Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Client List

The Client List.  I did not write about it last week.  All you missed then was Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) screaming and yelling like an idiot.

And learning that the list was gone.

So she knows Nikki took it but in this week's first episode, the police get Nikki first.  There are two episodes.

What do they teach us?

Apparently that Jennifer Love Hewitt is a glory hog.

Cybill Shepherd's character is now moving to Austin.

Why?  Apparently Ms. Love Hewitt cannot get along with anyone.

That is why half the cast disappeared when season two started.  We never got explanations there but Cybill plays Riley's mother Lynette so they needed to have some sort of bye-bye scene.

Lacey and her husband Dale adopted a baby.  Good for them.  Dale and Lacey are a great couple and I love the actors who play them.  I love them so much I keep waiting for the moment when Love-Hewitt cannot stand any longer that they are audience favorites and demands that one of them be killed.

She cannot tell her husband Kyle that she masturbates men for a living.

So Nikki and she come up with a plan.  Nikki thought she had hidden the list (of clients) but her thug boyfriend who owns the strip clubs found it.

So Nikki calls him saying she has info on Riley.  Do not think this out, the writers clearly did not.  Just know that he leaves his strip joint while Riley shows up and poses as a stripper.

Did I mention that a bust is going down?

So Evan and the other police officer are in a van outside the strip club that Riley is in.

She does her stripping, then steals the money and makes it out of the club.  But Evan sees her and goes after her.

At The Rub, Ms.  Love Hewitt is going to burn it down and make it look like the thug did it.

Did she know he would burst in?

I have no idea.

But he did.

And she knocks him out and leaves him in the burning building, runs outside with the split lip the thug gave her, into Evan's arms and he holds her until Kyle comes up and The Rub is on fire and she is just going to let a man burn to death.

In real life, Jennifer Love-Hewitt is pregnant.  Maybe that means no third season?

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013.  Chaos and violence continues, NPR returns to Iraq in order to do its own bit of damage, Ban Ki-Moon makes clear he's ready for Iraq to be taken out of Chapter VII (yet again, the reports on this come from non-US media which, for some reason, never has been able to report on Iraq and the UN imposed Chapter VII),  Amnesty International wants answers about Saturday's attack on Camp Hurriya, Iraq War journalist Michael Hasting passed away today, Glenn Greenwald continues holding the US government's feet to the fire (which is what journalism is supposed to be about), and more.

Starting with NPR which has been All Quiet on the Iraqi Front for some time now, having failed to file a report from Iraq in forever.   That may have actually been a good thing if the damaging lies that Kelly McEvers filed today are an indication of what happens when NPR 'helps' and tries to 'report.'

Here for audio and transcript of McEvers Morning Edition report.

She opened with this garbage:

It took a while for Iraq to have a protest movement, like the protest movement next door in Syria. But when it started, it was almost immediately sectarian. The protests in Iraq were in mostly Sunni areas against a Shiite-dominated government. And as many predicted, it eventually got ugly.

It's really hard not to just scream curse words right now.  McEvers is aware of the 2011 protests or should be, she reported on them.

Is she senile?

February 28, 2011, McEvers reported for Morning Edition about protesters in Iraq and how Nouri had sicked his goons on them.  Among those targeted were journalist Hadi al-Mahdi.   Here's what McEvers had to say then, "A few days ago, he was eating lunch with other journalists when soldiers pulled up, blindfolded them, and whisked them away. Mahdi was beaten in the leg, eyes, and head. A soldier tried to get him to admit he was being paid to topple the regime."

What happened to Hadi?  I don't think NPR ever bothered to report but it sure as hell should knock Kelly McEvers off her damn high horse.

Thursday, September 8, 2011, Hadi was assassinated.  In his own apartment.  Earlier he'd been beaten, McEvers had reported, by Nouri's forces.  As far as I'm concerned, Nouri ordered the assassination of Hadi.  Regardless, that's what happened to protesters in the 'democratic' Iraq, they were rounded up by Nouri's soldiers and tortured, they were harassed and followed, they were targeted repeatedly. 

I'm sorry, does Kelly think that the Iraqi activists can just pack and leave and forget Iraq the way she did for two years?  Because they can't.  And they risked their lives in 2011 to protest.  When this wave of protests started December 21, 2012, they were still risking their lives.

And some have died.  McEvers ignores all the deaths except for the Hawija massacre.  Considering how she 'reports' on it, we probably would have been better off if she'd ignored it as well.  She puts the deaths at 'dozens.'  

The April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP later reported the number had risen to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

But all we get from Hells Kells McEvers is "dozens."  8 children.

Really?  That's how trashy NPR is today?  UNICEF reports 8 children were killed in that massacre and NPR can't mention that on air when they finally 'report' on the massacre?  Seriously?

 And you wonder why Ava and I write pieces like Sunday's "Media: The Continued Self-destruction of NPR"?  Cooking segments, now boozing segments ("the Booze Round. We want to see the strange mystery bottles that are hanging out in your liquor cabinet, so head on over to, shoot a picture and submit it.").  They're too damn busy having fun to act like grown ups and get the facts and report them to the American people.

Kelly then stars smearing.  After the massacre, "Sunni protesters and tribesmen across the country took up arms in revenge."  Did they?  You weren't there, you were busy lying about Syria during all this, but that's your perception, your keen insight, is it, dear?

Reality, Nouri sents his forces into the provinces.  That's why tribes started arming themselves to protect the protesters.  The protesters did not take up arms, that's a lie.  And let's not forget the Governor of Kirkuk said no to Nouri.  He's on record with that.  He wouldn't let the forces trek through Kirkuk.  So Nouri helicoptered them in.  Another detail Kelly McEvers doesn't know about.

She also doesn't appear to grasp that Nouri's plans to terrorize Iraqis aren't playing well with his own military.  Dropping back to the June 13th snapshot:

 Jason Ditz ( notes:

The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.

AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.

That was just last week, a key detail, and one that naturally escapes Kelly McEvers.

"And the number of attacks around Iraq skyrocketed," panted Kelly McEvers.  Thing is numbers are a little bit trick, Kells, little bit harder for you to lie about.

For example, before the massacre, on April 22, 24 hours before the massacre, Iraq Body Count had already counted 341 deaths: -- change the "7" at the end to an 8 if you go to check after tonight.  It'll be on page at IBC.  After 7 days, you're going to have to hunt it yourself.  Here's the copy and paste:

Monday 22 April: 3 killed

Mosul: 1 policeman by AED.
Anbar: 2 road workers by gunfire.

April casualties so far: 341 civilians killed.

The violence had already started.  It's a cute little con job to pretend otherwise.  And lazy asses who don't know their facts probably think they can cut corners.  Reality, by the 22nd of April, Iraq's deaths were averaging 15.5 a day.

And it had been picking up for some time.   Here's more reality, CBN -- Christian Broadcasting Network -- had a better handle on the numbers today than NPR -- with CBN noting that, since the start of April, nearly 2000 Iraqis have died from violence.  Not since the start of April 23rd, but since the start of the month -- that would include Kelly McEvers Day which is also known as April Fools.

Kelly then goes on to blame groups "like al-Qaida in Iraq."  And, of course, 'former Ba'athists.'  What is that, half the country over half the country was Ba'athist at one point? Shia and Sunni because Ba'athist was the party you had to be in to advance?  As for al-Qaida in Iraq, as we noted last week, the Parliament was told that there were 2,000 or so members of al-Qadia in Iraq and that, of that 2,000, those who had left Iraq for Syria were coming back.  (2,000 had also been the estimate then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta shared with Congress.) That's really amazing that less than 2,000 people could do so much.

Now Iraq's security has been suffering.  Last July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  That's still true.

At what point do idiots like Kelly McEvers start noting that if your country's unstable and slammed with violence maybe you need a Minster of Defense (over the army), maybe you need a Minister of the Interior (over the federal police), maybe you need a Minister of National Security?

At what point does an idiot like Kelly McEvers look at the increasing violence, realize Nouri has left these positions vacant (part of his power-grab -- if he filled them, he wouldn't be charge of them), and start pointing out that the violence is attached to that?

Kelly allows a man who won't give his name to lie and smear the protesters and the protests.  That's a sweet little trick.  Strange isn't it, in 2011, Kelly could call that nonsense out.  Not anymore.

No one's brought on to refute it.  It's propaganda. It's propaganda that Nouri tries to advance but even he can't get away with it.  But Kelly brings on an unidentified 'analyst' and lets him lie.  

Listen to this lie from Kelly, "Since Hawija, the Shiite-dominated government has been trying to work with moderate Sunnis to answer some of their grievances."  That's April 23, Kelly.  What the hell has done "since Hawija"?  The for-show prisoner releases took place in February and March. 

 Unlike NPR, Human Rights Watch didn't take a year off from Iraq.  This is from HRW's Sarah Lee Whitson's "How Baghdad Fuels Iraq's Sectarian Fire:"

The Iraqi government has hurled the country to the brink of a new civil war. In under a month, Baghdad launched a vicious assault on a Sunni protest camp, resulting in 44 deaths; executed 21 alleged Sunni terrorists in one day, and suspended the licenses of 10 satellite channels, 9 of them deemed pro-Sunni.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s message to his country’s extremely disaffected Sunni minority, which resists with an increasing sense of futility joining the battles between Maliki’s forces and extremists? “Bring It On!”
The country remains in shambles after years of gruesome civil war pitting the minority Sunnis against the newly dominant Shias. Ten years after the U.S.-led invasion, most people still experience electricity and water shortages. Iraq’s education and health services, once Middle East jewels, are skeletons of their past. And unemployment and poverty have spiraled to record peace-time levels.
A promise of power-sharing helped wind the war down, but sheer exhaustion probably had more to do with the relative calm of recent years than any wise political leadership.
The government has failed to address any of the major grievances of the Sunni -- and even some Shia -- communities. Those include ongoing exclusion from the political process, with regular delays in elections; no real reforms in the punitive, wildly overbroad “De-Baathification” and antiterrorism laws; increasingly centralized power in the hands of the prime minister; and brutal policing, with mass arrests, unfair trials and endemic torture in Iraqi prisons. But since early 2012, Sunnis have challenged the status quo with persistent, overwhelmingly peaceful protests, despite violent incursions by the state authorities.

 That pretty much rejects Kelly McEvers entire 'report.'  After Hawija?  Sarah's report is from May 15th.  That's 22 days after Hawija.  Maybe Kelly McEvers just isn't up to reporting from Iraq.

Now that's my bad.  I've hectored two friends in the executive suites about NPR's lack of Iraq coverage for four weeks now.  But please understand, when I did that, I wasn't saying, "We need bad Iraq coverage."  I would have settled for mediocre, I swear I would have.  But we didn't even get that.  We got propaganda from Nouri.  Did he buy her drinks first?

Her 'report' is not just a lie, it is offensive.  When NPR can't report the deaths of 8 children, that's offensive.  When they can't report those deaths, everyone connected with NPR should hang their heads in shame.  We can debate and dispute many details, but 8 children killed is outrageous.  One of those eight was shot dead in front of his disabled father.  He was trying to help his father get away from Nouri's forces.  His father, confined to a wheel chair, watched as Nouri's forces shot his son, while he begged them not to.

And that detail just doesn't mean a damn thing?  Is that what NPR's trying to tell us now?

Well shame on NPR.  And shame on Kelly McEvers.

 Kelly declares, "Many analysts blame Iraq's troubles on the U.S., for turning away from Iraq after U.S. troops left in 2011.There is a concerted U.S. diplomatic effort underway to keep Iraq from imploding."  First, why don't you report on the State Dept.  Brett McGurk, for instance, has been all over doing meetings for the last two weeks.  Why don't you report on it?

Second, why are you lying.  Charlie Rose pulled that same crap in his interview with Barack Obama.  It's really past time that the White House was forced to answer about US troops in Iraq which does include a unit of Special Ops that were sent in last fall.

How useless was Kelly's report this morning?  It didn't even note the mosque bombings that had taken place over two hours before her report aired.

 Still reeling from the wave of violence that began Saturday, Iraq was yet again slammed.  National Iraqi News Agency reported a suicide bomber has blown himself up in Habib Bin Mudhaher al-Asadi Mosque.  The Baghdad mosque was attacked by two people.  There is confusion as to what happened before the bomb went off inside the mosque.  Wang Yuanyuan (Xinhua) reported, "The attackers first shot dead the guards of the mosque by silenced weapons before they entered the mosque and blew up their explosive vests among worshippers during noon prayers at the mosque in al-Qahira district in northern Baghdad, the source said.Reuters leaves out any gunfire and instead reported, "The first bomber detonated his charge at a checkpoint about 100 metres (yards) away from the mosque in al-Qahira district of northern Baghdad. He was followed minutes later by a second who blew himself up inside the building."  Reuters matches Sameer N. Yacoub's report for AP.   AFP's report acknowledges gunfire and two bombings, "According to witnesses and officials, the bombers, who were dressed in suits, began by gunning down the building's guard, followed by the first attacker blowing himself up at the entrance to the hall.  The second militant took advantage of the ensuing chaos and ran through the crowd before setting off his explosives inside the husseiniyah itself."  Citing police sources, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Joe Sterling (CNN) reported that the two bombers first used guns outside the mosque, then both entered the mosque and detonated their bombs.  That tracks with what NINA reports here,  and with what All Iraq News reports here.  While those two offer an overall description that matches the basic details of CNN, Alsumaria reported just one bomber and that was inside the mosque.  All outlets at least seem in agreement that there was at least one bomber detonated inside the mosque.   Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports, "Furat Faleh, an Iraqi police officer near the incident scene, said the bomber inside the mosque 'detonated himself among the worshippers, who were gathering after the call to prayer'."

By the time Kelly McEvers' report was airing on NPR,  Xinhua counted 32 dead and 57 injuredIANS also counted 32 dead.  As the day ended, Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) was reporting 34 dead from the Baghdad mosque bombings.

 That wasn't the only violence.  Alsumaria notes 2 Baquba bombings have injured five people, and a Tikrit sticky bombing claimed the lives of 2 farmers.   NINA reports a Kirkuk bombing has injured one police officer,  a western Baghdad roadside bombing injured four people, and, dropping back to last night, 1 man was stabbed to death and another left injured from a Sulaymaniyah attackAll Iraq News notes a Mosul car bombing left ten people injured and a child's corpse was discovered in Dohuk.

These wave of attacks hit as Iraq Body Count counts 280 violent deaths this month through yesterday.

 Violence over the weekend also included, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, an attack on the Ashraf refugees at Camp Hurriya (Camp Liberty).  Amnesty International issued the following on Saturday's attack:

AI Index: MDE 14/010/2013
Date: 17/06/2013
Amnesty International urges the authorities in Iraq to immediately investigate Saturday’s rocket attack on Camp Liberty which reportedly left two residents dead and dozens injured.
In the early afternoon of 15 June 2013 Camp liberty, home of around 3200 Iranian exiles, came under rocket attacks. Kolthoum Sarahati, a female resident, reportedly died instantly in the attack. A second resident, Javad Naghashan, is believed to have died later in hospital as a result of his injuries. At least 27 others were said to have been injured during the attack.
This is the latest in a series of attacks on the Iranian exiles. On 9 February 2013 Camp Liberty was attacked with dozens of rockets which left eight residents dead and scores wounded. No investigation is known to have been initiated by the government. In April 2011, Iraqi troops stormed Camp Ashraf in Diyala governorate, which had housed the Iranian exiles for many years before they were moved to Camp Liberty near Baghdad Airport. The troops used arbitrary and abusive force, including live ammunition, against the residents who tried to resist them. At least 36 people were killed and more than 300 injured. The government failed to conduct a prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the incident, which is contrary to international standards, including the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
Under international law the Iraqi government is obliged to protect Camp Liberty residents who are asylum seekers undergoing refugee status determination process. In previous attacks on Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, the government failed to investigate such attacks and no one has ever been brought to account for them. In fact, senior Iraqi government officials have in the past, including during visits to Iran, made it clear that the Camp residents were not welcomed in Iraq. 
Background: Camp Ashraf was the home of some 3400 Iranian exiles, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) who were allowed to move to Iraq by Saddam Hussain’s government in the 1980s. After the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq the Camp and its residents were placed under US protection but this ended in mid-2009 following an agreement between the US authorities and the Iraqi government. Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. In 2011 the Iraqi government announced the closure of Camp Ashraf after relocating its residents to a new location, Camp Liberty in north-east of Baghdad.

Nouri's never accountable.  On politics, Monday, All Iraq News reported that Kirkuk Governor Najim al-Din Karim gave a radio interview where he declared that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was improving.  Whether it's true or not, it's certainly interesting that the interview was granted to Voice of America in Iraq (it goes by a different name but it is Voice of America).  Aswat al-Iraq notes it was Voice of America and they also say that al-Din Karim declared that Talabani supposedly can do his duties.  Part of his duties require being an intermediary between Nouri and the political blocs he's betrayed.  He really can't do that while out of the country.  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  Every few weeks someone comes along to announce, "He's getting better!"  It's past time that Iraqis were told when Jalal was coming back and if he's not coming back shortly, it really is time to replace him.  He's been out of the country -- and not doing his job -- for over six months now.  It's a four year term and he's already missed 1/8 of his term.

Moqtada al-Sadr has called for him to be replaced.  Others haven't joined that (except Nouri's State of Law).  It is scary that Nouri could benefit from this -- nothing's done above board these days.  But if Jalal Talabani is not coming back to Iraq in the coming weeks, he needs to step down.  He's already in violation of the Constitution.

On the issue of politics,  we are two days away from two provinces finally getting to vote in provincial elections.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:

Provincial elections were delayed in the two Iraqi provinces hosting most of the current anti-government protests. They will now take place in June. But many fear the influx of security forces will make a difference to the results.

The provincial elections that didn’t take place in the provinces of Anbar and Ninewa last month have been rescheduled. Voting should now take place this month, on June 20. And so election campaigns are in full swing in these two troubled provinces.

The back drop to these late elections is fraught, with the cities in both areas filled with security forces, military and police due to the protests that have been going on there for more than five months now.   

The protests are led by Iraq’s Sunni Muslims who say they are discriminated against and marginalised by the current Shiite Muslim-led government in Baghdad, headed by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.  Recently things became even more tense when Iraqi army forces, acting on behalf of the Shiite Muslim-led government, turned on mostly Sunni Muslim protestors in Hawija in Ninewa in the north of the country. Around 50 demonstrators were killed. Since then there have been a number of deadly incidents around the country with over a thousand people killed in Iraq in May.

This is part of the reason why the number of army and police in Anbar and Ninewa has increased so dramatically. But what will the effect of their presence be on the upcoming elections?

Yesterday, we noted Chevron had signed it's third oil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Florian Neuhof (The National) reports today:

 The French oil major Total has widened its operations in the Kurdish region of Iraq by becoming the operator of a concession in the autonomous area.
The company bought an 80 per cent stake in the Baranan block, with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) holding the remainder, as the presence of oil majors into the Kurdish region continues to grow in spite of Baghdad's objections. Total has held a 35 per cent stake in the Harir and Safen blocks in the region since last June.

 And for those who still can't grasp that the New York Times was pimping xenophobia in their attacks on China this month?  From the June 4th snapshot:

 Sunday, the New York Times did one of those silly nonsense stories they've become famous for under Jill Abramson's 'leadership.'  This one was entitled "China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom" and was remarkable only for how stupid it was.  Seeking Alpha points out, "Chinese companies are willing to take Iraq's terms, which are often rejected by big Western oil companies.Michael Levi (Council on Foreign Relations) offers a longer argument which includes:

Every major country is involved in international oil markets in two ways: through its companies’ production activities overseas and through its consumption of imported oil. Chinese companies have done well in Iraq in substantial part because they’ve been willing to invest in oil production projects without taking an equity stake (or some approximation of that) in the fields involved; Western majors, in contrast, tend to be averse to that sort of arrangement. It’s difficult to estimate how much money Chinese companies are making from that role, but you can put an upper bound on it. It’s rare to hear of companies charging Baghdad more than a couple dollars a barrel to develop Iraqi oil (and numbers are often lower, particularly once you subtract costs). Now assume that Chinese companies are producing half of Iraq’s oil, i.e. about 1.5 million barrels a day – likely a very large overestimate but still useful for setting an upper bound on Chinese profits. That would yield a profit of about a billion dollars a year.
But China and the United States also benefit from Iraqi production as consumers.

That's closer to the truth than the New York Times.

France didn't participate in the Iraq War either.  But the New York Times has yet tried to alarm the country with the fact that France's Total has many oil deals in Iraq.

On deals, the United Nations long ago worked out the deal that kept Iraq in Chapter VII.  That appears to be vanishing. EKantipur reports:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday recommended bringing Iraq one step closer to ending all U.N. sanctions imposed on Baghdad more than two decades ago after former leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait In 1990.

Despite the toppling of Saddam in 2003 after a U.S.-led invasion, the United Nations has not fully lifted the sanctions. U.S.-led troops drove Iraq out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.

AFP quotes Ban Ki-moon stating, "Should the Security Council agree with my recommendations, Iraq will exit Chapter VII with regard to this file and and will be one step closer to restoring its standing priority to resolution 661."  That's the last big tool in the diplomatic tool box that the US had and they're not going to fight to keep it apparently.  Saturday, the US State Dept issued the following:

Readout of Secretary Kerry's Call With Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 15, 2013

Yesterday Secretary Kerry called Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari to discuss recent developments in Iraq and the region. The Secretary thanked the Foreign Minister for his efforts to help organize a unity meeting of Iraq’s political and religious leaders at the end of May and the meeting between Prime Minister Maliki and KRG President Barzani on June 9. He noted that he was encouraged by the positive tone of these meetings and urged Iraqi leaders to build on these steps by continuing direct dialogue and taking concrete action to address political differences. The two agreed on the importance of a unified approach against violence and the need to address legitimate grievances peacefully and in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution.
The Secretary and Foreign Minister also discussed Iraq-Kuwait relations and the Secretary noted that he was impressed by the recent progress the two nations have made toward resolving remaining UN Chapter VII issues. The Secretary stated that this was a clear example of determined and persistent diplomacy paying off. He assured the Foreign Minister that the United States would continue to work to help Iraq improve relations with other neighbors in the region.
The Secretary and the Foreign Minister also discussed the situation in Syria. The Secretary reaffirmed that the United States continues to work aggressively for a political solution with the goal of a second Geneva meeting, but that the use of chemical weapons and increasing involvement of Hizballah demonstrates the regime’s lack of commitment to negotiations and threatens to put a political settlement out of reach. The Secretary expressed our concern about the increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict on both sides, including atrocities committed in recent days in Qusayr and in Deir EzZor. In that light, the Secretary noted his appreciation for the Foreign Minister’s statement on June 11 discouraging Iraqis from joining the fight in Syria. The Secretary further urged that Iraq take every possible measure to help end the military resupply of the Assad regime and thereby increase the pressure that will be necessary to advance a political solution.
The Secretary mentioned that he looks forward to seeing the Foreign Minister in Washington under the auspices of the Joint Coordinating Committee established by the Strategic Framework Agreement. We will work with the Government of Iraq to find a date for this important meeting to take place in the coming months.

Michael Hastings reported on the Iraq War.  We noted his Iraq reporting many times here (and defended him here against Thomas E. Ricks' baseless attacks).  Though Hastings made it out of Iraq alive, his luck ran out.  Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone) reports:

Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. He was 33.
Hastings' unvarnished 2010 profile of McChrystal in the pages of Rolling Stone, "The Runaway General," captured the then-supreme commander of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan openly mocking his civilian commanders in the White House. The maelstrom sparked by its publication concluded with President Obama recalling McChrystal to Washington and the general resigning his post. "The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be met by – set by a commanding general," Obama said, announcing McChrystal's departure. "It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system."
Hastings' hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal's bad-boy bravado and might have excused his insubordination as a joke, Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war. "Runaway General" was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, won the 2010 Polk award for magazine reporting, and was the basis for Hastings' book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan.  
On the March 24, 2010 Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with Michael Hastings about the elections:        
Michael Hastings: I think Maliki's people -- you know, Maliki's party is the Dawa Party was essentially in exile for thirty until the US brought them back into power and they -- and once you have power, you want to hold onto it. And that's what this is about. This is about Maliki trying to hold onto power and using whatever sort of brinkmanship -- in this case, calling for a recount -- whatever tactic he's going to use to hold onto power. So will it result in violence? I think it's hard to say.  What -- what we're seeing -- and this is sort of the argument I've been making -- is that Iraq is sort of slipping back to its more familiar authoritarianism and sort of this experiment into democracy that the Americans tried to enact over there is essentially failing and when Maliki, you know, whoever this new government is, the question is: If they're not willing to give up power when there's 90,000 Americans there and heavy American pressure on them, what's the chances of four years from now, of the next government willing to give up  power peacefully?  But I think these parties have shown a willingness to play chicken with the security of Iraq so they will continue to make these threats, they will continue to go as close to the edge as possible and are willing to accept a pretty high level of violence to maintain power.

He grasped what the White House didn't.  Gen Ray Odierno grasped it.  But prissy Chrissy Hill had his tantrum, remember?  Didn't want Odierno getting any media and didn't want the White House talking to him.  And in a sign of how immature and unready for the job Barack Obama was, he went along with Hill.  It would take then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get Barack to listen to Odierno -- who saw it all coming.  But the White House knew best.  Michael Hastings words in the weeks after those March 2010 elections?  That analysis stands up to this day.  It's a shame Samantha Power had Barack's ear because clearly, yet again, she didn't know what the hell she was talking about.  And Iraqis suffer today because of Sammy's 'wisdom.'

Michael Hastings work contained actual wisdom.  And insight.  He will be missed and he will be remembered for the reporting and truth telling he leaves behind.

 Glenn Greenwald is truth telling and the revelations from two weeks ago continue to shake up the status quo in DC.  Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) broke the news about the NSA collecting metadata on all Americans phone calls and then he and the Washington Post broke the news that the NSA and FBI were using PRISM, a program collecting data from the internet -- video, photos, e-mails, you name it.  Ed Snowden is the whistle-blower who exposed the programs.  Today, Greenwald appeared on Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to what President Obama said in the Charlie Rose interview, when he said he could say unequivocally that we’re not listening to your phone calls. The NSA—it says—"The NSA cannot listen to your phone calls," Obama said. The NSA cannot target your emails, and have not, unless they get a subpoena. Can you talk about that?
GLENN GREENWALD: I’m staggered by how deceitful and misleading that claim is from President Obama. It’s actually worse than just misleading and deceitful; it’s just outright false. And this is the story that we’re working on to publish next, which is an inside look at what the FISA court really does in terms of what it is called oversight, but is really an empty fig leaf, when it monitors the NSA.
Under the 2008 FISA law, which replaced the 30-year FISA law enacted in 1978, the principal change is that the United States no longer needs an individual warrant when it listens in on the telephone calls or reads the emails of American citizens when they communicate with people outside of the United States. It is true that when American citizens talk to other Americans on U.S. soil, exclusively domestic communications, the NSA legally is required to get an individualized warrant from the FISA court before they can listen to the content of those communications. But when an American citizen is talking to somebody outside of the United States who’s not a U.S. citizen, and the target of those communications is the person outside of the United States, that is now completely legal for the NSA to eavesdrop on that call or read the email without going and getting a warrant. That is the whole point of that 2008 law. Remember, the Bush administration in 2005 got caught eavesdropping on the conversations of American citizens, the international conversations of American citizens, without a warrant. And what that 2008 law did is legalize that Bush program by eliminating the warrant requirement.
And so, every six months, the NSA goes to the FISA court, and they say, "Here are the procedures that we use for determining who is and is not a U.S. citizen, who is and is not on U.S. soil." The FISA court stamps the—an approval stamp on those guidelines, and the NSA is then empowered to go around collecting whatever calls and whatever emails they want. They can force the telecoms and the Internet providers to give them whatever content they want, which often includes American citizens talking to these foreign targets, without any kind of a search warrant. So when President Obama says nobody is listening to your calls or reading your emails without first getting a search warrant, that is absolutely false. It is true that the NSA can’t deliberately target—deliberately target U.S. citizens for that kind of surveillance, but it is also the case that they are frequently engaging in surveillance of exactly that kind of invasive technique involving U.S. persons.
Let me just say one last thing. This is why—just go to Google and read about this—Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, two Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, have been repeatedly asking the NSA, "How many Americans’ telephone calls and emails are you intercepting without warrants under this program?" And the NSA continuously tells them, "I’m sorry, we can’t provide you with even a rough estimate. We don’t have the technical capabilities to do that. It would take too much time and distract away from our core mission for us to assemble those statistics." So this idea that President Obama is promoting, that the NSA never listens to Americans’ calls or reads their emails without warrants, is utterly false.