Friday, February 11, 2011


Cream magazine is a music magazine. Its archives are here. This is George Harrison.

What do you think happens to people after they die?

Well, what do you think happens to people when they go home and they take their suit off? That’s what I think—your body falls off, but you’ve still got two others bodies, fortunately. This is how I see it; this thing they call the soul. In the Bible, I think Jesus said there are three cages for the Bird of Paradise. And the Bird of Paradise is this soul, this perfect thing that has its own identity, and then the three cages are these three bodies. One body is called the causal body, the next body is called the astral body and the third is called the gross physical body. So death is only relative to birth—if you don’t wanna die, you don’t get born. But as long as you’re born, you’ve got to die, because just as sure as nighttime is gonna follow daytime, death is gonna follow birth. Like bob Dylan said, "Look out kid, it’s something you did. God knows when, but you’re doing it again." So what happens is your body falls off. Gets tired or for whatever reason, and you’re now in your astral body, which is much more subtle and is made of light. Then, just like on your radio, where you can change the frequency without turning the dial, there’s a whole ’nother thing happening there. And that’s what it’s like: all these different levels are all right here, but they’re all vibrating on different frequencies. So death is just where your suit falls off and now you’re in your other suit. But you can’t see it on this level, so it’s all right. Don’t worry.

That's from a 1987 interview J. Kordosh conducted. George, the quiet Beatle, was riding high on his album Cloud Nine.

I think if people had realized how few albums were left, they would have been kinder. That wasn't a bad album and, in many ways, is probably my favorite Harrison solo album. "Devil's Radio" remains a stand out track. This was his last solo studio album.

My favorite Ringo album is Beaucoups of Blues. For Paul it would be Ram or Band On The Run.

For John?

Everything except 1975's Rock 'n' Roll. I've never been able to get behind that album of covers. But I love everything other album John did.

Favorite Beatles album? Abbey Road.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, February 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue throughout Iraq, Iraqi women continue suffer, rumors swirl that Iraq will announce the vice presidents Sunday and that there will be four (not the three expected), Cindy Sheehan explains how you can have blood on your hands, and more.
This week on Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with Jason Ditz ( and the discussion included Iraq.
Scott Horton: What's going on in Iraq?
Jason Ditz: Well what's going on in Iraq is sort of the same thing that's going on all across the region. There's a high level of unemployment and increasing concern about a leader of the government taking more and more power for himself and there are starting to be some pretty big protests.
Scott Horton: Well be more specific about more power for himself?
Jason Ditz: Well right now Nouri al-Maliki the Prime Minister is also Nouri al-Maliki the Interior Minister and Nouri al-Maliki the Defense Minister and the National Security Minister and I believe he might have another title or two in there too. But basically he's -- when he announced his new unity cabinet, he kept every single cabinet position that has any police or military forces or even some of the smaller law enforcement groups are all under his control. He -- he literally controls, as the leader, every single, uh, every single non-foreign force in Iraq now.
Scott Horton: But that's unconstitutional according to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iraq from 2005, right?
Jason Ditz: Well it certainly is. He's sort of skirting that by claiming that he's the interim Defense Minister and the interim Interior Minister and interim all these other ministers but -- And that he's going to appoint somebody. But it's been awhile now and he certainly doesn't seem to be moving forward with it.
Scott Horton: So now tell me about the reaction to this now too because across the Middle East, there's been protests. What's the effect of the "Egyptian virus" -- as John McCain called it -- in Iraq?
Jason Ditz: Well there have been some protests particularly in some of the poorer Shi'ite cities in the south. There's been some pretty good size protests demanding economic improvement, criticizing the government and police reacting as they have in a lot of places just by opening fire on the protesters.
Scott Horton: Do you know if there were any reports about Iraqi reaction to the international reports? I guess it was Amnesty -- No, it was Human Rights Watch and I guess CBS News followed up on all of this about Nouri al-Maliki and his secret prisons and torture and all of that. Is that part of the narrative in Iraq about the protests in the south, for example?
Jason Ditz: That I'm not sure about. It seems like the protests are pretty non-specific to the extent they're reported in the media. They're more angry at the general situation that they've got this not particularly elected government, Maliki's party came in second in last year's election and he ended up dominating the situation even more than he had before and that the economy is getting worse and worse so it seems like the specifics of torture, the specifics of his policies are sort of being drowned out by just the overwhelming annoyance at the situation in the hope that something similar that happened in Egypt might happen in Iraq too.
Yesterday attorneys led protests in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. Alsumara TV notes, "The wave of demonstrations in Iraq does not only stir up underprivileged. Iraqi lawmakers staged a protest on Thursday in Baghdad against the ruling of the Iraqi Government to ban access for citizens and lawyers into State institutions mainly the Trade Ministry directorates. [. . .] Demonstrators believe that banning them from accessing state directorates to follow up their clients' formalities is an invitation for corruption." Al Rafidayn reports on the 500 in Baghdad and notes that 200 also demonstrated in Karbala and in Kut which saw two different protests -- one by attorneys. Haider Roa ( adds demonstrations also took place in Samawah, Kut, Amara, Diwaniyah and Ramadi yesterday. Al Mada adds that the Islamic Supreme Council has declared it will protect any Iraqi who is protesting against the government's policies. Ammar al-Hakim, president of the Islamic Supreme Council, is warning that the government needs to start providing the basic services, providing jobs and end the corruption. He issued a call for the security forces of Iraq to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi people and ensure they are protected during demonstrations and marches. He demanded that Iraqi officials stop offering easy and false assurances of improvements and actually deliver improvements. In response, Baghdad Operations Command agreed that they will protect Iraqi citizens who are taking part in demonstrations. Alsumaria TV adds, "Head of Islamic Supreme Council Sayyed Ammar Al Hakim rebuked the way Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki are dealing with the concerns and interests of Iraqis. Al Hakim called to deal more seriously with people's demands and restrain from fake vows and pledges, he said."
Also yesterday Oxfam published the report "Whose Aid Is It Anyway?" and AFP notes, "The non-profit group Oxfam said on Thursday that major powers were concentrating too much aid on countries for political and military reasons and were overlooking other severe crises. The aid organisation said billions of dollars had been used for "unsustainable, expensive and sometimes dangerous aid projects" supporting short-term foreign policy and security objectives. Oxfam particularly highlighted tens of billions of dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade." The topic was the focus of the latest Guardian Focus podcast with Madeleine Bunting and guests the Guardian's Jonathan Steele, the European Council on Foreign Relation's Daniel Korski, Oxfam's Mike Leis and War on Want's John Hilary. In the discussion Bunting played a clip of Hillary Clinton speaking on the issue of Afghanistan women which led Jonathan Steele off on a raving loon moment. I've thought about that and that's the only term for it. (This was supposed to be addressed in yesterday's snapshot but there wasn't room.) Jonathan Steele needs to think about his remarks. Madeleine Bunting and the Guardian need to stop the women bashing.
Had I written yesterday, I wouldn't have called it that. But Madeleine specifically criticized David Cameron by name (as did guests) and they also criticized Hillary by name. Does no one see the problem with that?
David Cameron is the Prime Minister of England. Is Hillary Clinton the President of the United States? No, she's not. Her equivalent in the UK would be Theresa May. May, the UK Home Secretary, was never mentioned. Nor should she have been. Jonathan would argue he was building on her voting record from her days in the Senate. When she and Barack both served in the Senate, there wasn't a big difference in their voting records when it came to Afghanistan or Iraq. And you're not building on her voting record if you're talking about the status today. If you're talking about the status of that war today, the United States military has only one commander in chief and that is Barack Obama.
Instead of popping open a can of crazy, Jonathan should have asked Bunting why she played the clip to begin with? She's calling out David Cameron who's the leader of England. Why is she not calling out Barack? He should have asked her was the clip played because Hillary's a woman? Was the clip played because Barack makes no statements -- as he pursues these wars -- about the women in the countries he keeps the US military? If the latter's the case, that's not only troubling, it's worthy of an entire broadcast. People need to stop using Hillary as their chew toy. The Cult of St. Barack ensured that he got the White House. He now needs to take the criticism for his policies. And if that's too much for Jonathan Steele and Madeleine Bunting, then the Guardian Focus needs to find more mature guests and more mature host.
Some basic facts on Iraq from the United Nations Country Team Iraq -- young population with nearly 50% being less than 19, only 18% of women are employed. Those are 2011 figures. In 2009, Oxfam published their survey of Iraqi women and the number of them who were head of household was approximately 36%. The bulk of them are not receiving any assistance from the government and the meager amount offered to widows by the government (the few that receive assistance) is not enough to live on. In December, IRIN noted, "An IOM survey of 1,355 female-headed displaced families who have returned to their places of origin found that 74 percent are struggling to secure adequate nutrition for their families. Delays in receiving subsidized government food rations or lack of some food items in the rations force women to buy food with whatever money they have, adding to their struggle, the report, issued on 3 December, states. The survey also found that health problems and social norms had prevented nearly 40 percent of them from finding jobs. Of those who are able to work, 71 percent are unemployed." Nizar Latif (The National) reported last week on how the Iraqi Women's Association's Madia al Rawai was warning that the al-Maliki government needed to look at what was happening in surrounding countries, "The Iraqi government should pay attention. There is an army of women, with no jobs and no money, and they are ready to take to the streets unless something is done to improve their situation." Tupperware's Elinor Steele has been writing entries for The Huffington Post about Iraqi women she encountered on her recent visit to the country. She noted earlier this month:
Iraq has always been a pioneer in the Middle East for integrating women into society and promoting women's rights; however, over the past 30 years many laws that empowered women have been retracted and some men in society have become more conservative and less open-minded to women-owned businesses. This kind of thinking could set Iraq's economy back by decades.
During my visit, I had a chance to meet a group of Iraqi female politicians. The first comment they made was about unequal representation within the Iraqi government. While the Iraqi parliament is complying with its constitutional mandate that 25% of the seats must be held by women, there are no women in senior-level government positions such as vice president or serving as ministers at high-ranking ministries.
Sunday, Iraq's representatives in Parliament are supposed to vote on the vice president. In the past, the country has had two vice presidents. Three has been expected to be the number this year and all men. However, Al Rafidayn reports that there may be four vice presidents and that the fourth expected to be a VP is a woman with the Turkmen bloc, Faihaa Zine El Abidine. Supposedly, on Monday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani asked parliament to allow for four vps and that was to provide a post for "the women of Iraq." The Turkmen bloc issued a statement noting that women in Iraq are maginalized in the current government and that they did not receive any posts from Nouri to his cabinet ("the center of political decision-making"). How very telling that the country might have their first female vice president when Nouri -- his Cabinet still not full -- can't find slots for women. His Cabinet is so bad that even the head of the Ministry of Women is a man.
Iraq has many problems but Elinor Steele and the New York Times ignore the obvious. The puppet government is installed. The forces terrorizing Iraqis were picked by and endorsed by the US and British governments. The terrorizing was supposed to keep the Iraqis too frightened to fight the occupation. So religious extremists were put into positions of power and it has made life hell for Iraqi women, Iraq's LGBT community and Iraq's religious minorities. These thugs doing the terrorizing were elevated to their positions not by accident. John Leland and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report on the situation in Baghdad for women and reveal just how close minded so many are (including some women). A store's window display promises eternal damnation to women who allow even bits of the hairs on their head to be seen. (Iraqi women should reject that store window display by rejecting the store itself.) 34-year-old Maysson Ibrahim vows she will continue to wear her "tight jeans and skirts" and the curses and harassment will not force her "to cover herself." And all of this could have been addressed. The US government controlled Iraqi media. They could have set a tone (hell, if they knew what they were doing, they could have shaped the society -- that's not me encouraging it and I've refrained from stating how that could happen -- either in personal conversations or at this site). They chose not to. Yet again, they decided it was more important to support terrorism and allow the thugs free reign. Journalist Anna Badkhen writes:
No one knows exactly how many Iraqi women have been raped since the U.S-led invasion in 2003, but activists in Iraq and abroad put the numbers in the thousands. Human rights groups began to see an increase in rapes in Iraq immediately after the fall of Hussein's regime, and evidence that different factions were targeting women. In 2008, Amnesty International reported that "crimes specifically aimed at women and girls, including rape, have been committed by members of Islamist armed groups, militias, Iraqi government forces, foreign soldiers within the U.S.-led Multinational Force, and staff of foreign private military security contractors."
Badkhen writes the above for a Frontline video report she and Mimi Chakarova did on the safe houses for Iraqi women. They visit one in the Red Zone which, for safety reasons, they must visit "in the dead of night," Chakarova explains. They discover "a two bedroom apartment full of women and children. One of the women warns us that the rats will keep us awake. [. . .] There are six women living here with their children. Four have been raped." From the video report:
Mimi Chakarova: When we were in Iraq, did you witness any women getting raped.
Male US service member: Yeah, definitely. On both tours I would say at least 8 rapes that I saw with my own eyes.
Anna Badkhen covered the women shelters for Ms. magazine in 2009. Utne re-runs her article for Ms. Excerpt:

The Underground Railroad was founded in 2004 by Baghdad-born architect-turned-feminist-organizer Yanar Mohammed, head of OWFI, along with MADRE, an international women's rights group based in New York. It provides the only sanctuaries for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence outside the quasi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, where the local government and nongovernment organizations operate several shelters. In addition to providing temporary asylum, it helps women resettle in places where their abusers cannot find them easily. Since its inception, says MADRE policy and communications director Yifat Susskind, the railroad has helped thousands of women. Several have been transferred to Turkey and at least two now live in the United States, but most of the rescued women have remained in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein's regime persecuted political dissidents but allowed women personal rights and freedoms; assaults on women were rare. But when violence engulfed the country after the U.S. invasion, women became "the easiest targets," says OWFI member Dalal Juma. Violence against women is now rampant and goes virtually unchecked by Iraq's new legal system. Sexual violence is "severely under­reported," Amnesty International wrote in March, and along with other crimes against women and girls, is usually committed with impunity.

[. . .]
Women learn about the shelter through word of mouth and OWFI's quarterly newsletter; the only people who know its location are the women who run it and a thoroughly vetted handful of male security guards armed with handguns. One of these guards lives at the shelter with his young wife, an OWFI employee. As far as the landlord is concerned, the couple is renting the apartment and the other women are their relatives, in town for a visit. Just to be on the safe side, the organization pays $350 a month for the place, which would normally cost about $150. "Money for silence," Juma explains.

Women in Iraq have not been afforded equal access to justice or protection by law enforcement agencies, so have stayed more vulnerable and likely to face abuse.
"The security situation in general has obviously hit the vulnerable populations worst, and when we look at the situation for women, there is a fear that -- rather than improving -- the situation since 2003 has deteriorated," said Helen Olafsdottir, a UNDP Iraq advisor for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. "We've found that there was a huge gap in terms of addressing issues of domestic violence, and gender-based violence in general."
According to surveys conducted jointly by the Government of Iraq and UN agencies from 2006 to 2009, women in Iraq face high levels of violence, but lack adequate access to care and justice in the aftermath.
One in five women from 15 to 49 years old has suffered physical violence at the hands of her husband -- some 14 percent of whom were also pregnant at the time. The real numbers are likely higher, however, since reporting of gender-based violence cases is generally low, as women fear social stigmatization and lack confidence that authorities will investigate complaints. [See
here and here for sources of stats above and facts in the next paragraph.]
In Iraq, there is not a strong legal framework to protect women from abuse, compounded by a lack of shelters and a lack of adequate training for medical and law enforcement authorities to respond to instances of gender-based violence.

The US government created the conditions women in Iraq now live in. It's amazing how little press coverage Iraqi women receive. The best thing the US can do for Iraqi women is to remove all forces immediately. US forces are used to prop up the puppet government and the thugs who terrorize. A quick departure by the US could spell an end to them. The longer US forces prop up this anti-woman government, the longer the anti-women sentiment exists and begins to appear 'normal' to many Iraqis.

In other news, Al Mada reports the Health and Environment Committee in the Maysan Province is warning of an impending environmental disaster as a result of the continued influx of contaminated water from Iran. The salt in the water, is threatening farming and and animals, the committee learned on a visit to Amara. Still on water news, Water World reports:

On Thursday, 10 February 2011, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey presented the report "The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water" to the Swiss Press Club in Geneva. Supported by Switzerland and by the Swedish government, the report compiles a list of 10 recommendations whose objective is to contribute to building peace and to reducing the conflicts in the Middle East thanks to a sustainable trans-border management of water in the region.
On Thursday, 10 February 2011, the "Blue Peace" report was officially presented by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. The document assesses the principal challenges linked to the trans-border management of resources. At present a factor of division and tension, water harbours the potential of becoming an instrument of peace and cooperation. This emerges as the report's central thesis. Subsequently, it compiles a list of ten recommendations, calculated in the short, medium, and long terms, which are aimed to lead to pragmatic solutions.
Water resources in the Middle East are subject to an unprecedented pressure which is threatening the populations of entire regions along with their economic activities. Population growth, migration, urbanization, and climate change are all exerting an enormous impact on these resources. In fact, over the last 50 years, the flow rate of numerous rivers in turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan has plunged by 50 to 90 percent. And yet at the same time, the sustainable management of trans-border water resources is vital to provide for the requirements of agriculture, the need for clean drinking water, and for socio-economic development in general. It is key to avoiding human tragedy and to fostering the promotion of peace.

AFP also notes
the joint Swiss and Swedish report adds, "Downstream territories such as Israel, Jordan and Palestinian territories were in the worst position with mounting clean water deficits of up to 500-700 million cubic metres each. The report also argued that technical solutions such as desalination or wastewater recycling in Israel would ultimately have limited scope."
Al Rafidayn reports that Behouz Aziz Older, a journalist in northen Iraq, is said to have taken his own life after being discovered hanged in a cemetary. His funeral services were yesterday. Reuters notes 1 man ("mobile shop owner") was shot dead Thursday night in Falluja.
Last night on KPFK's Lawyer's Guild (7 to 8:00 PST each Thursday night -- click here to visit the KPFK archives and scroll down to listen to program -- you have 59 days before it's pulled from the archives), Jim Lafferty spoke with Peter Dudar who made the documentary Arlington West with Sally Marr.
Jim Lafferty: So tell us about Cross Wise, what is it?
Peter Dudar: Well it's the new version of Arlington West and it's twice as powerful
Jim Lafferty: Okay.
Peter Dudar: Now we have an update with all these -- The mothers' stories have been they were lied to unfortunately. Along with Fernando Suarez [del Solar]' story about saying his son [Jesus Suarez del Solar, November 16, 1982 - March 27, 2003] was --
Jim Lafferty: Who was the first guy to die in Iraq.
Peter Dudar: Jesus. Ironically in a Christian country, he was the first to die in Iraq.
Jim Lafferty: And he was told what? That his son had died -- I can't remember the story, Peter. Tell us.
Peter Dudar: Well he was told his son died and with a bullet to the head. He goes to the mortuary and asks for the lid to be lifted and the military refuses. He calls the police. They remove the military. He opens the lid and discovers his son's face is perfect and it's the rest of his body that's damaged -- from a US cluster bomb, he discovers.
Jim Lafferty: From our own weapons. That's right. And Cindy Sheehan, the famous Cindy Sheehan, sort of the mother of the anti-war movement in the country these days, they lied to her about how her son [Casey Sheehan, May 29, 1979 - April 4, 2004] lost his life, didn't they?
Peter Dudar: Yeah. A Humvee mechanic. She was told that he died a very heroic death in battle and volunteered for the mission. Well she discovers later, years later, that he was forced on the mission, that he was killed immediately and dies, you know, there in a MedTent, the first day, his first day in Iraq. Karen Meredith. She discovers that her son [Ken Ballard, July 21, 1977 - May 30, 2004] actually didn't receive a bullet to the head from insurgents, he was killed by a discharge from his own machine gun on his tank.
Jim Lafferty: Ow. And I think you talked with one -- I don't know if this is in the movie yet because I confess almost no one has seen it, including me, you were kind enough to give me some copies tonight so I'm going to see it -- but it was a Marine recruiter, wasn't it? That told you because you got to talking about this whole question for a very long time, not only, let me put it this way, not only don't we know how many civilians the war has killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. I mean there's been some relatively decent figures taken by the Lancet and doctors and scientists abroad while our own country lies about the figures. It's certainly, with sanctions, well over a million people. Maybe it's two million with the sanctions that went on for years? But we even lie about how many of our soldiers we lost because we don't want the country to know the price that our own families are paying. And this Marine recruit said something interesting. Could you remind us of that?
Peter Dudar: Yeah. Actually --
Jim Lafferty: Is that in the film, by the way?
Peter Dudar: It's -- No. That's not in the film. But this kind of keys us into what happened.
Jim Lafferty: Okay.
Peter Dudar: Okay. 18 suicides a day. 6570 suicides by our young men and women every year. Times 7 years of war. How many is that? 45,000 suicides.

Jim Lafferty: That we know of.

Peter Dudar: That only gives us the clue. What this gentleman came up to me and said -- and I had some people stand there -- "I'm a Marine counter. I count the dead
Jim Lafferty: Oh.
Peter Dudar: Here's what we're waiting for in America: From somebody who knows what's going on to finally come forth and say, "Here's actually the number of our dead." He said, "I count the dead for the Marines. Where did you get your number on the site?
Jim Lafferty: For the total.
Peter Dudar: For the total. And it was at that time for Iraq, only 4,400, I think. And he goes, "Well, anyway, there are more Marines dead than that."
Jim Lafferty: Let's be sure we understand that. Here's a guy whose job is to count the deaths for the Marines. He comes up to Peter and the crosses [white crosses placed at Arlington West] were representing at that time 4,400 some dead, that's what we thought, that's what the government was telling us. And he said, "Hell I've got more -- Sadly, I know more Marines that died in this war than that." That doesn't talk about the Army and the rest of them. Alright --
Peter Dudar: But we can -- we can juxtapose that number and say okay that was told to us. Can it be proven now? No. But what we can prove is this 18 a day, 6570 a year
To obtain a copy of Cross Wise, you can order by phone at 323-650-8166 or order by e-mail The documentary is a strong film and a strong peace resource. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehanis a truth teller and Abby Martin (Media Roots Radio) interviewed Cindy for this week's show. You can stream it here.
Cindy Sheehan: But then in 2004, I really bought into that lie that-that Ralph Nader was the reason that George Bush became president because, you know, if Ralph Nader wasn't running, then [Al] Gore would have won Florida --
Abby Martin: In 2000.
Cindy Sheehan: In 2000, yeah. In 2004, I bought into that lie, I mean. And I had a lot at stake. I was more awake because my son was killed in March and the elections were in November so I was going around the country speaking out against Bush and people were telling me -- you know, the people I was with, were telling me, you know, especially like Medea Benjamin from CODEPINK, who was one of the early advocates in the Green Party to support [2004 Democratic Party presidential nominee John] Kerry instead of supporting the Green Party candidate, was telling me it was because of Nader that George Bush won. And we were in Florida. And actually, the bottom line about Nader stealing the election from Gore is that Gore actually won Florida. He won Florida by something like 529 votes before it [the recount] was stopped. And so I bought into that lie. Again, I wasn't raging pro-Kerry because I did not like Kerry. But I was raging against George Bush. And so thinking that it might make a difference, even though Kerry said -- And see, this is the same thing with the Obama followers. Even though Kerry said he was going to send more troops to Iraq, I still thought he would be better than Bush. So most of the people in this country, they just affiliate with the party their parents affiliated with and they don't put too much thought into it and that's the way I was before my son was killed. And those are the people that we need to educate and reach out too. But, like before, it's the people who know but still help the people who aren't that aware come to the conclusion that 'you have to vote for a Democrat' are the ones who are the problem. You know, they're the ones that we're not going to change. We have the hope of changing just regular grassroots America. We're not going to change the operatives. They're doing it because they're doing it deliberately.
Abby Martin: And have you talked to any of these people? It seems like you've been in contact with a lot of these people like from MoveOn and like that and have you asked them, "Why are you perpetuating this? I mean, you know that this isn't the solution. It can't be."
Cindy Sheehan: I -- Early on, I had a lot of dialogue with-with people like that. In fact, in August of 2005, MoveOn sent two really high ranking people in their organization, Tom Andrews from Win Without War and Glen Smith -- he's with MoveOn, I don't know in what -- but he's a Texan. And I knew both of them before. So they sent them. And we had a meeting in my trailer and they wanted me to support a bill that was not supportable. It was a -- it was a Democrat - Republican co-sponsored bill about getting out of Iraq eventually. And I was just like, "No, that's not what Camp Casey's about. That's not what the affiliated organizations" -- we called them the skin-in-the-game organizations, Veterans for Peace, IVAW, Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out; I said, "No, we're calling for an immediate end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan." And so that's when they basically just said 'Okay, you know, see you later if you won't support this awful bill then we're not going to support you.' And then when the 2,000 soldier was getting ready to be killed in Iraq, we were in Washington, DC calling for civil disobedience and then MoveOn like totally severed ties and said "No, we're doing a candle light vigil." And I said, "Okay, then there's going to be a 3,000th soldier, a 4,000th soldier, a 5,000th soldier if we don't start to get a little more radical with our demonstrations. And you're the one that has the major list. And then in '07 it was the -- No, it was '08. It was the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. United For Peace & Justice refused to call a demo in DC saying they didn't want to embarrass the Democrats.
Abby Martin: Wow.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. I mean just boldly said we don't want to embarrass the Democrats.
Abby Martin: Get an f-ing backbone.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. Yeah. So I've had so much dialogue with these people. I just finally wrote an article and I said that all the people from MoveOn had blood on their hands. And anybody who supports this empire, supports any part of -- Because that's when MoveOn was saying -- telling their groups that they needed to support the Democrats in supporting the supplemental war funding. And I was just like, "You all have blood on your hands." And it was like, "Oh, you said we have blood on our hands." And you do. You know. So you have two choices. Keep supporting the Democrats or support peace. And you're supporting the Democrats so that means you have blood on your hands.
Blood on the hands if you sit silently as the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars continue. Supposedly we wanted the wars ended NOW! when Bush was occupied the White House. Where did the outrage go? Maybe it deflated when most of the press coverage of the real conditions in Iraq vanished? To address the realities of Iraq, there is an upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)
To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable, in March A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Los Angeles Times), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Yochi Dreazen (National Journal) and John Harwood (New York Times). Gwen's latest column is "Sending Signals." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Gretchen Hamel, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Kim Gandy and Star Parker to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:
To Be Determined
Our lead story is yet to be determined.

The 33
Four months after 33 Chilean miners were rescued from a half-mile underground, where they lived in daily fear of death for over two months, psychologists say all but one of them are experiencing serious mental stress. Bob Simon reports. |
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Lady Gaga
With her outrageous costumes and mega-hit dance songs, Lady Gaga has become the world's most talked about entertainer. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports. |
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Sunday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Nicole Colson can't stop lying

Nicole Colson is a liar.

She's established that yet again with her latest piece which was published 11 hours ago at Indypendent Media and 22 hours ago by US Socialist Worker.

Nicole's such a damn dirty liar.

Let's get to the latest and then we'll circle back. Here is Dirty Ass Liar Nicole writing in the last 22 hours and see if you grab the lie (not just an insult, but an actual lie):

Rape and sexual assault are serious issues, but it’s impossible to take the allegations against Assange at face value, given the circumstances of the case and the attack on him by the U.S. government.After an initial investigation, a Swedish prosecutor refused to bring charges against Assange, stating publicly that he was not wanted for rape. It was only after intervention by a prominent Swedish politician that a second prosecutor, Ny, re-opened the case.

According to reports, Assange remained in Sweden for more than five weeks after the initial allegations were made against him. Repeated attempts by Assange to meet with Ny failed, his lawyers say. Ny reportedly then granted Assange permission to fly to London–but later issued the European arrest warrant.

Unfortunately, the defense of Assange against the threat of political repression has been undermined by sexist assumptions voiced by some supporters and Assange himself–from author Naomi Wolf mocking the alleged victims as “scorned women”; to other supporters questioning the two women’s motives without any real evidence; to Assange, who said in an interview with The Australian that “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism” and “I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.”

These statements should be rejected outright–as should the decision by Assange’s lawyers to try to smear the Swedish legal system as excessively responsive to feminists.

Did you catch the lie? Repeated attempts by Little Julie to meet with prosecutors failed.

Oh, Little Julie, so very hard pressed. Nicole realizes that most Americans don't give a F**KING DAMN about Julian Assange for a variety of reasons including that he grand standed on the back of Bradley Manning for months claiming publicly that WikiLeaks was covering the cost of Bradley's defense and then was publicly shamed into offering (a tiny amount of) money after it was learned that WikiLeaks hadn't given a cent. Then there's the fact that Americans know Bradley's in prison and note that Nicole and the rest of the media circus can't stop obsesssing over what might happen to Little Julie.

Bradley's in prison. He is being tortured. We don't need to what-if it. But liars like Nicole (and professional whore Amy Goodman) keep teling you that Little Julie will end up in Guantanamo. No, he won't. He'll never end up there. As C.I. pointed out over a month ago, putting any name person into Guantanamo forces its immediate closure. It is only the fact that it is unknown (the prisoners are) and we're told they're deadly terrorists that has allowed Guantanamo to continue. Then we're told he'll be executed. Under what law?

He's not a US citizen. He can't be guilty of treason.

He's not going to be executed.

They lie and whore and try to appeal to your emotions because they have no logical arguments to make. So they try to enrage you.

Now Liar Nicole knows that another reason Little Julie's not getting support anymore is because of the Cult of Little Julie. Because of people like Tariq Ali (I love Tariq and have known him for years but he's dead wrong), John Pilger, Naomi Wolf (only Naomi gets named by Liar Nicole, did you notice), Coleen Rowley, Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern (whom US Socialist Worker sometimes cites so they should have cited their friend here but Nicole has no integrity), etc. all went around attacking the women. Smearing them. Calling them names. Ray McGovern, until Ava and C.I. loudly and publicly called it out at Third, was floating all over Pacifica Radio -- from station to station, program to program -- saying the women worked for the CIA and were "honeypots" and other such bulls**t and treating an article by a man linked to Holocaust deniers as one to be "trusted."

Poor Little Liar Nicole, no guts to stand up to what really matters.

Time and again, the strong feminists who defend women are proven to be Ava and C.I. while, time and again, Nicole attempts to slink into the room doing as little work as possible. Remember her nasty little note to C.I. where she insisted she wasn't sexist and that US Socialist Worker had called out the sexism against Hillary -- in pieces written by someone other than Nicole. Nicole (as I've pointed out before) was one of the most offensive sexists as US Socialist Worker.

So our Little Liar Nicole is spinning to try to repair the damage done by the Cult of Little Julie. Go back to early last month, you'll see C.I warned this was coming, warned that they were going to attack these women so much that people would lose interest in supporting Little Julie. Last night, several community posts dealt with Little Julie in one form or another including:

Betty especially blogged about what happened in London on Tuesday. Those events took place long before Liar Nicole published.

Nicole tells us that Julian apparently made every effort to speak with Swedish authorities . . .

But yesterday in court, his *own* lawyer was forced to admit that wasn't true. That despite the attorney telling the press that over and over, it was never true. In fact, before Little Julie left Sweden, the authorities were trying to arrange an interview. But Little Julie left on a jet plane. His attorney then went on to lie. In court Tuesday, he was not only forced to admit that, he was forced to read the text messages he'd sent the authorities.

Liar Nicole omits that.

Liar Nicole doesn't appear to grasp that 'cutting corners' on the truth doesn't do Little Julie any favors either and that we're all pretty much sick of Little Julie's ego mania and the spinning and lies coming from his Cult.

Little Julie is not and never has been as important as Bradley Manning. Even if Bradley Manning was not the one who leaked documents and video to WikiLeaks (and it hasn't been established that he is the leaker), what has been done to him is outrageous. You don't have to project into the future or play what-ifs with regards to Bradley. He's being tortured right now.

So Little Julie and his fan base that keep fretting over him and telling one whopper after another and attempting to emotionally blackmail you better grasp that it is exactly these tactics which have made America less sympathetic to Little Julie.

That's before you get into the fact that he destroyed WikiLeaks (see Third's "Editorial: The short life of WikiLeaks").

Note added 4:15 a.m. 2-10. C.I. called and said, "I think you meant 'own.'" I did and have changed it to "own" and starred it [*own*] to indicate I've changed my journal.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 9, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Kirkuk sees multiple bombings, protests continue in Iraq, the House Veterans Affairs Comittee hears about JP Morgan Chase's latest scandal and House Rep Bob Filner points out, "You broke the law. Your bank broke the law. Shouldn't someone go to jail for that?," Senator Patty Murray declares, "I'm not going to let the VA minimize the impact of the bill that we passed" and more.
This morning, House Veterans Affairs Committee US House Rep Jeff Miller Chaired the first oversight hearing of the Committee for the new Congressional session exploring violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by JP Morgan Chase Bank. Chair Miller explained in his opening statement, "The Servicemember Civil Relief Act has existed in various forms since the war of 1812 and each version has shared a singular goal: to protect those who protect us. The 2003 version, which I co-sponsored, and the amendments we have made since continue that tradition." He also provided a goal for the hearing: whether or not the SCRA was meeting the needs of service members and their families.
US House Rep Bob Filner was the Chair in the previous session. The 2010 mid-term elections gave control of the House to the Republian Party. Bob Filner is now the Ranking Member on the Committee. In his opening statement, he noted:
Today's hearing seeks to examine why banks such as JP Morgan Chase have overcharged our military familes who are actively engaged in defending our country. While we want to know how these overcharges havppened, I also want to know what they are doing to prevent them from occurring again. As foreclosure filing continue to rise, the effect on Americans has been acute, with my state of California having one of the most affected populations. According to RealityTrac -- I'm sorry, RealtyTrac, California metro areas such as San Diego have been seriously affected by the foreclosures. Like most Americans, many of our nation's heroes see home ownership as an integral part of the American dream. Unfortunately for a number of military families, that part of the American dream became a nightmare when JP Morgan foreclosed on their homes. It is my sincerest hope that JP Morgan Chase will be taking immediate corrective steps to restore these families to their homes as soon as possible.
For context, last Friday's snapshot included this: " Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reports that many veterans who mistakenly put their trust in 'special government-backed mortgages,' such as DoD's Homeowner's Assistance Program, have seen their homes taken away from them in foreclosures. In related news, Rick Maze (Army Times) reports that the US Labor Department released unemployment figures today and the unemployment 'rate for veterans climbed to 9.9 percent, up from 8.3 percent the previous month. For Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans, the unemployment rate for January was 15.2 percent. This is a sharp increase from 9.4 percent in November and 11.7 percent in December, a clear trend of worsening job market for younger veterans, many of them combat veterans'." Last Friday, Senator Patty Murray (Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee) released a statement on the sharp rise in unemployment for veterans which included, "This is very disappointing report that demonstrates clearly the need for us to move quickly to help ournation's veterans find jobs. We all know that veterans going from the battlefield to the working world face a unique set of challenges. And as we see with today's numbers, far too many of our veterans coming home from overseas are having trouble finding work in this tough economic climate." Murray promised in her statement to continue fighting for veterans and to continue her work on job legislation for veterans.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee heard from three panels today. The first panel was made up of Julia and Capt Jonathan Rowles and their attorneys Richard Harpootian and William Harvey. Panel two was JP Morgan Chase's executive vice president from the Office of Consumer Practices Stephanie B. Mudick. The third panel was Col Shawn Shumake (DoD) and Hollister Petraeus (US Treasury Dept).
Richard Harpootian noted Chase's opening statement in his opening remarks and referred to it as "Woops! I made a mistake." He declared, "I was a state prosecutor for 12 years in South Carolina. Every person we ever caught breaking the law, taking something that wasn't theirs, was more than willing to give it back, give a mea culpa and go the other way, be on their way." He stated he wanted to ensure that they were deterred from similar activity in the future and that included upgrading the actions from misdemeanor to felony.
So what happened to the Rowles specifically? They were harassed and threatened. JP Morgan Chase repeatedly threatened to foreclose on their home and attempted to bully the Rowles into payment of more money than they owed on their home mortgage. They also invented little hoops for the Rowles to repeatedly jump through. For example, knowing that Capt Rowles was on active duty, they demanded a verification every 90 days with new threats accompanying them. The Rowles' attorneys are also representing Lt Col Sarah Letts-Smith and Lance Cpl Martin Hupfl who faced similar problems. Letts-Smith, for example. was being threatened with home foreclosure while she was stationed in Iraq.
Chair Jeff Miller: When did you first realize that Chase had violated SCRA? Did you notify the Marine Corps legal staff? And, if you did, what actions did they take on your behalf?
Capt Jonathan Rowles: Yes, sir, I first learned about SCRA while I was at OCS [Officer Candidates School] -- and my rights, thereof. Afterwards, in 2008, after lengthy letters and calls and what not, I did go to the legal staff at NAS Pensacola where I was a flight student at the time. They looked over the case but they were unsure of how to proceed and, due to the volume of other cases that they had at the time they just did not have the resources to pursue it. At which time, we were told, 'We are doing pretty much everything that we could, sir."
Chair Jeff Miller: And you say you were first educated about it at OSC?
Capt Jonathan Rowles: Yes, sir. We got a class while we were at OSC there in Quantico, Virginia, on our rights there to SCRA.
Chair Jeff Miller: Can you give us some idea of the reaction when you contacted JP Morgan Chase and how they handled the situation? And I'm sure you both had conversations with them, so feel free to elaborate.
Capt Jonatha Rowles: Yes, sir. I would characterize it as a delayed and confused. I was asked to fax my orders several times and, being in the field, you would have to -- You would fax your orders, you would go away for a week or two, you'd come back to find, they'd asked for it again. You get a statement that is not correct, so you call to recognize it, they see they need your orders again. Again. At that point, got a letter from my commander as well, just to emphasize the point that I was active duty and sent my orders along with that as well, sir.
Richard Harpootian: Mr. Chairman, I think if Mrs. Rowles could speak, she was pregnant with their second child, he's deployed, the child was born prematurely. She was having to deal with the birth of a child alone and Chase at the same time and she's a little more emotional about it than he is.
Julia Rowles: Yes, sir. Chase always had a problem with acknowledging any of our evidence or of our -- homework, I guess you would say in our SCRA benefits. We would instruct them that we were doing everything we could. We did make our payments every month, on time, in the full amount that they were supposed to be for; however, every month our statements were different. While Jonathan is away -- either in training, flight school or any of his Marine Corps duties, I was left at home to deal with Chase and their problems. We have two children. One of them was born prematurely and had to have a lengthy stay in the hospital but yet at the same time I'm dealing with Chase and getting their phone calls, getting their harassment around the clock. Jonathan missed two hours of our daughter's birthday party because Chase would simply not hang up the phone until he made a payment in which we had already paid our mortgage. This constant harass -- this constant ignorance for the SCRA benefits to service members is ridiculous and it's actually very -- It's very upsetting that for five years, we've had to educate Chase as to the benefits that we were privy to.
Chair Jeff Miller: Entitled to.
Julia Rowles: Entitled to, I'm sorry.
Chair Jeff Miller: Did they ever acknowledge -- I mean, obviously if they kept asking for orders, they must have known that there was something that they had to abide by.
Julia Rowles: We were -- Sir, we were sending them orders quarterly which we later found out we did not have to do. Once you send in orders and verify that you are active duty military, we were acknowledged. We were granted the persmission under the SCRA. That should have been it until his cotract expired and he continued military service. We had -- We have done that time and time again. And it's very -- We didn't have to do this. It's harassment. Even without collection calls, constantly sending them, I guess, his orders and all other paperwork was harassment.
Ranking Member Filner noted that he found what was going on illegal and that it was effecting all Americans and thanked the Rowles for sharing their experience. Filner agreed the actions being taken were illegal but wondered whether or not upgrading the punishment to felony level would just prevent the banks from making the loans? Richard Harpootian noted that the actions were not being taken by banks who had done the loans but by banks who bought the loans when they were resold. (JP Morgan Chase was not the bank the Rowles took their loan out with.) US Rep Michael Michaud wondered if the Rowles had been in contact with JP Morgan Chase management at any time during their ordeal?
Julia Rowles: Yes, there were numerous times when we tried to speak with anyone in management. There were times when we were told we were speaking with management and, to our surprise, management did not know how to fix our problem either. Jonathan and I traveled to Colorado from South Carolina briefly, right before he deployed in July, because we thought we found a mortgage branch manager that said he could help us. And after sitting with him for hours on two different dates, he threw his hands up into the air and said, "I have no clue how to fix your situation. There is nothing I can do. Sorry." And that was pretty much the consensus of every manager we spoke with. I would spend hours trying to find people that would actually talk to us and that would not just write down our name and number and say that they would call us back. We've spoken with managers in South Carolina, to Texas and California. Nobody knew how to fix our problem.
"But when you call your wife at two in the morning just to see how things are going," Capt Jonathan Rowles stated, "and you spend 20 minutes talking about how we can send another letter or how we can make another phone call instead of 'Honey, I love you. How was the day? How's the babies?' It's rough."
As Bob Filner noted during the first panel, "The fact that we have some publicity for what you're going through means we'll have some changes." After identifying herself on the second panel, JP Morgan Chase's Stephanie B. Mudick stated, "Before I go further, I'd like to express to the men and women serving our country and to the memebers of this Committee Chase's deepest regret over the mistakes we made in applying those protections. I commit to you that we will get this right." She acknowledged that Chase charged above the 6% capped interest rate and stated that Chase had identified over charges of $1.8 million and that they intended to repay that amoung along with "7.25% interest from the date of the overcharge." On the issue of forms, she noted that the SCRA requires that the service members is protected from foreclosure or sale while on active duty and for nine months after. (Which would mean that no one needs to supply repeat proof of status every 90 days.) She stated that they have discovered 18 service members who SCRA protections were violated (at least 18 times when Chase broke the law) and that, "In twelve of these cases, we have eitehr rescinded the sale or entered into a settlement with the borrower. We will attempt to make the remaining borrowers whole as quickly as possible."
We'll leap ahead to an exchange between Ranking Member Filner and Mudick.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Uhm, how many executive vice presidents are there at Chase? Or, let me put it another way, how high are you up in the heirarchy there?
Susan Mudick: Uh, I am a member of Chase's Executive Committee which is fewer than a hundred employees at Chase -- at JP Morgan Chase.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: And what does the 100 people do? I mean, that's the highest policy making thing in Chase?
Susan Mudick: Uh, there is an Operating Committee which is a group of approximately 20 people.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: How many executive vice presidents are there?
Susan Mudick: I don't have the answer to that question, sir, I'm sorry.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: But you'll find out for me, right?
Susan Mudick: I will indeed.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Could you fix things if we need to ask? I mean, you're here on behalf of Chase so I assume that means you can fix things. Can you fix things? I mean, you said you weren't aware of that hotline number [a JP Morgan Chase number to deal with SCRA problems which Julia Rowles testified was just an answering machine passed off as a hotline and one that has now been disconnected for months]. Can you find it out right away? Can you call someone and say, "What's going on there?"
Susan Mudick: Uh, together with-with my colleagues -- There is -- I would say --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Okay, so you can't fix things.
Susan Mudick (Con't): -- there are many -- Excuse me, sir. I would say that we try and fix whatever --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Okay, the Rowles testified that they didn't have any statements for a year, you hadn't cashed their last mortgage check. Can you fix that today?
Susan Mudick: Uh --
Raking Member Bob Filner: You said you were going to make them whole. They've brought up several questions. Can you fix that?
Susan Mudick: We are trying to fix --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I don't want a "we." You? Can you fix that?
Susan Mudick: I can, together with my colleagues causes changes to be made in our organization. Uh -- and with respect to the Rowleses -- Uh, uhm, you know,,we are trying to figure out how we can come to an agreement --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Come to an agreement because of a lawsuit. But you said you were going to make them whole. As I read your statement, your average payment to make people whole was seventy dollars. Does that make people whole who've gone through this stuff?
Susan Mudick: The-the median payment is $70 and-and let me explain to you how-how we get to that number.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Because you're just dealing with the amount of interest you overpaid plus some fees, that's all you're dealing with. You're not dealing with any human costs or any emotional costs or any pain and suffering as they would say. You're just dealing with the amount of interest and fees that you overcharged. Right? I mean that's what it says here [holds up Mudick's prepared statement] anyway.
Susan Mudick: Congressman, most of the, uh, service members who were impacted by this, uh, are-are not even aware that they overpaid. And in part that's because the amount they overpaid was not-not material to them.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I can't believe that there's nobody else going through what the Rowles did. But, you know, I mean, you can't make the changes, you're not making them whole. Why should -- You broke the law. Your bank broke the law. Shouldn't someone go to jail for that?
Susan Mudick: Uh --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: And who should? Who should? Who's responsible? Are you as the executive v.p. who was given us by the bank to answer for this? Should you go to jail?
Susan Mudick: Uh, we are doing a review internally in order to --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I want to know --
Susan Mudick: -- figure out --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: -- who's responsible?
Susan Mudick: -- who's responsible for what happened.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Are you going to tell us who? Are you going to give us a person? Or people? That are responsible?
Susan Mudick: Well we will certainly hold those folks who are resposible for this accountable.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I want to know about you. You broke the law. How are we going to hold you accountable? Are we going to know who did what when?
Susan Mudick: Uh-uh, as a result of that -- our-our review -- we will be happy to share more information with the Committee.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I'm sure you will. I think you'll have to probably do it in discovery [legal period in a lawsuit before trial in which the opposing sides are supposed to know what the other side knows and have access to paper work, etc.] before you're going to give it to us. It just seems to me that you all, you're not alone in this. You all have no responsibility. Everything you said was impersonal. Nobody is responsible. You said the SCRA coding 'fell off' the statement? I mean nobody took it off, nobody was responsible, it 'fell off.' Wow. Every -- You look at your testimony, everything is impersonal, everything is "we," "they." Nobody is ever responsible. And yet these people's lives have been turned upside down. Somebody or some group of people should be held responsible. And mabye then -- as the attorney said -- maybe then you'll take this seriously, if somebody went to jail, with a white collar. There's no more Mr. Morgan or Mr. Chase, I take it, but somebody should have responsibility for what's going on. You just cannot hide. As the Supreme Court tells us now, you're an individual. You're not just a corporation. Somebody has to come forward and take responsibility for this. You just cannot apologize and give back people 70 bucks and to think this is over. This is not over for them and they're still going through the thing. You heard what they're still going through. And now you can't fix it anyway. So when are they going to get their mortgage statements? Just to take one thing. You should be able to call somebody right now and say, "Get them their mortgage statements." But apparently you can't. You know, I appreciate your apology. But you've broken the law, you've ruined people's lives and people ought to take responsibility for that.
Back to her opening statement, of the Rowles, she stated she'd examined the files "and we clearly made mistakes. The customer service that we provided to him and to his wife was unacceptable. And the fact that this was a service member makes our mistakes all the more inexcusable." Actually, the fact that Rowles is a service member makes JP Morgan Chase's mistakes illegal. "We deeply regret any hardship we caused the Rowles family," she continued. I didn't buy it but it may be the most the Rowles get publicly from JP Morgan Chase so we'll note it.
What happens next for the Rowles will be determined either by the courts or via an out of court settlement. (The media attention today probably means JP Morgan Chase will work very hard to settle out of court. They have no defense at this point. That's what happens when you publicly admit you broke the law -- even when you call that law breaking "mistakes.")
From the House Veterans Affairs Comittee to the Senate Veterans Committee which released the following today:

(Washington, D.C.) -- Yesterday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, sent a letter to Holly Petraeus, head of the Office of Servicemember Affairs in the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau at the U.S. Treasury Department, in response to concerns that some financial institutions were not offering protections to servicemembers provided under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Among the safeguards in the SCRA, which is under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, are a number intended to ease concerns over financial situations at home for servicemembers. Recently, however, it has come to light that some servicemembers have been improperly overcharged on their mortgages or even been foreclosed upon by lenders.

"I am concerned that numerous military members were improperly overcharged or foreclosed upon while deployed because lenders failed to follow the requirements of SCRA; this is unacceptable," Senator Murray wrote. "I would like your assessment of how well financial institutions are following SCRA, and what additional steps need to be taken to ensure compliance."

The full text of the letter is below:

February 8, 2011

Holly Petraeus, Team Lead
Office of Servicemember Affairs
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Implementation Team
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Washington, DC 20220

Dear Mrs. Petraeus:

Congratulations on your nomination to head the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Bureau will provide consumers, including servicemembers and their families, with the information they need to make better informed financial choices. It will also promote a fair and transparent process for obtaining services like mortgages and credit cards, while enforcing consistency between the providers of these services. Your role in protecting the rights of our servicemembers is especially important as military families, including the Reserves, are experiencing more frequent deployments.

One of the strongest tools to protect servicemembers is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA's protections, such as the six percent cap on mortgage interest and foreclosure protections, enable our deployed military to stay focused on the mission instead of worrying about their financial situation at home.

I am concerned that numerous military members were improperly overcharged or foreclosed upon while deployed because lenders failed to follow the requirements of SCRA; this is unacceptable. I appreciate the action you took on February 1, 2011, to notify 25 mortgage lenders of their responsibilities under SCRA. This is an important step in making sure these lenders are following the law.

In response to the concerns raised about compliance with SCRA, some companies have already self-identified non-compliance in their home loan business and are working to make corrections. However, I am concerned there may be other lenders that have overcharged or foreclosed upon SCRA-protected servicemembers. It is critical that all lenders provide their employees adequate training and put systems in place to ensure compliance with SCRA.

As you know, SCRA applies to a variety of financial instruments, including consumer loans and credit card debt. It has come to my attention that some companies have identified non-compliance in other service sectors, such as student loans. Companies providing lending services should review their files in order to identify potential violations and move quickly to resolve any they find. As you continue your work on behalf of servicemembers, I hope the scope of your review of financial institutions' practices includes all of the protections covered by SCRA.

Based on your work to date, I would like your assessment of how well financial institutions are following SCRA, and what additional steps need to be taken to ensure compliance.

Thank you again for your work on behalf of servicemembers and veterans. I look forward to hearing from you and to working together in the future.


Patty Murray


We'll come back to service members and veterans later in the snapshot.
Today Kirkuk is in the spotlight with a series of bombings. Lu Hui (Xinhua) reports it was a triple car bombing with two aimed at "police patrols" and the third at a security base. AFP quotes the head of the health department, Sadiq Omar Rasul stating, "We have received eight dead bodies and 68 people have been wounded, they are being treated at Kirkuk General Hospital and Azadi hospital." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports on the bombings and also notes two Baghdad roadside bombings today which have left at least eight people injured. Reuters adds a Tal Afar roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with two more left injured. The Telegraph of London has video of one of the bombings. MSNBC offers two Reuters photos of the aftermath. Jamal Hashem (Xinhua) surmises, "The latest attacks are almost certainly going to increase pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who showed himself as the strongman persona during his re-election propaganda and promised to restore stability. But Maliki has not yet appointed anyone to the country's security ministries in his cabinet since late December last year." Hayder Najm (Niqash) observes:

It has been about six weeks since Iraq's new government was formed, but the top security posts are still vacant.
The different political parties cannot agree on the candidates for the defence, interior and national security ministries, and this vacuum has led to a new wave of violence in various parts of Iraq.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is managing these ministries himself, including that of intelligence chief. And despite the worsening security situation, he seems in no hurry to fill the posts.
"I don't have to accept candidates if they don't convince me that they are the right ones", he said in an interview on the official Iraqiya TV station.

In other news, Alsumaria reports that Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and puppet of Iraq, insists that "the electricity crisis in Iraq will be resolved by next winter." However, AFP reports, "The electricity ministry needs almost a tenth of Iraq's annual budget for debts and new projects to bring the limping power sector back on its feet, a senior official told AFP on Wednesday. Adel Mahdi, advisor to the electricity minister, also said that between 2012 and 2030 the ministry would need 3.85 billion dollars a year to rebuild the sector and keep up with growing demand." Nouri's become very wealthy as prime minister while Iraqis continue to go without basic services. He also has a pattern of offering pretty (and empty) words. Remember in the provincial elections of 2009? Remember the lack of potable water and his claims that he was fixing the problem immediately but in the meantime enjoy this ice. And then came the day after the elections and the lack of potable water didn't go away. So Nouri could put 10% of the government's budget into addressing the electricity problem; however, it seems very unlikely, based on pattern, that he's going to. Al Rafidayn notes that when making his promise or 'promise' he also stated that Iraqi citizens have a right to protest over the lack of basic services -- which puts him on the same page as the clerics who declared that last Friday (and one who did so Monday). More following from Nouri but very little leadership.

If anything's going to force Nouri's hand, it will be continued protests. Al Rafidayn reports that "dozens" protested in Najaf yesterday over the lack of services and the ration card items and notes the various protests which have taken place across the country and how Diwaniyah was the first last Thursday. One problem with the ration cards (we noted some problems in yesterday's snapshot, this is another one) is that Iraq's implementing a higher tarrif next month on imports. That's going to mean higher prices on some goods. Imported goods? Monday Tony C. Dreibus (Bloomberg News) reported on Iraq's purchase of 300,000 tons of wheat from the United States and Australia.

Yesterday Amnesty International released [PDF format warning] their report "Broken Bodies, Tortured Minds." Alsumaria TV reports that the Ministry of Justice has issued a statement stating "the formation of joint work committees with the Supreme Judicial Council to follow up the pending cases of detainees." Al Mada emphasizes the secret prisons aspect of the report and notes Nouri's denial of any secret prison to AFP on Saturday. Dar Addustour also notes the secret prisons mentioned in the report. (If you haven't read the report, it includes great detail on the torture of prisoners.)
The Iraq War has not ended. Lara Jakes (AP) reports on US soldiers who don't see the ongoing Iraq War as over. Lt Daniel McCord is aware of the continued bombings and shootings and characterizes Iraq as "better" but not "safe." And Rusty Dennen (Free Lance-Star) reports that US soldiers are still deploying to the ongoing war, specifically 850 from the Virginia National Guard who will do "final training in Indiana in June"and then head to Iraq.
In the US, Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) reports on the increase in suicides in the Texas National Guard and Wise offers this comparative statistic: since 2001, the Texas Army National Guard has experienced 12 deaths "in action" while 18 members have taken their own lives with seven of those taking place in 2010. As last month wound down, John Donnelly (Congress.Org) reported, "For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan." Last week Gretel C. Kovach (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on military suicides and noted some specific examples:

When the body of an 18-year-old Marine, Pfc. Derek Capulong, was found hanging from a rifle range watch tower in July, the pain reverberated far beyond Camp Pendleton.
Months later, the young private's family in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., is still trying to make sense of his death.
Zenaida Capulong, who helped raise Pfc. Derek Capulong and spoke to him weekly, said she didn't learn that her grandson was upset until it was too late. He had broken up with his high school sweetheart and been rebuked by a Marine supervisor, "but he had all his dreams," she said.
Wilfredo Capulong still can't accept that his grandson took his own life. "He was really determined to finish his ambitions," he said.
In related news, Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) -- warning, he only manages to keep the smarmy in check for two paragraphs -- notes that it is estimated that 2,000 contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Estimated. Thomas E. Ricks forgets that word and doesn't bother to explore. Reality, that number is far higher -- especially when you don't state "military contractor." And, no, the smarmy Tommy forgets to make that point.

Meanwhile Iraq War veteran Kevin Schrock has entered a plea agreement where he admits guilt and agrees to repay money he's stolen. Adam Ashton (News Tribune) reports the money was stolen from CERP funds (walking around money in Iraq used to bribe the locals which Congress has repeatedly noted is not accounted for rigorously enough). He raised the attention of authorities due to deposits in his bank accounts. He's admitted to stealing $47,000. Problem with the case? No problem for Schrock who appears to have received a sweet deal. But if prosecutors believed his claim that he stole the money to pay off loans, care to explain why the amount if $47,000? He put the money into his accounts in small increments over the years. A major in the US military should be aware of the risks of that. And certainly anyone stealing to pay off loans would most likely not be funneling the money through a bank. You'd make loan payments in cash, you'd do them via money orders from the local 7-11. You wouldn't put money in your checking account to then write a check for if it was stolen money and you were already cautious (cautious enough to take approximately 4 years to put your stolen $47,000 into the bank). Maybe Schrock struck them as extremely stupid. But, as Ashton presents the details, it would appear Schrock got a very sweet deal where he admitted to guilt only over what the prosecution would have had no difficulty proving in a court of law and to a sum that seems incredibly low when you examine the details.
Lastly, the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is putting the VA on notice:

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray issued the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that, even after long delays, there is still no definitive date when veterans and caregivers will begin receiving the services required by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. VA also put forth criteria narrowing eligibility for the caregiver program. The VA, in a report submitted today to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, unveiled criteria which would seriously limit access to the benefit further from the approximately 3,500 veterans who would be eligible under the plan passed by Congress and enacted into law on May 5, 2010.

The VA announcement comes just days after Senator Murray sent a bi-partisan letter, cosigned by 17 additional Senators, calling on the Administration to end delays in moving forward with the law which provides the families of seriously injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with training to become caregivers for those veterans, and ongoing supportive services including respite, counseling, technical assistance, and a living stipend. The law directed VA to begin providing caregiver support by January 30, 2011. The Administration is only now preparing regulations - which will have to undergo a lengthy public comment and approval process - to implement the law.

"I appreciate the VA coming forward today with their plan to implement the Caregivers Act. I remain concerned by the delay in moving forward with providing this crucial benefit for those that are taking care of our wounded warriors.

"Unfortunately the plan they put forward today is simply not good enough. The VA outlined how they intended to limit this benefit to an even smaller group of caregivers than intended by Congress, which is unacceptable.

"This law was passed to help support the thousands of family members of veterans who have left behind careers, lives, and responsibilities to see that their loved one can recover from wounds they suffered defending our country. It's a cost of war that for too long has gone unaccounted for but it's one that last year Congress very clearly decided that our country must step up to meet. I'm not going to let the VA minimize the impact of the bill that we passed.

"I know that this Administration has made clear that they want to provide new support for our military families. This is a critical step to doing just that. Nowhere is providing support more important than in the homes of those severely wounded veterans who everyday need help from their families just to get through the day."
the associated press
lara jakes
the free lance-star
the houston chronicle
lindsay wise
john donnelly
the san diego union-tribune
gretel c. kovach
the news tribune
adam ashton