IN CONTINUED BAD NEWS FOR CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O, MITT ROMNEY REMAINS THE PRESUMPTIVE GOP NOMINEE BUT IS STILL NOT OFFICIALLY THE NOMINEE HOWEVER BARRY O CAN'T PULL AHEAD OF HIM IN THE POLLS.
WITH ALL THE NON-STOP ASS SMOOCHING FROM A COMPLIANT AND SUCK-UP MEDIA, BARRY O CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE.
EVEN WHEN THE MEDIA GETS IT RIGHT -- AS ESQUIRE DOES NOTING BARRY O IS A MURDERER WITH HIS DRONE WAR -- THEY COUCH AND QUIBBLE.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Carl Hill III is the latest US service member to die from the Iraq War. KFMB reports (video):
Marcella Lee: 26-year-old Army Specialist Carl Hall III was from Harbison Canyon near Alpine, where his parents still live. Hall was injured back in November 2011 when his convoy was hit by an IED. Hall sustained injuries to his head and more than 40 shrapnel wounds to his leg but doctors were able to save his leg with multiple surgeries. Hall was brought back to recover in North Caroline. His parents say he was doing well and was able to enjoy the birth of his son. But ended up dying due from complications related to his injuries.
Elizabeth Hall: It was the miracle of just him being able to come home. I was there when his son was born so he seen his son born, so he was there for that. His son was born February 23rd so he had the four months with spirit and that was pretty much what was keeping him going.
Services for Carl Hall IIII will be tomorrow, ten in the morning at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary. Because his death is apparently from injuries received during Operation New Dawn, the Pentagon will include him in the count for that period of the Iraq War. Those who die of injuries received will be included in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation New Dawn based upon when they were injured.
IEDs were the topic of Fresh Air (NPR-- link is audio, text summary and transcript) Monday. The Gross Terry spoke with Iraq War veteran Brian Castner about his just-released-today book The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows.
BRIAN CASTNER: You become numb to it eventually, but I would never call it business as usual. And in fact, the post-blast mission is one that only really developed as the war went on. When I initially went through EOD school, there was no section of the training that was called post-blast investigation. And in fact on my first trip to Iraq in 2005, the first time I did one, and I got tasked, and they said go out and do an investigation, I had to ask, well, what does that even mean? What do you want me to look for? So as the war developed, and as the IEDs, the improvised explosive devices, became less just an obstacle to clear and were more a focus of the war, our career field developed those skills as we went.
GROSS: So what kind of evidence would you look for at the site of an IED explosion?
CASTNER: Anything that would tell you how it was made, what the target was, if there was a key identifying feature that would link it to one bomber or another, or one group or another. So that's anything from the color of the wire used to connect the battery to the blasting cap, to getting an explosive sample of the type of explosives used, to collecting the VIN number on the car, to getting DNA samples of the people who were there so maybe you could identify which one the bomber was.
GROSS: But this isn't like going to, like, a crime scene after the fact, where you're slowly getting evidence and putting it in plastic bags. You are going to the site of explosions, and there are screaming people all around you, and you're going through body parts, basically, like looking for evidence of what happened in the explosion. And take one of those experiences, for us, and just describe what the experience was for you.
CASTNER: Right, so you get the call, and you're at your home base, at the FOB, and sometimes we wouldn't even need a call, you would see the towers of black smoke rising from downtown Kirkuk. And you know the call is coming, so you go and get ready. And you get out there as fast as you can, which is usually about 20 to 30 minutes after it went off. And we actually didn't want the Iraqi police or U.S. forces to clean up. We needed everything there to be able to sift through. And in fact that would be the most frustrating part, is you would show up, and the loved ones would already be picking up bodies or pieces of bodies, and they're already loading on the destroyed car onto a flatbed.
And it's bad enough that you're out there doing this but they're getting in the way of you doing your job. And so extremely quickly, we could be there for 10 minutes because the longer you're there, the more chance you have to get shot at or have a mortar dropped on your head or something. So you get out, and as quickly as you can, starting at the burned-out car and then working your way out. You just look for everything you can, and sometimes, in fact, you're looking for pieces of ordinance that haven't exploded. An artillery round will kick out, and it'll be in somebody's house a block away, and you need to grab that and make sure you dispose of it so nobody gets hurt.
Violence continues in Iraq. Alsumaria notes that 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk Province today. KUNA notes that death and reports that another Kirkuk shooting left a police officer wounded. All Iraqi News notes an Anbar Province home bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soliders and left three more injured. In addition, IANS reports a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a Muqdadiyah truck bombing injured four people, two sticky bombings "outside Baquba" left five people injured, a Baghdad attack on a mmilitary officer left his driver dead and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured.
Meanwhile Kitabat notes that some form of poisonous gas at Lake Habbaniyah in Anbar Province is killing the fish and producing a foul smell. A fisherman states that everything in the lake region dies: shrimp, fish and birds that eat the fish. Currently, it's suspected that the gas is sulfur. In August 2009, Duraid Adnan and Timothy Williams (New York Times) were claiming Lake Habbaniya was part of a "beach season" though the lake's water was described as "muddy" and they noted people drive "their cars right onto the sand, pulling up next to the water." The US base Al Taqqadum was located there. And, at Militaryphotos.net, you can find video posted of Lake Habbaniya: "The vehicle graveyard at Lake Habbaniya is one of seven established during 2005 when it was decided the costs of shipping wrecks back to the US was prohibitive. The vehicles shown have suffered hull breach, internal fire, structural failure, or are classified as 'beyond economical repair'." Whether it's sulfur or something else, there's a good chance it didn't occur naturally but resulted from pollution. All Iraqi News reports a fire broke out in central Baghdad today, a landfill which further threatened surrounding structures because of the failure to clean surrounding areas and everyone using it as a dumping ground.
Dumping ground? Like the political crisis? Monday we noted:
Al Rafidyan reports that Moqtada al-Sadr has criticized the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate for their June 29th festivities which included bringing in performers who, his opinion, promote debauchery and immorality. More than likely his remarks are directed at Madeline Matar who a Lebanese recording artist (click here for Alsumaria's article on her in Arabic and note the photo). She is said to have arrived at the Baghdad concert in a presidential motorcade. You can click here for her Facebook page.
Could there be more to it? Could the "presidential motorcade" have hinted at a sex scandal for Nouri?
All Iraqi News reports Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh insisted today he was being verbally attacked with rumors and stated he had spoken to both Moqtada and Nouri to assure them that the concert was just a concert and that he had no inappropriate relationship with Madeline Matter. He insisted he has told all of his friends that this was just a malicious smear against him.
Why is Ali al-Dabbagh having a meltdown in public? He's been a spokesperson for some time and, if Nouri believes him, there shouldn't be any problem. His intense denial might indicate that there is something more here including that he might be covering for Nouri.
Were that to be the case, Nouri might end up taken out the way most politicians are today -- not with bullets but with sex scandals.
Currently, Nouri al-Maliki is trying to hold onto his post of prime minister by offering up a Reform Committee. Mustafa Habib (Niqash) addresses some of the issues this raises:
Firstly, there are problems that have to do with agreements between the feuding political blocs about which positions certain high ranking politicians would fill; this included discussion of the vacant seats in certain important ministries, that al-Maliki was occupying in the interim.
Another involved the powers of the federal court and yet another had to do with relations between the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi Cabinet, or executive branch; relations were strained with Parliament and ministers often coming to different conclusions. And finally there was the problem of how to balance the demands of the Iraqi Constitution with all of the above.
Despite what appear to be good intentions, there is no doubt that al-Maliki's opponents do not trust him any more than they did before. There has been plenty of press coverage and public relations work on al-Maliki's behalf but the parties who wanted to oust him don't think he is serious about the alleged reforms.
"This call for reform is nothing more than a political manoeuvre and an attempt to gain more time," Hani Ashour, an adviser to the opposition Iraqiya coalition, told NIQASH. The essence of the current political crisis is the fact that al-Maliki has not honoured the Erbil agreement, under which he formed this government."
The so-called Erbil agreement was formulated in Erbil to end a nine month dispute over who should run the government following disputed 2010 elections. It gave al-Maliki the right to form a government if he met certain conditions and gave his electoral opponents certain high powered jobs; basically it was a power sharing deal.
The fact that al-Maliki has done almost nothing to honour that deal doesn't give his opponents much faith that he will change now.
RECOMMENDED: Iraq snapshot