Friday, June 18, 2010


Just a little hint: Don't send me your anti-Zionist tracts. I'm really not interested. I think you make yourself look ridiculous as you invent these fantasies. There are plenty of real problems with the government in Israel without you inventing conspiracies.

I've had 12 different articles about the 'Zionist conspiracy' that took down Helen Thomas sent to my inbox. That's not what took down Helen Thomas. You can drink the crazy, you cut lines of it and snort the crazy, but don't invite me to have a toke because I don't want it.

Think also what it says about the people writing these pieces. It's not just that they believe in a Zionist conspiracy (Zionism exists, I'm not speaking of that, I'm speaking of conspiracy talk that's really revolting), it's that they think it's so much more powerful. They're basically saying that it has the world's ear and their own position (pro-Palestinian for the Z.C.s -- not all pro-Palestinians are Z.C.s) is so lowly that they can't compete.

They live to play the victim.

The press turned on Helen. They attacked her. They did so because she showed them up. They did so because they were encouraged to and rewarded for doing it.

This is how the media system works.

If you're lost, go read "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" and hopefully that will clear it up for you.

But stop sending me this garbage. I'm not interested in. It feeds on itself and quickly turns into hate speech thereby neutralizing any real critiques it might have contained.

Today is Day 59 of the Gulf Disaster. I have no idea how many days it is of the economic disaster. On the latter, Sunny and I were discussing an article at lunch today.

"Unemployment Sets More Traps for Transgender People" (Megan Carpentier, Women's eNews):
As the recession takes a deeper toll on jobs, income and wages, more Americans are filling out forms for jobs, unemployment insurance, Medicaid and food stamps.
It's a labyrinthine process for anyone. But for transgender people, it often comes with a particularly upsetting price: outing themselves.
Riley, a 28-year-old transman working as a teacher's aide in New York, who asked that his last name be kept private, began his on-the-job transition without any grand announcement.
He simply turned up for his first day of work at school looking, he thought, like a man.

The children agreed, but the teacher under whom he was working kept calling him "she." Having to explain to his adult boss something the children understood instinctively was just the start of the small humiliations.
Unemployment brought new ones, when he had to appear in person to apply for his card for Medicaid. His paperwork was inconsistent.
He had recently updated his New York State license to identify him as male, but his Social Security card identified him as female. That's because he didn't meet the federal requirement of having undergone permanent surgery.
His birth certificate also said he was female because his home state of Georgia won't allow him to change it under any circumstances.

That is really unsettling and there are so many things that the transgendered community has to go through on a daily basis. I think the transgendered persons are where gays and lesbians were in the late sixties early seventies. Meaning that it is better in pockets of the US but there is not the understanding or acceptance that is needed. In part, that results from the fact that there's not a great deal (outside of trash TV) of attention to the issue from the mainstream. When there is attention, it tends to portray the transgendered as a psycho. (For every The Crying Game, there ae twenty Dressed To Kill's.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 10, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's border problems now include the one they share with Syria, Allawi says Iraq needs help to end the political stalemate that has gripped the country, and more.

We'll start with
this by Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adrienne Kinne:

The US Social Forum is taking place in Detroit, MI from June 22-26, 2010 and IVAW will be there!
1) IVAW will be leading a GI Resistance Workshop. Iraq and Afghanistan War Resisters will testify to the struggle and value of resisting militarism and discuss what support is needed to build the GI Movement.
2) Building a Military Resistance Movement: Veterans, Service Members & Allies Organizing Together. This workshop, lead by IVAW and Civilian- Soldier Alliance will be an introductory training on supporting war resisters and being a strong and accountable ally to veterans and service-members organizing for change.
3) Veterans and Military Families: Impact of the Wars; Impact on Movements. An exploration of how veterans and military families use their unique voices and perspectives to end wars and promote peace and social change.

In the US, the morning began with
AFP reporting a car bombing in Baquba today has resulted in at least thirty-two people injured. BBC News explains the bombing targeted a police officer's home and that a Tuz Khormato car bombing which claimed 7 lives and left at least fifty injured in a bombing targeting a Shia Turkmen councillor. Tim Arango (New York Times) reports the death toll has risen to 9 for the Tuz Khomato bombing. DPA notes a Baghdad home invasion in which a Water Resources Ministry worker, his wife and their two sons were all shot dead. Of the Baghdad home invasion and that the wife was pregnant while adding that Hossam al-Majmaai ("chief of the Awakening Councils tribal security force in Diayala province") survived an assassination attempt.

As noted in
yesterday's snapshot, Turkey and Iran continue to shell northern Iraq. Jason Ditz ( explains today, "The Turkish military today said that they had killed over 100 Kurdish rebels in the past month of attacks on northern Iraq's Kurdistan region, including 20 in the past week. Most of the deaths came in air strikes against the region, but earlier this week hundreds of Turkish soldiers also briefly marched into Iraqi Kurdistan in 'hot pursuit' of rebels, sparking a multi-hour gunbattle." Iraq shares borders with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. Two of those borders -- Iran and Turkey -- are now sources of violence. A third may be emerging. Tim Arango (New York Times) reports 7 Iraqi soldiers were killed near the shared border with Syria today by unknown assailants.

In addition,
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Baghdad International Airport was shelled with mortars Friday afternoon, a Thursday night Babuba police station bombing claimed the live of 2 police officers with three more wounded and, dropping back to Wednesday, a Mosul sticky bombing which clamed the life of 1 police officer. Reuters notes a US interpreter, Hameed al-Daraji, was shot dead last night in his home by his son and his nephew due to being seen as a collaborator and traitor to Iraq.

Today the Washington Post offers an editorial entitled "
The Senate picks a bad time to slash funds for Iraq" and it's a notion that we disagree with. But we'll pan for gold and ignore the alleged calamity that may result/is resulting from the Senate halfing Barack's request for $2 billion for the Iraq War to $1 billion. The board thinks it's a good thing that Iraq's spending so much on their security forces that that they have "needed bailouts from both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to fund its budget" and even more so that US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill and Gen Ray Odierno have written a letter about how Iraq (quoting letter) "will have to issue new debt to cover its budget deficit in 2010." Note where the money goes, note where it doesn't go. Note also that 'security forces' have not stopped the violence (though they've frequently actively contributed to it).

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government.
CNN interviewed Ayad Allawi and they report he states that the stalemate will continue and the country "needs a lot of support to get out of this bottleneck and to secure its borders, to secure its stability, and to form a government." Meanwhile Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, is in Iraq in an attempt to minimize the damage Chris Hill's doing. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) interviews him:Q: Do you feel there's a risk of another sectarian war, or has that danger passed?
I don't think anyone should be complacent. There is a history here. But in general Iraqis have turned to politics rather than violence as reflected in the political spectrum, as reflected in the elections and these are encouraging signs.

Q: What is the worst-case scenario for the road ahead, and what is the best?

I think that right now a worst-case scenario is that the government formation process be deadlocked to the point where institutions stop functioning. I don't see that happening, but one has to keep that in mind that that could happen. There are just a number of scenarios that are positive scenarios.… I would say an Iraq that is sovereign and self-reliant, that integrates into the region, where Iraq's communities feel their interests are represented.

In a new UN PSA, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie notes, "Having a home, a place where we feel safe, is something most of us take for granted. Yet those who flee from conflict and persecution no longer have a home. And it will be years before they can even return. In fact, many may never go home again. On this day, World Refugee Day, please remember the millions of people around the world forced from their homes whose only hope of returning is to not be forgotten." World Refugee Day is this Sunday (June 20th). In 'honor' of that, England, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands have been doing forced deportations of Iraqi refugees. Jim Muir (BBC News) reports that the UNHCR has started an investgation into whether or not British Border Agency employees beat Iraqi refugees, "The UKBA declined to comment on the specific allegations, but said minimum force would only be used as a last resort." Apparently grasping that their 'heartwarming' statement would not go over well, the UKBA sent David Wood out to make the press rounds. Tom Pugh (Press Association) quotes him stating, "We reject all allegations that Iraqi returnees removed from the UK were mistreated by our staff. We can confirm that 43 Iraqi nationals were removed on a chartered flight to Baghdad on Wednesday 16 June." Owen Bowcott and Sam Jones (Guardian) add, "Iraqi officials were alleged to have boarded the flight when it touched down early yesterday to help security staff employed by the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) punch and drag reluctant failed asylum seekers off the plane." What a great way for Great Britian to kick off World Refugee Day.

Let's switch over to the US. Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. His office notes:
Senators call for specific actions from Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to the secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs sent yesterday, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and a bipartisan group of Veterans' Affairs and Armed Services committee members urged stronger coordination and better follow up on traumatic brain injury (TBI).
"For the past nine years we have been a nation at war, and traumatic brain injury has become the signature wound. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken commendable steps to understand and treat TBI, but they must improve collaboration and share what they have learned. Veterans and their families should not have to wait nearly a decade for the government to adapt to the needs of the wounded," said Akaka.
The Senators called for specific improvements from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, including:
Prompt action to finalize and implement DOD's draft policy mandating evaluation and rest periods for individuals with TBI, and to ensure that existing policies are being adhered to by each military service branch;
Action to ensure documentation of TBI and follow-up during Post-Deployment Health Assessments and Reassessments;
Expedited establishment of DOD centers of excellence for military eye injuries, and for hearing loss and amputations;
Quicker progress to make VA/DOD collaboration and data transfers more robust, comprehensive, and seamless; and
Making full use of authority granted by Congress for VA to partner with state, local, and community providers to improve access to care and reduce the burden on veterans receiving treatment for TBI, and their family members.
Last month, the Veterans' Affairs Committee held an
oversight hearing on the state of care for troops and veterans suffering from TBI. In January 2008, Congress passed provisions authored by Chairman Akaka and approved by the Veterans' Affairs Committee to reform VA/DOD collaboration and care related to TBI as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Akaka continues to work with committee members and others to ensure effective implementation.
To view the letter, click here:
Kawika Riley
Communications Director and Legislative Assistant
U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman In addition, Wednesday the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing which Chair Akaka brought to order noting, "Today we will discuss VA health care in rural areas. Rural settings are some of the most difficult for VA and other government agencies to deliver care. I beieve, and I know many of my colleagues on this Committee share the view, that we must utilize all the tools at our disposal in order to provice access to care and services for veterans in rural and remote locations." We covered the first panel in Wednesday's snapshot and we'll grab the second panel now. The second panel was made up of Brig Gen Deborah McManus, Yuckon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation's Dan Winkelman, the VA's William Schoenhard, the VA's Verdie Bowen and Dr. Robert Jesse (Dr. Jesse also appeared on the first panel). This section of the hearing was chaired by Alaska Senator Mark Begich. Verdie Bowen explained that it could be difficult getting veterans to register for the programs and Dan Wikelman noted obstacles for rural areas including access to basic services and the cost of them. As Brig Gen McManus noted, there are areas in Alaska that, forget the internet, do not even have phone service.

Chair Mark Begich: [. . .] General, I know you with your work with women veterans -- and I know the coordination that you're doing there -- even within women veterans, it's a small, I want to say it's about a third of them are signed up or taking advantadge. Can you elaborate a little on what you think and maybe following up a little bit on Mr. Bowen's comments regarding how hard it is to register. What are you finding specifically in the area with women veterans? I know it's a concern for me, I know it's a concern for Senator [Patty] Murray. Give me a little bit of thought on that.

Brig Gen Deborah McManus: Well when we look at our women -- female -- women veteran population, a lot of them are from the older wars and I think there's a cultural issue there. Many of them, they were in subordinate roles or support roles and their service was not greatly appreciated when they returned to the States. And also, a lot of them experienced Military Sexual Trauma whether its rape, sexual assault or harassment and so there was a fear of seeking help through the system so a lot of them just faded away. However, I think, it's different with our current OEF/OIF veterans. There are mechanisms so that they can report it and receive help. And a lot of times women do not recognize they're veterans and women have traditionally been in a caregiver role so I think there's a cultural issue but there's an education issue and when we did that veterans -- women veterans outreach campaign in November of '09 last year, we did see an increase in enrollment and use of services. 300 women additionally enrolled and 400 seeking services. So I think it's a routine, education system, let women know, they are vets too, they have earned these rights and these are their benefits. And a lot of them have female specific health care needs. So now they understand that the VA facilities can provide services in those areas as well.

Chair Mark Begich: Very good. Let me, if I can move over to this side, to either one of you who'd answer, is there more that the VA can do? And as an example was just given, how the outreach was done to increase the amount of women who recognized that they have benefits available to them but not be taking them for a variety of reasons as just described. Do you have any thoughts on that, Dr. -- Dr. Jesse then?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Mmm. A couple of things. I think the issues that have been brought up are really important. We've historically, in the health care side, measured access by wait times to clinic visits or wait times --

Chair Mark Begich: How many came through? How long they waited?

Dr. Robert Jesse: How long they waited. And-and all that's irrelevant if they don't know that they are entitled to services, they can't access those services, uh, they can't get to us, we're not connected to them in one way or another. And particularly as we move to our new models of care if you will where, uh, we're not talking about episodic access as a driving function but actually connectivity, that front end engagement becomes absolutely crucial. And we-we have an awful lot of effort going on trying to understand this now. Why don't people declare themselves as veterans on forms? Why-why can we repeatedly send people information and they just don't act upon it? Our assumption is, "Well, we sent it to you and you should have acted on it." And the simple answer is peope should probably be enrolled when they swear into the military. I mean we talk about seemless transition and there is a lot of discussion going on with -- between VA and Department of Defense, how do we best effect that? And I can only say that, again, this is the Secretary's, one of his top priorities and he understands these issues probably better than-than any of our leadership in prior years. So we are trying to understand this. We are trying to make it easier. But there are complex issues here. In terms of the women's issues, this gets, again, really interesting because historically we measure what we do in health care statistically, we look at quality statistically. But whenever we try and look at women's health issues, the numbers aren't big enough to make sense of the statistics and what we've really learned from this is we-we have to treat each individual as a [. . . "end"?] of one and try and understand how we can manage their health care needs in much more specific manner. And so the VA in the past several of years has done a lot of that, every VA facility now has women's health coordinators. We do have an office for women's issues that's very proactive in-in-in trying to develop these -- The issue of Military Sexual Trauma are extremely complex. Just to get them coming forward, I think, is, uhm, is happening because the discussion is coming out into the open. And again, we're-we're-we're willing to accept any help, any advice and we see these as very important issues and are trying to deal with them.

Chair Mark Begich: Do you -- So obviously for, if the General has some ideas, she'll be able to share them with you and you'll? That's good. I'll leave that to you two to go forward. Let me kind of narrow down if I can on one and that's the Rural Health Project. Mr. Winkleman laid out some concerns and I know you've heard from me more than once on this issue. The idea, and I think you had three suggestions, but I want to take it to a little broader and maybe, Dr. Schoenhard, if you could respond to this and that is, maybe be a little bold here, the effort and the idea is good. I don't think anybody disagrees with that. The implementation is the struggle. And it sounds like, based on the testimony, there might have been some linkages in the front end that might not have been put together as well and now we're trying to kind of patch it as we go along. I'm wondering if it's better to kind of freeze frame for a second on it and say, "Okay, let's sit down with our rural health care providers who've been in the business for years and have figured out how to deliver to the most remote areas of the world, in a lot of ways, health care and how to restart it"; rather than I think what's happening, the sense I get, I may be wrong about this but I hear from so many different people, it's almost like we are trying to patch a little issue here and patch a little issue when really maybe what we really need is to freeze frame it, stop it, step back, what's the right approach? Bring some of the people who've been in the field say what's the should we do differently? Just the fact that you have to go get -- opt in through another type of system before you're really in? You know, I can only tell you from my experience and Dan [Winkelman] has much more experience around this for rural individuals who live in rural areas for most of their life, that's just another piece of paper they're not going to read. They're just -- I don't want to say they give up, but they do less. Is there -- Is that too bold of an opportunity? I'm just trying to -- It seems like every time I talk about this issue it's like almost starting a knot and moving the knot . Give me your thoughts on that.

William Schoenhard: Yes, Senator. I think the numbers on that speak for themselves. We obviously are struggling with getting veterans to sign up for this program. At this point, only 21% in the pilot have signed up and, of that, very few have asked for primary care authorization or mental health consulations. So I think the numbers speak for themselves. We need to improve. We have hired a
company to do a focus group to understand better why we haven't had more success in enrolling veterans but we welcome what Mr. Winkelman, Mr. Bowman have shared today. I think we need to sit down and understand together because IHS has assets on the ground, they are in the communities. They understand well what is needed there much better than anyone else that would be in a distant location with VA or anywhere else. And we should collaborate. And I think your suggestion that we freeze frame, we were talking a lit bit during the break, during the recess --

[Laughing] That was strategically done, you know that.

Yes, sir. We had good conversation and I welcome undertaking the discussion of the three recomendations that were shared and see how to better serve and better get veterans engaged with IHS in these locations.

Turning from veterans to service members, from
Wednesday's snapshot: "For the month of April, the US Army announced yesterday, they can confirm 4 suicides among active-duty service memberrs with six still being investigated and there are nine ongoing investigations into May deaths. For the reserves, the US Army said there 7 suicides in April and 2 in May with ten more still being investigated." Jaime Tarabay reported yesterday on army suicides for Morning Edition (NPR -- link has text and audio):Mr. EDWARD COLLEY: I'm Ed Colley. I'm the father of Stephen Colley, Private First Class, United States Army. Stephen committed suicide three years ago in May of 2007.
TARABAY: The last time Colley saw his son was at a family gathering in April 2007. Stephen, a helicopter mechanic, had been back in the country for about five months since a tour in Iraq. Colley says Stephen was detached. He spent the days watching cartoons. He fought with his wife.
TARABAY: From there it was a downhill stumble, struggling in a work environment an Army investigation later called hostile. On May 16, 2007, home alone, Stephen Colley argued with his wife through text messages. Edward Colley says at one point his son asked her if there was rope in the storage shed.Mr. COLLEY: He had texted his wife that suicide was an option. She immediately called the appropriate folks at the base, but Stephen - unfortunately in this case, Stephen was a very, very smart boy. And he had figured out how to make sure that nobody else would interfere with his plan.TARABAY: The plan was to overdose on medication and then hang himself from a tree. He was 22 years old. The military ruled his death a suicide. But for Edward Colley the hardest thing about his son's death is he believes it could've been prevented. The day before he killed himself, Stephen Colley took an Army mental health assessment - multiple choice questions, including some about intent to harm yourself. There were four possible answers.Mr. COLLEY: And he picked the most severe, that he was thinking about committing suicide more than half the time.TARABAY: And instead of acting on that information, the social worker who did Stephen Colley's assessment put him down for a sleep study in three weeks' time. The Army's own investigation said the established procedures failed to address his mental condition.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported Friday that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Mike Gogulski has started a website entitled Help Bradley Manning. Simon Lauder (Australia's ABC News) provides this update: It has since been reported that American officials are searching for Mr Assange to pressure him not to publish the cables. But an unnamed source in the Obama administration has told Newsweek that the US government is not trying to convince Mr Assange not to release the cables, but it is trying to contact him. The World Today has also received an email from Mr Assange which says: "Due to present circumstances, I am not able to easily conduct interviews".In an email to supporters this week, Mr Assange denies Wikileaks has 260,000 classified US department cables. But he confirms the website has a video of a US air strike on a village in western Afghanistan in May last year. The Afghan government said at the time of the attack that 140 civilians died.

TV notes. On PBS'
Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen's column is "Covering the oil disaster." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Jehan Harney, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer 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 online bonus is a discussion on the press' latest attempt to start Mommy Wars. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Assault on PelindabaScott Pelley investigates the boldest assault ever on a facility containing weapons-grade uranium, a still-unsolved crime that could have had calamitous consequences had it been successful.
Watch Video
The LiquidatorThe man in charge of recovering assets from Ponzi scheme king Bernard Madoff says there is about 18 billion still out there that he hopes to recover for victims of the scam. But it won't be easy. Morley Safer reports. Watch Video
A Living For The DeadMarilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis are dead and now, so is Michael Jackson. But as Steve Kroft reports, they are very much alive when it comes to earning money for their estates.
Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

antiwarjason ditz
the new york timestim arango
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
bbc newsjim muir
the guardian
owen bowcott
sam jones
the washington postcnnmike mount
the los angeles timesliz sly
nprmorning editionjamie tarabay
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brave Daniel Schorr?

Daniel Schorr is a piece of trash who should have been driven out of the journalism profession in the mid-seventies.

Ava and C.I. took on The Myth of Daniel Sunday. In a stroke of good timing, the old idiot showed up on NPR's All Things Considered to make an ass out of himself today. Reading it allows you not to have to endure his inability to form constants anymore:

How many are ready to stand behind what may be a losing war? And how great is the temptation for Republicans and Democrats to cut funding for the war and saddle the administration with this year's version of the Vietnam tragedy? Or is there something left that is still called patriotic bi-partisanship that extends to the water's edge. The question is whether this partisan Congress is capable of any bi-partisanship at all.

So, if we had a real Congress, he argues, the war funding would be pushed through.

Foolish idiots in the 70s thought Daniel Schorr was on 'our side,' that he was against the wars and was a man of peace. He was that decade's Chris Matthews. A man who goes with whatever's popular.

"Media: Let's Kill Helen!" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Oh my goodness, Helen's anti-war! Strip her of her American citizenship! Truly, that must be a huge offense to Alicia since she likens it to anti-semitism. Can you get more stupid than Alicia Shepard?Others may not be able to, but she surely can. And did. No reporter for CBS would get away with that, Alicia wanted to insist. And she follows that up by telling Aimee that age can't be to blame because "Dan Schorr" is 91 and he works for NPR.
He does, she's right.
But he doesn't work for CBS, does he?
Nor can he.
Yeah, we'll go there.
Daniel Schorr was fired from CBS. He and his supporters (who funded a year long travel circuit for Danny after his firing) insisted he was fired for doing his job. That is and was a lie. Daniel Schorr was not fired for being a defender of freedom.
Most people are aware of the Church Committee which investigated governmental abuses. The Pike Committee came immediately after, doing the same sort of work, and they wrote a report. They then decided not to issue it. Schorr, in his capacity as a CBS reporter, had a copy of the report. CBS was weighing whether or not to report on the now killed report. Schorr has often (not always) maintained that a decision was made to kill the report and that's why he acted. That's not true. Either he's lying or he was out of the loop. CBS was still deciding. Schorr took the report to The Village Voice which published it.
That could have been the end of it for CBS News because they retained their copy (Schorr had photocopied it and given the photocopies to the weekly). There was an internal investigation at CBS to determine whether or not someone at CBS leaked the report to The Village Voice. Had Schorr kept his mouth shut, the investigation would have been as half-assed as every other internal investigation CBS News conducts. But Schorr couldn't keep his mouth shut.
This is why he was fired, this is why he will never work for CBS again. When asked, as all who had access to the report were, if he had given it to anyone, Schorr didn't stick to "no comment" or a lie that he didn't do anything.
No, instead Schorr chose to finger Lesley Stahl. Schorr told the investigators that The Village Voice published the report (which they knew) and Lesley was dating Aaron Latham (who worked for The Voice) so it was most likely that Lesley Stahl handed over the report to the weekly.
Schorr was not fired for leaking the report. He was fired for lying and for trying to blame someone he knew was innocent.
Think for just a moment what could have happened if Schorr had gotten away with that: Lesley Stahl's career would have been over -- at least at CBS though probably no other network would touch her if they feared she'd take their stories elsewhere. Aaron Latham (a notable journalist in his own right) would have been outraged that Lesley lost her job because she was dating him. Knowing Aaron, he would have made it his life's purpose to find out who falsely accused Lesley and prove that liar wrong. If he'd been successful, it might have been a messy media moment and then life would have continued. If not? Most likely, Lesley would try to move on from it and Aaron would want to remain in the role of protector/enforcer. Meaning it wouldn't have just effected her professional life, which was bad enough, if would have changed her entire life. Lesley and Aaron married years ago and have had one of the few enduring marriages in the journalistic community. Lesley could have lost everything as a result of Daniel Schorr's lies. He was prepared to destroy someone professionally and personally.
And this is whom Alicia holds up as a model?

After Daniel Schorr lied, he tells the tale of him feeling regret and returning within a half hour later to confess he'd taken the report. Really?

The real story is a half-hour later he was confronted with (a) lying about Lesley Stahl and (b) leaking the report himself. At which point he was fired.

He left that out of the narrative and went around the country 'speaking out' to college audiences about how he was fired for believing in freedom of the press. It was really something to see.

Since that time, he's repeatedly played the victim.

He's just a liar.

NPR's continued reliance on this soon-to-be 94-year-old is rather disturbing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a new report released today indicates Iraq is now a failed-state, another report released today explores the continued and widespread practice of Female Genital Mutilation in the KRG, the US Senate explores rural issues effecting veterans care, the US Army announces 11 suicides, and more.

Today the
Fund for Peace (US think tank) released their tenth report on Iraq since the start of the Iraq War, Pauline H. Baker's [PDF format warning] "Iraq On The Edge: Iraq Report #10 2009 - 2010." At the opening of the report, it's explained that this is the tenth and final report and that:

The U.S.-led invasion pushed the country over the brink, making it a failed state. Saddam [Hussein] fled, state institutions collapsed, a power vacuum emerged, the professional classes left, millions were displaced, and sectarian rivalries plunged the country into a well-organized insurgency and a vicious civil war. [. . .] Seven years later, U.S. costs have soared to an estimated $704 billion, none of which was paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues. Instead of a democracy, terrorism soared, a sectarian civil war broke out, oil production plummeted, and public services declined. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed.

The report argues that March 2008-March 2009 was the "Turning Point" (of the "Full-Scale Civil War') and that from March 2009 through March 2010, Iraq has been in a period of "Stasis." This is eveident by the fact that very few of the 4.7 million internal and external refugees have returned to their homes, by the sectarian rivalries on display in the March 7th elections and the aftermath of lethargy which has followed, the corruption and the lack of adequate social services.

The report concludes with a summary of March 2010 in which "weak" is the rating given to the Iraqi police in part due to "infiltration of police ranks by various insurgent groups" The category of leadership was also judged "weak." The report notes that Nouri al-Maliki is expected to use the long-drawn out process of selecting the next prime minister (which Nouri hopes will again be him) by attempting to "leverage his power over both political and judiciary institutions to secure a second term. As the government formation process drags on, the political vacuum and a general atmosphere of uncertainty can be manipulated by various insurgent groups bent on undermining political progress and delegitimizing the Iraqi government by spreading fear and public terror through violent attacks throughout the country." The civil service is judged "weak" while the judiciary is judged "poor" and the report notes, "The heated debate around the legal standing of the Justice and Accountability Commission continued this month, with legal experts raising concern about the lack of a clear distinction between judicial bodies and administrative committees in Iraq. As a judicial body, the impartiality of the Commission has been compromised by the participation of [Ahmed] Chalabi and [Ali] al-Lami in the parliamentary elections for which they were charged to qualify the candidates. This blurring of the lines between political and judicial institutions testifies to the weakness of the Iraqi judicial system and the permeation of corruption throughout all of the national government bodies." Finally, there is the Iraqi military which is graded "moderate."

We may continue with the report later in the week. But it is one of two major reports released today. FfP's report will probably get a bit of attention from policy journals but the other report is lucky to get attention from the wire services.
Human Rights Watch released a new report today, "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan" (link goes to HTML overview, report is in PDF format). The 80-page report (page 81 is acknowledgements) documents the continued and widespread practice of FGM in the KRG:For thousands of girls living in Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq), female genital mutilation (FGM), the removal of parts of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, is a fact of life. FGM is a conventional social practice seen by many as contributing to girls becoming women, being marriageable, as a religious requirement and as part of their identity as Kurds. An irreversible and painful operation usually carried out by older women, FGM, however has immediate and long-lasting consequences for physical, mental, and sexual health.The report documents not only the continued practice but the refusal by the Kurdistan Regional Government to not only punish the practice but to even acknowledge it. A (weak) bill within the KRG legislative body never advanced and was not open to discussion. When something is passed, there is no evidence that enforcement ever takes place. As with failure to follow through with turning bills into laws and to enforce the laws that do get passed, attempts at long range plans exist as attention-getting press announcements with no follow ups such as the Ministry of Health's boasting in 2009 of "a five-year strategic plan outling a long-term strategy for intervention" which was quickly and quietly dropped.In addition, the KRG refuses to collect data on the issue. This may be due to their desire to insist that the widespread practice is actually a minority one. The report cites two studies which demonstrate how widespread the practice is in the KRG.Why FGM?A number of reasons are given but fear of female sexuality is at the heart of it. Sometimes it's hidden behind claims that girls who don't go through FGM won't be able to be married, sometimes it's more overt with claims that in the 'hot' climate, without FGM, young females wouldn't be able to control their sexual urges or assertions of "purity."What some may find most disheartening is that this isn't newly emerging. In other words, the women performing the procedure (midwives) and the mothers and aunts having it performed on their family members have usually experienced it themselves and yet still force a new generation to go through the pain and the danger (which can cause severe problems that we'll get to in a minute). Though they also went through the procedure involving a razor and no medication, weeks of bleeding and pain, they turn around and continue it for the next generations. Sirwa tells HRW, "You must think we are monsters." While Sirwa is a victim of the same culture that the young girls are, it's hard to sympathize with those who should know better but continue and foster a brutal and inhumane procedure.We'll note this section of the report:Even later in life, women told us that the memory of their cutting, pain, and the blood still overwhelmed them. Shelan B., a 26-year-old woman from Kallar, said that she had a very bad experience and continued, "I was seven when I was circumcised. It was me and my cousin. I bled in a way that was not normal. . . . When I remember what happened, I get emotionally tired." The lack of health care, particularly emergency care, makes FGM -- always unsafe -- a potential death sentence in Kurdistan. When young girls in rural areas, where FGM is most prevalent, are cut and bleed severely, they are unlikely to have access to life-saving care. Because no official data is kept on deaths associated with FGM -- there is no policy in hospitals of recording whether the cause of death for young girls is related to FGM -- the number of girls who have lost their lives due to the practice remains unknown. The risk of infection is likely to increase where midwives use unclean cutting instruments, which is a frequent occurrence in Kurdistan, and when the same instrument is used to cut several girls. Since infections are only documented when women seek care, it is difficult to ascertain the extent of these complications. Even where women and girls do seek care, the Ministry of Health does not have policies or guidelines to help hospitals or clinics to systematically document and monitor the health consequences of FGM. Dr. Fattah Hamarahim Fattah explained that the sexual health consequences of FGM include pain during intercourse, low desire for sex, and less pleasure during intercourse. These long term effects may surface only when a woman marries because that may be her first sexual encounter. Pre-marital sex is socially stigmatized in traditional Muslim societies like Iraqi Kurdistan. Dr. Atia al-Salihy, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist in Arbil, noted that women who undergo FGM suffer psychologically. She said that when they marry, women may begin to remember the assault on their bodies when they were children, with severe consequences for their sexual and mental health. 40-year-old Kochar was a young girl when she was brutalized. Even so, she tried to run away repeatedly and was "pinned down by three women" for the assault to be performed. She refused to do the same to her own daughter indicating that it is possible to break the chain. The report notes, "Iraq has signed all key international human rights treaties that protect the rights of women and girls, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). These treaties place responsibility and accountability on the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government for any human rights violations that take place in Iraqi Kurdistan, including FGM." The report has a list of recommendations. Public pressure doesn't make the list; however, it should be noted that the KRG has always been sold as "the other Iraq" and "the safe Iraq." If each marketing attempt (passed off as reporting) on the KRG noted FGM, it would force the government to take action. However, don't expect that to happen. Let's remember that, in its zeal to sell the KRG not all that long ago, Newsweek was insisting that young women being set on fire by their families were doing it to themselves because it was 'cool' and the 'hot' teenage thing to do. In such a climate, it's a bit hard to expect the press to be of much help.If you doubt that, Ian Black's "Kurdistan pitches to western investors as secure gateway to Iraq" (Guardian) was just published today -- same day as the report. Where in there do you see any acknowledgment of HRW's findings? You don't. Business Week is all over the KRG's oil exports . . . but no time for FGM. The few articles on the new report are either the wire services (such as Reuters) or the few outlets that cover Iraq (Jim Muir covers the report for BBC News). Yahya Ahmed (AP) has a photo of HRW's Nadya Khalife at a news conference in Erbil today speaking about the report. And the New York Times has just published online an article by Namo Abdulla and Timothy Williams on the report:

During its interviews with Kurdish officials, Human Rights Watch said the government had downplayed the frequency of the practice, in part because of conerns about the damage the study might have on the international reputation of Kurdistan, which is generally regarded as being more Western and less socially conservative than much of the Middle East.
Good for the New York Times which may end up being the only daily US paper to provide their own article on the report.
CNN has also filed on the report. At Huffington Post, HRW's Nadya Khalife writes:

Young girls and women described how their mothers had taken them to the home of the village midwife, a non-licensed practitioner. They were almost never told in advance what was going to happen to them. When they arrived, the midwife, sometimes with the help of the mother, spread the girl's legs and cut her clitoris with a razor blade. Often, the midwife used the same razor to cut several girls in succession.
Doctors in Iraqi Kurdistan told Human Rights Watch that the most common type of FGM believed to be practiced there is partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or prepuce, also known as clitoridectomy. Health care workers said that an even more invasive procedure was sometimes performed on adult women in hospitals. The practice serves no medical purpose and can lead to serious physical and emotional consequences.

Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing injured two police officers, an armed clash in Mosul with police shooting dead 1 person, a Mosul suicide car bombing which claimed the life of the driver and left fourteen people wounded and a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people injured. Tang Danlu (Xinhua) adds a Baghdad liquor store bombing injured four people and a Baghdad car bombing which injured one person. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul. In addition, Lin Li (Xinhua) notes that a Turkish soldier was killed by the PKK on the border between Turkey and Iraq where clashes continue in Sirnak Province (yesterday, another Turkish soldier was killed on the border by the PKK). AFP notes that 3 members of the PKK were killed "overnight" in clashes along the border. BBC News puts the number at 4 killed. We'll note this from "Attacks threaten unusual Turkish outreach to Kurds" (Today's Zaman):World attention has focused on the nine Turks killed and hundreds detained late last month in the Israeli boarding of a Turkish vessel seeking to break the Gaza blockade. Inside Turkey, fury at the raid has been accompanied by alarm and anger over strikes on army units in the traditionally safer south and north, hundreds of miles from the poor, Kurdish-dominated southeast where the terror fight for autonomy is concentrated.The public outrage and escalating military response appear likely to derail an already faltering government effort to defuse the Kurdish insurgency by granting unprecedented cultural and political freedoms to Turkey's largest minority group. Al Jazeera reports that "hundred of troops" have been deployed to northern Iraq by Turkey. Hurriyet Daily News adds that the Turkish air force "bombed targets in northern Iraq" tody.

"Today we will discuss VA health care in rural areas," declared Senator Daniel Akaka this morning calling the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to order. "Rural settings are some of the most difficult for VA and other government agencies to deliver care. I beieve, and I know many of my colleagues on this Committee share the view, that we must utilize all the tools at our disposal in order to provice access to care and services for veterans in rural and remote locations."

Before the testimony could start, Chair Akaka explained that the VA had not submitted their prepared statements in time and the VA's Robert Jesse to convey that message.that "the Department's testimony was submitted over 29 hours late."
May 19th, OMB also struggled to meet a known deadline when appearing before the Committee. Jesse was on the first panel along with Disabled American Veterans' Adrian Atizado, Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee's James F. Ahrens and Haywood County Veteran Service Officer Ronald Putnam. The second panel was composed of Yukon's-Kuskokwim Health Corporation and Brig Gen Deborah McManus.

Adrian Atizado noted that 1/4 of the US population lives in rural areas and over 44% of the military recruits serving today are from rural areas; however, only 10% of physicans are practicing in rural areas. This limits their access to health care. This leads to "disparities and differences in health status between rural and urban veterans." Atizado advocated for the expansion of tele-health capabilities. Ronald Putnam stated, "The rural areas of our country have become a sanctuary for many veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other service connected disabilities which adversely affect the veterans." He further noted, "Although a lot of the VA's current efforts to communicate more closely with veterans by utilizing modern media and technology, I want to remind both this Committee and the Veterans Administration that there are still a number of WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans that have unique education deficiencies and social disconnects that make it extremely hard to receive the information that is being presented on these twenty-first century medians. I will remind this Commitee, the Veterans Administration and all my colleagues that the best communication with these veterans is face-to-face interaction with someone who is knowledgeable, well trained and willing to assist these men and women that we owe such indebtedness to."

On the issue of getting providers to rural areas, raised by Senator Jon Tester, it was pointed out by Ahrens that most of the training centers for veterans providers are in urban areas and that getting the residents into rural areas would likely help that. Tester asked about home dialysis and Dr. Jesse responded that approximately 7% of veterans (apparently of veterans receiving dialysis) get home dialysis. "It's doable," he explained. "It doesn't require sending someone into the home. Even patients and their families can do it." Asked if it is cost-effective, Dr. Jesse replied, "We think it's at least cost-neutral."

What is tele-health? Tele-health -- more commonly spelled "telehealth" -- is diagnosing over the phone, it also includes video-conferencing, counseling, allowing x-rays and other screenings to be interpreted outside the rural area and discussed via a phone conference or 'visit.' Dr. Jesse stated that tele-health programs are currently in 140 of the VA's medical centers and allow "41,000 veteran patients to remain living independently in their own homes."

Senator Mark Begich represents a state which is largely rural: Alaska. We'll note his exchange with the first panel.

Senator Mark Begich: You had made the comment, you're trying to expand these contracts and you used Anchorage as an example and you're working through it. Can you elaborate a little more, what does that mean? And why I say this is because, to be very frank with you, I've heard that on a regular basis. There's one thing that we have is a huge opportunity of medical facilities and then health care services is a great example because the way we manage them up there but also huge facilities both in Fairfield and in Anchorage that I think are under-utilized. But help me understand when you say you're working out a process or you're working through contracts, tell me what that means and what kind of a timetable?

Dr Robert Jesse: I-I-I-I think Mr. Schonhard could speak to that better since he's the one involved in that.

Senator Mark Begich: He's behind you and smiling. So that's --

Dr Robert Jesse: It's Providence --

Senator Mark Begich: If you want to reserve some of your answer, you can.

Dr Robert Jesse: Since you've asked, it's - it's the Providence Health System in Anchorage that they're in the process of developing or negotiating to cover at least the cancer care.

Senator Mark Begich: Let me ask you if I can -- and I'll hold more detail for the next panel -- but let me ask you can you or do you keep data on -- in any state -- how utilization of non-VA facility by VA receipiants -- In other words, do you have data points so if I said to you, "What's the percentage in Montana or Nebrask or in Alaska that take advantage based on proximity and other things?" Do you have such a -- And what kind of services do they receive?

Dr Robert Jesse: Well this is complex because, uhm, there's-there's a couple of terminologies that we need to be clear about. One is what's called "fee care." Fee care by the strict definition means we don't provide the service and we authorize the veteran to go and get it and we pay that bill.That's a small component of what's in broad-encompassing non-VA care which would include both fee care but also uhm, uhm, care that is through contract, through community providers, care that's delivered through contract or other agreements if you will through our academic affiliates.

Senator Mark Begich: Yes.

Dr Robert Jesse: And, uhm, the other is that we don't have a handle on it because we don't really pay for it is care that the veteran themselves choose to get on the outside because many of them do have secondary insurance and/or in addition to Medicare. And we have uh-uh that dual care is a particular challenge to us -- not from the financial side, but from the managing care side. So we have uhm, uhm, the ability to track fee care obviously. We a lot of the contract care -- the ability to roll it up is less robust because some of it is -- it rolls in rather than a flat rate that we're paying on an annual basis. But we can -- we can tell you what that is with at least some level of precision I'm sure.

Senator Mark Begich: Is that something that you can provide to us?

Dr Robert Jesse: I believe so and, without making a promise, I will go back and tell you what granular area we can apply that in.

Senator Mark Begich: Excellent. And as you said, there's fee and then there's contract and --

Dr Robert Jesse: Right. There's a host of vehicles by which we-we --

Senator Mark Begich: The more defined you can do that, the better off.

Dr Robert Jesse: Sure.

Senator Mark Begich: I'd be very interested in that. Let me, if I can, there's been some good testimony on tele-health and in Alaska we use it a great deal not only from a VA perspective but our Travel Consortium which is our Indian Services is a huge piece of the puzzle of how we move through delivering health care in areas where one -- Even a van -- I know, Mr. Ahrens, I know you talk about increasing the vans, but we can't even get a van there. Let alone a plane depending upon weather. Is there, both of you, uhm, clearly have stated, that where rural health centers are located, that where the Office of Rural Health is located, do you think elevating that to a higher level will get some more recognition of the data that needs to be done, the need to understand it better and deliver it better or is the location -- You [Dr. Jesse] were concerned about where it was located in the kind of system where the office is but Mr. Ahrens, I didn't hear you make a comment on that. Do you have any comment in regards to that?

James F. Ahrens: The Office of Rural Health

Senator Mark Begich: Yes.

James F. Ahrens: I think the higher elevation you can give it, the better off we are. And we're slowly getting it staffed -- been a lot of staff changes -- and I think it's got the attention of the Secretary [of the VA] and we ought to keep it right at the highest level we can. It's very important.

Senator Mark Begich: Do you think that where that it's located now -- You know the tele-health issues? I agree with you, if you don't have the data, it's irrelevant. You can spend a lot of time talking about how important it is. We see it in real life in Alaska. But do you think that has anything to do with the level of data necessary? Or is it just two separate issues that need to be addressed? In other words, data collection has its own and then moving this office up higher?

James F. Ahrens: Well -- I think -- Again, keep the office as high as you can. Data collection is very important. We don't even know where veterans are. And we need to know the utilization of their services -- if that's what you're asking me. And we have to have certain data in order to proceed -- If you're running a business how you going to proceed with that if you don't know where your customers are? And so we have to continue to get that. We can't even make some decisions with our committee because we don't know where they are, what disease entity they might have and what services should be placed in those areas. If we knew a little more about that, we'd be better off. So the Office of Rural Health ought to get on that and get it done.

Senator Mark Begich: Let me -- and my time has expired -- the report that you sent up to the Secretary, do you anticipate that to be public or available to us -- at what point, do you think?

James F. Ahrens: As I said, it's under the Secretary's scrutiny. I'd love you -- If I could release it to you today, I would but I can't. It's a public document, it should be available to you.

A thirty minute recess followed due to voting and other issues. When the Committee returned Senator Begich was presiding and informed the second panel that they would each have five minutes for their opening statements and the clocks would indicate when there time was up. He added some levity to the proceedings by following that with, "If you violate that, the floor will release below you." After opening statements, the remaineder of the second panel was approximately twenty-two seconds. We'll grab that tomorrow or Friday to cover one other domestic topic and one topic (lengthy passage from this morning) that British community members asked be included in today's snapshot.

For the month of April, the
US Army announced yesterday, they can confirm 4 suicides among active-duty service memberrs with six still being investigated and there are nine ongoing investigations into May deaths. For the reserves, the US Army said there 7 suicides in April and 2 in May with ten more still being investigated. From the press release:

The Army has identified additional crisis intervention resources available to the Army community. Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance are strongly encouraged to contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center (DCoE). Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental United States is 1-800-342-9647, the Military One Source Web site can be found at . Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location
The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, and at http://
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information see: .
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention site is, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is .
Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at .
The Army's most current suicide prevention information is located at .
The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at .
Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials) .

Turning to England where Labour, now the minority party in the Parliament, is in the process of selecting a new leader.
Newsnight (BBC) featured a debate among the hopefuls. James Macintyre (New Statesman) offers this observation:One of the most striking elements of the debate was the behavior of Ed Miliband, who left no doubt at all that he is fighting, hard, to beat his own brother and win this contest. He said he wanted to be "prime minister" in his introduction and repeatedly attempted to interrupt David Miliband, on one occasion saying Labour's fortunes were down to "more fundamental" issues than those which were being discussed. He seemed to have had a haircut, wore a smart pink tie and peered straight into the camera, Nick Clegg style, as much as he could.I'll go with Macintyre, Ed wants it. I was wrong. (As disclosed before, I know David and Ed Miliband. And I've noted before -- wrongly -- I didn't think Ed was serious about wanting the post.) Though David and Ed are not the only two competing for the top post (Diane Abbott, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham are also competing), the 'battling' brothers are garnering the bulk of the press attention. Sify offers "Miliband brothers bitching for Labour leadership." The Sun goes with "Brother of all battles is on" for Tom Newton Dunn's article:THE Miliband brothers are waging a bitching war against each other as they battle for the Labour leadership, another rival has revealed.Ed Miliband's supporters have been slagging off his brother David's "eccentric personality".And David's fans are mocking Ed's "dodgy decision-making", according to former Education Secretary Ed Balls, who is also in the running.Emma Griffiths live blogged the debate for BBC (and link also has video of the debate). Benedict Brogan (Telegraph of London) breaks from the pack to put the emphasis elsewhere than the Milibands, he dubs the debate "Diane Abbott and the Pimps" and he observes:The biggest area of contention was the Iraq war. Ed Miliband continued his attempt to exploit the issue by highlighting his newly-discovered opposition. Ed Balls also voiced his doubts, but to his credit pointed out that had he been an MP at the time he would have voted with the Government and for the war. David Miliband rightly pointed out that Labour's defeat had next to nothing to do with a war that did not stop Labour being re-elected in 2005. The best response though came from Andy Burnham, who stood by the decision, in particular because it strengthened our hand in negotiating with Iran: "We should continue to make a principled argument for what we did and why we did it."Allegra Stratton (Guardian) adds:Ed Miliband came under attack last night when his rivals for the Labour leadership hit out at any attempts to "rewrite history" on the Iraq war.Ed Miliband, David Miliband, Diane Abbott, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham appeared in the first televised hustings which are due to run into August. Some of the candidates turned on the younger of the two Miliband brothers who in the first few weeks of his candidacy has made much of his opposition to the war. Though he was not an MP at the time of the invasion, Ed Miliband has said he thought UN weapons inspectors should have been given more time.Ed Miliband told the studio audience of lost Labour voters at BBC2's Newsnight hustings that the broader lesson he drew from Iraq was that war should always be the last resort, to which his brother David Miliband, the shadow foreign secretary, said: "The idea that anyone on this panel doesn't think that war is the last resort doesn't do justice the substance of this issue."As always, I would hate to be Amitbah Pal. I would hate to be him. The Iraq War did not vanish from the British landscape -- despite what a lot of gas bags want to tell you.

iraqbbc newsjim muirhuman rights watchxinhuatang danlulin litodays zaman
the new statesmanjames macintyresifythe suntom newton dunnemma griffithsnewsnightthe telegraph of londonbenedict broganthe guardianallegra stratton
the new york timestimothy williams

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New figures, real, honest, for real, truly

"Oil-spill flow rate estimate surges to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day" (Joel Achenbach and David Fahrenthold, Washington Post):
The official estimate of the flow rate from the leaking gulf oil well has surged again, with government officials announcing Tuesday that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels (1.47 million to 2.52 million gallons) of oil a day are now gushing from the reservoir deep beneath the gulf.

This is what a lot of us were talking about last week when BP and the government issued their joint figures. It was nonsense.

Exactly when is the government going to stop putting itself in the business of covering up for BP? That day has apparently not come yet.

If you watched Barack's speech tonight, I have no idea what your reaction was. For me, I was enraged for about the first five minutes and then I realized how Barack's just up there to look pretty and spent the rest of the speech laughing at him.

"Media: Let's Kill Helen!" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
For example, the segment kicked off with Helen's comments being played followed by a sigh from Aimee and then a long, drawn out "Well" filled with sadness. Typical crap from Aimee that should have everyone in the Bay Area screaming for KPFA to drop her already.

Alicia was lapping it up with all the zeal of Melissa Etheridge on a drunken Friday night. She rushed to insist, "Three years ago, I was on a book panel with her [Helen] and at that point she was quite critical of the Bush administration about the [Iraq] War in a way that an advocate would be and not a journa -- a straight up journalist would be."


Three years ago was 2007 and the country had long turned against the Iraq War. Only a cheap whore like Alicia Shepard, giving half-offs on cum facials, would bother to be offended by a journalist -- an opinion columnist in Helen's case -- expressing a sentiment in keeping with the majority of Americans.

Alicia continued her crazy, "And, yes, many people championed the fact that she was asking those questions but they were really not appropriate. And it's been known for maybe the last five or so years that there have been rules for White House reporters and then Helen Thomas rules. She has, in a way, gotten away with a lot that I can't imagine any other reporter would today."

The questions weren't appropriate?

So it's 'appropriate,' Alicia, for a president to bomb another country on false pretexts, it's just not appropriate to question him on it? Doesn't make for 'polite conversation,' is that it? Where the hell, airhead, do you get off thinking journalistic history demands that reporters be either 'appropriate' or 'respectable'? Alicia gave up her profession in order to practice another one, a much older one. And as we already noted, Whores Cheat.

"Well Helen has always enjoyed," Alicia began, "as I said, special treatment. She's always sat up in the front row. The president has always called on her no matter who it is."

Is she is an outright liar or just that stupid? Jack Shafer (Slate), no huge fan of Helen, noted March 12, 2003 how Bully Boy Bush "deliberately snubbed" Helen by refusing to call on her. "The president has always called on her," insisted Alicia, "no matter who it is." Want to try that again, Alicia? If it helps, you can stay on the clock while you do it.

She certainly stayed on the clock while lying repeatedly such as when she declared, "Her feelings about -- anti-Semitic feelings -- have been known. And many in the press corps -- or I would say -- those who watched the White House press corps have felt critical of her for I'm sorry, felt critical of their brethren for not challenging her more for letting Helen quote-unquote 'get away' with these anti-Semitic comments."

Aimee Allison's role was to challenge that. But Whores Cheat. So when Aimee finally got around to questioning whether or not Helen's comments were anti-Semitic, she pushed it off on callers who were calling in (though not heard on air) and disagreeing that the comments were anti-Semitic.

"There's no way of looking at it except if she was an advocate for [laughing] the Palestinians," Alicia snarked revealing her own hatred is targeting the Palestinians because there's nothing funnier to her than someone advocating on their behalf. "In the sense that there's just nothing that she said that could be looked at as respectable."

Is truth 'respectable,' Alicia? Because your remarks had little-to-no truth in them. After savaging Helen, mocking her and laughing at her, Alicia tossed it back to Aimee, "I mean, what was your take, Aimee? I was just shocked."

"Yeah. I guess," Aimee appalling agreed, refusing to stand up for Helen. "Just, at 89, why would she make the comments now? Has she been known to make those kind of comments in the past?"

There's a reason we're going slowly through this train wreck. And here comes your first pay off, Alicia responds, "I have not known that in terms of anti-semitism."

Ava and C.I. demolishing Helen Thomas backstabbers Alicia Shepard and Aimee Allison. Doing an incredible job of it. They really did write an amazing article. I really can't praise enough because there's so much there. They really had to work their asses off for this one.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the UNHCR releases a new report on refugees, Senator Jim Webb says the costs for recognizing Agent Orange effects are too much, and more.

Today the US military released the following: "CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- A U.S. Division -- North Soldier died today as a result of a non-combat related wound in northern Iraq. The cause of death is still under investigation. Task Force Marne extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the Family of the fallen Soldier. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service members' primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." This brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4406. (ICCC has not updated yet and still lists 4405.)

Friday a bombing attack on US service members resulted in the deaths of 2 US soldiers. Yesterday's snapshot included the statement US Senator Blanche Lincoln's office issued on the death of SPC William Yauch. Arkansas' other US senator is Mark Pryor and his office issued the following:

Senator Mark Pryor made the following statement on the death of Specialist William C. Yauch of Batesville, Arkansas, who was killed by an IED in Jalula, Iraq. Specialist Yauch was assigned to B Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
Today I join all Arkansans in lifting up the family and friends of U.S. Army Specialist William C. Yauch, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He served our nation with great courage, honor, and distinction, and embodied the meaning of "a true patriot."
Specialist Yauch had the greatest love for his country, and his country will always remember his selfless service. My prayers and thoughts are with his wife and family during this difficult time.

Two US soldiers died on Friday. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Sgt Israel Obryan of Newsbern, Tennessee was the other soldier killed, he was twenty-four years old and on his second tour of Iraq and his US senators (Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander) and his governor (Phil Bredesen) have issued no statements noting the loss thus far; however,
Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota's office has issued a statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 14, 2010CONTACT: Joe Kafka or Roxy Everson, 605-773-3212Stryker Brigade Soldier Killed in Iraq, Wife from SissetonPIERRE, S.D. - The Department of Defense announced today that Sgt. Israel Paul O'Bryan, 24, of Newbern, Tenn., died Friday, June 11, 2010, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near Jalula, Iraq.
Sgt. O'Bryan's widow, Brenna (Oey) O'Bryan, is from Sisseton, S.D.
According to U.S. Army records, Sgt. O'Bryan enlisted Feb. 27, 2006, at Memphis, Tenn. and reported to Fort Benning, Ga., for initial training in Military Occupational Specialty 11C (Indirect Fire Infantryman), and Airborne Training.
He reported to then-Fort Lewis, Wash., on Dec. 30, 2006, and was assigned to 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The brigade deployed in August 2009 to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; it was O'Bryan's second Mideast deployment with the brigade. His first deployment was in 2007.
O'Bryan's civilian and military education included a high school diploma, two years of college credits, Military Occupational Specialty 11C (Indirect FireInfantryman) Qualification Course, Warrior Leader Course (2008), DLI-Arabic studies (2009).His awards and decorations included the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and Combat Infantry Badge.Sgt. O'Bryan's wife, Brenna, a former active-duty U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the same brigade, met him on a previous deployment to Iraq. She moved to Sisseton with their son, Turner, age 1, to be with her family during his second deployment. His mother, Denise Jones, lives in Newbern, Tenn., and his father, Richard O'Bryan, resides in Portland, Tenn.
Details for memorial and funeral services are pending and will be released later, but they are expected to be held in Wilmot, S.D.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact JBLM PAO by calling 253-967-0147 or 253-967-0152. After duty hours, call 253-967-0015 (ask for the Public Affairs Officer on call).

I'd planned to address the above Friday death's at the end of the snapshot but today's meant that we really need to keep all of this together. We didn't note politicians' official statements on deaths until a friend with the governor's office pointed out one morning that Arnold had issued one and why didn't I include it? Because he was a Republican? No. I could care less about that. So we included it and have since. Sometimes a friend will pass it on, sometimes the office of politician will pass it on. My problem with it is imbalance. Which is why we usually ignore them in the snapshots and they appear instead in morning entries at The Common Ills. There are some of the fallen who don't get the attention that others do. Maybe they don't have the same number of survivors, maybe they don't live in a press intensive area. When you've got six soldiers dying -- and I'm thinking of one incident in particular -- and two get no reporting at all other than they died, it makes me uncomfortable because it appears some lives matter a lot and some don't. That was my concern with politician's statements as well.

I find it appalling that neither of Tennessee's US senators -- Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (both Republicans) -- have issued a statement on their native son Israel Obryan. It's great that Governor Mike Rounds issued a statement -- Governor of South Dakota -- but one of the two Tennessee senators (if not both) should have issued a statement. Both of Arkansas' senators (Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor) issued statements on their native son William Yauch.

We included Blanche Lincoln's statement in yesterday's snapshot because a friend with the DSCC caught me (phone) before I dicated the snapshot and because there were 2 US soldiers killed on Friday and it was pretty much ignored. For example, on NPR Fridays,
The Diane Rehm Show does two hours -- one domestic panel, one international panel. Ava and I found it very strange that Diane and the gang didn't have time for the two deaths or for Iraq: "It seemed strange to us since the day started, hours before Diane's program began broadcasting live, with the news that there was an attack on US soldiers in Iraq which left 2 dead and six wounded. Setting aside all the other news coming out of Iraq last week, that bombing attack should have insisted that Iraq was discussed. Somehow there was no time for Iraq as a topic on Diane's show. However, Helen Thomas, who apologized and resigned on Monday, was. Which is actually news? Which is international news?" They had time to trash Helen Thomas with a bunch of lies -- during the 'international' hour -- but they didn't have time to note that 2 US soldiers -- William Yauch and Israel Obryan, we now know -- died while serving in Iraq. That's disgusting and appalling and everyone participating in that ___ should hang their heads in shame. And it's going get worse and worse until people make it very clear that they're not going to stand for it. Friday a bombing in Iraq claimed the lives of 2 US soldiers (and left six more injured) and Diane Rehm didn't think that qualified as "news" for her "international" hour. That's disgusting.

Today Pravda features a report entitled "
The Pentagon of Democrats: the War Continues, But it is Not Seen." The article opens, "Barack Obama's smile is nicer than George W. Bush, but is even more aggressive and warmongering. In the era of budgetary constraints and public relations, the White House has waived the televised Live bombings preferring secret interventions in the four cardinal points. Through covert operations by special forces, the U.S. is at war today in 75 countries. War is more than we can see daily. In addition to the military operations taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is waging a secret war in which Iran is one of the main targets." A real shame when you grasp that Russia's Pravda has more guts than the left 'independent' media in this country (such as Pacifica Radio, The Nation, et al).

The UNHCR notes their High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, declared 2009 "not a good year for voluntary repatriation." The refugee crisis and the lack of returns are dealt with in the agencies "2009 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Sateless Persons" which was released today. Among the reports findings:

* "Afghan and Iraqi refugees accounted for almost half of all refugees under UNHCR's responsibility worldwide; one out of four refugees in the world was from Afghanistan (2.9 million). Afghans were located in 71 different asylum countries. Iraqis were the second largest refugee group, with 1.8 million having sought refuge primarily in neighbouring countries."

*38,037 Iraqis returned to Iraq in 2009 (a small and insignificant figure).

Joelle Farrell (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports on an Iraqi refugee who was granted asylum in the US: "For nearly two years, as more and more Iraqis came to view U.S. soldiers not as saviors but as jackals, Safa Ismael showed up for work outside the concrete barricades surrounding the U.S. military base in Mosul."

In today's news cycle,
Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, a Mosul mortar attack wounded a police officer and, dropping back to Monday for all that follows, a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi police officers and left four more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured three people and 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk. UPI notes a Mosul home invasion last night in which 3 members of one family were slaughtered. On the Mosul bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, Xinhua explains eight people were wounded and that an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left a police officer injured while an Abu Ghraib shop bombing resulted in four people being wounded. Meanwhile Reuters notes Mosul's Bou Saif was the locations for clashes which began last night and resulted in at least 7 deaths. Press TV notes 1 Turkish soldier was killed from a PKK bombing on the border between Turkey and Iraq.

Raad Kadhim Nouri asks Leila Fadel (Washington Post), "Where is the security if, for an 18-minute session, they close all the streets? It means there is no security." He's a street vendor in Baghdad dealing with the lack of services in Baghdad -- his home has "only one hour of electricity every five hours" -- as well as the "120-degree heat." The man's been a vendor since before the start of the Iraq War and his thoughts include, "Nothing will change from the last parliament.""Frankly, the politicians are just wearing us out," a shop owner, Saif Ali, tells Anthony Shadid (New York Times). "Unemployment? Electricity? Housing? Since 2003 -- for seven years now -- no one has solved it yet. [. . .] Even the water is dirty."Elections held only weeks away from the seventh anniversary of the Iraq War and this is what the Iraqi people are seeing. The mood's captured in a cartoon posted to McClatchy's Inside Iraq which asks, "Is there any Iraqi official who cares about people's pain and suffering?" There's no progress. There was no progress under Bully Boy Bush, there will be no progress under Barack. A foreign power can't make democracy. An occupied land does not embrace the (publicly expressed) ideals and goals of the occupied power.And if that doesn't disturb you, maybe this will from Anthony Shadid's article:"There is clearly a divide," said Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Iraq and a longtime diplomat in the Middle East. He described an "elitist authoritarianism that basically ignores the people." "Right now, what I'm concerned about is the persistence of the political culture in which the governors simply do not really care about the governed," he said. "Saddam didn't invent it. This is part of a persistent Iraqi political culture, and it did not produce a happy state after 1958 at any point, and I would worry that it will not now." Good for Shadid for going to Crocker. He has to be appalled by what he's seeing. The US has failed diplomatically and any hopes of a pretty red bow being tied around the whole thing are long gone. Fate and Chris Hill have ensured that. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports some disturbing news:However, Allawi's supporters are wagering that Maliki's coalition will still fall apart because of the competing interests of its different Shiite parties. Allawi has warned that a government formed without him could unleash a new round of sectarian fighting. Maliki has issued similar warnings.Some lawmakers from Maliki's list suggested that a deal on who will be prime minister could be hammered out within a few weeks, but most lawmakers believe it will take at least until August before a government is seated. Internal U.S. military projections, viewed by The Times, say the government is likely to be seated in October, or in a best-case scenario September, if negotiations gain speed.That is in such marked contrast to the b.s. Hill keeps serving up. Why do we allow that? Why do we allow our public servants -- whom we pay -- to lie to us?Chris Hill's inclination to lie was well known long before he finally dragged his tired to Baghdad. At some point, history will ask: What made Barack pick Chris Hill as an ambassador?

Turning to veterans issues.
WAVY reports (link has text and video) that victims of Agent Orange (specifically Vietnam era veterans) could recieve addition beneifts for B-Cell Leukemia, Parkinson's disease and coronary heart disease. Could? A US Senator is objecting to the proposed changes by VA. Jim Webb has written VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that ". . . this single executive decision is estimated to cost a minimum of $42.2 billion over the next ten years. A regulatory action of this magnitude requires proper Congressional review and oversight." Besides, Webb wrote, "Heart disease is a common phenomenon regardless of potential exposure to Agent Orange." That is really embarrasing and especially embarrassing for the Democratic Party (Webb is a Democrat today, having converted from a Reagan Republican). It also goes a long way towards explaining Webb's refusal to get on board with Senator Evan Bayh's bill to create a national registry that would allow those Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans to be able to receive treatment for their exposures without having to jump through hoops repeatedly.

A friend with People magazine always asks for a link,
we're linking to this article they did on David Arquette. I know David and he's a strong supporter of Operation Mend and, as the article notes in passing, he was at an Operation Mend benefit Monday night. He actually spoke and so did retired Marine Cpl Aaron P. Mankin who shared his story which includes an IED attack in May of 2005 in which claimed four lives and left eleven wounded. Cpl Mankin's wounds included severe burns on over a quarter of his body. He discusses that for the program here (Flash Video) and here (Windows Media Video). The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System partnered together for Operation Mend. Operation Mend assists wounded service members. They explain: "The costs associated with one wounded warrior's Operation Mend care is approximately $500,000. These expenses include patient evaluation, plastic and reconstructive surgieries, transportation and housing, care coordination, and other patient services. The single largets cost is the multiple, lenghty and complex plastic and reconstructive surgeries required for these heroes. With private support, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is able to expand the treatment options available using some of the best surgeons and clinicians in the country." Operation Mend is for all branches of the military and you can even be active duty and use the services. You can find out more about the program by clicking here. Gunnery Sgt Blaine Scott allowed Los Angeles Times' Spencer Weiner to photograph his exam and surgery and you can click here for that essay.

And we'll close with this from the
Senate Democratic Policy Committee:

Despite the billion-dollar costs associated with the Gulf Coast oil spill, Big Oil companies enjoy the protection of a $75 million dollar cap on liability. Unless the cap is increased, these companies, earning profits in excess of $24 billion in the first quarter of 2010, will only have to legally pay for a fraction of the overall economic impact of this preventable disaster. In recent weeks, Senate Democrats have brought forward legislation that would ensure Big Oil companies pay for their own mistakes by raising the liability cap for offshore oil well spills. Senate Democrats have also released a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, calling on the company to put aside $20 billion in a special account to ensure repayment to victims of the spill.

Blindly trusting Big Oil to take full responsibility, Senate Republicans have blocked this legislation and left hard-working American families at risk of paying for the economic damage caused by oil spills. Last month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell defended the oil industry by stating that BP would "pay for this."

Have Republicans forgotten about Big Oil's track record?

Here is a look back at the oil companies' record of negligence in some of the biggest domestic oil spills:

March 2006 – A pipe owned and operated by BP cracked, leaking over 200,000 gallons of oil into Prudhoe Bay , Alaska . The oil spread into wetlands, shorelines and rivers along the coast. Despite pleading guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, BP is still fighting fines and attempting to limit their liability from this disaster.
March 2005 – A fire and explosion at a BP refinery in Texas City , Texas killing 15 workers and injures another 170. The company was fined $87 million for occupational and worker safety violations. In October of 2009, BP announced that it would challenge the record-setting penalty with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
November 2000 – Over 550,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Mississippi River just 60 miles south of New Orleans , Louisiana after the tanker Westchester lost power and ran aground. Cleanup procedures took close to three months, and the owner of the ship settled with federal and state agencies for an undisclosed amount.
January 1996 – The tank barge North Cape grounded off of Moonstone Beach , Rhode Island , pouring 20,000 barrels of home heating oil into Block Island Sound. The spill killed more than 10 million lobsters and resulted in a ban on fishing in the area for several months. The owner of North Cape agreed to restock a portion of the wildlife and pay $8 million to restore other resources.
August 1993 – Three vessels collided at the entrance to the Tampa Bay, Florida port, resulting in the release of approximately 328,000 gallons of jet fuel, gasoline, diesel fuel, and crude oil.
June 1990 – The tanker Mega Borg released over 5 million gallons of crude oil after colliding with a second ship 60 miles off of Galveston , Texas . A subsequent fire on the tanker quickly ignited the gushing oil, burning approximately 100,000 barrels.
February 1990 – A BP-chartered oil tanker, American Trader, punctured its hull off the coast of Orange County, California . More than 410,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into ocean. Recreational and biological impacts totaled over $14 million, which the BP fought in court.
March 1989 – The tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound , Alaska , spilling 260,000 barrels of oil into the ocean. Despite the catastrophic damages from the 53 million gallon spill, Exxon used antiquated maritime law to stall and eventually reduce the amount (from $5 billion to $500 million) paid to Alaska 's fishermen, Native Alaskans, and landowners.
December 1976 – On its way to Boston , the Argo Merchant tanker ran aground southeast of Nantucket , Massachusetts . The ship could not be salvaged and eventually broke apart on the rocks, spilling all 183,000 barrels of oil into the bay.
January 1969 – A Union Oil Company platform situated six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara , California suffered a blowout. Almost 3 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean, covering 800 square miles of water and over 35 miles of coastline. Local companies and residents filed a class-action lawsuit, and the company paid just $6.5 million. In response to the accident, drilling was halted off the California coast for almost two decades

Outer Continental Shelf Civil and Criminal Penalties. Oil companies have also continued to violate the Department of the Interior's regulations stipulated under the Minerals Management Service Outer Continental Shelf Civil and Criminal Penalties Program. Here are just a few examples:

In 2009 there were 20 individual cases, combining 30 violations, totaling $919,000.

The most notable violation involved the plugging and abandoning of a well and the company was fined $440,000.

In 2008 there were 31 individual cases, combining 68 violations, totaling $2,210,250.

One of the most notable violations involved a finding that the remote blowout preventer (BOP) control station was functioning without any operating pressure and that the stairs to the BOP remote station were unsafe.

In 2007 there were 36 individual cases, combining 37 violations, totaling $3,106,000.

One of the most notable violations involved a finding that a piece of the BOP equipment had not be subjected to proper testing.

In 2006 there were 41 individual cases, combining 54 violations, totaling $1,480,000.

One of the most notable violations involves a finding that a BOP station on a rig was not operating key pieces of the BOP on the ocean floor.

Senate Republicans should stop trusting Big Oil to own up to its responsibility, and allow this important legislation to pass.

UPDATED DPC Fact Sheet | Whose Side Are They On: Republicans Defend Big Oil Despite The Industry's Track Record

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