Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Season finales

We saw a number of season finales.  I am really not impressed with any. 

If I had to pick one, I'd go with "Revenge."

My reluctance there is the Jack cliffhanger pissed me off.  (He's taken in by the police for the kidnapping of Charlotte.)  I like Jack and don't care for this nonsense.  (Emily, Aiden and Nolan 'kidnapped' Charlotte.  Jack was against it. And he freed her.) 

There was more than enough going on.  Victoria went into the nut house.  Emily had her placed there.  Daniel was in bed with a dead woman and, as he talked on his cell phone, he didn't even realize it.  Conrad was stabbed -- possibly to death.  And he was stabbed by David Clarke -- Emily's father who was supposedly stabbed to death in prison over a decade ago.

So putting Jack into jeopardy did not seem needed.


The show was all over the map as usual.

They really go into hysterics these days with finales. 

I think they overdo it.

I have no idea, for example, how the first episode of "Scandal" plays this fall after all that got packed into the finale.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, a professor tries to blame Congress for a scandal (she flaps her know-nothing gums), but the scandal was known to Barack's transition team all those years ago, the VA scandal of the fake appointment lists involves Barack's current nominee for the post of VA Deputy Under Secretary of Health, Barack puts the US under a state of "national emergency" over Iraq, allegations of election fraud continue to swirl in Iraq, and much more.

Some people should grasp that they don't know everything.  Linda Bilmes has her areas of expertise and her areas of stupidity.  She tells Jordain Carney and Stacy Kaper (National Journal), "Congress has been totally exasperated by the VA’s inability to get on top of the problem for a long time.  But they haven’t been willing to really contemplate anything other than throwing more money at the problem."

Her stupidity is dangerous to the nation.

Her statement 'feels' right so she blathers on like an idiot.  But she's completely uninformed and ignorant.  If you didn't do the work, sit your tired ass down because nobody needs to hear it.

I've been at the hearings, I've reported on the hearings.  Linda's efforts to blame Congress are shameless.  I don't care if it's a Democrat or a Republican, members of Congress have not just tossed money at the problem.  They have asked VA repeatedly, "What do you need?"  They have asked that in terms of money, in terms of bills.  Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was one of the best about this.  Her remarks in Subcommittees she chaired went like this, "We are here to help our veterans and we need to work together on this.  So what tools do you need that you don't have?"

Carney and Kaper say that it takes 2 years for a VA claims adjuster to be trained.  Really?

I'd love to know where they got that figure.  VA officials have usually told Congress that it takes 8 months to a year.  It's interesting how so-called facts can be made up -- look at the crap Linda's spewing for example.  We note Linda on the costs of the Iraq War.  We will be far less likely to note Linda in the future because she is either lying in the statement we quoted or she is perfectly willing to speak without any research at all.  In either case, she is no longer trustworthy and her ridiculous remarks question the legitimacy of all of her work -- past, present and future.

Linda didn't make the VA claims remark ("It takes approximately two years to fully train a claims worker") but here's why Carney and Kaper look like idiots -- how about people start doing the damn work required? -- the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees did not start offering money for more claims workers two years ago.  Bernie Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and I can remember then-Chair Patty Murray raising this issue and then-Chair Daniel Akaka raising this issue.

And, by the way, when Committee members raised this issue they were told by Dr. Robert Petzel and Allison Hickey and others with VA that they didn't want extra workers (because it would take 8 months or a year to fully train them) which is why overtime was utilized instead.

Do Carney and Kaper know about that?  Apparently not.

Apparently, you can 'report' any damn thing in the world if you're willing to make it up.

Bob Filner.  I know Bob and I like Bob.  As San Diego Mayor, he disgraced himself with unbecoming actions that were also criminal.  My heart breaks for Bob and I hope he can learn from what happened, I do believe in redemption.

But what happened there has nothing to do with his tenure as Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  He called out Petzel and Hickey.  The only one who shows that kind of determination today is Senator Richard Burr (Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee).

Maybe if reporters had actually attended the hearings -- novel concept, isn't it? -- and reported on them, we wouldn't have to scream so loud here.

I'm fine with holding anyone accountable -- even Oval Office occupants.

And I think, with the exception of Bob Filner and Richard Burr, all Committee members are too kind to VA officials -- who are liars, they've lied repeatedly and should be held in contempt of Congress for their lies.

I praise Daniel Akaka for the tone he set as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, but I also called out Daniel.  And I know Daniel and like Daniel.  But we're the ones who said he needed to step down and we're the ones who said Patty Murray needed to be made the Chair.  I love Daniel but he was making too many mistakes and was far too pleasant in the face of repeated lies from the VA.  I cried after I dictated the snapshot calling for him to step down as Chair but I cried after. I didn't silence the criticism (which I still consider accurate).

So no one should ever think I'm going to pull punches.  If I feel a hard call has to be made, I will make it.

That doesn't mean I'm right and I can be wrong and often am.  But it does mean I don't run around trying to excuse the Veterans Affairs Committees.

Linda flaunts gross ignorance when she states, "Congress has been totally exasperated by the VA’s inability to get on top of the problem for a long time.  But they haven’t been willing to really contemplate anything other than throwing more money at the problem."

Patty Murray has repeatedly asked VA officials what tools do they need?  Richard Burr has especially asked them that question with regards to how to hold failing employees accountable.

Linda needs to get her lazy ass to a VSO hearing.  That's when the Committees hear from various Veterans Service Organizations about proposed bills and laws and what the VSOs think of these measures.

In hearing, VA officials will frequently insist that this or that bill will hamper them.  Does Linda know about that?

No, she doesn't know a  thing.

But what a pleasing lie to tell, "It's everyone's fault!"

The Veterans Affairs Committee need to do a better job of oversight but, in terms of attempting to address problems, they have proposed various legislative changes and, generally speaking, the VA opposes them on every measure.

Whatever Bob Filner is, he was a strong advocate for veterans.  So was/are Steve Buyer, Jeff Miller, Patty Murray, Daniel Akaka, Richard Burr, Mark Begich, etc.  And it is insulting to be ignorant of what's taken place yet respond to the latest VA scandal with some insipid remark that builds on collective guilt (but lacks the guts to go there).

It's amazing Linda can blame Congress but not say a word about the president.

That would be Barack Obama, the president who has nominated Jeffrey Murawsky for the post of Under Secretary of Health despite the fact that Murawksy is currently responsible for overseeing one of the VA medical centers involved in the current scandal where whistle-blowers have come forward to expose two sets of appointment lists.  The first is a fairy tale where veterans request an appointment and receive one within 14 days.  The fairy tale list is the official list, the one in the computers.  There's also an off books list where its documented that veterans are waiting weeks and months for medical care.  Murawsky was either involved in that or unaware of it -- neither option builds confidence in his nomination.

It's the Phoenix VA medical center where the lists are said to have led to the deaths of 40 veterans so, yes, it's better that Murawsky was over Chicago instead of Phoenix but not 'better enough' to justify nominating him for a promotion.  Oh, wait, he was also supposed to supervise Phoenix.

Senator John Cornyn called today for Barack to withdraw the nomination noting:

Instead of nominating a reformer from outside the VA system who can bring fresh leadership as the next Under Secretary for Health -- a key position responsible for overseeing the VHA -- you have appointed Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky, a career administrator whose own tenure at the VA raises serious concerns.  [F]rom February 2010 through February 2012, Dr. Murawsky directly supervised Sharon Helman, the current director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System who has been placed on administrative leave due to similar allegations of secret wait lists and resulting veteran deaths there.

40 veterans may be dead because of this and Barack's nominating Murawsky?

This is not about 'rush to judgment.'  Rush to judgment might include calling for Murawaky to be fired before the Inspector General's investigation was completed.  But anyone who's supervision has allowed the impression -- just the impression -- that 40 veterans died as a result of their own incompetence is someone who does not need to be advanced in the system.

I don't say this often (this may, in fact, be the first time) but Senator John Coryn is right, the nomination needs to be withdrawn.

This is why people get outraged and wonder, "Where is the accountability?"

Murawsky is an official charged with oversight and he failed at his job.  Not only is he not fired or even demoted, he's being nominated for a promotion.

Barack tried his usual lie of "I only learned of this from the TV!" Mike Hashimoto (Dallas Morning News) ribs that claim here.  David Martosko (Daily Mail) reports:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wound up with egg on his face Monday as he told reporters that President Barack Obama first learned from a TV news report that his Veterans Administration was denying medical care to vets with secret off-the-books-waiting lists.
But new evidence emerged this morning that his transition team was notified five years ago about how VA medical centers' official wait-list times bore little resemblance to reality and risked denying military heroes critical health care.
The Washington Times reported Monday that waiting times at veterans' medical facilities were known to be wildly inaccurate at the end of the George W. Bush administration. By the time Obama's transition team got a post-election briefing from the VA at the end of 2008, scheduling failures were already reaching a critical point.
 Of that transition report, Martosko and Francesca Chambers (Daily Mail) report:

'This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data,' the transition report read; 'it affects quality of care by delaying – and potentially denying -- deserving veterans timely care.'
It also recommended a series of tests that would compare doctor appointments in veterans' official medical records with appointment times recorded in the VA's computer system.

 They knew and did nothing.
Which is like Shinseki's first VA scandal.  In the fall of 2009, veterans attending colleges and universities on the Post-9/11 GI Bill waited and waited for checks.  The VA's first response was to flat out lie.  They blamed the academic institutions.  There was also some blaming of veterans.
But October 14, 2009, when Shinseki appeared before a House Veterans Subcommittee, he admitted the truth.  When he was made Secretary of the VA, he was told the roll out would not work, that the system in place could not handle the checks for all veterans.  He ordered an outside review and the review found the same thing.  This was in the early months of 2009.  He didn't inform Congress, he didn't inform veterans.
And, repeating, when the problem emerged and the media started reporting on vets who couldn't pay their tuition and couldn't pay their rent because their checks did not arrive, the VA's initial response was to lie and say it was the fault of academic institutions.
How many lies and failures and scandals is Shinseki going to get away with?

Let's drop back to Thursday's snapshot to note how VA Secretary Eric Shinseki responded to questions -- and remember, this wasn't a pop quiz.  He knew he would be appearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that day.  He knew the topic would be these lists for medical appointments.  Yet he failed at even basic responses to Ranking Member Richard Burr's questions:

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, were you aware that on October 25, 2013, the Office of Special Counsel requested that the VA conduct an investigation into the allegations of inappropriate scheduling at the Fort Collins Community Outpatient clinic?  And that since then, the media has reported about Mr. Freeman's e-mail of June 19, 2013 that explains how to game the system to avoid being on the bad boy list.  Were you aware of those?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  Uh, Senator, I became aware of that-that, uh, that screen shot -- I believe that's what it was -- screen shot of an employee who was suggesting that there are ways to game.  I put that employee on administrative leave, uh, 

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  When was that?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  That was last Friday.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, it's my understanding that on June 21, 2013, VA received a report from the Office of Medical Inspector  regarding chronic understaffing issues at the Jacksonville VA Medical Center and that report described multiple patient scheduling problems including scheduling two patients for the same appointment slot and scheduling patients for a clinic that does not have any assigned  providers -- often referred to as ghost clinics.  And that on September 17, 2013, the Office of Special Counsel submitted a letter to the President of the United States on which the VA was courtesy copied the findings of that June 21st Office of Medical Inspector on the Fort Jackson Medical Center including the practice of double-booking patients and the use of ghost clinics.  Do you remember reading that report and receiving that copied letter to the president?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  Uh, I can't say that I remember it today here.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Okay.  There was a December 23, 2013 report by the Office of -- by the Office of Medical Inspector  regarding the Cheyenne Medical Center in Fort Collins Clinic that found that several medical support assistants reported that, and I quote, "Medical Center's business office training included teaching them to make the desired date the actual appointment and, if the Clinic needed to cancel appointments, they were instructed to change the desired date to within 14 days of the new appointment."  Did you read that report? 

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  That, uh, report has come to my-my attention here recently.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Okay, on February 25, 2014, your Chief of Staff, Mr. [Jose D.] Riojas, submitted a response to the Office of Special Counsel which included the December 23 , 2013 Office of the Medical Inspector report on Fort Collins.  And in that letter, Mr. Riojas states, and I quote, "However as OMI" Office of Medical Inspector "was not provided any specific veterans cases effected by these practices, it cannot substantiate that the failure to properly train staff resulted in danger to public health or safety."  Were you aware of what your Chief of Staff wrote?

Secretary Eric Shinseki: I was.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Okay.  Mr. Secretary, were you aware that the GAO report entitled "VA Health Care: Reliability of Reported Out Patient Medical Appointment Wait Times Scheduling Oversight Need Improvement" which was publicly released in January 2013 and then on December 11, 2012, to that same report, your former Chief of Staff, John Gingrich, sent a letter to the GAO which stated, and I quote, "VA generally agrees with the GAO's conclusions and concurs with GAO's recommendations to the Dept"?  Do you remember that letter?   That report and your Chief of Staff's response?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  In-in general, I do remember that report.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, you knew that there were specific issues relating to scheduling and wait times as early as June 21, 2013 at Jackson, December 23, 2013 at Fort Collins, as well as numerous IG reports related to excessive wait times in January '012 in Temple, Texas, September '012 in Spokane, Washington, October 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio, September 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  December '012, a GAO report questions the validity and the reliability of the reported wait time performance measures.  Which brings us to today in Phoenix.  On May 1, you publicly stated that you had removed Ms. Hellman as the medical director.  And you  stated then that that was to ensure the integrity of the IG's current ongoing investigation.  On May 5th, Dr. Petzel conducted a conference call with all medical directors, all VISN directors and the chiefs of staff -- a rather large group -- to discuss the ongoing face-to-face audits of all VA centers and large community outpatient clinics.  I have been told by sources that were on that call that during that call, Dr. Petzel made the statement that the removal of Ms. Hellman was, I quote, "political and that she's done nothing wrong."  If you're asking us to wait until the investigation is over, doesn't the same apply to people who work for you?  And, Mr. Secretary, from all I've described to you and the current investigation, why should this Committee or any veteran believe that change is going to happen as a result of what we're going though? 

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  I-I was not aware of, uh, the phone call you referred to and I will look into it.  Uhm, I would just tell you that, uh, my removal of the director, uh, placing her on administrative leave was at the request of the IG.  He is the lead in this, uh-uh, comprehensive review.  Uhm, I don't get out ahead of him.  Uh, he requested it.  And I, uh, put Director Hellman and two other individuals on administrative leave.

The hearing was covered  in Thursday's snapshot and Friday's, Ruth covered it in "Senator Richard Blumenthal says call in the F.B.I.," Kat covered it in "Shinseki needs to be fired," Ava covered it in "Shineski (Ava)" and Wally covered it in "More talk, no action (Wally)."  And Dona moderated a roundtable on it "Congress and Veterans."  Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank notes Shinseki's performance at that hearing:

Worse was Shinseki’s response when he finally appeared before a congressional committee to answer questions about the scandal. He refused to acknowledge any systemic problem, and declined to commit to do much of anything, insisting on waiting for the results of yet another investigation.
“If any allegations are true,” Shinseki told the Senate veterans affairs committee, “they’re completely unacceptable to me.”
“If any are substantiated by the inspector general,” he said, “we will act.”

Is there not already evidence of VA appointment schedulers cooking the books?

Milbank also notes Senator Richard Blumenthal's request for calling in the FBI (also see Ruth's report linked to above on this) and how Shinseki could only respond "if" -- he would call for it if the Inspector General requested it.  Eric London (WSWS) also notes Shinseki's "if"s:

The Obama administration has responded by denying the existence of wrongdoing and scrambling to minimize the scandal. Shinseki told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 15 in conditional terms that “ if these allegations are true” and “ if they are substantiated,” then “they are completely unacceptable” and “timely action will be taken.”
Shinseki and Obama both issued choreographed statements in recent days stating that they were “mad as hell” (Shinseki) and “madder than hell” (Obama).

Turning to Iraq, yesterday a major announcement was made:

Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Stabilization of Iraq

- - - - - - -
On May 22, 2003, by Executive Order 13303, the President declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the continued reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq.
The obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13438 of July 17, 2007, must continue in effect beyond May 22, 2014. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.


What?  You thought we were talking about polling results?


I'm talking about Barack and his never ending lying.

We all know now that Iraq had no WMDs (a few of us hazard a guess to that effect before the illegal war started) so why does the US have to declare -- to renew annually -- a state of national emergency as a result of Iraq?

Explain: "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the continued reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq."

Somebody want to explain that one?


Didn't think so.

April 30th, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  And, yes, yesterday, preliminary results were announced.


All Iraq News reports, "The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham congratulated Iraqis on the annoucement of the elections results. In a press conference held in Tehran on Tuesday, She also congratulated the Iraqi nation and government on the successful holding of parliamentary elections."  Well at least someone is happy.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed (Al Arabiya) offers, "Maliki, whose bloc won most of the votes, needs the support of more than 60 other members of parliament to become premier again. If Maliki makes it to the premiership, his term would be the second longest after Saddam Hussein. Maliki is expected to resume running the country on his own and adopting the policy of dominance. This will thus eliminate the state institutional system the Americans pledged to establish."

The US invaded Iraq, broke the law, killed millions, lost some of their own and all to create a new Saddam Hussein?

Nouri's third term only becomes a done deal if the US government demands it (as they demanded his first term and his second).  The results -- preliminary -- aren't impressive.  Nouri's where he was in 2010 more or less.  And his 2010 results weren't considered impressive that year.

Kurdistan Alliance MP Najiba Najib is unimpressed.  NINA quotes her stating that Nouri's vote totals aren't surprising when one considers, among other things, "the distribution of residential lands which brought him more votes."  Najib is incorrect, the term is "bought," not "brought."  And other political blocs complained in real time that Nouri was buying votes.

And, of course, now he'll really be trying to buy them.  Gazi Hassan (Rudaw) offers a cautionary note:

We have to remember that the Kurds' hands have been tied for a long time because of Bagdad's anti-Kurd policy. That's why the Kurds should make a crucial decision: they should not involve in any coalition or cabinet without official documents signed by the Prime Minister granting the Kurds what is their legitimate rights. 

What is Hassan smoking?

It must have been good for him to demand that they hold out for "official documents signed by the Prime Minister granting the Kurds what is their legitimate rights."

One of their legitimate demands is to resolve the issue of Kirkuk.  Kirkuk is oil rich and it's disputed as to who has rightful claim to it -- the central government out of Baghdad or the KRG.

There's an official document that's in writing and that Nouri took an oath to uphold -- twice took that oath.  The document is the Iraqi Constitution.

Article 140 of the Constitution explains how to resolve the issue of Kirkuk, a census will be taken and a referendum held.  Despite taking an oath to the Constitution in 2006, Nouri never implemented Article 140.  The Constitution mandated that the prime minister implement no later than the end of 2007.

Nouri ignored it.

In 2010, to get a second term as prime minister for Nouri, the US government brokered a contract -- a written one -- which all the leaders of the political blocs signed off on -- that would include Nouri.  In exchange for the other blocs agreeing to give Nouri a second term, the contract stipulated things Nouri would give.  Those things included that he would (finally) implement Article 140.

He never did.  He used The Erbil Agreement to get a second term and then refused to honor the contract -- the written contract.  So I'm confused as to why Gazi Hassan thinks the 'answer' is to get a promise from Nouri in writing.

Rudaw quotes Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi stating, "I am not against the State of Law, but against the continuation of Maliki in power.  His continuation in power is a big threat to Iraq."  All Iraq News quotes him posting to Facebook, "If the Shiite agreed to grant a third term for the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki means a clear message for the Sunni and Kurds of their will to end peaceful coexistence in Iraq."  In which case, al-Nujaifi says, it may be required that they form regions where they are able to fight back against the "domination of politicized security forces and judiciary."

Meanwhile, World News Bulletin reports:

Former Iraqi premier Ayad Allawi's political bloc on Tuesday demanded that parliamentary polls – results of which were officially announced yesterday – be repeated, claiming that the vote was rigged.
"There were many cases of vote-rigging and other violations," Entessar Allawi, a spokesperson for the former PM's Wataniya bloc, told Anadolu Agency.

Al Mada reports Prince Kanani, with the Sadr bloc, states that he finds the results "shocking" and that the 'Independent' High Electoral Commission refused to investigate complaints -- including that Nouri's votes in Baghdad exceed by 20% the population eligible to vote in Baghdad.

They should complain.  Nouri did it in 2010, demanded a recount and was tossed a few seats to shut him up. So Allawi and others should be demanding a recount as well.  All Iraq News reports the Jamal al-Batiekh, leader of The White Bloc (a grouping that split from Iraqiya early on) states that "forgery that took place in the elections in Diwaniya and Wasit" resulted in loss of votes for the White Bloc.

It's not as though democratic elections took place anyway.  Not when Nouri used the military to close the polling stations in areas hostile to him.  They turned away voters all morning and only allowed voters in because the press got wind of it and began reporting on it.

The Iraqi press, of course.  The western media is far too timid to report much of anything that angers thug Nouri.

Certainly, they don't want to report on his War Crimes as he continues to bomb residential neighborhoods of Falluja.  Today, those bombings claimed the lives of 4 civilians and left another five injured.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command states they killed 38 suspects in Amiriyat al-Falluja, an Alexandria car bombing left two people injured, an al-Baghdadi car bombing left four federal police members injured, a Baiji suicide bomber took his own life and the lives o 3 Iraqi soldiers (five more were injured), a Baquba sticky bombing left a father and son injured, 1 man was shot dead in front of his Mosul home, later a second person was shot dead in MosulSamara Operations Command announced they killed 5 suspects, a Tikrit attack left three police members injured, and a Zankurh bombing killed 4 people,  2 Al-Aitha Village bombings left 5 Sahwa dead, 8 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead (and four more injured) "on the road Kirkuk-Baghdad," Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 8 suspects, a Ramadi battle left 5 Sahwa killed and one injured, a Zankurh bombing left 4 people dead, and the corpse of 1 man was found dumped "in Diayala River north of Baquba" (gunshot wounds).

There is some political news out of Iraq that is decisive.  All Iraq News and National Iraqi News Agency report that the Kurdistan Regional Government has selected Nijervan Barzani to be the Prime Minister of the KRG and Qubad Talabani to be the Vice President.  The KRG held provincial elections last fall.  Barzani is the current prime minister so this is a second term for him.  He is the son of KRG President Massoud Barzani (who will be replaced shortly -- a vote limited the KRG presidency to two terms and since it was passed half-way into Barzani's term, it was decided he would be given two years extra).  Qubad Talabani is the son of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani.

The Talabani and Barzani families have long dominated Kurdish politics with the Talabanis part of PUK political party and the Barzanis part of the KDP political party.  (Iraq's First Lady Hero Ibrahim spans both parties due to blood relations as well as marriage.)

The results may be most surprising in light of Goran besting the PUK in those elections.

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