Saturday, November 21, 2015

Again on Tracy Chapman

Last week I noted Tracy Chapman was on Tavis Smiley's PBS show.

Click here for video.

Here's a taste to get you hooked:

Tavis: What did you mean by “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”? I know what Bernie is talking about, income inequality, wonderful campaign. What did you mean by that?

Chapman: Oh, I mean the same thing. Talking about economic and social equity, you know, just that we need fairness in our society and people who work hard should be able to make a decent living.
Tavis: I want to go back to your beginning in the time I have. You’ve been on this program a couple of times, I think, over the years and I missed this the last time you were here. It’s been annoying me for years since you were last here. And that is this distinction between having grown up in Cleveland. You left Cleveland about, what, age 15 maybe?
Chapman: Right.
Tavis: So you grow up in Cleveland, but then you move to Connecticut. The only two things those words have in common are the C at the beginning. Cleveland and Connecticut are two different locales, to be sure. How did you navigate that difference, that distinction, number one. And which one of those two locales had the most impact on your artistry, your music?
Chapman: Well, I mean, you’re right to point out that it was not an easy transition. I didn’t entirely move. I was given a scholarship to a private boarding school, so for the next three years of high school, I was in this tiny town in the woods [laugh] and in school.
It was honestly the best thing that’s ever happened in my life, this wonderful program, a better chance. They were the ones that helped me to make it there. Honestly, I think, as an artist, it’s everything that’s in your life that informs what you do. So, obviously, growing up in Cleveland has played a big role in how I see the world.
But then having this opportunity to go into this environment that couldn’t have been more different, you know, this was a place where people had wealth and didn’t worry about the things that people in my community did, like where are you going to get your next job or how you pay the bills.

And that song that you were just playing, “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”, it came out of that. I wrote it when I was 16 and it kind of came out me trying to figure out, you know, how to explain where I’ve come from. How do I kind of situate myself in these two worlds now?

Remember that Tracy Chapman's Greatest Hits is out.

There is a radio interview you can listen to hear -- CBC via PRI:

Chapman was raised by a single mother in Cleveland, where, she says, she grew up “basically being babysat by the public library,” a place her mother allowed her to go on her own.
“I read all the time and listened to music all the time,” she says. “My parents had a record collection of all kinds of music — jazz and soul, R & B, gospel. My sister liked rock music and Barbra Streisand and all that sort of thing, so I just always heard lots of different types of music when I was growing up. I’ve always loved playing as well as listening to music — and I love writing songs.”
Chapman first began to consider making a career out of music during her last few years of college. By then, she was playing in folk clubs and as a street performer and had begun to develop a following in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Then people started to approach her about recording.

During one street performance, someone from Warner Brothers Music dropped a business card in her guitar case, saying they could help get her a record deal. It was then, she recalls with a laugh, that she thought, “Maybe I won’t be a professional anthropologist.”

There is a lot of solid music out this month -- Tracy, Carly Simon's two disc compilation, Adele's new album, that deluxe version of Sam Smith's album (I wrote about that "Sam Smith's new album out now!!!!"), among others.

Try to check out as many as you can.  Let me know if something came out that you want me to mention here. I know how it is when you wish your favorite could get some attention.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, November 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Yazidis fondle their inner revenge demons, Hillary War Hawk Clinton talks more destruction, and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced the following:

Strikes in Iraq

Bomber, attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Kirkuk, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Kisik, six strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL weapons caches, 12 ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache and two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL tactical vehicles, an ISIL tunnel, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL- controlled bridge, an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, an ISIL bed down location, an ISIL staging area, and cratered two ISIL roads.

-- Near Sinjar, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL tactical vehicle, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

They do a lot of bragging at the Defense Dept.  For example.

Targets Damaged/Destroyed as of November 13, 2015

That's a whole lot of bombings.

Of course, former US House Rep Mike Rogers points out, at CNN, "And we have bombed ISIS in Syria for over a year, yet three of their deadliest attacks have happened in the last three weeks."

Rogers is making the point as he argues for more war.

His little pitch for more carnage, however, is likely to go unnoticed since Hillary let her War Hawk wings flutter in a major speech today.

Hillary Clinton:  This is not a time for scoring political points. When New York was attacked on 9/11, we had a Republican president, a Republican governor and a Republican mayor, and I worked with all of them. We pulled together and put partisanship aside to rebuild our city and protect our country. 

And, so modest, apparently it was this 'bi-partisan' drive that forced her to vote for the illegal war -- which she did in 2002.

She pulled together with other War Hawks.

"This is not a time for scoring political points," she said.  Or, apparently, for common sense.

Hillary Clinton:  Our strategy should have three main elements. One, defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East; two, disrupt and dismantle the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing arms and propaganda around the world; three, harden our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats.

I'm sorry when Hillary ran the Pentagon, does anyone remember --

What's that?

She was never Secretary of Defense?

She was Secretary of State?


I'm confused then.

Where in the world is her advocating for diplomacy?

Three main elements and they're all military.

She didn't learn a thing from all those photo ops.

She didn't learn much at all.


Sons Of Iraq (and Daughters Of Iraq).


Three terms for the same thing.

Hillary wanted to reference them -- largely Sunni fighters that the US government paid.

Hillary Clinton:  Ultimately, however, a ground campaign in Iraq will only succeed if more Iraqi Sunnis join the fight. But that won’t happen so long as they do not feel they have a stake in their country or confidence in their own security and capacity to confront ISIS.   Now, we’ve been in a similar place before in Iraq. In the first Sunni awakening in 2007, we were able to provide sufficient support and assurances to the Sunni tribes to persuade them to join us in rooting out Al Qaida. Unfortunately, under Prime Minister Maliki’s rule, those tribes were betrayed and forgotten. So the task of bringing Sunnis off the sidelines into this new fight will be considerably more difficult. But nonetheless, we need to lay the foundation for a second Sunni awakening.

During Nouri al-Maliki's rule?

This happened during Nouri al-Maliki's rule?

Damn that Bully Boy Bush!

He installed Nouri in 2006.

This happened because of Nouri.

If only Iraq could have gotten rid of Nouri.

The Iraqis even tried.

He lost the 2010 election to Ayad Allawi.

But that damn Bully Boy Bush insisted Nouri get a second term and --


Bully Boy Bush wasn't in the White House in 2010?

Oh, that's right.

It was Barack -- and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who disregarded the voice of the Iraqi people, spat on their votes, pissed on the Iraqi Constitution and crafted The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri the second term the Iraqi people wouldn't.

Hillary's correct that today's divisions were fostered by Nouri.

He persecuted the Sunnis.

But his actions were already known.

Secret jails and prisons he used for torture were already exposed.

But Barack gave him a second term and Hillary didn't object.

Now she wants to insist that the same US government must lead -- the one that disregarded the Iraqi voters while hectoring them about 'democracy' -- and they must lead this battle -- the battle the US government started.

Hillary Clinton:  This is a time for American leadership. No other country can rally the world to defeat ISIS and win the generational struggle against radical jihadism.  Only the United States can mobilize common action on a global scale, and that’s exactly what we need. The entire world must be part of this fight, but we must lead it. 

The only leadership Hillary's ever offered is leading American's children into wars.

Let's move over to liberated Sinjar and the peaceful Yazidis, so grateful to return to Sinjar that they hugged everyone and prayed.

Or something.

On All Things Considered (NPR), Alice Fordham reported on the reaction of some Yazidis.

FORDHAM: And he directs his anger at the Arab Muslims from his area who he says collaborated with the extremists. Not one of the Yazidis I speak to distinguishes between Arab Muslim families who stayed in ISIS-held areas and ISIS fighters. Some Arab leaders fear widespread revenge killing and looting. South of Sinjar, there's a string of ISIS-held villages mainly populated by Arab Muslims. I ask a Yazidi commander named Badr al-Hajji if there are civilians there.

And how 'bout this money quote?

  •  Monday, AFP reported that the Yazidis 'celebrated' their return to Sinjar by looting Sunni homes and setting them on fire.

    AFP also reminds, "Rights group Amnesty International documented attacks by Yazidi militiamen against two Sunni Arab villages north of Sinjar in January, in which 21 people were killed and numerous houses burned."
    Today, Isabel Coles (Reuters) visits the area and hears from Yazidis such as one man who she sees loading (stolen) sofas onto his truck and explains, "This is our neighbor's house.  I've come to take his belongings, and now I'm going to blow up his house."
    Hillary's nonsense today did not address that.
    In other news, Stars and Stripes reports, "A servicemember working with the Combined Joint Task Force directing coalition operations against Islamic State militants died of a non-combat-related injury in Iraq on Thursday, the coalition said."  Reuters adds, "The service member was not identified, and the U.S. military statement offered no other details."

    Lastly, the US State Dept issued the following today:

    Iraq: U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Efforts Save Lives and Build Capacity

    Fact Sheet
    Office of the Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    November 19, 2015 

    The United States has invested more than $280 million in Iraq since 2003 toward the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and excess conventional weapons and munitions. This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term.
    The Landmine /Unexploded Ordnance Challenge
    Communities across Iraq face danger from an estimated 10-to-15 million landmines and pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from conflicts dating back to the 1940s. Numerous large barrier minefields and UXO remain along the Iran/Iraq border as a result of the 1980s conflict between the two nations. The war in 1990-1991 and the conflict that began in 2003 scattered significant numbers of additional UXO, particularly in the south of the country.
    The recent activities of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq have dramatically altered the Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) landscape. As civilians flee large population centers like Mosul, they have become internally displaced persons in areas where they are not familiar with mine and UXO hazards. As families begin to return to their homes, they are confronted with both hazards from the recent conflict, as well as deliberate mining and booby-trapping of homes by ISIL.
    Recent Accomplishments
    During the past year, the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) provided over $23 million to support CWD efforts in Iraq which led to the following results:
    • Safely released and cleared landmines and UXO from more than 65 million square meters (from a total of 752 million square meters) of land across Iraq, which has revitalized economic and agricultural development throughout the nation.
    • Destroyed more than 61,979 pieces of UXO and abandoned or otherwise at-risk munitions.
    • Provided risk education to more than 38,000 Iraqi men, women and children, saving lives and preventing injuries with outreach programs to warn about the potential dangers from landmines and UXO in their communities.
    U.S.-Funded Partner Initiatives:
    • MAG (Mines Advisory Group): State Department funding has enabled MAG Iraq to clear over 34 square kilometers of contaminated land, freeing 300 contaminated sites for productive use and responding to more than 20,000 spot tasks to safely remove and destroy 840,730 landmines and pieces of UXO in northern and central Iraq. In the upcoming fiscal years, MAG plans to begin clearing newly liberated areas for the safe and timely return of IDPs such as the Yazidi population in Sinuni, Zammar, and Rabeea. Additionally, MAG plans to deploy community liaison teams to deliver risk education to an estimated 71,700 civilians affected by ISIL-related violence.
    • Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA): NPA provided technical advisors to the Iraqi Regional Mine Action Center - South in Basrah (RMAC-S) to assist it in fulfilling its role as a regulatory body that is able to coordinate and monitor mine action activities. This project has enabled the RMAC-S to conduct a survey designed to provide a more accurate picture of the mine/UXO situation in southern Iraq. Additionally, NPA’s WRA-funded teams cleared 164,868 square meters in 2014 and found 74 cluster sub-munitions, and 20 other pieces of UXO. In 2015, the same teams have so far cleared 1,732,105 square meters finding 1,086 cluster sub munitions, 157 other pieces of UXO, 22 anti-tank mines, and 7 anti-personnel mines.
    • Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD): FSD’s proposed area of intervention was captured by ISIL and then liberated by Peshmerga forces between July 2014 and February 2015. Subsequently, FSD plans to deploy survey and clearance teams to those areas in late 2015 to increase civilian security for returning IDPs.
    • Danish Demining Group (DDG): DDG will begin conducting survey and clearance operations in southern Iraq as well as assist in developing the program capacity of the RMAC-S in coordination with the Iraq Directorate of Mine Action (DMA). Additionally, DDG hopes to conduct risk education with the goal of reaching 120,000 beneficiaries in northern Iraq.
    • Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP): iMMAP advisors continue to provide operational management, strategic planning, victims’ assistance support, and technical expertise. In September 2015, the DMA, Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), and iMMAP signed a Memorandum of Understanding allowing iMMAP to establish a joint DMA and IKMAA Information Management Database to track humanitarian mine action (HMA) information in areas liberated from ISIL, and facilitate the flow of HMA data among various mine action NGOs assisting in reconstruction efforts.
    • Spirit of Soccer (SoS): Spirit of Soccer continues to implement innovative projects using soccer as a means to promote education and outreach to children about the risks from landmines and UXO. Expanding on these techniques, SoS incorporated trauma training for youth affected by ISIL-related violence, and pursued local league and tournament sponsorships in order to target young Iraqi males at risk of joining extremist groups.
    • Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI): MLI enhanced and refined the 12 Mine Detection Dog teams working with a local Iraqi demining organization. Furthermore, MLI continued the Children Against Mines Program in southern Iraq; linking three American schools to three Iraqi schools to promote mine risk education in schools and provide medical assistance to young survivors.
    • Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD): The 2014 Country Planning Workshop for Iraq, which was facilitated by GICHD in August 2014 in Istanbul, provided an opportunity for key mine action stakeholders to exchange ideas and to explore, consider and assess future options and opportunities for advancing the assessment and management of CWD activities in Iraq. DMA based in Baghdad, IKMAA based in Kurdistan, PM/WRA, and all relevant international non-governmental organizations participated in this workshop.
    The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of efforts to clear unexploded ordnance and landmines. Since 1993, the United States has contributed more than $2.5 billion to more than 90 countries around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war. For more information on U.S. humanitarian demining and Conventional Weapons Destruction programs, check out the latest edition of our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
    For further information, please contact David McKeeby in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at