Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Confluence can go f**k itself

As a psychologist, I encounter people attempting to deal with traumatic events constantly.

I know a bit about the bullies who try to intimidate women, more than a bit.

In the workplace, if you display a photo of nude or topless woman, you better be working in a pigstye or you'll be brought up on sexual harassment. You should be.

No woman should be made uncomfortable because you need to fantasize in public.

The internet's supposed to be so wonderful but it's cess pool in so many ways and Riverdaughter of The Confluence is nothing but the toilet attendant.

I say that because she's praising a sexist and refusing to call out his posting of nude women to his 'political' blog. Marcia's covered this in "Men are sexist coz women like Riverdaughter enable it."

What exactly does Riverdaughter think women say when going to that pig's trashy site?

Does Riverdaughter think women look and say, "Wow! Nice jugs."?


Women get the message right away that this site does not respect them.

It's the same reason you don't allow nudity in the workplace -- in most workplaces.

It cheapens women and it intimidates them and that is the point for bully like Joseph Cannon who has repeatedly taken to bullying women.

Riverdaughter was praising him at her site for his bad drawings and got called on it in the comments. I'm looking at the original. They've since deleted all but one comment. But in real time, people were calling the Pig out and Riverdaughter for embracing him.

I'll call her out right now.

She's disgusting trash.

No woman needs to go through the nonsense that Joe Cannon offers at his crap ass site.

If Riverdaughter thinks that's a wonderful site, let's pray she or her daughter is never raped. I think if she knew the first thing about rape victims, I think if she ever spoke to a few, or women who've been victimized by domestic abuse, she'd grasp that a site supposedly for 'all' becomes a men's locker room when nude 'girlies' are posted to it.

It sends a message.

Shame on Riverdaughter for pretending it doesn't.

I don't have that luxury. Even now, when I'm just treating veterans, I am still dealing with victims of sexual assault.

Shame on Riverdaughter for POSING as a feminist and yet encouraging women to go a site where they will be treated (at best) as less than human and (at worst) bullied and abused.

Shame on her.

For all the whining online about third-wave feminism from the PUMA-sphere (what C.I. and I call the do-me, push-up bra faux feminism), you'd think they'd grasp how damaging the s**t Cannon pulls is. But they don't. Apparently, they're able to copy C.I. and my critiques, they just aren't able to grasp the points we make.

You have to wonder what would cause Riverdaughter to finally object. A nude photo of a woman chained posted by Cannon? Does she need to be mutilated for Riverdaughter to object?

This isn't, as that ass Cannon tries to portray it, an issue of being a prude. This is merely noting that it has no place at a political blog allegedly welcoming to all. It has no place at a blog, in fact, that doesn't come with a warning because people have been written up in the workplace for far less.

There's a CounterPunch article today that C.I. wanted to link to. She didn't. Why? CounterPunch is again running a nude photo of a woman. They're currently selling a T&A calendar as well.

Riverdaughter won't grasp why C.I. would therefore refuse to link to an article at CounterPunch today.

To her, it's all good.

To her, it doesn't matter if women are turned into meat, illustrated in such a way that they appear inhuman.

To her, it's all good.

In her world, no woman's ever been raped.

In the real world, women have been grappling with the issues Marcia did for years. In the feminist world, we don't rush to attack a woman rightly calling a man out for sexism.

But that's what they do at The Confluence and that's why The Confluence can go f**k itself. C.I. was asked (by Marcia) not to comment on this. (Marcia wants her to just focus on Iraq because she knows there's a lot to cover.) But I did discuss this post with C.I. and she told me I could put, "I agree 100%."

Joseph Cannon clearly has issues with women, clearly feels he's not in control and that bothers him. He lashes out at women as a result. Hopefully, he just does that online. If not, Riverdaughter might someday have to explain how she came to defend a man who kills a woman.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 23, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi Christians are again targeted, an examination of US labor's role in the movement to end the Iraq War, and more.

Michael Prysner and Iraq War veteran James Circello were on
Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton and Charles Goyette discussing their group March Forward! "an affiliate of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition" composed of veterans and active-duty service members. (For those who can't stream or who are not able to listen to streams, there's an excerpt of the interview in yesterday's snapshot.) Information Clearing House has a video of Michael Prysner speaking:

And I tried hard to be proud of my service, but all I could feel was shame. Racism could no longer mask the reality of the occupation. These were people. These were human beings. I've since been plagued by guilt. Any time I see an elderly man, like the one who couldn't walk that we rolled onto a stretcher and told the Iraqi police to go take him away. I feel guilt any time I see a mother with her children like the one who cried hysterically and screamed that we were worse than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt any time I see a young girl, like the one I grabbed by the arm and dragged into the street. We were told we were fighting terrorists. The real terrorist was me and the real terrorism is this occupation. Racism in the military has long been a tool to justify the occupation and destruction of another country. It's long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people.
Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government. It is a more important weapon than a rifle, a tank, a bomber or a battleship. It is more destructive than an artillery shell or a bunker buster or a Tomahawk Missile. While those weapons are created and owned by this government, they're harmless without people willing to use them. Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger or lob a mortar round. They do not have to fight the war, they merely have to sell the war. They need a public who's willing to send their soldiers into harm's way. They need soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed without question. They can spend millions on a single bomb but that bomb only becomes a weapon when the ranks in the military are willing to follow orders to use it.
They can send every last soldier anywhere on earth but there will only be a war if soldiers are willing to fight and the ruling class, the billionaires -- who profit from suffering, care only about expanding their wealth, controlling the world's economy -- understand that their power lies only in their ability to convince that war, oppression and exploitation is in our interest. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country. And convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability to make us think that we are somehow superior. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airman have nothing to gain from this occupation. The vast majority of the people in the US have nothing to gain from this occupation. In fact, not only do we have nothing to gain but we suffer more from it. We lose limbs, endure trauma and lose our lives. Our families have to watch flag draped coffins lowered into the earth.
Millions in this country without health care, jobs or access to education have watched this government squander over $450 million dollars a day on this occupation.
Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in another country to make the rich richer. And without racism, soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war.
I threw families onto the street in Iraq only to come home and find families thrown onto the street in this country in this tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis.
We need to wake up and realize that our real enemies are not in some distant land, they're not people whose names we don't know and cultures we don't understand. The enemy is people we know very well and can identify. The enemy is the system that wages war when it is profitable. The enemy is the CEOs who lay us off from our jobs when it is profitable. It's the insurance companies who deny us health care when it's profitable. It's the banks who take away our homes when it's profitable.
Our enemy is not 5,000 miles away. They are right here at home. If we organize and fight with our sisters and brothers, we can stop this war, we can stop this government and we can create a better world.

Labor has been a significant force in the push to end the Iraq War and they don't often get the credit for their contributions. On
KPFA's The Morning Show today, independent journalist David Bacon brought on US Labor Against the War's co-coordinators Kathy Black and Gene Bruskin and the USLAW's national organizer Michael Eisenscher.

David Bacon: So we wanted to take a look at what's going to happen with the war in Afghanistan and the [US President Barack] Obama administration. But in order to understand that, I thought it might be useful if, Eugene or you, Kathy, wanted to talk about what the change was in relation to the -- in terms of union's relation to the war in Iraq, the change from the way in which US labor has essentially supported, or sometimes with a great deal of conflict but nevertheless supported, most of the other military interventions by the US from WWII on through Vietnam and Central America. So why don't you start us off, Gene, by ta,king about what the historical position of US unions has been in relation to US intervention and what the change was with Iraq here?

Gene Bruskin: Well we have a, I think, the labor movement has, in some ways, not a proud history in how we've judged foreign policy cause we've pretty much accepted whatever the existing government and power structure wanted going back to the Philippines and I mean both the World Wars, of course, and Korea and Vietnam and El Salvador. There was some actually splits in the labor movement but in general what foreign policy was for many years including, you know, in all the post-WW period, is whatever policy we had to oppose the Soviet Union, for example, even if it meant supporting dictatorship supported unions in places like the Philippines and helping with the coups in places like Chile, the labor movement followed suit. So it was a huge break when US Labor Against the War was formed and the scope and the influence of that break is unprecedented.

David Bacon: What, uhm, Kathy, what do you attribute the change to? Aside from -- we're going to talk quite a bit her about US Labor Against the War itself as an organization, but are their changes that have taken place in unions and in our labor movement in terms of, for instance, the rejection of the policies of the Cold War or changes in terms of demographics which provided an opportunity I guess you would say for developing opposition to the war in Iraq which didn't exist earlier in terms of Vietnam, Central America, going all the way back to Korea?

Kathy Black: Yeah, of course all those things are factors. I think there are so many Vietnam war veterans in the labor movement and, in retrospect, people look back on that war -- even those that may have been strong supporters -- and see it in a different light. historically. You know, problems with veterans' illness and just a reflection on the policy has evolved. But I think, frankly, the single biggest factor if you can pick one that helped USLAW organize and galvanize support, it was George W. Bush. You know, I think that certainly there have been historical changes but people in the labor movement were so predisposed to be skeptical of anything he did and suspicious and automatically oppositional that that was probably the single biggest factor that helped us organize and convince people to look at the war from a different perspective.

Philip Maldari: And again, "USLAW" is US Labor Against the War, the acronym. Kathy, uh, one thing that certainly has changed is that there's no longer a Soviet Union. During the Cold War, was the labor -- official labor movement so scared of being red-baited that they uh-uh were backing every anti-communist intervention around the world for fear of being --
David Bacon: Well some actually expelled people, actually expelled whole unions.

Philip Maldari: Oh, expelled unions that had alleged Communists in their ranks, uh-uh, so was it, when the Cold War ended, did that give the labor movement a chance to get out under this fear of being red-baited?

Kathy Black: Uh, they pretty much purged the labor movement of the, you know, of Communist influences well before that so I don't know if I see it as fear but there was enormous complicity in the labor movement as Gene already spoke about.

Gene Bruskin: The most important part of it was that the labor movement had really bought into the fear of Communism and anti-communism because the criticism within the labor movement had been crushed earlier on and so they just bought the policy whole hook, line and sinker.

Kathy Black: They advocated the policy. Not everybody, but there were certainly prominent leaders in the labor movement who-who trumpeted those positions. Loudly.

Gene Bruskin: And so it did, I think, go out, after the end of the Cold War, there was clearly more openness to see what was actually workers' interest as opposed to what we usually called "national interest" which is generally business interest. But now we have not the issue of anti-communism so much as the whole issue of the fight against terrorism which is essentially the same set of logic has replaced -- you know, the Domino Theory is now the spread of terrorism.

David Bacon: And then, perhaps, I think one other factor -- maybe you could comment on this, Mike -- that played into this was the cost of the war on working people. I remember hearing this argument made at the first assembly of US Labor Against the War. And the fact that our labor movement now has a very, very large sector of public workers in it who are much more directly effected by the cost of the war and that there was a basis for saying to the people that if this war goes on people are going to lose jobs.

Mike Eisenscher: That certainly is true --

Philip Maldari: Wait a second, we've got to get your mike on. Go ahead, Mike.

Mike Eisenscher: Uh, that's certainly true. Another factor related to that is that the composition of the labor movement has changed quite a bit and there are now many, many immigrant workers in the labor movement who bring with them experiences in their own country that give them a different view of the international situation and a much more rounded and critical perspective.

David Bacon: So, Gene, the -- sort of compressing the history here a bit -- from the beginning of the war and the occupation of Iraq in 2003 and the convention at the AFL-CIO where the AFL-CIO officially adopted a position calling for the withdrawal of US troops which I believe took place in the summer of 2005?

Gene Bruskin: Right.

David Bacon: Right. There was obviously a great deal of activity that went on in terms of getting union by union opposition to that war organized. Can you kind of like go through that history pretty quickly for us here?

Gene Bruskin: Well what was, in a way, breath taking to many of us was that after US Labor Against the War was launched in January 2003 and then the war happened. We weren't, unfortunately, able to prevent it. But then rather than have the reaction that happened after the Gulf War when the yellow ribbons went up everywhere, people got even angrier and there was just a-a huge wave that summer and all into the next year through every union virtually of any significance in the labor movement -- on the shop floor, at monthly union meetings, at regional meetings and a meetings of international Unions, resolutions went onto the floor and there were really intense debates where people were just saying, "This is not the role of the labor movement to take these kind of positions. We're supposed to just deal with people's job-related issues." And in many cases what happened is vets or military families stood up and said, "Look, you know, I got a son that is about to go over there and I want the troops home tomorrow cause I don't want my kid to die." That kind of stuff --

Philip Maldari: Well let's talk about exactly who's in the army, who is in the marine corps, who's fighting this war. It seems like more often than not, it's the children of the working class. It's not the children of the upper middle class that are uh-uh troops, you know, boots on the ground in Afghanistan right now.

Gene Bruskin: Right. I mean it was clearly a thing where people said, "It's us that's fighting the war, it's -- we're paying for the war and we don't want it." And it came at the time when our rights were clearly under attack from every corner, from the Bush administration. So it was very clear to see that. And we made the link even to the extent of going to Iraq. David Bacon was a part of that on a couple of occasions. And bringing Iraqi trade unionists here to make the link to workers in both countries that we had more in common with each other than we did with the Bush administration, we should oppose the war.

David Bacon: So Kathy, here we are. First of all, the Iraq War is not over yet. But we have a whole new emphasis on increasing US military intervention in Afghanistan. A very different war, one that essentially was described by Obama during his election campaign as the war we should be fighting as opposed to the Iraq War which was the war that we should not be fighting. And there are a lot of important differences between Afghanistan as a country and Iraq as a country and the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. How do you think US unions are going to relate to the war in Afghanistan and what kind of tactics and strategies were developed at the recent national assembly of US Labor Against the War in relation to developing labor opposition to this war

Kathy Black: Well it's a much more difficult task for us now. Bush is no longer president. The solidarity work that Gene referred to, that you were such an important part of, is a harder thing to establish. Afghanistan doesn't have unions although Pakistan does and we do have connections there. But we're not going to be bringing a tour of Afghani union leaders to this country to put that human face and make those direct connections for union people. And uh, and then of course there's the concern that the labor movement feels that they elected Obama, that he's our president and they're loathe at this point to criticize him for almost anything -- and certainly to come out in opposition to a major policy initiative like this. So it's a tougher lift but, unfortunately, we think that events and the trajectory of this war is on our side to build that opposition. And some of the tools -- probably the most important tool that we came out with was this terrific DVD that Michael Zweig, one of our major activists in New York has developed called
Why Are We In Afghanistan? And actually it's already having a very positive effect. It was shown here in Pennsylvania there was a big SEIU state worker council and they immediately passed a resolution opposing the war and there have been some other reports like that around the country.

For more information, visit
US Labor Against the War. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. And there's already a link for Zweig's film; however, to correct something, the most important tool is always the same and no one spoke of it.

One small voice Speaking out in honesty Silenced, but not for long One small voice Speaking with the values we were taught as children So you walk away and say, Isn't he divine? Don't those clothes look fine on the Emperor? And as you take your leave, you wonder why you're feeling So ill-at-ease--don't you know? Lies take your soul You can't hide from yourself Lies take their toll on you And everyone else One small voice speaking out in honesty Silenced, but not for long One small voice speaking with the values we were taught as children Tell the truth You can change the world But you'd better be strong
-- "One Small Voice," written by
Carole King, first appears on her Speeding Time. [Carole begins a world tour with James Taylor in the new year, click here for information.]
Too much time has been wasted pathetically propping up Barack. We spoke the truth on Bush (those of us who did when it mattered, when it was hard) and we changed the perception. Those of us who do the hard lifting, "the tough lift," we're already doing that, we've been doing that. We don't cut slack for War Hawks. Those of us who've been doing the heavy lifting will continue to do so. Like the Little Red Hen, apparently all by ourselves. And those who are useless will continue to be so.
Paul Street (ZNet) observes and names some of the useless:

Another example is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of the liberal weekly public affairs magazine The Nation. "Whatever one thinks of Obama's policy on any specific issue," Vanden Heuvel proclaimed last month, "he is clearly a reform president committed to improvement of peoples' lives and the renewal and reconstruction of America ... Progressives should focus less on the limits of the Obama agenda," Vanden Huevel intoned, "and more on the possibilities that his presidency opens up."[15]

How Vanden Heuvel could have come to include the word "clearly" in light of the President's numerous rightward and center-leaning policy decisions was something of a mystery, assuming that The Nation's top authority meant what she wrote. As one totals up the president's cumulatively reactionary record of policies (and non-policies) on numerous specific issues - energy, health, war, labor rights, war, militarism - it becomes rather difficult to sustain the image of Obama as anything but a business and war president, certainly not a people's reformer. It was difficult to see a leader of America 's so-called radical left so easily hooked by the deceptive marketing that left author Chris Hedges has written about in connection with the president:

"Barack Obama is a brand. And the brand designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East . Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest."

"... President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising." [16]
In some cases even people who call themselves Marxists have run to Obama's whistle. Last November, Carl Davidson, a former Sixties Maoist turned "Marxist" Web-master of "Progressives for Obama," wrote a widely circulated essay claiming that Obama's victory in the presidential election was "a major victory" for left progressives. Badly misusing the terminology of the Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci, Davidson claimed that the Obama administration represented the rise of "an emerging historic counter-hegemonic bloc" containing elements of Marxian/proletarian "class struggle." He strained the bounds of credulity by claiming that the new Obama presidency represented a decisive break with both neoliberalism and corporate liberalism and that the new White House was torn by a major tension between forces representing the capitalist class's "old hydrocarbon sector" and forces representing a progressive new left-leaning "green sector."[17] As the left journalist Arun Gupta quipped, "Obama must have missed Davidson's memo," for the Obama White House had committed to spending $1 trillion a year on the Pentagon but just a "few billion on green jobs, mainly as subsidies to big corporations like the big three [automakers]."[18]

Last January, United for Peace and Justice leader and top U.S. Communist Party official Judith LeBlanc actually called President Obama's appointment of Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan last January "an exciting moment for the peace movement, because its possible diplomacy will be the first step...It's incredibly important that the antiwar movement reach out to this envoy," LeBlanc said, "and speak directly to the White House about our concerns." [19] This was remarkable commentary given Holbrooke's rather unsavory history as a leading U.S. foreign policy operative and commentator over the years - a record that included critical support (in his role as Under-Secretary of State for Asian Affairs in the Carter administration) for Indonesia's U.S.-supported atrocities (bordering on genocide) against East Timor in 1975, promising (in his role as Bill Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans) immunity to Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic (according to Karadzic himself and to former Bosnian foreign minister Mohammad Sacirbey), helping lead (in his role as special envoy to Kosovo) the "diplomatic" charge to the U.S. bombing of Serbia in 1999, providing Democratic support for George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, and serving as a pro-war foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. As Holbrooke took up his appointment with a ringing endorsement from the Communist Party's LeBlanc, a left U.S. newspaper reported that "Angry protesters gathered in Me htarlam, capital of Afghanistan 's eastern Laghman Province , to protest deaths of at least 16 civilians in a U.S. raid on a village Jan. 23. The same day, across the border in western Pakistan , a senior Pakistani official said two U.S. missile attacks may have killed up to 100 civilians. In Washington , administration officials refused to answer whether President Obama had okayed the missile strikes." [20]

Names some. Remember that. He wastes a footnote raving over Howard Zinn and Francy Fox Piven, both members of the Cult of St. Barack and shamefully so in both cases. Apparently Street is happy trashing any and everyone in a 'southern' state but it's too difficult for him to call out those who pushed to put a War Hawk in the White House. I don't want blood, I do want accountability. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) abandoned everything he ever knew about journalism (or decency) to pimp Barack. In what may be the closest to a mea culpa any of that group will ever offer,
Rothschild declares today, "Seems to me that Obama played us all for fools." We'll take that as accountability -- no others offered anything remotely close and Progressive Radio will be added back to the links this week.

It's past time for the left to stop playing so wilfully stupid. As
Ava and I pointed out Sunday:

If you're unhappy with the US policy on global warming, you better blame the person in charge. And despite the lunatic ravings of Naomi Klein on Goody's show, Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States. Though Naomi could screech ("screech" is the only word for it) that Hillary was attempting to "blackmail" developing countries -- "naked blackmail" at that, the offer was the one that the administration wanted proposed. But there was never time to call out the person responsible. Goody offered lots of 'love' segments for Barack. She just didn't hold him accountable. It's not an accident, it's intentional. It happened with his 'surge' speech (
as we documented before) and it'll continue to happen. And don't expect any movement in this country when 'left' 'leaders' are too cowed to call out a sitting president. Expect people to continue being Naomi Klein Zombies, wandering around in a daze, having "made a really conscious choice that I was going to enjoy the night."

Learn to stand or continue begging on your knees. We'll return to Michael Prysner to note his explaining an upcoming action:

So I encourage everyone to pay attention to a national march on Washington, DC that's going to happen on March 20th. There's also going to be coinciding marches in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But a large organization of antiwar groups have come together. It was initiated by the
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition -- you can go to for information about the march. But we're calling on everyone to be a part of this action. We want soldiers, we want veterans, we want military families and we want all people in the United States who are suffering because of these wars. We're in the middle of a Depression where every month, more and more jobs are being lost. There's this health care debate going on, we're seeing that there's people that are not going to have access to quality health care. Education -- tuition is skyrocketing. We need money so badly, most people, yet we're spending over $500 million dollars a day to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. So if you're angry about this war which everyone should be, there is something you can do and that's become active in the movement. And the first thing you can do is become involved in the organizing for March 20th and of course participate in that demonstration as well. We need as many people as possible to send a message that the people are not in support of this war and we're going to fight until it's over.

Yesterday's snapshot included:Meanwhile AFP reports that the Iraqi military is on high "alert" according to the Minister of Defense, Mohammed al-Askari, who states, "We have put our forces on alert in Baghdad, the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, including its capital Mosul, where our Christian brothers will be celebrating their holidays, because we have intelligence indicating they could be attacked during this period." Brothers? How typical of Nouri's flunkies to forget the women. Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports, "At churches in Baghdad this week, Christians are being asked for identification to determine if they have names that security force members recognize as Christian. Some churches around the northern city of Mosul are digging in, surrounding their buildings with giant earthen berms to prevent car bombers from getting too close." Extra security hasn't helped. Today AFP reports, "With Christmas just around the corner, a bomb attack on a church in the Iraqi city of Mosul killed two passersby and wounded five others, the sixth attack on Christians there in less than a month." Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN add, "This was the second bombing near a church in Mosul in a week. On December 15, four people were killed and 40 others were injured in a car bombing near a church in western Mosul." Actually, it's the third. There were two bombings on December 15th. From that day's snapshot:Today in Mosul, Iraqi Christians were again targeted with violence. Al Jazeera notes one bombing was at the Syrian Catholic Church of the Annunciation and another exploded at "the Syrian Orthodox Church of Purity and a nearby Christian school". Iran's Press TV counts four dead in one of the church bombings and forty injured which they identify the church as Virign Mary Church which AFP says is the Syrian Orthodox Church of Purity. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Catholic Church (which is billed as "Mariamana Church") was targeted with two bombings -- the first apparently to draw a crowd of which the 4 were then killed and the forty injured. The other church, Issa states, only suffered "material damages to the church" with no one reported dead or wounded. Mohammed Abbas and Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports among Teba Saad Jassim was among the dead ("a seven-day-old baby girl") and quotes a Mosul priest who did not want to be named stating, "We are peaceful people, but we come under attack sometimes. We are the victim of instability in this province."Deng Shasha (Xinhua) offers this context, "Iraq's Christian community has been estimated at 3 percent of Iraq's roughly 30 million people, and has a significant presence in the Nineveh province, which has been the scene of major security crackdowns by U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces to uproot the insurgency that erupted shortly after the U.S.-led invasion." And don't e-mail me the garbage from the New York Times on this topic. I've already griped at a friend with the paper who wanted that s**t included. Don't note ICCC's bad 'civilian' count. (Which isn't even a civilian count -- it includes police and military -- learn to read idiot press, learn to read.) We already called that count out and revealed how wrong it was (whole days they forgot to include violence and they single-sourced to Reuters). Since we called it out, ICCC's discovered a whole world beyond Reuters and hopefully their December count will be better but their past counts are embarrassments and it takes a real idiot to cite them. Enter John Leland.
In other violence . . .

Reuters notes a Baghdad plastic bag bombing which claimed the life of 1 Shi'ite and left four others injured, a Mahmudiya roadside bombing injured five Shi'ite pilgrims, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured five Sh'ite pilgrims, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left twenty-eight people injured, a Baghdad minibus bombing which claimed 1 life and left three people injured and, dropping back to Tuesday for all the rest, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured one person, and a Tarmiya roadside bombing injured three people.


Reuters notes 1 "retired Iraqi army officer" was shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to Tuesday, Brig Gen Riyada Abdulmajeed was shot dead in Baghdad.

Labor doesn't get enough credit for their work on opposing the Iraq War and David Bacon is a wonderful journalist so we have the lengthy excerpt above. But that means we're postponing something's in order to include it. Tomorrow we'll note that the VA still can't get the checks out -- people never should have believed the lies and the excuses -- and by "people," we mean Congress. K
imberly Hefling (AP) reports that, no surprise, the GI Bill payments due at the start of the fall semester? Some still haven't received them.

antiwar radioscott hortonantiwar radio with scott horton and charles goyettemarch forward!
david baconkpfathe morning show
matthew rothschildprogressive radio
the new york timestimothy williamscnnmohammed tawfeeqxinhuadeng shasha

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Real news doesn't pop up on KFPA's Morning Show

"Pregnant Servicewomen: The Canaries in the Mine" (Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, ACLU's Blog of Rights):
“Women in uniform today are not just invaluable; they’re irreplaceable.” That’s what now-Secretary of the Army John McHugh stated at his confirmation hearings this July. No doubt Major General Anthony Cucolo III, who commands 22,000 soldiers, including nearly 2000 women, in Northern Iraq, agrees—he just has a funny way of showing it. In November, Maj. Gen. Cucolo issued an order prohibiting his soldiers from, among other things, becoming pregnant or impregnating another soldier. As the Maj. Gen. put it in a recent interview, “The message to my female soldiers is that I need you for the duration. Please think before you act.”
But it’s precisely the Major General’s policy that doesn’t seem so thought through. Although the policy on its face applies to both men and women, the Major General’s message, directed to his female troops alone, not to mention biology, raise serious concerns that the military will fairly enforce the policy.
The pregnant servicewoman is really the canary in the mine here: Inevitably her pregnancy will be revealed and she will be punished. However, the man who impregnated her will only be punished if she turns him in. Already,
according to news reports, one woman who has been punished and sent home under the policy has refused to reveal who her partner was. It is reasonable to think that many more servicewomen will refuse to turn in their fellow soldiers, thereby making this an equal opportunity policy in name only.

The above is an important story and you know it's one because it's not being covered by Panhandle Media. Sunny did a survey of Pacifica programs today at work (on her own, I didn't ask her to). She gave me the results and I had a cancellation this afternoon so she said I had to hear KPFA's The Morning Show.

They had no time to explore the above issue but they had time to devote thirty bad minutes to sports and trash. The two combine when you have Dave Zirin as a guest. "It's the world series of poker with walking!" gasps Aimee Allison uncontrollably, doing a husky laugh as she gasps for air. I wish I could have found her or Dave Zirin as amusing as they found themselves. It was bad radio. I've referred it to Ruth to include as one of the year's all time lows. KPFA serving up Kathy Lee as portrayed by Aimee Allison. What a waste of so-called 'independent' media. "Wow," says Aimee sounding just like Kathy Lee as Dave yammers away about sports. "I was going to say that I don't even know what the sport is when they try to balance on the log [huh-huh-huh-huh!]" the idiot laughed and laughed and gasped and gasped. It was embarrassing.

They can't deal with real issues, so they deal with trash radio. They deal with fluff. They deal with anything but reality. How shameful.

For the record, sexism was expressed by Dave Zirin who referred to all female tennis players as "girls" except for Serena Williams. He'll try to quibble but that's what he said. Equally true, he never said all the male players were "boys". He's just a little s**t and a whiney ass one at that.

If you want to hear really bad radio, click here for the archive of today's Morning Show.

"Mexico City legalizes gay marriage" (Free Speech Radio News):
Mexico City's local government has voted to legalize Gay Marriage, and its expected that the city’s mayor will soon sign the law, making it the first place in Latin America where same sex marriage is legal. Marriage will be re-defined as "free uniting of two people"; the law also allows gay people who are married to adopt children, and to be included on one another’s insurance. Members of President Felipe Calderon’s National Action Party said they will challenge the new law in court.

That's reality and someone should make the argument that FSRN should be expanded to two hours daily and The Morning Show should be cancelled. It's nothing but happy talk and so, so embarrassing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, December 22, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, four US Senators demand changes in a US general's order which criminalizes pregnancy (ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer covers the latest developments of this story on this evening's broadcast),
March Forward! explains their mission, the US Treasury issues a news release on Iraq, war resister Cliff Cornell's sentence is reduced and more.

Michael Prysner: . . . the way that we're going to end this war and the way that we're going to stop this atrocity that's happening -- the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and thousands of soldiers -- which are no doubt going to increase as this war rages on -- is we need to build a movement, we need to build a mass, people's movement. Which is what we're doing. So I encourage everyone to pay attention to a national march on Washington, DC that's going to happen on March 20th. There's also going to be coinciding marches in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But a large organization of antiwar groups have come together. It was initiated by the
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition -- you can go to for information about the march. But we're calling on everyone to be a part of this action. We want soldiers, we want veterans, we want military families and we want all people in the United States who are suffering because of these wars. We're in the middle of a Depression where every month, more and more jobs are being lost. There's this health care debate going on, we're seeing that there's people that are not going to have access to quality health care. Education -- tuition is skyrocketing. We need money so badly, most people, yet we're spending over $500 million dollars a day to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. So if you're angry about this war which everyone should be, there is something you can do and that's become active in the movement. And the first thing you can do is become involved in the organizing for March 20th and of course participate in that demonstration as well. We need as many people as possible to send a message that the people are not in support of this war and we're going to fight until it's over.

Iraq War veteran Michael Prysner was explaining that on
Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton and Charles Goyette. He and Iraq War veteran James Circello were on to discuss March Forward! "an affiliate of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition" composed of veterans and active-duty service members.

James Circello: Yeah. Well
March Forward!'s position on the officer corps -- or we refer to them as the officer class -- it's pretty straight forward. The officers, they do little suffering in times of war. They merely put forth the line by Washington. And the enlisted members of the military -- who we view as workers -- are made to carry out these orders. They're made to follow these orders without question or you become slandered with the "unAmerican" and even jailed for-for disobeying orders that are obviously illegal. But our line is pretty simple in that the officer class, once they retire, they go straight into the Pentagon and right into the War Profiteers right across the street. And the enlisted were obviously cast out onto the street. There's a million homeless enlisted -- or veterans, I should say, on the street tonight and 2 million will be on the street homeless this year. So there's a real class struggle within the military and the enlisted soldiers are doing all the suffering, all the dying, all the killing, coming home with PTSD and missing limbs while the officers are celebrating and stacking their resumes for their future jobs.

Scott Horton: It's almost like all the commercials about "Be All That You Can Be" and 'once you get out, then you'll be guaranteed a great job,' all that's really true for the officers basically but they're selling that for the masses out there.

Michael Prysner: Right and it's interesting because if you look at the statistics, you're actually less likely to get hired if you're a veteran because it's somewhat of a liability for the employers. But just to clarify a little more about our view on the officer corps, you know, I-I, myself in my personal experience and this is an all too common story in Iraq and in Afghanistan and James had a similar experience and it's a story that you hear much too often where, for example, myself, officers join the military because they're trying to be successful in a career. Most people become enlisted soldiers because they're pushed in for economic reasons, because they need access to health care for their family, because they need, they want, a college education, because they want job training, because they want a place to live, things that all people need and deserve which, I think, are basic human rights. But that's what pushes most enlisted soldiers into the military. Officers join for a very different reason. And what results in that is officers generally do very little time in combat but what they do is they want their units to get attacked, they want to take fire. And I know myself, personally, I went on missions called -- which we called -- "Draw Fire" missions where there'd be an officer who knew that a certain vehicle had a ransom on it if the vehicle was destroyed so he knew that it was a target so he'd say, "Hey go get so-and-so and let's drive around town and see if we can get shot at?" This is because if his unit gets in combat or if he gets in combat, it's good for his career, it's good for his promotion. He'll get a bronze star and he'll get all of these things. So there's-there's many, many soldiers who have died, who have had life changing injuries, whose lives are destroyed because they had an officer who's going to do one tour in combat who wants to help his career and wants to move up in the ranks and people have died because of this.
Scott Horton: Well now, Michael -- that's Michael right?

Michael Prysner: Yes.

Scott Horton: Now, Michael, you're basically talking about the-the satire, Joseph Heller's satire Catch 22. You're telling me and you're telling my audience that that is truly and literally and really the operational incentive in a war like Iraq? For officers to get the people under them killed for points?

Michael Prysner: Yeah, there's something that is very frequent and it was something that was very frequent in the Vietnam war too and that's why there was such a massive GI rebellion against the officer corps in Vietnam as well. And, as James mentioned, it's very obvious to see the different interests that the officer corps has because there's a study -- two years ago there was a study released that showed there's over two thousand retired generals and colonels that now are employed by defense contractors. It's kind of the most common retirement path is either you're a lobbyist for defense contractors, you're sitting on corporate boards for defense contractors and oil companies while at the same time still being paid by the Pentagon as consultants. So all this team of generals right now that's telling us that we have to be in Afghanistan, that we can't leave. This team of generals, this team of officers, that's telling us that are people that are actually on the payroll of companies like Chevron, of some of the largest defense contractors in the world So we say that we have very different interests, the enlisted and the officers. It's very obvious what their interests are. So we think that we shouldn't be ordered into combat by officers that are trying to build their careers. We think that officers should be democratically elected by enlisted soldiers in their unit. And I think that's something that most enlisted soldiers.

[. . .]

James Circello: It takes a strong voice, and that is what
March Forward! is trying to become, to tell the enlisted soldiers exactly what is happening. We all understand what is happening. There's-there's definitely dissent in the military ranks. Thousands of men and women have deserted the military in the last decade. The last time I checked, the statistic was upwards to 50,000 and that isn't shown. A lot of the times it's not a political stance. A lot of the time it's just that these soldiers miss their families, that they've been deployed four times and don't want to go back to a war zone. Or a lot of the time, it's that these soldiers are suffering through PTSD and no one is listening to them, no one the VA, the medical bases -- the medical stations on the bases, they won't diagnose them for fear that they won't be able to deploy them when the time comes. So soldiers have taken it upon themselves to stand up and to leave the military and a lot of the times they're quiet about it and March Forward! is calling for that in a wider scope for all soldiers that are being told to deploy to refuse that because Afghanistan and Iraq not only are they illegal and immoral but they're against our interests as workers in the United States.

Scott Horton: Alright everybody, I'm talking with James Circello and Mike Prysner, Michael Prysner, from
March Forward! They're soldiers basically telling the rest of the soldiers to quit to refuse to participate in this -- well I call it madness, you call it what you want, anymore.

This morning a female service member e-mailed to be sure we all knew one of the worst parts of the "100% repulsive order" coming down from General Prude Anthony Cucolo. Backstory,
yesterday's snapshot, over the weekend Cucolo couldn't stop giving interviews about his new order which punishes any women serving in northern Iraq for pregnancy -- married or unmarried, she's punished and that may include court-martial. Yes, women in the military are not allowed to have sex with other women unless they want to risk being drummed out of the military and now they better not have sex with men (unless they have their tubes tied because contraception is never 100% effective 100% of the time). But the female service member caught another detail of the order and steers us to Navy Seals Blog's post which notes: "If the pregnancy of a female soldier, however, was proven to be caused by a sexual assault, then the soldier will not be subjected to punishment."


Do they train these generals in anything or just slap them on the back and say, "Strut around in pure ignorance"?
Vic Lee (San Francisco's ABC, KGO-TV, link has text and video) reported yesterday on sexual assualts in the military -- someone might want to get a copy to General Know Nothing. Brave women like Swords to Plowshares' Tia Christopher shared their stories. Tia Christopher went to report it and the officer above her's response was whether or not this was a joke? It was no joke for Christopher who never saw justice but did receives "an early discharge with a personality disorder." Lee notes, "The National Institute of Justice says one in five women will be sexually assaulted. The ratio in the military, according to the Department of Defense is one in three or four women and a new Pentagon report says sexual assaults are increasing." And when a woman comes forward, watch the brass and 'justice' system bend over backwards to ignore the assualt. Suzanne Swift is only one example of a woman fighting back in this decade and being punished, only one example of a complete and utter failure for the military to discipline their own or to take the victims seriously.

So now in a culture that doesn't take sexual assaults seriously and then blames the victim, a woman who ends up pregnant faces even more harassment. Maria Lauterbach was raped while she was in the Marines. She identified her rapist, Cesar Laurean. The military refused to take her seriously. She was forced to continue to be around him. At what point does the US Marine Corps intend to take accountability and responsibility for their role in what happened? Maria disappeared. As the police searched for her and her family frantically worried, the Marines refused to inform the police about Cesar Laurean or even restrict him to base. Which is how Maria's murdered managed to escape to Mexico. (He is now back in US custody.) He murdered her. Then he set her body on fire. Then he told his wife. If a Marine is missing and she's accused a fellow Marine of rape, it stands to reason that command puts the accused under watch. But that's how little women mattered at Camp Lejeune. A Marine can go missing and the brass doesn't give a damn. A woman who has accused another service member of raping her and they don't give a damn. That's reality for a lot of women in the service.

But the general in Iraq doesn't live with reality. He fancies himself a king issuing orders. The heat's been on Cucolo including from the Senate.
Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that he held another press conference today where he "appeared to back from the policy [. . .] saying the policy was to emphasize the problems created" by pregnancy and that no woman who got pregnant would be put in jail for "the offense." American Women Veterans charted the developments on their Twitter account:

The General clarifies: "I see absolutely no circumstance where I would punish a female soldier by court martial... from Facebook

Senate heat came from US Senators Barbara Boxer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Mikulski and Jeanne Shaheen who sent the following to the US Secretary of the Army today:

December 22, 2009

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101

Dear Secretary McHugh:

It has come to our attention that Major General Anthony Cucolo III -- the Commander of Multi-National Division-North, Iraq -- has implemented a stricter policy that criminalizes pregnancy for members of the United States Armed Forces under his command and for others "serving with, employed by, or accompanying" the military. While we fully understand and appreciate the demands facing both commanders and service members in Iraq, we believe this policy is deeply misguided and must be immediately rescinded.

Under the policy, it is possible to face punishment, including imprisonment, for "becoming pregnant, or impregnating a Soldier, while assigned to the Task Force Marne" Area of Operations. The policy even extends to married couples jointly serving in the warzone.

Although Major General Cucolo stated today that a pregnant soldier would not necessarily be punished by court-martialunder this policy, we believe the threat of criminal sanctions in the case of pregnancy goes far beyond what is needed to maintain good order and discipline. This policy could encourage female soldiers to delay seeking critical medical care with potentially serious consequences for mother and child.

This policy also undermines efforts to enhance benefits and services so that dual military couples can continue to serve. We can think of no greater deterrent to women contemplating a military career than the image of a pregnant woman being severely punished simply for conceiving a child. This defies comprehension.

As such, we urge you to immediately rescind this policy. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this most important request, and for your continued commitment to our men and women in uniform.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, Diane will be covering this story this evening. Meanwhile NOW president Terry O'Neill pronounces the order "ridiculous" and tells ABC News, "How dare any government say we're going to impose any kind of punishment on women for getting pregnant. This is not the 1800s."

On the subject of retired generals with 'new careers,'
Ray Locker, Tom Vanden Brook and Ken Dilanian (USA Today) report on the 'mentor program' (easy money for generals who retire) and how you can be pulled off the tax payer dole for objecting to official policy publicly as happened to Gen Ricardo Sanchez (of Abu Ghraib War Crimes) and they note that the military currently pays "at least 158 senior mentors, about 80% of whom also have connections to various defense contractors." On the subject of war resistance, Courage to Resist reports war resister Cliff Cornell has seen his one year jail sentence reduced by 30 days. They note: "Clemency appeals (known as "1105 requests" in military justice terminology) are rarely granted. However, Courage to Resist continued to fund Cliff's post-conviction legal defense despite the odds. Our efforts, made possible by your donations, paid off for Cliff! We're still about $500 short of being able to pay Cliff's final legal bill. Although we have closed our separate fundraising page for Cliff, please donate at This is an important development as most define a felon as a person sentenced to one year or more imprisonment, so Cliff will no longer fit this definition. Hopefully this will make it easier for Cliff to find a job, and to eventually return to the community of Gabriola Island, Canada." In protest news, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke Friday at the University of Georgia's graduation ceremony and Russ Bynum (AP) reports protesters were outside carrying signs. Saturday, WCSI reports, he spoke at Indiana University's commencement ceremony and protesters turned out for that appearance as well.

Turning to the violence in Iraq . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two people. Reuters notes a Kirkuk bombing which injured three police officers and a Falluja car bombing which injured Abdul-Hadi al-Isran, a local politician. AFP reports 2 Shi'ites were shot dead outside "Baquba while leaving a mosque" and they note that the Falluja bombing which injured "the head of the town's city council" also injured police Capt Mohammed Shikhan. Reuters drops back to Monday to note a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 1 life.


Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul, another was shot dead in a Mosul home invasion (in which his brother was also injured) and dropping back to yesterday, 1 civilian was shot dead in Mosul.

McClatchy's Scott Fontaine is back in Iraq and he report (link has text and video) and he reports on the fears of Iraqi police offiers in Khandari including one who is now being targeted: "Al-Qaida in Iraq killed his mother, brother and uncle. The man started the habit of checking under his car each morning. One day last month, he discovered a magnetically attached bomb." (A longer version of Fontaine's article can be found at the Tacoma News Tribune).

Moving to the 'great mystery' of the invasion of Iraq by Iran and the seizing of the oil well. Once upon a time . . .
Alsumaria reports, "Iraqi Foreign Minister Hosheyar Zebari affirmed that Al Fakka oil well crisis has been resolved with Iran." As usual, one idiot for a British publication can't grasp the facts. Now it can be argued that the facts are fluid regarding this item filled with you-invaded-no-we-didn't! but no one's a bigger idiot than ____ who writes like a paid lobbyist for Nouri al-Maliki. (No, I'm not referring to Patrick Cockburn. He writes out of love, not for money.) Reuters reports that Iran continues to insist the entire thing was a "misunderstanding" which may or may not be an upgrade from "it never happened!" Chicago Tribune, clipping furiously from wire services, insists that Iraq has defended and reclaimed the oil field. Of course, they also insist Shell's oil contract has to "be approved by Iraq's Cabinet" and that's not based on any law. The law is that it must be approved by Parliament. So don't take the Chicago Tribune too seriously (the whole world would be better off to follow that advice on every news item). Yee Kai Pin and Gavin Evans (Bloomberg News) note that oil has risen to $73 per barrel and that: "Prices had jumped after Iranian troops occupied an oil field in a disputed border region with Iraq. The troops withdrew from the al-Fakah well in the East Maysan field late Dec. 19 after an armed confrontation, Iraq's deputy minister of oil Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said yesterday. Separately, Iraqi television cited government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh as saying Iranian soldiers remained in Iraqi territory. "

But the Iraq War is more than a story of oil, so much more. Let's check out the other dominant thread in the news cycle: Flow. Hustle and? Oops. No, we're back to oil.
Alsumaria reports Abdul Karim Al Luaibi, Iraq's Deputy Minister of Oil, is saying the pipeline attacked Saturday will be back pumping today. Fang Yang (Xinua) explains Turkey says something different (the pipeline goes to a Turkish port), that country's Energy Ministry does not say pumping resumes today, it states that it will "resume within a week". They keep saying it had nothing to do with oil but it's all the media can report on.

In other news, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has issued a new report entitled "
Global Restrictions on Religion" and Iraq finds itself among the top scorers when it comes to social hostilities. [Note: Do not e-mail saying, "Iraq is number one! You should have noted that." It's not. There are outlets reporting -- one example here -- that and they haven't read the study. Iraq is the first country listed under the "Very High" category; however, this note of caution is being ignored by some outlets: "The Pew Forum has not attached numerical rankings to the countries because there are numerous tie scores and the differences between the scores of countries that are close to each other on this table are not necessarily meaningful."] While scoring with other countries as "Very High" when it comes to Social restrictions, it makes the "High" list for government restrictions. Meanwhile AFP reports that the Iraqi military is on high "alert" according to the Minister of Defense, Mohammed al-Askari, who states, "We have put our forces on alert in Baghdad, the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, including its capital Mosul, where our Christian brothers will be celebrating their holidays, because we have intelligence indicating they could be attacked during this period." Brothers? How typical of Nouri's flunkies to forget the women. Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports, "At churches in Baghdad this week, Christians are being asked for identification to determine if they have names that security force members recognize as Christian. Some churches around the northern city of Mosul are digging in, surrounding their buildings with giant earthen berms to prevent car bombers from getting too close." Chrismas Eve, Free Speech Radio News examines the costs to Iraqis of the Iraq War in a special half-hour broadcast.

Today the
US Treasury Dept issued the following news release:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated the Iraq-based insurgent group Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) for threatening the peace and stabilization efforts in Iraq. JRTN has committed, directed, supported, or posed a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces and is being designated today pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13438, which targets insurgent and militia groups and their supporters. Today's designation freezes any assets that JRTN may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the entity. The U.S. Government has no information indicating any tie between JRTN and the Naqshabandi Sufi order of Islam.
"Today's designation is an important step in protecting Coalition troops, Iraqi Security Forces, and innocent Iraqis from insurgent groups like JRTN that use violence to undermine Iraq's progress toward a more democratic and prosperous future,"‪ said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.‪
JRTN has conducted attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq since April 2009, including the August RKG-3 (armor-penetrating grenade) attack against a Coalition Forces convoy in Hawijah, Iraq. Subsequently, a JRTN cell operating in Kirkuk, Iraq, fired rockets at the Kirkuk Regional Air Base in two separate attacks. As of mid-2009, JRTN planned to conduct attacks against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces and intended to overthrow the Government of Iraq and reinstate Ba'ath Party rule. In mid-July, JRTN members were responsible for an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on Coalition Forces near an Iraqi police station in Salah ad Din Governorate, Iraq . Later that month, JRTN detonated an IED targeting Coalition Forces in Kirkuk and in August, conducted an indirect fire attack on Joint Security Station McHenry in Kirkuk.
In December 2008, a JRTN member operating in Kirkuk purchased three Katyusha rockets and an undetermined number of magnetic improvised explosive devices that were intended to be used in attacks against Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraqi police or Government of Iraq officials. JRTN's Abu Ghurayb Brigade also targeted Coalition Forces stationed at or around Baghdad International Airport .
Web postings made by JRTN further demonstrate that the group conducted attacks against Coalition Forces. In a statement on the al-Mindar Network's website in May 2009, JRTN claimed to have conducted three separate attacks against Coalition Forces, including a May attack that destroyed a U.S. Humvee in Anbar Province, Iraq; an April 2009 sniper attack against a U.S. soldier in al-Ta'mim Province, Iraq; and the destruction of a U.S. vehicle in Anbar Province in April. In a separate instance, in August, JRTN posted a video of a military vehicle being hit by powerful explosion to the JRTN website,

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "
Escalating War in Afghanistan Apt to Bring More Economic Woes" (YubaNet):

If Iraq war spending helped plunge the U.S. economy into its worst slump since the Depression, what does President Obama think his escalation of the Afghan war will do it?Besides forcing taxpayers to cough up fresh billions to enable the Pentagon to chase down a few hundred Taliban fighters, the Afghan war is liable to continue to inflate oil prices---and this means more than the ongoing swindle of motorists at the pump. Higher oil prices also slow the global economy, causing our trading partners to buy fewer Made-in-USA goods, thus reducing demand for our products and leading to layoffs. Spending money on war also siphons billions of dollars from truly productive uses.
"Today, no serious economist holds the view that war is good for the economy," write Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard government finance expert Linda Bilmes in their book "The Three Trillion Dollar War: the True Cost of The Iraq Conflict." Referring to Iraq, they write, "The question is not whether the economy has been weakened by the war. The question is only by how much." They note, "Oil prices started to soar just as the war began, and the longer it has dragged on, the higher prices have gone."

rebecca santana
alsumariaxinhuafang yangbloomberg newsyee kai pingavin evansafpreuters
mcclatchy newspapersscott fontaine
usa todayray lockerken dilaniantom vanden brook
courage to resist
the new york timestimothy williams
sherwood rosscliff cornell

Monday, December 21, 2009


Isaiah The World Today Just Nuts "Super Model President"
super model president

Isaiah's comic made me smile and little about the sexist pig Barack makes me smile these days. I'm not having an abortion. Those days have passed for me where it's even a potential issue. But that doesn't make me any less offended by the stunt that he and the Senate pulled over the weekend. Our rights matter . . . except when it's time to toss them overboard. The current administration is rotten to the core and, another year tops, the whole country will smell the stink.

"TV: No way" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Imagine a real left, a left that gave a damn about ending the Iraq War? Such a left might decide, "Forget Copehagen, let's go demonstrate in London." Certainly, it was always known that nothing would be accomplished in the big Denmark meet-up (something even Nicole Colson appears to admit at US Socialist Worker). Naomi and her band of cry babies (perfectly captured by a woman who told Amy Goodman she was there so that developing countries would know people like her cared about the issue -- give her a gold star!) hoped to top Seattle 1999 but they couldn't even manage to recreate it. That's what tends to happen with stage managed 'actions' as opposed to real demonstrations.
So Amy Goodman wasted two weeks of everyone's time and no one learned about Blair's remarks or the Iraq Inquiry and Barack's BigBusinessGiveAway (posing as health care reform) came ever closer to passing. Goody had no time last week for Howard Dean or any of the opponents of the Big Giveaway. But, segment after segment, she did have time to pretend she was addressing global warming.
If you're unhappy with the US policy on global warming, you better blame the person in charge. And despite the lunatic ravings of Naomi Klein on Goody's show, Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States. Though Naomi could screech ("screech" is the only word for it) that Hillary was attempting to "blackmail" developing countries -- "naked blackmail" at that, the offer was the one that the administration wanted proposed. But there was never time to call out the person responsible. Goody offered lots of 'love' segments for Barack. She just didn't hold him accountable. It's not an accident, it's intentional. It happened with his 'surge' speech (as we documented before) and it'll continue to happen. And don't expect any movement in this country when 'left' 'leaders' are too cowed to call out a sitting president. Expect people to continue being Naomi Klein Zombies, wandering around in a daze, having "made a really conscious choice that I was going to enjoy the night."

Ava and C.I. flew out of Boston on a charter plane Saturday (due to delays and cancellations) and they were tired. They had to immediately go to a party upon landing (it's award campaigning season and they're campaigning for several friends with films). They were exhausted and kept saying throughout the writing edition, "Don't expect anything from us."

They wrote something amazing.

It's pleasure to read. They really nailed it perfectly.

If you doubt it . . . At The Huffington Post today, little Nomi Klein is trying to prove she can call Barack out. She's weak (no surprise) but it's the strongest outcry against Barack she's ever offered.

I love C.I. but I don't have her rallying spirit. I'm really depressed by what the Senate did. I just don't have it in me to rally and write some wonderful post here.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, December 21, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi oil contracts out of Baghdad are illegal, the US military declares pregnancy to be an 'offense' and one that can result in a court-martial, Tony Blair stares ever more into his looking glass, did Iran seize an oil field, March 20th is a national day of action, and more.

Starting in the US with the latest effort to spit on women. No, not the US Senate, the US military brass. Saturday,
BBC World Service Radio offered a report from Iraq, where US General Anthony Cucolo yammered away about the new development for US service members: If you end up pregnant, you can be court-martialed. [Click here for BBC story online in text form.] Long gone are the days of "act of God." If you end up pregnant, married or not, and you're in Iraq, you can be court-martialed. For pregnancy. It's the US military's production of The Scarlet Letter. Cuculo and others claim the US military is in Iraq for 'freedom.' It's not the Iraqis freedom (they've been given nothing but chaos and violence) and it's certainly not America's freedom. Apparently it's Cuculo's freedom. His freedom to be an ASS in public.At some point, someone's going to grasp that women in the military are now sexless beings. They can't have sex with other women becuase of the military's ban on being openly gay. They can't have sex with men because they might end up pregnant. It's amazing that the same institution that does NOTHING to protect women in the ranks from rape, is more than happy to ensure that any consensual sex risks punishment. Paula Brooks (Lez Get Real) reports:A well place Pentagon source told LGR yesterday, that for Cucolo it is a pretty "black and white" issue... but added the Pentagon is also "watching this one pretty carefully," since this prohibition is "mine field" of legal, ethical and policy issues.... "Personally... Even though the JAG people have said this is legal... I think this one is probably going to come back to bite us in the ass at some point, if not legally, then in the form of some really terrible PR," said our source. "Here you really have issues that go to the core of personal integrity: reproductive rights," said Eugene Fidell, a professor of military law at Yale Law School in a Star and Stripes Article. There are also issues of enforcement, Fidell said. The woman is immediately suspect once the pregnancy comes to light, but unless she identifies her partner, the male could go unpunished despite bearing the same culpability under the order.

CNN today (link has text and video), Melissa Long spoke with Eugene Fidell who played 'seer' which isn't his role. Don't "assume," don't pretend you know why the order has been made if you don't. You're brought on as a legal expert and you're not a columnist. You're there for your legal expertise. Stick to that, Fidell. In the text, not the clip, Fidell is stating that during Vietnam, something similar happened in that a female service member could be dishcharged if she became pregnant. (A) Discharge is not court-martial. (B) There were a much more limited number of women then and it would be interesting to know how many of them were married or unmarried? Most likely, the order Fidell's referring to applied only to unmarried women. You'll note he also doesn't say anything about what would happen to a man involved with that woman? That's an interesting omission on his part -- and it's an interesting turnaround by him over the weekend on this order. Sarah Netter (ABC News) reports on the issue and John Hutson is sure, sure it's legal. Really? Why? Because the general needs everyone? Well okay, here's what let's do, let's put in a stipulation that a heart attack or a stroke or any health condition brought on -- in part or in full -- by poor nutrition results in a court-martial. We won't do that though,will we? It's only when the health issue is pregnancy that men suddenly want to propose punishments and start legislating. Hutson does worry about abortion access for those overseas. Of course he does. If you're pregnant, you're going to be thinking about an abortion and, let's be real, one's going to be 'suggested' to you by some 'helpful' higher ranking military official. [For drive bys, I'm pro-choice and pro-abortion. I believe it's the woman's choice. That means I do not believe she's forced into an abortion she doesn't want. Especially by some technocrat with a few bars on their uniform threatening her with court-martial and telling her how bad it will be on the man involved unless she has an abortion. "We can go through all the paperwork and the court-martial, or you can have an abortion," might be one way it's 'suggested' to her.] Free Speech Radio News covers the news in today's broadcast.

Andrew Stelzer: A US commander in northern Iraq is being criticized for a new policy that states soldiers who become pregnant or the men who impregnante them could be court-martialed. The policy went into effect on November 4th but was written about in the Stars and Stripes newspaper this weekend. Until now, soldiers could be sent home if they became pregnant but there was no disciplinary action but under the new rule, designed to keep forces at full strength, any military or military-related civilian personnel could be sentenced to jail for being pregnant even if they are married.

Turning to the theft of Iraqi oil,
on the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera -- which began airing Friday), Jasim al-Azzawi discussed the issue of Iraqi oil with Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Ibrahim Saleh al-Shahristani and the country's previous Oil Minister Issam al-Chalabi.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Dr. al-Shahristani, with no oil law in place -- Parliament has not enacted that law -- why not wait until that law is enacted so that everything will be under the supervision and according to the law?

Hussain al-Shahristani: Well the new oil and gas law has not been legislated. But this does not mean that there are no prevailing laws in the country that govern this important sector of the country of the economy of Iraq and the current laws that have been used in the previous regime are still valid and until they are replaced by new legislation, those laws are still governing the sector. And all our contracts are based on those laws which authorizes the Minister of Oil, alone, to sign any oil deal with field development or any other sector. However, the Minister of Oil has taken it on itself that any unforseen developments for the oil field will be presented to the cabinet and once it is approved by the cabinet, which is the highest executive authority --

Jasim al-Azzawi: Before it goes to the cabinet and before -- since you mentioned existing laws and rules, most probably, you are referring to Law Number 97, issued in 1967. That particular law, Dr. al-Shahristani, stipulates that each contract needs to have a special law, needs to have a special authorization from Parliament. And, according to what I know, you did not go through Parliament, you did not seek a special permission or special authorization for whether the Rumala contract or the Memorandum of Understanding.

Hussain al-Shahristani: Yeah laws always are superceded by the Constitution. The current Iraqi Constitution that was voted by 80% of the Iraqi population is the surpeme law of the country and it is very clear in the Constitution that international agreements between the government of Iraq and foreign governments or treaties between Iraq and other countries that require legislation in the Parliament. Any commercial contract between an Iraqi public company and a foreign company -- as is the case with the oil contracts -- these are within the competency of the government and they do not require any new legislation so --

Jasim al-Azzawi: That being the case, sir, Dr. al-Shahristani, I'm not sure under which legislation you are operating then. Are you saying -- you just said that you were working under existing rules and regulations and I assume it is Law 97. When I challenge that, you say it's according to the Constitution. So which way is it?

Hussain al-Shahristani: Well-well, first of all, there is a number of law, it's not only one law that you refer to and the Constitution, I explained, is the supreme law. If any of the laws contradicts the Constitution, then the Constitution prevails. In the -- under the Constitution, if there is a need for a new law, then that law should be legislated. And that's what we have done. We have drafted a new hydro-carbon law. By the way, even in the new hydro-carbon law, there is no need for presenting any oil deal or contract for legislation to the Parliament. On the contrary, the new draft authorizes what is called a Federal Council for Oil & Gas to approve any contract. What we are doing now, we are presenting it to the full cabinet for approval. Whenever --

Jasim al-Azzawi: That being the case, let me take a case in question. The Rumala contract, the Rumala deal, was negotiated by your ministry and was referred to the cabinet, per regulations, and the cabinet in turn sent it to the legal committee, and that legal committee had sixty-five stipulations and question marks about this oil deal. It was referred back to the cabinet. The cabinet met for one day. And, to my knowledge, those sixty-five questions were never answered fully and, in one day, the cabinet just approved the Rumala contract.

Hussain al-Shahristani: No. First of all, a number of the questions that were raised were simply questions and the questions were appropriately answered and the Minister of Oil has sent a detailed answer on every specific question to the legal advisor of the prime minister and a number of these uuuuuh questions have been considered by the ministry. And, uhm, the contracts, the flow of contracts have been amended if we are convinced that this will make the contract, uh, more clear. As a matter of fact, none of these points that were raised had any legal or economic impact on the contract at all. Or technical. They were purely matter of wordings. In some cases. And matter of specificity.

We'll jump ahead to the other half of the show, when Jasim al-Azzawi spoke with Issam al-Chalabi.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Issam, how dangerous is it for Iraq to sign these contracts and Memorandum of Understanding with no oil law in place.

Issam al-Chalabi: With all due respect, Dr. al-Shahristani seems to be moving on a shaky ground. I think he had fallen in his answers to your question, had fallen in the conflict between the Constitution and the existing laws. The Constitution says that, the two Articles about the oil and gas ought to be explained and there will be separate law to be issued. Until then, in a very clear, separate Article, it says that all existing oils will remain valid. Hence Law 97 of 1967 is valid as he mentioned and he ought to abide by it. That means, yes, the Minister of Oil is authorized provided they go and seek endorsement from the existing legislative body which is the Parliament for each case.

Jasim al-Azzawi: So far they haven't done that. Is that a reflection on the lack of oversight by Iraqi Parliament about this huge and overreaching contracts?

Issam al-Chalabi: No, the Oil & Gas Committee and many Parliamentarians have sought that and they have asked him, they have subpeoned him, that they should look into the matter. In fact, one particular member had gone to the federal court. And you asked about the dangers of these new contracts, I do say that it is very possible that in the future these contracts could very well be under questioning and somebody could question the legitimacy of these contracts and maybe they would be required to be amended or maybe anulled.

Jasim al-Azzawi: We are only three months away from very crucial elections in Iraq and it is quite likely tremendous changes is going to happen in Iraq and the ministries, especially in the Ministry of Oil. Even the Prime Minister might not be in the saddle. Once again, will we see rising chorus for changing these contracts or even cancelling them now that Iraqi nationalism is rising again?

Issam al-Chalabi: Well nobody knows what's going to happen from the elections and who will form the new government but definitely I would say that there are a lot of question marks. There many people are questioning the legitimacy of these contracts. And why did he rush into it? Why didn't he wait until after the elections and go to the Parliament? And also why signing so many contracts?

Here's reality on the law. If you don't have a new law, you follow the existing law. For a moment, al-Shahristani grasped that. Then, under questioning, he began stating well he's also using the Constitution. The Constitution did not resolve the oil issue, did not contain any laws on the oil. That means Law 97 is the governing law. al-Shahristani wants credit (or wants to hide behind) the fact that he's doing something in a draft law -- a proposed law. A proposed law is not a law. If the Parliament wanted it to be a law, it would have been one long, long ago. Law 97 is the law. That's it. When a new law is passed by Parliament (or if one is) that becomes the law. For now, Law 97 is the law. Law 97 is not being followed. The contracts are invalid. If a new government comes into being (meaning Nouri's kicked out as prime minister) and they want to nullify the contract, they can. The law was not followed. If that happens, the countries can sue anyone (you can sue anyone) but the only real case they have is with al-Shahristani who broke the law and Nouri who looked the other way. Even with a new government, they may not choose to invalidate the contracts. But for the life of those contracts, they will always remain iffy and the companies will have little 'muscle' in any conflict because Iraq can always say, "The contracts were illegal, we're cancelling them."

And in case it's not clear, one more time, al-Shahristani (or any Oil Minister) cannot cobble together bits of a law with bits of bill (an unpassed law) and say, "I'm following the law." No. The law is the law. In this case, Law 97 is the law. Unless and until Parliament passes a new oil law, Law 97 is the law.

UPI reports, "Multinational forces were called on to ramp up their patrols in northern Iraq to protect vital oil export arteries, a spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry said." "Multinational forces"? What MNF? It's the US. The UK's 200 is not in the north. There are no multinational forces anymore. Everyone else has gone home. It's the US military patroling the 'vital oil exports'. AFP reports "the pipleine to the Turkish port of Ceyhan" was attacked and that exports have not resumed as a result of the damage. RTT notes, "This is the second attack this month on oil pipelines in northern Iraq."

On the subject of oil, let's try to play catch up since
Friday when Iran seized an Iraqi oil field . . . or maybe it did that two weeks ago . . . or maybe it never did that. As we go through the reports, a hint, if you can't follow or make sense of it, don't fret, no one knows any more than they did on Friday. Timothy Williams and Sa'ad al_izzi (New York Times) reported Saturday, "The Iranian government said Saturday that an oil field that its troops occupied a day earlier was on its side of the border with Iraq, despite Iraqi claims to the contrary." RTT News reported that Iran continued to deny they seized an Iraqi oil field. Iran's Press TV reported Iran's official line that the coverage is overblown and an attempt to drive a wedge between Iran and Iraq while also noting that, "Iran and Iraq have decided to establish an arbitration commission to clear up the misunderstanding between the two countries over an oil well in the border region." Muhanad Mohammed,Suadad al-Salhy, Mohammed Abbas, Parisa Hafezi, Missy Ryan and Andrew Dobbie (Reuters) added, "The Iranian flag was flying over the disputed oil well in a remote desert area southeast of Baghdad early on Saturday and an Iranian military tent was pitched nearby." The Telegraph of London observed the reported skirmish has resulted in a higher price for oil and they add, "An official in Maysan, who asked to go unnamed, said the Iranian troops were still present at Fakka on Saturday, and that the local government would send a delegation out to the remote desert area on Sunday." Sunday Kadhim Ajrash and Zahraa Alkhalisi (Bloomberg News) reported Iraq's Deputy Minister of Oil, Abdul Kareemal-Luaibi, has declared that, following "an armed confrontation," the Iranians who allegedly took over an Iraqi oil field have left. Just when you can almost make sense of the latest claims, along comes Timothy Williams and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) explained that Iraq's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs is stating the Iranian troops left the oil field but not Iraq while reports out of Iran claim "that the soldiers had never crossed into Iraq." And if you're confused, grasp that you're supposed to be. On such a serious issue, no government sends out "deputy ministers" to speak. You only send out someone that low level -- on an issue of territorial integrity -- if you want to be able to reserve the right to deny any statements made. What really happened? Who knows? About the only thing that is known is that all the rumors did wonders for the price of oil.


Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports a Falluja car bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two police officers, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured two people and "the Mayor of Tal Afar town in the northern province of Nineveh was killed toegher with his driver and his bodyguard when a suicide bomber struck their convoy in the town" also injuring seven other people. Sahra Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a third Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people, two Baghdad sticky bombings (one was already reported on by Yang but 1 person has died from that one and 1 person died in the second one) and a Mosul explosion which injured two Iraqi soliders.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Mosul (assailants used silencers) and an attack on a Mosul police checkpoint in which 1 police officer was killed. Reuters adds 1 police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk and, dropping back to last night, 1 pesh merga was injured in a Kirkuk shooting.

The Iraq War continues.
Ron Jacobs (at Dissident Voice) observes:

It's now December 2009. US forces forcibly occupy two nations -- Iraq and Afghanistan. While the US casualty figures in the former are relatively minimal nowadays, it was only a year or two ago that US military men and women were dying at the rate of one hundred a month. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the casualty figures are double what they were a year ago and tens of thousands more US soldiers and Marines are getting ready to deploy there (along with untold numbers of mercenaries). They have been told by their commander-in-chief that their cause is just. Once again, the protest is muted. The government in Afghanistan is a creation of Washington and would not exist without the foreign military presence there. It is also one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Women in Afghanistan suffer some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. Many of those abuses derive from the male supremacist interpretation of the Muslim religion by forces on all sides of the conflict. Many more of the abuses are the result of the ongoing conflict in that country. From displacement and hunger to death and maiming caused by US and resistance forces, the military conflict is probably the greatest violator of women's rights. Yet, the people of the United States have been told over and over again that one of the reasons for the US military presence in Afghanistan is to free the Afghan women.
So, why is there so little protest? Is it because many liberals and progressives who opposed the war in Iraq somehow see this misadventure in Afghanistan as righteous? Or do they believe that Barack Obama really does have a plan that will guarantee peace through the waging of war? If the latter is true, than these folks have truly succumbed to the wiles of imperial thought. There is no promise to end the war in any particular year, much less a specific date. If history tells us anything, the only way to stop a war is to make it difficult for the government waging it to continue to do so. This scenario will not occur within the walls of Congress. Nor will it take place inside the White House or the Pentagon. It can only occur in the streets of the United States. As long as the US government is convinced it has at least tacit support for its adventures overseas, it will continue them. As the recent escalation proves, it will not only continue them but will expand them.
Now, there are many folks who say they oppose the war but will argue that there is no point in mounting any protest against it. Their arguments will include the caveat that protests make no difference or that they will never reach the so-called regular people. I disagree. It seems to me that if the connection between the increasing failure of the government to fund essential services like schools, health care, infrastructure and even job creation can be connected to the ridiculously high cost of the wars and occupations, then the antiwar movement can reach the American people. Currently, it seems that there is a disconnect in most people's minds between the cutting of services and the ongoing wars and occupations. That disconnect must be terminated and the connections between the expanding price of imperial war and the decreasing quality of our services must be made. In addition, the profits of war must be exposed for what they are–theft of taxpayer's money by a small number of citizens. It is a theft on a scale so huge very few can even imagine it. It is also a theft that does not benefit the majority of the American people and certainly not most of the people of Iraq or Afghanistan in any meaningful way. Although they claim to be protecting us, the only thing these corporations and their uniformed cohorts are protecting is their bank accounts.
That does not have to continue. In fact, there is already an effort being organized by the
National Assembly to End the Wars and Occupations to hold a massive antiwar protest on March 20, 2010 in Washington, DC and San Francisco.

The March 20th action is the one that
A.N.S.W.E.R. and other groups are calling. Ava and I included the flier in our TV commentary this week and, as Jim noted, Ava and I intend to include it in our TV commentaries every Sunday until the march (March 20th). We're doing that to get the word out on it. Ron Jacobs and others are working to get the word out on it but it's really only if you get the word out on it that it matters. Talking about this one on one or in small groups matters much more than anything someone's going to read online. The action takes place March 20th. And if you don't get the word out on it, who will?

Wait, The Nation? The Progressive? Are you trying to make me laugh? Former British prime minister Tony Blair made shocking statements regarding the Iraq War this month and where's the coverage. Less than two weeks ago and where's the coverage. We've covered the remarks. The first time was
December 12th, it was big in the Monday, December 14th Iraq snapshot and has been covered repeatedly since. Ivor Roberts (Independent of London) explains their importance:

IT is difficult to exaggerate the sense of shock but not awe some of us felt when hearing
Tony Blair say last weekend that he would have gone ahead with the invasion of Iraq even if he'd known that the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) so trumpeted in the "dodgy dossier" didn't exist. He would, he said, simply have deployed different arguments to achieve the same result, the removal of Saddam Hussein. He deserved to go as he was a local menace and had gassed his own people. He was, moreover, uniquely evil. There are quite a few things wrong with these arguments. Firstly, it flies in the face of the primacy of international law. Without it we simply return to the law of the jungle, the rule of the most powerful, the world of the Melian dialogue recorded in Thucydides' Peloponnesian War where "the strong do what they can, while the weak suffer what they must". This may have been the neo-cons' nostrum but it is not the basis on which the United Nations was constructed, and it is not the basis on which I served as a diplomat for nearly 40 years.

Tony Blair,
Dominic Ponsford (Press Gazette) reports, is blaming the United Kingdom media. Citing Blair's interview in the Sunday Times of London, Ponsford quotes Blair insisting, "We've got a problem with the UK media. They don't approach me in an objective way. Their first question is how to belittle what I'm doing, knock it down, write something bad about it. It's not right. It's not journalism. They don't get me and they've got a score to settle with me. But they are not going to settle it." John Arlidge (Times of London) has the portrait of St. Tony of the Fan Rags, persecuted, misunderstood, victimized, in which Tony insists, ""It's not true that nobody likes me! Reading the papers in Britain, you'd end up thinking I'd lost three elections rather than won them. There is a completely different atmosphere around me outside the country. People accept the work that you are doing, as it is. They don't see anything wrong with being successful financially and also doing good work." When you're insisting to the press that it's not true that no one likes you, you've got a huge image problem. And in Tony's case, he brought it on himself. "I love my life as it is!" insisted Tony to John Arlidge. Then why the non-stop whining, Tony? Credit where it's due, what our alleged 'independent' media can't cover, The Huffington Post does. From Ben Cohen's piece there:

While Blair has certainly done some good after his tenure in office, his obsession with is own popularity shows why the British public grew to hate him in the first place. Blair's immense narcissism and unwavering belief that anything he did must be right led the country into a series of catastrophic choices with profound repercussions.
Blair led Britain to war under false pretense in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which were not only illegal but strategically disastrous. He also deregulated the city and allowed the banks to determine economic policy that ended up in one of the worst crisis in British history.

Lastly, in the US, yesterday was a national holiday.
Madamab (The Widdershins) explains that it was "National 'We Told You So' Day!" so be sure you celebrated:

Wasn't this bill supposed to be the big, signature accomplishment of the Messiah of HopeyChangeness' first term? Clearly, it isn't going to be the economy. His solution to epic unemployment is to throw trillions in taxpayer money to the banking industry. Oh, whoops -- I forgot. Mea culpa. The "stimulus" package contained 40% tax cuts too. Yeah, cause tax cuts like totally create jobs, man. And they also cut through your tin cans and tomatos without rusting! Teh awesome!
Surely, peace and diplomacy won't be Obama's legacy, despite (hilariously) having ALREADY won the Nobel Peace Prize. Iraq is slowly, painfully, grinding to a partial close per Dubya's schedule (which Obama hasn't changed), while Afghanistan is being "surged," also per a Bush-Cheney timetable. Meanwhile, mini-Gitmo is set to open near Chicago (perhaps Reszko will build it!), kangaroo courts are being convened per Obama's order (unless you think the 9/11 "mastermind" is really going to get a "fair trial" in New York City after Obama has declared him guilty), and torture is still on the table.

And because I'm too angry to write about what Madamab is referencing, I'll just refer to the piece we did at Third on the Senate spitting on women. From "
Editorial: Women's rights thrown under the bus:"
The new president of NOW,
Terry O'Neill, issued a statement yesterday which included, "The National Organization for Women is outraged that Senate leadership would cave in to Sen. Ben Nelson, offering a compromise that amounts to a Stupak-like ban on insurance coverage for abortion care. Right-wing ideologues like Nelson and the Catholic Bishops may not understand this, but abortion is health care. And health care reform is not true reform if it denies women coverage for the full range of reproductive health services. We call on all senators who consider themselves friends of women's rights to reject the Manager's Amendment, and if it remains, to defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation." Good for Terry and good for NOW. Good for them for speaking out and good for them for drawing a line in the sand. They say if the amendment isn't pulled from the bill, senators should "defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation." And they have urged you to, "Take Action NOW: Please call your senators immediately and urge them to oppose the Manager's Amendment in the Senate health care reform bill, which will effectively make abortion coverage unavailable in health insurance exchanges and, ultimately, in private insurance policies as well. If the Manager's Amendment passes, urge your senators to oppose the entire health reform bill."

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