Friday, June 05, 2009

Noam Chomskey on Barry O's speech

"The Grim Picture of Obama's Middle East" (Noam Chomsky, Information Clearing House):
Keeping just to Israel-Palestine -- there was nothing substantive about anything else -- Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to 'point fingers' at each other or to 'see this conflict only from one side or the other.' There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.
Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.
Obama once again praised the Arab Peace Initiative, saying only that Arabs should see it as 'an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.' How should the Obama administration see it? Obama and his advisers are surely aware that the Initiative reiterates the long-standing international consensus calling for a two-state settlement on the international (pre-June '67) border, perhaps with 'minor and mutual modifications,' to borrow U.S. government usage before it departed sharply from world opinion in the 1970s, vetoing a Security Council resolution backed by the Arab 'confrontation states' (Egypt, Iran, Syria), and tacitly by the PLO, with the same essential content as the Arab Peace Initiative except that the latter goes beyond by calling on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in the context of this political settlement. Obama has called on the Arab states to proceed with normalization, studiously ignoring, however, the crucial political settlement that is its precondition. The Initiative cannot be a 'beginning' if the U.S. continues to refuse to accept its core principles, even to acknowledge them.
In the background is the Obama administration's goal, enunciated most clearly by Senator John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to forge an alliance of Israel and the 'moderate' Arab states against Iran. The term 'moderate' has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands.

If you had to suffer through War Hawk Juan Cole's nonsense on Democracy Now! praising Barry O's bad speech, Noam may be your corrective.

I worry about this country and it's due to the fact that fascism seems to be promoted. Bully Boy Bush was built up by the press after 9-11 and we're seeing the same thing with Barry O. The press is trying to take a democracy and turn it into a fascist state. The desire didn't die with Bush, they just latched onto Barry O.

It's really disgusting and it's offensive how many people are falling for it.

You'd think after 8 years of Bully Boy Bush, the country would reject any efforts of a Cult of Personality but, and this is why I'm alarmed, the press appears to have conditioned the public to not just accept that sort of coverage but to want that kind of coverage.

It is very disturbing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, July 5, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Iraqis are not impressed with Barry O's big speech, members of the US Congress call for the US Embassy in Baghdad to investigate the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, and more.

Barry O! gave his big speech in Cario. Iraqi Alaa Sahib Abudllah of Karbala states, "
The most important thing is to accomplish things, not just say them. I am astonished of how much the media is caring about it. I heard such speeches by Bush more than once. There is nothing new in Obama's speech." Patrick Murphy (WSWS) observes:

The speech delivered by US President Barack Obama in Cairo yesterday was riddled with contradictions. He declared his opposition to the "killing of innocent men, women, and children," but defended the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US proxy war in Pakistan, while remaining silent on the most recent Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. These wars have killed at least one million Iraqis and tens of thousands in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories.
Obama declared his support for democracy, human rights and women's rights, after two days of meetings with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, two of the most notorious tyrants in the Middle East. He said nothing in his speech about the complete absence of democratic rights in Saudi Arabia, or about the ongoing repression under Mubarak's military dictatorship. In the days before the US president's arrival at Al-Azhar University, the campus was raided by Egyptian secret police who detained more than 200 foreign students. Before leaving on his Mideast trip, Obama praised Mubarak as a "steadfast ally."
While posturing as the advocate of universal peace and understanding, Obama diplomatically omitted any reference to his order to escalate the war in Afghanistan with the dispatch of an additional 17,000 US troops. And he tacitly embraced the policy of his predecessor in Iraq, declaring, "I believe the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein." He even seemed to hedge on the withdrawal deadline of December 2011 negotiated by the Bush administration, which he described as a pledge "to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012."

Hillary Is 44 points out, "Murdered Iraqis who are gay were never mentioned. Gays and their oppression was not mentioned at all. Instead Obama quoted the 'Holy Koran' with the verse 'Be Conscious of God and speak always the truth.' Then Obama proceeded to avoid telling the truth." Stanley Heller (CounterPunch) also breaks down the Iraq section of the speech:

His speech in Cairo was the usual glittering generalities, the dropping of an Arabic word here and there, a sophisticated tone, and the pledge to tell "the truth." But look what he said about Iraq: "Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible." Though the war was controversial the Iraqis are "better off". Over a million dead from sanctions, invasions, and civil war, and Obama had the utter gal to declare the Iraqis "better off". Our only problem was not recruiting enough flunkies to join the effort. Some on the Left immediately declared that Obama remarks were a "denunciation" of the Iraq war. Keep on dreaming.

Stan offered his take on the speech last night. Marcia noted that the Wall St. Journal offered "Barack Hussein Bush" because they heard in Barry's words a continuation of Bush policy. The speech came up repeatedly today on both hours of NPR's Diane Rehm Show and we'll focus on Iraqis and note this section between Diane Rehm and McClatchy Newspapers' Nancy A. Youssef.

Diane Rehm: Alright let's talk about the latest violence in Iraq in light of the president's promise that all troops will be out of Iraq by --

Nancy A. Youssef: The end of 2011.

Diane Rehm: 2011. And isn't there a June 30 deadline this year as well?

Nancy A. Youssef: Yeah.

Diane Rehm: How was that received by Iraqis? This morning we heard that many don't believe that is going to happen, that all US troops are going to be out. And in the meantime you've got bombings still going on in Baghdad.

Nancy A. Youssef: Yeah. And let's -- the June 30th requires -- and this -- I want to make a distinction. Obama mentioned it in the speech but the truth is this was outlined under the Bush administration, under the Status Of Forces Agreement that they signed with the Iraqi government, I think in part, with the anticipation of Obama coming to the White House and wanting to, I think the Bush administration wanted to set the withdrawal on its terms and not on the Obama administration's terms and so the June 30th deadline is part of that. The Iraqi government demanded that all US troops be out of major cities. Now we're already starting to hear a little bit of a dance: Maybe on the outskirts of Sadr City they'll stay? Maybe in parts of Samarra they'll stay? Maybe in parts of Mosul where we're seeing violence this week -- a US soldier was killed in Mosul. We're seeing a little dance about how strict that's going to be. Remember that for the Iraqis this is also their domestic politics. They have an election coming up -- if not at the end of the year, in January. Maliki, the prime minister, cannot afford to have US troops in the face of his people anymore. They are tired. That all said, you are absolutely right. You ask Iraqis, they don't believe that the United States is ever leaving -- that they'll be a presence there for the rest of their lives. And in some capacity you have to think there would be in the sense that, you know when the US -- with each soldier that leaves is less US influence over the course of events in Iraq. You know to me the most dangerous thing going forward is not a quick collapse of the security situation in Iraq but a small one, a gradual one that happens as the United States is increasing its force presence in Afghanistan. That United States finds itself with say 100,000 troops in Iraq and 70,000 troops in Afghanistan and truly stuck in both conflicts. But you're right, you ask Iraqis, the United States is going to be there in some capacity. And this year is this game of security and domestic and even US politics.

With regards to the points Youssef was making on the dance that's going on, yesterday
AP reported that the US military is hoping to keep "about 14 joint facilities [open] . . . after the deadline." Back to Iraqi reaction, Michael Slackman (New York Times) explains Barry O's speech was greeted in iraq by "a heavy dose of skepticism" and quotes diners in Mosul yelling "What a stupid speech!" Campbell Robertson and the Times Iraqi correspondents (New York Times' Baghdad Bureau) offer more reactions. In Najaf, Fadhil Mohammed states, "Obama's speech is nothing more than a way to paint a phony improved image about America for Islamic countries." In Falluja, Abu Adil states, "We've heard such nonsense from your former White House guys. We're overstuffed with such words." Yes, the speech the press can't stop creaming their panties and briefs over has been given many, many times before. Now when George W. Bush did that and the MSM treated it as new, CounterSpin would ridicule them for that. Today? CounterSpin's working for the man. But Aluf Been (Haaratz) points out some of the realities regarding Barry's 'words' on Palestinians and Israelies:

The United States has objected to the settlements since 1967, but its position has changed. The Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations stated that the settlements were illegal. Since the Reagan administration (1981), the U.S. has called the settlements "an obstacle to peace" without referring to their lawfulness. Former president George W. Bush agreed to Israeli construction in the large settlement blocs in exchange for Israel evacuating the settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, and accepting the "two-state solution."

Rob Reynolds (Al Jazeera) noted The Changeling's shape shifting abilities, "Another thing struck me as distinctly political: Obama's constant references to his Muslim background, boyhood days in Indoensia, and frequent citations from the Quran sounded a bit odd coming from a man who made strenuous efforts to ignore those aspects of his autobiography in the 2008 campaign for the White House. In fact, Obama's campaign attacked critics who insisted on using his middle name; now, here was Barack Hussein Obama on stage in Cairo dropping a "shukran" (Arabic for "thank you" here) and an "assalaamu alaikum" (peace be unto you) there." Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller (ABC News) caught that shift on Tuesday: "Back then, the campaign's "Fight the Smears" website addressed the candidate's faith without mentioning his father's religion:
'Barack Obama is a committed Christian. He was sworn into the Senate on his family Bible. He has regularly attended church with his wife and daughters for years. But shameful, shadowy attackers have been lying about Barack's religion, claiming he is a Muslim instead of a committed Christian. When people fabricate stories about someone's faith to denigrate them politically, that's an attack on people of all faiths. Make sure everyone you know is aware of this deception'."

Though that's just appearing on the radar it's long been known that Iraq's LGBT community was being targeted.
Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) reports that Iraqi LGBT is stating the Ministry of the Interior is part of the assault and quotes Ali Hili stating, "A police office from the Ministry of Interior Intelligence told us secretly that there is a campaign of murder and violence against gays. We had to pay him $5,000 US to help release one of our members from jail. With all the evidence we have been presenting, including some from one of our members who was recently released from pison, we have evidence of mass arrests [of LGBT Iraqis]. Still, the US is denying Iraqi government involvement, doing nothing to stop it and not assisting with our efforts to help gays in Iraq." Green also notes that US House Reps Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank have requested in writing that US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill investigate the charges. Polis has posted [PDF formart warning] the letter on his website and we'll jump in after the congratulations to Chris Hill on being confirmed as Ambassador:

As you know, since the fall of Saddam Hussein, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqi citizens have become more susceptible to discrimination and violence. However, over the last month, we became aware of alarming human rights violations that fundamentally threaten the safety of LGBT citizens of Iraq. Both in the United States and Abroad, reports of the harrassment, detention and execution of LGBT Iraqi by Iraqi law enforcement have reached a fever pitch.
The information we received was derived from two separate testimonials of gay and transgender Iraqi men that were detained, tortured and sentenced to death for being members of an allegedly forbidden organization in Iraq called Iraqi LGBT. One of these individuals was able to escape, while the other was reportedly executed by Iraqi Ministry of Interior Security Forces. Through conversations with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Heartland Alliance, it has become clear to us that these are not isolated reports, but instead, reports that accurately portray an aggressive campaign to locate, arrest and execute LGBT Iraqis in and around Baghdad.
As LGBT Americans and co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we are disturbed and shocked at allegations that Ministry of the Interior Security Forces may be involved in the mass persecution and execution of LGBT Iraqis. As has been stated by the State Department, we are aware that LGBT Iraqis are not being officially executed or being held on death row in Iraq for being LGBT. However, the persecution of Iraqis based on sexual orientation or gender identity is escalating and is unacceptable regardless of whether these policies are extrajudicial or state-sanctioned.
We hope that by reaching out to you and members of your staff, that the U.S. Embassy in Iraq will prioritize the investigation of these allegations, work with the Iraqi government to end the executions of LGBT Iraqis, and make protecting this vulnerable community a priority. It is crucial that the United States government take action to address this urgent humanitarian crisis and examine the evidence provided by international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Heartland Alliance in Iraq. Given cultural sensitivity around these issues, it is also important that the U.S. Embassy work with human rights organizations to carefully ensure the safety of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis that may be afraid of reporting incidences to state authorities, particularly when those instances involve state authorities.
Please know that we will continue to monitor this situation and hope to be of assistance in your investigation. We wish you well in all of your endeavors as the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.

The targeting of journalists in Iraq also continues.
Earlier this week, another journalist lost his life, Alla' Abdul Al Wahab and others were wounded (one in the same attack, two in another attack). Reporters Without Borders declared, "It is time the slaughter of journalists in Iraq was stopped. The Iraqi authorities created a special police unit last year to investigate murders of journalists. We urge them to investigate these two bombings very thoroughly. Only conclusive results are likely to discourage these killers and improve the safety of journalists." Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill (writing at the US Socialist Worker) provides the walk through:

The U.S.
bombed Al Jazeera in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, attacked it multiple times in the 2003 Iraq invasion, and killed Al Jazeera correspondent Tarek Ayoub. On April 8, 2003, a U.S. Abrams tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, home and office to more than 100 unembedded international journalists operating in Baghdad at the time. The shell smashed into the fifteenth-floor Reuters office, killing two cameramen, Reuters's Taras Protsyuk and José Couso of Spain's Telecinco. In a chilling statement at the end of that day in Iraq, then-Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke spelled out the Pentagon's policy on journalists not embedded with U.S. troops. She warned them that Baghdad "is not a safe place. You should not be there."
Last week, a Spanish judge
reinstated charges against three U.S. soldiers in Couso's killing, citing new evidence, including eyewitness testimony contradicting official U.S. claims that soldiers were responding to enemy fire from the hotel. One year ago, former Army Sergeant Adrienne Kinne told Democracy Now! she saw the Palestine Hotel on a military target list and said she frequently intercepted calls from journalists staying there.
As I have
reported previously, Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana was shot by U.S. forces near Abu Ghraib prison when his camera was allegedly mistaken for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The U.S. listed as "justified" the killing of Al Arabiya TV's Mazen al-Tumeizi, blown apart by a U.S. missile as he reported on a burning U.S. armored vehicle on Baghdad's Haifa Street.
There have also been several questionable killings of journalists at U.S. military checkpoints in Iraq, such as the March 2004 shooting deaths of Ali Abdel-Aziz and Ali al-Khatib of Al Arabiya. The Pentagon said the soldiers who shot the journalists acted within the "rules of engagement." And Reuters freelancer Dhia Najim was killed by U.S. fire while filming resistance fighters in November 2004. "We did kill him," an unnamed military official told the New York Times. "He was out with the bad guys. He was there with them, they attacked, and we fired back and hit him."

Jeremy Scahill will be a guest on
Bill Moyers Journal tonight (check local listings -- online it provides video, audio and transcript -- accessible to all). Meanwhile Halliburton is in the news cycle. Guillermo Contreras (San Antonio Express-News) reports that "Robert Cain of San Marcos; Craig Henry of San Antonio; Francis Jaeger of Haltom City; David McMenomy of Lampasas; Mark Posz of San Antonio; and El Kevin Sar of Houston" have filed charges against Halliburton stating that "they were poisoned by toxins and emissions from burn pits at U.S. camps in Iraq and Afghanistan". Pratap Chatterjee (CorpWatch) reports on the War Profiteers of Halliburton:

The Houstonian Hotel is an elegant, secluded resort set on an 18-acre wooded oasis in the heart of downtown Houston. Two weeks ago, David Lesar, CEO of the once notorious energy services corporation Halliburton, spoke to some 100 shareholders and members of senior management gathered there at the company's annual meeting. All was remarkably staid as they celebrated Halliburton's $4 billion in operating profits in 2008, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Analysts remain bullish on Halliburton's stock, reflecting a more general view that any company in the oil business is likely to have a profitable future in store.There were no protesters outside the meeting this year, nor the kind of national media stakeouts commonplace when Lesar
addressed the same crew at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston in May 2004. Then, dozens of mounted police faced off against 300 protestors in the streets outside, while a San Francisco group that dubbed itself the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane fielded activists in Bush and Cheney masks, offering fake $100 bills to passers-by in a mock protest against war profiteering. And don't forget the 25-foot inflatable pig there to mock shareholders. Local TV crews swarmed, a national crew from NBC flew in from New York, and reporters from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal eagerly scribbled notes.Now the 25-foot pigs are gone and all is quiet on the western front. How did Halliburton, once branded the ugly stepchild of Dick Cheney -- the company's former CEO -- and a poster child of war profiteering, receive such absolution from anti-war activists and the media? Of course, the defeat of the Republicans in the 2008 U.S. election, the departure of the Bush administration, and a general apathy towards the ongoing, but lower-level war in Iraq are part of the answer. But don't ignore a potentially brilliant financial sleight of hand by Halliburton either. That move played a crucial role in the cleansing of the company.

Michael Winship of
Bill Moyers Journal notes Chatterjee's piece in "The Privatization of 'Obama's War':"

KBR, Halliburton and the private security firm Blackwater have come tosymbolize the excesses of outsourcing warfare. So you'd think that witha new sheriff like Barack Obama in town, such practices would be on the"Things Not to Do" list. Not so. According to new Pentagon statistics, in the second quarter of thisyear, there has been a 23% increase in the number of private securitycontractors working for the Pentagon in Iraq and a 29% hike inAfghanistan. In fact, outside contractors now make up approximately halfof our forces fighting in the two countries. "This means," according toJeremy Scahill, author of the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World'sMost Powerful Mercenary Army, "there are a whopping 242,647 contractorsworking on these two U.S. wars."Scahill, who runs an excellent new website called "Rebel Reports," spokewith my colleague Bill Moyers on the current edition of Bill MoyersJournal on PBS. "What we have seen happen, as a result of thisincredible reliance on private military contractors, is that the UnitedStates has created a new system for waging war," he said. By hiringforeign nationals as mercenaries, "You turn the entire world into yourrecruiting ground. You intricately link corporate profits to anescalation of warfare and make it profitable for companies toparticipate in your wars. "In the process of doing that you undermine US democratic policies. Andyou also violate the sovereignty of other nations, because you're makingtheir citizens combatants in a war to which their country is not aparty.

You can catch the discussion on
Bill Moyers Journal.

Today the
US military announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- A Multi National Force -- West Marine died as the result of a non-combat rleated incident June 5. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." And they announced: "CAMP VICTORY, BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldier died late last night of injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Diyala province of northern Iraq, June 4." These 2 announcements bring to 4311 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War since it began in March 2003. In other violence today, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people.

Turning to the US
Kimberley Hefling (AP) reports on Chris Scheuerman whose son Jason died in Iraq. August 1, 2005, the DoD announced: "Pfc. Jason D. Scheuerman, 20, of Lynchburg, Va., died July 30 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries. Scheuerman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." In December of 2007, AP reported that it took "well over a year" for his family to be informed Jason had left a note which read, "Maybe finaly I can get some peace." Hefling reports today that Chris Scheuerman is upset because the "Army Medical Command's inspector general's investigation, completed in November" states no policies were violated by the military use of "unlicensed psychologists in Iraq". Scheuerman should be upset and the country should be outraged. Unlicensed psychologists are not psychologists. You're five-year-old son or daughter is an unlicensed psychologist and about as qualified as any other unlicensed psychologist. The license serves a purpose, without the license, there's really no point in calling yourself a psychologist. The military yet again played it on the cheap and did so in the combat zone where no one could afford to 'play doctor'. They didn't take it seriously, they never did. Just like they still don't take PTSD seriously today -- though they know to give it lip service due to public outrage.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan doesn't just offer lip service, she offers action and she's preparing to face off against Bully Boy Bush in a matter of days. Cindy's currently on a
speaking tour and these are some of the upcoming dates:
Phoenix: June 5th
Dallas: June 7th and 8th
Waco: June 9th
Austin: June 10th and 11th
Nashville: June 14-16
St. Petersburg, FL: June 17-18
Philadelphia: June 20-23
NYC: June 24-26
Cape Cod: June 27-29
New Hampshire: June 30 - July 1
San Francisco: July 3 - 5 (Socialist Conference)
Cleveland: July 8-9 (National Assembly to end the Iraq War)
Pittsburgh: July 11-12
Norfolk, VA: July 15-18
Vashon Island, Washington: July 25-26
The Dallas Peace Center notes the action Cindy will lead while in Dallas:
Start: Jun 8 2009 - 4:30pm
Cindy Sheehan will come to Dallas to protest crimes against humanity that occured during the Bush administration. According to Sheehan, "The actions of his administration are criminal and we need to keep up the pressure for accountability." To support Sheehan's effort, meet on the SW corner of Preston & Royal to join a march on the sidewalk west on Royal, south on Netherland, east on Meaders to the front of John J. Pershing Elementary School, across from Daria Dr. which leads to Bush's gated compound. No major streets will be crossed. Participants are asked to stay on message – the American people will not tolerate torture in our name, and those who have betrayed our trust must be held legally accountable.
SW corner of Preston & Royal
Dallas, TX
United StatesSee map:
Yahoo! Maps Cindy Sheehan hosts the radio program Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox which airs each Sunday (and archives at link). June 16th she'll team up with singer-songwriter David Rovics for a luncheon at Ellendale's Restrauant (2739 Old Elm Hill Pike, Donelson, TN from one to three p.m.) sponsored by Nashville Peace and Justice Center (4732 Peace and Justice Center, 4732 West Longdale Drive, Nashville, TN 37211). This is a fundraiser, I believe, and for more on it contact Jerry Hader at who is with Nashville Peace and Justice Center. This Saturday in Michigan, the Green Party of Michigan will be rallying in Benton Harbort to Save Jean Klock Park and to Free Rev Edward Pinkney:The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) will be leading a peaceful march to Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbon on Saturday, June 6. The march will leave from the Berrien County Courthouse (at 811 Port Street) at 3:30 pm. Members of Save Jeane Klock Park will be joining the march to protest the destruction of this section of Lake Michigan beachfront dunes and the theft of this pristine piece of nature from the people of Benton Harbor, to whom it was willed "in perpetuity"!
The march will also emphasize the need to free Reverend Edward Pinkney. An appeal hearing for the community activist will be held on Tuesday, June 9 by the Third District of the Michigan Court of Appeals (State Office Building; 350 Ottawa NW; Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2349; 616/456-1167). Rev Pickney and representatives of Save Jean Klock Park will be speaking at a public meeting before the march. This session, which is open to the media, will be held at Hopewall Baptist Church (756 Highland) starting at 2 pm.
Turning to PBS, and, as noted earlier,
Bill Moyers Journal features Jeremy Scahill. Bill Moyers latest installment begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings) as does NOW on PBS:Americans have a longstanding love affair with food—the modern supermarket has, on average, 47,000 products. But do we really know what goes into making the products we so eagerly consume?This week, David Brancaccio talks with filmmaker Robert Kenner, the director of "Food, Inc.," which takes a hard look at the secretive and surprising journey food takes on the way from processing plants to our dinner tables. The two discuss why contemporary food processing secrets are so closely guarded, their impact on our health, and another surprising fact: how consumers are actually empowered to make a difference.Find out why you'll never look at dinner the same way.I really have to wonder about the above summary. It is not one that will make most say, "Honey, let's watch NOW!" The same topic with a 'find out what foods you should be serving' would be seen as instructive. The promo appears to have been written by someone whose responsibility for a meal never went beyond ordering at the drive through.Gwen sits around the table for Washington Week (which begins airing on most PBS stations tonight) with New York Times' Helene Cooper, The Economist's Greg Ip and Gebe Martinez of the publication that should not speak its name. Yes, you read that right. Two female guests to one male guest. It's usually the other way around or three male guests to one woman. Also tonight on most PBS stations, Bonnie Erbe sits down with Heather Boushey, Amanda Carpenter, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Star Parker to discuss the week's news on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers: The ChairmanIn a rare interview with a sitting Federal Reserve chairman – the first in 20 years – Ben Bernanke tells Scott Pelley what went wrong with America's financial system, how it caused the current economic crisis, what the Fed's doing to help fix it and when he expects the crippling recession to end. (This is a double length segment.) Watch Video
DollyDolly Parton, the oh-so-country music superstar with the city-slicker sense of show business talks to Morley Safer about her childhood, her career and the Broadway production of her film, "9 to 5." Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 7, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is a group this community supports. I have friends who are members of IVAW. I mention that because two former members of IVAW have taken to e-mailing the public account for this site with smears about the organization. I dictated a response for today's snapshot but the snapshot is too long so the topic will be carried over to Third on Sunday. In the meantime, if someone's accusing IVAW of being controlled by some political party -- take a second to look at the ones accussing. What you will most likely see is Barack Obama supporters who attempted to whore out IVAW as a Barack Obama front group. That they were not allowed to do that upset them and they left. Now they're offering smears. IVAW has a diverse membership and anyone telling you otherwise should be suspect right there. Again, we'll carry it over to Third there's just no room today. But we will close with this from IVAW's Phil Aliff's "The red badge of courage" (US Socialist Worker):

When you cannot inflict casualties on the enemy, you learn that there are no limits to the level of human rage. It is the kind of rage that eats away at you. It is like a disease that tears you apart from the inside.
MILITARY VETERANS continue to carry this rage when we return home. When you are in Iraq, it is easy to justify shooting into a house or calling in mortars on a palm grove. But when you return home, you can't fire a machine gun at someone who cuts you off on the highway.
This feeling of vulnerability drives a veteran mad. We pack up our civility to prepare for combat. Everyone at home carries their socially accepted morals, while we throw them out the window to justify killing someone for nothing. We were taught how to pack our morals away, but we were never given directions for unpacking them.

iraqshane bauercampbell robertsonthe new york times
michael slackman
nprthe diane rehm shownancy a. youssefmcclatchy newspapers
sahar issakimberly heflingthe associated press
jake tappersunlen miller
phil aliffiraq veterans against the war
60 minutescbs news
jeremy scahill
bill moyers journalto the contrarybonnie erbe
now on pbs

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


"A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad" (Andy Worthington, World Can't Wait):
In all the recent hysteria about the supposed dangers posed by the remaining 240 prisoners at Guantánamo, it has been easy to forget that sensible appraisals of the number of individuals with any meaningful connection to terrorism have long indicated that no more than a few dozen of those still held should be regarded as any kind of significant threat, and that therefore the prison still holds over 200 prisoners who, at best, were low-level Taliban soldiers with a strong dislike of US foreign policy, and, at worst, should never have been held at all.
To listen to
Dick Cheney, or to some serving politicians who are prone to similar hyperbole, you would think that every one of the remaining 240 prisoners is just itching to return to the fictional battlefield conjured up in last week’s conveniently leaked Pentagon report about recidivism rates (PDF), which, while published uncritically by the New York Times, has been comprehensively trashed by reporters for the New American [. . .]

Ended there because I don't link to Cult of St. Barack places. There's one especially that I loathe. Not only do they act as a propaganda arm for Barack, they refuse to book certain guests -- heroes in independent media -- because these guests won't kneel an dpray to St. Barack.

If you're a community member and puzzled by whom I mean, it's the outlet that whined to C.I. about how they were sorry they didn't give C.I. credit for one of their pieces of writing. They were really, really sorry. Some people, not C.I., were outraged by that theft (it was theft). C.I. didn't care and was the only one not writing about it. Never wrote about it. But because others did, like Rebecca, it was time for JN of ____ to whine to C.I. Boo-hoo. People say mean stuff about us but we weren't trying to hurt you.

C.I. actually knew the groveler. Jess told C.I. that ___ e-mailed and C.I. never read it just told Jess to e-mail that it was nothing C.I. had written about (the theft) and nothing C.I. intended to write about. Jess did that and added that, speaking for him, he was more concerned with the lousy job The Nation was doing and that's why Third was tracking the sexism at The Nation. JN was happy to be off the hook. For about ten seconds. Then he passed Jess' e-mail onto The Nation and C.I. finds out about it from friends at The Nation.

So I have no interest in promoting the thieves who offer weak apologies and then stab people in the back.


"Why The Torture Photos Should Be Released" (Mary Shaw, CounterCurrents):
And that is one reason why the Obama administration must release the photos: In this so-called democratic republic, We The People have a right to know how our intelligence agents and military personnel are treating their detainees. Those intelligence agents and military personnel are technically our employees, after all. And detainee abuse is no "state secret".
But the accountability shouldn't stop at the domestic front. The Obama administration should release the photos to demonstrate to the world that the Bush-Cheney culture of secrecy has ended.
Otherwise, the world will continue to wonder what we're hiding, and why. And that can only make things worse. That could be what incites much more anti-American violence.
Obama campaigned on a promise to repair this nation's reputation in the world. In order to do that, we must own up to what happened, apologize to the world for it, and enforce strict policies against repeating our mistakes going forward.

There is no accountability. Here's the easiest way to understand this.

Someone house sits for you. They break a vase. They sweep the broken pieces under the rug. You return and they tell you something happened. They won't tell you what, but, "I'm being accountable, something happened."

For there to be accountability, you need to know what happened, you need to know that your vase was broken. If you don't know that, there's no accountability.

If we don't know what's in the photos, there's no accountability.

Barack doesn't rule the American people. He is supposed to run the government in a position the people put him in and he is supposed to be answerable to the people.

The photos need to be released.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 3, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US Congress hears about the veterans homeless population, Little Debbie explains to America some people want to be homeless -- they want to be, the UN says you don't have to admit them but they can't go back, and more.

"How do we help those who don't want to be helped?" pondered Little Debbie today as she launched into a diatribe against those veterans who, according to her, just want to be homeless. Remember those who mistakenly defend US House Rep Deborah L. Halvorson, you don't know Little Debbie. Every Congressional hearing is a Mary Kay convention for Little Debbie who appears to serve on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for comic relief purposes only. Little Debbies are snack cakes and we don't start meal with dessert so we'll come back to it.

"I want to thank everyone today, both on the committee and our witnesses, those who are here in our audience, to be here which a lot of people in our country apparently don't want to face and that is the issue of homelessness," declared Committee Chair Bob Finer in his opening remarks (
click here for his prepared remarks -- they were not read in the hearing). "And I have decided I guess and many of us here have decided, if people won't look at the homeless in general, maybe they'll look at homeless vets. And depending upon what statistics you use, it's anywhere from between 40 to 50 percent more of the homeless. So if we here and our committee can deal with the issue we'll have dealt with almost half the issue that the local communities won't have to deal with. I know that our Secretary of the VA, Mr. [Eric] Shinseki has, uh -- has, uh, taken on this battle himself also so working together we want to eliminate homeless veterans." That outlined the goals of the hearing. US House Rep Steve Buyer is the Ranking Member on the Republican side. He was not present at the start of the meeting. US House Rep Doug Lamborn filled in and gave his opening remarks -- after requesting that Buyer's prepared remarks be put into the record (here for Buyer's). Lamborn's remarks (which he read, click here) included noting, "Each night approximately 131,000 veterans, the men and women who have served our country are among the nation's homeless. While this number is alarming, we have seen a steady decrease in this number over the past few years, including a decrease of 15 percent from the 2007 estimate and 33 percent lower than 2006."

The hearing was entitled "A National Commitment to End Veterans' Homelessness" and there were four panels. The first panel was composed of the
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans' John Driscoll, United States Veterans Initiative's Dwight A. Radcliff Sr., Vietnam Veterans of America's Marsha Four, R.N. (she chairs the Women Veterans Committee of VVA), Manna House's James S. Fann and Veterans Village of San Diego's Phil Landis. The second panel was composed of Illinois Dept of Human Services' Dr. Carol L. Adams, New York City Dept of Homeless Services' Robert V. Hess with Roland Marte who is a veteran from the Bronx. Panel three was Columbia Center for Homelessness Prevention's Carol L. Caton and Brendan O'Flaherty. Panel four was US Dept of Veterans Affairs' George P. Basher and Peter H. Dougherty with Paul E. Smits from the same department and John M. McWilliams from the US Dept of Labor. We'll be focusing on the first panel.

"GPD is the foundation of the VA and community partnership and currently funds approximately 14,000 service beds in non-VA facilities in every state,"
Driscoll explained. "Under this program veterans receive a multitude of services that include housing, access to health care and dental services, substance abuse and mental health supports, personal and family counseling, education and employment assistance and access to legal aid." Driscoll wants to see the budget increased to $200 million annually. (He would also like to the see GDP system changed.) Radcliff noted that, "US VETS programs have served more than 18,000 homeless veterans with more than sixty-five perecent making successful transitions into permanent housing in the community while achieving self-sufficiency [. . .] and currently operates 727 Grant and Per Diem Transitional Housing beds in five States, making it the largest single recipient of Grant and Per Diem funding."

The number of women veterans who are homeless is rising. Four observed, "There certainly is a question of course on the actual number of homeless veterans -- it's been flucuating dramatically in the last few years. When it was reported at 250,000 level, two percent were considered females. This was rougly about 5,000. Today, even if we use the very low number VA is supplying us with -- 131,000 -- the number, the percentage, of women in that population has risen up to four to five percent, and in some areas, it's larger. So that even a conservative method of determinng this has left the number as high as [6,550]. And the VA actually is reporting that they are seeing that this is as high as eleven percent for the new homeless women veterans. This is a very vulnerable population, high incidents of past sexual trauma, rape and domestic violence. They have been used, abused and raped. They trust no one. Some of these women have sold themselves for money, been sold for sex as children, they have given away their own children. And they are encased in this total humiliation and guilt the rest of their lives." About half of her testimony was reading and about half just speaking to the committee directly.
Click here for her prepared remarks. We'll come back to the issue of homeless women veterans in a moment.

US House Rep David Poe introduced Fann, noting they were both from Johnson City, Tennessee and listing some of Fann's accomplishments. He ended by noting the Traveling Wall was in Johnson City. This is the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC with the names of 58,000 dead or missing US service members. There is no fee to view The Traveling Wall and it is open to all -- and there's an opening ceremony at ten tomorrow morning. I'm plugging it because it came up in the hearing and I have a very good friend who works with
Rolling Thunder. The Traveling Wall will be exhibited through Sunday night in Johnson City. More information on The Traveling Wall being exhibited in Johnson City can be found in Ted Overbay's report (WJHL, TriCities -- text and video). Fann explained, "Homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are now showing up in our homeless shelters. At this time we have more than twenty men on our waiting list in Manna house. Ten of those men are veterans, four fought in Iraq. Mental illness, especially post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuses, have long been seen as the major causes of homelessness among our veterans. While those are certainly factors, they are not the only reasons veterans are left homeless. Affordable housing, medical care, mental health counseling, case management and education/employment assistance to transfer their military jobs into marketable civilian positions need to be expanded in an aggressive outreach program for our veterans." Phil Landis explained, "[Veterans Village of San Diego] has operated the Veteran Only Winter Shelter for the city each year of operation. This year's shelter program ended on April 2, 2009 and over 400, non-duplicated Social Security numbers of veterans were recorded. What does this mean? The issue of homeless veterans is not going away and may in fact be growing."

US House Rep Jerry McNerney: I don't know where to begin. The testimony was fairly stark and I appreciate your honesty. I appreciate your hard work. One of the themes that was recurring was that the per diem needs to be increased and I think every single person on the panel said that much so we'll be looking at how to do that. A couple of things that also stuck out. Mr. Radcliff, you -- I'd like to ask how you advertise your programs and -- and maybe everyone on the panel can answer this -- and how widely known are the programs available to homeless vets? If you go out to a place where you see homeless vets, do they know what's available to them? How widely known is that, how easily can we get to them?

Dwight Radcliff: As you know, they do not typically. In fact one of the dilemmas is that the returning veteran has no idea of this network of service. Marketing is a huge issue. And -- and there's really not a lot of money to pay for marketing. We -- we try to connect with the veteran based upon when there's an active crisis that is happening. Typically, it's a jail or it's a court hearing or it's a substance abuse dilemma or -- we're seeing the veteran during active crisis. Our marketing is very limited. We don't -- we don't -- we're typically -- as I mentioned before -- we're -- we're barely thriving. We're barely surviving. Let alone, not thriving as community based organizations. And we're -- we're used to living there. We're on the edge.

US House Rep Jerry McNerney: So how -- how do you get in touch with a veteran that's having a crisis? The police contact you?

Dwight Radcliff: We -- we -- we usually work with government entities to -- to be referred veterans, yes. In this case, we would have veterans who are in crisis, who are in jail -- we're actually doing out reach now where we're seeing those veterans. We're referred -- local VA have homeless centers where veterans are referred to different programs depending on the veterans' needs. We do have a 1-800 number and we try to advertise that through street outreach.

We'll stop there to note Dwight Radcliff never gave the 1-800 number and, point of fact, neither does the website, not even on "
Contact Us." If you've got a 1-800 number it should be at the top of your website.

Marsha Four: I think one of the real integral parts of this is there is a connection between the VA and the cities and muncipalities, the government entity under which these programs fall. And that we also as non-profits have a direct connection with those at the city level who are dealing with social services and their address of the homeless. Most social service areas/arenas do not know the benefits and entitlements for veterans. They don't what to do with the veterans and they certainly don't know how the VA works. That's one major thrust that's very important. I also see the VA enhancing the outreach of its programs and grant per diem by communicating with other VAs and other VISNs on what programs are available for homeless. In the case of special needs grants, I'll mention the women's program that the VA actually has an intranet communication with other and all mental health directors and -- uh, all the directors of the mental health and domiciliary programs within the VA so that their homeless outreach team members know of specific specialized programs for veterans who are homeless.

John Driscoll: I'd like to add if I could.

US House Rep Jerry McNerney: Sure.

John Driscoll: When I talk about the VA community organization partnership -- and I've seen this develop over ten years, it's pretty incredible. Ten years ago, there were vet centers who would refer walks ins to community resources that existed at that time. But that number has increased dramatically over the last ten years. The VA vet centers, every VA medical center, has a homeless liason who knows who in their communities provide transitional housing or lesser services. What is missing in my estimation -- because once you've reached out and asked for help there are referral systems that will get them to the organizations that can help them. What's missing in my mind is the person who realizes he's got stressors at work, he doesn't know what to do. And so the idea of public service announcements, we see all these advertisements about join the army and join the marines and so obviously there can be federal dollars spent to put out public announcements and I believe that's what's missing. If I'm marginal and I know I've got stressors but I'm not sure who to turn to it would be nice to see a message saying "No matter what the need, you've earned this right, call this number" and then the VA call center resource takes over and they're putting that together now and I meant to mention it in my testimony. That's a tremendous resource.

Phil Landis: If the chairman will allow?

Committee Chair Bob Finer: Mr. Landis.

Phil Landis: Veterans Village truly has become a community resource -- of course we've been working at this for a very long time. One of our partners and we think in terms of the VA in San Diego as a partner truly with us works with us on a daily basis. The VA represenative from the hospital actually has an office in our facility and is there on a weekly basis. Outreach, outreach, outreach. It really falls to us as the providers of the services to create the avenues within the community. San Diego has created something called the
United Veterans Council. United Veterans Council is a group of all of the service providers, all of the veterans organizations within San Diego that meet on a monthly basis. And, of course, our organization outreach is through them as well to the homeless community. If you're a veteran and you live in San Diego and you're homeless or you're about to become homeless, I guarantee you, you know about our organization. And then we are referred -- we have referrals from every concievable avenue in the community to our organization as well.

Leaping ahead to an awkward moment when an obvious question was asked. ("Obvious question" is not meant as an insult to the Republican Congress member who asked it. It should have been asked.)

Doug Lamborn: Now can I assume that all of you have seperate facilities for homeless women veterans?

Dwight Radcliff: We don't necessarily have seperate facitilities but they are encompassed in our -- in our -- in some of our programs. And some -- depending on the stage, you know, transitional or long term housing, often times you'll see women veterans in a co-ed facility. Uh -- uh, early on, when they're going through the treatment process, you probably want to seperate the women veterans. Their -- their needs are unique and the resources are unique. So we do have female veterans programs that are -- that are both at permanent housing and programatically.

Marsha Four: I believe, sir, that there are very few programs in the country that are set up and designed specifically for homeless women veterans that are seperate. One of the problems that we're run into in a mixed gender setting is sort of two-fold. One the women veterans do not have the opportunity to actually be in a seperate group therapy environment because there are many issues that they simply will not divulge in mixed gender populations so those issues are never attended to. The other is that we believe, in a program, you need to focus on yourself and this is the time and place to do your issue, your deal. In a mixed gender setting, let's say, interfering factors. Relationships are one of them. Many of the veterans too come from the streets so there's a lot of street behavior going on. Some of the women -- and men -- but some of the women have participated in prostitution and so there's a difficult setting for any of them to actually focus on themselves without having all these other stressors come into play. So we feel that's an important issue.

April 23rd, the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs which US House Rep John Hall chaired. On the first panel,
Disabled American Veterans' John Wilson explained that some veterans were not getting the treatment they needed because their injuries were not being properly rated as combat injuries and they were being forced to dance through hoops in order to prove that the injuries received while serving in a war zone were combat injuries. He testified to the following in that hearing:

The female soldiers who accompany male troops on patrols to conduct house-to-house searches are known as Team Lioness, and have proved to be invaluable. Their presence not only helps calm women and children, but Team Lioness troops are also able to conduct searches of the women, without violating cultural strictures. Against official policy, and at that time without the training given to their male counterparts, and with a firm commitment to serve as needed, these dedicated young women have been drawn onto the frontlines in some of the most violent counterinsurgency battles in Iraq.
Independent Lens, an Emmy award-winning independent film series on PBS, documented their work in a film titled Lioness which profiled five women who saw action in Iraq's Sunni Triangle during 2003 and 2004. As members of the US Army's 1st Engineer Battalion, Shannon Morgan, Rebecca Nava, Kate Pendry Guttormsen, Anastasia Breslow and Ranie Ruthig were sent to Iraq to provide supplies and logistical support to their male colleagues. Not trained for combat duty, the women unexpectedly became involved with fighting in the streets of Ramadi. These women were part of a unit, made up of approsimately 20 women, who went out on combat missions in Iraq. Female soldiers in the Army and Marines continue to perform Lioness work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I would like to highlight the issues faced by Rebecca Nava as she seeks recognition of her combat experience and subsequent benefits for resulting disabilities. Then US Army Specialist Nava was the Supply Clerk for the 1st Engineering Battalion in Iraq. In conversations with her and as seen in the film Lioness, she recounts several incidents. Two of those incidents are noted in my testimony today.
The first is the roll-over accident of a 5-ton truck that was part of a convoy to Baghdad. In this accident, the driver was attempting to catcuh up with the rest of the convoy but in doing so lost control of the vehicle. The five ton truck swerved off the road and rolled over, killing a Sergeant who was sitting next to her, and severely injuring several others. Specialist Nava was caught in the wreckage. She had to pulled through the fractured windshield of the vehicle. While not severly injured in the accident, she did suffer a permanent spinal injury.
Another incident occurred wherein she was temporarily attached to a Marine unit and her job for this mission was to provide Lioness support for any Iraqi women and children the unit contacted. It was a routine mission patrolling the streets of Ramadi. Before she knew it, the situation erupted into chaos as they came under enemy fire. She had no choice but to fight alongside her male counterparts to suppress the enemy. No one cared that she was a female -- nor did they care that she had a Supply MOS -- their lives were all on the line -- she opened fire. The enemy was taken out. During this fire fight she also made use of her combat lifesaver skills and provided medical aid to several injured personnel.
This and other missions resonate with her to this day. When she filed a claim with the VA, she was confronted with disbelief about her combat role in Iraq as part of Team Lioness. Specialist Nava filed a claim for service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus but was told that she did not qualify because of her logistics career field. Since she does not have a Combat Action Badge, she cannot easily prove that the combat missions occurred which impacted her hearing.

In today's hearing US House Rep Hall declared, "I just want to mention that because approximately 45% of homeless veterans -- in some instances higher from your experiences -- have mental illnesses that I have introduced legislation to try to alleviate the burdens currently placed on veterans trying to gain disability benefits particularly for PTSD and the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs will be marking up this legislation, The Combat PTSD Act HR 952, later on this afternoon, to try to make it automatic that a man or woman who serves in uniform and subsquently at any time after returning home has a diagnosis by a psychiatrist or a doctor that they do in fact have the symptoms that compose a PTSD diagnosis will automatically be eligible not just for treatment, but for compensation and not have to connect it to a particular incident, or a particular attack, or a particular battle or a particular medal. We know that the conflits we are facing today are different than the ones in the past and I think that the VA and the country should be of the attitude that our veterans have done enough and shouldn't have to prove that they're suffering and that they're traumatized."

Now for snack time.

Debbie: During our break, I held several roundtables and one of them I held was not only with veterans' assistance uh not for profits or people that helped but also my area agencies that are for aging and people that helped with homelessness in general and they all want to help. They want -- and some of the problems they see are the veterans that don't want to be helped. They can't get them to come into their places, their shelters, they want to be homeless, they don't trust anybody. How do we help those who don't want to be helped.

"How do we help those who don't want to be helped?" Ah. A question Little Debbie's teachers struggled with -- and never found the answer to. Now Little Debbie is in Congress and wasting everyone's time with myths about homeless veterans wanting to be homeless. "They want to be homeless," she declared. Sounding like a Republican in blame-the-victim mode.

Turning to the topic of Iraqi refugees, this is the United Nations' "
Iraq needs continued international engagement -- UN refugee agency" in full:2 June 2009 -- Although the humanitarian situation in Iraq has been out of the spotlight recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) today cautioned that the situation for the millions of uprooted Iraqis both inside and outside the country remains dire and urged the international community to maintain their support. "While overall security conditions have improved, they are not yet sustainable enough to have encouraged massive returns of Iraqis," agency spokesperson Ron Redmond said, noting that more than 1.5 million Iraqis are still living in other countries, mostly in Syria and Jordan, with another 2 million internally displaced.Although some have returned to their homes, many of these returns have neither been safe nor sustainable, he added. "It is UNHCR's opinion that Iraqis should not be forced back, which would be detrimental to the safety of those concerned and would negatively affect the fragile absorption capacity of the country."The Government of Iraq is torn between many priorities in the political, electoral and national reconciliation areas, and faces many obstacles related to socio-economic issues and requirements for the return and reintegration of the uprooted, according to UNHCR. Mr. Redmond said authorities must make strides in implementing the national policy on displacement and return; take action on land allocation and property restitution; and launch housing and rehabilitation programmes. For its part, UNHCR, along with its partners, is still hindered by a shortage of funds and the need for heavy security which impedes its mobility and ability to deliver assistance, he said. Nevertheless, the agency has expanded its presence to 14 of Iraq's 17 provinces, the spokesperson said, "but these efforts will remain piecemeal if not integrated into a national, Government-led framework aimed at addressing the myriad social and economic challenges that must be overcome." UNHCR's $299 million appeal for its work in Iraq for 2009 is less than half funded, he said, warning that without an influx of resources, some programmes cannot be implemented. Outside Iraq, asylum countries are feeling the burden and are increasingly concerned over what they believe could become a protracted refugee situation, Mr. Redmond noted. "Iraq has experienced waves of mass displacement over the last 40 years that have resulted in deep social dislocation and complex humanitarian problems," he said. "What we are dealing with today is the accumulation of these problems. Bringing stability to such a complex situation is going to take time and requires the collective and continuous engagement of all."

No, it is not safe for Iraqi refugees to return to Iraq. It is NOT SAFE. And it's a real shame some organization (remember who) urged host countries to strip the refugee category from the refugees -- the same organization which now states that it's not safe for refugees to return. Try not to note the inconsistency.
PBS' Wide Angle reminds, ". As recently as May, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees revised its refugee guidelines to stop recommending automatic refugee status for Iraqis abroad. But on Tuesday the commissioner said many Iraqis had been forced to return home before it was safe, and he urged the international community to maintain its support." Delinda C. Hanley (Washington Report On Middle East Affairs) focuses on the refugee crisis:

AHLAM MAHMOOD was a member of Baghdad's city council until she was kidnapped in 2005. She was freed on condition that she leave her country, Mahmood told participants at a March 17 seminar at the American University Washington College of Law on the Iraqi refugee crisis. When she left Baghdad, she and her three young children joined more than two million Iraqi refugees who are living in Jordan, Syria and other neighboring countries, and an additional 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq.
Mahmood fled to Syria, where she and her children lived with 20 other people in a one-bedroom flat. She had no savings and no permission to work. Her oldest son died in Syria, she said, due to poor health care. Mahmood became an activist, helping other Iraqi refugees, until she was arrested in May 2008, imprisoned, and finally, in November, put on a plane to the United States.
Last year some 13,800 Iraqis were resettled in the U.S., and this year's goal is to take 17,000, Barbara Strack of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services told the conference. Until two years ago the U.S. had no meaningful resettlement program, even for Iraqis whose lives were endangered by working for the U.S. government, contractors or media. Now Homeland Security personnel interview Iraqi applicants in Amman, Damascus, Cairo, Istanbul and Baghdad, Strack said, and begin the careful background screening and fingerprinting process to make sure no "bad actors" try to get into the U.S.

The Iraqi refugee crisis is one receiving little attention. "No one cares whether an Iraqi dies," Yassin Salem tells
Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) who reports:Haditha is an instance, writ small, of that divide. No one disputes that 24 people were killed in this forlorn but picturesque town along a majestic stretch of the Euphrates.For the U.S. Marines, they were in a town as dangerous as any in Iraq when a devastating roadside bomb killed one of their own along a strip of asphalt bordered by olive trees and pink oleander. In time, they came under fire from insurgents, they said, and followed the rules of engagement in answering a threat. Eight Marines were prosecuted, but since then, charges have been dropped against six. Another was acquitted. The last Marine, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, still faces charges of voluntary manslaughter.In Haditha, no one calls it a crime. No one refers to it as a killing. The only word used is "majzara," or "massacre." Nearly every villager seems able to recall even the minute details of what they say were revenge killings by Marines first targeting unarmed men in a car, then men, women and children, including a 1-year-old girl, gathered in three houses.

In Iraq, there are problems with roadside bombs. At McClatchy Newspapers, Jack Dolan and Jenan Hussein cover the landmines.
Reporting on the removal of them, "U.S. military officials estimated in 2007 that 15 percent of the charges for improvised explosive devices -- the ubiquitous homemade bombs used to attack American forces -- came from land mines and other unexploded munitions." And in "Iraq halts clearing landmines even as huge toll keeps rising," they explain:Sadiqa Foroon has lost two brothers, her right foot and 32 sheep to landmines and other explosive remnants of the three wars that have raged through her village since 1980.Burns from the mine she stepped on contort the right side of her face. "And my horse is missing a hoof," she said with a weary laugh. "So is my donkey."Still, every morning she trudges back into the sun-scorched scrubland behind her house -- one of the most densely contaminated minefields on the planet, according to international aid organizations -- to collect firewood in order to cook for 12 children, and to harvest whatever scrap metal she thinks she can sell.

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed 9 lives and left thirty-one injured while a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead at a checkpoint in Mosul and another injured.

The illegal war has not ended. And US service members continue to deploy to Iraq.
Cali Bagby (KVAL -- link has text and video) reports on Louisa Babcock and others with Oregon Army National Guard from the Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation who are on a 400 day deployment, "The mission: prepare to extract wounded soldiers and others from hot spots in Iraq." The Des Moines Register reports that the Iowa Army National Guard's 294th Area Support Medical Company are sending 75 members "to Iraq for a one-year tour of duty." Tom Gordon (Birmingham News) reports 75 is also the number the Alabama Army National Guard is sending to Iraq in August where they will do "police training."
While the US deploys to Iraq, a small number of Iranians have left. During Saddam Hussein's reign in Iraq, he allowed Iranian rebels, the People's Mujahedeen, to set up camp. There are approximately 3,500 on a northern Iraq base alone. They reportedly seek the overthrow of Iran. Iran has long wanted them out but Iran's wants weren't a real big concern to Hussein. Nouri al-Maliki, of course, has strong ties to Iran. For example, he hid out there when he wanted Saddam overthrown but was too chicken to do that himself so he waited and waited for decades outside Iraq until the US invasion. He went back to Iran over the weekend. Iran's
Press TV reported he flew to "Hakim's bedside in Tehran" this weekend because Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is receiving treatments for cancer. al-Hakim, like Nouri, is an Iraqi chicken who ran to exile, stayed in exile for decades and then, after the US invasion, was a 'respected' Iraqi . . . in the eyes of the US. al-Hakim grew up in Najaf and left Iraq in 1980 for Iran. Robin Wright (Washington Post) reported May 19, 2007 that al-Hakim had gone to Houston due to lung cancer: "Vice President Cheney played a role in arranging for Hakim to see U.S. military doctors in Baghdad, who made the original diagnosis, and for the current medical treatment in Houston, the sources said." Back to the People's Mujahedeen, AFP reports the International Committee of the Red Cross has assisted 260 in relocating.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Isaac Chotiner on Arianna, me on Katty-van-van

"The Puffington Host" (Isaac Chotiner, New Republic):
Now comes her twelfth book, lyrically entitled Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe (And What You Need To Know To End The Madness). It is only the most recent example of Huffington's tireless ability to inhabit different places on the political spectrum. In the early 1970s, she made herself a star by rubbing outrageously against the liberal grain. A well-turned-out young woman in articulate recoil from feminism, a woman disputing the reigning ideologies and dogmas of her day--or at least the reigning ideologies and dogmas of college and university students--was ideally suited for the role of right-wing contrarian. But that may have been the last time she moved against the wind. Now "progressivism" reigns supreme in cyberspace and in the Beltway, and noisily progressive she is. No courageous heterodoxy this time around. Now she is a "player." A look at Huffington's career reveals someone uncannily--no, cannily--adept at recognizing and navigating the social and political currents, a zeitgeist artist, even though she has written nothing that requires her to be taken seriously as a thinker.
Huffington's work is not intellectually consistent, but there are two strains that run through much of what she has written. The first is her limp spirituality, which never moves beyond fatuities and banalities. ("Our purpose is to make religion a continuous living experience, to lead us toward a resurrection not of the dead but of the living who are dead to their own truth. ") The second is her frequent and caustic criticism of the Fourth Estate. Here is her earlier quotation of Kierkegaard: "In the world of opinion, newspapers demoralize men, by disaccustoming them from having an opinion of their own, and from developing themselves by carrying it in the face of opposition to the opinion of others, and by accustoming them, on the other hand, to have the guarantee for any opinion they may have that a significant number of men have the same opinion." Unpacking all the ironies here is a formidable task. Newspapers have changed considerably in the past two centuries. They currently stand as one of the very few barriers to a media universe that is comprised of almost nothing but outbursts and opinions. The Internet, Huffington's universe, too often serves as a powerful instrument of conformity ("communities of interest"). And Huffington has thrown in her lot with precisely the sort of shallow discourse that she once railed against. Her latest venture, and others like it, are contributing mightily to the death of the media institutions that she has long despised. At last her resentments are bearing fruit.
[. . .]
Huffington's evolution from bombastic reactionary to pious progressive has not occurred linearly. In the years after the release of The Female Woman, she continued to write frequently and controversially. There was a gossipy biography of Maria Callas and a shabby and utterly philistine "life" of Picasso. In 1986, she married the wealthy up-and-coming Republican politician Michael Huffington, who was elected to the House of Representatives from California in 1992 and then defeated in a Senate run two years later. Huffington's notable effort in this period was a spiritual guide called The Fourth Instinct: The Call of the Soul. As she explained, "the charge of our Fourth Instinct is to move us from the tyranny of our fight-or-flight mechanism to the liberation of a practical spirituality that transforms our everyday life." Some of the themes in The Fourth Instinct built on notions that she had advanced in After Reason, which claimed that the "spirit of man" had been firmly rejected by modern society. This book, like so many of her books, is, well, dumb. A hunger for the holy is never conducive to clear thinking. The Fourth Instinct reads like a mix of Deepak Chopra and Milton Friedman. "Many modern intellectuals," Huffington writes, like a good Reaganite, "are incapable of conceiving of social renewal that is the result of human action, but not of government design."

C.I. sent the above to me. Sunny told me at lunch that I had to read it. I read it right then and nearly choked on my lunch I was laughing so hard. Make a point to check it out. "A hunger for the holy is never conducive to clear thinking." Huff 'n Puff is never conducive to clear thinking.

You know Katrina vanden Heuvel is going to do nothing but ensure Arianna's butt is kissed in The Nation. Speaking of Katty-van-van, does anyone even listen to what she says? On the way to work, I finally listened to a disc C.I. had passed on.

It was Scott Horton, not the one at Harper's, the one at anti-war. He was interviewing Katrina. "George Tenet, the great diplomat." WTF? I backed up and listened again. Am I hearing it wrong? I asked C.I. and was told, "That's what I'm hearing and why I slid it over to you."

My goodness. For those who don't grasp how appalling that is, how about this: She was praising Pat Buchanan. Katty-van-van, the editor & publisher of The Nation, was praising Pat Buchanan. She sounds like such an idiot every time she speaks. Since it was a libertarian interviewing her, she was on edge because she's not used to that. Generally, she gives interviews to her lackeys. So they suck up to her.

She really cannot handle herself. Scott Horton did a very nice interview and did it with a straight face but he had to grasp she was lying throughout. Especially all her 'building bridges' nonsense.

Katty-van-van will do and say anything.

She and Arianna are two of a kind.

But at least Arianna made it on her own. Katty-van-van had everything given to her and still doesn't appreciate it. Katty-van-van, the CIA-loving, War Hawk. Hey, did you ever hear the one about the opera singer who loathed Katty?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, June 2, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, a conviction in the kidnapping and murder of Margaret Hassan, Parliaments in Iraq and Kuwait lobby verbal bombs at one another, a political party is banned from the July elections, Odierno offers some fancy dancing, and more.

Today in Baghdad,
Al Jazeera reports Judge Assaad al-Moussawi declared, "Ali Lutfi Jassar is sentenced to life for participating in the killing and kidnapping of Margaret Hassan, and of attempting to blackmail her family." Margaret Hassan was with the NGO CARE International and worked in Iraq (where she held citizenship) for years before the start of the illegal war. She was kidnapped October 19, 2004 in Baghdad. She was brutally murdered. We last noted her death in the December 24, 2008 snapshot. That was when alleged kidnappers Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi and Manif Slih were supposed to stand trial and the family waited to see what happened while issuing a statement:Since Margaret's death we have spent the last four years trying to find her remains. We have sought justice and truth, and have never given up. We want to bring her home and give her a Christian burial with the respect she deserves. This was a promise made to her by her husband (Tahseen Ali Hassan), and together with our family, he has never given up hope of fulfiling that promise. [. . .] One of these men was trying to blackmail the British Government and our family in exchange for the return of Margaret's remains. He demanded money from us, and a safe haven from the British Government in the UK for his family. [. . .] We have begged them to send an Embassy official to the trial to represent our sister Margaret. They feel unable to do so because of the security situation. We do not understand this. [. . .] Mr Brown said just this week that the British Government has achieved all its goals and the security situation in Iraq is much improved.The December trial quickly adjourned. Sunday Sam Marsden (PA via Independent of London) quoted Margaret's sister Deidre Fitzsimons stating, "If he's put in prison, if he knows he's got a life sentence, maybe he will decide to tell us where her remains are. I don't belive we are ever going to get justice for my sister. But we would like her to be buried here because my family has suffered over the past four-and-a-half years. We have spent all our time trying to find her remains. We want some peace in our lives." David Brown (Times of London) noted this morning, "The mystery surrounding the location of her grave has compounded the anguish of Mrs Hassan's three sisters, her brother and their extended families." Their questions were not answered in the hearing. Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) explains Ali Lutfi Jassar received a life sentence for "kidnapping, extortion and murder". For those who think that sentence means something, the Belfast Telegraph reminds, "Another man was also jailed for life in 2006 for aiding and abetting the kidnappers, but his sentence was reduced on appeal." That man was Mustafa Mohammed Salman al-Jabouri. The reaction of Iraqis to the sentencing of Steven D. Green for his War Crimes which included taking part in the gang-raping and murdering 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, murdering her parents and five-year-old sister is also worth remembering. Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) quoted Mahdi Obaid Janabi ("an elder of the Janabi tribe") stating that pressure should be put on the US to force a change from life sentence to the death penalty for Green. Sheik Fahil al-Janabi told Marc Santora and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times) that the life sentence "is not enough". Sami al-Jumaili and Habaib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) quoted Abeer's uncle Raad Yusuf stating, "It's a real shock. That court decision is a crime -- almost worse than the soldier's crime." Habib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) noted a mechanic from Abeer's home time, Ahmed Samir stating, "What the American soldier did is a terrorist act and he deserves execution. The court has not delivered justice. If I killed an American girl, the American court would have executed me." CNN quoted Sahwa leader Mustafa Kamel Shabib al-Jaoburi stating, "He raped a girl and killed an entire family, and he got only life in prison. . . . This is an unjust trial. We demand a new trial." There is no outcry in Iraq that Ali Lutfi Jassar received too light a sentence.

Irish Times quotes an e-mail Jassar was convicted of sending to the British embassy, "I am one of the people who participated in the operation of kidnapping and executing Margeret Hassan. I have with me all the evidence proving this. Therefore I request securing of a channel of contact with the husband of Margaret, Tashin Hassan, or with the British government in order that I can give you the true story of her killing. So I can pass on to you her corpse which I still have in my possession. Therefore I request your speedy reply as soon as possible." BBC New's Nicholas Witchell states, "The leaders of this plot have never been found. Some of their names are known but they have never been traced. [Ali Lutfi Jassar] told the judges he had nothing at all to do with the murder. He said confessions had been wrought from him through torture." Iraqi 'justice' does have a reputation of beating 'confessions' out of prisoners. In response to the sentence, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued the following:

John Tucknott, the Charge d'affaires in Baghdad, welcomed news of the sentencing of Ali Lutfi Jassar Al Rawi for his part in the kidnap and murder of Margaret Hassan on Tuesday 2 June. He said:
'I welcome the news that Ali Lutfi Jassar Al Rawi has today been brought to justice by the Iraqi authorities for the role he played in the kidnap and murder of Margaret Hassan. Our thoughts are with Margaret Hassan's family for the suffering they continue to endure.
We hope that this may be a step further to finding the other people responsible for this dreadful crime, and to finding Margaret's body. We will continue to work with the Iraqi authorities as they continue their investigation, and press them to follow up all possible aspects. We urge anyone with information on this crime to please come forward.'

Xinhua notes, "At the age of 27, she married Tahseen Ali Hassan, a 29-year-oldIraqi student of engineering in the United Kingdom. She moved to Iraq with him in 1972 and became Iraqi citizen. She spent the rest of her life in the country." Antony Loyd (Times of London) explains, "The Dublin-born Roman Catholic, who had joint British, Iraqi and Irish nationality, we married to an Iraqi and had lived in Iraq for 30 years." Margaret held triple citizenship: British, Iraqi and Irish. In one of last year's most read pieces at the Independent of London, Robert Fisk remembered:

It was Margaret who took leukaemia medicines donated by readers of The Independent to the child cancer victims of Iraq back in 1998 after we discovered that hundreds of infants were dying in those areas where Western forces used depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf War. She was a proverbial tower of strength, and it was she -- and she alone -- who managed to persuade Saddam Hussein's bureaucrats to let us bring the medicine into Iraq. The United Nations sanctions authorities had been our first hurdle, Saddam Hussein our second. It is all history. Like Margaret, all the children died.

Alsumaria reports the Parliament ended its session today with the Speaker (Ayad al-Samarri) hurling charges at Kuwait and some MPs calling for Kuwait "to pay financial allocations". Kuwait's MPs must have felt their ears burning because AFP reports that they had Iraq on their mind as well and called on their government to discontinue reparations payments and MP Falah al-Sawwag added, "If this is how Iraqi MPs deal with their neighbor Kuwait, I think we should recall the Kuwaiti ambassador from Baghdad." had Iraq on their mind, Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) reports:

While it hasn't received much attention, Iraq's relations with two key Arab Gulf states have jumped the tracks over the last week. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has publicly declared that he has
given up on trying to reconcile with the Saudis. Meanwhile, Iraq and the Kuwaitis are in an increasingly nasty spat over the question of compensation claims dating back to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. It's gotten to the point that a majority of the members of the Iraqi Parliament are demanding that Kuwait pay compensation to Iraq for allowing U.S. troops to invade Iraq in 1991! This is a time for American diplomacy to kick into high gear and try to prevent this from getting out of hand, since U.S. plans to withdraw from Iraq depend at least in part on establishing a sustainable regional security architecture.

Al Jazeera explains some MPs in Kuwait staged a walk out and "Some of the MPs who walked out also protested against the failure by two of their four female colleagues to cover their heads as required by Islamic rules." Meanwhile, ISRIA notes Kuwait's "Foreign Undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said Kuwait regretted the escalatory language of some media outlets vis-a-vis the State of Kuwait, charging it with seeking to harm Iraq, at a time it has exerted enormous efforts at various levels to support the brotherly Iraq and helping it rejoin the international community."

In other political news, the
Kurdistan Regional Government holds their elections July 25th. They, like Kirkuk, did not participate in the January 31st elections. Their elections will be for the country's Parliament as well as to determine the KRG's president. AFP reports that the al-Amal ("Hope") candidates have been banned from the list by "judicial authorities in Baghdad" because they allegedly have ties to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) which is labeled as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Turkey, the US and Nouri al-Maliki among others. The news comes on the same day the KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani declared of the ongoing PKK ceasefire, "We believe extending the ceasefire serves as an important step towards peace and stability in the area. At the same time, it is in the interest of all that we continue to work towards a solution in a peaceful way, especially after the recent positive steps taken by Turkey." Whether al-Amal is associated with the PKK or not, the decision by Baghdad could enflame tensions. This follows Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) report yesterday where the KRG's Oil Minister, Ashtia Hawrami, stated the KRG must be involved in the resolution of who has control over the oil-rich Kirkuk (the KRG or the central government) and that the KRG would not accept any oil deals for Kirkuk signed by al-Maliki's government: "I will say no company will sign an agreement without coming to the KRG. They have to sit down with us and say 'Is this OK?'. If I am not party to the agreement up front, I don't know what it is."

Meanwhile in other news,
AFP reports that the Front of Jihad and Change announced they had chosen Sheikh Hareth al-Dhari for their spokesperson: "We will allow Dahri to speak on our behalf on political issues and to represent us . . . to defend the blood of our martyrs."

Turning to US political offices for a correction to
yesterday's snapshot which noted LA City Council member Bill Rosendahl's conversation with Lila Garrett on KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett and mentioned his chief of staff whose last name was mispelled: His name is Mike Bonin. My apologies.

Over the weekend,
Alsumaria noted that Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, met the US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill for the first time Friday. For the first time. Remember Hill's Senate hearing? Refer to 3/26 and 3/29 snapshots. Chris Hill, as soon as he was confirmed, was getting on the next flight to Iraq and getting down to work! Now the next flight ended up being the next one he wanted to catch, and that ended up three days after he was confirmed. April 21st he was confirmed. May 30th, over thirty days later, he finally meets face-to-face with the president of Iraq.

The meeting was allowed to linger, just like al-Maliki's allowed to let the Sahwa situation linger by refusing to bring them into the government forces. Regarding tensions on the ground,
Matt Brown files this report for PM (Australia's ABC -- link has text and audio):ABU MOHAMMED: The problem, they are in a state of: I don't know who's coming next to get me. Is it the militia? Is it the insurgents? Is it the American?MATT BROWN: Abu Mohammed is a pseudonym for a young man I met in eastern Sydney. While the latest car bombing won't even make the news here, Abu Mohammed is watching anxiously every day. He's a member of one of Iraq's most famous Sunni tribes. His family still lives in Al-Doura, just south of central Baghdad, on the edge of an area once dubbed the triangle of death. [. . .] As a Sunni Muslim, Abu Mohammad fears the Shiite clerics and their political parties which now run the country. His family suffered at the hands of the Shiite militia which dominates the Government's security services when his brother was detained in 2007. ABU MOHAMMED: They just took him from the street basically, based on his identity. For a week we didn't know what's happened and then we found out it was the militia. He ended up in a Government prison, Iraqi Government prison.He's been subject to a lot of torture. He went there 24 years old; he came out looking, after one year and a half, as if he is 44 years old. MATT BROWN: What's that left you feeling about the Government and who's running it? ABU MOHAMMED: They don't care about the people, 100 per cent, you know what I mean? I think they're driven by revenge. MATT BROWN: In the last two years those forces have been reined in. The surge in American troops which began in 2007 was also crucial to lowering levels of violence. But equally important was the American decision to turn enemies into allies. They joined forces with local Sunni tribal leaders who were threatened by the growing power of more radical Sunnis in groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq. They formed Al-Sahwa - awakening councils. They raised militias called the Sons of Iraq. Some were former insurgents but now they were on the American payroll.

Meanwhile, he's got to cut loose, footlose. Gen Ray Odierno tried not to dance for Washington. Those days are over.
Tim Cocks (Reuters) reports that while in Samarra with Odierno today, the general stated that "U.S. combat forces will vacate all Iraqi cities on schedule by the end of this month". Visions of Dancing With The Stars in his head, Tim Cocks joins Odierno in a box step and forgets reality. From the April 27th snapshot: "Rod Nordland (New York Times) broke that story in today's paper and noted that Iraq and the US are going to focus on Mosul in talks about US troops remaining in some Iraqi cities. Nordland reveals they will remain in Baghdad (he says 'parts of Baghdad' -- that means they will be in Baghdad and Baghdad is a city) and that Camp Victory ['Camps Victory, Liberty, Striker and Slayer, plus the prison known as Camp Cropper'] and 'Camp Prosperity' will not be closed or turned over to Iraq according to Iraqi Maj Gen Muhammad al-Askari. The SOFA 'requires' that they be closed or turned over but al-Askari says they're making exceptions even though the SOFA 'requires' otherwise. For the mammoth Camp Victory, it is in Baghdad and out of Baghdad, for example, so al-Askari says they consider it out of Baghdad." They're not leaving Baghdad, they've got a waiver. There's a difference. And May 30th, the paper's Campbell Robertson offers "U.S. Soldier And 11 Iraqis Die in Attacks" which offered this of the June 30th 'deadline': "But Mosul is in many ways an exception to that deadline. An enormous American base on the edge of Mosul -- a city that has remained a redoubt for the insurgency even as attacks have decreased substantially around the rest of Iraq -- will remain open." Yeah, Tim Cocks leaves out all of that. But doesn't he sound passionate serenading Ray Odierno?

It's your heat that makes me warm Makes me climb on you like a tree And I don't need no fancy dancing When you bend over me We'll be like two lazy sunbathers Swaying palm trees against the sky And I beg you when you love me Look me in the eyes

Look Tim in the eyes, Ray, when you love him, look him in the eyes. (Lyrics from
Carly Simon's "Look Me In The Eyes" which first appeared on Playing Possum.)

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


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings. Alsumaria reports a Mosul mortar attack on a police station which wounded two police officers (all other incidents listed were noted in yesterday's snapshot).

Today the
US military announced, "BAGHDAD -- A U.S. Soldier died June 2 of combat-related injuries after an improvised explosive device detonated near a patrol in eastern Baghdad. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at [here]. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcement brought the number of US service members who have died in the Iraq War to 4308.

May is the deadliest month of the year so far for US service members in Iraq. As noted yesterday, the death toll tends to trickle out as the end of the month approaches which allows many news outlets the 'chance' to do their end of the month reports and run with incomplete figures. Other death notices for the month may continue to trickle out but, at this point, the death toll stands at
Bradley W. Iorio's death was announced yesterday and took the toll to 25. The
Defense Department issued the following statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pvt. Bradley W. Iorio, 19, of Galloway, N.J., died May 29 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident May 27 in Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation. For more information the media may contact the Fort Bliss public affairs office at (915) 568-4505."

On the subject of the media,
Alsumaria reports, "Al Baghdadiya reporter colleague Alaa' Abdul Al Wahab was killed in a car bomb explosion in Al Shorta District in northern Mosul. Local police official reported that Abdul Wahab who is also a journalist was killed while University professor Dr. Sultan Gerges, an anchor on another TV channel was wounded due the bomb that was planted in Abdul Wahab's car." The Committee to Protect Journalists writes of the death of Alaa Abdel-Wahab from a Mosul sticky bombing and observes:In a similar but unrelated attack the same day, two staffers from the state-run Al-Iraqiya television station were badly wounded when a bomb attached to their car exploded in the Al-A'zamiya district in Baghdad, according to local and international news reports. One of the wounded staffers was identified as sound engineer Hameed Yousif, while the second staffer's identity has not been revealed, according to local news reports. The observatory said Yousif is in critical condition.The assaults on the press also wasn't judged to be a 'story' for the New York Times. Reporters Without Borders also notes the death of Alaa Abdel Wahab:"We are saddened and appalled by these two bombings," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is time the slaughter of journalists in Iraq was stopped. The Iraqi authorities created a special police unit last year to investigate murders of journalists. We urge them to investigate these two bombings very thoroughly. Only conclusive results are likely to discourage these killers and improve the safety of journalists."A renowned print media journalist and reporter for Al-Baghdadia TV, Wahab was killed in Mosul's Al-Shurta neighbourhood by a bomb that had been placed underneath his car. A local police official said Dr Sultan Jurjis, a university academic and presenter on a rival TV station, was injured by the blast.

Turning to the US,
James Rowley and Jonathan D. Salant (Bloomberg News) report that, while addressing the National Press Club in DC yesterday, former President of Vice Dick Cheney declared that there was no link between Iraq and 9-11. Declared it many years too late, too late for over 1.3 million dead Iraqis, too late for 4307 dead US service members. Apparently chafing in his Depends from too much honesty (he does have an allergy to honesty), Cheney immediately began spinning and lying declaring that the CIA was the one who got it wrong (the White House worked the CIA on that point) and whined, "We know for a fact that Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terrorism." When a Cheney starts using "We know for a fact," grasp that a Cheney is lying.

Chris Hedges was a guest yesterday on
WBAI's Law and Disorder -- the hourly program hosted by Michael Ratner, Michael Smith, Heidi Boghosian and Dalia Hashad. This episode was delayed due to fundraising (and played elsewhere last week but on WBAI yesterday). Mike noted Hedges' appeareance last night and Jeremy Scahill's. Both spoke of the refusal to hold Barack accountable with Jeremy noting "an almost cult-like behavior." With Laila Al-Arian, Chris Hedges co-authored Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians and Hedges, Jeremy Scahill, Sister Dianna Ortiz, Michael Ratner, Andy Zee and others (like Laura Flanders because, as Diane Keaton notes in Love & Death, you've got have some uglies in the mix) will take part June 3rd at seven p.m. in a discussion at New York Society for Ethical Culture. Both Scahill and Hedges also spoke of a state-like media in the US (with the fawning over Barry O). In a new piece, Hedges observes:

The crisis faced by combat veterans returning from war is not simply a profound struggle with trauma and alienation. It is often, for those who can slice through the suffering to self-awareness, an existential crisis. War exposes the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. It rips open the hypocrisy of our religions and secular institutions. Those who return from war have learned something which is often incomprehensible to those who have stayed home. We are not a virtuous nation. God and fate have not blessed us above others. Victory is not assured. War is neither glorious nor noble. And we carry within us the capacity for evil we ascribe to those we fight. Those who return to speak this truth, such as members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War, are our contemporary prophets. But like all prophets they are condemned and ignored for their courage. They struggle, in a culture awash in lies, to tell what few have the fortitude to digest. They know that what we are taught in school, in worship, by the press, through the entertainment industry and at home, that the melding of the state's rhetoric with the rhetoric of religion, is empty and false. The words these prophets speak are painful. We, as a nation, prefer to listen to those who speak from the patriotic script. We prefer to hear ourselves exalted. If veterans speak of terrible wounds visible and invisible, of lies told to make them kill, of evil committed in our name, we fill our ears with wax. Not our boys, we say, not them, bred in our homes, endowed with goodness and decency. For if it is easy for them to murder, what about us? And so it is simpler and more comfortable not to hear. We do not listen to the angry words that cascade forth from their lips, wishing only that they would calm down, be reasonable, get some help, and go away. We, the deformed, brand our prophets as madmen. We cast them into the desert. And this is why so many veterans are estranged and enraged. This is why so many succumb to suicide or addictions.

Sunsara Taylor (World Can't Wait) writes of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller:

Two weeks ago, Notre Dame became a flash point in the struggle for women's right to abortion when Obama was invited to give the graduation commencement address. It provides a concentrated expression of why we keep losing ground and losing clinics and losing doctors and losing hearts and minds, especially of young people who have grown up in a time of complete moral confusion around abortion. And, in many ways, the events surrounding Obama's Notre Dame appearance set the stage for this most recent killing.When anti-abortion leaders learned of Obama's invitation to Notre Dame, they put their movement on an emergency footing. They crowed about how Obama is the most "radical pro-choice" president ever. Christian fascist lunatic women-haters like Randall Terry (who is all over the media now exclaiming he has no sympathy for Dr. Tiller and calling him a "mass murderer") were joined by zombie-like fundamentalist foot-soldiers to descend on the campus. They screamed bloody murder, trespassed and got arrested, projected their rhetoric all over the national media, and incited their fanatical base across the country.On the other side, there were no pro-choice organizations. That's right, zero. It seems that, just like under the Clinton years when abortion access was dramatically restricted, the pro-choice movement was asleep at the wheel because a "pro-choice" Democrat is in the White House.I went to Notre Dame together with a half dozen other supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Several handfuls of students and community members who came out on their own joined us in raising a banner, "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!" and signs that read, "Women Are Not Incubators! Fetuses Are Not Babies! Abortion Is Not Murder!"Meanwhile, Obama was inside the graduation hall pumping out the deadly illusion of "common ground." He suggested that every woman feels morally heart-wrenched by abortion. He suggested that we find "common ground" in reducing the number of abortions and the number of unintended pregnancies. Obama said we should find "common ground" around the need to "care and support for women who do carry their child to term."As I analyzed more fully
here (, Obama's speech gave more moral legitimacy and political initiative to the movement that wants to force women to bear children against their will.

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