Friday, February 20, 2009

Natalie Wood, Isaiah

"Liz Smith: Remembering Natalie Wood, On Screen and Off" (Liz Smith, wowOwow):
You will have a chance to watch Natalie in action in “Gypsy” and a few other classics, if you pick up “The Natalie Wood Collection” — six beautifully re-mastered DVDs, including a separate release of her last, “Brainstorm,” which she had not quite completed at the time of her tragic death in 1981. (The rest of the bunch includes “Splendor In The Grass,” “Sex and the Single Girl,” “Inside Daisy Clover,” “Cash McCall” and “Bombers B-52.”)Wood was one of the very few child stars who grew up to become an adult sensation and box-office draw (her good friend and movie-queen role model Elizabeth Taylor was the other). Natalie began in the sentimental perfection of “Miracle on 34th Street” as the skeptical little girl who gradually comes to believe in Santa Claus. More films followed, but unlike Miss Taylor, Natalie did not develop as quickly. She was not pushed into adult roles before her time. Eventually Warner Bros. snatched her up, and cast her opposite James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause.” She and Dean became instant symbols of 1950’s teenage angst and discontent. Now, she was a star. (And an Oscar nominee for Best Actress!) But Warner Bros. didn’t handle her especially well.
Two of the films included in this DVD set, “Cash McCall” and “Bombers B-52” were indicative of the studio’s odd choices for the young beauty. (Warner Bros. make-up — heavy base and lurid lips, also did nothing for her. At her age, she hardly needed a cosmetic mask!)

Liz gets back into the crazy after that point so you're not missing anything. (Back into the crazy? Anyone remember in the leadup to Ellen's coming out how Liz was swearing another woman on TV would be coming out as well? Liz, the world still waits.)

I met Natalie Wood twice. Both times with C.I. Once at a luncheon (a large luncheon) and we probably exchanged seven sentences that evening. (I was not seated near her.) The second time was even larger group of people, however, we were at her home with Robert Wanger for a party and she was just the most wonderful hostess. Even with more people (a lot more), she made time for every guest. She worked that party and made sure that everyone felt welcomed.
C.I. knew her, I just knew her from her films (and the occassional story C.I. shared about her).

But I agree that she is one of the most underrated actresses American films produced in the 20th century. There are very few women who will be remembered as well as Natalie Wood. There is the Natalie we know who wanted to believe in Santa Clause, the Judy who really loved James Dean, Gypsy (Rose Lee), West Side Story, Splendor In the Grass and so many other films.

Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice was a strong film and, in my limited encounters with Natalie, that's who she was most like. In that movie, she's able to take the worst situation (her husband announcing he had an affair) and turn it into good news and throughout she's going around making sure everyone is comfortable -- not just in the party scenes. I also do not think she ever looked better in a film. The hair, the make up, the clothes, everything worked.

That's how she was at the luncheon (with a huge pair of sunglasses which I do not believe she ever took off) and that's how she was at her home at the party. Only more so at her home where she just beamed. Not because she was the center of the attention (though she was, eyes naturally went to her), but because she was just so happy to make so many guests happy and to ensure that everyone had a wonderful time.

Amazon has the collection for less than fifty dollars currently.

One more thing. She made an entrance (at the party) coming down the staircase. She pulled it off and not only pulled it off, managed to look as if she found the idea of the big entrance amusing -- it was very charming. I'd forgotten that and was just about to post when I flashed on her entrance. It's probably disjointed to toss it in here but it's here or at the end of my comments regarding Isaiah.

The World Today Just Nuts. What about Isaiah's comic strip? Actually, that is the website Isaiah just started (yesterday) named after his comic strip. "Interview with Isaiah" is the discussion Mike and Isaiah had last night and worth reading. The website is going to be a place for Isaiah to put the archived comics. He has posted three so far:

Swingin' John Bolton eyes the U.N.
Bully is . . .
Condi Rice, Dangerous Fashion Plate

It is hard for me to believe he started drawing The World Today Just Nuts nearly four years ago (four years in May). There are so many wonderful comics and I can't wait to see them all. He plans to do just one a week. That's what he plans.

He writes a little something (usually no more than two paragraphs) about the comic and that's what he's doing. I hope you'll check it out because it really is something.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, February 20, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier is convicted in a murder case, Britian claims Iran made an offer (they could or couldn't refuse?), KBR has more problems (of their own making) and more.

Starting with one-time Halliburton subsidary Kellogg Brown & Root,
US House Rep Carol Shea-Porter's office announced that a letter was sent to US Secretary of Defense "Robert Gates asking why defense contractor KBR, Inc. was recently awarded a new $35.4 million contract involving electrical work in Iraq. KBR is currently under investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General for the deaths of 18 Americans, who were electrocuted in buildings that KBR held a contract to mainatin. Military criminal investigators have reopened five cases, and the Army Criminal Investigate Services has classified one of them as 'ngeligent homicide'." The letter, signed by 18 other members of the House, notes:

As you are aware, KBR has held a contract for building maintenance for U.S. military facilities in Iraq since 2003. During this time, there have been numerous investigations into the dangers KBR's faulty electrical work is creating for our military personnel. The Department of Defense Inspector General is currently investigating the electrocution deaths of 18 Americans (16 soldiers and 2 contractors) in KBR-maintained facilities. KBR is under criminal investigation for the electrocution deaths of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform conducted an in-depth investigation into the problem of electrocutions in U.S. facilities in Iraq and the death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, a decorated Green Beret electrocuted in his shower on January 2, 2008. The Committee's investigation showed that KBR was alerted to the deficiencies in this and other cases, but failed to take corrective action. In 2008, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) issued a "Level III Corrective Action Request" to KBR, indicating that the contractor was in "serious non-compliance." This action request, the final warning before a contract is terminated, points to KBR's continuing failure to ensure electrical safety for our troops. With this history, it is not surprising that Capt. David J. Graff, commander of the DCMA's International Division, was quoted in an Associated Press article, stating that "many within DOD have lost or are losing all remaining confidence in KBR's ability to successfully and repeatedly perform the required electrical support services mission in Iraq."
Despite these serious, ongoing concerns, the Department of Defense has awarded KBR a new contract that includes the type of work that KBR failed to perform adequately for years. Threats to the safety and lives of soldiers or others because of known hazards and negligent performance of work are not acceptable.

US House Rep Betty McCollum is among the 18 signing the letter and she released this statement earlier this week, "Secretary Gates should immediately rescind any new awards to KBR. It is irresponsible and negligent for the Department of Defense to grant additional contracts to a company facing such serious allegations. We recently learned, after five years of scrutiny, that a Minnesota sailor was electrocuted to death by faulty wiring. Who can trust KBR's work? . . . We have a moral responsibility to esnure the safety for our troops at home and abroad -- not pad the pocket of a negligent military contractor." CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee (writing in Asia Times) explains that $35.4 million contract is "for the design and construction of a convoy support center at Camp Adder in Iraq. The center will include a power plant, an electrical distribution center, a water purification and distribution system, a waste-water colleciton system, and associated information systems, along with paved roads, all to be built by KBR." KBR is being entrusted with a project that has to do with electrocity? It should not be getting any contracts but you'd think that just the term "electricity" in a KBR contract would be more than enough to make one pause.
Those actions are on the House side of Congress.
December 23rd, we last noted what the Senate was working on. KBR was involved in that as well. For an update, we'll note that Senator Evan Bayh's office issued the following statement last week:

Washington -- Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) are taking issue with the conclusions of an Army investigation into the exposure of hundreds of U.S. soldiers to a deadly carcinogen, sodium dichromate, at Qarmat Ali in Iraq in 2003. Since September 2008, Bayh has pushed to ensure the Army conducts a thorough investigation to ascertain whether every precaution was taken to protect Indiana National Guardsmen serving in Iraq.
"I am still unsatisfied with the information provided by the Army about their response to the exposure of U.S. service members to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali water injection facility in Iraq," Bayh said. "We are asking again for a complete account of how our service members were exposed to these conditions and what went wrong. If there's criminal negligence, people must be held accountable. If there was a lack of oversight by Army Corps of Engineers, people ought to be fired."
Senators Bayh and Dorgan released a letter Thursday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, saying the conclusions reached by the Army study the senators requested only raise new questions on the exposure of U.S. troops from Indiana, North Dakota, Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina.
The senators say the Army's evidence and their own investigations indicate that exposure of the troops appears to be far more severe than the Army or KBR have acknowledged.
Bayh said he still has many unanswered questions about KBR's role in the original exposure and contamination.
"The company needs to be held to account for its behavior in this incident. We have a moral obligation to the men and women who were put in harm's way. We need to make sure to never find ourselves in this situation again," Bayh said.
They also asked Gates and Geren to explain how the Army could pronounce itself "satisfied" with its own oversight of contractor KBR, and with the response by KBR and the Army to the exposure, given that:
Some soldiers, exposed to the deadly chemical in the spring and summer of 2003, still have not been informed by either the Army or KBR that they were exposed.
For months, KBR failed to identify the presence of the chemical, even though it was required to conduct an "environmental risk assessment" at the site.
According to the Army's own timeline, nearly three months passed after the initial detection before KBR began testing at the site. KBR waited two more weeks to start to start remediation of the site, and protective gear was not provided to soldiers until nearly a month after that.
Indiana National Guard personnel were not told of the exposure until they saw KBR employees using PPE (personal protective equipment) at the site.
"It looks like conclusions were made, without regard to the facts," Dorgan said. "We owe our soldiers much more than that. Given the well documented and serious failures at the site, I don't understand how the Army can claim KBR acted appropriately.
"We have to identify those service members who were exposed to sodium dichromate and other lethal chemicals and make sure they get the kind of long-term care and treatment they deserve," Bayh concluded.

That is KBR, a corporation that
Pratap Chatterjee points out has raked in "more than $25 billion" from the US government. KBR announced another contract this week. They're currently being sued by ten contract employees over the exposure to the carcinogen and AP notes of that lawsuit, "The KBR contractors' complaint in Houston is scheduled to be heard by an arbiter at a March hearing that will be closed at KBR's request. Contractors with complaints about work in Iraq generally have gone to arbitration as part of KBR's contract with the U.S. government in Iraq."

Despite the above,
UPI reported that the corporation won a contract "from the Army Contracting Command" worth $`9.2 million to "provide bulk fuel farm support for the Army in Kuwait". Tom Fowler (Houston Chronicle) reported last week on KBR's guilty plea to bribing "Nigerian officials to win contracts to build a massive natural das project in that country". Zachary A. Goldfarb (Washington Post) reports the $579 million fines agreed to are "the biggest fines ever paid by U.S. companies in a foreign corruption case". We're not done with KBR. The February 10th snapshot included thi

Deborah Haynes and Sonai Verma (Times of London) report that "a British manager for the services company Kellogg Brown and Root" is accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with an Iraqi women working for the British embassy and that the manager "was also accused of sexual harassment more than 18 months ago by an Iraqi cleaner and two cooks at the embassy." The reportes quote the cleaner who charged sexual harassment a year and a half ago stating today, "I was in the British Embassy and under the British flag and I was oppressed but nobody did anything about that."

Afif Sarhan (Islam Online) reports the woman described above "is locking herself home, refusing to meet anyone and sinking into despair over what she describes as sexual abuse and bullying at the British Embbassy and notes serious questions being raised as to why the British Embassy is allowing KBR to (again) investigate themselves? British attorney Anna Areen declares, "The UK has long been very serious on the law of conduct inside government and similar places. If they don't take on their hands the investigation in Baghdad, they will be saying that it is sllowed in Britain on the coming future. [Those] responsible should pay for what they did and it will be honorable if UK officials take head of the investigation and punishment." .

The January 9th snapshot highlighted
Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk (Bloomberg News) report that KBR and Halliburton decided that the an attack on a KBR truck in 2004 was not due to lack of security provided by the mega-rich corporations, the attack -- resulting in deaths and injuries -- was the fault of "the U.S. Army and Iraqi terrorists". Which was a low even for them. Throughout the illegal war, KRB has put the US military at risk -- not just by electrocuting them or exposing them to dangerous chemicals. When the KBR trucks would have a flat, get stuck or whatever, KBR employees would be able to leave the scene while US service members would have to stay there and wait for orders on what to do. Stay there and be sitting ducks. Kelly Dougherty (IVAW) has explained repeatedly, they would wait and wait and then finally be told to destroy the trucks and any cargo on it. Which would frequently anger the local populations. In March of last year, Iraq Veterans Against the War held their Winter Soldier Investigation. KPFA carried the hearings live for the bulk of the four days and Aaron Glantz and Aimee Allison were the on air moderators. One of the ways to hear the audio of the hearings is to go to Glatnz' War Comes Home site. [Allison is co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None.] March 14th was the first day of panels (the previous day was the opening of the hearings) and one of the afternoon panels was on corruption and war profiteering. Appearing on that panel was Doughtery and we'll note this from the March 14, 2008 snapshot:

KBR was the focus of Kelly Dougherty's testimony. She discussed how she and others serving in Iraq assigned to protect convoys were repeatedly put at risk when a KBR vehicle broke down, how they were told it was an asset to be protected even if that meant killing someone and then they would be told to forget it, to destroy the vehicle and move out. Iraqis desperate for fuel or the contents of the truck were not a concern and, if pressed, the US military command would instruct service members that distributing something in the trucks (before destroying them) could cause a riot. All of which goes to Doughtery's statement of Iraqis, "I'm looking at people I can't even look in the eye." Moving to Kuwait after serving in Iraq and while waiting to be sent back homes, service members were living in a KBR tent city. Doughtery explained, "When we were leaving . . . we were put in these tent cities. Our tents were completely covered with mold on the inside." The tents had bunk beds and not cots so service members were not allowed to (as some wanted) sleep outside the tents to avoid what appeared to be Black Mold. Instead, they suffered from respitory infections. Dougherty noted "this living condition where we couldn't even be in the place were we were supposed to live without getting sick." KBR made a big profit of the illegal war. KBR provided the troops with tents that made them sick. Where's the audit on that?

Marcia also covered Kelly Doughtery's testimony:

They were dealing with KBR trucks -- which were worth about $80,000, chump change to KBR. You may remember the stories of contractors abandoning trucks and cars and the cost for new ones (usually on a cost-plus contract) being passed back on to you and me the tax payers. Doughtery noted that KBR's trucks "would break down a lot, would get in accidents a lot." They'd stop for flat tries or because they got stuck in the mud,things like that as well. The drivers were treated horribly by KBR and were from countries such as Pakistan, India, etc. The truck would break down, the driver would hop out of the truck and get a ride with someone else in the convoy and the MPs would be called in to secure the abandoned trucks. Doughtery explained, "For us as miltary police, we're told when we get into Iraq and when we're getting on these convoy missions" that KBR's trucks are United States assets and "need to be protected, with force, with deadly force if necessary." The drill was always the same: secure the trucks and wait. Then came the call that they couldn't find anyone to come get the trucks so they should just leave it.That didn't mean, "Hop in your vehicles and leave!" That meant disable the vehicles (fire grenades into the engine blocks) and destroy whatever cargo it had. That meant setting fuel on fire in front of Iraqis who had no fuel. That meant burning produce in front of Iraqis who were hungry. That meant destroying a brand new ambulance in an area that had none and really needed one. Doughtery explained that even the local sheiks were out on the last one, trying to convince US soldiers that if they would leave the ambulance alone, they (Iraqis) would figure out how to get it off its side and out of the mud."That was pretty much a daily occurence," said Dougherty. "Where we were abandoning vehicles by KBR contractors on a daily basis."

And we'll use Kelly Dougherty's testimony as the transition to
Iraq Veterans Against the War in order to note:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st

As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or
Click here for more IVAW Updates

That is next month and
World Can't Wait is another organization participating. Hopefully someone will ask President Barack Obama about the speech he gave in Danville, immediately after the 2004 DNC convention, where he declared, "I'd pick up arms right now to defend this country. But if I'm going to ask someone else's son and daughter to go to war, I want to make sure it's the right war." Did Iraq suddenly become "the right war"? And what makes Afghanistan the right one as well? (Barack's always said this is where the fight must be -- but aside from a lot of 9-11 spin, he's never said why. Yes, Barack is the new Bully Boy and, just like the other one, hides behind 9-11 to justify his actions. (Has everyone forgotten that Bush insisted some pages not be released to the public -- regarding the Saudis and 9-11 -- in the official report? If Barack's going to toss around 9-11, he might need to order those papers released -- as Congress had intended for them to be.)

While some pretend things are great or even good or even okay in Iraq,
Dahr Jamail, back in Iraq, offers some realities:

"We only want a normal life," says Um Qasim, sitting in a bombed out building in Baghdad. She and others around have been saying that for years.
Um Qasim lives with 13 family members in a brick shanty on the edge of a former military intelligence building in the Mansoor district of Baghdad.
Five of her children are girls. Homelessness is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for women and girls.
"Me and my girls have to be extra careful living this way," Um Qasim told IPS. "We are tired of always being afraid, because any day, any time, strange men walk through our area, and there is no protection for us. Each day brings a new threat to us, and all the women here."
She rarely leaves her area, she says. Nor do her girls, for fear of being kidnapped or raped.

CBS Radio News' Tammy McCormick explained in this afternoon's newscast, "And anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is hailing the Iraqi election results as a new chapter. He now says religious leaders and others should work together to put the needs of the country first. al-Sadr has long backed rebellions against the invasion and occupation." AP quotes al-Sadr stating (through a spokesperson -- like when Michael Jackson was interviewed by Rolling Stone and he whispered all his answers to Janet), "Iraq has turned a new page after the elections, which I hope will be a gate for liberation, a gate to serve the Iraqis and not keep occupiers to divide Iraqis. Goals are unified between politicians and the resistance to push out the occupiers." I guess the press could pretend al-Sadr's statements meant something if they hadn't all spent the week leading up to the election and the days immediately after telling their news consumers that al-Sadr was nothing, that he had no pull and that he was a relic or at least, as Tanya Tucker once sang, a faded rose from days gone by. Of Anbar Province, AP notes, "The so-called Awakening Councils won eight of 29 provincial seats in Anbar - giving them a strong hand to form a governing coalition with smaller Sunni groups across a province that was once a major al Qaeda stronghold." Alsumaria reports, "While Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq (IHEC) was announcing the provincial elections final results a constitutional controversy was raised regarding the conditions of electing a new House Speaker. In fact, Accordance Front insists that its candidate Iyad Assamarrai won while some other blocs say that Saturday's session will decide who won the seat of Speaker of House." That's yesterday but they have video and it's worth nothing again that there is no Speaker all this time later.

In other news,
Bridget Kendall (BBC) reports on the claims that Iran has floated a proposal to England: They will "stop attacking British troops in Iraq to try to get the West to drop objections to Tehran's uranium project, a UK official says." That is England's United Nations Ambassador John Sawers. Sawers claims, "There were various Iranians who would come to London and suggest we had tea in some hotel or other. They'd do the same in Paris, they'd do the same in Berlin, and then we'd compare notes among the three of us." Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) adds, "As Iran marks the 30th anniversary of the revolution that turned out the Shah and installed a cleric-led regime, senior figures have openly discussed a series of secret deals with West. Iran had used its involvement in hostage taking during the Lebanese war to break its isolation in the 1980s."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baquba sticky bombing that resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier and a Kirkuk roadside bombing which left another injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Iraqi soldier wounded in a Baghdad shooting. Reuters notes the US military announcement on 1 woman and 2 children killed in a bombing outside Baghdad last night.

In Germany a US soldier has been convicted.
Seth Robson (Stars and Stripes) reports the US Army's Rose Barracks Courthouse court-martial saw the vidoe of Sgt Michael Leahy Jr "confessing an hour and 10 minutes into an interview with a Criminal Investigation Command special agent" found Leahy stating, "I shot one of them" -- Iraqi prisoners -- "I shot two shots. It was my decision. I always kenw this . . . would come back to me." In an update, Robson notes that Leahy was found guilty and "could face the death penalty after being found guilty . . . of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder in the deaths of four Iraqi detainees in March 2007." BBC notes that the 4 Iraqi prisoners' corpses were "dumped in a Baghdad canal" after they were shot. Leahy confessed to murdering one. AP notes this was not Leahy's first time being accused of murdering an Iraqi: "Leahy, 28, was acquitted of murder in a separate incident involving the death of another Iraqi in January 2007."

Staying with the Iraq War, libertarian
Justin Raimondo ( has a piece responding to Joan Walsh (Salon) and her review of Thomas E. Ricks' new book The Gamble. I wrote about the book last night, that's not the reason for bringing up Justin. If Justin quotes Walsh accurately (I have neither the time nor the inclination to read Walsh), then Walsh has reviewed a book she doesn't understand. Justin has her praising the 'surge' and saying it worked and she was wrong to doubt it. That can be her opinion. If so, I disagree. But that's not the opinion Ricks expresses in the book. You can't just read a few pages, Walsh, nor can you skim. The 'surge' was a failure -- Thomas E. Ricks is quite clear -- because it was supposed to allow that 'progress' to happen. Not on a military field, on the political field. If Joan Walsh is quoted accurately by Justin, then Walsh needs to re-read the book she reviewed because she missed one of its biggest points. (I have no reason to doubt Justin's honesty or accuracy. I am repeating the "if" because I haven't read Walsh and I have no interest in reading her.) The 'surge' was supposed to allow those now-forgotten benchmarks to be reached. That never happened. That is a part of the story Ricks tells in the book. Justin doesn't claim to have read the book so I'll just note that in quotes he attributes to Joan Walsh, she has some serious comprehension difficulties including an inclination to attribute to Thomas Ricks statements and opinions of others quoted in his book. As they might word it in Annie Hall, "How you ever got to review a book on anything is totally amazing."

Anthony Fenton (Asia Times via ZNet) explores Barack and the counterinsurgency:

Early signals indicate that United States President Barack Obama will continue driving the "counter-insurgency era" that began under his predecessor George W Bush. Less than one month into his administration, the most significant indicators that Obama will continue implementing a
foreign policy transformation that began under the Bush administration may be found in and around his National Security appointments. Strikingly, the very rhetoric that is being used to signify change is representative of this continuity. The first key signal came on December 1, when Obama confirmed that he would continue with Robert M Gates as secretary of defense. That day, Obama also announced that (retired) marine general James L Jones would become his national security advisor, and that Hillary Clinton would be secretary of state. Subsequent appointments, including (retired) navy admiral Dennis Blair to director of national intelligence, and Michele Flournoy as under secretary of defense for policy, along with keeping Michael Vickers on at under secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, are all linked to Obama's assurances that "irregular warfare" will remain at the forefront of US policy, strategy and operations for the foreseeable future. To help solidify matters, on December 1, Gates quietly signed Department of Defense

Directive (DoDD) 3000.07, establishing the policy that "irregular warfare is as strategically important as traditional warfare". [1] According to the directive, irregular warfare (IW) encompasses "Counter-terrorism operations, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, counter-insurgency, and stability operations". Under 3000.07, Vickers, a former special forces and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative who is considered one of the key architects behind the CIA's covert war with the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, becomes Gates' "principal advisor" on irregular warfare and the person who will provide "overall policy oversight" to ensure the US military establishment is transformed to be "as effective in IW as it is in traditional warfare".

And finally -- LANGUAGE WARNING if you use the link to follow --
Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) addresses the clowns who live to lie to you:

By now, the governor was a "house of hypocrisy" -- though Olbermann still hadn't made the slightest attempt to explain the unflattering claim. In the world of Big Stupid Cable, it's all about handing the rubes preferred narratives, the ones they turn on your program to hear -- and Olbermann seems to love nothing more than beating up on Palin. He no longer gets to mock the young blondes, something he used to do every night, but Palin seems suitable as a replacement. And he doesn't waste much time explaining what's actually wrong with Palin's views -- or even what they are. It's all about calling the lady stupid -- and it's all about calling her a hypocrite, without quite explaining why. And of course, the tasteless insults fly. This is the way the chat began when he introduced the evening's tough moll, Flanders. Note: In his question, he's still pretending that Sarah Palin has somehow changed her stance on education, now that her own daughter's pregnant:
OLBERMANN: Is this not the mirror image of the conservative`s joke about reality, that "a liberal is just a conservative who hasn't been mugged yet?"
FLANDERS: I think there is a name for people who only teach their kids about abstinence and that's "grandparents." And Sarah Palin is finding that out. The scariest thing in that conversation with Greta Van Susteren was -- well, I thought the scariest thing was the part where Bristol Palin said that talking with her mother was worse than labor. I mean, I guess Katie Couric found that out. Can any of us imagine what a Palin presidency would be like? Like a Nadya Suleman labor?
A Palin presidency would be "like a Nadya Suleman labor." Laura Flanders was keeping it classy -- and respectful feminist that she of course is, she was crawling up Suleman's sn**ch in pursuit of prime insults for Palin.

The two weren't bound by facts and, were Flanders not a lesbian (a self-loathing one) and Keith not already in a significant and longterm relationship with his own ego, she and Olbermann would be perfect for each other. Flanders can't keep it classy, Bob. And she's not a feminist. She claims she is. But a feminist doesn't repeatedly refer to Hillary's laugh as a "cackle" -- which Flanders did on KPFA at the end of February. It was that little fact-free stunt (which also included Flanders -- like all other 'expert' 'analysts' booked by KPFA for that two hour broadcst -- not revealing she had already endoresed Barack Obama -- real easy to call a debate for Barack when the only ones 'evaluating' have all endorsed Barack). That was when
Ava and I began using the term Panhandle Media to describe the beggar media. Good for Bob Somerby for calling Flanders out and today's post has him explaining his use of the term that may be objectionable. I dispute his reasoning (Flanders reads everything written about her -- she's obsessive -- and she will love the term Somerby used, not be offended by it) but don't feel he was 'wrong' to use the term. Just as I don't feel there's any term that's off-limits when it comes to Arianna after she allowed (in 2007) her Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box to be used to attack special-needs children.

Public TV notes,
NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and this week offers a look at sexual harassment: "This week, NOW collaborates with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University to bring you an unprecedented broadcast investigation of teen sexual harassment in the workplace. In the program, abused teenagers share their own stories with Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa. We track their legal journeys to justic, and how the issue impacts hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the country -- many of whom don't know how to report workplace abuse, or to even recognize when their bosses cross the line. This is the first report in a new NOW on PBS beat on women and men in the twenty-first centurey we call 'Life Now'." Late Friday night, NOW should be available online for those who'd like to watch online. On Washington Week, Gwen continues to demonstrate how difficult it is for her -- despite PBS' mandate -- to offer up a panel with an equal number of men and women. Four slots open and yet again Gwen's only been able to find one woman. Jeanne Cummings stands by while Gwen and the boys have a measuring contest. NPR's Tom Gjelten, New York Times' David Sanger and the Associated Press' Charles Babington. (Though who knows what Gwen's packing, smart money is on Charlie as the winner.) This will be available online for streaming Monday afternoon and a transcript will be posted then as well. If you podcast, the show will be available either late tonight or Saturday morning -- podcasts for Washington Week are available at iTunes (for free) in audio or video form (audio downloads faster).Moving over to broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, on 60 Minutes:The Drinking AgeLesley Stahl examines the debate over lowering the drinking age to 18, a controversial idea embraced by some people and roundly criticized by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Watch Video
Kidnapped In BasraWhen the Iraqi army regained control of the city of Basra from warring religious militias, it meant peace for the city's war-torn residents and rescue for CBS News producer Richard Butler, who had been held captive there for three months. Lara Logan reports. Watch Video
The MascotA young Jewish boy who fled into the forest after his family was killed by the Nazis was later captured by Nazi soldiers who, not knowing he was Jewish, gave him a little uniform and a gun and made him their mascot. Bob Simon reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
60 Minutes Update:
The Kanzius MachineOn Wednesday, Feb. 18, John Kanzius, a retired radio technician who invented a possible cancer fighting machine in his garage, died after a long battle with leukemia. In April 2008, Lesley Stahl reported on Kanzius and his machine, which had been dreamed up while he was battling the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. Experiments building on John Kanzius' research continue. Video

the washington postzachary a. goldfarb
deborah haynes
laurel brubaker calkinsmargaret cronin fiskbloomberg news
iraq veterans against the war
kelly dougherty
aimeee allisondavid solnit
aaron glantz
damien mcelroy
pbswashington weeknow on pbs

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

His wars

"Afghanistan is Barack Obama's Iraq - or Vietnam" (Gerald Warner, Telegraph of London):
Barack Obama has taken the fatal step: he has made himself a war president, like George W Bush before him. Farewell, Prince of Peace. He has been even more injudicious than Dubya in the fight he has picked, choosing Afghanistan, the unwinnable war that will destroy his reputation. Trying to occupy Afghanistan - like invading Russia - is one of those bad career moves that politicians should regard as strictly off-limits if they have any survival instinct.
Obama has ordered a further 17,000 US troops into Afghanistan, to bring the American presence there up to 50,000. The ultimate objective is said to be a deployment of 60,000 - enough to provide the Taliban with lots of targets, but hopelessly inadequate to garrison that inhospitable country. To put these figures in perspective it is worth recalling that the Soviet Union, in the decade 1979-89, lost 469,685 men in Afghanistan.

So Barack keeps one campaign promise -- the one who should have broken. It's his war now. Just like Iraq.

The throng that applauds him for standing, burping and blinking refuses to call him out and they will rub the sleep from their eyes in four years and ask what happened?

What happened was Barack was never a dove. He was never about peace. The clues were not hidden. But some people choose to be blind.

Afghanistan and Iraq are his wars now. He is a bloody War Hawk and his cult can pretend otherwise, but that's reality.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 18, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the refugee crisis continues, Iraq confirms they have received Guantanamo prisoners, the UN examines the unemployment rate, the State Dept denies speaking with Jordan or Turkey about air space or land in the case of a draw down in the near future, and more.

Heaven save the world from the idiot Patrick Cockburn. You'd think with that family, the members would have long ago reached the beyond-disgrace stage but Paddy keeps upping the ante. Most recently in his latest I'm-Crazy-Ass-Cockburn-Column (no link to trash or insanity) where he praises an increase in prices for real estate in a section of Baghdad. A traditionally
ritzy section of Baghdad -- not far from the country clubs. But Paddy can't tell you that and it's a real come-down from his deranged high when, near the end, he has to start mentioning hos it might not be good news. But, what the heck, the Iraq War is over.

It's not? Don't tell Crazy Ass Cockburn who informs readers the illegal war is over ("Boom time Baghdad"): "Mr Hadithi says that this is explained primarily by the end of the war." The Iraq War is not over. There hasn't even been the limited drawdown yet. But Patrick Cockburn is an idiot and a crazed one at this point. That entire family has become a menace to society. You've got Laura-The-Self-Loathing-Lesbian intoning, "Embrace the homophobia," Nutty Alex rubbing his crotch while moaning "Mena! Mena!" and offering crazed theories on Vince Foster. . . We could go on and on because pretty much the whole family is nuts and if Andrew's managed to keep it together thus far (which he has) it's got to be just a matter of time before he goes bug-eyed nuts like the rest of them.

As Patrick declares the illegal war over and minimizes the economic plight of Iraqis, he also invents a mass return of refugees. We've already had The Myth of the Great Return and it being disproven but Paddy's damn sure that his name means something (it doesn't) that he thinks he can say it's so and no one will argue. Reality argues with crazy men, reality always argues with them.
Refugees International has started a new campaign to ask that Barack Obama, US president, not forget about the Iraqi refugees. They note:

Five years into the US military intervention in Iraq, the country is dealing with one of the largest humanitarian and displacement crises in the world. Millions of Iraqis have fled their homes -- either for safer locations within Iraq, or to other countries in the region -- and are living in increasingly desperate circumstances. Failure to address the needs of Iraqis will have dramatic impacts on security inside Iraq.
Refugees International has observed extreme vulnerabilities among the approximately 1.5 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, Jordan and other neighbors of Iraq, as well as the 2.7 million internally displaced persons within Iraq. Most are unable to access their food rations and are often unemployed; they live in squalid conditions, have run out of resources and find it extremely difficult to access essential services.
The Governmnet of Iraq has access to large sums of money, but it lacks both the capacity and the political will to use its resources to address humanitarian needs. Due to this failure, militias of all denominations are filling the vacuum and playing a major role in providing social services in the neighborhoods and towns they control in Iraq. Not only do these Shiite and Sunni militias now have a qausi-monopoly in the large-scale delivery of food, oil, electricity and money, but an increasing number of civilians are joining their ranks -- including displaced Iraqis.
Some Iraqis who have tried to return home have found their homes occupied or destroyed, the likelihood of violence still high, a collapse of social services, and neighborhoods divided into homogenous, sectarian areas. While Refugees International hopes that Iraqis will be able to return to their homes in the future, the necessary conditions for returns to take place in safety and dignity do not exist. Returns must not be encouraged until the violence subsides and people can receive adequate assistance and protection.
Actions Needed
The U.S. must craft a new policy to:
1. Assist Iraqi refugees.
2. Ensure a safe, voluntary return home when possible.
3. Pressure Iraq to meet its responsibilities to its own people.
4. Increase resettlement for those who can't go home. Read more about our
comprhensive plan here.

Justin Martin (News & Observer) reported from Amman, Jordan and noted, "My country's claim of liberating Iraq means nothing without the liberation of those the campaign violently expelled from their country. The basic math is that around 2.2 million Iraqi refugees have been forced from their country since 2003, according to the United Nations, and the United States has admitted just over 16,000 according to a Baltimore Sun report in December. This is about seven admited refugees per 1,000. The majority of the remaining 2 million-plus refugees are scraping by in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, where the savings of many have been exhausted and unreplinished, since many can't find legal employment in these countries." And as IRIN noted at the end of last month, in Syria some refugees are forced to sell food rations in order to make rent. George Baghdadi (CBS News) notes US Senator Ben Cardin is leading a US delegation in Damascus and that they intend "to visit the United Nations High Commission for Refugees facility in Damascus to assess the situation of Iraqi refugees in Syria." The most well known Iraqi refugee to go to Syria is Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) who moved their with her family in 2007.

In January,
William Dalrymple (New York Review of Books) noted "the wreckage of Iraq" included the "over two million external refugees and the ethnic cleansing of its Christian population". And proving just how the al-Maliki government refuses to help the people of Iraq, Press TV reports that Iraq's Deputy Minister of Refugees and Displaced Persons, Asghar al-Moussawi is scapegoating those attempting to assist Iraqi Christians by insisting, "To encourage a group of any particular faith to leave the country is against international law, and causes more harm than benefit to those people." Really? Want to talk about Baghdad's decimated Jewish community? Didn't think so. Just because al-Moussawi has the gift of speech doesn't mean he needs to utilize it but when he does it only reminds everyone of how ineffective al-Maliki was during the attacks on Christians in Mosul last fall and how the puppet government has repeatedly ignored the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations in insisting it was 'safe' for refugees to return to Iraq. Paul Isaac (International Herald Tribune) writes a plea on behalf of Assyrians in Iraq:

Since 2003, over 40 churches have been bombed by Islamic militants. Numerous priests have been murdered, including the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, killed last year shortly after he reminded extremists that the Christians of Iraq predate Islam.
Knowing that Assyrians lack militias or regional backers, terrorist groups understand that for every bomb and slain priest many Christians will flee their homes. And to this end, the militants have been dreadfully successful: While representing only 3 percent of the population, Assyrian Christians comprise over 20 percent of its refugees. Perhaps half of the pre-war Christian community has fled, in what one Iraqi bishop has dubbed a "campaign of liquidation."
While some have touted the success of the "surge" in reducing violence, the targeting of Assyrians has not diminished.

He calls on the US to do more* and notes that whether Barack started the Iraq War or not doesn't matter, it's Barack's war now. (*"More" is being generous. And the
Feb. 11th snapshot noted the Assyrian community's open letter to Barack and vice president Joe Biden.)
Cockburn's lunacy on the 'gold rush' was offensive in terms of the refugees and it's offensive in terms of realities for Iraqis -- a topic he chooses to bury. Sunday,
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on the United Nations' latest findings regarding economic realities for Iraqs which include "28% of males age 15 to 20 are unemployed; 17% of women have jobs; and most of the 450,000 Iraqis entering the job market this year won't find work 'without a concerted effort to boost the private sector'." IRIN notes the report's findings that the rate of unemployment "could undermine long-term security and social stability". And Iraqis struggle while AFP reports Nouri al-Maliki is purchasing $5.5 billion dollars worth of weapons from the US. And while he destroys the already meager budget for the Ministry of Women's Affairs (from $7,500 a month to $1,500). Yesterday wowOwow offered a news brief on the situation for women in Iraq and quoted Parliament's head of women's affairs Sameera al-Moussawi stating, "Women don't need a ministry to represent us. We need effective women in every ministry of the country."

Regardless of where you stand on the issue (and it doesn't have to be one or the other -- women could and should be represented in the ministries and they could also have the Women's Ministry of Affairs) don't look for any of that mythical 'progress' in Iraq any time soon. Not even when culture results in bitter power struggles. Monday,
Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) covered the power struggle between the Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities and the Culture Ministry as to whether or not the museum will open next Monday. The Culture Ministry's Jabir al-Jabiri is stating that the museum is not opening and his ministry is over the Ministry for Tourism and Antiquties while MfTaA's Baha al-Mayahi states yes, they are opening next Monday. Aseel Kami (Reuters) explains today that nothing's changed. MfTaA's maintains that the museum will open Monday and Jaber al-Jaberi continues to insist that it won't and that "is the official and final position." Kami observes, "The feud illustrates some of the challenges facing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government as it seeks to capitalise on a drop in violence and unify a country shattered by war." And if they can't get their museum opening straight, lots of luck with prisoners. Marc Santora (New York Times) reports that Wijdan Mikhail Salim (Human Rights Minister) confirms Iraq has received the four, Santora uses Human Rights Watch to provide the names: Hassan Abudl Said, Arkan Mohammad Ghafil al-Karim, Abbas Habid Rumi al-Naely and Ali Abdul Motalib Awayd Hassan al-Tayeea. The paper speaks with the sister of the first man (Hassan Abudl Said) and she (Nada Abdul Hadi Said) tells them she hasn't seen her brother since "1999 when he was drafted into the Iraqi Army" but began hearing from him after the Red Cross told the family in 2004 that "he was a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay." What happens next to the four men is as big a question as when will the US ever leave Iraq?

Ross Colvin (Reuters) reported last night that an unnamed administration source has declared the decision of what Barack plans to do about "cutting troop levels in Iraq" will come "in weeks, not 'days or months'." Rebecca noted that last night. As pointed out most recently in the Feb. 6th snapshot, what to do was supposedly already settled, that campaign 'promise' which included him initiating upon being sworn in. But his Cult never holds him accountable. At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Gordon Duguid was asked if the airspace or land of Turkey and Jordan could be used for US equipment "when the time comes" and Duguid responded, "I am not aware of any discussions on that. I know that the President has asked for a review from the Pentagon on just how you could draw down U.S. forces in Iraq. I am not aware that the review has been finalized, so I would have to refer you to the Pentagon for where that stands at the moment." From J.K.'s "Obama--War Criminal" (The Guillotine):As we noted earlier, if Obama chose to continue the war(s), then he would be the war criminal. Well, it's one month into his regime, and the Los Angeles Times reminds us that Obama has said (among a number of things) that he wanted combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2010--so almost two years from now!--but that: "There are about 146,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Obama has not detailed plans for reducing the force in Iraq". Did anybody who voted for Obama, thinking he was the "anti-war" candidate, really think he wouldn't even have announced any details of a plan to reduce troops in Iraq by the end of his first month in office? Of course, all along Obama, the lawyer, allowed himself a loophole. He would only reduce troops in Iraq if his generals told him it was OK to do so. In other words, he would do what the military told him to. Funny, because in addition to that being the same excuse Bush always used for escalating (and also losing) the wars, the command structure in the US military actually doesn't work that way. The president is the commander-in-chief of the military and it is he who orders the generals around, not the other way. And, has anybody ever asked--what the hell does "OK" mean anyway?Because it wasn't "OK" for US troops to have been in Iraq one damned second. And it still isn't "OK", and it won't ever be "OK"--till they get the hell out of Iraq.

While Barack delays a decision on what to do about Iraq -- after 'promising' 'withdrawal' on the campaign trail, the violence continues.

Ahmed Rasheed and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report the Iraqi Islamic Party's Samir Safwat was shot dead "in his car in Baghdad's Zaafariniya neighborhood" and that his wife was a provincial candidate. Oh those peaceful elections! Results are supposedly due tomorrow.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul raodside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, roadside bombing outside of Kirkuk claimed 1 life and left two people injured.

Also last night in Karbala, the
Telegraph of London reports, 7 people died and twenty-seven were wounded when a bus and a British "armoured vehicle" collided/crashed.

In England a mystery surrounds what was lost?
Patrick Foster (Times of London) reports a Treasury Solictor's Dept attorney left "highly sensitive documents relating to the Iraqi War . . . unguarded on a train" Monday and they are now missing. Foster explains, "It is not yet known exactly what aspect of the Iraq War the documents relate to. Eversheds has carried out public-private partnership work for the Ministry of Defence in the past, including advising on the Combined Aerial Target Service project, which awarded a £300 million contract to provide targeting services for the military."

ETAN is calling for the US "to chart a new course:"

February 17 - In a letter sent today on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Indonesia, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and three dozen other organizations urged her not to offer U.S. assistance to the Indonesian military (TNI) or intelligence agencies."The Secretary of State's visit offers the new Obama administration a great opportunity to chart a new course in U.S. relations with Indonesia," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "We urge Secretary Clinton to promote a forward-looking agenda when she visits Indonesia. Any military assistance should be contingent on human rights accountability and real reform," added Miller. "Secretary Clinton should break with the failed Bush administration policy of engagement with the TNI. The U.S. should once again use military assistance as leverage to promote reform and human rights." "The TNI looks at U.S. government actions. Statements promoting rights and reforms will be dismissed by the TNI unless U.S. assistance is suspended until genuine progress has been made," according to the letter.The letter also urges "no resumption of assistance to or cooperation with the notorious Kopassus special forces. They remain the most egregious element of the TNI. There should also be no initiation of assistance to the military and civilian intelligence agencies (BAIS and BIN) which have long records of repressing human rights groups and other critics." BIN is linked to the murder" of Munir Said Thalib, Indonesia's leading human-rights advocate. "An all-carrot, no-stick approach will undermine efforts to strengthen civilian control of the TNI and achieve judicial accountability for victims of human rights violations," the letter concludes.ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 and for continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces. For additional background, see

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Department of State Washington, DC February 17, 2009 Dear Secretary Clinton: As organizations deeply concerned with human rights and justice in Indonesia and East Timor (Timor-Leste), we urge you to make human rights and reform central to your upcoming visit to Indonesia. Like you, we value a strong U.S. relationship with a democratic Indonesia. We recognize that there are a wide-range of issues of mutual concern between the two countries, among them climate change and the global economic crisis. If you genuinely seek to open a new chapter in U.S. relations with the world's largest Muslim majority nation, we urge you to make clear to Indonesia's leaders that respect for human rights is crucial and that security assistance must be contingent on accountability and real reform. While Indonesia's leaders may balk, its citizens will be grateful. For far too long the United States government has been an accomplice to human rights violations committed by the Indonesian military. In recent years, U.S. leaders often have paid lip service to human rights accountability and reform. Assistance to the Indonesian military (TNI) expanded rapidly -- despite the lack of any significant TNI reform and despite the ongoing failure to hold the TNI accountable for its past and current human rights violations. Any pretense of conditioning engagement on accountability and human rights evaporated. Past U.S. administrations have argued that close cooperation with the Indonesian military would spur reform by exposing TNI personnel to democratic perspectives and build respect for human rights and civilian control. However, decades of U.S. collaboration with the Indonesian military has shown no improvement coming from such association. Many U.S.-trained officers were involved in the worst violence in East Timor (Timor-Leste) and elsewhere. The greatest changes occurred only when the U.S. withheld military assistance, such as foreign military financing and training such as IMET and JCET. For example, during the brief period of serious reform in the years immediately following the resignation of the dictator Suharto, when the separation of the police and military was completed, unelected military officials were removed from Parliament, and East Timor was set on its path to independence. Now that the U.S. is again engaged with the Indonesian military, international and domestic organizations have documented the Indonesian military's continued resistance to civilian control and oversight. The TNI continues to evade budget transparency and maintains its widespread impunity for crimes against humanity. The government has yet to release a long-completed inventory of TNI businesses, a crucial step towards the divestment of all military businesses by 2009 as required by law, despite the Defense Minister's repeated pledges to do so. Reportedly, assets have been stripped from many TNI-owned firms. The US State Department's annual human rights report describes TNI prostitution rings in Papua, while illegal logging and extortion of foreign and domestic firms continues there and elsewhere. UN, State Department and other reports describe Indonesia's human rights courts as incapable of bringing Indonesian military and police perpetrators of serious human rights violations to justice, including those involved in the Tanjung Priok massacre and Abepura (Papua) violence. All those tried by Jakarta's ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor were acquitted. No senior officials have been convicted for the widespread crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor from 1975-1999. Officers credibly accused of serious crimes have continued uninterrupted careers. Several are leading candidates for Indonesia's highest political office this year. Many in Papua view special autonomy as a failure. The military and police are brutally cracking down on Papuans peacefully-expressing their wish for greater control of their land and protesting environmental degradation and deforestation. In the Maluku and Papua, protesters have received lengthy prison terms for their peaceful dissent. Retired senior military officials working in Indonesia's State Intelligence Agency (BIN) are suspected of planning and ordering the 2004 assassination of Munir Said Thalib, Indonesia's leading human-rights advocate. They have yet to be successfully prosecuted. The failure to resolve the high profile murder of such a prominent human rights defender puts others on the front lines in defense of fundamental human rights at even graver risk. Human rights defenders in the provinces of Papua and West Papua remain particularly exposed to threats and violence. The "territorial command system" positions the TNI at the village level and enables their continued involvement in business and politics. This pervasive system poses a threat to upcoming national elections. The TNI-backed fundamentalist Islamic Defenders Front has been intimidating small parties and individuals critical of the military. The previous administration's pursuit of the TNI as a "partner" in the fight against terrorism raises other fundamental issues. American assistance to and cooperation with the TNI ignores the reality that it is the Indonesian police and not the military that are responsible for tracking down alleged terrorists. (Your department's latest "Country Reports on Terrorism" praises civilian efforts and does not mention the TNI.) The previous administration pledged to carefully calibrate any security assistance to Indonesia to promote reform and human rights. There is no evidence they ever did so. We urge you to evaluate the impact of U.S. security assistance on accountability, military reform and human rights. The TNI looks at U.S. government actions. Statements promoting rights and reforms will be dismissed by the TNI unless U.S. assistance is suspended until genuine progress has been made. We urge you to use this leverage and restrict assistance until their substantial progress actually occurs. We especially urge no resumption of assistance to or cooperation with the notorious Kopassus special forces. They remain the most egregious element of the TNI. There should also be no initiation of assistance to the military and civilian intelligence agencies (BAIS and BIN) which have long records of repressing human rights groups and other critics. As noted above, BIN is linked to the murder of human rights advocate Munir. An all-carrot, no-stick approach will undermine efforts to strengthen civilian control of the TNI and achieve judicial accountability for victims of human rights violations. Sincerely,The full list of signers can be found at

And we're closing with
John Pilger's "Hollywood's New Censors" (Information Clearing House):With honourable exceptions, film critics rarely question this and identify the true power behind the screen. Obsessed with celebrity actors and vacuous narratives, they are the cinema's lobby correspondents, its dutiful press corps. Emitting safe snipes and sneers, they promote a deeply political system that dominates most of what we pay to see, knowing not what we are denied. Brian de Palma's 2007 film Redacted shows an Iraq the media does not report. He depicts the homicides and gang-rapes that are never prosecuted and are the essence of any colonial conquest. In the New York Village Voice, the critic Anthony Kaufman, in abusing the "divisive" De Palma for his "perverse tales of voyeurism and violence", did his best to taint the film as a kind of heresy and to bury it. In this way, the "war on terror" -- the conquest and subversion of resource rich regions of the world, whose ramifications and oppressions touch all our lives – is almost excluded from the popular cinema. Michael Moore's outstanding Fahrenheit 911 was a freak; the notoriety of its distribution ban by the Walt Disney Company helped to force its way into cinemas. My own 2007 film The War on Democracy, which inverted the "war on terror" in Latin America, was distributed in Britain, Australia and other countries but not in the United States. "You will need to make structural and political changes," said a major New York distributor. "Maybe get a star like Sean Penn to host it -- he likes liberal causes -- and tame those anti-Bush sequences." During the cold war, Hollywood's state propaganda was unabashed. The classic 1957 dance movie, Silk Stockings, was an anti-Soviet diatribe interrupted by the fabulous footwork of Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire. These days, there are two types of censorship. The first is censorship by introspective dross. Betraying its long tradition of producing gems, escapist Hollywood is consumed by the corporate formula: just make 'em long and asinine and hope the hype will pay off. Ricky Gervais is his clever comic self in Ghost Town, while around him stale, formulaic characters sentimentalise the humour to death. These are extraordinary times. Vicious colonial wars and political, economic and environmental corruption cry out for a place on the big screen. Yet, try to name one recent film that has dealt with these, honestly and powerfully, let alone satirically.. Censorship by omission is virulent. We need another Wall Street, another Last Hurrah, another Dr. Strangelove. The partisans who tunnel out of their prison in Gaza, bringing in food, clothes, medicines and weapons with which to defend themselves, are no less heroic than the celluloid-honoured POWs and partisans of the 1940s. They and the rest of us deserve the respect of the greatest popular medium.

the los angeles timestina susman
aseel kamithe new york timessteven lee myers
ross colvin
marc santora
mcclatchy newspapers
john pilgerredactedbrian de palma

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Isaiah, music and the embarrassing Naomi Klein

I will start with Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Rose Ceremony."
The Rose Ceremony

Little Dicky proved highly popular. (I read the e-mails myself and called Isaiah to find out.) He wasn't supposed to appear in this comic but Isaiah was really taken aback by how popular Little Dicky was off the one comic strip. So he found a way to work him into this one. I think Little Dicky really makes the comic.

I really love the dimensions and drawing in this.

"Kat's Korner: Download The Good Stuff" (Kat, The Common Ills):
Liz Phair put "Soak Up The Sun" over the top with her backup vocals and showed up shortly after with a self-titled album that sounded nothing like her previous work and seemed like a forty-year-old woman trying desperately to sound 17 while including a song about smearing cum on your face to try to pose as the eternal rebel. That heavily labored over (with Avril's production team), impossible to listen to, big label album is just the sort of thing The Good Stuff stands in contrast to. There's no desperation factor here.
Which is so surprising when you start to think about it. Fisk is an emerging actress who probably has a lot to prove (you don't write songs like she does if you don't). It wasn't all that long ago that Minnie Driver was savaged for recording cover songs. Here comes Fisk, and without the Wallflowers to back her up or a label behind her, stepping into one of the most restricted fields for women. Women can sneak in as a cupie doll or a pop tart and, once in the door, strut their stuff and prove they've really got the chops but Fisk's not posing for the cover of Rolling Stone in her underwear, she's not being interviewed while in bed with the (male) reporter Spin sent over. I've yet to read or hear her talking about what line of make up she uses.
Though her voice is nothing like Joni Mitchell, she reminds me of Mitchell. She reminds me of Carly Simon. She's got the same confidence of both women, the same kind of self-assurance about the art. Joni had everyone -- everyone -- doing covers of her tunes and also a huge string of ex-boyfriends who weren't threatened by her and were happy to offer her accolades publicly. (And don't think male artist approval didn't make the critics straighten up their spine and treat Joni like the artist she was as a result.) Carly's path was a bit different with far less help and, therefore, a real need for the audience to discover the songs on their own -- which they did. Both women have many accomplishments to their names and continue to make strong music (Shine and This Kind Of Love being the most recent examples) but think of how many women tried to do it their way and got ground down and ignored.
It's enough to make me half wish Schuyler was shopping for underwear-to-turn-into-outerwear with Britney Spears, getting tips from Madonna about how much skin you can get away with exposing, letting Beyonce tell her about the wonders of having the whole world praising your ass -- anything but doing the actual work required to qualify as a genuine artist.
But then she does a song like "You're Only Lonely," which stands on its own while also paying homage to Roy Orbison's "Only The Lonely," and I toss out concern for where she goes next and am just damn glad she's given us The Good Stuff today. And take comfort in the fact that, should things get especially difficult (as they most likely will), this is the woman who wrote, "It's hard for me to breathe, but you can't keep me, I only showed up because they said you wouldn't be there" ("Cold Heart") and "At least we know we were high but we came down" ("Other Side Of Love"). Maybe she's up for what follows?

I also really love Kat's review and really love music. When all else fails, trust music. It will be much less likely to let you down.

Who would have, for example, thought Naomi Klein would become such an air head, ditz and minnimizer? She is. C.I. covers it in the snapshot. I delinked from Naomi after I caughter her little act in Chicago. She thought she was so cute with her promotion of Barack and attacks on Sarah Palin. 'Loved' her joke about what the Amazon ranks allegedly said about this country.

"Obama orders 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan" (Andrew Gray, Reuters):
U.S. President Barack Obama, in his first major military decision, has ordered 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to tackle worsening insurgent violence, the White House said on Tuesday.

As you'll see in the snapshot, Naomi has no problem with Barack over the Iraq War (the war he has no plan to end) and she has no problem with Barack over the above. Strange, I thought the left in Canadian was against the Afghanistan War. I thought their groups supported Afghanistan veterans resisting the war (ones from the US, they don't have much sympathy for their own soliders who resist).

So Naomi is okay with continuing the illegal war in Iraq and increasing the numbers on the ground in Afghanistan. Naomi, if you'd stop licking your own crotch for a minute, I think you'd see that your arms are turning into wings, the wings of a War Hawk. Whore it out elsewhere, little girl, I'm not interested.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, February 17, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announced deaths over the weekend, the Kurds want to see some real action in Iraq, results due in Thursday (unless delayed again) on the elections held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces, and more.

We''ll start by noting three women. And three topics: propaganda, the return of something that should have stayed gone and silence equals death. Two get called out. One doesn't. Follow along.

We're almost always glad when other outlets not normally associated with Iraq provide some coverage. Almost always.
wowOwow features an article allegedly on the provincial elecitons by Zainab al-Suwaij. What they don't tell you -- click here for Zianab's SourceWatch profile -- is Zainab and George W. Bush were tight. wowOwow forgets that Zainab is just another Iraqi exile who pushed for the US to start an illegal war. Most of all, they -- and this is so laughable (though possibly telling) considering the women involved in wowOwow -- seem to think a woman can speak for servants. That's what Zainab does in her bad bit of propaganda. She has no real data to offer so she goes with "Several women work in my grandmother's home, assisting with cleaning and other domestic work" and wants to tell you what they were planning. I have household assistance. I would never attempt to speak for any of them nor would it be my place to. Nor would I ever assume that someone working for me and agreeing with my point of view was necessarily expressing an opinion they actually shared. The power dynamics involved in any employer-employee relationship make such assumptions dangerous (and smug when offered by the employer) but that should especially be seen as the case when Zainab tells you her grandmother's household help cannot "read or write." Zainab offers a lot of lies (maybe she's thinking wowOwow readers don't follow current events?) and what's especially funny is that all her propaganda is defeated with the photo run with her article. Reader Jera Y has no time for current events or even common sense A.E.B.: "If this war had not happened, would those children have been allowed to play? Would these women have been allowed to vote?" As Reader Marina B so aptly responds, "If there was a restriction on children playing in Iraq prior to our invasion, I am not aware of it. Source, please? In pre-invasion Iraq, women were allowed to vote to the same extent as men."

Anna Badkhen has reported on Iraq for some time, originally for the San Francisco Chronicle and
recently for Salon. She has an article in The New Republic and from it, we'll note this section:

In addition to cajoling the sheiks, Dr. Phil had another idea for insuring the generator's success. On a scorching May afternoon, he invited Betson and a group of soldiers to a sun-drenched intersection on Alwa Street, where a stocky Iraqi in rolled-up gray sweatpants dragged a filthy sheep along the tiled sidewalk. The Iraqi's name was Bassam the Butcher, and, true to his name, he put his right foot--shod in a rubber, manure-caked flip-flop--just below the animal's neck, pinning it to the ground, and, with one swift movement of a short, thin blade, slashed its neck. Betson and his company lowered their M4 rifles and snapped pictures with their digital cameras.
After methodically repeating the procedure on three more sheep, Bassam carried plastic bags sloshing with blood across the street, to the 500-kilowatt generator, fuel tank, and transformer booth that Betson and his company had recently installed. There, the butcher and some neighborhood boys dipped their hands into the sacrificial blood and pressed their palms against the canary yellow walls of the spanking-new equipment.
The ancient tradition of public ritual slaughter has made a comeback in Iraq since the war began. Bloody handprints adorn the metal gates of houses of newlyweds and recently freed detainees. Sacrificing the sheep on the sidewalk and then smearing the generator with their blood, Dr. Phil explained, would show Saidiyah's residents that the people behind the project shared their culture, their beliefs, and their superstitions. For this reason, he paid for the sheep and for the butcher's services out of his own pocket--$180, more than half the average monthly income in Iraq, per sheep. "This is something private, " Dr. Phil said, as he watched Bassam the Butcher work. "It's for me, for my family, for Saidiyah."

File it under 'progress.' And some say the illegal war did little -- it brought back animal sacrifices! (Anna's the one who didn't get called out, for those counting to two.)

ESPRIT is willing but her flesh is weak. Naomi Klein hasn't done much of anything since her wonderful job cobbling together The Shock Doctrine from other sources (with a wrap around interview on torture done by Klein). Which may be why her recent antics document her slow side back to the mall rat she once was. She disgraced herself in Chicago before the elections with a now notorius speech. This month, she wets herself in public on the pages of Matthew Rothschild's The Regressive where Naomi can't stop gushing about how she lowered the boom on her "anarchist" "friends" -- does Naomi know anarchists or have friends? -- and told 'em it's her party and she was going to wet her panties if she wanted to, wet her panties if she wanted to because Barack was joyous . . . and moist apparently. It was so special to her, the US elections. Naomi, pick a damn country already. Your father fled the US to avoid serving in Vietnam. You stayed tight-lipped about that post-9-11 all the way through December 2008. Your paranoia insisted that you'd be denied entry to the US if the truth was known! Oh, no! But if you want to be Canadian, then be it. In which case, America doesn't really need your smug ignorance on display. Go back to your country and work on getting minorities elected there instead of trying to 'take pride' in something that has nothing to do with you.

Proving that the only thing sharp about Naomi were the corners on those ESPRIT sweaters she used to fold, she embarrasses herself in public again: "
In an interview Tuesday, Klein, 38, said she welcomes the election of Barack Obama. But she has two problems: his refusal to insist on accountability for recent American misdemeanours abroad and at home; and his 'narrative that everything went wrong only eight years ago' with the election of George W. Bush." Naomi leaves out the Iraq War, doesn't she? The illegal war Barack's not ending. The Tiffany of the Great White North may find out shortly that those who pick up the pretty doll and play with it, thereby creating interest in the toy, can put it down just as quick at which point it just gathers dust or ends up in the trash.

What the mall rat can't explain,
Thomas E. Ricks (author of The Gamble) did on Washington Unplugged (click here for just the Ricks' segment) wher

John Dickerson: Where are we now in Iraq? There's this feeling -- there's been this recent election, 'Oh, things are getting better in Iraq.' What's your view?Thomas E. Ricks: My view is that there are two fundamental misunderstandings that Americans have about this war. First was how tough the surge was. It was not just a matter of putting a few more troops out into Iraq. It was a very tough six months -- probably the hardest phase of the war so far. The second theme of this book is this war is far from over. Yeah, the war has changed several times. It was an invasion, it morphed into an occupation, into an insurgency, then into a civil war then into an American counter-offensive. It's changing again. Just because it's changing, doesn't mean it's ended. The elections the other day? Yeah. Remember the elections a couple of years ago, purple fingers, people coming out? Followed by a civil war. So I think there are a lot of reasons that Iraq '09 is going to be very tough and in fact harder than the last year of Bush's war. And I think there's a good chance that Obama's war in Iraq will last longer than Bush's war.John Dickerson: So who gets this? Does the president get this? You know, he talked about sixteen months removing troops. What are the commanders tell him? Is there a clash coming here in terms of the ground truth versus what the president may think.Thomas E. Ricks: I think there well indeed might be a clash by the end of the year. Obama's campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq in sixteen months was a fatuous promise. When Americans heard it, what they heard was I will have no American troops dying in 16 months. But it was a false phraseology: "combat troops." Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat. General Odierno says in the book he'd like to see 35,000 troops there as late as 2015. Well into . . . it will be Obama's second term. So I think that at the end of this year, you're going to see a conflict. Obama's going to want to see troop numbers coming down. Odierno, the other big O, as they call him in Iraq, is going to say, "Wait a minute, you're holding general elections here in December, in Iraq. That's exactly the wrong time to take troops out."

(That's the transcript Ava and I used in "
TV: Blustering Boys" -- full transcript is in today's Hilda's Mix. You can also refer to Michelle Levi's write up of the interview.) "Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops." Exactly and it's too bad the likes of Naomi Klein care so damn little.

Leila Fadel (McClatchy's Baghdad Observer) reported, "The Independent High Electoral Commission has announced and then canceled a series of press conferences. Today they nullified 30 ballot boxes after finding fraud, most in the province of Anbar where tribal sheikhs accused the incumbent Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, of vote rigging." Monday K. I. Ibrahim (Washington Post) informed that Iraq's 'election' 'commission' was admitting there was widespread fraud ("in all 14 provinces," said Kareem al-Tamimi) but they weren't concerned about it. Gulf Daily News notes, "Iraqi officials nullified election results in more than 30 polling stations due to fraud in last month's provincial balloting, but the cases were not significant enough to require a new vote in any province, the election chief said yesterday." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports that the results are supposed to be revealed on Thursday and notes, "the ISCI, followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and other politicians have alleged voter fraud and accused the elections commission of not doing a good job. Iraqis had until Feb. 3 to file elections day-related complaints. Elections Commission Chairman Faraj al-Haideri said in a press conference today that he regrets some politicians have accused the commission of acting improperly." Does al-Haiden regret that? Oh, boo hoo. One person who screamed and threatened was Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha (here, here, here, here and here for starters). Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha is the thug who got his way, the thug who got the elections results changed. The thug that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have 'paid their respects to' and been photographed with. He didn't like the results of the January 31st elections so he threatened violence. Instead of being shut down right then and there, he was catered to. The results were changed for him. Dahr Jamail is back in Iraq and he reported on the way monies are wasted in Iraq including 'construction':

That's a polite phrase for what they're doing, and the rubric under which a lot of the payouts take place (however modest actual reconstruction work might be). Think of it this way: Every dealer needs a front man. The U.S. bought the sheiks off and it was to their immediate advantage to be bought off. They regained a kind of power that had been seeping away, while all the money and arms allowed them to put real muscle into recruiting people in the tribes they controlled and into building the Awakening Movement.
The reasons -- and they are indeed plural -- why the tribal leaders were so willing to collaborate with the occupiers of their country are, at least in retrospect, relatively clear. Those in al-Anbar who had once supported, and had been supported by, Saddam Hussein, and then had initially supported the resistance became far keener to work with occupation forces as they saw their power eroded by al-Qaeda-in-Iraq.
AQI proved a threat to the sheiks, many of whom had initially worked directly with it, when it began to try to embed its own fierce, extremist Sunni ideology in the region -- and perhaps even more significantly, when it began to infringe on the cross-border smuggling trade that had kept many tribal sheiks rich. As AQI grew larger and threatened their financial and power bases, they had little choice but to throw in their lot with the Americans.
As a result, these men obtained backing for their private militias, renamed Awakening groups, and in addition, signed "construction" contracts with the Americans who put millions of dollars in their pockets, even if not always into actual construction sites. As early as April 2006, the Rand Corporation released a report, "The Anbar Awakening," identifying America's potential new allies as a group of sheiks who used to control smuggling rings and organized crime in the area.
One striking example was Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who founded the first Awakening groups in al-Anbar and later led the entire movement until he was
assassinated in 2007, shortly after he met with President Bush. It was well known in the region that Abu Risha was primarily a smuggler defending his business operations by joining the Americans.
Not surprisingly, given the lucrative nature of the cooperative relationship that developed, whenever an Awakening group sheik is assassinated, another is always there to take his place. Abu Risha was, in fact, promptly replaced as "president" of the Anbar Awakening by his brother
Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha, also now in the "construction business."

And that about says it all. Staying with the political front, as
Thomas E. Ricks explained on NPR's Fresh Air last week, "The surge worked militarily. There's no question that violence declined in Iraq as a result of the surge and the associated things we've talked about -- the deals with the Sunnis, with Sadr's organization, and the grim fact that the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad was largely completed by the time the surge began. That said, the surge failed. I say that because the surge's purpose was not just to improve security. It was, as the president said, to create a breathing space in which political change could occur and the fact is that political change has not occurred. All the basic questions facing Iraq before the surge are still there and have not been addressed, have not been solved. Those are, for example, the disposition of the disputed city of Kirkuk, the power relationships [. . .] between the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shi'ites, who holds power in the Shi'ite community and, most importantly, the sharing of oil revenue. None of those exestential issues have been solved. All of them threaten still to be solved violently." Note the Fresh Air link also contains a text excerpt of Ricks' new book.

Staying with the political but focusing on northern Iraq,
Ivan Watson (CNN) reported Saturday that Jalal Talabani, the President of Iraq, has seen five members of his political party tender their resignations: "Kurdish members of the Iraqi Parliament say the resignations threaten the delicate balance of power in Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq. It has been the most stable part of the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion." AP adds, "The mood was tense in the PUK-dominated city of Sulaimaniyah on Saturday when Rasoul and the others announced their resignations. PUK security forces and bodyguards for the disgruntled officials patrolled the streets near their offices with weapons in hand." The three Kurdish provinces are scheduled to hold elections May 19th. AFP reports that Nechirvan Barazni, the KRG's Prime Minister, declared today, "What we understand by a responsible withdrawal is that the United States resolves the problems outstanding in Iraq and help the Iraqis confront these problems. I restate that the role of the United States should be to help resolve the problems in Iraq such as Article 140, the oil law, and the law on the distribution of its oil wealth." Article 140 in that statement refers primarily to disputed claims on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The KRG has been increasingly vocal in the last two weeks that these issues -- which, in fairness, were supposed to have been addressed long, long ago -- must be dealt with. "Before a withdrawal," they would add. But there's no withdrawal taking place. Just a drawdown and praise to the GAO for using that term in last week's hearing and not the mythical "withdrawal" so much more commonly used.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Baghdad roadside bombing that left one "Awakening" Council member wounded, a Baghdad missile attack which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four more wounded, two Baquba roadside bombings claimed 2 lives and left thirteen wounded, a Mosul sticky bombing that wounded one police officer and, dropping back to Monday night, a Baiji roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi Support Forces and wounded three more. Reuters notes a roadside bombing that wounded Maj Gen Salahuddin Rasheed and five of his bodyguards.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Mosul.

Sunday the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device in southern Iraq today. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." And they announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died from a non-combat related incident Feb. 14. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." This brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4245.

Turning to diplomatic news,
Monday Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari received British ambassador Christopher Prentice and also met with the Special Envoy of the Turkish President, Ambassador Murad Aozgelik. Patrick Donahue (Bloomberg News) reports Frank-Walter Steimmeier, Germany's Foreign Minister is in Baghdad on "a two-day visit" which was not announced ahead of time and he will be meeting with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. BBC News notes that this is the first visit to Iraq by a German Foreign Minister since 1987. Meanwhile the Japan Times reports, "Japan's five-year-long operation to aid in the reconstruction of Iraq came to a formal conclusion Sunday with a ceremony commemorating the return of personnel from Kuwait to the Air Self-Defense Force base in Aichi Prefecture."

In the US an action takes place next week.
Iraq Veterans Against the War and A.N.S.W.E.R. and Pentagon March are participating. World Can't Wait is as well and the following is their press release on the March action:Sign the "Letter to the Anti-War Movement"
U.S. Out of Iraq & Afghanistan!
No Wars on Iran,Pakistan,Gaza!
The world can't wait!
Come OUT to the first national protest of the wars under President Obama
THURSDAY March 19 leave work & school to PROTEST the 6th anniversary of the Iraq War.
SATURDAY March 21 at the Pentagon.
Barack Obama says he will:
leave 80,000 troops, thousands of private contractors, and 17 permanent bases in Iraq ;
send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan , leading to more killings of civilians;
keep sending robot drones over Pakistan , killing more civilians;
deploy nuclear carriers with enough firepower to annihilate any country in the Mid East;
support the Israeli siege on Gaza ;
keep the "secret rendition" program which Bush used to torture detainees;
keep the government spying on citizens and continue Bush's "state secrets" justification;
increase the U.S. militaryby 92,000 troops, sending more to die for empire;
refuse to investigate & prosecute the war & torture crimes of the Bush regime.
The election of the first Black president is effectively re-branding preemptive and illegal wars of aggression to make us feel good about them, enlisting us to "serve and sacrifice" for horrors we have no good reason to support.
The U.S. war on Afghanistan is an unjust war of aggression--the supreme war crime,waged not to bring democracy and liberation to the Afghan people, but to control Afghanistan with the goal of permanent domination of the Middle East.
But, we don't have to go along! It's immoral to "wait and see" or hope for the best from Obama.
If you care about humanity, get in the streets to send a message to the world that there are millions of us who don't want these crimes carried out.
It's time now to take action & make our demands visible everywhere.
Find actions or organize one at (Veterans speaking at high schools to resist military recruiting)
The World Can't Wait 866 973 4463 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more, you can
click here for the text of pamphlet they are distributing to promote the event and you can visit World Can't Wait at any time for reality based commentary as opposed to the nonsense found at so many other left and 'left' sites.

Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) continues to probe the Cult of Barack in the press:

Could the Times please help this guy rent a room? To Herbert, his new interest is "intelligent, mature, thoughtful, calm in the face of crises...maybe even wise." He's relaxed, with complete command--the very model of what you would want.
We're glad to see Herbert find true love at last. After all, the last time he got fixed up an impressive Dem, he decided that the troubling fellow was condescending, supercilious, contemptuous and disdainful--smug and boorish besides! He even called Eddie Haskell to mind--and Herbert said so, loudly, in print, three weeks before an election. By way of contrast, George W. Bush was doing his best, Herbert swore that day. See
We're glad to see Herbert happy at last. In the past, he's been a fussy dater. For results, please observe the whole world.

As Somerby asks elsewhere in his article (on another issue but it applies to the above), "Can anyone tell us why we race to adopt the techniques of a guy like Sean Hannity? Why we should think it's a good idea to treat liberal readers like fools?" Anyone? Anyone?

anna badkhen
naomi klein
thomas e. rickscbs newswashington unplugged
michelle levi
the washington postk.i. ibrahimmcclatchy newspapersleila fadelivan watson
gina chon
the wall street journal
fresh airnpr
dahr jamail