Each time I have visited Iraq and Afghanistan, I have been deeply impressed by the very high morale, dedication and professionalism of our servicemen and women. During my trip, I conveyed to them the extraordinary support they have from Congress and from the American people, regardless of our debates and differences over
I was encouraged by the progress in the political and security situation in Afghanistan. While much work remains, President Karzai has led his nation with a firm and steady hand, and I am hopeful about the future of Afghanistan.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of Iraq. The political and security situation in Iraq is deeply troubling and threatens to grow worse. The recent increase in sectarian violence has become the number one security problem, and Iraqs political leadership continues to struggle with the formation of a national unity government.
During my trip, I told Iraqi political leaders, including Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and representatives from the two main Sunni Arab parties, that the Iraqis and only the Iraqis can decide their fate.
I believe we need to be successful in Iraq because the outcome there will have a major effect on the region and on our own security. To achieve this success, I believe it is important that the U.S. make it clear to the Iraqis that if they are unable to come together and form a government of national unity, we must reconsider our presence in Iraq and that all options will be on the table, including withdrawal of our forces. The Iraqis must understand that our willingness to bear the burden of providing security in Iraq has limits.
My complete statement on my trip to Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on my website at [http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=253153].
Sen. Levin was recently named one of America‘s Top 10 Senators by Time magazine.
LET THERE BE MUSIC: Two Northern Michigan musical powerhouses have announced their summer line-ups.
The Blissfest, to be held July 7-9 in Cross Village will be headlined this year by 70s western acoustic rockers Poco. Its perhaps the most creative year ever for band names, with performers including Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Samite, Harry Manx, Eliza Gilkyson, Todd Snider, Robin Nolan Trio, Kevin Collins & the Kuungana dance Troup, The David Munnelly Band, Otis Taylor, Bio Ritmo Salsa Machine, Ritmo Flamenco, James Hill, Mustards Retreat, Seth & Daisy Mae, Breathe Owl Breathe, Nu-Tones, Horton Creek Bluegrass, Potato Moon, Vincent Hayes Project, Benzie Playboyz, Something Different in the Homemade Jam, Cold Water, Earthwork Project, Garbha-Grha, Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, Mudbugz, Petoskey Steel Drum Band, Satin Peaches, Rhythmic Adventures, Harmony & Grits & more. Blissfest members can buy early bird tickets now, with general sales beginning May 15.
Interlochen debuted its season last week with heavy hitters including Cheap Trick (July 5), Willy Nelson (July 6), Lee Ann Womack (July 13), Ian Anderson w/Orchestra (July 19) The Irish Tenors (Aug. 8), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Aug. 15), B.B. King (Aug. 18) and The Beach Boys (Aug. 19). Classical offerings and shows by the World Youth Symphony Orchestra fill in many of the remaining dates. See the full schedule on page 24. Tickets are on sale now.
$3 GAS GOT YOU DOWN? Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) is urging the House of Representatives to consider legislation that would address price gouging by major oil companies.
Crude oil prices have exceeded the previous record set after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, reaching over $70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Stupak wrote. As prices climb, the potential for price gouging increases.
Stupaks bill, the Federal Response to Energy Emergencies Act (H.R. 3936), would provide the Federal Trade Commission with the authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of energy. For the first time ever, the FTC would be required to develop a price gouging definition, taking into account consumer-friendly guidelines set forth in the bill.
REMEMBERING ANNE: A group of friends and family who appreciated the late Anne Melichar, the feisty TC city commissioner with a leftist bent, are privately collecting donations to plant a Living Memorial Tree in her honor. The hope is to plant a long living Oak or Maple in late Spring thats as tough and beautiful as Melichar, said Ann Rogers, who is collecting the donations. If enough funds are collected, a bench could be added to the memorial.
Please be a contributor to this living
memorial for Anneits a way to recognize all that she gave to Traverse City and its people, a city she loved and called home,
Rogers will make all the arrangements with the TC Park and Recreation Authority for the planting and care of the tree.
Send your contribution to: Ann Rogers,
1236 Peninsula Drive, Traverse City,