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Kerry Presses for Power-Sharing in Baghdad as Militants Make Gains

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Originally posted on TIME:

Updated 11.33 a.m. E.T.

Secretary of State John Kerry met with top Iraqi leaders during an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Monday, urging Shi’ite leaders to cede more power to their opponents as Sunni insurgents plunge the country into chaos.

Kerry had a 90-minute closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who U.S. officials pushed to be more inclusive in his government to bridge the country’s sectarian divide, worsened by years of policymaking that slighted Sunnis and the Kurdish minority in the north. Kerry said afterward that al-Maliki, along with other government officials, had committed to meet a July 1 deadline to build a new power-sharing government.

He also met with top Shi’ite cleric Ammar al-Hakim and one of Iraq’s most senior Sunnis, Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. “These are difficult times,” he said in the meeting with al-Nujaifi, while reaffirming the Obama Administration’s commitment to stabilizing Iraq’s security. “But the…

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VA –> Help & Assistance

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/207491-house-passes-bills-to-provide-veterans-with-sexual-trauma-support

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Hello, “It’s Complicated”

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Environmental HEALTH–> What did you *say*?!?

A General Writes the First After-Action Report on the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: Why We Lost

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Originally posted on TIME:

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ book sparked a firestorm upon its release in January, although you would never have predicted it by its humdrum title: Duty. But recently retired Army lieutenant general Daniel Bolger, who played key roles in Afghanistan and Iraq in his 35-year career, wasn’t coy when it came time to titling his upcoming book Why We Lost.

It’s a jaw-dropping phrase in a political-military world given to mealy-mouthed assessments of military progress in the two wars the U.S. has fought since 9/11. Its assertion calls into question the wars’ costs — 6,800 U.S. troops, untold enemy and civilian dead, and a $2 trillion, and rising, bill for U.S. taxpayers. Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is publishing the book Nov. 11. Its publication date is exactly two years after Bolger declared, during a Veterans Day ceremony in Afghanistan, that “our nations count on us, and we’ll deliver.”

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KGB General: Of Course Snowden is Working for Russian Intelligence

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

As the Snowden Operation devolves into farce, with the inevitable falling-out between Wikileaks and the Greenwald axis happening online for the world to see, it seems that Edward Snowden isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What contact, if any, he had with foreign intelligence services before he fled Hawaii for Hong Kong and then Russia, where he remains, is an important question that cannot be answered yet with publicly available information. Indeed, it may take years, perhaps decades for a reliable answer to emerge, given the nature of the espionage business. However, nobody familiar with spy games, particularly when Russians are involved, has any doubt the Ed is working for the Russians now. After all, what choice does he really have?

As if to deflect attention from this obvious truth, today President Vladimir Putin publicly denied that Ed is their guy: he “is not our agent, and gave up no secrets.”…

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It only took 28 years to get solar panels back on the White House roof!

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pamelaness:

The Sun

Originally posted on Grist:

Today, Jimmy Carter gets to enjoy a gleeful chuckle while Ronald Reagan rolls over in his grave. Today is a good day.

After four years of repeated grumblings of “we’re going to do this, we promise,” the Obama administration has plunked some solar panels on the White House roof. And like all great things, they’re American-made, American-installed, and run off of good ol’ American sunlight!

A little bit of backstory: Back in 1979, Carter was ahead of the curve in installing solar panels at the presidential residence. At their dedication, he provided an apt analysis of what they symbolized at the time: “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people—harnessing the power of…

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Ukraine crisis: Why the U.S. isn’t tougher on Russia

Is This the Most Played Song in Music History?

Originally posted on TIME:

Nobody famous sang this tune. It was never a hit single and got almost no play on Top 40 radio. There’s even a dispute over the exact title. Yet “It’s a Small World,” also known as “It’s a Small, Small World” and “It’s a Small World (After All),” is very likely the most played song in music history — nearly 50 million times. And it was first heard 50 years ago this month.

Various sources cite the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (1964) as having more than eight million plays on radio and TV, and The Beatles’ “Yesterday” (1965) with at least seven million in the U.S. alone, and many more in the rest of the world. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1942, has inundated the airwaves ever since, but for only a few weeks each year. There’s little debate that Patty and Mildred…

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