topics and you don't control the conversation.

Martha and Shirley informed over 60 '1st time' e-mailers wanted me to know that my commentary on Jon Stewart in the snapshot yesterday and this morning was wrong.

'Jon is not too old.'  And he has not aged out of Comedy Central's demographic, they maintain.

He will host, 12 insisted, The Daily Show for many years to come.  Ten years was the most common assertion.

I guess I was wrong.

I guess my friends -- people actually in charge of what airs and what doesn't -- told me wrong.


Thank you, kind strangers, for correcting me but . . .


. . . What's that?

Jon Stewart's stepping down from The Daily Show?.

Yeah.

Announced this afternoon.

I don't know what they told you
Don't even care what about
All I know is I'm clean as a whistle, baby
I didn't let the cat out
So don't look at me sideways
Don't even look me straight on
And don't look at my hands in my pockets
I ain't done anything wrong
-- "Never Said Nothing," written by Liz Phair, first appears on her Exile In Guyville.

Some of us are in the room and others just have faces pressed against the glass.

Comedy Central's not the only one with an announcement.

NBC News had one as well.

Brian Steinberg (Variety) reports:

Hoping to tamp down a controversy growing around one of its best-known on-air personalities, NBC News on Tuesday suspended Brian Williams, the most-watched evening-news anchor in the U.S., from his duties as chief anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” for six months without pay in the wake of a scandal over misleading statements he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003.
The furor over Williams’ embellishments have engulfed NBC News since early last week, when his account of facing enemy fire while riding in a helicopter in 2003 was challenged by Iraq veterans. Williams’ last broadcast took place on Friday. Lester Holt will continue as substitute anchor.

Deborah Turness, President of NBC News, issued a memo to NBC News staff which NBC News has posted online:

All,
We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately.  We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.
Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision.
While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.
In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.
As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.
Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years.  Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization.
As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree.  But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.
This has been a difficult time. But NBC News is bigger than this moment. You work so hard and dedicate yourselves each and every day to the important work of bringing trusted, credible news to our audience. Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can – and should – all be proud of. We will get through this together.
Steve Burke asked me to share the following message.
“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News.  His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.  Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.  Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”

Deborah

Good for her.  That was a very hard call.  Most people didn't think it would be made.  She made the hard call and the needed call if news is going to be more important to NBC News than celebrity.

Williams has six month suspension while the investigation continues.

He can return.

Of course, if he thinks the jokes are bad now, wait until the comics have a week's time to fill in the lead up to a return.

Media critic David Zurawik (Baltimore Sun) offers his take which includes:

Six months is a significant reprimand that says to Williams he has sinned in major ways, and that he has seriously harmed the company he says he loves. It also tells the audience NBC News is not trying to act like nothing bad happened. But it doesn't finish his career.
It does, however, leave Williams in jeopardy. If he comes back in six months and the audience tunes him out because his credibility is shredded, he won't be anchor long.

If he comes back.

If.

Because the problem isn't just the Iraq lie.

Last week, we noted Jim Naureckas' piece at FAIR explaining Williams' problems when it came to Katrina.

Now the right turned on Brian immediately.

That's because he'd already betrayed them.  He was their boy.  The one who wrote mash notes to Tricky Dick when Richard Nixon was still president and hadn't been forced to resign as president to avoid criminal charges.

And he was the one who counted Rush Limbaugh as his friend.

So when suck-up Brian Williams became a 'Democrat' in their eyes (he's just a suck-up to whomever's in power), they were ready for his downfall.

He's not winning them back.

Some idiots on my side (the left) have whined and whimpered and been useless bitches for nearly a week now as they rushed to defend a liar.

There was no reason to defend a liar caught lying.

But because the right didn't like him, simple fools on my side decided that meant we must embrace him.

There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, it's bringing me out the dark
Finally, I can see you crystal clear
Go 'head and sell me out and I'll lay your s**t bare
-- "Rolling In The Deep," written by Adele and Paul Epworth, first appears on Adele's 21.

Today, the one laying Brian Williams' s**t bare is Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler who reminds how Brian went on MSNBC and CNBC to popularize the narrative that Al Gore was "unAmerican" for speaking out against a war on Iraq in the fall of 2002.

Williams attacked the left for years.  Williams cheerleaded the start of the Iraq War.

There's no reason to defend someone who has repeatedly lied about what he did in Iraq or in New Orleans or anywhere.  But as my side slowly awakens to the reality that Bri-Bri's no friend to the left, they're going to be less inclined to root for the liar.

Ava and I have called out Williams' Iraq War cheerleading for some time.  Bob Somerby's called it out.  Greg Mitchell's called it out.  We'll again note Greg's Tweet from yesterday: 
  • Jon Stewart defends Brian Williams by hitting media lies getting us into Iraq --which, BTW, Williams defended. 

  • Read his article about the snippy e-mail Brian Williams sent him.

    Now granted, we're real slow on my side.  Give us a corporatist channel selling war (Libya, for example) and whoring for the worst elements of the Democratic Party but make sure the (mainly Anglo White hosts) scream "racist!" repeatedly while constantly tell you how awful Republicans are and we're convinced that we've practically got Rosa Luxemburg and Fred Hampton beaming into our living rooms nightly on MSNBC.

    As the ratings demonstrate, most lefties who fell under the spell of MSNBC woke up some time ago and stopped watching.

    So we're slow, but we can learn.

    And six months from now, if Brian is allowed to return, he's going to find that even Libby Liberal -- posting at Corrente and elsewhere -- is going to have backed off her knee-jerk coverage of him.

    Because we are slow on the left but we do eventually learn.

    And we're learning, if we're paying attention, that Bully Boy Bush's attack on Syria was carried over by Barack Obama who now seems confused or conflicted.

    Which is with the President of the United States today?  Who knows?

    But ABC News Radio notes, "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad receives information from the United States regarding the fight against ISIS, he revealed in an interview with the BBC, but he denied that the countries are coordinating their efforts against the terrorist group, which has taken control of large swathes of Syria and Iraq."  That would be the enemy Barack wanted to go to war with but others prevailed.  Now sharing is taking place.  Tom Perry and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) add, "The Syrian government is waging its own, separate campaign against Islamic State, including air strikes in areas that have also been struck by the U.S.-led alliance. It has been widely assumed the Syrian and U.S. armies have conveyed information about the movements of jets using the same air space."


    A Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kasabeh, was shot down by the Islamic State (some maintain the plane crashed all on its own -- magically) and he was then burned alive.  In response to the video, the kingdom of Jordan has become very vocal about events in the region and the danger of the Islamic State.  Today, Moufaq Khatib (NBC News) reports:

    Jordan has deployed "thousands" of troops at its border with Iraq as it ramps up a campaign against ISIS militants who set a pilot ablaze, two Jordanian government officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
    The troops were sent to prevent the infiltration of ISIS fighters into Jordan and as a show of force, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
    Jordan's King Abdullah last week threatened to make ISIS pay for the death of Muath al-Kasasbeh's after video of the military pilot's murder emerged. He vowed to wage a "harsh" war against ISIS "because this terrorist organization is not only fighting us, but also fighting Islam and its pure values."         

    In yesterday's snapshot, we noted the Queen of Jordan, Rania Al Abdullah, had given a major address and we quoted from it.  Had the US State Dept been paying attention, they and Secretary of State John Kerry would have been highlighting the speech.

    But they're never paying attention to words or actions that can result in actual change.  They're too busy playing with bombs and plotting destruction.

    The Jordanian Kingdom has issued the following press release on the important speech:


    (Office of Her Majesty- Press Department- Abu Dhabi) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah opened today the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2014 which gathers more than 500 media industry leaders from around the globe. The theme of this year’s summit is ‘Driving and sustaining a future media in MENA and beyond’.
    In the opening session, which was attended by H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, and H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Queen Rania delivered a speech with a clear message that the Arab world needs to reclaim its narrative from extremist groups in the region. “A minority of irreligious extremists is using social media to rewrite our narrative… hijack our identity and rebrand us.”
    With images of violence and destruction from the Arab world projected on screen, Her Majesty insisted that these images do not represent the vast majority of Arabs.

    “These images don’t represent me anymore than they represent you. They’re alien and abhorrent to the vast majority of Arabs -- Muslims and Christians. And they should make every Arab across this region seethe. Because they’re an attack on our values as a people. And on our collective story.”
    However, the Queen noted that the moderate majority of Arabs are equally to blame. “They say, “a story is told as much by silence as by speech”. Well, our silence speaks volumes. We are complicit in their success.”
    But Her Majesty asserted that the fight against extremists goes well beyond that battleground and it is a fight between moderates and extremists all over the world.
    “It’s a fight for the future of Islam and the future of the Arab world. So, it’s a fight that moderates have to win,” adding that “Winning also depends on our ability to conquer the philosophical battleground as well. Because at the heart of this assault is an ideology.”
    Queen Rania questioned the increase in the number of followers and fans of radical groups in the region. She explained that these followers are “from classrooms in which they were never challenged to think for themselves, and where they learned an outdated curriculum. From societies in which a quarter of their peers is unemployed, where there’s inadequate social security to afford a life of dignity, and where opportunities to help to change the status quo are few and far between.”
    Her Majesty added that the only way we can save our youth from the sirens’ call of extremism is to provide them with a better alternative. “The satisfaction of a job, the relief of justice, the solidarity of equality, and the fulfilment of participation. We provide real opportunities for change and advancement.”
    Her Majesty presented the audience with the options facing the region today: “We either develop our region, or we let others dismantle it. Find solutions to the challenges, or watch the challenges avalanche. Harness the tools to drive the Arab world forward in the 21st century, or let others use those tools to drag us back to the dark ages.”
    Education reform topped Her Majesty’s to-do-list for the region: “Our strategy must be long-term. And that starts by investing in quality education for all... Education reform doesn’t come cheap. But the price of ignorance is far, far greater.”
    She gave the example of EDRAAK, an initiative that Her Majesty launched earlier this year to bring Massive Open Online Courses to the Arab world in Arabic. She also thanked His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his support for the initiative and noted that online learning is the best opportunity to achieve quality and modern education, which the Arab World desperately needs.
    Commenting on quality education for all, Queen Rania asserted that it must include girls as well as boys. “Because educated girls strengthen their nations’ economies, they prioritize the health and education of their own children and they help to build stable societies more resilient to radicalization.” She said.
    Queen Rania then added that “education alone isn’t the solution. We need jobs as well. Recent estimates indicate that we need to create over 100 million jobs by 2020 to absorb new entrants into the labor market.”
    Acknowledging the job creation challenge, Her Majesty was nonetheless optimistic about emerging opportunities in the region: “The good news is that new industries are emerging. The digital landscape is evolving. And internet connectivity and mobile technologies are creating new horizons for entrepreneurs. Arab internet users are growing at around 20 per cent annually. Mobile penetration at around 110 per cent.”
    Her Majesty also highlighted the potential of e-commerce in the region, as well as the ICT sector that is set to hit USD20 billion in 2020.
    “A burgeoning technology sector. An insatiable consumer market. And a huge youth population hungry for opportunity. The conditions for explosive growth are within reach.” Her Majesty said.
    Talking about the resources the Arab World possess, Her Majesty said our region has the values, the money, the minds, the youth, the technology, the market, the networks, and the motivation to tap into these reserves and create lasting change.
    Ending her speech, Queen Rania said: “For the sake of each one of us…for Islam and the Arab world…for the future of our young people, we must create a new narrative and broadcast it to the world. Because if we don’t decide what our identity is…and what our legacy will be, the extremists will do it for us.”
    Earlier at the summit, the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, welcomed Queen Rania and media industry guests to Abu Dhabi, and reflected on the importance of the media industry to the regional economy.
    “The media sector is becoming increasingly far ranging and relevant. From a regional perspective, our industry represents an ever-increasing and significant contributor to the regional economy,” Al Mubarak said.
    He went on to describe the market opportunity in MENA, which is being driven by the relentless increase in connectivity in the region. He gave comment on how media innovation is transforming the way students receive and engage with information, and how twofour54 is responding with a number of initiatives to support the industry’s development.
    “All of twofour54’s investments are giving young UAE Nationals unprecedented access to a thriving industry in which they can learn their craft, improve their skills, develop new ideas and help shape the media sector of the future.”
    He added that “through education and training the media industry has an unrivalled potential to contribute to the development of future generations, formally and informally, directly and indirectly, in this region and globally. That is both a huge opportunity and a great responsibility.”
    While introducing Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, he reminded the audience of Her Majesty’s strong advocacy of education in the Middle East and North Africa, saying “I can think of no better person to open our Summit on the future of media in the MENA region and beyond.”
    This year’s three day programme features a series of panel discussions, interviews and presentations by seasoned industry leaders as well as new players. Each day is focused around a particular industry topic: content creation, distribution and financing.
    Day two of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit – which is open to the public – will kick off tomorrow with a presentation by Facebook’s Vice President of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Nicola Mendelsohn. This will be followed by a panel discussion on technology, social media and women in MENA, featuring Princess Ameera Al-Taweel, Founder and CEO of Time Entertainment and Dalya Al Munthanna, CEO of GE Gulf, among others.
    Robert A. Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard will take to the stage to discuss the gaming sector, while Gerhard Zeiler President of Turner Broadcasting International will be interviewed on the future of broadcasting. In a keynote speech, CEO of Imax Corporation Richard Gelfond will address the next big thing for the big screen.
    The disruptive impact of online video and the ‘second screen’ on the medium of television will be discussed by panellists from Twitter, Sky News Arabia, Istikana and BBC Future Media. Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC, and twofour54’s Chief Legal Officer, Greg Sweeting will participate in the final panel discussion of day two, which will look combatting content piracy in the digital age.
    The full programme and list of speakers can be found on the ADMS 2014 website:www.admediasummit.com

    There was more wisdom and more bravery in her statements than in anything Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has publicly stated in his six months in office.

    As Queen of Jordan, she already has a profile and when she's willing to wade in and risk political capital, you'd think the idiots at the US State Dept would grasp what a moment they had and work to promote the speech and the remarks she made.

    No US official -- not even Barack -- carries as much weight as she does.  But they failed -- as this White House always does -- to seize the moment.

    Had they promoted her remarks, they might have jump started a conversation.

    Instead the issue of Iraq today is as it was yesterday, as it is every day since the start of the illegal war, one of violence.

    Alsumaria reports a bombing outside of Baghdad today left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three more injured while a bombing just north of Baghdad left another person injured and 2 suicide car bombers to the south of Tikrit took their own lives and the lives of 6 Iraqi security forces with twenty-nine more left injured.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 162 dead across Iraq.

    To note some of the above, I tabled a hearing I attended.  We may pick that up in tomorrow's snapshot.  We may not.  We may also go after another media outlet that lies about Iraq.  I'm curious to see how they'll cover Brian Williams' six month suspension.  If they whore for him, we'll certainly be addressing them tomorrow.

    As promised, we'll close with the full press statement from IAVA:

    Washington D.C. (February 10, 2015) – This evening House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act certifying its passage during an enrollment ceremony. The Speaker was joined by Susan and Richard Selke, parents of Clay Hunt, Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder, and IAVA member veterans who were present for the ceremony. The Clay Hunt SAV Act, which passed the House in January and the Senate unanimously last week, will combat veteran suicide and improve access to mental health care. The legislation is named after Marine sniper Clay Hunt from Texas, who died by suicide in 2011. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) commends Congress for standing with our veterans and passing the bipartisan bill.
    The bill now goes to President Obama, who will sign it into law on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Click here to visit a timeline of IAVA’s work on combating suicide.
    “We are so thankful for Speaker Boehner holding this ceremony today, and for the members of Congress who helped pass this bill so quickly at the beginning of this session. Last year, Richard and I began this journey to make sure not another veteran faces the obstacles Clay did when accessing mental health care,” said Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt. “While this bill is not a remedy to a complicated issue, it does help address gaps in accessing mental health care. Had legislation like this existed years ago I believe Clay would be here with us today. We are fortunate to see our country is now one step closer to reversing this terrible suicide rate.”
    “This is a historic day for IAVA members and veterans nationwide. After a year of hard work urging Washington to focus its attention on veteran suicide, we have finally come full circle,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “We thank Speaker Boehner and Congress for passing this bill and making sure our veterans get the mental health care they so desperately need. We also thank Senators McCain and Blumenthal for leading on this issue and reintroducing the bill as their first agenda items this year. IAVA also applauds Rep. Tim Walz for introducing the House version and Chairman Jeff Miller for his stewardship. Their leadership and commitment to veterans have been vital in this fight. Next, our veterans look forward to seeing the bill signed into law at Thursday’s signing ceremony at the White House. The brave men and women who served our country will now begin to receive the access to the quality mental health care they were promised and rightfully deserve.”
    Developed by IAVA and its allies on Capitol Hill, and driven by quantitative and qualitative data from IAVA’s annual member survey, the Clay Hunt SAV Act will:
    Increase Access to Mental Health Care and Capacity at VA to Meet Demand
    · Requires the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all VA mental health services for veterans.
    · Addresses the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing the VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists.
    · Extends Combat-Eligibility for mental health care services at VA for one-year, providing for increased access for veterans that may be suffering from conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    Improve the Quality of Care and Boosting Accountability at VA
    · Requires evaluations of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care.

    Develop a Community Support System for Veterans
    · Establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services.


    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

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