Friday, April 02, 2010

Those who attack women

"We'd Be Fools Not to Reminisce about Oscar Night" (Jennifer Merin, WeNews):
But it's worth backing up to before all that, because a few things about Bigelow's big night still deserve our retrospect.
Backstage, wielding an Oscar in each hand, Bigelow spoke about breaking through one of Hollywood's glass ceilings. "I wait for the day when the modifier can be a moot point." She was referring to the "female" modifier of course, and she's right to say that day has yet to arrive.
From the start, Bigelow's nomination was surrounded by disparaging gender bias. Women and men in the industry and media suggested she is "one of the guys" because she makes action thrillers rather than romcoms.
Some took shots at Bigelow for not including female soldiers in "The Hurt Locker." Why? This is a movie about a male bomb tech in an all-male bomb squad. Yes, women could function brilliantly on a bomb squad too. But "The Hurt Locker" doesn't happen to be about a female-male dynamic. It's about the addictive aspects of war; the danger, do-or-die commitment, adrenalin rush and interpersonal intensity.

Amen. I have written about it twice since Bigelow received her award. I'm going to write about again.

Before I do, I'm going to toss out a little gossip. C.I. knows Kathryn Bigelow, thinks the world of her, and campaigned like crazy to help draw nomination attention and then to help draw consideration for Best Director. Bigelow won the award herself for her work, C.I. would be the first to tell you that. C.I. would also insist that she was only one of many campaigning for Bigelow.

That is true, about one of many. But a good friend who's married to . . . I can't think of the title. Her husband runs a studio. Is it president of production? I don't know. I'm not in the entertainment business. But she called last week and I was busy and couldn't take the call but mean to return it. She called this week when I finished my last session on Wednesday and I told her I'd call her Friday. (I was exhausted from the session.) So I called her after I had finished the morning sessions and she asked me if I realized that besides Kathryn's breakthrough if I'd noticed something else?

I hadn't until she pointed it out. Ava and C.I. campaigned actively against Tina Fey and for Toni Collette and Toni won the Emmy for Comedy. There were others she told me about regarding last year's Emmys but I don't watch TV and I'm blanking. But at the Academy Awards, everyone C.I. worked the party circuit for won and everyone C.I. worked the party circuit against lost.

I knew C.I. was working it for Bigelow and I assumed for Jeff Bridges because she's known Jeff forever and thinks he's just amazing. I did not know that as a personal favor to ____, C.I. also worked to draw attention to the screenwriter of Precious (I'm sorry I'm blanking on his name as well).

I knew she was adament that neither George Clooney nor Matt Damon would walk away with an award. I don't blame her for that one bit. I also think the 'boys' pretense at being a rat pack is seen through at this late date. But the woman, who's a good friend of both C.I.'s and mine, went through everyone C.I. had campaigned for (Emmys and Oscars) and they all won and everyone C.I. campaigned against, they lost. It's really amazing and a major topic in industry circles, I'm told. (I'm also told the Weinstein brothers are in fear of C.I. They damn well should be after the little stunt they pulled.)

One more bit of industry gossip, between losing the Academy Award and his big bomb of Green Zone, Matt Damon's finding that several studios who were making big big deals with him are now suggesting that the movies can't be made for X amount and that he may have to come down in his salary demands. Ha.

Back to Jennifer Merin. Note what she's outlining because it's pretty damn important.

Kathryn Bigelow wasn't just attacked by men, some of the worst attacks came from women. In fact, I called out one woman for her attacks just this week.

I stopped on the way to Trina's from work to pick up some coffee because we usually drink up all of Trina's coffee (I mean ground, not a cup) and C.I. was returning my call from earlier in the day and I brought up our mutual friend (whom C.I. praised and then shot down all talk of -- because I was repeating the praise for C.I.) and we quickly turned to that bad playwright who I called out earlier this week.

C.I. made a really good point. It's only women that can deceive themselves like they do. If it were a race, the man or woman would be called out like crazy. But it's okay to self-decieve if you're a woman because society will reward you for that.

It goes to the fact that women are not valued. Our strides are not valued, the struggle to get to where we are is not valued.

That is why women's history passed and we did not get celebrations of our accomplishment. If we got anything, we got a few famous women. We were not celebrated as pioneers in various fields. A few celebrities may have been noted (on Pacifica's From The Vault, for example) but our struggle, our firsts, we weren't celebrated.

Kathryn Bigelow's win was huge. Yet Jennifer Merlin has to remind people of that. It wasn't treated as though it was huge.

________, asshole, attacked her. Hours after her win, he was posting his uninformed screed attacking her. Bigelow, he insisted, didn't talk about being a woman.

Golly, ASS, you blamed Hillary for talking about being a woman, remember? In your private e-mails, you blamed her, remember you little s**t?

Golly, ASS, how many women did stop working for ________ and was that setteled out of court and in arbitration?

ASS, I'm not C.I. I've gotten the same e-mails FROM YOUR EX-GIRLFRIEND and I will publish them if I decide to. (She's already asked me to.) C.I.'s response was for everyone to stop reading those e-mails. I'm not C.I.

You want to attack women at your crappy website?

Well maybe women should know that you are not and you have never been their friend?

Why was there a huge exodous of women from ___________?

Maybe you might want to think about that before you next slam "Katey" Couric -- that's how you spell it. Or Hillary. Or Kathryn Bigelow. Or . . .

Goodness, ASS, no woman meets your approval does she?

Again, what did happen to the women who worked for _______?

From the e-mails your ex-girlfriend keeps sending me, that's quite a story.

Maybe before you trash another woman, you better grasp that a lot of us are getting sick of it and with all those e-mails from your ex-girlfriend flying around the net, it's going to get ugly.

For those who don't know who I'm talking about, don't worry, he does. Marcia just read me to me his latest bits of online-self-drama. What an ass.

There will always be men like that to ensure that women are attacked. The only question right now is: How many days before I name him and his bulls**t organization?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 2, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, 'election madness' continues in Iraq, The World speaks with soldiers on yet another tour in Iraq, KBR faces a new lawsuit, and more.
Starting with life in free and wonderful Iraq. Wamith Al-Kassab shares at CounterCurrents:

In the summer of 2008, I survived an assassination attempt in Iraq. My "crime" was that I am "an enemy of God," a promoter of concepts that "offended" religion. My crime was writing articles calling for the protection of religious minorities and calling for the rights of women, children, and homosexuals in Iraq, urging people to protect innocent people from brutal attacks by armed militias.

My principles forced me to live in harsh humanitarian conditions as I search for a safe haven, and as many of the countries which adopted human rights protection, bloggers from Iraq are not in the ranks of immediate threat, and I am thus forced to stay in search for protection.

We pay a high price in order to convey the reality of death and destruction in Iraq and to defend freedom of expression. While I live the reality of my search for a lifeline away from a death sentence awaiting me in my home country, I receive no means of protection and every day I come closer to face death again because of the programs forcing Iraqis to return, adopted by several European countries through treaties the Iraqi government put fourth.

Somehow the reality never matches up to the word from the White House -- regardless of which party occupies the White House -- does it?
Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and her guests -- joined by Tom Gjelten (NPR), Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) -- addressed Iraq.

Diane Rehm: Let's turn now to Iraq and the elections there. Are we any closer to knowing who is going to be the next prime minister, Mary Beth?
Mary Beth Sheridan: You know, I think that we are probably weeks away. And, you know, I think what's really important about this issue -- it's so easy over here I think for your listeners to find the whole thing rather baffling all these parties that are jockeying and so on and one guy won but will he form a coalition? You know, I guess for me -- I've spent some time in Iraq -- the main question is: Can they work this out peacefully? Because Iraq has a history of resolving its political disputes by force and, of course, President Obama wants to end combat operations in August and you're looking at weeks, months of jockeying to form a government so I think there's a real question here about -- and real implications for -- US strategy.
Diane Rehm: And what role is Iran trying to play in this election?
Mary Beth Sheridan: Well that's a very interesting point. A lot of the leaders of the Shi'ite parties have gone to Iran to consult. They are very influential. They have some control over militia groups. There's money that flows in. So they're definitely a big player in this -- uh -- in this political issue.
Diane Rehm: And there's going to be a vetting panel, Tom?
Tom Gjelten: Well, the problem is that the alliance that won, Mr. Ayad Allawi, a secular, sort of largely Sunni group, uhm, is uh just two seats ahead of the alliance led by Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister. Well the government is in the hands of Maliki and therefore --
Diane Rehm: And he says it's fraud.
Tom Gjelten: -- he has a real interest in disqualifying some of these candidates because that would then put him ahead and with just a two seat margin, there's not a lot of leeaway here, in fact, it's interesting, some of the -- some of the -- some of the candidates -- some of the Parliementary candidates in Mr. Allawi's group have basically gone underground to stay out of reach of the law because the government is trying to come after them.
Diane Rehm: Ah-hah. So Mary Beth's concerns are valid. Go ahead, Moses.
Moises Naim: And both Mary Beth and Joe -- Tom, are right, this is not any election. Because you could say, "Well this is democracy at work, you know. It happens all the time that you have to build coalitions and do some horse trading and create a government and so on." But here we are in a different game because, as Mary Beth says, if this ends up with violence or if there is huge fraud then the exit of American troops will also be more difficult.
Diane Rehm has been awarded a Peabody for her work this year (here for the list of winners) and they note of her show, "Now available to National Public Radio listeners after decades on Washington's WAMU-FM, Rehm's talk show is the gold standard for civil, civic discourse." Congratulations to Diane and her team. Earlier this year The Diane Rehm Show won a Shorty Award for their real-time Twitter platform, so she leads the year with traditional media (Peabody Award) and new media (Shorty Award).
Back to the elections, the Washington Post's Leila Fadel (via Sydney Morning Herald) explains, "In a sign of hardening sectarian divisions, the secular, largely Sunni-backed bloc that won the most seats in Iraq's recent parliamentary elections says its victorious candidates are being subjected to a campaign of detention and intimidation by the government of the Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki." For background on the attempts to target/smear successfully elected candidates as "Ba'athists," CNN notes:

A controversial committee that nearly derailed the Iraqi election in January has resurfaced. Led by Ahmed Chalabi, a former ally of the Pentagon, the committee this week announced that six winning candidates in the March 7 parliamentary election are connected to the former regime of Saddam Hussein and must be disqualified.
Critics say it's no coincidence -- disqualifying them will erase the lead of secular candidate Ayad Allawi and his Iraqiya alliance of Shiites and Sunnis. Allawi's electoral list won 91 seats in parliament and topped the State Of Law coalition of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which won 89 seats.
Tom Gjelten's point about people going into hiding was reported on by Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) who reported in today's paper on Sheik Qais Jabouri, a memer of Allawi's slate elected to the Parliament, who went into hiding yesterday after Nouri's security forces ransacked his home looking for him and this has led to allegations (I'd say truthful statements) "that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is carrying out politically motivated arrests to stay in power after his own Shiite Muslim-led slate finished a close second in national elections March 7."
This attack was a continue to the attack launched by officials from the Justice and Accountability Committee Started before the elections under assuming of preventing candidates connected to Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath party from standing for elected office. As they prevented About 500 candidates were from standing before the election by the commission Another attacks were in changing the constitution translation for paragraphs that say that the top vote-getter should have the first shot at forming a government. to those who got bigger collation from sets holders as the Supreme Court concluded, at Maliki's urging, that the right to form the next government could go to alliances and super-coalitions formed after the election, if they prove to have the most seats. Maliki promptly launched negotiations with other religious Shiite and Kurdish parties. They current leaders of the government concentrate of staying in power than focusing instead on building peace and stability in Iraq. Many of the votes for Allawi were votes for a strong national government in Baghdad and against sectarianism.
As Nouri and his cronies attempt to overturn the will of the people, Moqtada al-Sadr comes off looking like he's committed to giving the people a voice (and he may well be). Xinhua reports that voting has begun to determine whom the Sadr bloc (which won 40 seats in the election) should back for prime minister. Voting takes place today and continues tomorrow. Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) quotes a statement from Moqtada al-Sadr which was "read to his followers before Friday prayers" in which he states, "According to political developments, a mistake might occur in choosing the next prime minister, and for that I think it is in the (national) interest to assign it directly to the people." Leila Fadel and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) report on the developments and offer an in-depth walk through on the past tensions between al-Sadr and Nouri al-Maliki stemming from Nouri's attack on followers of Moqtada al-Sadr in Basra and Baghdad. They noted, "Sadrists may use the informal referendum, which continues Saturday, as an excuse not to bak Maliki who already endured a blow earlier this week when another Shi'ite party appeared to back former primer minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc." That move that may halt Nouri's attempt to nullify the voice of the people, Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) reports, came via Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Iraqi National Alliance (which al-Sadr's bloc is a part of), who posted online, "We will not participate in a government that does not include Iraqiya." Zaid Thaker and Timothy Williams (New York Times) inform that the voting today and tomorrow is open to all and they describe a scene of voting, "A crowd of about 100 would-be voters excitedly mobbed tables where the official green paper ballots were being distributed. Some people took several ballots and handed them to friends and relatives in the throng behind them. As pushing and shoving intensified, people began to shout at one another."
"The war in Iraq is not over and we as a nation will be dealing with its aftermath for a long time," noted The World (PRI) today in the intro to Ben Gilbert's report on some of those serving in Iraq (US Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1-64 amor):.
David Shumate: My name is David Shumate. I'm from Palm Bay, Florida and I'm 27-years-old. And I'm from Alpha Company 1-64 Amor. This is my fourth tour in Iraq. I've been in the invasion OIF3, OIF5 and OIF8. I was active army right after September 11th and then deployed to Kuwait and then a few months after a lot of training, we invaded Iraq. So, yeah, we lost two guys and had eighteen wounded. But I mean, really, once we got into Baghdad, basically it was kind of over. It was just once we got there, we did -- It all stopped basically and it was kind of amazing. When I was on my first combat -- my first patrols into Baghdad, it was amazing. I was actually getting flowers from people, bouquets of flowers from women and they were happy and cheering that we were there. So a lot has changed from the first few weeks of Baghdad. It's a couple of weeks after that when the insurgency really started its effect on the people.
Mike Bailey: My name is Mike Bailey. I'm from Belle Chasse, Louisiana and I'm 27-years-old. This is my fourth time to Iraq. The first time I was here, with 1st Marine Division, was down in Babel Province. The second round, I switched over and came as part of 1st Marine Regiment in Feburary 2004. We went to just outside Falluja in Anbar Province and the word of the day was IEDs, they were everywhere I mean people were more worried about what was going on the side of the road than what was going on on the roads and that one definitely started off with a bang with the four Blackwater conrtactors that got killed two or three weeks after we got there. Not too long after the Blackwater contractors were killed we moved into the city of Falluja with several battalions and started, basically, rooting out the guys that were coming out to fight us. And there was a lot of them, a whole lot of them. It seemed like everybody had an RPG or a gun in Falluja back then. You couldn't get very far into the city before you started hearing booms and richochets coming off vehicles and stuff like that. They definitely wanted to fight us head on.
James Ausmann: My name is Staff Sgt James Ausmann. I live at Fort Stewart, with my wife and kids, so that's home. I was with the 1st Batallion, 18th Infantry, first ID. We were based out of Tikrit, just south of here. Saw the end of all the major combat and the beginning of all the IEDs. There was no armor on our vehicles, so that made it for interesting times
Ben Gilbert: This was back before armored humvees, right?
James Ausmann: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah. So we had all the soft skin humvees with all of the Secretary of Defense trying to get us the armor in a rush. And you know, to their credit, nobody knew what the IED threat was until we hit it. So.
Ben Gilbert: Yeah, right. Did you -- did you guys hillbillly armor your vehicles?
James Ausmann: Oh yeah. Plywood, sheet metal, sandbags, everything you could of think of, we put on there. Some of it worked.
David Shumate: David Shumate. I was twenty when we invaded and now I'm fixing to turn, about to turn 28 so a big chunk of the 20s. Wow, it's from OIF3 to today, it's night and day. The Iraqi army is a lot more established. We no longer, really, can go into the cities without Iraqi escorts. We can't go into an Iraqi house without an Iraqi escort and without a warrant or permission. So, um, it's night and day. So basically OIF3 was if we felt something was suspicious or something was going bad in that house, we went into that house and took care of business and so now basically the Iraqis have control of everything and we're just there to support them.
Mike Bailey: Mike Bailey. You get the feeling that it's the last deployment. Basically told that you guys are going to turn the lights off on the way out the door.
Ben Gilbert: How much time have you spent in Iraq?
Mike Bailey: Let's see here. Three years of my twenties have been spent in Iraq. Parts of me are sick of coming here, being away from a toddler -- my daughter was just born, I actually missed her birth the last time I was here -- and being away from my wife of eight years. But this is what I signed up for when I was 18-years-old and this is what I know, and my wife came into and we know it's one of those things that's going to happen we're prepared for it.
James Ausmann: I'm one of those guys, I want to see it all the way through. I'd rather stay here another year or two and get it done right then leave to early. I want us to leave and for this to work out, not for us to leave and the country have issues.
Turning to KBR -- and isn't it a rare week when we don't -- often several times -- February 25th a federal judge dimissed a case against KBR -- not ruling on the merits of the case, just addressing the issue of jurisdiction. Jeffrey Rainzer (Doyle Rainzer LLP) explained, "Today, the federal court dismissed the claims of the Indiana National Guardsmen in 'McManaway et al v. KBR, Inc.' pending in Evansville, Indiana. The Court found that the KBR defendants could not be sued in Indiana. We are disappointed by the ruling, particularly since so many of the veterans we represent are exhibiting symptoms of exposure to toxic sodium dichromate / hexavalent chromium. We will fight to hold KBR accountable for what happened to our Iraq veterans at Qarmat Ali. Doyle Raizner and co-counsel intend to refile the veterans' claims in another federal-court jurisdiction as soon as possible. This development delays but does not deny justice for the Indiana Guardsmen in this case. The truth of what happened at Qarmat Ali will be told, and we believe it will be told in a federal court. The firm and co-counsel represent other veterans in Qarmat Ali-related cases pending in West Virginia and Oregon federal courts." The Indianapolis Star reports that Mike Doyle ("Doyle" of Doyle Raizner LLP) refiled the case in Houston, Texas on Wednesday. Eric Brander (Evansville Courier & Press) notes, "Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has drafted legislation that would create a registry similar to the one created for soldiers exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. That registry would ensure that those suffering symptoms possibly related to the exposure receive treatment from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doctors, but it has not become law." Because it is buried in committee. October 21st, US Senator Evan Bayh appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and made the following statement:
I am here today to testify about a tragedy that took place in 2003 on the outskirts of Basrah, Iraq.
I'm here on behalf of Lt. Colonel James Gentry and the brave men and women who served under his command in the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard.
I spoke with Lt. Col. Gentry by phone last week. He is at his home with his wife, Lou Ann, waging a valiant fight against terminal cancer.
The lieutenant colonel was a healthy man when he left for Iraq. Today, he is fighting for his life.
Tragically, many of his men are facing their own bleak prognoses as a result of their exposure to sodium dichromate -- one of the most lethal carcinogens in existence.
The chemical is used as an anti-corrosive for pipes. It was strewn all over the water treatment facility guarded by the 152nd Infantry. More than 600 soldiers from Indiana, Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina were exposed.
One Indiana Guardsman has already died from lung disease. The Army has classified it a service-related death. Dozens of others have come forward with a range of serious respiratory symptoms.
The DoD Inspector General just launched an investigation into the breakdowns and gaps in our system that allowed this tragic exposure to happen. Neither the Army nor the private contractor KBR performed an environmental risk assessment of the site, so our soldiers were breathing in this chemical and swallowing it for months.
Our country's reliance on military contractors -- and their responsibility to their bottom line vs. our soldiers' safety -- is a topic for another day and another hearing.
Mr. Chairman, today, I would like to tell this committee about S.1779. It is legislation I have written to ensure we provide full and timely medical care to soldiers exposed to hazardous chemicals during wartime military service.
The Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009 is bipartisan legislation that has been cosponsored by Senators Lugar, Dorgan, Rockefeller, Byrd, Wyden, Merkley and Specter.
My bill is modeled after similar legislation that Congress approved in 1978 following the Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam conflict.
The bill ensured lifelong VA care for soldiers unwittingly exposed to the cancer-causing herbicide in the jungles of Vietnam.
Some have called toxic industrial hazards the Agent Orange of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.
My legislation would make soldiers eligible for medical examinations, laboratory tests, hospital care and nursing services. It would ensure soldiers receive priority health care at VA facilities. It would recognize a veteran's own report of exposure and inclusion on a Department of Defense registry as sufficient proof to receive medical care, barring evidence to the contrary.
My legislation will help ensure that we provide the best possible care for American soldiers exposed to environmental hazards during the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. At a bare minimum, my bill will ensure compassionate care so families are spared the added grief of going from doctor to doctor in their loved ones' final days, searching for a diagnosis.
The 1978 Agent Orange registry only covered one chemical compound. But my bill is broader. It covers all members of the armed forces who have been exposed to any environmental chemical hazard, not just sodium dichromate. It recognizes a new set of risks that soldiers face today throughout the world.
Senate testimony last year identified at least seven serious instances of potential contamination involving different industrial hazards -- sulfur fires, ionizing radiation, sarin gas, and depleted uranium, to name a few.
S.1779 ensures that veterans who were exposed to these chemicals will be eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care.
It allows the Secretary of Defense to identify the hazards of greatest concern that warrant special attention from the VA.
My bill switches the burden of proof from the soldier to the government. Soldiers exposed to toxic chemicals will receive care presumptively, unless the VA can show their illness is not related to their service.
Exposure to toxic chemicals is a threat no service member should have to face. It is our moral obligation to offer access to prompt, quality care. We should cut the red tape for these heroes.
Mr. Chairman, I promised Lt. Col. Gentry that I would fight for his men here in Congress. I promise I would use my position to get them the care they deserve and to make sure we protect our soldiers from preventable risks like this in the future.
This tragedy will be compounded if we do not take the steps to provide the best medical care this country has to offer.
Thank you for this opportunity to offer testimony today. I urge this committee to adopt S. 1779 to honor the sacrifice of Lt. Colonel Gentry and all of our brave men and women doing the hard, dangerous work of keeping America safe.
December 1st, Lt Col James C. Gentry was buried. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has refused to move on Bayh's legislation. Is someone being paid off? There's no reason in the world to have sat on this legislation. Bayh, who doesn't serve on the Committee, is not seeking re-election and when he spoke about what he believed was conflict from both sides of the aisle and how it was preventing Congress from doing the needed business, maybe some of the smart mouths attacking Evan could have stopped a moment and looked at the bills he was proposing, such as the registry, and how there was no action on them despite overwhelming public support for them. Mike Doyle (Doyle Raizner LLP) notes, "The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, where KBR maintains its corporate headquarters. The case was assigned to United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore, and the judge ordered a Scheduling Conference on July 9, 2010, to select a trial date for the case. Judge Gilmore at the time of her appointment by President Bill Clinton was the youngest sitting federal judge, and she has presided over a number of important trials (including the Enron Broadband trial) during her tenure on the bench."
At Doyle Raizner, our recent work pursuing claims against military contractors has focused on continuing litigation over our soldiers' exposure to the known cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium -- also known as sodium dichromate -- at facilities and sites operated by the Houston-based engineering and construction company KBR, Inc.
This major, determined effort has further prepared our attorneys to handle other potential negligence and damage claims on behalf of U.S. and U.K. military personnel. We encourage you to contact us if you are:
  • Experiencing respiratory problems or symptoms of toxic exposure you believe are due to your service at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq in 2003, where exposure to the potentially deadly carcinogen sodium dichromate occurred and has come to light
  • A family grieving a soldier tragically lost in an electrocution on a military base or deployment location
  • Among many thousands of former and current military personnel suffering the harmful effects of exposure to fumes emitted from contractors' toxic burn pits in Iraq or Afghanistan
  • A victim of some other form of toxic chemical exposure you believe occurred while you were serving in the U.S. or U.K. armed forces
[. . .]
To discuss your potential military contractor claim with an attorney who will take you seriously and treat you with care and respect, call or e-mail us anytime.
Staying on the legal, Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist notes that donations are down and they are attempting to help with Marc Hall's upcoming court-martial. Marc is the man who rapped, on his own time, a song that became a 'crime.' It's ridiculous. And now they want to court-martial to him -- want to, the military's going to. They've whisked him off to Iraq and did so to deny him a support system as well as access to witnesses to make the strongest case he could. From Jeff Paterson:
As we mustered civilian legal aid and mental health services for Marc in Georgia, the Army kidnapped Marc and took him to Kuwait where he remains under pre-trial confinement awaiting a virtually secret trial. Our federal court appeals failed to stop this "extradition", but we continue to work every day on his behalf.
Marc is now schedule to be court martialed in Iraq on April 27. We are working to make sure that Marc has civilian legal representation and mental health witnesses at trial in Iraq -- but that's dependent on money and resources for travel expenses and more.
Why has the Army gone to such extremes to make an example out of Spc. Marc Hall? Because he is only one of tens of thousands of "walking wounded" trapped in the military, and the military can't afford to provide real treatment or let them go.
"The number of US soldiers who have died in the Afghan war has reached 1,000. A grim milestone in the conflict launched more than eight years ago," began a news story last week. "We must steel ourselves for harder days yet to come," declared Admiral Mike Mullen, in defense of the endless occupation of Afghanistan. In addition to the 100,000 US troops that remain today in Iraq, the surge in US forces to Afghanistan continues. Foreign troop levels are expected to reach 150,000 soon.
Yet the military has a big problem. Even with relatively solid recruiting due to historically high unemployment, they are still unable to convince (bribe) enough troops to reenlist after their first stint. That's where "Stop-loss" and the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) come in to form the "back door draft" that is reviled throughout the ranks.
We have become the place to call for hundreds of IRR members questioning continued service -- thousands if you include those that rely on our extensive web resources alone. For example, google "IRR recall" and you'll see that Courage to Resist is the first resource listed.
Since the last time I asked for your support, we identified significant reductions in our budget and made hard decisions -- including reducing staff hours by 50% and moving our Oakland-based workspace saving 40% on office-related expenses. These actions, along with the continued support of many, have allowed us to move forward in our mission by maintaining an amazingly effective, bare-bones organization.
Unfortunately, the same is not true for a long time ally of war resisters, The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO). Founded in 1948 to help people escape military enlistment, CCCO played a critical role in supporting objectors during the Vietnam War and on through the 90's. Recently they closed of their office and website "due to the economy." CCCO once played a central role in the GI Rights Network. However, having planned ahead, the new GI Rights Hotline -- a consortium of over 20 groups -- is now taking responsibility for the free 877-447-4487 hotline. Over the last five years, I believe Courage to Resist has also stepped into this void by providing the material, moral, and political support to objectors that CCCO was once known for.
Since we're including that -- over a number of things I was hoping to include in the snapshot -- let's talk CCCO. There's no draft. The entire decade. So when your officials insult war resisters and go on about how it was different during the days of the draft, you're just blowing smoke out your ass, nobody gives a damn. There are wars going on right now and if you're not able to address today's realities, you're not much help to anyone. CCCO helped in filing for objector status. It was of no help -- and made comments disparaging the choices of -- war resisters who decided to self-checkout. CCCO made itself ridiculous and also had a major hard on for Barack Obama. Point, for all organizations whining they don't have enough money, you need to grasp, we're not funding you. We don't give a damn about you. If you can't call out a War Hawk, you're of no use to us. So you better start considering your priorities because I believe MoveOn already corners the market of faux activism. You either learn to stand up to the War Hawk in the White House today -- continuing these illegal wars -- or you accept the fact that those of us who give a damn about ending these wars just don't have time for you and, honestly, don't respect you.
The ACLU has released new evidence on civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and, note, they are providing it in a multitude of platforms including audio and we don't have room in the snapshot for it. I'll apologize to two friends at the ACLU and we'll include it on Monday. The link will take you there. Speaking of friends, we will make time for this. Remember all the Can't-Do-Much-To-End-The-Iraq-War (other than scream: "Vote Democrat!") loons who attacked The Hurt Locker? In fact, the US military brass launched the attack on The Hurt Locker. That's how Ned was teamed up with those serving in Iraq -- didn't you find that strange? So after they got on the asses they mistook for high horses and after Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for Best Director, might we wonder about Iraqis? We heard a whole lot of pontificating allegedly about Iraqis. Hey, Danny-boy, I'm talking about people like you, talking about your sorry ass here. You trash her and you trash her movie and you've got no grounds to stand on having forgotten the Iraq War for how many years? Yeah, sit your tired and sexist ass down. Dana Bajjali (UNHCR) reports on two Iraqi refugees and their reaction to The Hurt Locker. They fled to Jordan due to the violence in Iraq. They were extras on The Hurt Locker. Bajjali reports:
"I am happy that the film won a prize," said Nader, who had a tiny bit of dialogue that made it into the finished work. Both he and Ala' praised the actors, director and producers for its success -- "The Hurt Locker" won six Oscars and many other prestigious international prizes.
Both Nader and Ala' said it was important for them to take part in the film, because it depicted the danger that civilians and soldiers face from car bombs, suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices in Iraq. "We feel really sad to see how many explosions occur every day," Nader said.
The two Iraqi refugees appeared in crowd scenes shot in urban areas and said it was hard work. "There were lots of sophisticated scenes of explosions," Ala' recalled. He appears in a tense scene early in the film, when the maverick bomb disposal expert played by Jeremy Renner defuses a car bomb. "We had to run . . . we ran away," Ala' recalled.
The extras also welcomed their work on "The Hurt Locker" because it was a useful source of income. The casting agency was keen to hire Iraqis to play Iraqis. "The film is about Iraq and it is important to get Iraqis involved," explained George Naouri, a casting director. "Iraqis went through these difficult times and they can show true emotions," he added.
Priority was given to the neediest Iraqis, but the casting directors were also on the look out for people with some previous acting experience. "We were glad to take part because, for us, it was a much needed source of income to cover our rent and other expenses," Ala' commented.
Kathryn's an artist and she entered the history books. All the rest of you snorting the Hater-Aid have exposed yourself for the sick f**ks you are. And if this wasn't a work safe site, I'd be saying a great deal more. Instead, I'll just note, she's an artist and she don't look back, while all the ones who attacked her stare up from the gutter -- usually begging for more money for what you call your 'careers.' (Hint, a career is not built around begging. Hopefully, your parents aren't around to witness the sad state that you pretend is your adulthood.)
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations Friday night (check local listings) and this week's program:

The number of inmates in American prisons is outpacing the system's ability to hold them all. In one startling example, California prisons hold well over 50,000 more inmates than they're designed for, even though the state has built a dozen new prisons in the last 15 years. One of the biggest reasons is rampant recidivism.
On Friday, April 2 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW goes inside an Illinois prison that may have the answer to California's problems. With its innovative plan to keep released inmates from coming back, the Sheridan Correctional Center is trying to redefine "tough on crime" by being the largest fully dedicated drug prison in the country. The approach involves aggressive counseling, job training, and following the convicts after they get out. Can their novel approach keep convicts out of jail for good?

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Mike Duffy (Time), John Harwood (New York Times, CNBC) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Ruth Conniff, Cari Dominguez, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's on breast feeding. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Patented Genes
Should companies be able to own human genes? Morley Safer examines the idea of biotech firms patenting genes for profit, a controversy now being played out in courts of law. |
Watch Video

America's Gift
Many Ugandans have been saved by an American program that provides affordable anti-retroviral medicines to fight HIV and AIDS. But as a result, people are now becoming less fearful of the virus and continue to spread it by practicing unsafe sex. Bob Simon reports. |
Watch Video

Going Smokeless
As cigarette sales plunge, tobacco companies are marketing new, smokeless products to skirt smoking bans and keep customers. Lesley Stahl investigates the pros and cons of the new products. |
Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, April 4, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When Tom Hayden went to Russia . . .

I used the b-word to describe someone who is one. A longterm reader e-mailed to say she agreed but just didn't like the b-word being used. I will attempt to refrain. But, to be clear, it's not related to women. I would apply it, for example, to Tom Hayden as well.

The Idiot Tom-Tom has a bad-bad piece entitled "The 'Long War' quagmire'' that ran in Sunday's LA Times.

It is the usual, pathetic, badly written garbage one would expect from Tom-Tom.

He yammers away but never truly has a point and, as per usual, really isn't concerned with Iraq. It is hilarious how, even if you believe Barack will end the war in 2012, you're okay with that -- you're okay with it taking that long to end.

You are if you're a tired whore like Tom Hayden.

Reading the column, I was reminded of the seventies. Specifically when I got a call from C.I. about Tom-Tom. Tom had abandoned his wife, his son and, yes, his mother in the USSR. Why?
Tom, lover of the people, felt the Russians were just too middle class. He wanted to talk revolution and they just wanted to talk about his blue jeans.

It shook him up so that he (and his male posse) had to leave.

Tom Hayden's tired ass goes to Russia at a time when he's the alleged voice of the left and he can't even relate to the Russians.

In that story, you have everything you ever need to know about Tom Hayden.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, attempts to countermand the will of the Iraqi people continues, press silence largely continues, Don't Ask, Don't Tell Continues, the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community continues, where's any of that "change" people were supposed to believe in?

Starting off with a question: What is the role of the press?

In the US, that can lead an esoteric discussion or emphasizing certain points such as we can debate the merits of this and that, the right not to reveal sources, the differences between reporting and opinion journalism, the increasing (and bad) tendency to label TV hosts "journalists" (they're not reporters and, no, they don't even qualify as journalists), etc. But that's in the US and it's true of many countries -- East and West -- with an existing and functioning press. What about a country being hailed as 'emerging' and as a 'democracy'?

What about Iraq?

What message has the US press sent since the last votes were cast on March 7th? First off, the press rushed to declare Nouri al-Maliki the winner. They rushed to do that on March 8th. The day after the election. With no results -- not even partial -- released. They did have a 'poll' that said Nouri was the leader . . . a poll done by Nouri. Often they forgot to include the source for the poll when citing its results. Those results weren't valid. But what message did that send to Iraqis? Remember that they've been very vocal about what happened with their own press. One example should suffice,
such as when Listening Post's (Al Jazeera) Richard Gizbert observed, "As they scan their new media landscape, Iraqis are under no illusions about what they see. They know the channels covering the elections had their favorite candidates as did the newspapers." If they were looking for any sings that this was not the way a functioning press behaves, they didn't find it from American outlets. Around the time the ballot count released reached 70%, each day had Nouri's political party ahead in the count or Ayad Allawi's. At that point, though a surprise could have still been in store, the press' back and forth was more understandable. But last Friday 100% of the vote count was released and how has the press -- the US press -- behaved since?

That tally found Allawi's slate had won two more seats in the Parliament than had Nouri's. Which meant Allawi had first dibs on attempting to put together a government. The US government will do business with whomever Iraq declares prime minister. That's reality. For the US press, objectivity shouldn't be hard in this instance (though they're declaring Nouri the winner on March 8th indicates otherwise) because it's not really a US issue. The individual -- whomever he (or in a better world) she is will continue relations with the US government. So the US press should have been able to have been objective. (That may be too high a goal for those who couldn't even be informed -- as the Friday roundup guests on The Diane Rehm Show at the start of this month demonstrated, few even bothered to learn basics.)

And just by being objective, they could have sent a message. Even now, they're not able to. In what country -- functioning democracy or 'democracy' or not -- is the sitting leader allowed to cast aspersions on the vote as freely as Nouri has? In what country would the sitting leader be allowed to benefit by the targeting of members of the winning's side -- targeting them with violence and political intimidation?

This is what's going on in Iraq and there's no disputing it. The US press probably couldn't change the realities on the ground (I doubt seriously that shaming works on Nouri -- if it did, he would have slit his wrists years ago). But it could help the Iraqi people. Instead of the diffident, lackadaisical attitude displayed by the US press, there could be expressions of outrage over what's happening. That it's not taking place sends a message to the Iraqi people that this is just how it's going to be, that this is how it is?

I don't believe you can make democracy somewhere else. I believe a people can make a democracy if they want it. The War Hawks -- including a large segment of the -- "CASE CLOSED!" -- US press -- believed democracy could be exported. I would assume that all but the most thick headed now realize it can't be. But I'd also -- apparently wrongly -- assume that the US press would grasp that their actions are being watched and that behaviors are modeled. So when they want to act as if it's perfectly normal that, for example, a member of Allawi's party was assassinated Sunday or that at least one -- possibly four -- members of Allawi's party are being smeared with the charge of "Ba'athist!" in order to sideline them, the message to the Iraqi people is, "That's just how it is."

I didn't and don't support the ongoing, illegal war. But I also don't believe the press should now tell the Iraqis that that's just the way things are and no sense getting outraged, no sense expecting more. That's the message being sent: This is all you can hope for. (Possibly with a subtext of: This all you're worth.) The entire international community should be vocal about these efforts to overturn the will of the people but the US press bears a special burden (in a court of law, the term for that 'burden' should be "culpable") since it did so much to help sell the Iraq War to begin with. And we're fully aware that the selling of the Iraq War didn't stop in March 2003. Waves of Operation Happy Talk kept the illegal war -- keeps it going -- for every Damien Cave or Alissa J. Rubin that did some strong work, you had ten and twenty Dexter Filkins lying in print over and over. You see a lot of that today if you pay attention, the Dexy pose, where they all want you to know -- now -- that things aren't that bad. Why, in 2006, . . . But check the archives, in real time, they weren't telling you about it when it was happening. Today they will because it helps sell the war. "It's better! Now it's better!"

So for those crimes and many more, the US press should feel a special obligation in terms of calling out outrages in Iraq. But they don't judging the near total silence.
A rare exception would be the Los Angeles Times editorial board:

Nevertheless, Maliki has been challenging the election results every which way, within the elastic boundaries of the law. He has tried but so far failed to secure a recount of what international observers determined to be a sufficiently fair and transparent vote. And just before the final results were released last week, the Supreme Court concluded, at Maliki's urging, that the right to form the next government could go to alliances and super-coalitions formed after the election, if they prove to have the most seats. Maliki promptly launched negotiations with other religious Shiite and Kurdish parties. Now the Accountability and Justice Commission, which already had banned scores of candidates with alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from the election, says six others slipped through the cracks, won seats and should be disqualified. Removing them would alter the outcome, because several appear to be from Allawi's Shiite-Sunni bloc (and because Allawi's coalition won by only two seats). Not incidentally, the commission's head, Ali Lami, belongs to a party that is reportedly in merger talks with Maliki. Perhaps some of this is just postelection posturing, but to us it looks like shenanigans. What's more, not only are these dubious maneuvers potentially destabilizing in such a fragile country, but they are probably unnecessary for Maliki's bloc to come out on top.

As the editorial board notes, there's a good chance State of Law would come out on top regardless. And that would be the process if it was done through horse trading, et al. But instead it's kill party members, tar them as "Ba'athists" and more. And none of that is about a fair and free election. Horse trading, et al? Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is deciding whom to throw their support behind.
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers reports that they've decided to put it to a vote and a referendum will be held Thursday and Friday where Sadr supporters will "choose one of five candidates" for prime minister and that's whom the Sadr bloc will then back and, in addition to the five -- "Nouri Al Maliki, Ayad Allawi, Vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi, former prime minister Ibrahim Al Jafary and Mohamed Jafar Al Sadr" -- there will be a blank space for a write-in. Besides putting the people back in charge, it may serve another purpose. Jason Ditz ( reports on the referendum and notes that when Nouri signed off on the Status Of Forces Agreement, he agreed to put it to referendum, "The SOFA referendum was initially to be held in July, 2009, but Maliki managed to successfully put it off by claiming it would be "cheaper" to hold it in concert with the parliamentary election, held March 7. Needless to say the referendum never happened, and at this point it is safe to say it never will." Tim Arango (New York Times) adds that al-Sadr's office released a statment stating they were deliver "choice of prime minister in to the hands of the Iraqi public through a referendum for all Iraqi people." Arango goes on to call it one-part p.r. and one-part political gimmick. Based upon? Based upon the fact that the New York Times no longer grasps what reporting is. Among the many other posibilities -- including just thinking the people should decide and having no ulterior motives -- is that Moqtada al-Sadr has a good idea how the vote will go and wants to use the voters as cover to go with that decision.

Tony Karon (Time magazine) notes the power plays going on:

Nor will Maliki be unhappy about the efforts of others to trim Allawi's advantage even before then. The Justice and Accountability (formerly De-Baathification) commission, which operates under the guidance of Ahmed Chalabi, the one-time Pentagon favorite now running on the Iran-backed Iraqi National Alliance (INA) slate, on Tuesday announced its intention to demand that the Supreme Court disqualify as ineligible three candidates on Allawi's list, because of alleged ties to the former regime of Saddam Hussein. If the court upholds this challenge -- and it has sympathetically received the Commission's previous effort to expel Sunni candidates -- Maliki's 89 seats could then, theoretically, be deemed to have finished first.

Quil Lawrence (NPR's Morning Edition -- link has audio and text) files a report the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission's efforts to disqualify members of Allawi's slate including Muhammad Authman is being targeted and Lawrence reports that he's traveled to Baghdad to appeal and wonders why, since he headed Diyala Province for the last years, no one targeted him back then. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports on Chalabi who calls the shots on the Justice and Accountability Commission:THE MOST controversial figure to secure election in Iraq's March 7th parliamentary poll was Ahmad Chalabi, the man who convinced the Bush administration to invade his country and topple the Baath party regime. Chalabi is both survivor and creature of contradictions. Once Washington's darling, Chalabi alienated the US by aligning himself with Iran. A secular politician, he ran on the ticket of the Shia fundamentalist Iraqi National Alliance (INA).Born in 1944 in Baghdad into a wealthy Shia clan, Chalabi and his family left Iraq when he was 12. He was educated in Britain and the US. He took his first degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earned a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Chicago, and taught for a time at the American University of Beirut.While in Lebanon, he married the daughter of a prominent Shia politician. In 1977, Chalabi established Petra Bank in Jordan but, a decade later, was smuggled out of the country in the boot of a car when the bank could not satisfy its creditors. The bank went bust and he was tried, convicted and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison for fraud.It's amazing how many University of Chicago connections there are -- and outside the economics division. Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reports on rumors that Iran is attempting to determine Iraq's next prime minister and that the steady stream of Iraqi politicians to Iran demonstrates this. Meanwhile Iraqi journalist Sa'ad al-Izzi prepares to leave Iraq. al-Izzi has worked for, among others, the Washington Post and the New York Times during the Iraq War. At the Times' At War Blog today, al-Izzi writes about the numerous Iraqi politicians who do not live in Iraq and notes:

Rumors widely circulated on the Internet, and widely believed here, say that 29 of Iraq's ambassadors abroad hold dual citizenship in the country where they're posted.
Of course, most politicians find it convenient to pretend they live in Iraq, and would deny strenuously that their foreign homes are anything other than second residences. But in Iraq's tribal culture, where gossip is akin to a bloodsport, it's pretty hard to hide the fact that you're often never here.
As I prepare to leave Baghdad, the city in which I was born, raised, educated, where I worked and survived several bombings -- but a place I no longer feel I belong -- I look back and feel sorry that all those politicians who came from America, Britain, France and throughout the world were not able to give Baghdad the glimmer and glory it had decades ago when it was jewel in the crown of the Arab Capitals in the Middle East.

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


Reuters notes a Baaj bombing claimed 1 life.


Reuters notes a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman was killed and a Mosul drive-by in which 1 man was shot dead.

Iraq's LGBT community continues to be persecuted.
Iraqi LGBT issued the following:

Press statementFor immediate use 31 March launch petition for Iraqi LGBT Green leader writes to Johnson Gay Iraqis praise 'our hero' The major American progressive organisation has launched a petition to British Home Secretary Alan Johnson to grant asylum to Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili. The petition allows supporter to send a personalised message to Johnson, whose decision is effecting the work of the group in drawing attention to atrocities against gays in Iraq. It was created by the website's leading gay author Michael Jones. A petition started by Iraqi LGBT has already drawn near 700 signatures in a few days, including many with moving comments from Iraqis who have been helped by Hili. One was from Khaldoon Abdulrazaq who wrote: "A message of support from inside iraq, ali you are our hero, our hope and the future you have in your vision for a better iraq will come one day, believe me. Please keep the faith, your fight is our fight, we all dream of a better world, a world with all people respect and love each other..." Campaign organisers say that 60 letters have already been sent to Gordon Brown demanding he intervene. On Monday the leader of the UK Green Party Caroline Lucas announced that she had written to Johnson. Lucas wrote: "I am writing with reference to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, currently living in exile in London. This application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel. This impacts not only on Ali himself but also limits his ability to raise the profile of how LGBT rights are oppressed on a daily basis in Iraq." "As I am sure you are aware, the group Iraqi LGBT estimates that over 700 LGBT people have been assassinated over the past few years. Human Rights Watch, working with the BBC for a report aired last year, confirmed that torture and persecution of the LGBT community is widespread and that many LGBT people claim life was safer during Saddam Hussein's regime. US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spoke last month of their concerns for LGBT both in Iraq and as refugees, in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-signed by 64 other Congress people." "Ali Hili, as a prominent campaigner for LGBT equality, will not be safe if he is returned to Iraq. He has received a fatwa from inside Iraq, as well as numerous threats in London which have forced him to move. He is under the protection of the Metropolitan Police. Moreover, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has advised 'favourable consideration' for asylum claims because of the situation in Iraq. I would, therefore, urge you to ensure that Ali Hili's asylum claim is granted as a matter of urgency and his right to travel guaranteed." Documentary film maker David Grey of Village Films has released an appeal for Ali and Iraqi LGBT on YouTube. The video is titled 'Please help save gay lives in Iraq'. Campaigners for Hili said that they were awaiting confirmation of further invitations to travel - Hili was asked to do a speaking tour of the United States last year but had to decline. Hili's solicitor, Barry O'Leary, wrote to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in August 2009 that: "he desperately wishes to do this [travel] in order to further the aims of his organisation, that is, supporting lesbians and gay men in Iraq and bringing the world's attention to their plight." Six months after his review application, the UKBA told O'Leary that: * the assistance which Hili has given to the Foreign Office "does not count" * the fatwa against him does not mean that Hili "falls within the classification of clear and immediate vulnerability" * that the delay in deciding Hili's asylum case (since July 2007) "is not in itself an exceptional circumstance" * his case is not "compelling" O'Leary said: "I have made UKBA aware of the detriment the nearly three year delay is having on the work of Iraqi LGBT. I have also stressed that this will be a straightforward matter given Mr Hili's very high profile and the documented risks to his life. Nevertheless they decided to leave him in the queue for a decision. This can only harm LGBT individuals in Iraq." ENDS For further information and requests for interviews and photographs or call (UK) 07986 008420 For comment on the legal issues contact: Barry O'Leary Wesley Gryk Solicitors Iraqi LGBT website ~~~~~~~ Visit our website, LGBT asylum news (formally Save Medhi Kazemi) Twitter

In US,
Sunday on CBS' The Morning Show, Kimberly Dozier filed a report (link has text and video) on the effects of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Kimberly Dozier: I have a personal interest in Sgt Presley's story. I first me her, in a manner of speaking, in 2006. She helped keep me alive when our CBS News team was hit by a car bomb in Baghdad.
Sgt Lacye Presley: You kept asking, "When are we getting out of here? When are we getting out of here?"
Kimberly Dozier: She was a medic.
Sgt Lacye Presley: [I told you] "Just hold on, we're getting out."
Kimberly Dozier: Sgt Presley was honored for her work saving lives that day -- mine included. Sgt Lacye Presley: The Army gave me a Bronze Star for my actions in that incident. And this is what they gave me for being gay.
Kimberly Dozier: This was an honorable discharge, given during her second tour in Iraq, after she reported a superior commander for suspected drug dealing and someone struck back.
Sgt Lacye Presley: I was called in to my First Sergeant's office and he told me that there was allegations that I was participating in homosexual conduct and that there were pictures -- they'd been sent to my battalion commander.
Kimberly Dozier: The pictures were of Presley and Tomson. Sgt Tomson was serving in another unit stateside handling bomb sniffing dogs. A decorated soldier in her own right. Kimberly Dozier: You're NCO of the year. So you were the Non-Commissioned Officer of the year.
[. . .]
Kimberly Dozier: She was also discharged.
Holly Tomson: I was planning on having a career in the military because I like it, I love the army.

Ian Thompson (ACLU Blog of Rights) writes:Fans of the CBS program Sunday Morning got to hear firsthand this week from two women whose military careers were prematurely ended because of the discriminatory and counterproductive policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier profiled former Army Medic Sgt. Lacye Presley and her partner Sgt. Holly Tomson. In the report, Dozier discloses that Sgt. Presley helped to keep her alive in 2006 after her CBS News team was hit by a car bomb in Iraq. Presley was awarded the Bronze Star for her exemplary actions; however, she would go on shortly thereafter to be discharged because of her sexual orientation. Someone, in an apparent act of retaliation, sent pictures of Presley and Tomson, who was serving stateside handling bomb-sniffing dogs at the time, to Presley's battalion commander. This started the discharge process for both women.

Last week, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivered a speech offering minor, cosmetic changes to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This was one week after Lt Dan Choi and Capt Jim Piertrangelo chained themselves to the White House fence to protest and was, in part, an attempt to clamp down on the protest and unrest. Sunday Katie Nelson (New York Daily News) spoke with Dan Choi who explained how unimpressive Gates' 'changes' were and noted, "The reason why 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is so repugnant is because it forces people to be in the closet and lie, and that hasn't changed. The real price of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is that it institutionalizes shame." Eve Conant interviewed Dan Choi for Newsweek and then they let gym bunny take a whack at Dan. Remember Gym Bunny? If I call someone out here, I've got my reasons. They may not reveal themselves while I'm calling them out but they do reveal themselves. The hateful little Gym Bunny was noted last July:

Voices of Honor is a group we'll note sometimes and not others. As explained, we're not interested in a group trying to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell which can't tell meaning the efforts of some to hide gayness. You won't overturn the policy by hiding in a closet or with talking points of, "It's not about being gay." It's exactly about being gay. If people weren't gay, they wouldn't be kicked out. A member of the group made really insulting remarks (publicly) about Ellen Tauscher when she was still in Congress. He trashed her for showing up -- the only member of Congress to show up -- at one of the events to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He trashed her, he mocked -- publicly -- and did so because she wouldn't treat the issue as if people were being discharged because they had sniffles. Gym Bunny apparently has a self-loathing issue and that's his issue but Voices of Honor was launched only weeks ago and it's already offended a huge number of gays and lesbians with efforts to act as if the gay issue is something to run from. When they're running from it, we're not covering them. And we will not now, or ever, mention Gym Bunny or quote him or do anything to promote him.Ellen (I know Ellen, I've known her for years) went to that public event and was the only member of Congress to do so. She spoke at that event, she spoke movingly about the need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She didn't deserve to be trashed. I don't put up with bad manners and that was bad manners to the max. The group (this is just months ago) needed all the Congressional help it could get and they needed a name at their event to get them any coverage. Ellen's got a life. She went on her own time. And her thanks for that is to be trashed because she talked about the issue and she noted it is an issue for the lesbian and gay community? (Causing Gym Bunny to snort that it's not a gay issue. It's a gay issue, Dumb Ass. People are being kicked out because they're gay.)

Gym Bunny thinks the way to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell is to lie. To leave out that whole messy gay thing because being gay, it's just a minor side-issue, right? Never having lived his life with any dignity, it's no surprise he trashes Dan. Go work some more on your pecs -- after all someone has to take over
Dollywood some day and you appear well on your way, Gym Bunny. Where's the suction cups from the first aid kit for a snake bite, oh, that's right, Gym Bunny attached them to his nipples (it makes 'em bigger!). WalkOn, A moratorium on Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the bare minimum Barack Obama, President of the United States, should be offering right now. Sunday at Third, we noted some of the supporters of a moratorium:

US House Representative
Loretta Sanchez issued the following statement after Gates' announcement, "Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' is the right thing to do. We should be recognizing our men and women in uniform for their service, not their sexual orientation. The Pentagon's decision to relax its 'don't ask, don't tell' rules is a step in the right direction, and deserves to be recognized as such. But it's not enough. No individual should have to hide who they are to serve their country, which is why Congress needs to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' once and for all." Sanchez is correct, it's not enough. And who's running this country which supposedly is a democracy and not a junta, which supposedly has civilian control of the military? March 18th, Senator Roland Burris again publicly stated that a moratorium was needed on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. March 3rd, US House Representative Susan Davis declared, "A moratorium on discharges would be an appropriate action to take while the Department decides how to implement repeal." Senators Carl Levin and Mark Udall are also on record supporting a moratorium.

And we noted that
Barack was happy to attack abortion rights on behalf of 14 members of Congress for his ObamaCare with an executive order. An executive order is all that's needed for a moratorium. Honestly, an executive order is all that's needed to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He could issue an executive order declaring that all could serve openly. Executive Order is how then-President Harry Truman integrated the military. So for 14 members of Congress, he'll sign an executive order attacking abortion rights but he won't do a damn thing to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell or even halt discharges under it?

And on the topic of abortion rights, we will close with
this from Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait):

The film
Abortion, Morality and the Liberation of Women is being seen by people via YouTube and through organized showings, including at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro last month. This is exactly the kind of conversation we're trying to spark with this film:
"I brought up the three points... that should serve as a foundational basis of what we stand for: a fetus is not a baby, abortion is not murder, women are not incubators, and talked about how those points are probably completely non-controversial amongst the people in the room, but which had been compromised and diluted to near meaninglessness by the sections of the movement that are subservient to the Democratic Party.

There was some back and forth about this, leading to a bit of discussion over who we're trying to win over, and what we're saying to do so. One student suggested that more people would agree that a first trimester fetus is not viable, and therefore we could maybe get people to at least agree that abortions at this stage should stay legal. Another student challenged that idea..."
Read more.

Have you hosted a viewing of this film? Watched it at home? Send us your
feedback This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Buy a copy of the DVD here.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pity the poor failed playwright

Carla Sequist is not a young woman. She's not an attractive women either. But she's not a young woman. Over 45 years ago, she was done with high school.

So, Carla, what you got to show for it?

Not real much, right?

Four bad plays or 'plays' (if her walls could talk they would yawn).

Four minor plays that never made it anywhere.

She's a playwright in the way that George W. Bush is a thinker.

I saw one of her bad plays. Once was, apologies to Jaqueline Susann, more than enough.

I would have no reason to write about the failed playwright were she not a catty, jealous bitch.

At the Christian Science Monitor, Catty serves up her views on the film The Hurt Locker.

Catty writes:

But hold the applause and consider this: How can artists, especially ones who call themselves serious, not take a political point-of-view of a war that, unlike a “good” war like World War II, is a seriously “bad” one – one that was premised on an audacious lie (weapons of mass destruction), fomented by official fearmongering, made torture an instrument of US government policy, and has killed over 100,000 of the people that we presumed, uninvited, to liberate?

Poor, Catty. She asks people to hold their applause. She never asks that at her own performances. (Of course, no one is clapping at those.) The Hurt Locker's not "apolitical." But let's set that aside -- and, yes, you could make a wonderful film without taking a point of view, only a 'writer' who writes bad, on the nose dialogue would think you couldn't. Let's instead zoom in on this nonsense:

With Vietnam, widely seen as a bad war, Hollywood reverted to a fiercely antiwar stance – “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon,” and “Coming Home.”
Moreover, the characters portrayed in these films possessed a moral compass of some sort, which induced nausea in them about the act of killing they were forced to engage in, while also making them worthy for us to root for. Losing a grip on that compass is the Colonel Kilgore character in "Apocalypse Now," who exulted in “the smell of napalm in the morning.”
But “The Hurt Locker,” far from being antiwar, and despite the filmmakers’ professed dedication to our troops in Iraq, finally nets out as pro-war.

The only thing I hate worse than a catty bitch is an idiot pontificating. So Kathryn Bigelow's film should have been more like . . . Uh, which one?

Platoon? Platoon is seen as rah-rah war by some people. Check out the reviews. Coming Home? It may be forgotten today but that film was slammed by the left. Pauline Kael ridiculed it for having, pay attention Catty Bitch, no point of view. "War is bad." That's an apolotical message. Read Kael ripping apart Coming Home and grasp how damn little Sequest knows. Also grasp that Apocalypse Now was based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Or are we not supposed to know that either?

The Hurt Locker is a film that succeeds with audiences and won Bigelow an Oscar as Best Director.

It's all too much for Carla Seaquist. Bigelow's a success! Carla's got nothing to do but hiss. She can't accept the fact that her own life is nothing but failure. Besides, attacking another woman -- a breakthrough woman -- allows Carla not to spend time writing another (bad) play. She'll use any excuse not to create -- but hasn't her entire career already proven that point?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Chris Hill self-embarrasses yet again, Nouri continues attempts to knock out the results of the election, and more.

"What if you have an election and nobody wins?" asked Warren Olney on today's
To The Point (PRI). He explored that in multiple segments and we'll note the section where he spoke with Ned Parker.

Warren Olney: The party of former prime minister Ayad Allawi won 2 more seats in this month's Parliamentary elections than the party of current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. al-Maliki has called the outcome a fraud and demanded a recount. Today Allawi claimed that Iran is trying to prevent him from forming a government. Ned Parker's in Baghdad for the Los Angeles Times and, Ned, it's good to have you back on our program. Tell us what Allawi means and how he's trying to prove the point that Iran is trying to prevent him from forming a government?

Ned Parker: Well, uhm, thanks for having me back. That's a good question. What Awad Allawi is referring to is the influence Iran has on many of the players in Iraqi politics and, in the last week, there's been a shuffle -- a shuttle of Iraqi politicians to Iran. Some to meet with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr whose followers have about 40 seats in the Parliament. And then others who were going to Iran to celebrate the Iranian New Year, Nowruz. So it's a very tight race to form a new government -- next government. Malliki, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's list has 89 seats, Ayad Allawi has 91. And they're competing essentially for the same -- same blocs. And whoever these blocs choose -- which is a rival Shi'ite list to Minister Nouri Maliki's -- and a Kurdish bloc with 43 seats but with an additional Kurdish parties really another -- potentially 60 seats of Kurdish parliamentarians. Whoever can win those seats or a large number of them will get to form the next government. And Iran, I think it's fair to say, feels more comfortable with a government controlled by Shi'ite religious parties or led by them even if there are other candidates in the list. So Allwawi is the antithesis of what they want and he knows that and it's an issue that also plays well on the Iraqi street because Iran is seen as meddling by most Iraqis and it's something that routed people to Allawi.

Warren Olney: Okay, a little background here. Allawi, you say, is the antithesis of what the Iranians would like to see. He is a Shi'ite but he is a secular Shi'ite. Is that the main thing that concerns them?

Ned Parker: Well . . . it's -- people have commented and I think it's quite valid in many ways Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi who is a former prime minister who was prime minister in the interum period after the US occupation ended in June 2004 through the election that Iraq had in January of '05. That's when Allawi servied. And he represents a secular stream in the Iraqi politics but it's also one that's comfortable with the former members of the Ba'ath Party of former members or leadership of the Ba'ath Party of Saddam Hussein. And Allawi has also cultivated Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan -- and those countries have never really been comfortable with the post-2003 government which had been led by Shi'ite religious parties that often had -- were based in Iran during Saddam Hussein's years. So all of that creates a picture of Allawi as a Trojan horse for those who were in the elite of Saddam Hussein's regime. And that makes some Shi'ites, Iraqis, nervous. Not all. Many find Allawi's vision of sort of a secular, Iraq, nationalistic Iraq that's very Arab as appealing but it also makes people nervous and I think it makes Iran nervous. And Allawi, also it's been said, has been trying to reach out to Iran to assure them that if he does become prime minister, they would be comfortable with him, that he would not be a threat.

Warren Olney: Okay, we are reminded once again of the enomorous complexity of the political situation in Iraq. We also have another well known voice, that of Mr. Chalabi, well known in this country as the man who helped persuade the Bush administration to go into Iraq in the first place, then became persona nongrata at the Pentagon. In fact, they even searched his house at one point for evidence that he was dealing with Iran. Now he's in charge of the Electoral Commission and I take it that al-Maliki on him to disqualify even more of Allawi's people than he already has.

Ned Parker: That's right. Well Chalabi is the chairman of the de-Ba'athification Commission or it's called the Accountability and Justice Commission now which is charged with purging high ranking members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party from public life, from senior positions in the government, high positions within the security forces, what have you. So what happened is Chalabi was also a candidate, he was elected to this Parliament and with the rival slate of Mr. Maliki's. So it's a very complicated game that's going on right now. And with it, the head -- the director-general of the Accountablity and Justice Commission which is supposed to purge former members of the Ba'ath Party from government or from running for office, they've banned many candidates before the election, replacements were found but there was, among the replacements, shortly before the actual election this commission, which Chalabi chairs, said there were 52 people who should not be able to run. The electoral board said to wait until after the election, so yesterday the director Chalabi's assistant on the Accountability and Justice said these people who were elected would not be allowed to participate. And this now goes to a court which will rule. And this suits Chalabi's interests, it also suits Mallaki's interests because they both see Allawi as a threat to their own power. I think Chalabi himself, even if he would deny it, still has ambitions to be prime minister. I think he probably believes if Malliki is thwarted in his bid for a second term as prime minister that the candidate will likely come from Chalabi's list which is the other main Shi'ite alliance that ran in the elections. And there there are so many candidates but all of them have baggage So I think potentiall even Ahmed Chalabi is thinking if he is the last man standing maybe he could really end up being the prime minister. He's the darkhorse candidate.

We'll stop there with the excerpt. (Ned Parker begins another sentence but the phone call is lost in the middle of it.) For more audio (and to underscore some reporting is going on even if you can't find it on your usual programs), we'll note this from yesterday's
The World (PRI):

Ben Gilbert: No single party mustered the 163 Parliamentary seats necessary to form a government in Iraq's elections and that came as no surprise. But few predicted that Ayad Allawi would do so well. The former prime minister's Iraqiya list garnered 91 seats that's 2 more than sitting prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc won. Maliki plans to challenge the results and he says he expects Iraq's electoral commission to take his complaints seriously.

Nouri al-Maliki: The future of the political democratic process and the future of the country depend on this.

Ben Gilbert: Prime Minister Maliki has hinted that, as the commander of the armed forces, he has a responsibility to maintain order in case the election was stolen. Meanwhile Maliki and Allawi are wooing lawmakers from other blocs to try to bolster their numbers. Allawi is even courting his main rival.

Ayad Allawi: Our Iraqiya list is open to all parties beginning with the State of Law bloc of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and with all the other political blocs.

Ben Gilbert: Allawi has a reputation for being open to all sides. He's a non-practicing Shi'ite Muslim but, in this election, his supporters were mostly Sunni Muslims. Sunnis mostly boycotted the elections in 2005 and then went on to make up the bulk of the insurgency. Now both current Prime Minister Maliki and former Prime Minister Allawi will have to appeal to all of Iraq's ethnic and religous groups in order to gain majority in the Parliament and form a government.

Saad Hussein (Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies): We are in a critical moment Don't you know in Iraq there is potential civil war in Iraq every time. This happened in 2006 and maybe it will return back in such a way even now after the election.

Ben Gilbert: Still Hussein considers the large turnout for Allawi a vote for secularism and he says that's a sign of progress from the previous elections

Saad Hussein: Before 2005, liberals and others they didn't get anything. All the sectarian and ethnic groups they were very powerful in 2005. Now they are weaker than before. People they want change, they want something else, and they see it in the secular candidates.

Ben Gilbert: It will be weeks if not months before the negotiations result in concrete alliances. All this comes as the US hopes to draw-down its troops from the current level of 95,000 to 50,000 by this fall. For The World, I'm Ben Gilbert.

And personal note to NPR friends, you're not doing your job. NPR friends would prefer I not note PRI which competes with them for servicing local public radio stations with programming. And until this year, I ignored PRI programs. Even when asked to note them here. But NPR's not providing an Iraq focus -- if I wanted to be really pointed I'd note -- ticking off all of today's programs -- how laughable that two suicide bombers in Moscow get so much NPR attention when Iraq has how many suicide bombers a year and has to fight to get even ten minutes a day from NPR? -- so we'll note PRI. And let me go further on that. If you're local NPR doesn't carry To The Point, for example, or The World, remember you can always call them and request that they do. They might have to drop some programs -- maybe they can
retire Terry Gross' insipid sex talk, insults to the disabled (calling them the r-word on air and then insisting it's a joke should have got her ass fired this month), fart jokes, picking the nose talk and all the rest -- but they can carry these programs and will if they get enough requests to do so. Your local public radio station is supposed to serve you the listener. And let's quote that sick old hag with the r-word, ". . . so this ended up being a very controversial scene because of the use of the word r**arded. So I just want to warn our listeners, for anybody who finds that word, like, really, you know, insulting, that this is a comedy. This is a parody." Oh, that's a warning? "For anyone who finds the word, like, really, you know, insulting." The one you just tossed out, Terry? NPR has no functioning ombudsperson. They have a body that takes up space, but they have no functioning ombudsperson. Terry Gross little antics have demonstrated that for months now.

They say this train don't give out rides, it don't worry me,
And all the world is taking sides, it don't worry me.
Cause in my empire, life is sweet, just ask any bum you meet.
Life may be a one way street, but it don't worry me.
It don't worry me, it don't worry me.
You may say I ain't free, but it don't worry me.
-- "It Don't Worry Me," words and music by Keith Carradine

Who knew Chris Hill would make like
Barbara Harris in Robert Altman's Nashville and run around singing "It Don't Worry Me"? Hill is the US Ambassador to Iraq and, apparently, a huge Altman fan. Yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered, Noah Adams spoke (link has text and audio) with Hill:

ADAMS: Now, the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, he's just not happy at all. He wants a manual recount. He's putting a lot of pressure on the election officials. He said, no way will we accept the results, he said that flatly. And he likes to remind people that he is, indeed, the commander-in-chief. If you're an Iraqi citizen, aren't you figuring he's going to take this election any way he can?
Ambassador HILL: Well, I think, you know, anyone who's lost an election by 0.045 percent probably is feeling a little grouchy that day. And so I think Mr. Maliki was probably not very happy to see those results. On the other hand, he has made clear that what's necessary is that everybody needs to follow the law, including himself. But, you know, he's going to challenge some of the results, I think as any candidate would. And the key thing here is not that he doesnt have a right to challenge results in specific areas, but he needs to do it lawfully according to the procedures. Nouri's just a grouchy bear, insists Chris Hill, as if Little Nouri was awakened from naptime too quickly and just as soon as he finishes his juice box and sugar cookies, he'll play nice. Strangely, Iraq's neighbors do not see it the same way.
Lebanon's Daily Star editorializes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is moving onto very thin ice with his rejection of his country's elections -- and the entire country could well take a plunge with him. It is one thing if Maliki simply expressed his opposition to the leader who won the elections, Iraqiya head Iyad Allawi; however, Maliki is denouncing and challenging the whole elections as fraudulent." So that's one of Iraq's neighbors and Caryle Murphy (UAE's the National Newspaper) notes that another neighbor, Saudi Arabia, contains many people who are excited by the prospects of Allawi being the winner and "If Mr al Maliki stays in power, Mr Eshki added, Iraq will continue to suffer from terrorism because 'the Baathists … don't like him'. But with Mr Allawi at Iraq's helm, 'the terrorists will not find any group that will welcome them'." And Duraid Al Baik (Gulf News) reports on Iraqi attitudes towards Allawi's slate's apparent victory (they won the count released last Friday), fear as they see his supporters targeted, fear "that Al Maliki and his supporters will not hand over authority peacefully."

Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports that Iraq's Justice and Accountability Commission -- a paralegal committee whose mandate expired many years ago and whose membership was not appointed by Parliament -- has decided to disqualify six winners in the Parliamentary elections and this "could prove critical to the election's outcome because the political alliance headed by Ayad Allawi, the country's former interim prime minister, won only two seats more than Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's coalition in the March 7 contest." McClatchy's Hannah Allam (Christian Science Monitor) notes that if the "federal court upholds" the barring, not only would Allawi's slate lead their lead but it also "could threaten hopes that the elections would pave the way to a new unity government". As the Washington Post's editorial board observes, "On Monday, the pernicious Iranian-backed Accountability and Justice Commission piped up again, seeking to purge six winners it considers tainted by past association with Saddam Hussein; not coincidentally, the purging could be useful to politicians who run the commission." Martin Chulov (Guardian) adds, "The vanquished Maliki continues to show signs that he will not fade away, describing as "impossible" Allawi's attempts to build a coalition. Maliki made the comment in a television interview, in which he also said "the game is still very much on", in relation to who will be Iraq's new leader." Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report on the tensions arising from the para-legal body's latest move:A senior Iraqiya member reacted furiously Monday, seeing the announcement as an effort to undermine the slate's quest to assemble a coalition of 163 seats to form the next government. He warned of dire consequences if the judiciary rules in Lami's favor and takes away Iraqiya seats."No doubt, if they try to isolate Iraqiya then definitely the aim of doing that is to push the country toward civil war. . . . Maybe this is the intention of Iran. They want their people to control Iraq for another four years," said Iraqiya member Falah Naquib. "Maybe half the country or more will not accept what they are trying to do."Leila Fadel (Washington Post) quotes Falah al-Naqib as well and he tells her that if the banning is approved by the court and if it robs Allawi's slate of their lead, "It would be civil war, absolutely no doubt. I think the United States and other allies should find a solution for this problem. Otherwise, we're seriously going for a civil war, and this time, it's a big mess." NPR's Deborah Amos' Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East has just arrived in stores. Writing at Global Post,she explains:

Stung by his loss, Maliki rejected the official tally and invoked his status as commander-in-chief as he warned of violence. Maliki's top aide, Ali al-Adeed, was more explicit when he said Iraq's Shiites would not accept the legitimacy of Allawi's victory. Maliki's warnings prompted an unusual on-the-record observation from a senior U.S. embassy official, Gary Grappo, who acknowledged that Maliki's coalition would "take advantage of all means at their disposal to try to eke out a victory." While Grappo went on to express confidence that Maliki and his allies would work within the judicial system, the system has been far from neutral, both before and after the election. Power in Iraq centers around personalities rather than institutions. As long as Maliki remains in office, he can manipulate government resources to press his advantage. On the day before the election results were announced, the Supreme Court interpreted an ambiguous constitutional clause in a way that gives Maliki an edge. While the constitution stipulates the largest bloc in parliament gets the first chance to form a government, it is unclear whether the largest bloc is determined by the vote or groups that merge after the election. The judges ruled that the later is permissible, which means if Maliki can convince smaller blocs to join him in the next few days, he can deny Allawi the first shot at forming a government.

But Chris Hill is not troubled. Proving that the simplest mind sleeps easiest. As the US State Dept today, Chris Hill spoke via video link (and
click here for State Dept video and transcript). Hey, remember when Chris Hill told All Things Considered yesterday:

I will say that as in any close election, it's not easy to lose a close election. If you look at the differential, it was some 0.045 percent. That's not fun to lose an election like that. So I don't think people should be too surprised that there are some comments that reflect the anguish of losing.

You're nodding. No. That's from today's press briefing. Sounds just the same, I know. That's because he can almost manage to memorize scripted soundbytes. Almost.

CNN's Elise Labott asked what happens if Nouri loses out to Allawi (as the count indicates his party should) and yet refuses to "secede power"?

Chris Hill: Well, again, these are -- this is kind of speculation. What if? What if he doesn't? What if he does? What if he -- will he resign from the position if he's unable to put together a coalition? All I can say is he has been very, very clear with us in private, very clear in public, that he will follow the law. I want to make very clear this is something that when you look around the landscape of this part of the world, you don't see too many examples of this actually happening. Yet I think the Iraqi people went to the polls in great numbers and I think the Iraqi people expect all of their politicians, whether it's the seated prime minister or whether it's the challengers, to follow the letter of the law. And I think that is a widespread expectation and I would expect everyone to do that. I mean, if we have problems in the future, we'll deal with problems in the future. But right now, I think what people are saying is the right thing, which his to observe the law and observe the procedures.

Are you on the floor rolling yet? If not, it's probably because you're thinking of the actions of the Justice and Accountability Commission (and for those who keep e-mailing about that commission, that is it's English translation -- for some reason some press outlets want to go alphabetical, it's Justice and Accountability). Reuters' Susan Cornwell immediately raised that issue.

Chris Hill: Well, let me just say that certainly political commentators here in Iraq sort of look at a challenge like that and wonder to what extent it reflects a political challenge. Certainly, I think the UN has made very clear that this is no time to be challenging people who have won seats. But I think the UN has also made very clear that the proper place for any such challenges is to the courts. If they want to sue the IHEC, they can do that and let the courts take this up. I think going forward, certainly for the next election, certainly for the next period of Iraq's history, they're going to have to deal with this whole issue about accountability and justice. They're going to have to deal with the issue of what to do with people who have ties to the Baathist regime in the past, how they're going to deal with this, whether a South African model or some other model. But certainly, what we want to see in the future is something that is transparent and something that does not appear to many people to have politics written all over it.

Oops, the manic half of his manic-depression appears to be fading. Like a
Joyce Carol Oates character, he's going lethargic leading all to wonder, "What is he saying? What does he mean?" (Nod to JCO's "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?")

Chris Hill appears to be saying that without UN approval no candidates will be banned. And that if an Iraqi official doesn't like that, he can take the UN to court. That's what he appears to be saying.

But I've been on the phone with two friends at the UN and they say that's news to them. Not only is that news to them, Hill establishes that as 'reality' one minute and then appears to forget what he just said.

Seconds later McClatchy's Warren P. Strobel asks him about violence and how Allawi supporters are stating/worrying that violence could/would return if "the results of the accountability commission come back to where he's below Mr. Maliki." Do you understand what Strobel just said? It's fairly clear. But maybe it was lost on Hill? Strobel asked about Allawi being knocked out of the lead -- his party leads by two seats, remember -- if the accountability commission -- not a UN body nor a court of law in Iraq -- should ban or pull some of the ones elected on Allawi's slate. That was the question.

Here's Hill in full -- or, here's the fool in full:

Well, look, this is a country that has had a recent history with violence. I mean, we all know about the violence in Iraq. It's something we've all been very aware of for some time. So it is quite understandable that people look at this question, that people speculate about it, that the issue of violence gets raised in the news. I would say, however, that I would be careful, though, to suggest that a coalition that has won less than a third of the seats and clearly needs to reach out and get still another 80 percent of what the coalition is -- that is, Mr. Allawi's coalition has 91 seats. He needs at least another 70-plus seats if he's going to make a -- if he's going to be able to form a government. Well, I think his ability to do that will depend on his ability to work with coalitions, to decide who wants what ministry, to really sit down and negotiate. So I think this is really a political question and my sense is people understand that this is a political question. I think what is necessary at the end of the day, though, is to see that all elements of this society, whether it's Kurdish, whether it's Sunni, whether it's Shia or secular, that all of these people, all of these communities, really, have a potential to participate in the political life of this country. I think everyone is aware of this issue in this country. I mean, I don't hear of anyone saying, "Well, let's form a government and drop one significant group out of it." You don't hear any of that. So we'll have to see. We obviously monitor these things very carefully. We're very aware of the levels of violence. But so far, it is very much on a political track, which is where we want to keep it.

Whether it's Sunni, whether it's Shia -- forget Barbara Harris' character, now he's sounding like Miles Monroe in Sleeper when Miles believes he's in a Miss America contest. If Chris Hill told the truth (I know, I'm laughing too) the first time, then his reply to Strobel would have been consistent, he would have again replied that the UN would be the final say and that if someone was unhappy with the UN's decision they could go through the Iraqi courts. But he didn't say that. Chris Hill . . . At some point the chuckles fade and he just becomes an international embarrassment.

And if you doubt that, grasp that the idiot who didn't understand Kirkuk in his confirmation hearing, referred to it today in the press conference as "the so-called disputed internal boundary"? So-called? Baghdad claims it, the KRG claims it. It's disputed, moron, there's nothing in doubt about the fact that it's disputed. The only doubt is over whether the issue will be resolved (it was supposed to have been resolved three years ago). If it weren't for the fact that I sat through the idiot's confirmation hearing, I'd think he was trying to take sides with his choice of words but Hill -- and look at the rest of his answer -- clearly didn't and doesn't understand Kirkuk even after being the US Ambassador to Iraq for nearly a year now.

Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Tal Afar and 2 men were shot dead in front of their Mosul home.

Yesterday's snapshot covered the Commission on Wartime Conracting in Iraq and Afghanistan in DC. Kat covered it last night in "Commission on Wartime Contracting," Ava covered it at Trina's site with "Fraud and waste" and Wally covered it at Rebecca's site with "The arrogance and waste of KBR."

And we'll close with this from
Cindy Sheehan's "Peace Outlaws" (World Can't Wait):The day after I got out of jail, I decided to go to the Hill to attend a robotic warfare hearing and I quickly made a small sign that said: "Drones Kill Kids," and I was holding it quietly in my lap as I listened to the testimony. Holding small signs is generally tolerated, if you don't wave it, or hold it up and block anybody's view. Having no intention of interrupting the hearing since I was interested in the topic, I was surprised when a staffer of the Chairman, John Tierney, approached me and told me to put the sign away, or I would be kicked out, along with my colleague, Josh Smith who was sitting next to me and also holding a sign. I patiently explained to her that holding a sign was my right and I was being quiet and respectful. Sure enough, during the break, the Capital Hill police came to eject us from the hearing. The next day, we found out that Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were testifying on the 33 billion dollar supplemental war-funding bill. The hearing was changed from a Senate office building to the Capitol building and put into a small, small room. We decided that we would try to at least get close to the closed hearing to express our freedom of speech, so we headed to the Capitol and got in line at the visitor center. About eight of us were in line for about three minutes when a phalanx of Capitol Hill police (including motorcycle and bike cops) approached us and asked what our "intentions" were. I said that if they didn't ask everyone in line that same question, their presence and interrogation bordered on "harassment." A female cop averred that she didn't think it was "harassment"-- isn't that nice, a harasser doesn't think she's harassing? After standing in line to get in, then standing in line to get a ticket for the Capitol Hill tour, and then watching a movie about our wonderful Congress and the wonderful things it does and has done, (even bragging about the brutal Indian Removal Act of 1830) we got into the Capitol and were followed by the same phalanx of cops. At one point, I peeled off and went up a staircase and a member of our group heard a cop say: "oh, oh, we lost Cindy." Needless to say, we were all promptly rounded up and escorted out of the building.

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