Friday, November 06, 2009

Why does Dissident Voice foster misogyny?

Tonight, I want to ask a question: Why does Dissident Voice foster misogyny?

It's a question that will come to mind when you read the latest garbage from Eternal Dumb Ass Jasmin Ramsey entitled "Iraqi Movie, The Hurt Locker Is Generating Oscar Buss: But Does It Deserve It?"

Do you remember the last time Dissident Voice 'weighed in' on a feature film?

Yeah, me too: Sex In The City.

What's up with that?

How many films are released each year? Each month?

But it's only when they're identified with a woman that Dissident Voice attacks. Do you remember them attacking Adam Sandler films? Nope. Me neither.

It's just when a woman's involved that they bring out the darts.

Now let's deal with Jazzy Nosense. Jasmin Ramsey is an Eternal Dumb Ass as Rebecca pointed out some time ago.

Here's a thought: Why is the Canadian trash writing about an American movie set in Iraq? Why doesn't the piece of s**t write about Afghanistan? A war her country is involved in? Why doesn't the little s**t write about Stephen Harper?

She's nothing but dirty ass liar who covers for CodeStink and cheerleads for War Criminal Barack Obama.

She's got nothing to say and those who can't call out their own country are cowards.

Dissident Voice doesn't need give space or time to cowards.

And no one needs to hear Jassy crackpot theories. Someone teach her to wipe her ass so she will no longer continue to smear her feces on paper and call it writing.

Also someone let Dissident Voice know that it sure is strange that the films they attack either star women or are directed by women. It's awfully funny that a film geared for men with a 'joke' about a woman being date raped gets released and DV doesn't raise an objection. It's a very selective film criticism DV traffics in.

[Thank you to those who caught my typos. Fixed. 11-6-09.]

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Democratic senators hear how KBR's greed put everyone in Iraq at risk, some gas bags shouldn't be on radio, the Fort Hood shooting, and more.

Rick Lamberth: As a LOGCAP [Logistics Civil Augmentation Program] Operations Manager, it was my duty to report to KBR management when the company was in violation of guidelines and the contract Statement of Work. I witnessed burn pit violations on a weekly basis. When I tried to report violations, I was told by the head of KBR's Health Safety and Environment division to shut up and keep it to myself. At one point, KBR management threatened to sue me for slander if I spoke out about these violations.
Rick Lamberth was in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to being an Iraq War veteran, he worked for KBR and saw "KBR employees dump nuclear, biological, chemical decontamination materials and bio-medical waste, plastics, oil and tires into burn pits" thereby exposing many US and Iraqi citizens to health risks. Rick Lamberth, for example, now has a series of respiratory problems. Last week,
Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) reported, "An open-air 'burn pit' at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste, documentation gathered by Military Times shows." Kelly was reporting on Joint Base Balad. L. Russel Keith worked for KBR at Joint Base Balad (March 2006 to July 2007) and he explains, "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units."

Rick Lamberth and L. Russell Keith were two of the four witnesses appearing before the Democratic Policy Committee today, for a hearing into burn pits led by Committee Chair Byron Dorgan. Also appearing as witnesses were Lt Col Darrin Curtis and Dr. Anthony Szema. At the start of the hearing, Chair Dorgan explained, "This is the twenty-first in a long series of hearings that we have held in the Policy Committee to examine contracting waste and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of these hearings have focused on substantial abuse which have put out troops lives in danger. Some focused just on waste and some on fraud. Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health. We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke."

That's from Chair Dorgan's opening remarks and you can [PDF format hearing warning]
click here to read his prepared remarks (the above is what was stated which differs slightly from the prepared remarks). You can also visit the Democratic Policy Committee's home page for more information and streaming video of today's hearing should be up there as well. (If it's not up already, it will be up by Monday.)

The burn pit issue was dismissed and ignored for many years -- despite the fact that the rules weren't being followed.
On October 28, 2009, US House Rep Tim Bishop's office released a statement noting: "Today, President [Barack] Obama singed into law the National Defense Authorization Act 9H.R. 2647), which includes important provisions authored by Congressman Tim Bishop (NY-1) to protect the thousands of troops exposed to toxic, open burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. These provisions were based on Bishop's legislation, the Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act, (HR 2419) introduced with Rep. Carol Shea-Porter on May 14, 2009." Hopefully, that signing will result in the press paying a bit more attention to the issue and not, as some have done, treat it as a dispute between political parties -- which is how it was too often treated by the press during the Bush years, with a lot of hedging and a lot of 'some say' type 'reporting.' December 20, 2006, Lt Col Darrin Curtis wrote a memo entitled "Burn Pit Health Hazards" [PDF format warning, click here].

Chair Byron Dorgan: Mr. Curtis, why did you decide to write the 2006 memorandum? And did anyone else at that point share your concerns about the health impact of burn pits?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, Senator, they did. The Chief of Air Space Medicine had the same concerns I did. The memo was initially written so that we could expedite the installation of the incinerators. From my understanding, there were spending limits of monies with health issues and not health issues so I wanted to write the report to show that there are health issues associated with burn pits so that we could hopefully accelerate the installation of the incinerators.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Of the type of burn pit you saw in Iraq in 2006 -- that's some while after the war began and infrastructure had been created and so on except without incinerators -- if something of that nature were occurring in a neighborhood here in Washington DC or any American city, what are the consequences to them?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: At least fines and possibly jail.
Chair Byron Dorgan: Because?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Of the regulations that are out there today.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Because it's a serious risk to human health?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, sir.

Chair Byron Dorgan: You say that when you arrived in Iraq an inspector for the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine -- which is CHPPM -- told you that the Balad burn pit was the worst environmental site that he has seen and that included the ten years he had performed environmental clean up for the Army and Defense's Logistic Agency. And yet in your testimony, you also say that CHPPM has done this study and says adverse health risks are unlikely. So you're talking about an inspector from CHPPM that says 'this is the worst I've seen' and then a report comes out later from CHPPM that says: "Adverse health risks are unlikely. Long-term health effects are not expected to occur from breathing the smoke." Contradiction there and why?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think any organization, you're going to have people with differences of opinion. But at CHPPM, I'm sure that was the same-same outcome there. Cause I don't know if that individual --

Chair Byron Dorgan: (Overlapping) Do you think that CHPPM -- do you think CHPPM assessment that's been relied on now is just wrong?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: (Overlapping) I think -- I think -- Senator, I think the hard line that there is no health effects is a -- is a very strong comment that we don't have the data to say. Do we have the data to say that it is a health risk? I don't think we have that either. But I do not think we have the data to say there is no health risk.
Chair Byron Dorgan: You are a bio-environmental engineer what is -- what is your own opinion? Without testing or data, you saw the burn pits, you were there, you hear the testimony of what went in the burn pits, you hear Dr. Szema's assessment. What's your assessment?

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on.

"I think we're going to look at a lot of sick people later on." And why, the bigger why? Why would anyone -- KBR or anyone -- put people at risk? Rick Lamberth explained during the hearing, "KBR was able to get away with this because the Army never enforced the applicable standards. KBR's Project Controls Department also kept their information hidden. During one visit by a representative from DCMA. I heard someone from Project Controls state that it was her job to keep DCMA away from the books during the inspection. KBR management would brag that they could get away with doing anything they wanted because the army could not function without them. KBR figured that even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

"Brag that they could get away with doing anything." "Even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit." Chair Dorgan noted that one of his greatest disappointments is that there is not "a Truman type committee with subpoena powers" currently "perhaps some day we'll get that." Senator Tom Udall agreed with Dorgan that a Truman type committee was needed. Rick Lamberth told Senator Udall that he did an analysis about how the burn pits could be shifted down wind.

Senator Tom Udall: They didn't want to do that?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

Senator Tom Udall: Cost them too much?

Rick Lamberth: Correct, sir.

Senator Jon Tester spoke of how Lamberth was told by KBR to keep quiet about violations "because that clean up was future business." He wondered, "How many burn pits there were in Iraq?" L. Russell Keith stated Balad was the biggest one (and the one he was familiar with), that it was ten acres, that "a lot of parts of it were below ground [. . .] there were a lot of things in it that wouldn't burn [. . .] old vehicles [. . .] transit buses". Senator Blanche Lincoln noted that the burn pits continue in Iraq and Afghanistan and we'll include this exchange.

Senator Blanche Lincoln: The comment made about the fact that these [burn pits] were used because there's potential future business, is it the typical business of KBR and others for hazardous waste clean up?

Rick Lamberth: What do you mean, ma'am, by the -- ?

Senator Blanche Lincoln: I mean if there's potential business -- what you're creating? It sounds like what we're creating, to what many of us have lived through up here, which are Super Fund sites and hazardous waste clean up. Is that a business that the current contractors actually have or can facilitate?

Rick Lamberth: Yes, ma'am. They have -- it's currently a contract line item number in the master statement of work. And what they'll do, they don't have the expertise in how, so they'll turn around and they'll contract it out. When I left July 2009, I left Baghdad, they had subcontracted that out to [**]. Yet when you talk to them, they act like they're resolved of all responsibility. And I tell them: "Negative, you are still responsible, you being the prime contractor, you're still responsible for compliance of EPA and DOD regulations and Defense Logistic Agencies regulations which is really in charge of DoD's Hazmat Defense Logistic Agency and they would want to deny that. They say 'No, [**] is doing that now.' I say 'No, you're still, you being the prime, you're still responsible.'

Senator Blanche Lincoln: Well of course that's a whole different issue I suppose in terms of spending our US tax payer dollars to clean up things that the same contractor actually created.

First, "[**]"? Epilogue or Echologue was what Lamberth was saying. I have no idea on subcontractors or whether the subcontractor would get 'fancy' with the name and spell it a different way. So we're just noting it as "[**]" Second, Lincoln went on to note that even more important than the dollars being wasted are the people who've been harmed by exposure.
BURN PITS Action Center is a resource and a clearing house of information. Among those sharing their experiences is "Debby:"

I arrived at Joint Base Balad, formerly known as Camp Anaconda in March 2008, and needless to say we all have the same issues as to what we smelled and what we saw. I have been home 11 months now and I want to make a statement about this issue. First off keep a good record of how your feeling. You may not notice anything at first. I started getting shortness of breath and just thought that it was the humidity in our air here in Indiana. I got a respiratory infection once I was home that turned into bronchitis. It took me OVER a month to clear that up. I had a cough from day one from leaving Iraq, and could not understand this or why I was doing this? Blamed it on the weather. My cough got so bad I contacted the VA and said this is not normal and I want to have my lungs tested...pulmonary function test was ordered...I failed it and found out I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I now use an inhaler and my breathing is worse at night, because I wheeze now. I came home at the end of November by March I had another issue, my colon. I was 47 at the time and had to do a colonoscopy 3 years earlier than I should have. Found out I had polyps and a tear in my colon. It is now November and I cannot seem to understand why I have still a colon issue. Now my esophagus is a problem. I had another cold back a few months ago and lost my voice for 3 full weeks. I had bronchitis again. Could not shake it. I am scheduled for another colon scope since I have this issue and also to have my throat checked out. My esophagus is closing up and I may have to have it stretched back out. NO ONE in my family has ever had an issue like this. I blame this on the effects of the burn pit. My memory and forgetfulness is a REAL problem for me. I can't seem to remember anything. So I guess anyone's secrets are safe with me I would forget easily after a few days. I have other issues I just wanted to list a few. Take photos of the burn pits for your own personal records they would prove very helpful later on. Keep researching all that you can on this issue, there are long lists of what soldiers are reporting that is wrong with them. I have to write mine down or I will forget. Not that a person can but my memory won't allow me anymore to recall things like I once did. Life if going to be challenging and many of us may not live a full life due to our new found health issue. But from one soldier to all you others we fought a good battle and we should keep each other in our prayers. God Bless you all and keep up the good fight and take care of your health.

Back to the hearing, Dr. Szema compared what is being seen to the conditions of fire fighters who were at Ground Zero following 9-11. He noted that he sees young people whom he shouldn't be seeing including ones with asthma -- when asthma would prevent them from being inducted into the military and that even if a few managed to skirt by in the screening process, the rates of asthma shouldn't be as high as it is. We'll note this exchange from early in the hearing.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Dr. Szema, what's your assessment of what you've heard? You've not been in Iraq, you've not seen the burn pits, you've heard them described, you heard Mr. Lambert and Mr. Keith describe what was thrown into the burn pits. What's your assessment of what we might see as a result of this? Is this a potentially serious threat to human health of those who were exposed?

Dr. Szema: Originally, I didn't even know what a burn pit was. So we thought that the higher asthma rates that we were seeing anecdotally were related to the shamal, the dust storms in Iraq, and possibly exposure to inhalational particles of improvised explosive devices. And then we wrote -- we did our study indicating that the rates of asthma were twice that if you were an Iraq deployed versus stateside deployed. And only recently when I learned about the burn pits, I knew that that could potentially, plausibly be one of the explanations. We-we actually did have PM 2.5 data from CHPPM in one of our presentations at the American Thoracic Society Conference and the PM 2.5 levels were in the thousands. Just for an example, in comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency standards in the United States is 35 micrograms per cubic meter. If you're over 35 in the United States, that's air pollution and they were measuring it in the thousands and that's irrespective of what's actually the concentration so, in and of itself, there were clearly particles in the air. That was not included in the 2008 report, that was part of our poster presentation. So my concern is -- what -- you're not supposed to be burning anything. Even if you're burning wood in cooking, we know that in third world countries if we reduce the use of cook stoves and fires, we can reduce respiratory mortality by millions of people worldwide. And, in fact, the American Thoracic Society is coming out with a position statement that even in the United States, if we roll back the EPA pollution standards a little bit, we will save millions of lives in the United States from air pollution. So clearly, I think, when you have uncontrolled burns, there will be a litany of health effects

One more time, Rick Lamberth's statements on how greed was able to trump humanity, "KBR was able to get away with this because the Army never enforced the applicable standards. KBR's Project Controls Department also kept their information hidden. During one visit by a representative from DCMA. I heard someone from Project Controls state that it was her job to keep DCMA away from the books during the inspection. KBR Management would brag that they could get away with doing anything they wanted because the army could not function without them. KBR figured that even if they did get caught, they had already made more than enough money to pay any fines and still make a profit."

Iraq was addressed on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show today during the second hour. Diane's guest host Katty Kay was joined by James Kitfield (National Journal), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Farah Stockman (Boston Globe).

Katty Kay: On the one hand we had the Iraqi Parliament which failed again this week to approve a law regulating its January election. Uh, Paul, do you think this election is going to take place?

Paul Richter: It sounds like it could be delayed but I notice some Iraqi legislators who are telling the press 'Well maybe it will only be delayed slightly. On the other hand, they've been debating this election law for some time and it has serious consequences for the US if they don't get this settled because, of course, the White House and the Pentagon are thinking about drawing-down those troops further. We need more in Afghanistan probably.

Katty Kay: And at the same time, we have Iraq signing deals to develop its oil fields. There was news this morning in the Washington Post [Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher's "
Exxon-Shell Consortium signs deal to develop Iraqi oil field"] that Exxon and Shell are going to sign a deal with the Iraqi Oil Ministry as well. So sort of some good news on the economic front, perahps James?

James Kitfield: Some good news but you know the prob -- and why we're so in getting these elections behind Iraq -- is so they can then get back to the major issue of reconcilation that are outstanding and one is an oil law. You know, the K- you know, the Kurds are already signing deals, you know, independently of the central government. That's a potential fault line for divisions in Iraq.

Katty Kay: And, of course, the hitch behind signing the current election law is over --

James Kitfield: Kirkuk.

Katty Kay: Kirkuk which is a big oil --

James Kitfield: Right! There is concern among -- ever since Saddam has been ousted -- he had flooded Arabs into Kirkuk area. Since he's been ousted, a lot of the Kurds have been pushing more people into Kirkuk. There's concerns in that tension between the Arabs and the Kurds that the election will sort of uh give one side an advantage over the other and so that's been the sticking point. But I'll take Paul's point a little further, I suspect there's going to be a surge of some tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan even though Obama hasn't announced that yet. I [su]spect he will. For that to happen, it really -- we have a very aggressive withdrawal from Iraq [. . .]

Okay, point. James Kitfield? Doesn't belong on radio. Potential? "POOOOOO -- tential!" As he stumbles and fumbles his damn words. It's difficult to listen to him. Forget what he's offering (which isn't informed), he can't speak a complete sentence without changing in the middle of it -- usually several times. Do they not get how hard on the ears this is? It's not just the uh-uh (and he does it far more than I note), that's fine. Stumble. Gather your thoughts. But speak the English language. Deciding mid-word that you want a different one? Over and over? I remember oral exams in grad school where highly nervous people came off more assured than Kitfield. It isn't pleasant to listen to and it doesn't make for good radio.

Now that's (A). (B)? Know your damn facts. He maintains (we're not including that section) there are 115,000 troops in Iraq currently. What? 128,000 was August 31st and that's the GAO's estimate that they provided on Monday. Unless someone's done a head count since then, an organization or an individual, that's your number. A friend in the brass in Iraq says the number is "about 123,000" right now. About. The problem with not going with the known is that an "about" X suddenly gets lowered by a James Kitfield. He pimped 115,000 US troops in Iraq. Pimped it today. On NPR and was not corrected. A gas bag with a lot of opinions and few facts is always a problem.

Katty Kay: Give us a quick update, Farah, on the security situation in Baghdad following, of course, last week's truck bombing. Have you heard anything on how security's been changed or boosted? Have they reinstated some of the barriers, for example, in the streets in the Green Zone?

Farah Stockman: I just think that we're hearing a lot of reports about bombings and it's not looking good and it's not looking good -- it's not looking good. But I think James might have a better on that than I do.

Oh, Farah. How you failed the listeners. Instead they got to hear James stumble around yet again and, in the process, pronounce "domestic" three different ways. That's what happens when you don't committ to a word until your half-way done speaking it. Get him off the radio. There's no excuse for this. People have been far too nice to him for far too long. It's not that he's an idiot -- he is one -- it's that he sounds like an idiot on the radio. If it's too difficult for him to speak, don't bring him on the radio. And grasp that as difficult as it is for him to figure out which words to randomnly string together, it's that much harder for the audience to have to listen to him. There's no excuse for that.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and a second one which left five people wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Sahwa ("Awakening" or "Sons Of Iraq") shot dead last night in Kirkuk. Wang Guanqun (Xinua) reports an attack on a barber shop in al-Sa'adiya in which 1 barber was shot dead and another person was wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse (Peshmerga officer) discovered in Kirkuk last night.

Turning to the US, Frances and Jack Barrios were last noted in the
October 30th snapshot. Efforts have been taking place to deport Frances Barrios, the wife of Iraq War veteran Jack Barrios and the mother of their two children. Her 'crime'? Coming to the United States at six-years-old. Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reports that yesterday the couple learned she was granted "humanitarian parole" and will be able to apply for a green card and remain in the country. Tony Valdez (Los Angeles' Fox 11 -- link has text and video) was present when Frances Barrios received the news:Tony Valdez: Frances Barrios looked mystified and anxious about her attorneys visit to her Van Nuys apartment in the evening. She usually went to Jessica Dominguez' office whenever there was a development in her bid to stay in the US with her husband and her children. What the attorney told her husband, an Iraq War veteran, was completely unexpected.Jessica Dominguez: The Citizenship and Immigration Services has granted your wife parole which means you can now give her legal permanent resident status without her having to go back to Guatemala.

Yesterday in Texas, there was an attack on Fort Hood.
Mary Pat Flaherty, William Wan and Christian Davenport (Washington Post) report that the suspect is US Army Maj Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old psychiatrist whose aunt said he had endured mocking and verbal abuse over the years for being a Muslim and she states that he attempted to get out of the military. Peter Slevin (Washington Post) reported 12 people were killed at the base with thrity-one more left injured. The death toll has risen to at least 13. Julian E. Barnes, Josh Meyer and Kat Linthicum (Los Angeles Times) explain, "Ft. Hood, which sprawls across 339 square miles of central Texas hill country, is the world's largest military installation. It supports two full armored divisions -- the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division -- and is home to more than 70,000 soldiers, civilian workers and family members. It is the largest single employer in Texas." Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) notes, "This year, 117 active-duty Army soldiers were reported to have committed suicide, with 81 of those cases confirmed -- up from 103 suicides during the same period last year. Ten suicides have been reported at Fort Hood this year; more than 75 of its personnel have committed suicide since 2003. Fort Hood's high number of suicides is also linked to the fact that it is the Army's largest base, with more than 53,000 soldiers." Dahr Jamail adds:
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Fort Hood, located in central Texas, is the largest US military base in the world and contains up to 50,000 soldiers. It is one of the most heavily deployed bases to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the shooter himself was facing an impending deployment to Iraq. The soldier says that the mood on the base is "very grim," and that even before this incident, troop morale has been very low. "I'd say it's at an all-time low - mostly because of Afghanistan now," he explained. "Nobody knows why we are at either place, and I believe the troops need to know why they are there, or we should pull out, and this is a unanimous feeling, even for folks who are pro-war." In a strikingly similar incident on May 11, 2009, a US soldier gunned down five fellow soldiers at a stress-counseling center at a US base in Baghdad. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a news conference at the Pentagon that the shootings occurred in a place where "individuals were seeking help." "It does speak to me, though, about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern in terms of dealing with the stress," Admiral Mullen said. "It also speaks to the issue of multiple deployments." Commenting on that incident in nearly parallel terms, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Pentagon needs to redouble its efforts to relieve stress caused by repeated deployments in war zones; stress that is further exacerbated by limited time at home in between deployments.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) informs the suspect was supposed to deploy to Afghanistan. Kelly Gooch (Tyler Morning Telegraph) reports on some families reactions as they attempted to find out the status on their loved ones at Fort Hood:Spc. Shawntae Hall, 22, is one of the soldiers stationed at the Army base.Her mother, Norma Tompkins, of Tyler, said she called Ms. Hall Thursday and left a message on her cell phone. She also tried all of her daughter's friends and a fellow military mother. "I kind of lost it for a few minutes. When I heard from her it was the biggest relief of my life," she said. During the short phone conversation, Mrs. Tompkins said Ms. Hall told her officials were about to lock down the base and she would not be able to use a cell phone or the Internet. Ann Davies (The Age) notes): that a female police officer "arrived and shot Hasan several times before he went down. She was wounded in the process." That was Sgt Kimberly Munley. Matthew Schofield (Kansas City Star) reports, "Muley also took three bullets, one in each thigh and one in a wrist. By all accounts, she was swift, decisive, and probably saved lives. It was a lucky thing she happened to be nearby when the emergency call came in. She found Hasan four minutes after the first 911 call." In addition, on NBC's Today Show this morning, Matt Lauer spoke with Lt Gen Robert Cone who praised Amber Bahr who assisted other soldiers including carrying one, Grant Moxon, away from the crime scene despite the fact that she herself had been shot: "I think most notable about her is the fact that despite the fact she was shot, she assisted in helping other soldiers, put a tourniquet on a solider, carried him out to medical care -- and only after she had taken care of others did she realize that she herself had been shot." Moni Basu (CNN -- link has text and several videos as well) offers, "Soldiers were dragging bodies away from the shooter. They snatched tablecloths off tables, cut up their own sage-green digital combat uniforms, even their tan undershirts, and turned them into tourniquets and pressure bandages. Everyone tried to render CPR and medical aid. Some were medical personnel. Others were simply friends helping friends." Among the 13 who lost their lives is Francheska Velez. Peter Slevin (Washington Post) reports the 21-year-old Iraq War veteran was set to begin maternity leave. Her cousin Jennifer Arzuaga tells CBS' Derrick Blakley, "She was a very wonderful person, very brave, very kind hearted. She didn't deserve to lose her life. She had a lot to live for." CBS reports Michael Pearson, who was set to deploy to Iraq, died while in surgery after being shot three times and quotes his mother Sheryll Pearson stating, "He was the best son in the whole world; good student, good friend, loyal, hardworker. He was my best friend. I was just shocked because I was getting ready for him, I was preparing for him to come home for Christmas and I knew he would probably be deployed in January and this was just amazing to me, it just doesn't seem real to me." Mark Memmott (NPR) reports on this morning's press briefing at Fort Hood:7:37 a.m. ET: The suspect's condition is "stable." Why was it originally said by Army personnel that suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was dead? "Confusion," says the briefer, Col. John Rossi.7:39 a.m. ET: One civilian was killed. The other fatally wounded victims were military personnel, Col. John Rossi says.7:40 a.m. ET: The soldiers at the scene were not armed. The "first responder" who wounded the suspect was a female police officer. She was wounded and is now in stable condition.

TV notes,
NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and their focus this week is:Only one year after a historic election rerouted the course of America's political culture, do the 2009 election results show momentum swinging in the opposite direction?This week, NOW's David Brancaccio talks to political author and columnist David Sirota about populist anger, the Obama administration's successes and failures, and how this week's election results foreshadow the state of politics in 2010.Also airing tonight on many PBS stations, Bill Moyers Journal offers a veterans day special. Washington Week finds Gwen sitting around the table with James Barnes (National Journal), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), John Harris (Politico) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Sam Bennett, Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez and Avis Jones-DeWeever 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:
Cyber WarCould foreign hackers get into the computer systems that run crucial elements of the world's infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works or even a nation's military arsenal, to create havoc? They already have. Steve Kroft reports.
Andre AgassiKatie Couric interviews the tennis champion about his drug use, the depression that made him use methamphetamine and other aspects of his personal life and tennis career in his first interview about his upcoming book. (This is a double-length segment).
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

kelly kennedy
nprthe diane rehm show
the washington postqais mizherernesto londono
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
the los angeles timesteresa watanabe
ann scott tyson mary pat flaherty william wan christian davenport peter slevin julian e. barnes josh meyer kate linthicum dahr jamail
ann daviescnnmoni basu
nancy a. youssef
matthew schofieldnprmark memmott
60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbe

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Big Insurance Give Away

"Contractor woes may plague Iraq withdrawal" (UPI):
Expiring contracts with truck suppliers could hamper the draw-down of U.S. troops from Iraq, the Government Accountability Office in Washington says.
A GAO report contends that with many Iraq contractor's deals set to run out next year just as the U.S. military is at the height of its withdrawal of 50,000 troops, finding new contractors on the run could be "daunting," the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

You have to wonder what Bill Moyers and all the others who've dedicated their programs to passing Barack's Big Insurance Give Away are going to say in a few months?

Whether it passes or not, there's no excuse for the fact that they have ignored (repeatedly) the Iraq War. There's no excuse that they have called themselves 'news' programming while taking all their talking points from the White House and making their focus whatever the White House wanted.

Of course, if Barack's Big Insurance Give Away passes, they need to be held accountable. When Americans are forced to purchase insurance (which many of them won't be able to afford), the Bill Moyers, et al need to be forced to answer for their actions.

A great deal has gone on around the world and very little has gotten attention because alleged 'independent' media has refused to do their job and instead woken up each day asking, "How can I serve the White House?"

It was disgusting when Dan Rather defined his job that way to David Letterman on national television while Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House and it's disgusting now.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces deaths, the tag sale in Iraq continues, the Boston Globe's editorial board begs for the plug to be pulled on the paper, no Iraqi election law still, and more.
Today the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died Nov. 4 from combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification 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 next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died Nov. 4 from non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The announcements bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4359. In addition, Reuters reported this morning that a Tuesday Baghdad mortar attack left 7 US service members injured.
As the toll of dead and wounded US service members continues to climb, US service members are still being sent to Iraq. The war has not ended just because so much of the press (and the Democratic Party) moved on (or MoveOn-ed). Sig Christenson (San Antonio Express-News) reports on some members Fort Sam Houston's 418th Medical Logistics Company soldiers preparing to deploy like Spc Justin Ralph whose wife Julie states, "It hasn't hit me yet. I've just been kind of stressed-out. I don't want him to leave. I've (tried) to talk him out of it, but he has to. He really wants to." Christenson observes, "They're headed to Iraq for the next year, marking the unit's third deployment there since the invasion, and they won't be the last to go. The Iraq war, contrary to popular opinion, isn't near over, and American troops won't be out until 2011 -- and maybe not for years after that."
Meanwhile Iran's Press TV informs, "Iraq has signed its biggest oil deal since the US 2003 invasion with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the giant Rumaila oilfield. The 20-year contract is expected to triple production at the southern oilfield, from the current one million barrels per day (bpd) to around 2.8 million bpd within a six-year period." British Petroleum and China National Petroleum Company formed a consortium earlier this year during bidding on Iraqi oil fields and, unlike many other oil companies, they didn't bail out on the bidding right before it started. However, now other companies are rushing to get their hands on Iraqi oil despite the fact that the terms are the same ones so many foreign coporations found hard to swallow earlier this year. Stanley Reed (BusinessWeek) explains, "The big oil companies are reconsidering Iraq because they realize this may be among their last opportunities to get large volumes of crude. Britain's BP (BP), for instance, typically turns up its nose at anything below roughly 700 million barrels of reserves; Rumaila, about 30 miles west of Basra, may have 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil, BP estimates. Another field in the same class is West Qurna, located north of Basra, where a group including Exxon Mobil and Shell is competing against a partnership of ConocoPhillips and Russia's Lukoil (LKOH.RTS) for production rights." Meanwhile Khalid al-Ansary, Jack Kimball and Simon Jessop (Reuters) report that the country and Japan's Toyota Tsusho entered into a contract for "1.23 billion yen ($13.60 million)" for which Toyota Tshusho will sell Iraq "eight power transformers and six auxiliary units". But the really big 'growth industry' in Iraq?
Quil Lawrence: The cemetery is called the Valley of Peace though, for the living, it's crowded, dusty and almost always echoing with the sounds of grief. The tombs and crypts extend for miles in every direction, large enough that different Shi'ite political factions in Iraq have their own sectors spanning several city blocks. Family members sing prayers over the dead and spill water onto the new graves. As long as there have been funerals here, there has been an industry to receive the dead and their families. Dakhil Shakir has spent his eighty years here in the cemetery of Najaf, he says. His earliest memories are helping his father and his grandfather with the business of funerals and burials. Dakhil can count back his families five generations in the trade. He's nearly blind now and, despite his thick plastic glasses, he calls out to ask which of his sons are in the room with him? They will bury him some day, he says, and then carry on the business. When Dakhil was a boy, he recalls, desert caravans brought the dead to Najaf
Dakhil Shakir [translated]: They used to bring the dead on mules. A mule would carry two bodies with five mules in the caravan. I have seen that with my own eyes. They would stay here for a few days and we used to offer them a place to stay and, later, they would set off back home.
Quil Lawrence: As early as the 16th century, the trafficking of Shi'ite corpses from as far as India was big business. The Ottoman Empire taxed and regulated the trade as did the first governments of modern Iraq. The coffins came especially from Iran -- the majority Shi'ite state that shares hundreds of miles of border with Iraq.
And today smuggling corpses into Iraq continues as a smuggle Lawrence interviews explains the Iran-Iraq transportation continues and that there is considerable money to be made in the 'trade.'
As the corpse trade continues, so does the violence which creates ever more deaths.
Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing injured five people, a second Baghdad sticky bombing wounded seven, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured and a Mahmoudiyah car bombing left four injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad home bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, his wife and their daughter. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) adds that the police officer was Col Shalal al-Zoubaie and reports an al-Miqdadiyah boming of a generator which left two people injured.
Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the US military shot dead 1 person in Mosul while arresting 'suspects' in a house raid. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports a Jurf al-Mileh shooting in which one person was injured by unknown assailants and a Diyala Province shooting in which 1 person was shot dead and two more were injured by unknown assailants.
Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul.
As the bombings continue, multiple reports have appeared in the last months about the 'bomb detectors' and how they're so very good at detecting perfume and cologne but worthless when it comes to bombs. At the end of October, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy was exploring the subject at Inside Iraq:

Before starting telling you what happens in most of the checkpoints you should know about the "explosives detectors". The device is carried by security man who stops your car and walk beside it carrying the device. The device's pointer changes its direction when passed by a car that supposedly carries explosives.
But the main flaw it points also if there is any chemical material like detergents or even medicine.

The correspondent also addresses a multitude of other problems with the checkpoints, but staying on the issue of the 'bomb detectors,' in this morning's New York Times, Rod Nordland reports the 'wands' cost anywhere betweeen $16,500 and $60,000 a piece and quotes US Lt Col Hal Bidlack dismissing them and stating they work "on the same principle as a Ouija board".
While the violence continues, there's still no election law. Today Alsumaria reports, "Iraq High Election Commission gave the parliament a timeline that ends on Thursday in order to enact an elections' law or else it will not be able to hold elections as it is scheduled on January 16. Chief of IHEC Faraj Al Haidari said that the commission and the UN discussed elections' timeline and stressed that if he did not receive the law in the two upcoming days the commission won't be able to hold the elections on the scheduled date." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The election commission said if parliament doesn't approve a law by the end of Thursday, it will be impossible to hold the polls as scheduled on Jan. 16 because there won't be enough time to organize it. In meetings earlier this week, United Nations officials also told lawmakers if a law isn't passed by Thursday, the U.N. would urge postponement of the elections." The Iraqi Constitution mandates that the elections must be held before the end of January 2010; however, the Iraqi Constitution mandates many things -- such as resolving the issue of Kirkuk or appointing a full cabinet by X date or requiring Parliament's approval to extend a United Nations mandate -- and Nouri's always managed to just ignore it. Ernesto Londono and K.I. Ibrahim (Washington Post) report US Ambassador Chris Hill is scrambling on the ground in Iraq attempting to use his 'influence' to push for a vote. The US' own manic depressive ambassador has little-to-no influence especially if the press wants to continue pushing the-hold-up-is-Kirkuk line. Why is that? Hill offended the KRG with his very late first visit to their region. Chris Hill offended them in his remarks which were based on Hill's gross ignorance regarding the issue of Kirkuk -- ignorance on full display when the Senate held his confirmation hearing. Hill came to Iraq with no knowledge of the KRG or Iraq. He has no pull. US Vice President Joe Biden and the top commander US commander in Iraq Gen Ray Odierno have some pull (whether or not it's enough remains to be seen) with the KRG but Hill has none. He also has no influence over non-Kurdish MPs in the Parliament. So what's he's mainly doing is rushing around in an attempt to look busy. He'll no doubt (as has been his pattern throughout his time at the State Dept) find a group to spill the beans to on whatever's hidden and supposed to be hidden. They'll agree to present whatever he wants them to because he shared secrets and then they'll stab him in the back and he'll shrug and finger-point at others. In other words, his Korean 'leadership' all over again.
Biggest idiot of the week? The editorial board of the Boston Globe -- apparently begging for readers to pull the plug on the finacial crater that is their paper. In an appalling uninformed editorial they praise Nouri al-Maliki and conclude, "In their own nihilistic way, Al Qaeda fanatics are showing their true colors not only to Iraqis but to the rest of the Muslim world. They are massacring children and other innocents in the name of a holy war to replace all existing Arab and Muslim governments with the fantasy of a multinational Islamic caliphate. The less Americans are caught up in this war within the Muslim world, the harder it will be for the regressive forces of Al Qaeda to survive." al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is a home grown group and has always been a group of resistance. The Boston Globe was awfully silent when Steven D. Green and others were discovered to have gang-raped and murdered 14-year-old Abeer, murdered both her parents and murdered her five-year-old sister. The Boston Globe voiced no concern about the US soldiers making it appear the War Crimes were done by 'insurgents.' And the Boston Globe was silent as each soldier entered a plea of guilty except for Green who was a civilian when the crimes were exposed and was tried in civilian court. The Boston Globe couldn't be bothered with Steven D. Green's trial and, even after the verdict (or for that matter, the sentencing), couldn't say one damn word, NOT ONE DAMN WORD, about the War Crimes. So their selective efforts at playing editorial bully goes to the fact that they are the most ignorant and uninformed editorial board in the nation. Praise be to the Boston Globe, doing their part to demonstrate that struggling papers sometimes aren't worth the struggle to save them. It should also be noted that while condemning al Qaeda in Mesopotamia for violence that they have not claimed responsibility for (despite headlines, a splinter group claimed responsibility for the August and October Baghdad bombings that shocked so many, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not claim credit), they've refused to condemn their hero and crush Nouri al-Maliki strange choice of political bedfellows -- the ones who have claimed responsibility for invading the US base and killing 5 US soldiers, the ones who have claimed responsibility for kidnapping 5 British citizens -- 3 of whom are known dead, a fourth is assumed dead and the fifth is hoped to be alive (by the British government -- the fourth assumed dead is hoped to be alive by his friends and family but the British government has stated they assume he is dead). The Boston Globe has nothing to say about that and one wonders exactly when they got in the business of covering for those who murder US troops? Those are Nouri's friends. He got 'em released. He may have provided them with the Iraqi security forces uniforms they used in the attack on the US base and in the kidnapping of the 5 British citizens. He certainly provided the group's leader and the leader's brother with a pass out of a US prison this spring. The Boston Globe wasn't at all worried about and they continue to be a beacon for ignorance around the world. What a proud, proud moment.
While the Boston Globe tongue bathes Nouri (aka the new Saddam), UPI reports Nouri's latest planned assault: doing away with minority representation. The quota system for the cabinet exists because Iraq's a diverse country. But Nouri's never liked diversity, Nouri's a radical, fundamentailist Shi'ite who oversaw the genocide of the Sunni population because he loathes Ba'athists and sees every Sunni as a high ranking Ba'athist or at least as one of the big, scary people that forced coward Nouri to flee Iraq for decades until the US invaded and installed him as a 'leader.' Nouri really hates Ba'athists because they remind him all over again what a meek, little, sniveling coward he is. And that's why oversaw the genocide -- gladly oversaw. UPI notes the announcement by one of Nouri's political party (State of Law) spokespersons "brought a wave of criticism from Kurds, independents and Shiite members of the Iraqi National Alliance who complain Maliki is trying to take greater control of the government." UPI also reminds how Nouri's road to strongman has been littered with attacks on those who are supposed to provide security such as his December 2008 assault on the Interior Ministry whom he accused of plotting a coup -- a plan that never had any evidence to back it up then or since but did allow him to push out a Shi'ite rival -- and how his firings in August for 'security reasons' also can be seen as an attack on one of his rivals, Shi'ite Jawad al-Bolani. UPI notes of Nouri:
He has centralized power for himself to the extent that he has formed two paramilitary forces, the Baghdad Brigade -- also known as "the Dirty Squad" for its nocturnal sweeps arresting Maliki's critics, particularly Sunnis -- and the Counter-Terrorism Force. Both report directly to him.
Maliki has cemented his control over the nation's security forces by recruiting tribal militias funded by his office and seizing the power of appointing or dismissing army officers, bypassing the chief of staff who should have that authority.
In the eyes of many, this has transformed the army into a well-armed prime ministerial militia.
And for what? What is Iraq today? After nearly seven years of war, what is Iraq? The University of Pittsburg's Haider Hamoudi visits and shares impressions at The Daily Star:
Appealing as these examples may be, the role of religion must be greater in the view of the Najaf clerics concerning matters of law than merely as a voice of conscience on behalf of the people against the powerful. Are we truly to believe then that Najaf clerics are indifferent to potential reforms of the Personal Status Law that challenge existing religious doctrine, such as, for example, a ban on polygamy? Why did the Shiite Islamist parties who dominated the Constitutional Committee and who were close to Sistani fight so hard for a constitutional provision banning laws that violate the "certain rulings of Islam," which now appears in Article 2 of the Constitution? Is the fact that every woman within 50 miles of Najaf is covered by a headscarf and then a wide black cloak on top of that really just a matter of personal choice, exercised universally in precisely the same fashion, or does some form of public regulation (state law or otherwise) have something to do with it as well?
I put this point to another of the four grand ayatollahs, Mohammad Said al-Hakim, when the question was raised about the relationship of religion to law. We heard again the Najaf mantra. I asked specifically about Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution and its requirement that law conform to particular certainties in Islam. He described this as a "separate issue," and when I suggested it might mean the marjaaiyya had a role in the legal apparatus of the state, he replied, "we have a role in the clarification of the religion (bayan al-din), not in the administration of the law."

This clarifies the position to some extent, in that it makes Najaf responsible for indicating what the religious position is, and then leaves to the legislator and the judge the determinations that the state is supposed to then make on the basis of Article 2. Even Najaf's commitment to this separation is fuzzy, in that its political allies in Baghdad have fought long and hard to ensure a place for "religious experts" on the Federal Supreme Court for Article 2 questions. In the Constitutional Review Committee, the Shiite Islamist parties have proposed an amendment that indicates that members of the court would be nominated by the "relevant bodies." It is hard to imagine that they did not imagine the marjaaiyya to be the "relevant body" responsible for nominating the religious experts, or at least that number of them who were going to be Shiite.
And that's what Iraq can offer . . . after non-stop war and the US installed puppets. Elections? The US had a few of them yesterday. For the New Jersey governor's race see Mike's post and also be sure to read Betty's which expands on some of the issues Mike touches on but sets aside the race. And for Iraq related coverage in the MSM? Turns out your best chance of discovering the Iraq War is still ongoing comes via "Hints From Heloise" (Washington Post) and not 'reporting' (which long ago lost interest in Iraq):

Dear Heloise: Our church group has decided to start sending baked goods as CARE PACKAGES to military personnel in Iraq. We brainstormed several ideas, such as shoe boxes, etc., but found that the best way to send a cake to anyone overseas is to bake the cake in a small, metal coffee can. After baking, remove the cake to cool. Then repack it in the can, put on the plastic lid the coffee came with and pack the can in a postal box. Soldiers tell us that they love getting cakes this way for two reasons:
1. The cake arrives in one piece
2. The cake can be stored easily, with an airtight lid, if it's not eaten all at once. -- Gwen, via e-mail

How wonderful to hear that your group is sending home-baked goodies to our troops! Nothing beats a treat from the heart and kitchen!
Your group deserves a big Heloise hug, and I know the troops who receive the goodies are appreciative, too.
I'd love to hear hints from other readers who send treats to troops. -- Heloise
Staying with reading, earlier this decade Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.
From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattleexplores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today's movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet -- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit's battle with the New York Times to David Solnit's intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.

David Solnit lived and organized in Seattle in 1999 with the Direct Action Network, a group co-initiated by the Art and Revolution Collective, of which he was a part. He has been a mass direct action organizer since the early '80s, and in the '90s became a puppeteer and arts organizer. He is the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World and co-author with Aimee Allison ofArmy of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. He currently works as a carpenter in Oakland, California and organizes with Courage to Resist, supporting GI resisters, and with the Mobilization for Climate Justice West.
Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her twelfth book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, came out this fall. The previous eleven include 2007's Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities;Wanderlust: A History of Walking;As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper's, she frequently writes for the political site She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.
We'll note the book again tomorrow but right now we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "CHOMSKY SAYS PRESIDENT OBAMA CONTINUES BUSH POLICY TO CONTROL MIDDLE EAST OIL" (Veterans Today):

Political activist Noam Chomsky says that although President Obama views the Iraq invasion merely as "a mistake" or "strategic blunder," it is, in fact, a "major crime" designed to enable America to control the Middle East oil reserves.
"It's ("strategic blunder") probably what the German general staff was telling Hitler after Stalingrad," Chomsky quipped, referring to the big Nazi defeat by the Soviet army in 1943.
"There is basically no significant change in the fundamental traditional conception that if we can control Middle East energy resources, then we can control the world," he said.
In a lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London Oct. 27th, Chomsky warned against expecting significant foreign policy changes from Obama, according to a report by Mamoon Alabbasi published on MWC Alabbasi is an editor at Middle East Online.
"As Obama came into office, (former Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice predicted he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style," Chomsky said.

Chomsky said the U.S. operates under the "Mafia principle," explaining "the Godfather does not tolerate 'successful defiance" and must be stamped out "so that others understand that disobedience is not an option."
Despite pressure on the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, Alabbasi reported, Chomsky said the U.S. continues to seek a long-term presence in the country and the huge U.S. embassy in Baghdad is to be expanded under Obama.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The silence from the (co-opted) 'leaders'

"Obama Not Comfortable With Women in Basketball, Golf ... or Anywhere Else" (Bonnie Erbe, US News & World Reports):
President Obama could invite Chamique Holdsclaw to the private White House basketball court and Billie Jean King to play tennis with him. I still wouldn't believe he's any more comfortable dealing with women or concerned about "women's" issues than the dearly departed former Sen. Jesse Helms. President Obama talks the talk a lot better and a lot louder than Helms. But Jesse Helms was so rooted in his atavist traditions, he chose to remain true to his misogyny rather than pose for cameras with faux female golfing partners. President Obama must hide the side of his personality that is clearly uncomfortable with women because he needs their votes much more than Helms ever did.

Bonnie Erbe called it correctly and the result was some of the nastiest comments you could imagine. We need to value the women who speak up for other women. Which naturally transitions us to . . .

"Sexism And The Stupid Guy (Ava and C.I.)" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
But we don't mean to imply that Hadley and Jo-Ann didn't also help. Many years ago, Wolf was stuck in rewrite hell. Elaine May had been brought in. And around this point, Michelle Pfeiffer suggested the writers stop trying to find a career for her character to dabble in. Sometimes, Michelle knew, the most feminist statement can come from showing the hollow nature of a life lived in repression with your feet and spirit bound. And that's when the script finally started to gell.
By the same token, Hadley and Jo-Ann did as much as Bonnie. Bonnie elected to speak from strength and use her own voice, no doubt inspiring many young girls as well as many grown women. And then there's Hadley and Jo-Ann served up as the cautionary tale, showing young girls and women how silly and embarrassing you look when you rush to defend the patriarchy, when you try to sell sexism as a form of liberation.
Most of all, we suggest you remember the silence from so many when next Title IX is discussed. Grasp that women think equality on the sports field is important . . . up until a woman leaves college then our faux feminists appear to think a woman's got no reason to complain and certainly no right to. Remember that.

Read the entire thing and notice how many were silent about Barack shutting women out of the networking opportunities. It's shameful. Bonnie Erbe called it out, Ava and C.I. called it out. Our 'brave' 'leaders'?

Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem were apparently too busy getting coffee for the men in their Socialist enclave. Though they weren't able to speak out, they did manage to squeal a few times as Howard Zinn pinched their asses.

It's reallly telling that Barack can get away with utilizing sexism at the White House and our alleged 'leaders' in the feminist movement can't say a damn word. If you never got how weak and co-opted the 'leadership' is, there's your answer.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, Novemer 3, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, IOM releases a study on internal refugees in Iraq who have returned to their former homes, still no election law in Iraq (and the pretense that Kirkuk is the big hold up continues), a man goes to town on a NYT reporter online so we know the reporter must be a woman, and more.
Today the International Organization for Migration [IOM] released their latest report on internal Iraqi refugees [PDF format warning] entitled "Assessment of Return to Iraq:" The report notes the low rate of return (external refugees coming back to Iraq) and focuses on the 1.6 million estimated interal refugees and what the desires of this vulnerable population are. The report notes that IOM spoke with "4,061 families (24,366 individuals)" while assessing needs.
The bulk of the internally displaced hail from Baghdad (nearly 90%). From the report:
* The majority of identified returnees (33,521 families, or 58%) have returned to Baghdad governorate, while a significant proportion has also been identified in Diyala and Anbar.
* 54,451 of the returnees identified (94%) have returned from internal displacement, while the remaining 3,659 identified families (6%) have returned from abroad.
* Almost 90% of IOM-assessed post-Samarra IDPs were displaced from Baghdad, diyala, and Ninewa, and almost 79% of identified returns are also located in these three governorates.
The report notes the top six reasons IDPs give for their displacement are:

Direct threats to life (29.1%)
Left out of fear (21.7%)
Generalized violence (16.5%)
Forced displacement from property (7.6%)
Ethnic/religious/political discrimination (5.9%)
Armed conflict (5.0%)
The report notes that those who are returning often cite "harsh conditions in displacement" as one of the reasons they have returned (exampele include "high rent, lack of employment opportunities, poor shelter and lack of basic services"). The second and third categories can be combined: "Improved security in area of origin and very difficult conditions in displacement" and "Very difficult conditions in displacement". If you combine the two than 45.46% of those who have returned are citing "very difficult conditions in displacement" regions. Those returning to Baghdad cite "former employment, transporation assistance, repair of damaged homes and property, and renewed access to basic services" as their reasons. 38% of those who have returned to their former homes "reported feeling safe only some of the time." In addition, 42.5% of returnees in Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala and Kirkuk report that "their homes are partially or completely destroyed. In addition, 50% of returnees in these governorates no longer have their movable property, such as cars, due to loss or theft."
Of those returning to their former homes across Iraq, Arab Shia Muslims make up the largest percent (49.4%), followed by Arab Sunni Muslim (31.0%), Turkmen Sunni Muslim (9.7%) and Christians (8.9%). (Kurd Shia Muslim, Kurd Sunni Muslim and Other each account for less than one percent.) Of those who remain internally displaced, the highest percent is (again) Arab Shia (58.4%) followed by Arab Sunni Muslim (29.3%) with Christians and Kurd Sunni Muslim next (each at 4.4%), followed by Other (4.0%) and Kurd Shia Muslim (0.7%). IOM's report also provides a gender breakdown for heads of household of returnees: 12% are female-headed households and 88% of returnees are male-headed housholds (and 35% of the 88% cannot find work). The study found, "Among assessed returnee female-headed households, food is consistently identified as a priority need (60% across Iraq) along with non-food itmes (NFIs) and fueld. In Baghdad, health and sanitation are major concerns for interviewed female-headed households. Access to legal help was also a serious issue, particularly in Diyala and Ninewa governorates." Breaking down employment for returnee heads of household; 69.7% of females heading households are unable to work contrasted with 15.4% of the male heads of household; 4.7% of female heads of household are employed contrasted with 50.1% of male heads of household, and 25.7% of female heads of household are able to work but unable to find employment contrasted with 34.5% of male heads of household in the same situation.
Returnees were asked about basic services as well (remember, the bulk live in Baghdad). How many have electricity each day for "More than 18 hours"? Only 2%. Most (34%) report they have only one to two hours of electricity each day. With water, more were able to rely on basic services: 81.8% state they receive "Municipal water/pipe grid" while the next most common response (7.9%) was "Rivers, streams or lakes." Returnees ranked their needs and 61% stated their most pressing need was food.
The report finds:
While the total number of returns in Iraq continues to slowly grow since the end of 2007, it remains a small fraction of the total Iraqi IDP and refugee populations. In the face of uncertain security improvements, the future of return is also unsure. Many IDP families continue to say that they are waiting for security to improve in order to return.
IOM returnee assessments show that 'pull' factors such as improved security in place of origin are more encouraging of return than 'push' factors such as difficult conditions in place of displacement. However, as prolonged displacement makes life difficult for Iraq's internally displaced and refugees, this could change.
Returning home means facing a new set of challenges for Iraqi families. 34% of IOM-assessed returnee families report that they are able to work yet unemployed, 34% returned to partially or completely destroyed property, and 75% have less than 6 hours of electricity per day. In addition, the majority were displaced for more than one year, meaning that they return carrying the stress and financial debilitation of long-term displacement.
UPI reports Nouri al-Maliki and Oscar Fernandez-Taranco met in Baghdad today. Who is Oscar Fernandez-Taranco? The envoy United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent "to discuss Baghdad's concerns over foreign meddling following deadly bombings in August and October." Strange that two bombings (and Nouri stomping his feet) gets UN action when the non-stop and ongoing assault on Christians doesn't. Deutsche Presse Agentur reports that Iraqi MP Yonadam Kanna has "petitioned Sunni Muslim parliamentary speaker Iyad al-Samarrai to formally request [. . .] an international investigator to determine who was behind the killing of Iraqi Christians that Iraqi Christians believe are designed to convince them to leave their homes". Mohammad Alef Jamal (Gulf News) adds:
When Iraqi Mandaeans are killed, an international committee is formed to defend their community and when Iraqi Christians are killed or expelled, the Pope appeals to the US President to provide protection for them. This is because these groups follow religions that connect them to other countries.
But when Iraqi scientists and intellectuals are killed, or when border villages are bombed by neighbouring countries and the bodies of Iraqis are torn apart by violent explosions, the only reaction seen is condemnation, calls for immediate investigation, threats and random accusations -- even before an investigation starts.
This is followed by an exchange of accusations between politicians about whose fault it is, and some prominent figures are made scapegoats, solely for electoral reasons.
Violence has created the refugee crisis, the world's largest refugee crisis. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people, a Baquba roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left three more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left two more people injured and a Mosul mortar attack which injured two people.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 judge was injured when he was shot not far from his Mosul home.
Ignore the violence, joy for the greedy. BBC News reports, "Iraq's oil ministry has signed an initial agreement with a consortium led by the Italian firm, ENI, to develop the Zubair oilfield in southern Iraq. The deal, which needs cabinet approval, calls for the group to extract 200,000 barrels of oil a day, rising to 1.1 million a day within seven years." Meanwhile AP notes that the consortium of British Petroleum and China National Petroleum Company's successful bid has been finalized. Khalid a-Ansary and Jack Kimball (Reuters) report that the Iraqi Parliament has informed Hussain al-Shahristani, the country's Oil Minister, that he will be testifying before them November 11th on the "distribution of the nation's oil wealth" which has led to Nouri al-Maliki to have another public fit, muttering about "evil supporters of the past regime" and comparing the summons to "the last bombings" (he is a drama queen).
Meanwhile the 163-year-old US daily newspaper the Joplin Globe -- serving the south west sections of Missouri -- offers the editorial "In our view: Time to get out of Iraq:"
In our view, American military force no longer plays a role in Iraq other than "peace-keeping." Someone must contain the violence over time to allow democratic-like institutions to flourish. That should not be the role of American military power; it must be done by Iraqi institutions controlled solely by the Iraqi government.
It is now time for a broad and sustained military withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq. Whatever American forces of any sort that remain should be paid for exclusively by the Iraqi government.
We can argue forever about the wisdom of our invasion and presence in Iraq beginning in 2003. For sure, Iraq cannot be allowed to become another Korea, where today 30,000 American troops are held hostage to a crazy North Korean regime while "protecting" a rich and prosperous South Korea.
Withdraw now the 120,000 military personnel from Iraq, Mr. President and Congress. Do it as quickly as the safety of those troops will permit.
Why the Globe and not the New York Times? Because the Globe actually is read by families of the enlisted, therefore, it is aware that there is an ongoing war and it is aware that the Iraq War directly effects their readership.
US President Barack Obama could end the Iraq War immediately . . . if he wanted to. He's the biggest road block at present because he is, as Bully Boy Bush once so infamously put it, "the decider." (Especially true when an apethetic news media has largely moved away from the issue and a public's been lulled into false dreams of peace.) Other things that aren't helpful would include (a) the Iraqi government or 'government' and (b) the Pentagon and KBR. Starting with the former, Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) interviews US Lt Gen Charles H. Jacoby Jr.:

Are you concerned that the elections on which your withdrawal timetable is based may be delayed? The Iraqi parliament is deadlocked over an election law, even though the deadline has long since passed.

This parliamentary election is a decisive point in the history of Iraq's democracy, and it's also very important to the United States. We have a stake in their success. Iraq has had increasingly better elections over time. Of course we look forward to these elections. And so we're very concerned that we're past the date that the Iraqis wanted to have an election law, and that every day that goes by eats into the established date for the election. Iraq has the opportunity to demonstrate that it has a viable and credible democracy, and can be a model for the region. There's lots of opportunity here and we don't want to miss these opportunities by having this election drift.

Would an election delay also delay the plan to withdraw all U.S. combat forces by August 2010?

We do not think we are at the point where we are off our plan, but of course we are going to watch this very carefully. Any decision to vary from the plan is a policy decision that won't take place here. It's too soon to say whether a potential delay in the election is a potential delay in the withdrawal.

Alsumaria notes rumors that US pressure is expected to lead various parties to accept the United Nations' recommendations on the legislation:

To that, Kurds decried the US pressure calling them to renounce their rights in the city and that after announcing that US Vice President Joe Biden called Kurdistan Governor Massoud Al Barazani in order to talk over the obstructions hindering approving elections law. MP Mahmoud Othman told Al Hayat Newspaper that endeavors of Senior US officials are means to pressure Kurds in order to accept the suggested solutions though they are unfair. The US behaviors are biased, Othman added.
It is no secret that this kind of pressure is expected considering the importance USA gives for holding the lections on time. MP Khairallah Al Basri said that failing to reach an accordance solution regarding elections' law will urge the USA to interfere in order to impose solutions.
Alsumaria sources had said that the Legal committee suggested a draft law that proposes to adopt open list and determines the parliament's seats number. The law also stipulates using multi-divisions system and appoints the number of seats for each division without mentioning Kirkuk. However the relevant parties did not agree on this suggestion.

Ali Karim (Asia Times) reports the recents bombings are said, by some, to have an impact on their votes and quotes MP Mithal al-Alosi stating, "I expect a low turnout in the elections if matters go on this way. The wounds of Bloody Wednesday have not healed yet and the Salehiya bombs have deepened those wounds." Mithal Alusi was noted in yesterday's snapshot, he's the head of the Iraqi Nation Party and he appeared as a guest on Al Jazeera's latest Inside Iraq which began broadcasting last Friday.

AFP reports that Faraj al-Haidari, head of the country's Independent High Electoral Commission, declared on Al-Sharquiay TV today, "The electoral commission held talks with the United Nations on Tuesday to discuss the timetable. We must receive the law in the next two days, otherwise we will be unable to hold the election on the scheduled date of January 16. There is material relating to the election, and international companies need time to print it. Fifteen thousand polling stations have to be made ready for the election, as do 50,000 personnel." UPI speaks with MP Mohammad Salman who states there are currently three options.
1) Allow the voting to be based on an open-list (where voters know which people they are voting for and not just a party).
2) Keep the voting to a closed-list (as was done in the 2005 elections).
3) "[P]ostpone the elections for at least one legislative term to give lawmakers the chance to vet all of their concerns."

Salman states that "is the most likely route" but that at least 70 MPs from the Kurdistan Alliance object to the third option. That's an important point because the US continues to pressure tthe KRG to agree to . . . well to anything that will get the bill passed. And many in the press wrongly -- WRONGLY -- continue to state that the issue of oil-rich Kirkuk (claimed by the KRG and by Baghdad) is the road block. It is a road block and it is not just bad reporting to leave out the issue of the lists, it is politically ignorant.
Any legislative body -- true of the US Congress as well as Iraq's Parliament -- makes decisions based on their own interests -- especially when it comes to re-election. Closed lists are thought by many MPs to mean they have a better shot at re-election. Open-lists are feared. (Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad al-Alawi are two who have spoken out publicly for open-lists.) When the Parliament is so fearful that open-lists may mean they aren't re-elected, that is an issue, that is a road block and it's repeatedly set aside or forgotten in press accounts. There are three options, UPI is told. Find where the MP (a Sunni) is at all concerned about the issue of Kirkuk in his statements. What is he concerned about? Open and closed lists.

So the Iraqi Parliament drags their feet and they aren't the only ones. At yesterday's public hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was learned that the Defense Department had still not submitted all the plans for the draw-down that's supposed to be on the verge of taking place. Not only have they not submitted all of their own plans, they're supervision of KBR is so lax that KBR's been allowed to skip submitting a plan. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Commissioner Robert Henke attempted to get an answer from the Pentagon's Lee Hamilton to this question: "If the president announces on February 27, 2009 the draw-down plan and we're on November 2nd, is it possible that the contractor hasn't provided you any plan to adjust staff accordingly?" Despite attempting to walk Hamilton through slowly (after Hamilton rambled on with a non-answer reply) and despite asking, "How is that possible?", Henke never got anything that would pass for an answer to his questions.

This morning Jen Dimascio (Politico -- link has text and audio) reports:

KBR, the largest contractor in Iraq, is pulling out of that country so slowly that it could end up costing American taxpayers $193 million more than expected, according to a new Pentagon audit.
Furthermore, during a hearing Monday by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a legislative body set up to study contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Commissioner Charles Tiefer said the company's plodding exit from Iraq could cost even more -- up to $300 million.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, that's only one portion of the story. Dimascio notes a quote from Commissioner Dov Zakheim and you can see yesterday's snapshot for that full exchange. From last night, Kat's "Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan" covers the hearing and she shares some impression on Commissioner Chris Shays hearing performance. But Dimascio covers one aspect of the big news from yesterday's hearings -- and we did consider skipping it but fortunately didn't because the Commission actually had their act together yesterday (we is Kat, Ava, Wally and myself) -- the other big news was the lack of completed plans.

For the Pentagon, that's especially appalling and it's either an issue of insubordination or the White House isn't really serious about a draw-down. For the Pentagon, the refusal to submit their own plans or demand that KBR draw up their own is appalling. Thompson declared in the hearing that he visited with KBR most recently on September 25th or 26th and they still had no plans -- and Thompson was neither surprised nor worried about the lack of planning.
In the US, Noor Faleh Almaleki has died. The 20-year-old Iraqi woman was intentionally run over October 20th (see the October 21st snapshot) while she and Amal Edan Khalaf were running errands (the latter is the mother of Noor's boyfriend and she was left injured in the assault). Police suspected Noor's father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, of the assault and stated the probable motive was that he felt Noor had become "too westernized." As noted in the October 30th snapshot, Faleh Hassan Almaleki was finally arrested after going on the lamb -- first to Mexico, then flying to London where British authorities refused him entry and he was sent back to the US and arrested in Atlanta. Karan Olson and CNN note that the judge has set the man's bail at $5 million. Philippe Naughton (Times of London) adds, "Noor died yesterday, having failed to recover consciousness after the attack. The other woman, Amal Khalaf, was also seriously injured but is expected to survive. "

Rachel Stockman and 12 News (link has text and video) supply
this timeline:

October 20th
-Around 2 p.m. Police say Faleh Almaleki ran down his daughter, friend.
-Around 5 p.m. Nlets Alert with Almaleki's license plate and vehicle description goes out
October 23rd
-U.S. Customs and Border Protection notified.

Addressing the timeline, Rachel Stockman reports, "They allowed the suspect to cross the border into Mexico so we wanted to know where the communication broke down. What we found? Nlets, the system Peoria police use to notify other authorities is not something US Customs always checks." Dustin Gardiner (Arizona Republic) quotes: prosecutor Stephanie Low stating of the father, "By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family. This was an attempt at an honor killing." Iraqi American Romina Korkes offered her thoughts on the so-called 'honor' killing last week in a column for the Arizona Republic.
Women are attacked daily around the world. The attacks are dismissed. A large number of men seem to think it's okay -- and a significant number of women must agree since we're not in the streets marching -- and that goes a long way towards explaining Rory O'Connor's post at Media Channel -- a site not known for its 'inclusive' view of humanity (to put it mildly). Noting Alissa J. Rubin's opinion piece from Sunday's New York Times (we noted it in Friday's snapshot), O'Connor goes on to rip her apart. Now let's be clear, Alissa J. Rubin being a woman doesn't mean she can't be ripped apart nor are we concerned about tone. She's never been good with math (we've called her "teen queen" at this site) and she's been so wack that she's even been called "crack whore" here. But what have we done that Rory O'Connor doesn't? We've praised her, yes. She's earned a lot of praise over the years here. But that's not it. He doesn't have to praise her and, indeed, he may not find anything worth praising in her writing. That is his opinion.
But where there's a problem is that Alissa J. Rubin was never the paper's problem. On her bad days, she jumbled the numbers and was too quick to believe things she shouldn't have (such as the "Awakenings" being universally embraced in areas they 'patrolled' or 'terrorized'). Her worst day never found her as bad as John F. Burns or Dexter Filkins. I'm not seeing their names mentioned by Rory. Those are the two worst offenders for what he's demanding (truth). But they don't get called out. It's really strange that so few women have worked in Baghdad for the New York Times (others include Cara Buckley, Sabrina Tavernise, Erica Goode and, of course, Judith Miller) but they're always the ones being ripped apart. Not the males. The issue isn't that he called Rubin out. He's allowed to. He can loathe her and rip her apart. The issue is that we haven't seen that same standard applied to men.
This is the Judith Miller effect, the bash the bitch craze, we've long documented here. Judith Miller did not start a war. Judith Miller was not responsible for the entire media landscape. She did not twist the arms of PBS and NBC and Oprah to get air time. Those people wanted her on their shows. She did not twist arms at the paper to land on the front page, the paper wanted her on the front page. Judith Miller was so WRONG about the Iraq War but she wasn't a liar -- at least not on the big issue. She honestly believed their were WMD in Iraq, that's why she commandeered a squadron while stationed in Iraq. She's a lousy reporter, her 'facts' do not hold up. She needs to be held accountable. But she often had co-writers -- such as Michael R. Gordon who remains at the paper and who spent the second Bush term advocating for war on Iran. Judith Miller was a reporter for one of the top three papers in the country (at that time). If you saw her on TV, she was invited on. If you heard her on radio, she was invited on. If you read her in another paper, a decision was made to print her article. It took a lot of people echoing the government (not all of whom believed the lies the way Miller did) to start the war on Iraq, to lie to the people. Miller was one person. Hold her accountable, no question, but what about all the others?
The pleasing lie (pleasing to a lot of members of the press corps) is that Judith Miller, all by herself, lied the nation into war. Judith Miller and others like her helped the US get into Iraq but grasp that Dexter Filkins and John F. Burns kept the US in Iraq. There are some who will kiss Dexy's butt because of those bad, BAD, college campus appearances where he talks about (and has done this for several years now) about how the Iraq War is lost and how they knew it then and blah, blah, blah. That might have mattered. If he'd done it in real time. But in real time, he was lying. In real time, he was taking orders from the military -- as Molly Bingham long ago explained, Dexy even cancelled a meeting with the Iraqi resistance when US military brass frowned. In real time, Dexy let the US military vet his copy. That's reality. His award winning 'reporting'? Vetted by the US military. Vetted and delayed while it was vetted which is why the paper ran it so many days after it was written.
I have no problem with Judith Miller being called out -- and I've called her out myself. But, look through the archvies, we've called out women and we've called out men. We haven't worried about tone but we've made damn sure that people were treated fairly -- even if that just meant that abuse was heaped on equally.
I'm glad that someone at Media Channel remembered there is a war in Iraq and I'm glad that Rory O'Connor wrote with fire. But I'm also aware that Alissa J. Rubin, graded on any scale, qualifies as one of the better reporters the paper's had in Iraq. And I'm also aware that MediaChannel is more than happy to go after Katie Couric or any other woman but I find very little in efforts to praise women or to link to them. (Until O'Connor's column, which I heard about from a friend at the Times, I haven't visited MediaChannel since the efforts to distort Marcia's writing.) And if Alissa J. Rubin was Alan J. Rubin, I have to wonder whether or not MediaChannel would even be weighing in? Again, it's been a long, long time since they've made it known that they're aware of the Iraq War.
This isn't a minor issue -- not the silence on Iraq or the attacks on women. And, repeating, it's not about tone. It's about fairness. We've ridiculed many women here and will do so again and again and again. But we don't go to town on a woman and refuse to on men. Todd S. Purdum is a better writer at Vanity Fair than he was at the Times -- that has to do with the differing role, the fact that he can write longer at Van Fair and the differences between the outlets. But we went to town on Todd (who I know offline) and did so because his work was as appalling as Elisabeth Bumiller's columns (run in the news section but they were columns) at that time. (Bumiller's done some strong reporting in the last few years.) We went to town on her, we went to town on Todd. And the fact that I knew him didn't prevent that nor did the fact that he was a man make me think, "I shouldn't criticize." But there's a real locker room mentality among the online critics where a man gets a pass and another one and another one and, okay, let's make it about the work. But a woman gets ripped apart. The ripping apart doesn't bother me . . . if it's applied to both.
We've linked to Rory before and we'll link to his post today one more time. But it's really past time that a lot of online critics took a look what they were doing. I'm not suggesting anyone change their style or tone or make nice. I am suggesting that they make sure they treat people the same -- regardless of gender. I do not believe Alissa J. Rubin was treated the same as a male reporter would have been. I could be wrong, I often am. But I'm saying my call on that goes to pattern: MediaChannel's emphasis and the climate online.
Kat's "Kat's Korner: Carly Simon's warm benediction" is a review of Carly Simon's just released Never Been Gone. Carly is one of America's most gifted songwriter and one whose work has changed the landscape. She's also one of the surest of singers and for the latest project, she's re-imaging songs from her amazing canon of work. She explained to Dean Goodman (Reuters) that she was hestitant to include her classic "You're So Vain" until she heard the cover Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet did earlier this year on Under The Covers Vol. II (which Kat reviewed here) "and I thought, 'Well if they can do it, I can do it!" And as Ty noted in the roundtable at Third Sunday, "Still on the subject of Carly Simon, Bill, who runs Carly Simon Conversations, recommends this Day Trotter article on Carly Simon's concert, last week at Lincoln Center, this blog post on the concert and this video of 'Touched By The Sun'." The Day Trotter article contains video clips of Carly's concert last week.
Finally, independent reporter David Bacon remains one of the few remaining labor reporters in the country. (And he can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show each Wednesday morning -- the program begins airing at 7:00 a.m. PST and streams online.) His latest report is "San Diego -- Land of Day Laborers, Farm Workers and Guest Workers" (21st Century Manifesto):

In Oceanside, Carlsbad, Del Mar and north San Diego County, immigrant day laborers wait by the side of the road, hoping a contractor will stop and offer them work. Alberto Juarez Martinez slings his jacket over his shoulder while he waits. His hands show the effect of a lifetime of manual work, plus arthritis suffered as a child in Zapata, Zacatecas. The hands of Beto, a migrant from Uruachi, Chihuahua, also show the effect of a lifetime of manual work. Juan Castillo, a migrant from Tehuacan, Puebla, waits with his friends in the parking lot of a market they've nicknamed La Gallinita, because of the rooster on the roof of the building.
Police in north county towns have now started cruising by day labor sites in plainclothes, pretending to be contractors offering workers jobs, and then citing them and turning them over to immigration agents, even those with green cards Many community organizations are protesting this practice.
Francisco Villa operates a lunch truck that visits the areas where migrant day laborers live on hillsides and under trees. Villa hands out leaflets advising workers of their rights and letting them know that they can find help from California Rural Legal Assistance. Across the street from Villa's truck, Zaragosa Brito and Andres Roman Diaz, two migrants from Arcelia, Guerrero, sit next to a fence where workers look for day labor, or get rides to the fields for farm work. The men sleep out in the open in the field behind the fence, and have worked on a local strawberry ranch, Rancho Diablo, for many years.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which has won the CLR James Award.