Friday, November 12, 2010

Marilyn Katz and other disasters

At In These Times, Marilyn Katz claims Barry O is a lover-boy and just misunderstood. Mary Katz is trash. She got in with the Chicago crowd and a questionable person became even more questionable.

But she's not stupid.

Meaning she knows when she lies and she's lying like crazy in her bad article which I will not link to.

It's cute the way so many Socialists and Communists are trying to rewrite history. It's almost as if they think their list-servs won't follow them around. For example, when a media type was lying to potential bosses, a TV exec ran it by C.I. who said, "That's a flat out lie, hold on, let me e-mail you a copy of a list-serv." Their past will not go away and you'd think a grown woman -- like Mary Katz, for example -- would be sick of whoring.

Mary's enriched herself via the Dailey Machine. She's Chicago trash and Valerie Jarrett's gal-pal. It's cute that she tries to put some distance between herself and Barack when she's much more of an insider in Barry World (or was, he's cut her off) than she lets on.

I need to thank Mary for writing her garbage. For many years now, I (and many others) have wondered about how Mary sold her soul and whether she knew what she had done because she can be very convincing. She does know. She just enjoys lying.

Marilyn Katz was a borderline criminal in the 'sixties.' Back then, she fought against the empire. Today, her criminal behaviors are used to continue the empire.

That's the whole point of her presenting Barack as a man of a peace and saying that people misunderstood how the election worked and blah, blah, lie, lie.

I have pretty much divorced myself from Chicago trash. I would tolerate it until 2008. I should have washed my hands of it years ago. The 'left' in Chicago has a really bad habit of formulating a plan and then formulating a plan for how they're going to trick you into going along with them. I've seen that pattern repeat for decades now.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, November 12, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate continues until Nouri names a cabinet (and Parliament votes it stamp of approval), criticism of Nouri comes from all over, Iraqi Christians continue to be targeted, Julie Sullivan reports explosive news on the burn pits, the US military states they killed a politician's brother because he was attempting to kill them (didn't Barack say combat was over in Iraq?) and more.
Yesterday, horse trading allowed Iraq's Parliament to elect a Speaker, , and to elect Jalal Talabani (again) to the ceremonial post of president. Despite assurances and claims to US officials that Nouri would be named prime minister-delegate November 20th, Talabani immediately named him and the US government is currently attempting to figure out whether this was due to concern over the Iraqiya walkout or was part of a deliberate effort on the part of Nouri's bloc and the Kurds to deceive their US benefactors. On the horse trading, Nussaibah Younis (Guardian) weighs in:
If Iraqi politics is to continue in this way, we can all sit back and relax -- waiting every five years for the elections that mean nothing, the backstage horse trading in which politicians nakedly vie for personal advantage, and finally the divvying up of power between groups in a way that promises to hamstring the new government before it has even begun.
The 2010 elections gave Iraq's politicians a rare opportunity to take politics in another direction. Together, Allawi and Maliki gained overwhelming support because they spoke of Iraqi unity, reconciliation, and reconstruction. But when it came to forming a government, self-interest won. Neither could bear the thought of not being prime minister, and both were content to drag the process on and on -- waiting to clinch a political advantage while ordinary Iraqis paid with their lives in the escalating violence.
Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime minister-designate. That is not prime minister. Good for Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) who captures this: "Mr. Talabani then formally nominated Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a second term in office, giving him 30 days to form a cabinet of ministers." This is explained in Article 76 of [PDF format warning] the Iraqi Constitution:
First: The President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest
Council of Representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers
within fifteen days from the date of the election of the President of the Republic.
Second: The Prime Minister-designate shall undertake the naming of the members of his Council of Ministers within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of his designation.
Third: If the Prime Minister-designate fails to form the Council of Ministers
during the period specified in clause "Second," the President of the Republic shall charge a new nominee for the post of Prime Minister within fifteen days.
Fourth: The Prime Minister-designate shall present the names of his members of the Council of Ministers and the ministerial program to the Council of
Representatives. He is deemed to have gained its confidence upon the approval,
by an absolute majority of the Council of Representatives, of the individual
Ministers and the ministerial program.
Fifth: The President of the Republic shall charge another nominee to form the Council of Ministers within fifteen days in case the Council of Ministers did not win the vote of confidence.
Steven Lee Myers explains, "The long delay in forming a government -- still at least a month away -- frustrated the administration throughout the summer". And he documents some of the efforts by US President Barack Obama himself including phone calls. We've already noted that the US government thought they had a promise regarding the nomination of prime minister-designate coming in on November 20th -- they were either lied to or the walkout changed the dynamics. Eli Lake (Washington Times) emphasizes failed efforts on the part of both Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to get Jalal Talabani to step aside and to do so in order that the (ceremonial) post could be filled by non-Kurd Ayad Allawi. The president's son, Qubad Talabani, confirms to Lake that Barack pressured his father to step aside and states that "the Kurds were disappointed with the United States" over this.Qubad Talabani states, "The Kurds have been the strongest ally and partner of the United States since before the liberation and certainly during it. And for the United States to be leaning on us, as they are now, in effect handpicking the new leaders of Iraq, is not respectful of Iraq's parliamentary system and touches on all of the insecurities of the Kurds, that the United States will once again betray us." What would the Kurds have received if Talabani had stepped aside? Lake reports that Joe Biden promised them both the post of Speaker of the Parliament and the Minister of Oil. While it's long been known that the US government supported Nouri for them to offer the Minister of Oil -- a position Nouri's reportedly promised to three different people -- they must have had some indication from Nouri that he would go along with that. Did they misread Nouri's signals? Regardless, Kurds may not be happy their representatives shot that offer down. Considering the repeated and ongoing disputes over service contracts for oil fields -- conflicts between the Kurds and the central government in Baghdad -- holding the post of Minister of Oil could have given the Kurds tremendous power.
Before I discuss the G20, I want to briefly comment on the agreement in Iraq that's taken place on the framework for a new government. There's still challenges to overcome, but all indications are that the government will be representative, inclusive, and reflect the will of the Iraqi people who cast their ballots in the last election. This agreement marks another milestone in the history of modern Iraq. Once again, Iraqis are showing their determination to unify Iraq and build its future and that those impulses are far stronger than those who want Iraq to descend into sectarian war and terror. For the last several months, the United States has worked closely with our Iraqi partners to promote a broad-based government -- one whose leaders share a commitment to serving all Iraqis as equal citizens. Now, Iraq's leaders must finish the job of forming their government so that they can meet the challenges that a diverse coalition will inevitably face. And going forward, we will support the Iraqi people as they strengthen their democracy, resolve political disputes, resettle those displaced by war, and build ties of commerce and cooperation with the United States, the region and the world.

"Another milestone." Barack's waves of Operation Happy Talk repeatedly include "milestones." While I am aware his vocabularly is highly limited and even more repetitive ("Let me be clear" and "make no mistake" for example), he cries "milestone!" the way Bruce Willis' character constantly cries "miracle!" in Death Becomes Her (one minute and three seconds in on the linked clip). Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), USA Today's Susan Page, filling in for Diane, spoke with Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Washington Post), David E. Sanger (New York Times) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) about Iraq. Excerpt:.
Susan Page: Eight months after their parliamentary elections, there's finally an agreement in Iraq for a power-sharing arrangement but it fell apart almost immediately, Nancy. Tell us what happened.
Nancy A. Youssef: That's right. The Parliament went to meet to start putting together this government that, so far, has Maliki still as prime minister, Jalal Talabani still as president, the Sunni still as Parliament Speaker and within hours the Sunnis walked out. And it really exposed not only how fragile this agreement was but how much sectarianism still dominates Iraqi politics. One of the reasons the Sunnis walked out is that they felt the Shia partners were holding them liable or punshing them for maybe being Ba'ath Party members of some level during Saddam Hussein's regime. That they were still being ostracized if you will. So it now remains precarious once again. It's hard to celebrate this right now because sectarian based politics appear to still dominate Iraq and that's dangerous at a time when we're starting to see rising levels of violence, most notabley a hundred and fifty people killed in the last week.
Susan Page: Rajiv, was this a surprise to US officials?
Rajiv Chandrasekaran: No. You know, this was sort of the deal that the Obama administration had been pushing for. They did want Ayad Allawi, who is a secular Shi'ite but who commanded large numbers of Sunni followers, in a more secular, nationalistic slate and who actually won a narrow majority of seats in parliamentary elections lo these many months ago there was a desire to have him assume the presidency -- a largely symbolic role, but it would have shown that a Sunni Arab could be president while Maliki, the Shi'ite incumbent prime minister, would have kept that job The minority Kurdish population, largely in the northern part of the country, did not want to sede that post and this was one of the principle reasons for these months of gridlock. So then the compromise position out of the administration was: 'Alright, let's try to get Allawi to chair a new kind of committee on national security and economic policy' -- a very undefined, vague type role and the powers of which has still not been clearly spelled out and this is partly at the root of a lot of the angst on the part of the members of his coalition. And so what had happened here is that the Obama administration was sort of unable to force that change. Maliki, of course, has a great deal of support from Iran and it was essentially a kind of continuation of the status quo showing yet again how American leverage is diminished over there, how Iranian influence is ascendent and that even though you had a party -- a largely secular party that commanded a slim majority in the elections they were unable to-to bring together enough support to form a government and that the hope that everybody had months ago, that maybe we were seeing the first sort of indications of a more unified, nationalist, secular government starting to take shape has been completely shattered and what we see is the continuation --if not rise -- of more sectarian, divisive politics that will play out perhaps for the next several years.
Nancy A. Youssef: You know, Rajiv mentioned the diminished US influence in the country and that's right but this I call it sort of census-based politics because it breaks down to the proportions of the populations, is something that the United States introduced in 2003 in Iraq still has not been able to let go of. I couldn't help watching the results come out. At what point does Maliki relinquish control of the [prime minister post] and is there some concern about a new kind of strong man setup that's emerging in Iraq?
Susan Page: David?
David E. Sanger: You know Susan in the first hour you were talking about [C.I. note: We are not plugging that book so this section is deleted] . . . what you hear is "You just destroyed Iran's greatest enemy and now you're leaving and you're allowing Iran to spread its influence throughout the region. What's your plan for this?" And I think what we're hearing in this process is that we didn't have a plan for this.
Susan Page: Well we don't have a plan and what is happening is, eight months after the elections, we still don't have a real, functioning government. Does that have the possibility of effecting US committment to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by the end of next year, Rajiv?
Rajiv Chandrasekaran: Well certainly if violence continues ticking up and the last few weeks have been particularly ugly in Baghdad -- the siege of the church in which more than fifty people were killed, another string of bombings, further attacks on Iraq's minority Christian community. If that violence continues to rise, it's certainly going to put the Obama administration in a much more difficult spot in terms of trying to fulfill that commitment to get all the troops out by the end of 2011 and that is, I think, directly tied to what sort of government they have, If there is a perception and an actual reality in part as seen by the Sunni population that the government doesn't represent them and this government continues to further marginalize the Sunni population -- which you've already seen over the last couple of years with Prime Minister Maliki's efforts to disband the Sons Of Iraq type programs which were seen as instrumental in bringing down the violence a few years ago, you could see, potentially, some of those rejoining some sort of insurgency against the government so there's a very real path that could occur between the political tension that exists in Baghdad and a resumption of violence.
Susan Page: Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates this week for the first time introduced this idea of troops potentially staying. It was a very tepid introduction. Somebody asked him and he said if the Iraqis asked us we would consider it but there are two things that are in the way of it.
Nancy A. Youssef went on to discuss the cost and to note that "even if those troops stayed what effect could they have?" We'll pick up with Nancy next week, hopefully on Monday. My apologies to David E. Sanger who had good points, solid points to make. But we don't promote that book he mentioned (not his own book). That's our stated policy and I ignored Cindy Sheehan's wonderful column because it dealt with that. We are not helping to advance a War Hawk's book, we are not the street team to get the word out and move books for him. With Sewell Chan and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, David E. Sanger has "Obama's Trade Strategy Runs Into Stiff Resistance" in this morning's New York Times and we'll gladly link to that. The issue wasn't Sanger, it was that book and we're not noting it here, we're not going to help create a 'buzz' on it or make it 'controversial.' Our job is not to promote that book.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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 -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with via "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, four days and counting.
With the US shouldering everyone out of the way so that he had no competition and with them able to strong arm Parliament, he still couldn't put a cabinet together and present it to Parliament on time for them to vote on. The odds aren't breaking for him these days. If the rules had been followed, he wouldn't be prime minister-delegate currently. What took place was Nouri refused to compromise or budge -- while the US government insisted the Kurds and Iraqiya compromise non-stop -- and he did so from the illegal position of prime minister. His term expired. The Constitution is clear on that. Allawi rightly asked for the UN to create a caretaker government to be put in place. The US shot down that idea. Refused it. (In part because Nouri's promised Joe Biden that, if he remains prime minister, he'll allow US troops to remain on Iraqi soil after 2011.) Had Nouri been kicked out of the post -- his term had expired -- and a caretaker government set up, he couldn't have dug in his heels. The rest of the Shi'ites didn't want him -- and that includes Moqtada al-Sadr who was doing his usual embarrassing act -- 'We will never support Nouri!' Remember that?

Maybe you remember that Moqtada wanted to paint himself as the picture of democracy? How was his bloc going to determine whom to support? They would hold an election (they did starting April 2nd) and they would go with those results (they didn't, the choice from al-Sadr's election was Ibrahim al-Jaafari). Moqtada broke his word and did so because the Iranian government strong-armed him. None of this goes to a democratic process. Nouri should have been kicked out the second his term was up and the UN should have appointed a caretaker government. Realizing how badly a caretaker government was needed -- even after they shot it down -- the White House began pressing key reporters to start referring to what Nouri was doing -- illegally doing -- as "a caretaker government." They knew if they could get just a few to start doing that, others would follow. And sure enough they did. Nouri could not be part of a caretaker government. Not only because his term as prime minister had expired but also because he wanted to continue in that post.

By allowing him to stay in it during all of this, the US government gave him the power to say -- and he did -- that he would just continue on for months like he was doing. It wouldn't matter -- and didn't to him -- because he was getting to remain prime minister. In fact, he enjoyed even more because he (illegally) bypassed the Parliament repeatedly during his 'caretaking' role.

Mowaffak Rubaie used to be in Nouri's Dawa Party. He also used to be Nouri's National Security Advisor. Now he tells Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times), "I personally am owrried that our whole political program is going down the drain. What did we come for? I campaigned for three things throughout my life: democracy, federalism-community rights and human rights. The Shia are enjoying our community rights but we are persecuting the other community. We are getting closer and closer to a one-party state." Arwa Damon (CNN) reports Allawi is making similar observations, quoting him stating, "This is a new dictatorship that is happening in Iraq. It's becoming humiliating, it's becoming very dictatorial, and they don't want to respect those people who have other views than them." Last night on The NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio options), Margaret Warner moderated a discussion on the latest trades and deals between Meghan O'Sullivan who served in the Bully Boy Bush administration and Feisal Istrabadi who was Iraq's Deputy Ambassador to the UN (2004 - 2007). Excerpt:
MARGARET WARNER: Let me just interrupt, and quickly, because I -- before we run out of time, what is this going to mean for the violence we have been seeing on the rise in Iraq, Mr. Istrabadi?
FEISAL ISTRABADI: I don't see any indications that Nouri al-Maliki has the first idea of what to do about the rising violence. The violence cannot be dealt with -- and we have been saying this for five years -- the violence cannot be dealt with merely militarily. There has to be reconciliation amongst the various factions. Nothing in Nouri al-Maliki's history indicates that he is prepared to undertake such reconciliation.

In today's violence, Reuters notes a Garma roadside bombing wounded three people and the US military is asserting they were almost attacked by Anbar Provincial Council Member Mahmoud Rasheed Mudin's brother so they had to shoot him (Hamad Rasheed Mudin) dead and another broather was arrested.
Turning to the topic of Iraqi Christians, a fresh waves of attacks on them are ongoing and the most violent example would be the October 31st siege of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. William Dalrymple (Guardian) recaps, "This week saw new levels of violence directed at Iraq's Christians. Eight days after the attack on Baghdad's main Catholic church that left more than 50 worshippers dead, militants detonated more than 14 bombs in Christian suburbs, killing at least four and wounding about 30. Since then the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an al-Qaida front, has warned of a new wave of attacks on Christians "wherever they can be reached … We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood."" Of that assault, Melik Kaylan (Forbes) writes:
One of the killers shot a pregnant woman to death as she pleaded for mercy. Another, killed a bishop then killed another prelate saying, in response to his pleas, "what did you expect?". Members of the congregation noted that the attackers spoke 'classical Arabic' not demotic Iraqi – a strong indication that they were foreigners possibly even non-Arabs who had been taught Arabic by Islamic purists and trained with prepared responses to any emotional appeals by victims. Since 2003, Iraq has become a dar-el-harb zone where global jihadis go to prosecute their fantasies of martyrdom as the sword arm reincarnate of Islam's early warrior days. Sunni Iraqis who joined the 'Sons of Iraq' movement to resist them did so because they saw that these necrolators cared not a whit for the survival of locals. Mesopotamian Syriac Christians are emphatically locals: they descend directly from the earliest of churches founded by Jesus's apostles. They speak a variant of the Aramaic that Jesus spoke. In fact, they are the ethnic descendants of the ancient Assyrians from 2000 B.C.. This much is not open to argument: under Saddam they were better off. Under Mr. Bush's liberated Iraq they may cease to exist after thousands of years. That is saying something, one measure of the enormity his incompetence let loose.
Jim Muir (BBC News) reports on the aftermath of the seige:
On her knees, slumped over the end of the coffin laid out closest to me, was a young mother who had obviously just lost her husband.
Their bright little daughter, less than two-years-old, was playing on the coffin, and running back and forth - obviously just too young to understand.
Every so often she would ask her mother, "Where's papa?" And the reply would come, "Papa's with Jesus."
You could tell from the dull, faraway look in the mother's eyes, that she was looking back on the life she had been living, that had just been abruptly ended, and ahead to a new, harder life, as a widow with young children to bring up, in a place where life and loved ones could be taken away at any moment without warning.
Iraqi Christian communities had coexisted alongside their Muslim neighbors for hundreds of years. The churches of the two main Christian groups, the Assyrians and Chaldeans are dated back to the years A.D. 33 and 34 respectively. A recent editorial in an Arab newspaper was entitled "Arab Christians should feel at home." As moving as the article was, the fact is and it remains that Arab Christians should not have to feel at home -- they already are at home. Their roots date back to the days of Jesus Christ, and since then they have maintained a unique identity and proud history under the most difficult of circumstances.
I recall a group of Iraqi children from a Chaldeans school dressed up in beautiful dark blue uniforms performing the morning nashids (songs) before going to class. They were so innocent and full of life. Their eyes spoke of promise and excitement about the future. I dread to imagine how many of these children were killed, wounded or forcefully displaced with their families, like millions of other Iraqis from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Chicago's Cardinal Francis George is the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholic Culture reports he has written Barack stating that it is "the moreal responsibility that the United States bears for working effectively with the Iraqi government to stem the violence. Prior to the war, our Conference of Bishops raised grave moral questions regarding the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Iraq and warned of 'unpredicatable consequences.' The decimation of the Christian community in Iraq and the continuing violence that threatens all Iraqis are among those tragic consequences." Shaikh Shuja, Chair of the British Muslim Council, writes to the Guardian, "The Muslims of Britain condemn the atrocious crimes of murder of Christians in Iraq (Report, 11 November) and they express their deep sorrow and sympathy for the families of the victims of the heinous crimes committed by people who in reality have nothing to do with any religion. It is a great tragedy that even seven years after the overthrow of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussain, and in spite of enormous financial and other resources thrown into Iraq, the country has yet not seen a strong and viable government which could maintain law and order. This a tragedy not only for the Christians, but all the people of Iraq. One fails to understand what role the US army is playing. If the object of the US army is to provide a viable government in Iraq, then it has certainly failed to do so." The statement continues, we're not interested. Our position is perfectly clear and already established: Iraqi Christians will decide for themselves what they will do -- stay in Iraq or leave. It is their lives, it is their choice. We support all countries opening their arms to welcome this targeted population -- as well as other of Iraq's targeted populations -- and providing asylum. But that's to Iraqis that want it. Those who don't have the right to stay in Iraq. Anyone who is outside of Iraq has no say in the issue. (That includes me.) It is not our decision because it is not our lives. When a statement condemns the attacks, that's good. But when a statement goes on to tell Iraqi Christians they should do, that's wrong. Especially if it's telling them to have to stay in a dangerous place. AFP reports that, following Nouri's whines and attacks, Eric Besson, Minister of Immigration in France, has responded to complaints that France is offering treatment to some of the wounded in the Church siege and offering asylum to some of them and their families, "The French government's concern is not to make all the Christians of the Middle East and of Iraq come here. France's aim is to strengthen the protection of Christians in the Middle East and in Iraq to preserve communities which have been home to multiple faiths for centuries." It's sad that when French immigration officials finally have something to brag about (the policies have not been 'helpful' in the last few years in France) and instead are forced to defend themselves. France didn't kidnap any Christian. They offered help -- needed medical help -- and they offered asylum and they did so at no cost to the Iraqi government. That was real aid and much more than the US government has done, so much more. France didn't create the problem but they did offer real assistance. Martin Chulov and Enas Ibrahim (Guardian) report on Marouky who wants to leave Iraq with her four daughters, "I cannot trust my neighbours. My only solution is to isolate myself and to hide from society. How is this life? I say again that if any country accepts me, I will leave right now."
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow) speaks with the Vice Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Elizabeth Prodromou: "As for the reaction from Iraqi officials, Prodromou explains that it has 'at least rhetorically spoken about its concern for the plight of these minorities.' So her group has 'asked that they take immediate measures to step up security at these sights'." When noting those who spoke out against the attacks on the Iraqi Christians, I did not even think to check the USCIRF. They issued a statement November 3rd and you can read it here. My apologies for forgetting them. We usually only note them once a year when they issue their yearly report. It was my mistake and error not to check to see if they had issued a statement. We'll include it in full this weekend but we're editing the snapshot right now to get it down below 120 K and there's not room for the statement in it. The Mandaens are also struggling with persecution and asylum and we'll try to include them next week.
The burn pits. "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units," L. Russell Keith explained to the Democratic Policy Committee November 6, 2009. Keith worked for KBR in Iraq at Joint Base Balad from March 2006 through July 2007. Like many service members and contractors, he was unnecessarily exposed to toxins which put his life at risk.

The Chair of the DPC, Senator Byron Dorgan, noted at the start of that day's hearing, "Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health. We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke."

At that day's hearing, Lt Col Darrin Curtis was among the witnesses and we'll note this exchange he had with Senator Dorgan.

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

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

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

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: At least fines and possibly jail.

Chair Byron Dorgan: Because?

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

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

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: Yes, sir.

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

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

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

Lt Col Darrin Curtis: (Overlapping) I think -- I think -- Senator, I think the hard line that there is no health effects is a -- is a very strong comment that we don't have the data to say. Do we have the data to say that it is a health risk? I don't think we have that either. But I do not think we have the data to say there is no health risk.

Chair Byron Dorgan: You are a bio-environmental engineer what is -- what is your own opinion? Without testing or data, you saw the burn pits, you were there, you hear the testimony of what went in the burn pits, you hear Dr. Szema's assessment. What's your assessment?

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

And a lot of people have gotten sick and a lot of people have died. Throughout, those responsible have denied responsibility. Julie Sullivan (Oregonian) has been covering the burn pits for years and last night she reported:

Documents exchanged in an Oregon lawsuit suggest that Kellogg, Brown and Root managers had medical tests proving workers at an Iraqi water treatment plant had "significant exposure" to a cancer-causing chemical, and managers worried about KBR's liability as a result.
The minutes of an Oct. 2, 2003 meeting about blood and urine tests from workers at the Qarmat Ali plant contradicts KBR's long-standing claims that there was no medical evidence of harm. The documents also indicate KBR's top health, safety and environmental manager knew plant workers continued to use the toxic chemical long after health alarms were raised. While piles of the corrosion fighter containing hexavalent chromium blew in the desert wind, the workers inside mixing the material wore gas masks.

"The ones responsible" is a category that includes far more than KBR. KBR couldn't have gotten away with what they did without being waived through repeatedly. Last month, Matthew D. LaPlante (Salt Lake Tribune) explained the results of a new GAO report:

Although defense health experts have now conceded that many service members may have been made sick by the fumes, the military is continuing to break its own rules and is continuing to expose its members to potentially toxic emissions, according to a federal audit released Friday.
The report, from the Government Accountability Office, also concluded U.S. military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to monitor burn pit emissions and have been slow to implement alternatives to open-air burning, such as filtered incinerators.
Finally, the report describes operations at four large military bases in Iraq where, investigators say, none of the active burn pits were in compliance with current environmental regulations.
"I wish I could say, 'Oh my. You're kidding. They're breaking the rules again?' but I'm really just sitting here thinking that nothing has changed," said Jill Wilkins, whose husband died days after being diagnosed with a brain tumor she believes may have been caused by his exposure to burn pit emissions during two tours of duty in Iraq.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Jackie Calmes (NYT), Tom Gjelten (NPR) and Martha Raddatz (ABC) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Truth and Consequences: Or What Happens When The Election Ends." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Gloria Feldt, Nicole Kurokawa, Irene Natividad and Sabrina Schaeffer to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is a discussion about abortion and Twitter. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

While some complain that extracting natural gas from shale rock formations is tainting their water supply, others who have allowed drilling on their property are getting wealthy and becoming "shaleionaires." Lesley Stahl reports.

The earthquake made things in already-poor Haiti bad enough, but now a cholera epidemic is threatening to kill more Haitians, whose living conditions after the quake help to spread the water-borne infection. Byron Pitts reports.

Medal of Honor
The first living soldier to win the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War tells Lara Logan in an emotional interview just what he did to earn the nation's highest combat honor and how the recognition makes him uncomfortable.

60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What they actually know is much less

"Iraqi leaders reach agreement on new government" (Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times):
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki appeared to have locked up his second term in office Wednesday after a lengthy closed-door meeting in which his political foes buckled to his demands for ending an eight-month impasse and forming a new government.

Reading the first paragraph, I was willing to give Ned Parker the benefit of the doubt. He says "appeared," after all. So it was the headline writer who was jumping to conclusions by insisting that an agreement had been reached when no one knows that.

But then I got to Parker's second paragraph:

It was stunning victory for the Shiite Islamist, who was plucked from obscurity four years ago to be prime minister. Since then Maliki has mastered the levers of power to become a figure admired and feared by supporters and opponents alike.

It was? That should be "It would be . . ." I would rather people print what they can back up in reporting and save opinions for columns.

Nouri may be the new leader of Iraq. He may not be. We will find out shortly. I do find it very interesting that Nouri's been applauded by the US government all along -- and by Nir Rosen. I caught his little song and dance on Democracy Now! where he stated Nouri had the support of all the neighboring states. Uh, no, F**K Head, that's not true.

He had Iran (Nir's an Iranian-American, by the way) but that's just one country. He did not have all the others. That's buls**t. He was not the choice of Jordan or Saudia Arabia. Turkey was only mildly warm to him. Nir Rosen's a fool.

If Nouri does continue on, Iraq's the loser. He is the new Saddam Hussein.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi Christians are targeted in another wave of attacks, Robert Gates' statements about US forces remaining in Iraq past 2011 garner some media attention, rumors swirl that tomorrow is the day Iraq breaks their stalemate, and more.
Yesterday, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made a statement. As Mike noted last night, The NewsHour (PBS) led yesterday's headlines with it:

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. may be open to keeping American troops in Iraq past the end of 2011, the current deadline for withdrawal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested today the timetable could slide, but he went on to say, "The initiative clearly needs to come from the Iraqis." Gates also urged Iraq's political factions to end eight months of deadlock and form a new government.

Today on The Takeaway (PRI), retired Col Jack Jacobs joined John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee to discuss Gates' remarks. Excerpt:
Celeste Headlee: So what do you make of this comment from Defense Secretary Robert Gates? What do you think is motivating him to make this? Is he -- is he saying -- is this a message for the Iraqi government saying, "Put in the request"?
Col Jack Jacobs: He probably already had a conversation with people over there and they have indicated that they might ask and what would be the American response if they did ask? But we had for a long time expected to leave troops either in Iraq or in and around Iraq for a long, long time past the deadline because we have so many obligations and opportunities in places like Kuwait and so on. We weren't going to completely pull out of this in any case.
Matthew Rothschild: I'm Matt Rothschild the editor of The Progressive magazine with my "Progressive Point of View" which you can also grab off our website at Don't hold your breath next December for all US troops to get out of Iraq that's the exit date required by the US-Iraqi accord but the Pentagon's been asking for an extension for a long time now. This week Defense Secretary Robert Gates practically begged the Iraqis to ammend the accord to allow US troops to stay there well into the future. He told the AP, "We're ready to have that discussion when and if they want to speak with us."
Bill Van Auken (WSWS) contributes a major essay on the latest:

The reality is that the Obama administration is presently exerting intense political pressure aimed at breaking an eight-month-old deadlock in the formation of a new Iraqi government so that it can have a US client regime capable of taking the "initiative" of asking American troops to stay.
US efforts have intensified in the aftermath of the midterm elections as part of a broad further turn to the right in both US foreign and domestic policies.
Last August, the Obama administration had celebrated the withdrawal of a single Stryker brigade from Iraq, proclaiming that its members were the last combat troops deployed in the country and that the US combat mission had ended.
The reality is that nearly 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq, the bulk of them with the same combat capabilities as the brigades that have been withdrawn. The US Air Force remains in control of Iraqi airspace and the US Navy controls its coastlines.
Obama sought to exploit the drawdown of US forces from their peak of 170,000—many of them redeployed to the "surge" in Afghanistan—for political purposes, claiming in the run-up to the elections that the Democratic president had fulfilled his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq.
This was a patent fraud. The timetable for the troop drawdown and the December 2011 final withdrawal was set not by Obama, but rather by a Status of Forces Agreement negotiated between the Bush administration and the US puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad.
The Obama administration is now moving to abrogate this Bush era treaty in order to secure an indefinite US military grip over Iraq.
The immediate impediment to this plan is the absence of a government in Baghdad to sign a new agreement. Eight months after the election last March, the country's rival political factions have been unable to cobble together a viable coalition.

Which brings us to the stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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 -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's eight months and two days and still counting.
Leila Fadel (Washington Post) notes the latest rumors that a deal has been reached and explains the expected process: "Legislators are expected to meet Thursday afternoon for only the second time since the inconclusive March 7 election. Under the deal reached Wednesday, the parliament is expected to appoint a speaker from Iraqiya, then name the current Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, as president. He, in turn, will name Maliki as prime minister. Maliki will then have to put together a cabinet that a simple majority in Iraq's parliament will have to approve." Whomever is named PM-designate -- whenever they're named -- will have 30 days to pull together a cabinet. Nouri's past history of ministers walking out -- as well as his own boasting in April 2006 that he'd put together a cabinet before 30 days -- are forgotten, apparently. Also forgotten is what this says: Elections are meaningless.
If the rumors are true about the make up of the next government and that does come to pass, the message is: "Elections are meaningless, voters stay home." The president and the prime minister remain the same? Only the speaker changes?
They didn't need a national election to change the speaker. Mahmoud Mashadani had been the Speaker and was repeatedly the victim of a disinformation campaign by the US State Dept -- with many in the media enlisting (such as in 2006 when he was in Jordan on business and a certain reporter at a certain daily LIED and said he was in Iraq, hurt and sad and refusing to see anyone -- that lie would have taken hold were it not for the Arab press). He stepped down. When he did so, Iyad Samarrai became the next Speaker and that was done by Parliament, no national elections required. So the message from the 2010 elections appears to be -- if rumors are correct -- that there is no point in voting. Iyad Samarrai got vanished from the narrative. Reporters and 'reporters' like Quil Lawrence (declaring victory for Nouri March 8th, one day after the elections) might have been a little more informed if they'd bothered to pay attention. Mahmoud Mashadani stepped down as Speaker. It took FOUR months for a new speaker to be appointed. And that was in the spring of 2009. Why anyone thought some magical mood enchancer would change things in 2010 is beyond me.
In a bit of classic understatement, an unnamed Iraqi official tells Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor), "It looks a lot like the old government." And for that, people were imprisoned this year and died this year? Again, these results send a very clear message and it not democracy 'friendly' nor does it help build democracy. Arraf states the rumors are Iraqiya's Osama al-Nujaifi will be the new Speaker. Rumors. Suadad al-Salhy and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) note that the the stalemate "appeared to have broken" AFP's a little more specific. Throughout the day, they've filed reports including one where there was no indication of a deal (filed at approximately noon EST). What changed? They report Ayad Allawi showed for the meet up. But AFP also notes, as do al-Salhy and Ibrahim, that Iraqiya is saying they will iron out details tomorrow and make a decision of whether they accept any agreements -- in other words, the only thing clear is that Parliament is supposed to hold a session tomorrow afternoon. And Reuters states the Speaker post is one of the details that will be considered -- the whom of it. Hemin Babn (Rudaw) cites Iraqiya's Arshad Salihi as stating that final decisions will be made tomorrow by Iraqiya as to whether or not they will be "participating in the government".
The targeting of Iraqi Christians continues today. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports on "a coordinated series of attacks on Christian neighbourhoods in Baghdad" involving over 14 bombings. Jim Muir (BBC News -- link has text and video)adds, "Well a whole rash of bombs, in fact six different parts of Baghdad hit by them. Areas which are absolutely known to be areas of Christian concentration. Obviously no area is completely homogeneous in terms of it's population so among the three killed and the twenty-four we believed to have been wounded, we're not clear at this moment, exactly how many of them may be Christians. But what is very clear is that this was a coordinated attack aimed at areas known to have a Christian label on them and coming about a week after that warning from the Islamic State in Iraq which is a kind of umbrella group for al Qaeda [in Mesopotamia] and related groups that 'all Christians are now fair game.' It also comes just a few hours after Mr. Maliki, the incumbent prime minister visited the cathedral where the bloodbath took place two Sundays ago." Kelly McEvers (NPR's Morning Edition -- link has text and audio), speaking to Steve Inskeep, observed, "The city at one time was a mix of Jews, Christians and Sunni and Shiite Muslims. You know nowadays Jews are all but gone. And Sunnis and Shiites live completely separately from each other. But dozens of Christians who were wounded in the church siege have been flown to Europe for treatment. Some say they won't come back. But in a service this past Sunday, some Christians did vow to stay on. They said they have a mission to, you know, keep the faith alive." Gary Mitchell (Sky News -- link has text and video) quotes the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, Emmanuel II Delly, stating, "They are chasing Christians in every neighbourhood in Baghdad." Rawya Rageh (Al Jazeera) observes, "We have seen Christians fleeing Iraq between 2004 and 2006. Their numbers now are down to a third. This is a stepped-up attack to revive the chaos that has affected the Christian community in the past." Sammy Ketz (AFP) quotes Baghdad's St. Joseph's priest, Father Saad Sirap Hanna, stating, "People are panicked. They come to see us in the churches to ask what they should do. We are shattered by what has happened." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) explains:
Christians, most of them eastern rite Catholics, trace their history in this country to the earliest days of Christianity. Before the 2003 war, there were up to a million Christians here -- about 3 percent of the population. Half that number is estimated to have left in the past seven years, continuing an exodus begun after the 1991 Gulf War when Saddam Hussein's secular regime turned increasingly Islamic.
Although thousands of Assyrian Christians and others were killed under Iraq's Ottoman rule a century ago, the attack on the church last week is the worst in the country's recent history. The attack, claimed by an Al Qaeda-linked group, was followed two days later by 16 bombings in Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad that killed at least 70 people.
October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked. At least 58 people died during the assault. Following that, as Muir noted, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed credit for the siege and released a statement which included: "All Christin centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhadjideen wherever they can reach them. We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood." Today would appear to be a continuation of efforts to make good on that statement. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has text and video) introduces a video segment featuring footage from the October 31st assault -- from inside the Church -- which Arwa Damon explains. The Church is where some are sought refuge today. Jane Arraf and Laith Hammoudi (Christian Science Monitor and McClatchy Newspapers) report on that group including Umm Danny who took her five children with her (three of her own and a niece and nephew) and states, "We were so afraid -- we left without taking anything. We went barefoot onto the roof and climbed onto our Muslim neighbor's house. They helped us and told us to stay with them but we were afraid." Martin Chulov (Guardian) quotes Christian Endowment Fund's Abdullah al-Nourfali stating, "I can't call on the Christians to leave their country. And I can't demand that they stay. If I call for them to levae, I should be responsible for their futures and if I call for them stay, it's the same thing. It's a very difficult position." The UN Security Council today issued a statement declaring, "No terrorist act can reverse a path toward peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq." Mark Lyall Grant, UN Security Council president, delivered the following:
The members of the Security Council were appalled by and condemned in the strongest terms the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Iraq, including today's attack, in which scores of civilians lost their lives and hundreds more were wounded. The attacks deliberately targeted locations where civilians congregate, including Christian and Muslim places of worship. The members of the Security Council expressed their deep condolences to the families of the victims and reaffirmed their support for the people and the Government of Iraq, and their commitment to Iraq's security.

The members of the Security Council condemned all incitement to and acts of violence, particularly those motivated by religious hatred, and expressed confidence that the people of Iraq will remain steadfast in their continued rejection of efforts by extremists to spark sectarian tension.

The members of the Security Council additionally condemned the October 19 attack against the convoy of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and other UN staff. While all UN staff escaped without injury, one member of the Iraqi Security Forces was sadly killed and several others injured. The members of the Security Council also expressed their deep condolences to the families of the victims and their continued support to UNAMI.

The Security Council strongly expressed its support for the continued efforts of the Iraqi Government to help meet security needs of the entire population of Iraq. In this regard, the Security Council acknowledges the efforts of the Iraq Security Forces whose members are also being targeted in ongoing attacks.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with Iraqi authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that no terrorist act can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq and the international community.

The international response has been near uniform with leaders from Palestine (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) to the Vatican (Pope Benedict XVI) denouncing the attacks on Christians. Notable exceptions have been Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama, neither of whom could be bothered to utter a sentence -- at least publicly -- on the October 31st assault. Monday, for the first time, the US State Dept spokesperson Philip J. Crowley made a comment:

So -- but we spoke out very significantly last week at -- when -- during -- in the aftermath of this tragedy and we continue to do whatever we can to help promote religious tolerance in Iraq and elsewhere.

Despite his assertion, they did not speak out last week -- significantly or otherwise. Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, made a statement on November 1st and the National Security Council's spokesperson Mike Hammer made a statement the same day. That was it from anyone connected to the administration.
Martin Chulov (Guardian) maintains, "As Iraq slides back towards sectarianism, al-Qaida has become a looming beast no one wants to speak of, while blaming everyone else for the rising bloodshed. A chilling picture of the group is taking shape -- crystallised by the attacks on Baghdad's Christians. Four weeks of interviews with the Guardian reveal an organisation that has emerged from a pounding from all sides -- and a severe shortage of funds -- to once again pose a lethal threat to almost anyone in Iraq."
In other news of violence, Reuters reports Sunni Imam Abbas Mahmoud was shot dead in Garma, 1 man was shot dead outside his Mosul home, a Falluja roadside bombing left five people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing wounded three people and mortar attacks on the Green Zone resulted in seven people being wounded.
Iraq Veterans Against the War have launched Operation Recovery and this week they're doing outreach:
The Campaign Team and Chapters from across the nation are starting an effort to do regular outreach on and around military bases and universities.
The Campaign is in the popular research and base building phase. To win this struggle, hundreds of IVAW Members, Veterans, Service Members, and Allies are needed to help organize. Service Members and Veterans are in our communities and looking to be part of a community of people that understands them.
If you are a member of IVAW and want to learn more about how to get involved and do outreach click here.
The realities of PTSD were addressed on Monday's Fresh Air (NPR --link has audio and text) and we'll note this from Terry Gross' conversation with psychologist Craig Bryan:
Terry Gross: Dr. Craig Bryan welcome to FRESH AIR. In the documentary "Wartorn," which is about post-traumatic stress disorder, the mother of a vet who killed himself says, the Army taught him how to kill to protect others; they didn't teach him how to stop having that instinct. Has she managed to sum up a serious issue -what happens to you after you come home, when you've been taught to kill?
Dr. CRAIG BRYAN (Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center): Well, I think it is a pretty remarkable insight into sort of the paradox of working with service members. You know, part of being an effective warrior, an effective service member, and having an effective military is training our individuals to no longer fear death, to use violence and aggression in controlled manners, and then an individual's return from war zones, combat zones, using those skills. And they're not necessarily taught how those skills fit within, you know, the culture and the context of the United States, where violence and aggression have a very different role to play within daily basis in contrast to a combat zone.
GROSS: Now you've said that, you know, soldiers are trained to face death with fearlessness. But does that training also make it easier to take your life?
Dr. BRYAN: We think in some ways, that it is. Yes. We do know that one protective factor for suicide is fear of death. If someone is afraid to die, they tend not to kill themselves. And so when you have a group of individuals who have been conditioned to overcome that fear, in many ways they sort of have what it takes to kill themselves.
Now, of course, you know, fearlessness about death is not enough. A person also has to want to kill themselves. You know, just because you know how to, or youre capable of killing yourself ,doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to do it because if you dont ever desire suicide, you know, suicide never becomes an option. So it's a little bit more complex than just pure capability.
GROSS: So what are some of the things that you've come across from vets who you've worked with, that have made them think about or succeed in taking their lives?
Dr. BRYAN: Yeah. Well, I guess first I would say that there is no such thing as succeeding in taking one's life. And they kill themselves and they have a fatal outcome, but...
GROSS: Yeah. I was so sorry about that word when I used it. Yeah.
Dr. BRYAN: ...there's no such thing as a successful suicide. What we do know about some of the factors that contribute to those who die as a result of self-inflicted injury, there tends to be intense psychological and mental suffering. There is an extremely high level of agitation. Oftentimes, there's mood disturbance, a sense that things are never going to get any better. We see what we call cognitive constriction within the clinical field, which is - it's sort of like tunnel vision - an inability to solve problems and to kind of think of options, and select a solution that would be optimal. When I work with suicidal service members, I often, you know, tell them if you are able to solve this problem effectively, you know, suicide wouldn't even be an option. It would be obsolete, in many ways. And so what we often find with the service members is they just - they're suffering intensely. It's an agonizing suffering, and they haven't been able to figure out how to eliminate that suffering in a way that doesn't require them to die.
And we'll close with this from Stop These Wars:

During the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King called our government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." True then—and even more so today.
A few years before that, in 1964 Mario Savio made his great speech at Berkeley; at the end he says, "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
There are children being orphaned, maimed or killed every day, in our name, with our tax dollars; there are soldiers and civilians dying or being maimed for life, in order to generate profits for the most odious imperialistic corporate war machine ever, again in our name. How long are we going to let this go on? Until it is too late, until this destructive machine destroys all of us and the planet to boot?
Wikileaks has revealed the documented horror of U.S. war-making, beyond what any of us imagined. It's time veterans and others express our resistance directly and powerfully by putting ourselves on the line, once again—honestly, courageously and without one drop of apology for doing so. It is not we who are the murderers, torturers or pillagers of the earth.
Profit and power-hungry warmongers are destroying everything we hold dear and sacred.
In the early thirties, WW1 vets descended on Washington, D.C., to demand their promised bonuses, it being the depths of the Depression. General Douglas MacArthur and his sidekick Dwight Eisenhower disregarded President Herbert Hoover's order and burned their encampment down and drove the vets out of town at bayonet point.
We are today's bonus marchers, and we've coming to claim our bonus–PEACE.
Join activist veterans marching in solidarity to the White House, refusing to move, demanding the end of U.S. wars, which includes U.S. support—financial and tactical—for the Israeli war machine as well.
If we can gather enough courageous souls, nonviolently refusing to leave the White House, willing to be dragged away and arrested if necessary, we will send a message that will be seen worldwide. "End these wars – now!" We will carry forward a flame of resistance to the war machine that will not diminish as we effectively begin to place ourselves, as Mario Savio said, "upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus." and we will make it stop.
We believe that the power of courageous, committed people is greater than that of corporate warmongers. But we will only see our power when we use it collectively, when we stand together.
With courage, persistence, boldness and numbers, we can eventually make this monstrous war machine grind to a halt, so that our children and all children everywhere can grow up in a peaceful world.
Join us at the White House on December 16th!
For a world in peace,
Nic Abramson – Veterans For Peace, Elliott Adams – Past President,Veterans For Peace, Laurie Arbeiter-Activist Response Team, Ken Ashe -Veterans For Peace, Ellen Barfield-Veterans For Peace, Brian Becker-ANSWER Coalition, National Coordinator, Frida Berrigan-War Resisters League, Bruce Berry-Veterans For Peace, Leah Bolger-Veterans For Peace, Elaine Brower-Anti-war Military Mom and World Can't Wait, Scott Camil-Veterans For Peace, Ross Caputi- Justice For Fallujah Project, Kim Carlyle-Veterans For Peace, Matthis Chiroux-Iraq War Resister Veteran, Gerry Condon-Veterans For Peace, Will Covert-Veterans For Peace, Dave Culver-Veterans For Peace, Matt Daloisio-War Resisters League, Ellen Davidson-War Resisters League, Mike Ferner-President, Veterans For Peace, Nate Goldshlag-Veterans For Peace, Clare Hanrahan-War Crimes Times, Mike Hearington-Veterans For Peace, Tarak Kauff-Veterans For Peace, Kathy Kelley-Voices For Creative Nonviolence, Sandy Kelson-Veterans For Peace, Joel Kovel-Veterans For Peace, Erik Lobo-Veterans For Peace, Joe Lombardo-United National Antiwar Committee, Ken Mayers -Veterans For Peace, Nancy Munger-co-President, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Fred Nagel-Veterans For Peace, Pat O'Brien-Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Bill Perry-Vietnam Veterans Against The War, Vito Piccininno -Veternas For Peace, Mike Prysner-co-founder, March Forward, Ward Reilly-Veterans For Peace, Laura Roskos-co-President, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Cindy Sheehan-Founder, Peace of the Action, David Swanson-author, Debra Sweet-National Director, World Can't Wait, Mike Tork-Veterans For Peace, Hart Viges – Iraq Veterans Against the War, Jay Wenk-Veterans For Peace, Linda Wiener- Veterans For Peace, Diane Wilson -Veterans For Peace, Col. Ann Wright-Veterans For Peace, Doug Zachary-Veterans For Peace

fresh air