Friday, May 14, 2010

One of the most important stories of the week

"Gulf Spill May Far Exceed Official Estimates" (Richard Harris, Morning Edition, NPR):

The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be at least 10 times the size of official estimates, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for NPR.

At NPR's request, experts examined video that BP released Wednesday. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that.

Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry.

A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent.

Given that uncertainty, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note that it's not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

"There's potentially some fluctuation back and forth between methane and oil," Wereley said.

But assuming that the lion's share of the material coming out of the pipe is oil, Wereley's calculations show that the official estimates are too low.

That's the story C.I. was mentioning this morning. I have a few comments.

Chief among my outrage points is the fact that NPR is releasing that information.

I am not griping at NPR for doing that, I am appalled that the information did not already emerge from the US government. Is the US government doing anything?

Oh, that's right, it's assisting BP. It's allowing the polluter to call the shots, it's allowing the criminal to be in charge of the crime scene.

Anyone see a problem with that?

Is Barack just unable to offer any leadership or is it that he just doesn't care to cross Big Business?

I have no idea but I strongly, strongly recommend you listen or read that story in full. It's an important one and one of the most important stories of the week.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 14, 2010. Chaos and violence continue,

Oh, the stupidity. The Status Of Forces Agreement is a contract (it's a treaty) and as such it can be extended. We've gone over and over that point while idiots who want to pretend they know something about the law gas bag to the contrary. They don't know what the hell they're talking about.

We will spoon food one more time. If the SOFA could not be extended (or replaced with another contract), then you would not have Nouri al-Maliki speaking of US troops ever staying beyond the end of 2011, right? If it ends the war and the US occupation, then that's that. That means, since Thanksgiving 2008, I have been wrong and I have wrongly interpreted the SOFA and I didn't know what I was talking about. Except . . . Let's drop back to the
July 23, 2009 snapshot for this little detail:

Aljazeera reports, "The Iraqi prime minister has admitted US troops could stay in the country beyond 2011." Yeah, he did it today and it's only a surprise if you've never grasped what the Status Of Forces Agrement does and does not do. The Washington Post, for example, has one person on staff who understands the SOFA completely. That's one more than the New York Times has. Drop back to real time coverage (Thanksgiving 2008) and you'll see the Washington Post could explain what it did and didn't do and get it right. No other US outlet can make that claim. (The Los Angeles Times hedged their bets but did appear to grasp it in an article co-written by Tina Susman.) McClatchy Newspapers? Oh goodness, Leila Fadel made an idiot of herself over the SOFA. Even more so than the New York Times (Elisabeth Bumiller -- in December and January -- offered some realities but they were lost on the other reporters at the paper). The Times just got it wrong. Fadel got it wrong and sang praises of it. It wasn't reporting, it was column writing passed off as such. Today, Nouri declared, "Nevertheless, if the Iraqis require further training and support we shall examine this at the time, based on the needs of Iraq." Sound familiar? It should. This month you should have heard Adm Mike Mullen make the same statement, you should have heard General Ray Odierno make it over and over beginning in May and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made it many times -- generally he's asked when he's visiting a foreign country because US reporters don't really seem to care. One exception would certainly be Dahr Jamail who was on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday and explained, "We still have over 130,000 troops in Iraq. Troops are not being withdrawn from Iraq. They are being relocated to different bases, some of the bases still within cities, but they are not being withdrawn thus far." Dahr's latest book The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan has just been released this month. IPA provides this context from Global Policy Forum's James Paul: "For all the talk of 'U.S. withdrawal' from Iraq, the reality on the ground is starkly different. U.S. troops still patrol the cities, in flagrant violation of the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, while Washington remains hugely influential in the politics of the country. The gigantic U.S. embassy looms large in Baghdad, U.S. forces still hold thousands of Iraqi prisoners in the vast U.S. prison camp in the southern desert, dozens of U.S. military bases remain in place including the sprawling 'Camp Victory' complex in Baghdad and Washington continues to press towards its ultimate goal -- the de facto privatization of Iraq's vast oil resources."

Nouri spoke of US forces remaining beyond the SOFA's 'withdrawal' -- that firm, firm SOFA. Ooops. That's because it's a contract. Both parties can follow every detail on the page and still decide that they want to extend it. That's how contracts work. We'll be kind and not name today's idiot, but, oh, the stupidity.

Idiot wants to pretend he knows the SOFA and he knows the law. He gives no indication that he knows either. First, he's unaware that a contract can be extended by the parties involved the agreement or replaced with another contract. The SOFA only exists to replace the UN mandate (the earlier contract which provided legal cover -- post-invasion -- for the occupation). The SOFA could be replaced with something else. Blathering on like an idiot, Idiot writes about "the governing document here is the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement which calls for a withdrawal of combat forces by the end of the summer and all forces by the end of 2011."

I'm not in the mood kids. Idiot doesn't understand the law. And the quote demonstrates he doesn't understand the SOFA. The SOFA has no call, repeating NO CALL, for a withdrawal of combat foces by the end of the summer. Why would it have that? Bush didn't put it in. That's Barack. And that's not in the SOFA. The SOFA was pushed through the Iraqi Parliament on Thanksgiving day 2008. Barack hadn't been sworn in. So sorry, Idiot, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Read the SOFA and find the end of summer reference. It's not in there. (If the SOFA's too difficult for you to master, you can refer to
Karen DeYoung's Washington Post report from last March.)

On the topic of the drawdown, we'll note
Brian Montopoli (CBS News) today:

As CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin
reported Thursday, "first the delay in the Iraqi elections and then the dispute over the results has forced Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander in Iraq, to slow down his withdrawal plans."
"Right now, it is still possible to move that many troops - but just barely," wrote Martin. "Any further delay in the drawdown will cause him to miss the deadline."

Justin Raimondo ( weighs in:

With a
complicit Democratic majority in Congress, and a Republican minority all too eager to keep us bogged down in Iraq until Kingdom come, no one is holding the Obama administration accountable -- and the American public, which never hears anything about Iraq in the "mainstream" media, doesn't even know what's happening. They voted for Obama, in the Democratic primaries and the general election, in large part because he promised to end the war. That he now appears to be reneging on his firm pledge comes as no surprise to us foreign policy mavens, never mind observers of the Obama Method -- which is to strike an angular stance, and then come up with all sorts of convincing reasons for abandoning his position. To the majority of Americans, however, the pledge to get out of Iraq is carved in stone, and the only way to erase it is to shatter the tablet on which the President's electoral mandate is written. What the Democrats are counting on is the complicity of the "opposition" party, which is not going to make Iraq an election year issue -- except insofar as they see it as a "model" for how to win the war in Afghanistan. The administration is also counting on the silence of the "antiwar" left, in congress and at the grassroots, simply because these forces -- easily bought off, and/or intimidated -- haven't given them any reason to worry in the past.

Counter-insurgency is war against a native people. It's colonialism and it was used to trick and then attack and slaughter the Native Americans and it was used during Vietnam and at other periods. It has a long, long history and a long, long history of human rights activists calling this war on a people out. But that history sorts drops by the wayside in the last ten years. While some have called it out -- and certainly James Cameron's
Avatar drove the message home on what counter-insurgeny actually is -- people have been grossly silent. Barack groupies, of course, have to remain silent because Samantha Power, Sarah Sewell, Monty McFate, all of those counter-insurgency 'gurus' are Barack boosters and groupies don't call out their own. There is a development on the counter-insurgency front. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports it is now under internal criticism, "The biggest spur, however, is a growing recognition that large-scale counterinsurgency battles have high casualty rates for troops and civilians, eat up equipment that must be replaced and rarely end in clear victory or defeat."

Sahwa ("Awakening" Council and Sons Of Iraq are two other names) can be seen as a form of counter-insurgency or, more honestly, as paying the playground bully not to beat you up. Sahwa are Sunni fighters the US government put on the tax payer payroll because, as General David Petraeus and then-US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker repeatedly explained to the US Congress in April 2008, it stopped the Sahwa from attacking US military equipment and the US military. Nouri was supposed to have put them on the Iraqi payroll. It was announced repeatedly -- including in November 2009 -- but never really happened because "payroll" would mean every one of them would be paid and would be paid regularly.
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that the Sahwa remain under threat and their leaders are assigned bodyguards while Nouri continues to distrust them:

Major general Mudhir al-Mawla, the director of the Sons of Iraq file in Iraq's national reconciliation commission, confirmed the scepticism in the government: "Ever since they began, there have been members of Maliki's administration who oppose them," he said. "They said they are like a militia and they all need to be disarmed. But they have played a very important role in giving precise information because they are locals. They know the locals and they know where their allegiances lie."
In March last year, in a move that underscored the distrust, Maliki's troops arrested a Sons of Iraq leader in the central Baghdad district of Fadhil and a two-day battle ensued. Ever since, he has been reluctant to travel to the frontline areas.
"[Maliki] came here once," said Awakening Council leader Sabah al-Mashadani in what was once another no-go zone in Baghdad, the former battlefield suburb of Adamiyeh. "He was very surprised when he was well received. He said: 'I thought everyone hated me here'."
In Arab Jabour, Sheikh Moustafa has never seen the prime minister, but he has seen his special forces, who arrested the sheikh in January on trumped up charges that he had killed five local men in 2007. The US military quickly took responsibility for the killings and Sheikh Moustafa was released in Maliki's name.

Sahwa asserts they protect the region from al Qaeda in Iraq.
Lu Hui (Xinhua) reports, "Iraqi al-Qaida group has nominated its new leader called "minister of war" and vowed to continue deadly attacks with "dark days in blood color," said a statement posted on a militant website on Friday. The so-called "minister of war" of the Islamic State of Iraq was identified as al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman and he will replace Abu Ayyub al-Musri, who was killed in a military operation by Iraqi and U.S. forces last month"

Turning to Iraq,
Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) declare, "In an embarrassing rejection of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's efforts to overturn his rival's lead in Iraq's inconclusive parliamentary election, a laborious manual recount of votes in Baghdad has turned up no evidence of electoral fraud and will not change the final outcome, officials said Friday." I disagree and we'll get to why in a moment. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) states "it's not good news for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki" and I disagree with that as well. Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) reports, "It took 11 days to recount by hand all 2.5m [million] ballots cast in Baghdad and the surrounding area. A spokesman for the electoral commission said the results would be made public on Monday and sent to the court for ratification." Khalid al-Ansary, Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Matthew Jones (Reuters) quote Independent High Electoral Commission spokesperson Qassim al-Aboudi stating, "There is no proof . . . that there was fraud or manipulation or big mistakes."

This is embarrassing for Nouri how? It be great if it were but how is it embarrassing if it is? Because no fraud was found? International observers were very clear that there was no fraud when Nouri was demanding a recount. If nothing had changed since then, this might be slightly embarrassing for Nouri. His political slate -- predicted to win -- had lost. If that were still the case, the recount results would be a major ha-ha.

But that's not how things stand. And the way it appears is Nouri stomped his feet for a recount but that was only one of the many stalling techniques he utilized to buy time to circumvent the Constitution and build a coalition. Screaming that there was fraud in the Baghdad recounts meant that others wouldn't rush to build a coalition with Ayad Allawi's slate (Iraqiya). Screaming fraud meant others might fear Allawi's lead would disappear. It bought time and Nouri, by that take, doesn't look embarrassed, he looks extremely crafty. Well played, puppet, well played. That hypothesis would explain why
Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports, "Mr. Maliki's supporters had once claimed that the recount could reverse as many as 20 seats, but a spokesman, Ali al-Mousawi, said on Friday evening that Mr. Maliki would 'respect the results of the recount in Baghdad, whatever they were'."

Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) reports on the post-no-fraud-recount scene in Iraq:

If Maliki is confirmed as Iraq's next prime minister, the U.S. will have a partner it knows well and has been carefully handling throughout the process. While some believe Maliki's actions in recent weeks show he will use any means to stay in power, the embassy's view is that he is something of an opportunist and can be encouraged to curb questionable behavior.
"Like any politician, Maliki will use all legal and political tools at his disposal," a senior embassy official said, referring to Maliki's work with the Accountability and Justice Commission, the controversial de-Baathification commission controlled by Ahmed Chalabi and Ali Faisal al-Lami.
Both Hill and his military counterpart, Gen. Raymond Odierno, have said publicly that Chalabi and Lami are heavily influenced by Iran and the embassy has no illusions about their goal. "This is an organization of questionable legitimacy employing less than transparent means to challenge a legitimate election," the senior embassy official said.
He also confirmed
reports that Hill will leave in July and be replaced by Ambassador to Turkey Jim Jeffrey. Stuart E. Jones, a deputy assistant secretary who handles Balkan affairs, will replace Baghdad No. 2 Robert Ford, who is still waiting out his stalled nomination process to become ambassador to Syria. Jones was previously the deputy chief of mission in Cairo.

In Tal Afar today, Iraqis attempting to enjoy a football game were greeted with bombings.
BBC News reports at least 10 people are dead and one-hundred-and-twenty wounded after a car bombing "at the entrance to the stadium" with possible bombings then following the first explosion. Khalid al-Tayi (AFP) notes the deaht toll climbed to 25 (cites Interior Ministry official for that figure) and quotes Hussein Nashad stating, "We heard a loud explosion and the people behind me shielded me from the shrapnel. I ran away, but then I heard someone shout 'Allahu akbar' (God is greatest), and then there was another explosion." Al Jazeera explains, "Friday's attacks follow blasts in the city last October and July that left dozens of people dead. In March 2007, 152 people were killed when truck bombs targeted markets in the town." In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Baghdad bombing which claimed 4 lives and left eight people injured, a Mahaweel bombing which injured seventeen people and a failed bombing attempt in Tuz Khurmato on a provincial council member (who is also a Turkmen).


Reuters notes 1 police officer and one security guard were shot dead in Falluja by unknown assailants with silencers and 1 tailor ("specialising in military uniforms") were shot dead in Mosul.

In other Iraq news, Wednesday the
Center for Disease Control issued an alert for a Q Fever Infection: Increasing reports of Q fever among deployed U.S. military personnel due to endemic transmission in Iraq, as well as a large ongoing outbreak of Q fever in the Netherlands, may place travelers to these regions at risk for infection. Healthcare providers in the United States should consider Q fever in the differential diagnosis of persons with febrile illness, pneumonia or hepatitis who have recently been in Iraq or the Netherlands. Physicians are encouraged to submit samples for proper laboratory testing and contact the CDC for consultation if needed. Q fever cases in travelers should be promptly reported to proper authorities. Background Since Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced in 2003, over 200 cases of acute Q fever have been reported among U.S. military personnel deployed to Iraq. Since several of these cases were identified after returning to the U.S. or when they were no longer serving on active military duty, a heightened awareness for Q fever infection occurring in military personnel and civilian contractors is necessary to ensure prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Q fever is endemic in the Middle East, and transmission may be influenced by hot, dusty conditions and livestock farming practices which may facilitate windborne spread. In addition, a large number of Q fever cases have occurred in the Netherlands since 2007, with over 3,700 human cases reported through March 2010. Infected dairy goat farms are believed to be the source of the outbreak, and the majority of human cases have been reported in the southern region of the country. To date, no imported cases of Q fever have been reported among American travelers returning home from the Netherlands. Because travelers to these countries may have a higher likelihood of exposure to Q fever, the CDC Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch advises that physicians evaluate travelers returning from Iraq (particularly military personnel and civilian contractors) and the Netherlands with febrile illness, pneumonia or hepatitis for potential Q fever infection. Probable and confirmed cases should be reported to their local or state health department. Q Fever Illness Q fever is a zoonotic disease with both acute and chronic phases caused by the pathogen Coxiella burnetii. The primary mode of transmission to humans is inhalation of aerosols or dust contaminated by infected animals, most commonly cattle, sheep or goats. Direct animal contact is not required for transmission to occur as the organism may be spread by dust or wind. Infections via ingestion of contaminated dairy products and human-to-human transmission via sexual contact have rarely been reported. Q fever does occur in the United States, but fewer than 200 cases are reported annually. Although asymptomatic infections may occur, an unexplained febrile illness, sometimes accompanied by pneumonia and/or hepatitis, is the most common clinical presentation. Illness onset typically occurs within 2–3 weeks after exposure. The mortality rate for acute Q fever is low (1–2%), and the majority of persons with mild illness recover spontaneously within a few weeks although antibiotic treatment will shorten the duration of illness and lessen the risk of complications. Chronic Q fever is uncommon (<1%>Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Charles Babington (AP), Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post), Martha Raddatz (ABC News) and Pete Williams (NBC News). And Gwen's column this week is "The Blog Wars." Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's the homophobic 'leader' who traveled with a paid male escort who hires himself out for sex. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:
The Blow OutScott Pelley investigates the explosion that killed 11, causing the ongoing oil leak in the waters off of Louisiana, and speaks to one of the oil rig platform crew survivors who was in a position to know what caused the disaster and how it could have been prevented. The report contains never-before-seen footage of the minutes after the explosion and new information about what led up to it.
Gustavo DudamelNow that he is the musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel wants to transplant in the U.S. the Venezuelan child orchestra system that changed his life. Bob Simon reports.
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 16, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

the washington postkaren deyoung
cbs newsbrian montopoli
antiwar.comjustin raimondo
the los angeles timesliz sly
bbc newsgabriel gatehouse

jomana karadsheh
the new york timessteven lee myers
mcclatchy newspapers
nancy a. youssef
the guardianmartin chulov
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BP owns the White House

"The Influence Game: Can BP's Connections help?" (Alan Fram and Sharon Theimer, AP):
President Barack Obama's campaign was the top recipient of BP employees' money in the 2008 election: $71,000.
[. . .]

In a reflection of the Obama administration's and BP's mutual interest in developing fuel alternatives to gasoline, Obama named Steven Koonin, BP's former chief scientist, the Energy Department's undersecretary for science.
The other top recipients of BP employee 2008 election-giving both sit on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, one of the panels investigating the spill. Obama's GOP presidential rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, received $37,000. And $16,000 went to a senator whose state is on the receiving end of much of the spilled oil, Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Guess BP got an ethics waiver from the White House? That's why they still haven't stopped the oil spewing in the Gulf?

BP is Barack's baby. Get it real. Or he is their baby. But they are closely linked and that's why BP has gotten such a smooth ride. For those not in the know, after the Valdez spill, there was an immediate lashout at Exxon. There was no uh . . . what do we do . . . uh.

This is insane. The White House is owned by BP. That's the reality.

Go read Kat's "Bob Dylan and his cry babies" from last night and as for my "When The Mighty Zionist Gets Here . . ." . . .

I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was being oblique. I thought that was very clear.

I was saying that, like many neo-cons, Bob Dylan was just fine with the Iraq War. That he saw it as benefitting Israel and that's why he refused to ever call it out.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, oil motives back in the news, the Sadr militia regrouping, and more.

We'll open with a segment from today's
Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC):

Senator John Kerry [in a clip]: We're more dependent upon foreign oil today than we were before 9-11 we make America more energy independnet we strengthen our national security.

Andrea Mitchell: Senator John Kerry on Morning Joe today. He and Joe Lieberman now at this hour unveiling their new energy reform bill to combat climate change. But energy independence is also a matter of national security. Retired US Army General Paul Eaton a senior adviser at the National Security Network pushing for climate change, pushing for this legislation. Thanks so much, general, for joining us. Tell us why it is such an important issue for national security for anyone who doesn't-doesn't get it?

Gen Paul Eaton: Andrea, thanks for having me on. When you take a look at the defense budget we're pushing north of a three-quarter trillion dollars and a significant amount of that goes towards protecting our lines of communication, protecting our oil based sources, and we're spending uh-uh our -- our children's future here just to sustain our logistics. And it's -- it is a military issue, it is a budgetary issue and it's a -- it's a future economic issue for the United States.

Andrea Mitchell: But of course this is a terrible climate -- no pun intended -- to be doing this, presenting this bill now. You've lost the support of the one Republican co-sponsor, Senator Lindsay Graham, over side issues, but lost the support over all of the months. At the same time, the oil spill. How do you say to Americans, "This is the time for an energy bill which includes offshore drilling" -- when, in fact, we have no answers from BP after all these weeks as to how to even begin this fix?

Gen Paul Eaton: Well the real argument is because of energy dependence on oil because we're really reliant upon a 19th century fuel source, we are going after more and more dangerous locations and more and more problematic countries to sustain our -- our billion dollar a day habit. And when we spend a hundred million dollars a day and send it to Iran, a primary potential enemy, that is a national security issue. It's a military issue. So we've got to sell that too America. And what happened in the Gulf and this horrific oil spill that's going on, we developed the technology to get after it and as we do so, as our needs grow and we're pushing wellheads down 5000 feet under the water, we're on the edge of our technological capacity to get it and we're beyond, apparently, our technological capacity to -- to right a wrong when disaster strikes. So we're we're going into dangerous regions.

Andrea Mitchell: What about the carbon tax piece of this -- you've got the economy just coming out of a recession and especially in areas of the country where people are so resistant to the carbon tax, how do you sell this very tough political piece to the American people?

Gen Paul Eaton: It's frequently difficult to sell the idea of spendingg money to save greater money in the future. Spending a little bit of money today -- most of which will come back to the consumer in price supports for energy bills that are going to go up and eventually 100% will come back to energy consumers. But it drives us to reliable energy, to sustainable energy to -- to non-oil energy options. It's a job provider. It will ultimately reduce the requirements imposed upon the military as I mentioned earlier to sustain the lines of communication we've got to do.

Andrea Mitchell: General Paul Eaton, thank you so much. We appreciate it. The case for national security on climate change.

We do not support building nuclear plants in this community and we avoid various groups because of it (and various 'activism'). Our noting the above is not an endorsement or a slap about the above. Our focus is on what Eaton's saying. (If you're curious about the legislation, you can
click here for an overview page John Kerry's office has prepared that will provide you with -- PDF format warning -- endorsements -- corporations love it!, the bill itself, and various other options.) Eaton was a war cheerleader (and serving at the time, in training aspect). He's 'anti-war' in that if-you're-stupid-you-believe-it kind of way. Meaning, only those with comprehension issues think he's against the Iraq War. He loves the illegal war, he'd go down on it if he could. But what he didn't like was some of the ways Bully Boy Bush conducted it after it started. He's debating tactics and not condemning the illegal war. He's a War Hawk. He's a War Monger. That's reality. Reality can also be found in his statements. The US government sees energy and access to it as a "national security" issue.

Of course they do. Wars are fought -- especially among empires -- over goods. Over access to and control of resources. That's a historical truth. But any who have dared suggested that the Iraq War was in any way, shape or form about oil have been ridiculed. Andrea Mitchell's husband is Alan Greenspan. Promoting his book, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,
the former chair of the Federal Reserve (1987 through the start of 2006) appeared on Democracy Now! (link has text, video and audio) in September of 2007:

Amy Goodman: Alan Greenspan, let's talk about the war in Iraq. You said what for many in your circles is the unspeakable, that the war in Iraq was for oil. Can you explain?

Alan Greenspan: Yes. The point I was making was that if there were no oil under the sands of Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have never been able to accumulate the resources which enabled him to threaten his neighbors, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. And having watched him for thirty years, I was very fearful that he, if he ever achieved -- and I thought he might very well be able to buy one -- an atomic device, he would have essentially endeavored and perhaps succeeded in controlling the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, which is the channel through which eighteen or ninetten million barrels a day of the world eight-five million barrel crude oil production flows. Had he decided to shut down,s ay, seven million barrels a day, which eh could have done if he controlled, he could have essentially also shut down a significant part of economic activity throughout the world. The size of the threat that he posed, as I saw it emerging, I thought was scary. And so, getting him out of office or getting him out of the control position he was in, I thought, was essential. And whether that be done by one means or another was not as important, but it's clear to me that were there not the oil resources in Iraq, the whole picture of how that part of the Middle East developed would have been different.

In his 2007 book, Greenspan wrote, "Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Note that not one damn thing when the White House flipped. Not one damn thing. And all the little pieces of trash who used the peace movement as a get-out-the-vote organization, you know the Obama Drama Queens who whored it big time for Barry and then fell silent even though all the conditions for the illegal war -- like the Iraq War itself -- still exist. You know who I'm talking about, the faux activists, who did their little I-Can-Blog-No-More pieces, usually while insulting efforts at peace because they don't want anyone to call out there War Hawk (file it under ' I found the peace movement not very peaceful' -- as so many Liars and Whores did -- usuallyshowing up later to blog again but, you understand, they're focusing on the personal and not the political). Nothing changed. Eaton is a War Hawk. Eaton gets to say on Andrea Mitchell's program what Mitchell's husband wrote and (briefly) discussed.

In England, the Iraq War never stopped mattering.
Danny Schechter writes the ridiculous paragraph below:

My muse, the news, seems to be in hyper-drive these days, with "breaking news" dominating all news. As I write, word has to the Dissector come that Gordon Brown has lost the election after the election as the Lib Dems, Britain's third party, opted to make a deal with the Conservatives, i. e., Tories, pre-empting all future maneuvers. David Cameron will be Prime Minister. Personally I credit Tony Blair, poodle-in-chief, for so trashing/betraying Labor's legacy that it lost its mission and millions of supporters. Brown finished what he started, hardly helped by a devastating economic collapse.

It is ridiculous. He obviously doesn't know enough about the situation to comment. Where is Iraq in that 'analysis.' No where. But then, hey, Danny didn't cover the Iraq Inquiry did he? Apparently unaware of how Gordo went over with Brits over that. Rebecca knew the mood the first time she looked at the raw data. Want to know reality about the elections in England, read Rebecca's "
thank you and goodbye" and "gordo killed the labour streak" -- she may write more, she's got a lot more she can tell. Whether she will or not is her business but she did a lot of work for Labour including spending four to six weeks in England. The election was lost (as we pointed out here) if Brown didn't step down. He never did. He was too tied to Iraq, he was too tied to too many things. He was supposed to provide some fresh air and he never did. All he did -- and there are lessons for the US here -- is degrade the Labour brand. He destroyed it. People have expectations because they are led to believe certain things. You might fool the voters once but they'll come back and show you who really is in charge -- a thought that should frighten Democratic politicians in the US.

Danny says Gordon lost the "election after the election" which is apparently an attempt at "word cute." It's not cute. They elected their Parliament members. The minute the votes were counted Gordon Brown was over. He even went through the motions of announcing his withdrawal (saying it would be effective in September). It was already over and no one -- Labour, Tory or Liberal Democrat -- was going to let that ass save face. Though Danny never covered them, there were huge protests when Gordon Brown and Tony Blair testified in London to the Iraq Inquiry earlier this year. Gordon could have broken with Blair publicly in his testimony -- as he was advised to do. He didn't. He sealed his own fate. Again, there are lessons for Democrats if they care to pay attention.

The Iraq War didn't go away just because the coverage did. It didn't vanish just because a lot of people who used to note it every day or made a film or two on it or wrote a book about it decided more money could be made and attention garnered elsewhere. Amy Goodman is many things but she at least knows how to give lip service to the idea that the Iraq War has lasting effects in the political system and in the media system. England saw the effects of the Iraq War. The US will be seeing it soon. It will play out very much as the effects of Vietnam did. "A Human Rights President will save us! Will wash all our sins away! Yea!" And by 1980, the liar class and their human rights president had ensured Republican domination. History does repeat mainly because so many fools refuse to learn lessons from it.

(If the ones who ran away from Iraq to make money and get attention on something else especially piss you off, take comfort in the fact that they're idiots at commerce. In fact, they should be using the Iraq War to sell their new products. They only have one song and when a recording artist only is capable of one hit, you repackage and remix that thing over and over. Their efforts to beat a hasty retreat are a bit like Donna Summer's efforts to disown her Queen of Disco label -- a career killing move.)

Nothing's changed. That was obvious today sitting through one House Armed Services Committee hearing and two Subcommittee hearings. Take the Strategic Forces Subcommittee which met to markup the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscaly Year 2011. US House Rep James Langevin is the Chair of the Subcommittee.

Subcommittee Chair James R. Langevin: The mark before the subcomittee this morning includes: $15 billion for the Department of Energy's Atomic Energy Defense Activities, not including defense nuclear nonproliferation programs, $10.3 billion for ballistic missile defense programs -- $361.6 million above the President's request, and approximately $9.7 billion for unclassified national security space programs. These three important initiatives will enhance our national security. First, reflecting the President's request to provide a strong and unprecedented investment in our nuclear deterrent, the mark includes a significant increase for the activites of the National Nuclear Security Administration to sustain a safe, secure and reliable arsenal without nuclear testing. Second, the mark includes a significant increase above the President's request for ballistic missile defense systems that counter the most pressing and likely threats to the United States, our deployed troops and our allies and friends. Third, the mark provides for important military space programs that are in critical phases of development or sustainment, including the Operation Responsive Space program and Military Satellite Communications.

And on and on he went. Endlessly bragging about how they were handing over more (tax payer) money than the White House was asking for. In the midst of the Great Recession. When Barack says "everything" is on the table. Everything but military spending. There, they don't even scale back. Instead they rush forward to strut and proclaim they gave more than asked for. And no one rushes forward to obejct to the militarization of space -- something we all found so offensive under Bully Boy Bush. Now Dems and Republicans can -- and on the Subcommittee did -- agree.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner: The mark makes sound adjuments in the areas of national security space and intelligence. The mark continues to provide funding for important space aquisition programs in the areas of: satellite communications, GPS, missile warning, space situational awareness, launch and Operationally Responsive Space. The mark recommends a signficant reduction to the NPOESS [National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System] program. Given the recent decision to restructure the program, authorizing full funding of the legacy NPOESS program by DoD seemed premautre absent a clear way ahead.

That was the last one. The first one was the full committee. Chair Ike Skelton made statements that appeared 'new' or 'novel' only if you were just emerging from the womb or coma. Skelton on the surge: "I endorsed this strategy then and I do so now. As I have said many times, while this new strategy cannot guarantee success in Afghanistan, it is the most likely to end with an Afghanistan that can prevent the return of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. Six months into the new policy, it is appropriate for Congress to consider how things are going." It all echoes Iraq. But it's supposed to seem fresh and news, as if the Afghanistan War didn't, in fact, start before the Iraq War. "Things may get harder before they get better," testified DoD's Michele Flournoy with a straight face apparently thinking she'd made a novel statement.

Nothing changes.
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports, "The White House is likely to delay the withdrawal of the first large phase of combat troops from Iraq for at least a month after escalating bloodshed and political instability in the country. [. . .] American officials had been prepared for delays in negotiations to form a government, but now appear to have balked after Maliki's coalition aligned itself with the theocratic Shia bloc to the exclusion of Allawi, who attracted the bulk of the minority Suni vote. There is also concern over interference from Iraq's neighbours, Iran, Turkey and Syria." Meanwhile the Palm Beach Post continues to fancy itself for a peace advocate and maybe that passes for it today? Their latest editorial insists US troops leave and notes the Iraq War was based on lies. If peace activists believe that the deaths of Iraqis and US service members are dismissed so quickly or that the US has 'repaired' Iraq (the country that was torn apart by the ongoing Iraq War) then, by all means, let the Palm Beach Post cut ahead all the rest of us on the next march.

In Iraq,
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) interviews US Maj Gen Vincent Brooks who states that Moqtada al-Sadr's militia is regrouping and does not dismiss the possibility that they may have been involved in Monday's bombings. Monday's violence, which claimed at least 119 lives, continues to be questioned. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) reports that "the eputy interior minister admits the government's own security regime was at fault."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed 7 lives and left twenty-two people injured, a Baghdad bombing in which the assailants killed the shop owner, used his body to draw a cloud and then exploded the bomb claiming 3 lives and leaving 23 wounded.


Reuters notes 1 TV station employee was shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to yesterday, 1 person shot dead.

Last night, Trina blogged on Iraqi children and noted that the Iraq War "has destroyed their understanding of the world and themselves. They are strong, if they weren't, they couldn't cope. But the war has destroyed their lives and that can't be prettied up." Today on NHPR's Word of Mouth, Virginia Prescott spoke with Mary Ann Cappiello (professor at Lesley University) about a new group of children's books which cover the Iraq War -- many of which cover it from the view of a parent serving in the Iraq War and some covering it from an Iraqi child's experiences of the Iraq War.

In Peter Pan news,
Laura Rozen (Politico) reports Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, is in the race for Dean "of the Josef Korbel School of International Affairs at the University of Denver." Whatever it takes to get him out of Iraq.

In the US,
Lyda Longa (Daytona Beach News-Journal) reports, "Iraq veteran Joshua Gerard was discharged from the Army last year, but the fighting never stopped within him, his family said Tuesday. That inner struggle -- fueled by post-traumatic stress disorder and bouts of heavy drinking -- came to a head Sunday night when sheriff's officials said Gerard, 29, pointed a shotgun at Sgt. Vidal Mejias." This is an update to Longa's article noted in yesterday's snapshot. Iraq War veteran Joshua Gerard is in "critical but stable condition" and his father Jim Gerard states that service members should be receiving "mandatory" treatment when they are discharged. As Long notes in another article, Joshua Gerard suffers from PTSD. He was shot by law enforcement Sunday following deputies responding to a 9-11 call placed by his wife. Gary Taylor (Orlando Sentinel) speaks to the veteran's family as well:Help may have been available for Joshua James Gerard, but he never got it, his family said Tuesday. That's because the counseling the soldiers need is not mandatory, they said. "It's not just Josh," said his sister, Rachael Sippel. "There's a ton of these scenarios all across the country." People like her brother need long-term counseling and group therapy, she said. "I'm not talking two weeks.Sarah Gerad is his wife and Stephanie Coueignoux (Central Florida News 13 -- link has text and video) reports:In a letter only given to News 13, Sarah Gerard wrote about her husband Josh. She described how his tour in Iraq changed him. "It was because he's not a mindless killer that the things he's been through, haunt him every day," she wrote.Meanwhile John McChesney (NPR's All Things Considered -- link has audio and text) reports on the large influx into the VA system -- a non-surprise and something that should have been addressed some time ago. You can't continue two ongoing wars and not expect the number of veterans to increase.

David Bacon is an independent journalist who covers the labor and immigration beat -- one of a tiny number of actual labor reporters remaining in the US -- and his work is always impressive whether it's his writing or his photography. His photography is, in fact, art and he has an exhibit coming up.
Farm Workers Photographs by David Bacon
Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography University of La Verne La Verne, California through May 21, 2010
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday
Gallery Statement:
While American Agriculture's dependence on migrant farm labor is evident, when placed in contrast with the dire circumstances these essential workers experience while helping make food available for the world market, it is hard to imagine a larger disparity between necessity and compensation.
For nearly two decades, David Bacon has documented the struggles experienced by immigrant workers and their families, detailing the challenges and conditions faced by these often overlooked members of society in a number of highly acclaimed books, articles and photo series, all providing the public a glimpse of a community that otherwise often goes unseen."Farm Workers" shows the hard working conditions faced by these communities. The images highlight the issue of immigration and show the consequences of economic dislocation in Mexico. The exhibit - a partnership between Bacon and California Rural Legal Assistance and its Indigenous Farm Worker Project - is supported by the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), a network of Mexican indigenous communities in the U.S. and Mexico. The communities documented include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos, and Purepechas living in San Diego, Coachella, Arvin, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno and Selma, Salinas and Greenfield, Santa Rosa, Fairfield and Corning.
Bacon is sharing his work with an ongoing photo exhibition at the University of La Verne. The exhibit, "Farm Workers," is on display through May 21, 2010, at the University of La Verne's Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography. This event is also intended to bring attention to the university's photography major.
Admission to the gallery, located on the ground floor of Miller Hall on the university's main campus, is free.Bacon is the author of several books, including "Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants," "Communities Without Borders: Images and Voices from the World of Migration," and "The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border." His work has been exhibited in the U.S., Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom.The Carlson Gallery is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by special appointment. For information on the exhibit, the artist reception or the Carlson Gallery, contact Gary Colby at (909) 593-3511, ext. 4281.
from: "Photo exhibit focuses on laborers"La Verne University Campus Times, April 30, 2010
Rachel Smith, Staff WriterDavid Bacon's photography exhibit "Farm Workers" at the Irene Carlson Gallery exposed the difficult conditions faced by most immigrant farm workers. "The photos are a reality check," Bacon said. "Food doesn't automatically appear on the Safeway shelves."The ULV students that filled the exhibit were affected by the extraordinary images. The ULV staff and students provided great behind the scenes support to help make sure the event was a success. Gary Colby, professor of photography, and Kevin Bowman, photography department manager, were the key staff members that brought the exhibit to life. Colby selected the artist, while Bowman focused on printing the images that Colby and Bacon picked for the exhibit.They capture men and women working side-by-side doing the same very physically demanding jobs. "Some of these images break the stereotype of a farm worker," Bowman said. The images not only focus on male Mexican farm workers, but also touch on immigrants from India and women farm workers.Bacon emotionally reached the students at ULV. He stirred inside them a desire to learn and become aware of the difficult life situations. "It makes me feel like there is a lot going on that I'm not aware of," said Grady Thomas, junior communications major. "I need to be more aware of what's happening." Thomas and fellow communications major Pui Lok Choi helped promote Bacon's exhibit as a school project.
As an adult, Bacon was a union leader and began to see the injustices that immigrants were facing in the labor world. His passion and desire to document the hardships eventually became full-time work for the union organizer turned artist. "We are all here to work," Bacon said. "That's what we have in common no matter the race or work you do."
For more articles and images, see
See also Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008
See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004) David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

the guardianmartin chulov
politicolaura rozen
the daytona beach news-journallyda longathe orlando sentinelgary taylorstephanie coueignoux
the christian science monitor
jane arraf
david bacon
nhprword of mouthvirginia prescott

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When The Mighty Zionist Gets Here . . .

A few weeks ago, Kat wrote about a Joni Mitchell interview where Joni noted Dylan was a fake. He is. He's a two-inch hard on bragging to women that he's a solid 12.

It was no big deal to us and we both thought, "'Bout time." Kat covered the rock and roll scene back when it was worth covering. She photographed Dylan many times. I know Dylan through C.I. and never found him impressive. Stoned or straight, he's always stumbling and fumbling (and, yes, mumbling). Add in the fact that no one in Camp Dylan ever wants to tell the boss that he stinks (he has bad body odor -- true in the seventies, eighties, nineties and today).

I was a Phil Ochs fan. I never thought Dylan could sing (he can't), nor did I think he could play an instrument (Linda McCartney was more of a singer than Dylan is an electric guitar player). I also never thought a great deal about his work which peaks quickly (while stealing so many melodies along the way). When the sixties ended, Dylan's recording career should have.

Kat told me about how Joni was being attacked online by Dylan's aged fan boys. So I searched around and found Jocelyn Hoppa's "Joni Mitchell Calls Bob Dylan a Plagiarist" (Crawdaddy) and checked the comments.

Sure enough, the post-middle-aged fan boys are freaking out that their god was challenged. Really pissed that the criticism came from a woman.

Wake up, boys, Dylan's made no Blue. He's made very little. He's got half of a single disc Greatest Hits in him and that's about all.

I love the claim that "Dark Eyes" is anything to brag about. Dark Eyes is more of his Zionist crap and I have to wonder if people get that?

There's a reason that Dylan's work sucks so very badly today. The same reason he never spoke out against the Iraq War.

It's hilarious to watch the boys go to Dylan's name because it's such a sore spot for them to this day. That's because it brings up the whole John Lennon calling out Bob Dylan as a fake. They're hoping no one makes that point too.

Robert Zimmerman. That was the least of it. He lied about his parents, lied about his work experience, lied about his 'kinship' with African-Americans. He was, let's be honest, the Vanilla Ice of his day.

But they turn around and attack Joni Mitchell as "Anderson" and "Miss Joni Anderson."

"Mitchell" is not a made up name. Joni became Joni Mitchell (she performed as Joni Anderson prior) due to her marriage to Chuck Mitchell. She didn't create it. She didn't invent it. I do love how the same men who would no doubt trash a woman today who did not use her husband's last name rush to trash Joni for using her husband's name. Guys, you can go after Cheryl Ladd next. (Ladd is from her first marriage.)

Bob Dylan, the religious freak. Storming around like a crazy old coot on the street corner, the rapture's a coming! It's a coming! Dark eyes! Storm coming!

He lacks the poetry of Leonard Cohen but has been copying Cohen's Old Testament vibe since the first moment he heard Cohen. You will notice that none of his supporters note Dylan's debt to Cohen.

In the Dylan world you have two choices: (A) pretend Cohen doesn't exist or (B) pretend Dylan's never heard of him.

This is from a Newsday clipping:

It was heartening to see that the aging Dylan is not (to paraphrase a certain poet) going gently into that good night. Recent signs have indicated otherwise. For instance, while musicians from Bruce Springsteen to the Dixie Chicks raised their voices against the war in Iraq, Dylan was silent. Granted, he long ago outgrew folkie protest songs, but this seemed like a special case - did Bob Dylan really have nothing to say about the most polarizing war since Vietnam? Certainly, a person's politics are his own, and subject to change - but it was disappointing to hear so little from a man who once spoke so loudly and eloquently about such things.

He goes on to be blown away by the concert. Fan boys usually are. In the real world, Dylan's silence was telling. When The Mighty Zionist Gets Here . . .

Look, it's Neocon Bob. Or are we never supposed to notice that?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, May 11, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq receives little to no attention from broadcast TV, Allawi wants the de-Ba'athifcation to end, Chris Hill seems to think it has, veterans issues remain unaddressed and little noted, veterans are forced to sign papers waiving treatment for their injuries, and more.

Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans commissioned a poll to find out how aware Americans were about veterans issues and the wars themselves.
The Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (CIAV) commissioned the poll to measure American support for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and determine whether the public is aware of the important issues facing current service members and veterans –issues such as unemployment, homelessness, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide. The poll, conducted by Cohen Research Group this April, surveyed 1,000 adults who currently live in the U.S. "There is a very real and disturbing disconnect among the majority of Americans in understanding how deployment contributes to economic, social, and familial stress through a dearth of services and support," said Amy Fairweather, program director of the CIAV. "All of which are factors which drive veterans and their families to poverty." The poll found that while the psychological effects of the wars are widely known, a majority of Americans are not aware of the unique economic struggles that returning veterans face; including high rates of unemployment, access to healthcare issues, and risk factors for homelessness, poverty, and suicide. Specifically, 58% of Americans know about the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder among Iraq and Afghanistan troops and veterans, yet only 35% are aware that not all veterans are eligible for VA healthcare, and only 31% know that veterans can wait up to a year for disability benefits. Regarding the economic impacts of war and poverty among veterans, fewer than three out of ten Americans know that 20% of male veterans ages 18-24 were unemployed last year and that there are approximately 200,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. "What the poll tells us is that Americans have little knowledge of the true costs of war," Fairweather said. "As advocates we understand the tremendous struggles service members face when they return from war, but collectively we have a lot of work ahead of us to educate the public about the sacrifices our warriors make and ensure that the system of care is sufficient and appropriate for military, veterans, their families and survivors." The CIAV will address the gaps in services for our military community and discuss ways to foster improved communication with the American public about the issues our troops and veterans face this week at the 3rd annual conference in Washington, DC May 11-14. Service providers, veterans, families, survivors and advocates will share cutting edge expertise and meet with top officials from the VA, DoD, White House and Congress to improve the quality and quantity of support for the military and veteran community. The conference is open to the public and attendees will have an opportunity to learn about the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Register at May 11-14, 2010 Renaissance Mayflower Hotel 1127 Connecticut Ave Washington, DC 20036 About the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans The Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (CIAV) is a national non-partisan partnership of more than 50 organizations committed to working with and on behalf of all military, veterans, families, survivors and providers to strengthen the existing system of care and support for all those affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the people are under-informed of something or over-informed, it goes to the media. The media sold the never-existed link between Iraq and 9-11 through repetition. Don't offer the b.s. that the White House did it alone. The White House's remarks could have made the cutting room floor. Instead, they were broadcast, printed, etc. Repeatedly. The media acted (and acts) as an echo chamber and megaphone for the White House. What gets lost? Reality.

Yesterday was the deadliest day of this year in Iraq as the country was slammed with attack. When the snapshot was being dictated -- before the evening news began airing on the east coast -- the death toll had already reached 102. Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) reports today that the death toll has reached 119. Around the world, the violence is covered. Russia's Pravda, for example, All India Radio, South African Star, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . . . In fact, pretty much every country and every outlet reported on it. The only news consumers who might not know about the violence would be . . . US news consumers dependent upon commercial, broadcast TV to provide them with news on what passes for news shows. Three evening news broadcasts and two offered blink-and-you-miss-it 'coverage' while the third offered . . . as Heart once sang, "Nothing At All."
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer served up 19 seconds and, as Sawyer read the following, they had a graph of numbers:
Overseas as America continues to draw down troops in Iraq, more violence there. Suicide bombers, heavily armed gunmen, launched a wave of attacks that touched nearly every part of the country. At least 80 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the attacks in market, a factory and police checkpoints.
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams offered a few seconds more -- 28 seconds total -- and ran video of the aftermath of attacks while Williams read the following:
We have an update today on Iraq where the American presence is now winding down but as we saw dramatically today the violence isn't -- quite the opposite. Some two dozen attacks across that country left more than 90 people dead, hundreds more injured. Coordinate attacks by suicide car bombers targeted workers at a textile plant. Then the emergency workers who showed up and came to their aid were targeted. It was the bloodiest day there all year so far.
Two offered headlines. And then
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric continued it's slide into obscurity last night with no news on Iraq. CBS was among the first to bail on the country and it continues to avoid the topic. Let's be really clear, when you've got time to cover the 'announcement' that Barbara Walters will have heart surgery -- not that she had it, which would be news, but that she will have it -- and you've got time to offer bulls**t on Tiger Woods, you've got time to cover the deadliest day of the year in Iraq. Unless you're just not really in the news business. CBS viewers were treated to a story on heartburn medicines. And didn't that make for a better world and a more informed citizenry?
If it bleeds it leads. Maybe the refusal of all three broadcasts to grasp that accounts for why network news continues to bleed viewers?
PBS didn't have much time for Iraq either. More than CBS but you're local town gossip has more time for Iraq than CBS.
The NewsHour reduced it to a headline as well (link has text, video and audio option):
Hari Sreenivasan: A series of attacks across Iraq made today the deadliest day of the year so far. At least 99 people were killed in violence that began in the early morning and continued into the night. Hundreds more were wounded. Nearly half of the victims died in a pair of car bombings outside a textile factory in Hillah. As a crowd gathered to help those victims, a suicide bomber blew himself up. The violence also included coordinated shootings targeting Iraqi security forces at six checkpoints in Baghdad.

the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, issued the following: "The Secretary-General strongly condemns the wave of terrorist bombings and other attacks in Iraq yesterday that reportedly claimed the lives of over a hundred people and injured many more, mostly civilians. The United Nations stands in solidarity with the Iraqi people in the face of these deplorable, unjustifiable acts." Amnesty International issued the following statement:

Amnesty International has condemned the killing of civilians in a series of suicide bombings and shootings by armed groups in Iraq on Monday, which left over 100 people dead and 350 wounded.The attacks on a textile factory, markets and police and army checkpoints were carried out in the town of Hilla, the southern city of Basra, the capital Baghdad and other cities."Yesterday, was the deadliest day so far this year in Iraq, said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "Some of the attacks appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and to have been intended to cause maximum loss of life. If so, such attacks constitute war crimes. We condemn them utterly. Those responsible must cease these murderous attacks." "Civilians are continuing to pay a very heavy price for the ongoing divisions in Iraq.""The political vacuum resulting from the failure of Iraqi political leaders to agree on a new government, two months after the 7 March election, is fuelling instability and being exploited by armed groups, in particular al-Qa'ida and its supporters, to cause further mayhem and suffering."Leaders of the major political groups in Iraq have so far failed to garner enough support to form a government following the national elections, which did not produce a clear winner.Two suicide car bombers drove into a textile factory in Hilla, south of Baghdad on Monday afternoon. A third bomb exploded as rescue workers arrived on the scene. At least 45 people were reported killed and 190 wounded.On Monday evening, three car bombs exploded in Basra - the first in the central market, the other two in a residential area in the north of the city. Reports say that 21 people were killed and more than 70 others were wounded.Earlier on Monday, suicide bombers killed 13 people and wounded 40 in a market place in al-Suwayra, 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Baghdad.The day of attacks started at dawn in Baghdad, when gunmen killed at least seven Iraqi soldiers and policemen when they attacked six checkpoints. Bombs planted at three other checkpoints wounded several more, according to reports.Further attacks in the western province of Anbar, the northern city of Mosul, the outskirts of Baghdad and elsewhere took the death toll to at least 102.On 27 April 2010 Amnesty International published
Iraq: Civilians under fire, highlighting the plight of the Iraqi civilian population and the targeting of particular vulnerable groups by armed groups, government forces and others in Iraq.

The report is PDF format. You can also refer to the
April 27th snapshot for a summary of some of the reports key points. Faith Abdulsalam (Azzaman) observes, "Iraq is heading towards the abyss. The path to hell gets clearer not only day after day but hour after hour. The abyss engulfs the country the way rough seas erode a small island." Asia News notes that "attacks yesterday covered the entire country: from Mosul to Baghdad, Hilla to Basra." Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) adds, "The government has blamed militants linked to Al Qaeda." But not everyone agrees. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report, "Many Iraqis, including police and soldiers, say they believe their own politicians are behind the attacks." And they quote an Iraqi police officer explaining, "This is a struggle for power -- none of the citizens are blindfolded -- we can all see and understand the situation. I blame the government for this." And they note, "The Sadr movement -- one of the members of the new Shiite alliance -- has called for an emergency session to reconvene the former parliament to oversee security." Ayad Allawi has called for an interim government to address the violence and security issues. Ben Lando (Time magazine) interviews Allawi:

The two biggest blocs belong to former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya Party took 91 seats, and current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose State of the Law Party took 89. Parliament has a total of 325 seats -- with 163 needed to form a majority. In an interview with TIME, Allawi angrily accuses the international community of undercutting what he calls his victory at the polls, after first supporting the results. "We came first," he says. "Now they are silent; the [U.N.] Security Council, they kept their mouth shut."
After the elections, an electoral court ruled that it wasn't the top vote getter that has the right to form the next government but the biggest bloc of newly elected members of parliament, turning the post-election period into a time of high-stakes horse-trading. In Iraq's parliamentary math, Allawi and al-Maliki together have enough seats to form a government. But the two leaders dislike each other so much that a one-on-one meeting has yet to take place. Al-Maliki has instead turned to another slate, the Iraqi National Alliance, led by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and other religious leaders, to form what U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill called this week "a Shi'ite mega-party." The religious slate needs only four additional seats to form a party, and by acquiring them, it could edge out Allawi altogether.
Allawi tells Lando he has conditions including that the de-Ba'athification process must stop.
On today's Morning Edition (NPR), Peter Kenyon reported from Baghdad:

Ambassador Chris Hill: I think we have genuine expectation that the Accountability and Justice Commission has concluded its work, and that we will not see further moves on that.

Peter Kenyon: The American comments were echoed in private by Iraqi officials. Analyst Joost Hiltermann, with the International crisis group, wrote that: The Accountability and Justice Commission, which has disqualified candidates under the rubric of De-Baathification, seems to have reached the limits of its influence for now. All of which elicits only a patient smile from Ali Faisal al-Lami, the director of the De-Baathification panel. Relaxing on a couch inside a compound controlled by former Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, Lami says he doesn't see how the Americans have the right to interfere in the work of an independent Iraqi commission. He adds that the commission is still pursuing a legal ruling on the candidates it has already challenged.

Justice and Accountability's Ali al-Lami: Our proposed disqualifications were sent to the higher Electoral Commission, but the commission refused to act. Therefore, we took the cases to the judiciary for a decision to be implemented.

Chris Hill just needs to sit somewhere silently. A) de-Ba'athifcation? Never should have sprung up. The fact that it did goes to Hill who damn well should have been on top of it, should have known the legal status of the commission and should have been prodding Nouri back in April to nullify the committee. That was one of the benchmarks. Hill inherited those benchmarks when he took the post. B) What Chris Hill wants or thinks at this point mean nothing and he just needs to sit down. al-Lami and Ahmed Chalabi are running the Justice and Accountability Commission. They're not listening to Chris Hill. Any chance of Hill having impact passed months ago.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Falluja suicide bombing whcih claimed the lives of 1 police officer and 1 bystander and left five people wounded, 2 Mosul roadside bombings which wounded two people and, dropping back to Monday, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two pople, a Baghdad home bombing which injured four people and a Baghdad store bombing which destroyed the store. AFP reports two Baghdad bombings close to the Athureen Church which claimed the lives of 5 police officers and left fourteen more injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Monday saw four Baghdad drive bys which injured five police officers

As the attacks on police officers continue,
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report that approximately half of the security forces do not show up and those who do are often afraid such as an Iraqi soldier who tells them, "I haven't slept for three days." Lara Jakes (AP) reports that US commanders are now rethinking the drawdown pace scheduled for the end of August. Jakes notes that the first week of May saw 92,000 US forces on the ground in Iraq.

Turning to the US, where 2009 saw the US army won convictions against 327 soldiers for going AWOL.
Chie Saito (Austin's News 8 -- link has text and video) reports on Jacob Wade who went AWOL while back in the US on two weeks leave from his Iraq deployment.

Chie Saito: [. . .] he says the psychological effects from what he saw and experienced --

Jacob Wade: Riding through town we got attacked.

Chie Saito: -- in his first six months there --

Jacob Wade: I had a grenade go off like five feet behind me.

Chie Saito: -- made it impossible for him to go back.

Jacob Wade: I saw a lot of people die, saw a kid get shot.

Chie Saito: Images and memories which he says still haunt him today.

Jacob Wade: I wake up talking to myself about Iraq. Dreams about killing myself all alone.

Jade Ortego (Killeen Daily Herald) adds, "His psychiatrist, Dr. William Cross of Manilus, N.Y., who has agreed to testify on Wade's behalf at his sanity board, diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Wade also suffered physical injuries to his legs as a result of his service, and walks with a limp. Wade was scared to report and be redeployed, but was also afraid of the harassment and hazing from fellow soldiers that he heard comes with an admission of mental health issues due to service." Tod Ensign (Citizen Soldier) is representing Jacob Wade. Yesterday Iraq Veterans Against the War posted an update on Eric Jasinski who also suffers from PTSD and also self-checked out to get treatment for PTSD. The military responded by court-martialing him. He has served one month at Bell County Jail and been released from the jail. Their update includes a video by Stand with Honor filmed after the court-martial.

Eric Jasinski's mother Laura Barrett: He stood up. He knew -- he knew he was going to have to go to jail. He knew that would happen. But he also knew he had to have help. And he wants to make sure that the word -- the word gets out there. That's what I'm so proud of him for, that he wants to make sure that the word gets out that so many other young men and women need help psychological help. They're coming back damaged from what they make them do, make them participate in. Eric's going to stand up. He will inspire and help so many other people.

James Branum is Eric's attorney. PTSD is rarely taken seriously. The Congress continues to fund studies that find . . . further studies are needed. The system itself works against those suffering with it. Lyda Longa (Daytona Beach News Journal) reports 29-year-old Iraq War veteran Joshua James Gerard was shot at his home Sunday by Deputy Vidal Mejias when the sheriff's office responded to a 9-11 call placed by his wife. Gerard is said to suffer from PTSD. It is not known at this point whether or not he had sought help for his PTSD. Afghanistan War veteran Jennifer Crane did seek help once she returned home and found her life spiraling out of control. She shared her story with Lynn Harris and Marie Clare:

I completed two weeks of rehab, and then went to a three-month VA program for people with post-traumatic stress disorder. But after only one month there, the doctors, unbelievably, asked me to leave. They said the treatment wasn't really helping me -- although I disagreed -- and that as one of only two women in the group, I was distracting the male patients, who apparently found me attractive. I begged them, literally on my hands and knees, to let me stay; I knew I wasn't ready to go back into society. I knew what would happen if I tried. Incredibly, they said no. I left the VA Medical Center and went straight to my drug dealer's house. I told him I needed something strong to get rid of my pain. That day, I started smoking crack. I hit bottom so fast, it was amazing. I went from being happy with my progress to having no hope at all. I used all day, every day. I tried to hold down jobs -- bartender, waitress, receptionist -- but I was so strung out that I couldn't get out of bed to go to work. When I was at work, I was high. I got fired from every job. At one point, I just quit trying. I couldn't afford rent, I couldn't go to my mom's house unless I was clean, and I couldn't stop fighting with my boyfriend long enough to stay with him. That's how I wound up living in my car. For several months, in exchange for drugs, I ran errands for my dealer and cleaned his home. He also asked me to be a "dancer" -- in other words, dance privately for his friends and customers. Clinging to my last shred of dignity, I said no. But not long after, I had sex with him for drugs. I felt so disgusted afterward, I took out a lighter and burned the clothes I'd worn that night. Then, in August 2006, as I was driving away from my dealer's house, seven police cars suddenly surrounded me. I was handcuffed and arrested for possession of the crack cocaine I had with me. But when I wouldn't give them the name of my dealer (which would be suicide), they eventually gave up and let me go. The very next day, my old friends held a reunion on the anniversary of Steve's death. When I showed up, everyone stared. I was emaciated, with my eyes darting around and contusions all over my face from picking my skin, out of anxiety. When I spotted one of my oldest and dearest friends, Jason, he gently whispered, "What's wrong?" With his Timberlands, tattoos, and crew cut, he made me smile, and his simple question moved me. I told him, "I have to change my life, and I don't know how to do it." Jason sat up with me all night. I didn't get high. I cried and I shook, and he held me, saying, "I'm not letting you leave." That night -- those words -- changed everything. I finally felt ready to let someone help me. I began to imagine getting clean.

Jennifer Crane is now a spokesperson for the non-profit
Give an Hour which provides "free medical health service to US military personnel and families affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan." Alison St. John (KPBS -- link has text and audio) speaks with Iraq War veteran Sage Bird who has Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD which made returning to civilian life rough and, as she sought to self-medicate, she developed a drug addiction and ended up in jail where she "caught the attention of the jail authorities who saw her efforts, and that her violent behavior was connected to the traumas she experienced in Iraq. They gave her a second chance. She was given a lawyer who won her a reprieve, to spend six months at Veterans Village, working on healing herself." Last Friday on The World (PRI -- link has text and audio), Marco Werman spoke with journalist Joshua Kors about Sgt Chuck Luther who was forced to sign a statement claiming his injuries were a pre-existing personality disorder so the military could avoid paying for his care.

Joshua Kors: Well they're not accusations. This was two years of combing through the medical records kept by his doctor, confirmation from his commander who was there to watch his treatment, and from others who came to visit him while he was in confinement. Sgt. Luther had been wounded by mortar fire while serving in Iraq. Slammed his head against the concrete and ended up with severe traumatic brain injury. The headaches resulting from that blow to the head caused blindness, his vision to shut off in one eye. He said the other eye felt like someone was stabbing him in the eye with a knife. He went to the aid station to get care for that, but they told him that his blindness was caused by a personality disorder. He thought that was ridiculous, how could a problem with his personality cause blindness? But Marco, this is part of a larger story. For the last three years I've been reporting on wounded soldiers, pressed into signing these papers saying they have a personality disorder. [. . .] Sgt. Luther was put in a closet and held there for over a month under enforced sleep deprivation with the lights on all night, blasting heavy metal music at him all through the night, but when he tried to escape the closet they pinned him down, injected him with sleeping medication and dragged him back to the closet. Finally, at the end of a month, he was willing to sign anything and he did. He went ahead, signed papers saying that he had a pre-existing personality disorder. They flew him back to Fort Hood, and that's when they let him know the repercussions of that discharge. No disability pay for the rest of your life, no long term medical care, and here's a bill for $1,500.00. [. . .] Since 2001, 22,600 soldiers have been booted out of the military with personality disorder. Taking those wounded soldiers and sliding them out the side door with that mental illness is saving the military 12.5 billion dollars in disability and medical care. And that is why, then Senator Barack Obama was so up in arms about this issue. Along with Republican Senator Kid Bond, he put forward a bill to halt personality disorder discharges. That made him both a hero and a disappointment to so many veterans. A hero because he was addressing this critical issue; a disappointment because during his Presidential run, and now from the White House, he hasn't spoken at all about personality disorder. The result was that the issue sort of withered on the vine.

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