Friday, October 23, 2009

David Brock, you ought to be ashamed of yourself

"Media Matters coordinates campaign against 'lethal' Fox" (Ben Smith, Politico):
An official at a Democratic-leaning organization sends on a memo the group Media Matters is circulating today to progressive groups, calling Fox "a lethal 24/7 partisan political operation" and rallying a coalition of groups to join the White House assault on the network.
"The danger to progressive causes and the institution of journalism has become too significant to ignore," says the introduction to a memo by Media Matters founder David Brock. "At Media Matters, we believe it is of paramount importance that progressive leaders have the information necessary to understand exactly what Fox News has become. We hope this brief memorandum will assist you in reaching your own decision on how best to engage this threat."
One of the group's conclusions: Progressive groups should join the White House's effective boycott of the network, and failing that, "any progressive who chooses to go on Fox News should understand that they will be debating the political opposition, not conducting a news interview."

So David Brock who was a closeted gay man for most of his career because the GOP didn't like gays, decides to come over to the left as the 90s close and he's skip-skip skipping along like Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and swearing that he's changed and swearing that he wants to do journalism and swearing that he realizes how wrong his days as a self-proclaimed GOP hit-man were.

This is the David Brock who found 'fame' by calling Anita Hill "a little nutty and a little slutty." That's the same David Brock.

He destroyed Anita Hill, he lied to get Thomas on the Court and he knew he was lying.

David Brock was a filthy whore.

But everyone gets a second chance.

Maybe he truly saw the light?

He didn't learn a damn thing.

All he learned to do was move to the left and do what he did over on the right.

I am disgusted with David Brock now. He will not appear at any community site and C.I. will delink from Media Matters. We will no longer, as a community, ever promote them again.

Coordinating messages, are we?

So yet again he's government propaganda. Shame on anyone who puts up with this crap let alone applauds it.

Wouldn't you know that gutter snake, trash liar David Brock would be behind this. He's demonstrated he is the same piece of s**t he was in the 90s. He hasn't learned a damn thing. He's nothing but a stupid ass whore and only the faux left will have a thing to do with him from this point on.

By who he hangs with, you will know them. They will reveal themselves. Those who exist only to advance government spin will continue to applaud Media Matters.

Those who care about free speech, or for that matter journalism, will run the hell from that piece of s**t and all of his associations.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 23, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, still no 'progress' on Iraq's election law, Iraqi Christians consider fleeing due to violence, the United Nations says Iraqis should not be forced to return to Iraq (pay attention England and Denmark), Gordo Brown decides British lives are worth less than Iraqi oil, the US Congress forgets Iraq, and more.

This morning on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show (second hour, international hour), Diane was joined by panelists Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and Janine Zacharia (Bloomberg News). Iraq was noted in the following:

Diane Rehm: Let's go right back to the phones, to Kansas City, MO. Good morning, Ron.

Ron: Good morning. My question deals with the economic development. I was -- I traveled in Iraq and one of the things that I saw there wasn't really -- for all the billions of dollars that we were spending over there -- there's not a lot of economic development taking place. So, you know, that's lacking. My understanding of Afghanistan is that they were once -- they are geographically located in what was known as "The Old Silk Trade" -- that's between the Middle East and Asia. And I want to know what's going on to try to redevelop that in the way of infrastructure with roads and railroads which would allow them to have a place into the global economy which should be the essential goal that the United States would want?

Diane Rehm: Let's take Iraq first. Abderrahim?

Abderrahim Foukara: Well the issue of economic development, it has at least two impediments in Iraq. One is corruption. And the second one is political instability. Now Prime Minister Maliki was here in Washington recently. They're saying -- both he and President Obama have been saying -- Iraq is now stable enough to start focusing on economic development. Now that's one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is that the whole focus on economic development as we have seen it talked about here in Washington during Prime Minister -- Prime Minister Maliki's visit is that Iraq, which has sort of fallen off the radar here in the United States, is actually still not doing well politically. And talking economic development is one way of diverting attention -- people's attention -- from the real problems that continue to bedevil Iraq. [. . .]

Diane Rehm: Janine?

Janine Zacharia: Well you know too echo what Abderrahim said, Prime Minister Maliki came again this week to say "Iraq's open for business" but it truly is not open for business when you still have the sec -- Correct, the political situation is involved so we don't know what's going to happen with January elections, but the security issues is still paramount. You cannot -- American businessmen or international businessmen cannot go and roam around Iraq and set up shop right now and import Coca Cola and do all these things without being worried about being blown up. [. . .]

Diane Rehm: Moises?

Moises Naim: Economic development is very, very difficult. Economic development in the middle of a war is impossible. So it doesn't matter. There's no country ever that's developed on the basis of foreign aid. You can pour as much money as you want and unless you have a functioning market and investors, commercial activity -- development will not happen. And it's impossible to have that if you have a war going on.

We're not doing the "Afghanistan snapshot" so "[. . .]" indicates they then turned to the issue of Afghanistan. We will note Afghanistan in a moment, in terms of a Congressional exchange led by US House Rep Susan Davis. But first, let's note the political referred to above.

Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "Once again the US finds itself hostage to Iraqi politics -- this time as a result of a standoff among Iraqi political parties over an overdue election law." If you're saying "Huh?", you were sleeping last week when Gina Chon was warning the Thursday date was approaching and Iraq appeared to be missing it. Parliamentary elections in Iraq are said to take place this coming January. That's after they were already kicked back. They were supposed to take place in December. They kicked it back to January. Last week, on Thursday, they were supposed to have passed the law and didn't. And still haven't. On Wednesday, the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy appeared before the House Armed Services Committee and stated that Iraq actually had two more weeks to pass it. (Kat covered the hearing here.) Flournoy also stated they could just pass legislation on what day to hold the election and leave all matters to the 2005 election law -- which, no, would not be 'progress'. She left out the part about Iraq's court system finding that law to be unconstitutional. While Flournoy attempted to downplay, others aren't doing so. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) observes, "The US military may have to put on indefinite hold its plan to dispatch additional troops to Afghanistan if Iraq's election does not take place on time in January. [. . .] On Wednesday, after prolonged debate, the Iraqi parliament admitted failure in its efforts to draft a new election law to govern the coming contest and asked the Political Council for National Security to take on the task." "Thrown in doubt" is the call Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) makes and goes on to note of the High Electoral Commission: "The commission, responsible for organizing polls in Iraq, has said that it needs 90 days to print and distribute ballots. Iraqi and UN officials fear that the election could be delayed if lawmakers fail to pass a revised election law this week." The New York Times editorializes in "Counting Backward" that when it comes to the elections, Iraq's Constitution must be followed (they appear to forget that Iraq's Constitution also covers Kirkuk -- click here for more on that and don't miss the latest Inside Iraq for the issue as well). Barbara Surk (AP) reports today that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's spokesperson stated the Ayatollah wants the elections to take place January 16th as has been announced. Howard LaFranchi explains:

The situation, which caught Obama administration diplomats off guard as they have focused attention on Afghanistan and the electoral crisis there, is reminiscent of the stalemate the Bush administration faced in 2007 concerning a series of "benchmark" laws the US Congress sought in return for continuing support to Iraq.
At that time, US diplomats spoke of "two clocks" in the two capitals to explain the discrepancy between Washington's demand for quick political action and Baghdad's refusal to be rushed.
The two clocks are on display again, with US diplomats including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton imploring Iraqi leaders to pass an election law. For their part, some Iraqi politicians say it is Americans and not Iraqis who feel a need to hurry on legislation that cuts to the heart of Iraq's power struggles.
The election law should have been approved by Oct. 15 in order for elections scheduled for Jan. 16 to go forward, according to the Iraqi constitution.

Alsumaria reports that the National Security Political Council will discuss the election law tomorrow when they meet. Former Reagan administration official Lawrence J. Korb (Center for American Progress) is on the ground in Iraq gathering impressions and, in his latest piece, he notes:

Iraq is a fragile state, and it can become a stable or failed state depending on whether the government increases or decreases in legitimacy and competence. If it does not become more competent or regresses, there is danger of a coup. Losing legitimacy could lead to a civil war.

From Parliament issues to the US Congress, we're dropping back to yesterday. And we'll start with a question: Does the US Congress exist to help scoundrels rake in more ill gotten gain?

Thursday, we (
Ava, Wally, Kat and myself) attended a hearing that was a complete waste of time unless you're a lobbyist/business person needing Congress to give you a stamp of approval. We attended the waste of time hearing because it was entitled "Afghanistan and Iraq: Perspectives on US Strategy." Due to votes, there was a lengthy break in there and, if we'd been smart, we would have bailed during the break because after one hour of that hearing, one hour when NO ONE mentioned Iraq, it was as obvious as it was embarrassing -- embarrassing for the US House Armed Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Do they have trouble reading on the Hill?

For most of us in the United States, a hearing entitled "Afghanistan and Iraq: Perspectives on U.S. Strategy" would be about . . . Afghanistan and Iraq. So where the hell was Iraq?

They didn't have time for it. They had time to call war mongers "public servants."

What the hell is Barry McCaffrey doing testifying to Congress to begin with? Retired general? BR McCaffrey Associates, LLC is his company. And his company is in the business of prolonging wars so when he says the military has to stay and when he refers to the 'justifiable' "anger" Americans had towards Afghanistan -- and laments it being gone -- every damn word out of his mouth is suspect because he's working the street, under the street lamp, trolling for bucks.

Here's SourceWatch on the Old War Whore Barry:

In April 2008 documents obtained by New York Times reporter David Barstow revealed that McCaffrey had been recruited as one of over 75 retired military officers involved in the
Pentagon military analyst program. Participants appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts, and/or penned newspaper op/ed columns. The program was launched in early 2002 by then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke. The idea was to recruit "key influentials" to help sell a wary public on "a possible Iraq invasion."[1]

[. . .]

Shortly after the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, McCaffrey exclaimed on
MSNBC: "Thank God for the Abrams tank and... the Bradley fighting vehicle." The "war isn't over until we've got a tank sitting on top of Saddam's bunker," he added. The Nation noted, "in March [2003] alone, [Integrated Defense Technologies] received more than $14 million worth of contracts relating to Abrams and Bradley machinery parts and support hardware." [15]

The above says he's got nothing to say that isn't either suspect or paid for. He sells war and he profits from it. There is no reason the US Congress needs to waste their time or US tax payer dollars getting Barry's opinion on Afghanistan. He is not, no matter how many times some members of Congress got it wrong, "a public servant." He is a lobbyist and he lobbies for war. That's reality.

Reality is also that if you're hearing's entitled Iraq and if US forces are in Iraq -- more than are in Afghanistan -- it's pretty damn stupid and insulting not to even shoot the s**t about Iraq in passing during the hearing. Now Pakistan the subcommitee made time for in the hearing despite Pakistan not being in the hearing's title.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert made an idiot of himself (no surprise there) in an online discussion with David Brooks (Brooks was no better but the world has grown accustomed to that). Here's Herbie:

Bob Herbert: David, the president is deciding what we should be doing with regard to troop deployments in Afghanistan. It seems to me that however one feels about this war and the war in Iraq, the environment here on the home front is bizarre. This is as weird a wartime atmosphere as I can imagine. For most Americans, there is nothing in the way of shared wartime sacrifices. There is no draft. We have not raised taxes to pay for the wars. Except for the families of those in the military, most Americans are paying very little attention to these conflicts. I've brought this matter up a few times on college campuses and the response has been, in essence, a collective shrug.

We addressed that in terms of the press last night (
click here). But, hey, Bob Herbert, what does it say when the US Congress forgets the Iraq War? Riddle me that, Bob Herbert.

Here's a section of the hearing:

US House Rep Susan Davis: Help me with this issue because we are continuing to raise the issue of the role of women and whether or not we're abandoning them in any way if we move into negotiating or how we're able to have some kind of reconciliation in Afghanistan -- we want to focus on them. Where -- where does security lie because clearly the military has paved the way for many efforts in Afghanistan. I mean there's no doubt about that. And yet on the other hand, I understand that it's perhaps overly ambitious of us to believe that all of those efforts with the military and civilian capacity both are not necessarily in the best -- are picking up the best -- the best interests of the Afghan people -- or the region, assuming that Pakistan we're talking about as well. Do you want to -- Ms. Cole?

Beth Ellen Cole: I think that with governance -- like all of these issues -- we have to enlarge our view of security. I mean security is not just something that military forces can bring to the communities of Afghanistan. In the United States, we think of the security as school guards and bank guards and people who protect judges. And it's not just a question of military or police forces. Border guards, people that are dealing with looking at money laundering and bank operations and we -- in that sense, this -- the debate about troops is a very, very important debate but we have to think about the other assets that we have to bring to bear including -- with the Afghans -- including putting women as police officers in certain places or as school guards which we've shown we can do in Liberia. [. . .]

US House Rep Susan Davis: General Barno, do you have any thoughts?

Lt Gen Dave Barno (retired general): Two things. I think one, on the issue of security, you're absolutely correct that there -- it's not a sequential problem of security and reconstruction and development, these things are concurrent , these things have to parallel with one another. [. . .] The other question I think you alluded to was this idea of "What does it mean to women if we negotiate with the Taliban?" That's a paraphrase of what, perhaps, I think you were saying you were saying. And-and I do think we have to be aware that in my estimation, I think from a policy standpoint right now, having the Taliban be part of the government of Afghanistan is not where this is going, is not the objective. Having reformed Taliban, ex-Taliban, Taliban that have rejected violence, put down their weapons and join the political process, that's a very different outlook. The small "t" if you will, the individuals, not-not the movement. And I think that's where we have to be careful that we don't inadvertently send this message that we're willing to negotiate with the Taliban because we're really trying to exit -- as opposed to we're willing these Taliban, former Taliban fighters, lay down their arms and become part of this political process. Our goal when I was there was not to kill the Taliban -- collectively in the big strategic picture, it was to make the Taliban irrelevant, make no one want to become part of the Taliban, no one aspire to the Taliban and that takes a very nuanced approach of many different elements of simply security and military forces.

US House Rep Susan Davis: Mm-hm. Mr. Waldman, can I just real quickly get a response from you on that?

Matthew Waldman: Sure. I-I-I mean, in terms of security [. . .] But as has been said by Ms. Cole, the notion of security is much broader and-and of course, really security will political strategy which is indigenous In terms of women, you're absolutely right to raise this, I think it's a very serious issue. I think the-the-the -- when one travels the country and talks to Afghans, it's very clear that they want their girls to go to school -- if you look at the numbers now, over 2 million girls in school, yeah, you know, there's this universal desire to see that happen and for women to have the uh, in most areas, for women to be able to work and have rights, freedoms and rights that-that men have. It is alarming that the Shia law was passed recently, which you're probably aware of. And I certainly think that one has to ask about the commitment to the current administration to --

Us House Rep Susan Davis: Yes --

Matthew Waldman: -- women's rights.

US House Rep Susan Davis: -- which is doubtful.

Matthew Waldman: Yeah, yes. It certainly is. And uh we've yet to see real substance behind the-the-the work to try to-to empower women and to uh support their opportunities and rights. But you're also right that there is concern about women's rights after -- as negotiations move forward. Now of course reconciliation -- truth and reconciliation -- is essential in Afghanistan.

To review the participants above: Cole works for the US Institute of Peace (US government), Waldman works for the Carr Center AGAINST Human Rights (US government mouthpiece with a major in counter-insurgency studies and cheerleading) and Barno (Near East South Asia Center For Strategic Studies --
billed as "the preeminent U.S. Government institution for building relationships and understanding in the NESA region"). So the US government is more than well represented and we can all chuckle and pretend the stammering and stumbling Waldman represented the land of academia as well. So what did Barry represent? The War Machine. So that gets a seat at the table in front of Congress? That's really pathetic and really shameful and it's past time that Barry was pulled from Congressional panels because he's not an expert and he uses the fact that Congress calls on him as part of his business portfolio.

Now we didn't highlight the above exchange to say: The US must stay in Afghanistan for the women! That's b.s. The Afghanistan War's gone on long enough. Suddenly, the US gives a damn about women's rights? No, it's time to fly that false flag and see if you can get anyone to salute it.

No one should.

And you need to relate it back to Iraq where women did have a higher social standing, the highest in the region. And they've lost all that. It's much too late to worry about women's rights. Women were sold out by the US government and it was not by accident or happen-stance. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the US government made the decision (after making the decision for illegal war) to install thugs with US ties that they thought they could interact with (in stealing the natural resources of both countries) and that they thought could terrorize the local population (the non-exiles) into a state of fear where they would not fight back.

They went for thugs. They installed thugs. Thugs don't respect rights. They don't respect women's rights, they don't respect women. At the start of this month, Najaf banned alcohol -- and not out of any concern over alcoholism but to 'condemn' the 'sin' of drinking alcohol. They're reactionary zealots and thugs and they were installed because that's what they were.

We do not need to get caught up in the cry of "for the women!" -- of Iraq or Afghanistan. The US has destroyed the lives for women in both countries and the US is not the one who can fix it. They've had more than enough time to try. They don't give a damn. With Iraq, US President Barack Obama could have sent a powerful message by making the US Ambassador to Iraq a woman. He wasn't interested. He went with the inept Chris Hill. And, as Republicans in the Senate knew, Chris Hill would screw things up because that's what he does -- as his personnel file demonstrates -- and they knew they could turn around and use him in any campaign. "Chris Hill screwed up Iraq!" "We had the surge and everything was wonderful! Then Chris Hill was installed!"

The Obama administration refuses to learn from mistakes and refuses to anticipate them. The arrogance is what is bringing them down (and, yes, they are being brought down -- the hero worship is over). Republicans (the current incarnation) would not attack Ray Odierno. He's military. So if they wanted to attack on Iraq -- a very serious issue to many voters -- they were going to go civilian. Therefore, who Barack appointed as ambassador was a serious issue. He or she was going to be attacked regardless. A competent woman doing a wonderful job would still have been attacked by the Republicans. But that said (whomever was installed in the post would be attacked), it's no excuse to install an incompetent of either gender but that's what happened with Chris Hill.

As Janine Zacharia observed on NPR today, violence continues in Iraq.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing last night (no one wounded or killed apparently), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 man and left his wife and their three children wounded and a Baaj roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul on Friday, 1 traffic police officer shot dead in Mosul and one police officer wounded in a Mosul shooting.

Mike noted, "Reuters reports, 'Iraq will temporarily shut down thousands of schools in two provinces and some in Baghdad after discovering 36 new cases of the H1N1 flu virus, Iraqi officials said on Tuesday'." Today John Leland (New York Times) reports on the "nearly 2,500 school closings" which have resulted from the fears or concerns: "Dr. Ihsan Jaafar, general director of the Public Health Directorate in the Health Ministry, said the number of cases was insignificant, especially compared with neighboring countries, where infection rates were much higher."

Yesterday's snapshot noted the United Nations High Commisoner for Refguees (UNHCR) released a new report entitled "Asylum Levels and Trends in Inudstrialized Countries First Half 2009: Statistical overview of asylum applications lodged in Europe and selected non-European countries." The report found that Iraqis continued to be the number one aslyum-seekers around the globe. Today UNHCR's Andrej Mahecic spoke on the issue of Iraqi refugees and the forcible deportation of them:

UNHCR is concerned about the fact that some European states have begun forcibly returning Iraqi originating from the region of Central Iraq over the last few months. In our guidelines issued last April, we noted that in view of the serious human rights violations and continuing security incidents throughout Iraq, most predominantly in the central governorates, asylum-seekers from these governorates should be considered to be in need of international protection. UNHCR therefore advises against involuntary returns to Iraq of persons originating from Central Iraq until there is a substantial improvement in the security and human rights situation in the country.
This reminder comes after the UK attempted to forcibly return 44 Iraqi men to Baghdad earlier this month. They were reportedly unsuccessful asylum claimants held in immigration removal centres in the UK. Iraq only accepted 10 who were allowed to leave the chartered aircraft in Baghdad, and the remaining 34 were returned to the UK and placed in immigration centres.
Other European states have signed readmission agreements with Iraq for voluntary and forced return. Denmark has forcibly returned 38 people originating mainly from Central and Southern Iraq since signing its agreement in May 2009. Sweden has undertaken some 250 forced returns with an unspecified number of returnees originating from the five central governorates of Iraq since signing an agreement in February 2008. UNHCR has also concerns about the safety and dignity of these returns.
Concerning asylum-seekers from the three northern governorates, as well as those from the southern governorates and Al Anbar, UNHCR recommends that their protection needs are assessed on an individual basis.

A significant number of Iraqi refugees are Christians.
Mindy Belz (World Magazine) recounts some of the recent violence aimed at Iraqi Christians: "In May a 32-year-old Christian teacher was kidnapped in Kirkuk, but freed two weeks later by a joint operation between the Iraqi army and Awakening forces, or former insurgents now siding with Iraqi and U.S. forces. On Aug. 18 insurgents kidnapped a 50-year-old Christian physician named Samir Gorj. A passerby, also a Christian, who tried to come to his aid during the abduction was shot and killed." After his family piad a larger ransom, Gorj was released. "Then on Oct. 3 Imad Elia, a Christian nurse in Kirkuk, was kidnapped in front of his home and found dead in the street two days later." Meanwhile Sardar Muhammad (niqash) reports that Iraqi Christians are weighing whether or not to flee Kirkuk due to an increasing violence, "Local Christians say that they are now targets of armed groups and tens of them have been killed and kidnapped, while their churches have been bombed."

Iraqi refugees aren't the only ones being returned by others.
Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports the British government is sending the country's Royal Navy back to Iraq "to help train Iraqi sailors and protect oil platforms" according to the UK's Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell. To protect the oil, imagine that. Of especial interest to the US is this section of Rammell's statement:

The House will be aware that the UK concluded combat operations in Iraq on 30 April, and that our combat forces were withdrawn by the end of July in accordance with our previous arrangement with the Government of Iraq.

"Combat forces" are 'gone.' Because "protecting oil" is a non-violent effort? Point: The UK returns to Iraq. There was no withdrawal. "Combat" forces is a joke. Combat forces as opposed to that brigade of Iyengar Yoga instructors the US military usually deploys? On the UK's return, as Rebecca observed last week, "
gordo even screws up a withdrawal."

In the
September 4th snapshot, the following appeared:Meanwhile Quil Lawrence (NPR -- text only) reports that Iraqi security forces are using an instrumbent to detect bombs that probably doesn't do that: "Many U.S. officials say the science is about as sound as searching for groundwater with a stick. [. . .] One American expert in Baghdad compared the machine with a Ouija board but wouldn't comment on the record. A U.S. Navy investigation exposed a similar device made by a company called Sniffex as a sham." SniffexQuestions comments:

The NPR story you mentioned about a dubious explosive detector understates the problem. This is the latest in a long history of fraudulent explosive detectors that are dowsing rods. 15 years ago, the FBI busted the company, and when they opened the detectors they found they were empty. When they raided the factory, the FBI found the company was photocopying a Polaroid photo of cocaine in order to tell the detector what the molecular signature was. And in a stroke of genius so that competitors or foreign countries could not reverse engineer the "detection signature chip" they printed the photocopies on black paper. The company moved overseas, has changed the name of the product multiple times, but it has never passed a test showing it is more effective than flipping a coin as to finding explosives or drugs. Sniffex was a copycat product by a Bulgarian "inventor" that came out a few years ago. The US distributors were arrested and prosecuted by the Securities and Exchange Commission for using the device as the basis of a stock scam, but the new Sniffex Plus is still for sale to consumers overseas. I have been to the Middle East, and seen these in use outside hotels and other businesses.

TV notes. Tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings),
NOW on PBS explores global warming:Is climate change turning coastal countries into water worlds? NOW travels to Bangladesh to examine some innovative solutions being implemented in a country where entire communities are inundated by water, battered by cyclones, and flooded from their homes.Imagine you lived in a world of water. Your home is two-feet under. You wade through it, cook on it, and sleep above it. This is the reality for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, coastal populations on the front lines of climate change.Only weeks before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss climate change, NOW senior correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels to Bangladesh to examine some innovative solutions -- from floating schools to rice that can "hold its breath" underwater -- being implemented in a country where entire communities are inundated by water, battered by cyclones, and flooded from their homes.

Many PBS stations begin airing
Washington Week tonight as well (remember there is a web extra to each show if you podcast and you can check out the web extra the following Mondays when it is also posted to the website). Joining Gwen around the table this week is Dan Balz (Washington Post), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), David Sanger (New York Times) and Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal) -- and the show plans to remember journalist and Washington Week panelist Jack Nelson who passed away earlier this week. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Bernadine Healy, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Patricia Sosa to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Medicare and Medicaid fraudsters are beating U.S. taxpayers out of an estimated $90 billion a year using a billing scam that is surprisingly easy to execute. Steve Kroft investigates.
Fighting For The Cure More Americans are suffering from epilepsy than Parkinson's, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis combined. Katie Couric reports on a disease that may not be getting the attention it deserves. Watch Video
Tyler Perry When Hollywood refused to produce his films his way, Tyler Perry started his own studio in Atlanta and now his movies - including the popular "Madea" series - are drawing huge audiences. Byron Pitts profiles the new and unlikely movie mogul. Watch Video
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

the diane rehm shownpr
michael jansenthe irish timessalah hemeidthe new york times
bob herbertdavid brooks
howard lafranchi
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
sniffexquestionsmorning editionquil lawrence
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbe

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No government should attack the press

"White House: Media shouldn't follow Fox" (Josh Gerstein and Mike Allen, Politco):
A White House attempt to delegitimize Fox News – which in past times would have drawn howls of censorship from the press corps – has instead been greeted by a collective shrug.
That's true even though the motivations of the White House are clear: Fire up a liberal base disillusioned with Obama by attacking the hated Fox. Try to keep a critical news outlet off-balance. Raise doubts about future Fox stories.
But most of all, get other journalists to think twice before following the network’s stories in their own coverage.
"We're doing what we think is important to make sure news is covered as fairly as possible," a White House official told POLITICO, noting how the recent ACORN scandal story started because Fox covered it “breathlessly for weeks on end."
"And then you had a couple days of breast-beating from The Washington Post and The New York Times about whether or not they were fast enough on the ACORN story," the official said. "And it's like: Wait a second, guys. Let's make sure that we keep perspective on what are the most important stories, and what's being driven by a network that has a perspective. Being able to make that point has been important."

An e-mail expressing huge disappointment in me was printed up by Sunny. The e-mailer is appalled that I haven't addressed the issue of the White House attacking Fox. Well, I thought it had been addressed in this community.

For example, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House On Attack" went up Sunday.

white house on attack

It was noted in Third's "Whatever happened to the facts?" (which we all worked on as various articles and Jess compiled it into one with a polish from Ava and C.I.). Ann's "Anita the Trash" covered it Monday.

In terms of Ava and C.I. (the e-mail mentioned them), as I noted, they worked on the piece we all did at Third and did a polish of it. But in terms of covering it at their TV beat? They don't cover cable. They cover broadcast TV and that was determined by readers of Third many years ago. In addition, they did discuss this Saturday (they fly out of Boston each Saturday -- they end the week on the road in that area because of Rebecca's daughter and they stayed later to participate in the protests Saturday). Their feeling was that to cover it at the TV beat would be breaking the 'rule' of cable and also require more than they were able to do because they have never ever watched Fox News.

They don't play insta-expert. They write from an informed stance. They make multiple calls to friends at networks, on shows, in the print press, ect. People have this idea that Ava and C.I. show up Saturday night with no planning when they've already laid the groundwork for three different articles and just have to figure out which one they'll be writing. Then they may make additional calls before writing. If they're doing an entertainment show, not only have they done that but they've also read scripts for the series and watched multiple videos of it.

So that's why Ava and C.I. haven't covered Fox in the TV beat.

But the opinion of the community -- including Ava and C.I. and including me -- is that the White House has crossed a line. It's the government, it's not a news outlet. It needs to stick to its job and not attempt to intimidate a news organization.

It is disgusting that they are even trying to.

I am sorry that it wasn't clear to anyone. I'm glad the person wrote. I hope this has clarified things. Speaking for me (and anyone in the community is free to disagree), I have never watched Fox News, never plan to, but that doesn't mean I cheer on any White House attacking a news outlet. For those 'outlets' that might think they have something to offer and are better than Fox News, I would say that I once thought Pacifica Radio was better but they've spent all of 2008 and 2009 proving otherwise and for the most recent example of that, see Ruth's "Against the Grain attacks Chomsky, Zinn, McChesney and more." Fox News is a news outlet. It is not one I choose to utilize but it is a news outlet and I will defend it the same way I would any other news outlet.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 21, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi Parliament still has not passed an election law, the issue was raised by the US Congress today, Congress has a problem getting the Defense Department to show them a draw-down plan, and more.

"Today the Committee meets to receive testimony on the status of the US Military Redeployment From Iraq: Issues and Challenges," explained US House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton this morning. The Committee heard from the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy, Vice Admiral James Winnefeld, Alan Estevez and Lt Gen Kathleen Gainey. Chair Skelton observed, "I don't think anyone on this committee thinks this will be the last hearing on this subject. We have been involved in Iraq for a long time, and I believe we will be involved there for a long time to come." In her opening remarks, Flournoy noted that

Michele Flournoy: Examples of the kinds of excess equipment that we intend to transfer to the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] are tool kits and sets, individual clothing and equipment items such as helmets and body armor and commercial trucks. We requested the authority to streamline the material process and transfer some non-excess equipment such as 9mm pistols, cargo trucks, airfield control and operations systems, M1114 up-armored HWMMVs and armored gun trucks. We would like thank the Committee for including this authority as it will help ensure that the ISF can fulfill their mission by the time US forces depart, an absolutely vital step toward the goal of a soverign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.

Meanwhile Vice Admiral James Winnefeld
made like Fatboy Slim. The original . . .

Fatboy Slim: We've come a long, long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d

The pale copy . . .

Vice Admiral James Winnefeld: Meanwhile the Iraqi Security Forces
which we'll refer to as "ISF"
have come a long way
since the security agreement was signed in November 2008.

Like most people, I prefer the original; however, it should be noted that both are creative -- even if only one is recognized as such while the other is treated as 'fact' by a cowed media.

Chair Ike Skelton: Back on July 22nd, Madame Undersecretary, we asked that the Department of Defense provide our committee with a copy of Up Forward 0901 which is, so the members will remember, the order that lays out the organizations and responsibilities for various functions and how the redeployment will work. Despite repeated requests, by our staff, of the Dept of Defense, that Up Forward 0901 has not been provided nor has their been a legal reason given for not providing it for us. Now we pass legislation based upon testimony, based upon briefings, based upon documents. And all of this goes together to put us in position to receive compliments like Admiral Winnefeld just gave us on putting out good legislation. But this one piece of legislation, which is highly important on redeployment from Iraq, thus far, unless you're willing to give it to us this morning, has not been furnished.

Michele Flournoy: Sir, I am -- we are quite happy to have -- to bring that O plan over to you to have staff brief you on the details --

Chair Ike Skelton: And you will leave it with us in our classified --

Michele Flournoy: And I regret that we were not more responsive to your request earlier. But what we'd like to do is come over and-and share it with you, brief you on it and we can work out the details of how it should be handled.

Chair Ike Skelton: Well the details are not just coming over and show it to us and then walk back with it.

Michele Flournoy: I understand.

Chair Ike Skelton: We are very responsible in this committee and responsible with classified material as you know.

Michele Flournoy: I understand. Right.

Chair Ike Skelton: It's some 400 pages long --

Michele Flournoy: [Overlapping] I understand.

Chair Ike Skelton: -- and come over and give us a rough look in 400 pages is pretty difficult. And we would expect full cooperation. And really, is there some reason? We really want to know --

Michele Flournoy: There is --

Chair Ike Skelton: I'm not trying to be difficult I just really want to know.

Michele Flournoy: There is no intention to keep the information from you at all and-and we want to be responsive to your requests.

Chair Ike Skelton: But that was July 22nd?

Michele Flournoy: I understand. I think it was recently brought to my attention and we want to make sure that we are responsive to your response as quick -- as soon as possible. I don't have it physically with me today but I can promise you that we will get it to you.

Chair Ike Skelton: You'll bring it over and leave it with us in a classified manner so we will have the time to go through the 400 pages? Is that correct?

Michele Flournoy: Yes.

Requested July 22nd and three months later still not provided. Why would the administration work so hard to avoid sharing the plan with Congress? And didn't the secrecy leave with George W. Bush? ("No" on the latter.)

Iraq still hasn't passed the election law. The one that was supposed to have been passed by Parliament no later than . . . last Thursday.
Jeff Mason (Reuters) reports that "Barack Obama urged Iraq on Tuesday to complete an election law so that a January poll is not delayed" and it didn't make a damn bit of difference. Iran's Press TV reports the Parliament took a pass again today and quotes Speaker of Parliament Iyad al-Samarrai, "The issue has failed and has been moved on to the Political Council for National Security." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) quotes al-Sammaraie stating, "Lawmakers felt they had reached a dead end and couldn't move forward any further so we are giving this to the political leaders." They are now 'planning' to vote on Monday . . . "if the council, comprising of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and the leaders of major political parties, make a proposal by Sunday." Laith Hammoudi and Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) report that Dawa Party member Ali al "Adeeb told McClatchy in a phone call that the Kirkuk issue is the main problem with the new law. He added that Arab and Turkomen want to use 2004 voter records, because those after the 2005 election reflect a large increase in the province's Kurdish population. The Kurdish bloc in the parliament, however, wants the province's representation to reflect that increase, which Kurds argue merely reverses Saddam's 'Arabization' campaign." Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) reports, "The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, said further delays in passing the law may call into doubt not only the Jan. 16 election date, but also the credibility of the result." Melkert is quoted stating, "It is the collective responsibility of members of parliament to now rise to the occassion and be ready to account to the Iraqi people, who expect to exercise their right to express their preference in the upcoming elecitons." Rod Nordland (New York Times) adds, "The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission and United Nations elections experts have said Iraq needs at least 90 days to adequately prepare for the vote. Iraq's existing election law was declared unconstitutional by its highest court, which said it needs to be replaced or amended." Jane Arraf observes in "Discord as elections looms in Iraq" (Global Post):As Iraqi parliamentarians struggled over the past week with exactly how democratic they really want to be, it was telling that the brightest spot of democracy and certainly the savviest public relations campaign was playing out across town in Sadr City. Members of parliament for the past two weeks have been trying to pass an election law that would pave the way for national elections by the end of January, which are wanted by the voters and required by the Constitution. A vote Thursday became bogged down in a dispute over how voting would take place in Kirkuk, the city disputed by Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and every other group that wants to lay claim to its oil and historic homelands. It stalled again on Monday.The delay has so alarmed both the U.S. and the U.N. that they've both issued statements urging parliament to get its act together and pass the law. The U.S. has been so fixated on the January elections that worry over the timing and type of elections has eclipsed the almost unspoken fear lurking in the background that elections done badly could be even more destabilizing than no vote at all.

The lack of an election law was raised during today's hearing.

Ranking Member Howard McKeon: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have this article that was written [by Oliver August] in the London Times yesterday. The title is "
Violence Threatens Barack Obama's pledge to pull troops out of Iraq." And what they're basically saying is that they're threatening to move back the election from January. The election can't be held until their Parliament passes an election law. And, uh, al Qaeda doesn't want to have an election. And they want to do what they can to disrupt it. [The top US commander in Iraq] General [Ray] Odierno feels that he needs to keep his troops there thirty to sixty days after the election to ensure a peaceful transition of government. Do you have any intelligence showing that -- or any feeling that the election is going to be postponed?

Michele Flournoy: Uh, let me start by saying, you know, the draw-down plan that we have, is conditions based and it creates multiple decision points for re-evaluating and, if necessary, changing our plans based on developments on the ground. Although the government of Iraq's self-imposed deadline of October 15th for passing the elections law has passed, we judge that the COR [Council Of Representatives] still has another week or two to come to some kind of an agreement on the elections law before it will put the January date -- the early January date -- in jeopardy in terms of the election commission's ability to actually physically execute the, uh, the election. If a new law with open lists is not passed, the fall back solution for them is to return to the 2005 election law which is based on a closed list system. But that could be used for upcoming elections, the COR would simply have to vote on an election date. If that law is not passed in the next two weeks, they will be looking at slipping the date to later in January which would still be compliant with the [Iraqi] Constitution but would be later than originally planned. In that instance, M-NF-I [Multi-National Forces Iraq] would need to engage with the government of Iraq to do some contingency planning on how to secure the elections at a later date and that might well have-have implications. But I just want to reinforce, right now, on the ground in Baghdad, here in Washington, just yesterday, our focus is on trying to stick to the current election timeline. The [US] President [Barack Obama] personally impressed upon Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki the importance of sticking to the Constitutionally specified timeline for the Iraqi elections and we are putting all of our diplomatic effort towards that end. That said, of course we will have contingency plans to adjust if necessary. But right now, we're using all of our diplomatic and other leverage to try to make sure the elections happen on time.

Ranking Member Howard McKeon: We won't be forcing General Odierno to withdraw our troops if they don't hold the election in a timely manner? We will still be flexible and allow him to keep the troops there? To provide the national security so they don't -- they don't put themselves at risk in trying to rush out in the couple of month period?

Michele Flournoy: The draw-down plan is not rigid. It is got -- it is conditions based, it leaves room for re-evaluation and adjustment in terms of the pace of the draw-down between now and the end of 2011 so, if need be, we will re-examine things based on conditions on the ground.

The above will shock a few. Especially those who, for example, foolishly believed Barack wanted all troops out and was promising that when he ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Barack made clear to the New York Times that everything was contingent and that he would send troops back in if there was a problem. Of course, the New York Times confused the issue with their write up of that interview (Tom Hayden got confused, for instance) and it was only if you read the transcript of the interview that you discovered what Barack was actually saying (when Hayden discovered that, he suddenly was alarmed but, like all of his alarms, it was a twenty-four hour, viral kind of alarm).

From the
November 2, 2007 snapshot

Though Obama says he wants "to be clear," he refuses to answer that yes or no question and the interview is over."
So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions.

You can also see
Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview.

Or we could paraphrase Samantha Power (to the BBC in March of 2008) and offer that Barack can't be held, in 2011, to any promise he might make as a president in 2009 because things on the ground change. And though many work overtime to avoid that potential occurence, it was raised in the hearing today.

US House Rep Vic Synder: What if things really go badly in Iraq and President Obama who has already made the decision, he's already sent 17,000 additional troops has changed the leadership in Afghanistan and clearly is making Afghanistan a higher priority, what if he were to decide, in the Secretary's words, be flexible, we're going to have put troops back in? Uh, you say we have adequate capacity, we didn't. We didn't for six or seven years. If we had it, I don't know where they were but we didn't as a country respond to the need in Afghanistan. What assurance do we have adequate capacity should we decide that we need to return troops to Iraq.

Vice Adm James Winnefeld: I'd say right now our-our principal focus right now is to make sure that-that-that Iraq goes on the same trajectory that it's on and we don't have to confront that decision. And so far [. . .]

So far. So far. So far isn't a concrete state, now is it?

In one of the more interesting exchanges, Chair Skelton brought up an issue from the prepared statements that he found puzzling and it was interesting to watch as Flournoy fumbled and stumbled.

Chair Ike Skelton: Before I call on Mr. Hunted, Madame Under Secretary, let me add, on page six of the written [opening] statement furnished us, it says that "we have made contingent support of the Iraqi Security Forces contingent on their non-sectarian performance. Now, I suppose that means, contingent upon the Shi'ites not shooting Sunnis. How will this work? How will we make judgments on this? Have we placed any other conditions on future assistance? Tell us about it.

Michele Flournoy: Well, I think, this is something that we are in dialogue with the Iraqi government about and Iraqi commanders about on an ongoing basis. We are supporting the development of the ISF towards a certain objectives and one of those is a -- is making sure that the military is truly representative of Iraq, it's a national institution, it is not a tool that anyone individual or party or person in power can use for sectarian aims. We continue to monitor that. In many instances, we've had uh-uh many opportunities to work through specific issues and frankly the Iraqis have been very responsive over time on this point. They understand that the only way we can get the support here to support them is to demonstrate that truly are a non-sectarian institution. So we continue to bring that home at every level -- from the tactical all the way up to the headquarters to here in Washington when we have interactions.

Chair Ike Skelton: If we do see some sectarian performance, what do we do?

Michele Flournoy: Uh, generally what's happened is the ambassador [Chris Hill] and General Odierno have uh have gone -- have called the, uh, the government and the military on the issue, immediately gone in to discuss it with them and-and worked out remedial steps to either isolate a unit, to step in and deal with a situation and so forth. They've also taken very proactive initiatives such as to try to get the ISF, for example, and the [Kurdish forces] peshmerga much more closely in border areas where the two forces come up against each other. So I think that they've done both reactive steps and proactive steps but, again, we have seen -- you know, we've seen a decrease, a decline, in that kind of behavior over time, uhm, and so that is the good news. Something we need to continue to be watchful for but it's something that has been very well managed up to this point.

Chair Ike Skelton: If there is a severe sectarian act, at what point do we say, 'Sorry, we're out of here?'

Michele Flournoy: Well I, uh, again, I think, uhm, you -- you know, I don't want to speculate on what exactly could provoke that kind of thing. What-what I can say is we take it very seriously, we've taken it very seriously and

Chair Ike Skelton: Well the important thing is do they take it very seriously?

Michele Flournoy: They-they certainly understand when this is happen -- you know, in the instances this has happened, the reaction from us has been very swift and very clear and uhm it's had impact. So I don't think there's any question in the minds of the Iraqi government where our red lines are on this issue.

Let's zoom in on one section of that exchange:

Chair Ike Skelton: If there is a severe sectarian act, at what point do we say, 'Sorry, we're out of here?'

Michele Flournoy: Well I, uh, again, I think, uhm, you -- you know, I don't want to speculate on what exactly could provoke that kind of thing. What-what I can say is we take it very seriously, we've taken it very seriously and

You don't want to speculate? Interesting because I can't think of a single time when the United States government would be involved with another government known for human rights abuses and they would not stick a qualifier on it as in, "You do X and we pull our backing." Now "X" might be far after the point that I'd want the backing pulled, but there is always a line that will not be crossed and there is nothing speculative about it. So it's interesting that Flournoy wants to claim otherwise and what it really indicates is that the US government has no intention of pulling out for any reason. Her claims that, in the past, a 'scolding' led to changes is ridiculous. It was not a civil war in 2006 and 2007. I've used that term here myself and I've stated in the last twelve or so months that I was wrong on that. It was genocide. There were not two equal sides in that 2006 and 2007 conflict. There was an armed and funded side and there was the Sunni side. It was genocide, it was ethnic cleansing. And it only stopped because it 'worked' for the Shi'ites. Had it not worked, it would continue to this day. There was no desire on the part of Nouri to stop it because he was getting a scolding from the US and you really have to be in a child-like state (to put it nicely) to buy that or what Flournoy attempted to sell in that exchange.

Violence continued in Iraq today . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk bombing which claimed the life of 1 journalist (cameraman) and wounded another. Reuters notes an Iskandariya bombing which left six people injured. Xinhua reports that twelve people were wounded in the Iskandariya bombing and that it took place "at a busy marketplace".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 adult and 1 child were shot dead in Nineveh Province. Reuters notes that 2 people (parents of a police officer) were shot dead in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Iraqi police officer was stabbed to death in Falluja.

Nouri al-Maliki continues his stay in the US.
Carl Azuz (CNN Student News) reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is visiting the U.S. this week, meeting with American leaders and taking part in a conference about his country's business opportunities. During yesterday's meeting with President Obama, the two talked about Iraq's economy, but they also discussed that nation's security situation. President Obama says he's committed to all U.S. troops leaving Iraq by the end of 2011. But both leaders are concerned about an increase in violence in Iraq and the possibility that the country's upcoming parliamentary elections could be delayed."

Two US service members have been announced dead in Iraq this week. One was Bradley Espinoza, the other was Daniel Rivera. Myrian Rivera is Daniel Rivera's mother and
she tells WIVB (link has text and video), "This war has to end . . . because they're little, they're kids. He's 22, he's a kid. They're kids dying." Susan Reimer (Baltimore Sun) reports on Peg Mullern who recently passed away and fought to find out why her son Michael died while serving. Reimer traces Peg Mullen's legacy on through Cindy Sheehan (mother of Casey Sheehan) and Marty Tillman (mother of Pat Tillman). Meanwhile Lauren DeFranco (WABC -- link has text and video) reports Christal Wagenhauser gave birth to a two month premature daughter and she and the family want Cpl Kieth Wagenhouser -- currently stationed in Iraq -- home to see the baby: "If the baby's condition deteriorates, it would take Wagenhauser a week to get home. At that point, it would be too late."

In the US yesterday, a twenty-year-old Iraqi woman was run over along with her 43-year-old friend.
James King (Phoenix News) reports that police are looking for the twenty-year-old's father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, whom they supsect of running the two women down and that the alleged motive is that the daughter was "becoming too westernized." Katie Fisher (ABC 15 -- link has text and video) reports the 20-year-old woman is Noor Faleh Almaleki and her 43-year-old friend is Amal Edan Khalaf and the friend is also the mother of the twenty-year-old's boyfriend.

mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
the wall street journalgina chon
jane arraf
the new york timesrod nordland
lauren de franco
oliver augustthe times of london

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Uh, there's also Iraq

"Barely A Peep… Escalation Unopposed" (Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice):
And there's barely a peep. Liberals and rightwingers in Congress line up behind the Obama who lines up behind the Pentagon and the industry of war. With the exception of a very few, the consensus is that the death and destruction must continue. The comfort of the empire's citizens must not be disturbed. It can not be said enough, the time to speak up is now. The orgy of death is set to increase. One can not add 50,000 more troops whose job is to kill and expect anything else.

Barely a peep, Ron Jacobs, would also apply to Iraq. The Iraq War hasn't ended.

Ron Jacobs knows that. I grasp that he has to write on topics that are 'hot' to be 'out there.' I grasp that.

I also grasp that there's been a walk away by many on Iraq. Ron Jacobs is not running from the topic but when even he's pursuing other topics, we really need to ask what is the difference between MSM and 'independent' media?

If it doesn't exist to pick up the topics that MSM ignores, then why does it exist?

The MSM has backed the hell away from Iraq, in case you missed it.

So if we truly had an independent media right now, we'd see them flooding the zone but the reality is they don't care for the most part and those who do, like Ron Jacobs, have to cover other 'hot' topics to be read.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 20, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, still no election law passed in Iraq, Nouri remains in DC, Cindy Sheehan prepares to interview Noam Chomsky, Ryan Crocker tries to talk SOFA (will the press listen) and more.

Today the
US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq - A Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed and two were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle in Ninawa province, Iraq, Oct. 19. The name of the deceased is being withhled pending notifcation of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary kin." The announcement brings to 4351 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Before we go into other violence in Iraq, let's go to the heart of the violence: The continued war. And some people try to pretend it's over -- when it's not. And some try to pretend that SOFA means the end of the war -- when it doesn't. Golly, with even Ryan Crocker, former US Ambassador to Iraq, making it clear, you think the press will try to get it right now?

Gordon Robison (Gulf News) reports on Crocker's speech last week at Harvard's Kennedy School:

Like any international agreement the Sofa can be modified if, at some point in the future, both governments agree there is a need to do so. It is rarely said in Washington, but widely assumed, that this means the actual implementation of the withdrawal agreement is essentially situational: that is, it will go ahead only if conditions on the ground warrant it.
Despite the fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has emerged as a stronger, and far more savvy, political player than almost anyone expected; and despite the fact that the existing Sofa was only grudgingly approved by the Iraqi parliament, there remains a near universal assumption in Washington that if, come 2011, Washington decides we need to stay longer, then so be it. Last May, the army chief of staff, General George Casey, acknowledged as much, telling a group of journalists and think tank specialists that his planning scenarios envision the presence of US combat troops in Iraq for another decade.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there has been little discussion here in the United States about what 'withdrawal' really means. As Crocker emphasised last week at Harvard, the US policy has always been that it wants no permanent bases in Iraq. Crocker, however, failed to note that government officials and the general public often have starkly different definitions of "permanent base."
[. . .]
Beyond that there is the question of what 'withdrawal' actually means. The military tends to make a distinction between training or advisory troops and combat forces. The American approach to Iraq raises the very real possibility of combat forces heading home while tens of thousands of trainers, advisers and their accompanying support troops remain in place. A military professional might call such a situation 'withdrawal', but a lot of ordinary Americans and Iraqis are likely to think otherwise.
[. . .]
It is time, as Ambassador Crocker says, for a more public, more focused, discussion about what 'getting out' of Iraq really means. Americans and Iraqis alike may well be unhappy with what they hear.
The Iraq War has not ended. The SOFA does not mean -- and never did -- that the Iraq War ends. The UN mandate expired yearly. When the US operated under the UN mandate, the expiration of the mandate never meant the war ended. It only mean the US had to leave . . . if no other agreement was reached. Instead of doing the yearly renewal, the SOFA was an agreement allowing for three more years of occupation. That's all it has to mean (and that's provided neither side decides to kill it -- and killing it can be to replace it).
James Circello (Party for Socialism and Liberation) addressed the realites of the illegal war this week:

The fact that dozens of bases will remain in Iraq long after the United States puts the Iraq war "behind it" clearly demonstrates that the U.S. ruling class has no intention of truly relinquishing Iraq. These bases—six of which are so-called "supersize bases" -- will continue to be filled with the boots and rifles of U.S. occupational forces. The same NY Times article notes that at least 50,000 troops will be left in Iraq through at least 2011. Soldiers, airmen and marines will continue to kill innocent Iraqis, while simultaneously building the military might of a puppet Iraqi army. The purpose of that reduction in Iraq, according to the senior commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, is to free up U.S. soldiers to go to Afghanistan.[. . .]
This so-called withdrawal is a continuation of using different tactics to achieve the same goal: imperialist domination and exploitation. The U.S. ruling class is invested in maintaining the occupation and due to multiple factors -- most notably the heroic resistance by the Iraqi people against its occupiers -- has now chosen to change its policies and the appearance of the occupation in Iraq. For the millions of families in Iraq and Afghanistan that have seen loved ones die while living under occupation, the nature of the experience doesn't change by simply lowering troop levels from 125,000 to 50,000. Foreign soldiers armed and under the direction of foreign governments in Iraq mean that Iraq is still occupied.

Now to some of today's violence in the continued Iraq War.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing injured three people, a Baghdad sticky bombing injured three people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing left two people wounded, a third one injured four people, a Falluja car bombing claimed the lives of 4 people with an ten more injured, a Mosul roadside bombing injured 2 Iraqi soldiers, a Mosul sticky bombing which injured two people and, dropping back to Monday, a Mosul mortar attack which left four Iraqi military recruits injured.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Mosul and an armed clash in Mosul in which an Iraqi soldier was injured and 1 suspect was shot dead.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Mosul.

Last month,
Lisa Holland (Sky News via Information Clearing House) reported on the damage being done to Iraqis and future generations due to toxic and deadly weapons foreign forces (which would include the US) have used (and continue to) in Iraq:

An Iraqi doctor has told Sky News the number of babies born with deformities in the heavily-bombed area of Fallujah is still on the increase. Fifteen months ago a Sky News investigation revealed growing numbers of children being born with defects in
Fallujah. Concerns were that the rise in deformities may have been linked to the use of chemical weapons by US forces. We recently returned to find out the current situation and what has happened to some of the children we featured. In May last year we told the story of a three-year-old girl called Fatima Ahmed who was born with two heads. When we filmed her she seemed like a listless bundle - she lay there barely able to breathe and unable to move. Even now and having seen the pictures many times since I still feel shocked and saddened when I look at her. But the prognosis for Fatima never looked good and, as feared, she never made it to her fourth birthday. Her mother Shukriya told us about the night her daughter died. Wiping away her tears, Shukriya said she had put her daughter to bed as normal one night but woke with the dreadful sense that something was wrong. She told us she felt it was her daughter's moment to die, but of course that does not make the pain any easier.

It's a topic Dave Lindorff has covered many times before -- for example, see 2003's "
America's Dirty Bombs" ran at CounterPunch. Today Lindorff revisits the topic at CounterPunch:

While the Pentagon has continued to claim, against all scientific evidence, there is no hazard posed by depleted uranium, US troops in Iraq have reportedly been instructed to avoid any sites where these weapons have been used -- destroyed Iraqi tanks, exploded bunkers, etc. Suspiciously, international health officials have been prevented from doing medical studies of DU sites. A series of articles several years ago by the Christian Science Monitor ( described how reporters from that newspaper had visited such sites with Geiger-counters and had found them to be extremely "hot" with radioactivity. The big danger with DU is not as a metal, but after it has exploded and burned, when the particles of uranium oxide, which are just as radioactive as the pure isotopes, can be inhaled or injested. Even the smallest particle of uranium is both deadly poisonous as a chemical, and can cause cancer.
There are reports of a dramatic increase in the incidence of deformed babies being born in the city of Fallujah, where DU weapons were in wide use during the November 2004 assault on that city by US Marines.

While that goes on, the US-installed thug of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki visits the US.
Yesterday in DC, he met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Vice President Joe Biden. Kenneth R. Bazinet (New York Daily News) reports Nouri met with US President Barack Obama today and quotes al-Maliki stating, "Today Iraq has moved beyond a dictatorship and beyond the destruction, and we are trying to rebuild all our sectors of agriculture, oil sectors, tourism and so forth." Bazinet also notes, "Maliki acknowledged he understands the importance of holding the elections on time." Joseph Weber (Washington Times) reports Nouri stated, "Our relationship will no longer be confined to security cooperation."

This afternoon the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson participated in an online chat at the paper and we'll note this exchange:

Guerilla war vs. conventional army: Hi, I've wondered when republicans talk about win in Iraq, Afghanistan (or VietNam) what does that mean? What is win in a guerilla war, when anyone with a political, religious, poverty driven dispute can cause havoc? IMO there's no way to defend or win, what do you think?

Eugene Robinson: I don't know what it means to "win" this kind of conflict, and that's a big problem. We should figure that out, because this is the nature of war these days.
There is no 'win' in Iraq (or Afgahnistan, but this is the "Iraq snapshot") and there is no 'progress.' Perfect illustration of the latter, the Iraqi Parliament had the deadline of last Thursday to pass their election law and . . . they missed it.
Yesterday the Iraqi Parliament decided to put off voting on the election law. Anthony Shadid and Nada Bakri (Washington Post) explain, "Lawmakers resumed negotiations into the evening, as U.N. officials and representatives of the American Embassy lingered on the sidelines. As each hour passed, confidence receded that any quick compromise would cut through a Gordian knot of issues as arcane as the number of seats in a new parliament and the way an election would be organized in Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq contested by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) adds: "In recent years, thousands of Kurds have moved into the area from Kurdistan, supposedly to reverse the Arabization policies of Saddam Hussein, who expelled Kurds and settled Arabs there." Oliver August (Times of London) observes, "The Iraqi parliament has failed repeatedly to pass a new election law because of arguments over whether ballot papers should give the names of candidates, or of parties only. MPs are now talking about delaying the election, planned for January 16."
What's going on in Kirkuk besides the above? US forces are doing patrols.
Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News -- link is video) reports on it:

It's early morning in the city of Kirkuk. The Americans are back. Sure the Iraqi security forces here are in charge now but they like to have American soldiers along with them -- especially on operations like this one. Together they're conducting what's called a clearing up operation, sweeping through an area of the city searching houses for weapons explosives and insurgents. The Americans are suspicious of this house here because it's got a group of younger men in it and also a car with license plates from out of town. Now they've got a list of around sixty names of people they suspect of belonging to al Qaeda or other insurgent groups. Three hours of searching produces three arrests.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Iraq's parliament failed again Tuesday to vote on legislation that would allow Iraqis to cast ballots directly for candidates in parliamentary elections scheduled for January, rather than choosing political party lists that don't name the candidates." Liz Sly reports of today, "There was certainly no sense of urgency in the halls of parliament, where several lawmakers from the Shiite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council bloc said they believed the election commission needed only two months to prepare for the election, not three." Meanwhile, the Telegraph of London quotes the top US commander Gen Ray Odierno on the developments: "It's clear that al-Qaeda and other groups do not want the elections to occur. What I think they will try to do is discourage peopel from voting by undermining the authority of the government of Iraq with attacks, so that people lose faith in the democratic process. If the parliament doesn't pass the election law and they delay the elections, that violates their own constitution, which says they have to have elections in January."

In other election news,
Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) reports that the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front "is promising its constituency a major breakthrough in the parliamentary elections"; however, many "Iraqis believe that the Accordance Front's days in the sun are over, due to the absence of so many influential players from the Sunni coalition."

As noted earlier, Megan McCloskey (Stars and Stripes) reported on the findings of a [PDF format warning] military investigation into health policy in the wake of a violent incident last May, "The report, released late Friday, was prompted by a shooting at a Baghdad combat stress clinic last May that left four soldiers and a sailor dead." The incident took place May 11th at 2:00 pm (Iraq time) on Camp Liberty base, five US service members were shot dead. John Russell is the accused. Nishant Dahiya (NPR -- text only) adds, "The findings of the report (pg. 302 onwards) are critical of the operational tools and training aimed at preventing such tragedies as occurred at Camp Liberty. The findings show that policies were unclear; those that existed are improperly implemented; and soldiers were unsure of how to deal with fellow soldiers who have behavioral health problems. The findings highlight lapses in dealing with the situation, on or before the day of the incident, right from the soldier's unit, to the Combat Stress Clinic, to the Military Police." From some of the conclusions (page 303):After abruptly leaving his session with (b)(3)(b)(6) and asking the MPs to take him in, (b)(3)(b)(60 tossed a knife to the ground. The 54th EN BN has no template for setting a unit watch, and neither did any of the unit leaders we interviewed in the course of this investigation. There is no standard for escorts, how many, how senior, and what type of escort should be assigned to a troubled Soldier, a suicidal Soldier or a homicidal Soldier. Additionally, at the unit level, there is no real conception of when to Command refer Soldiers for assistance. (b)(3)(b)(6) unit encouraged him to self-refer for 3 appointments within 3 days. Access to care is not an issue. On the fourth day, the Behavioral Health clinic asked the 54th, to make it a "Command referral." Granted our Commands want to reduce the stigma associated with ill health, but there is a lack of emphasis upon Command involvement and responsibility for behavioral problems. There is no message, SITREP, or verbal notification required for Soldiers with suicidal ideations. The Commander, 54th EN BN, was never notified that his subordinates had removed (b)(3)(b)(6) bolt from his weapon. Correspondingly, when his bolt was removed, (b)(3)(b)(6) was not put on buddy or unit watch. Unit Commanding Officers at the 03-05 level need more than awareness training, they require precise instruction in effective suicide and behavioral problem remediation measures to effectively support our Behavioral Health professionals.

Rod Nordland (New York Times) notes the investigation found "a lack of any guidelines for how to handle his case allowed it to get out of control".

Cindy Sheehan notes that her show this Sunday features Noam Chomsky and she's requesting that you e-mail the questions you would like to ask Chomsky:

This upcoming Sunday (October 25, 2PM Pacific
on the website or 3PM Central at 1360am Rational Radio, Dallas, Tx), Professor Noam Chomsky will be on the Soapbox.
This is your chance to ask the author of Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez' favorite book,
Hegemony or Survival (I like it too!)
the question you've always wanted to ask the good Professor.
Please submit your questions (with your name and city)
I will do my best to ask Professor Chomsky as many of your questions as I can!
The Bills for the Soapbox are coming due soon! (Studio, engineer, asst. producer)
Please make a donation to support this fantastic progressive radio show that is totally listener supported!

And we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "
AN APPEAL: TIME TO OPPOSE MILITARY RECRUITING" (Grant Lawrence):From every appearance, President Obama intends to step up the war in Afghanistan. Even though the American people voted for peace last November and would prefer to devote themselves to the ways of peace -- working a full-time job if they can find one, educating their children, providing essential services in their communities, etc., Obama plans to remain in Afghanistan, squandering billions more on a war that the latest poll shows 57% of the American people oppose. Obama also has given no signal that he will withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Iraq and is providing the Pakistanis with the money, means, and encouragement to expand President Bush's criminal wars' into yet a third nation.We need to ask ourselves: who is better off for all these wars? Are Americans better off today than nine years ago? What of our 30,000 wounded? What of our 5,000 dead? (Contractors are human beings, too, so I count them.) What of the 1-million slaughtered Iraqis? What of the millions of Iraqi civilians wounded and/or driven from their homes? What of the ruined Iraq infrastructure and economy? What of millions of motorists and homeowners world-wide who have seen oil prices escalate? What of the homeless and malnourished Iraqi children? The only ones who appear to be better off from the Bush-Obama wars are the arms manufacturers and various public officials vegetating on the government payrolls in Washington. From steel mills to banks and from airlines to automobiles, the rest of American industry is suffering. Long ago, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910), the author of "War and Peace," wrote these harsh words about Russia: "The truth is that the state is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens." It takes little imagination to divine what the good Count would have said about America today and its serial wars of aggression centered upon the Middle East oil fields and the proposed pipeline access routes to and from them. Face it: USA today is corrupting its people, turning its children into killers, and sending them out to fight and die in wrong wars half way around the world. "Only one thing remains," Count Tolstoy wrote: "to fight the government with weapons of thought, word and way of life, not making any concessions to it, not joining its ranks, not increasing its powers oneself. That's the one thing needful and it will probably be successful. And this is what God wants and this is what Christ taught." What was true of Russia under the tsars---of a state that corrupted its children---unfortunately happens to be true of America in 2009. America's No. 1 cash crop today is armaments and our military-industrial complex is making big bucks peddling 68% of total arms' sold! Fifty-two cents out of every tax dollar is being chewed up by the Pentagon, busy night-and-day turning out ever more horrific killing machines to destroy people. The Pentagon has covered the globe with 1,000 military bases for "defense" and is busy devising ingenious ways to attack the earth from space, develop germ warfare and threaten and control any and every other country with its 11 mobile nuclear navies.

iraqthe los angeles timesliz slythe washington postanthony shadidnada bakrioliver augustthe times of londonthe telegraph of london
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
cindy sheehan
stars and stripesmegan mccloskeynprnishant dahiya
rod nordland
james circello
bbc newsgabriel gatehouse
sherwood ross