Saturday, July 03, 2010

The folk dance scare

NPR distresses me more and more. It's objective should not be to spread falsehoods.

A report or 'report' by Marika Patridge on All Things Considered spread falsehoods. Click here for it online and note that there's no transcript yet but it should be up shortly.

It's a square dancing story, a story on contra dancing. As it unfolds, she includes a man making a statement (the only time he's heard) that it became popular after the "folk scare of the sixties."

What folk scare would that be?

I was laughing so hard, I was afraid I might miss Marika clarifying; however, she never corrected him and she included for that falsedhood.

For those who do not know, Pete Seeger (and others) were targeted by the McCarthy HUAC witch hunt. That was not the sixties.

In the sixties, Joan Baez did refuse to do ABC's folk show. She had guts then. She wasn't embracing counterinsurgency then. Today, she puts counterinsurgency on her night stand and uses it as a dildo. Piss Queen Joan Baez, oh, how the years have not been kind.

But in the sixties, she did refuse to guest on ABC's popular weekly folk show (Hullaballo?). Yes, folk was popular enough in the sixties to have a TV show. Folk music included Joan Baez, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Buffy St. Marie, Carolyn Hester, Judy Henske, Judy Collins, Donovan and many, many more.

But NPR was broadcasting a 'report' including the 'news' of some mythical folk scare taking place in the sixties.

Which really begs the question: Does anyone check these things before the broadcasts?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, July 2, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces deaths, Turkey drops bombs on northrn Iraq, the Pope calls for Iraqi Christians to be protected, new documents released by the Iraq Inquiry do not translate as 'good news' for Tony Blair, Amy Goodman whores for Harvard and counter-insurgency, and more.
Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD – Two U.S. Soldiers have died in unrelated non-combat incidents. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incidents are under investigation." If that's not the most s**t poor announcement USF/MNF has ever made, I don't know what is. When did the two die? Where did the two die? Why are those details not being supplied? Does anyone supervise these press releases? The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to
MICHELE NEFF HERNANDEZ: One of the things that they have in common is that moment when they heard the words that changed their lives, "We regret to inform you."
CLARK: That's Michele Neff Hernandez. She's President and Executive Director of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. It's a national support network for anyone grieving the loss of someone they love. The group holds its second "Camp Widow" next month in San Diego. Hernandez says the age of many military widows can make their plight more difficult.
HERNANDEZ: So many of them are very young and they also share the experience of having their grief set aside by people who assume that their age means they couldn't possibly be that affected by the loss of this love because certainly there's time for another. And there's nothing like being dismissed when you're grieving because it makes it seem as if what you're feeling doesn't matter. And if you want to take that one step further then does that mean that the death of this soldier doesn't matter because there is a family left behind grieving that loss no matter what age he was when he died.
CLARK: I'd like to introduce Taryn Davis. Her husband Michael was a combat engineer in the Army. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in May 2007. Taryn, how long had you and Michael been together and were you sort of this typical military wife we're talking about?
TARYN DAVIS: I wasn't the typical military wife while we were together for about 7 years, married for less than a year and a half when he was killed in Baghdag, Iraq. Besides the way that our husbands lose their lives which are very sudden and tragic ways. IEDs, rocket-propelled grenades, I mean, the age is a huge aspect of it. I believe that the average age of a soldier killed right now in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is around 26 or 27 and half of those serving are married. We're looking at a very young age as far as these widows go. I was 21 when Michael was killed and we had lived on a military base while he was stationed in Alaska, but I moved back home to finish school while he was deployed in Iraq and so I didn't really have that military community around me. Michael was signed on for three years in the military and honestly I was one of those people that thought he would die of old age. He would come back and if anything maybe it would be a freak accident like a car accident. I didn't think that his 22 years of life, that his vehicle would be hit by improvised explosive devices, killing himself and two other soldiers that day.
CLARK: For you, how did other military wives react to your news? Those wives whose husbands were still serving. You know, perhaps their worst nightmare you were living out.
DAVIS: You get different reactions. Those that are really supportive and want to be there and like with time kind of fade away. There's those that, you know, kind of feel like you're cursed and they don't want to be around you and fear that that might be their future. And so I mean the reactions are different.
Of interest to US audiences should be this section.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Something that has been described, I think, elsewhere, as the "engine having to run on hot for a long period" and also with negative impact on training as well as on rest, recuperation and indeed family life.
Trevor Woolley: Absolutely.
Tom McKane: I think the training point is certainly right. There was a real concern that the extent of the commitment would have meant that other forms of collective training, which would have been normally undertaken to prepare for other operations, weren't being done to the extent that they would otherwise have been.
Stretched too thin -- as were US forces. A large amount of the hearing -- especially questions by Committee Member Lawrence Freedman -- addressed economics and planning budgets. It was arcane and largely uninteresting. Hearings resume on Monday. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) ignores today's testimony to zoom in on released documents, "The Inquiry has published two new declassified documents today, relating to this morning's session on MoD resources. One is a small section of a letter sent jointly from Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon to Tony Blair on 19 March 2003 (a day before the invasion) on the issue of "Iraq: UK military Contribution to post-conflict Iraq". James Kirkup (Telegraph of London) explains:
In the letter, the ministers told Mr Blair that the British deployment would have to be scaled down quickly.
"It will be necessary to draw down our current commitment to nearer a third by no later than autumn in order to avoid long-term damage to the armed forces," the letter said. "Keeping more forces in Iraq would be outside our current defence planning assumptions.
Iraq yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from its cities. By the end of this summer, only 50,000 U.S. troops will be left in the entire country a country that now finds itself at a crossroads. While violence is down from the levels of 2006 and 2007, many Iraqis say the U.S. is leaving behind a nation that is at best a work in progress," declared Michele Norris on Thursday's All Things Considered (link has text and audio) in the lead in to a report by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But Iraq is a country with little to show for the billions of dollars spent and the lives lost, says Iraqi politician Mahmoud Othman. Four months after parliamentary elections, Iraq's fractious political parties are still negotiating over the formation of a government. It's an acrimonious and sectarian process. And Othman says the players seem to have little sense of anything other than their own narrow interests.
Mr. MAHMOUD OTHMAN (Politician, Iraq): They are not in touch with the people, these people. You look at them, where they are living. They are isolated from people. That's why I don't think they are moving. They don't feel the responsibility.
What has changed in all the years of the Iraq War? What's been improved? Not a damn thing.
The northern border of Iraq continues to be a hot zone of/magnet for violence. Reuters reports that Turkish military aircraft has again bombed northern Iraq with the target being the PKK and that today's bombings follow a clash in which 17 people died. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Six fighter aircraft violated Kurdistan region airspace early Friday, and bombarded three villages in Pishdar district, causing great material damages to homes, farms and livestock, without claiming human lives, said security authorities. The villages that were targeted lie on the shoulders of Mount Qindeel, where the members of the militant Kurd Labour Party, the PKK, take refuge."
The PKK is a rebel faction which fights (sometimes with similar groups of Kurdish rebels) for a Kurdish movement whose ultimate goal is a Kurdish homeland. The Kurdish issue in Turkey has always been problematic to put it mildly. Not only does the government not wish to turn over sovereignty to a region of Turkey primarily composed of Kurds, they do not wish to see any other country create an autonomous Kurdish region. The KRG in Iraq was thought to be more than the Turkish government would tolerate; however, they learned to. This 'adjustment' has not stopped them from conveying to the US that they would not tolerate a breaking up of Iraq that created a Kurdish country (i.e. made the KRG an independent country and not part of Iraq). Some MidEast observers believe that if and when the Palestinian homeland issue is resolved, the Kurdish question would/will be the driving issue for the region.

The Bush administration made statements that a peace was being brokered, being worked on, blah blah blah. Months would pass, the statements forgotten, then violence would break out again. Suddenly the Bush administration would insist they were planning a new way to address the issue. The Obama adminstration has not done a better job on the issue. Which is why a columnist for Hurriyet is already questioning the 'value' of the recent face-to-face meeting between US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kadri Gursel (Hurriyet) wonders if NATO needs to be brought in? The US government shares 'intelligence' with the Turkish government which includes surveillance video of the mountains in northern Iraq (where the PKK has set up base camps). Though bombings from above have gone on for years now, last month saw the Turkish military repeatedly enter Iraq in violation of the country's sovereignty. If Nouri al-Maliki, acting prime minister, gave permission for the invasion, he's been silent on that fact -- no doubt realizing that such an admission would destroy any chance he had at continuing as Iraq's prime minister. Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports, "Families in the dusty mountain border town of Cukurca have grown used to waking every night to the booming sound of artillery shelling and mortar fire echoing in the surrounding hills as troops and separatist guerrillas trade fire."

Nouri's efforts to remain prime minister coincide with further targeting of various groups in Iraq and that includes Sahwa -- also known as the "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq." Yesterday on Morning Edition (NPR), Isra Alubei'i reported (link has text and audio) on the targeting of Sahwa: "Across this Iraqi province, officials, religious leaders and ordinary Iraqis say they are furious over what they say are signs that Iraq's Shiite-led government has been targeting Sunnis. The most recent incident: At least six Sunni detainees died while in custody in Baghdad. The government's version is that they suffocated while being transferred in a poorly ventilated bus. But the families of the victims say the men were clearly subject to torture and abuse. At the wake in Fallujah, Valliv Jamabi(ph) clutches the prisoner ID of his son, Mushtak(ph). Valliv says on the very day he was told his son would be released, a second message arrived informing him that his 35-year-old son, a father of two kids, had died in custody. Valliv says marks on his body clearly showed that the government's contention that he died of suffocation was a lie."
Among the many other at risk populations in Iraq? Iraqi Christians. Today Iraq dispatched their Ambassador to the Vatican, Mohammed Hadi Ali al-Sadr, to see the Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican Radio reports:
Speaking specifically to the plight of Christians in Iraq, Pope Benedict noted that, although they are a small minority of the country's population, they have a valuable contribution to make to its reconstruction and economic recovery through their educational and healthcare apostolates, while their engagement in humanitarian projects provides much-needed assistance in building up society. If they are to play their full part, however, Iraqi Christians need to know that it is safe for them to remain in or return to their homes, and they need assurances that their properties will be restored to them and their rights upheld."
In conclusion, Pope Benedict said it is his earnest hope that Iraq will emerge from the difficult experiences of the past decade as a model of tolerance and cooperation among Muslims, Christians and others in the service of those most in need.

Catholic News Agency quotes the Pope stating that "All Iraqis have a part to play in building a just, moral and peaceable environment." Catholic Culture adds, "In closing his remarks, the Pontiff reminded the Iraqi envoy that the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops will be devoted to the situation in the Middle East, and the prospects for peaceful cooperation among the religious groups of the region."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting new MP Abdulkereem Muhammed (of Iraqiya) which left him wounded, Reuters notes that Sunni cleric Imam Abdul Aleem al-Saadi was shot dead in Ramadi today.
Meanwhile Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) interviews the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno. Odierno's talking points have all been heard before. They're also incredibly facile and show a total lack of understanding with regards to terrorism. You kill one terrorist, you make many more. You don't combat terrorism with violence. You may be able to use violence as a stalling tactic, but in a longterm picture, violence and only violence just fuels further terrorism.

Which is why Odierno's pronouncements and the similar ones that Petraeus made before him ever year, never turn out to be true.

Odierno wants the world to know that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia faces financing hardships -- apparently, they'll be holding a telethon shortly? No, they don't face anything. You kill off one backer or arrest another, more sprout in their place. The reasons for terrorism are not addressed via violence. The reasons terrorism breeds are not addressed in violence.

Whether Odierno grasps that or not, I have no idea. But his statements are not encouraging to anyone thinking the US government might know how to 'combat' terrorism. Nor does this DoD press release.
Turning to Rolling Stone. How much of a dumb ass is Amy Goodman? Dumb ass or tool, let's face it, the little whore's not going to take on Harvard. She doesn't have any real guts as she repeatedly demonstrated when publicly lapping up CounterTerrorism guru Samantha Power and then raving and panting -- as though she was masturbating on air -- after the interview during a never ending fundraiser for WBAI about how Power would be and should be the next Secretary of State. As Goody found out, jerk-off fantasies make bring jollies but they rarely pan out in the real world. Yesterday she had Michael Hastings on her increasinly pathetic program that soaks up way too much Pacifica money for what is a cheaply made show. (Most of the money hits Goody's bank account.) We're not linking to the trash. You can Google Democracy Now! and find Thursdays show. The little whore Goody isn't going to take on anything that matters. This is the whore who trashed NPR for refusing to carry the commentaries of a death row prisoner and then . . . stopped carrying the commentaries because she was going to be pulled from NPR stations.
So the little whore offered a gossip session: 'Mikey, what do you really think of Lara Logan? You know she's pretty and I'm ugly so I hate her.' Barack dumped Stanley McCrystal (then top US commander in Afghanistan) as a result of Michael Hastings' article. There are two ways you can go with that. Barack -- as he did with Jeremiah Wright -- dumped McCrystal because he will accept nothing less than unquestioning devotion. An argument can be made for that. It may be why McCrystal was fired. But it's also true the big story of the article included something else:
From the start, McChrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states. COIN calls for sending huge number of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation's government -- a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve. The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. In 2006, after Gen. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory [C.I. note, Hastrings is wrong,it's a "hypothesis" -- when you don't get science right you aid in the creationinst battle, I didn't enlist to fight against science, Petraeus had a hypothesis, he did not have a theory. Evolution is a theory, it's is not a hypothesis. It has been repeatedly tested. People need to learn the difference between theory and hypothesis and chose the words carefully] during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcover following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials. Nicknamed "COINdinists" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan. All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savy to implement it.
Enter Petraeus. Now the above excerpt is not buried in the long article, nor is that the only mention of counter-insurgency. It's been spelled "counter-insurgency" for a long, long time. Check the history books. The latest Nazi War Criminals promoting it thought they'd make it one word without the hyphen. It was used to attack the Vietnamese, it was used to attack the Native Americans in what is now the US. In Avatar, James Cameron exposed the hypocrisy and foolishness of the destructive strategy.
He exposed it and that's why Thomas E. Ricks pissed his panties in public and then stuffed down his own mouth. Thomas E. Ricks couldn't take the reality of what his whoring (he's no longer a journalist) and the whoring of others is doing. As they whore and promote counter-insurgency, they promote death and destruction. It's always been that way and it's why each generation has condemned counter-insurgency in the US. However, it's been able to get by with very little criticism for the last years. Partly because whores like Amy Goodman won't question it. The Iraq War passed the seven year mark in March and Whore Amy Goodman has never, EVER, done a report on counter-insurgency.
You think that's an accident. Hell no. The whore won't take on Harvard. Harvard -- specifically the Carr Center -- is where the destruction comes from. It's where Samantha Power and Sarah Sewall and all the other little whores of counter-insurgency tend to spring from. To those who embrace counter-insurgency and those who look the other way, I have no pity for you, I have no sympathy for you. I know that your actions are making the personal hell that you will be confined to and I am very happy about that because, throughout the ages, counter-insurgency has always been found to be unethical. You can pretty it up, you can tart it up, it's still a crime against a people and it always will be.
Goody likes to cover her Guantanamo psychologists, doesn't she? But whore won't go after COIN. In the case, of the Guantanamo doctors, there's no question that crimes took place; however, what really matters is that Goody knows she doesn't have to go up against any powerful institution. Harvard, however, scares Amy Goodman. So the whores who plot the murders and deaths of civilians and cultures get away without their crimes without any tut-tuting from Amy Goodman. The little whore spent twenty minutes -- TWENTY MINUTES -- with Michael Hastings and never asked about counter-insurgency. She did have time to ask about Lara Logan. What a whore. Last week, Timothy Hsia's "Rolling Stone Article's True Focus: Counterinsurgency" was up at the New York Times website:
The Rolling Stone profile on Gen. Stanley A. McChyrstal has made civil-military relations a national debate. But an equally important question raised by the article is the limitations of counterinsurgency, or COIN. The article by Michael Hastings article should not be read simply as a profile of a general but also as an indictment on counterinsurgency and the growing dissatisfaction inside the military with COIN theory and its practice in war (though General McChrystal's replacement on Wednesday, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the leading proponent of counterinsurgency, seemed to indicate there would be no immediate shift away from the strategy).
Those in favor of continued resolve in Afghanistan argue that counterinsurgency is a manpower intensive strategy which requires broadened time horizons, and that it is the approach that will finally correct previous missteps made in Afghanistan. Hastings writes, "COIN … is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states."
And Revolution magazine (via World Can't Wait) tackled the real issues in "The Firing of a War Criminal.... And the Criminal War in Afghanistan :"

COIN is meant to address these problems. This strategy, modeled on the genocidal U.S. war in Vietnam, relies more on massive ground troops, in conjunction with air strikes. It involves taking and occupying large swaths of territory, killing insurgents, and then trying to form alliances with reactionary local forces in order to establish pro-U.S. governance. It aims to "win the hearts and minds" of civilians -- hoping they will not aid, abet and join the forces fighting the United States. It is billed as a "kinder, gentler" occupation, but in reality it is no less brutal and murderous -- and NOT in the interests of the people.
COIN is supposed to minimize civilian casualties. But in reality this has hardly been the case. In fact, in 2009, civilian casualties in Afghanistan climbed to their highest number since the start of the war. (UN Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009)
A basic contradiction here is that the U.S. military is an occupying army -- its mission by definition is brutal and murderous and the more it bombs, murders, tortures, etc., the more it alienates the people. A central goal of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is subduing -- by any means necessary -- a population in which most don't want to be under foreign domination. Thousands of people in Afghanistan have experienced the brutality and murder of the U.S. troops and they distrust if not hate the American occupiers and the Afghani flunkies the U.S. put in the government. Night raids, special operations, covert assassinations, extrajudicial killings, drone strikes, the use of military contractors, massive detentions and torture, and all-around terror are embedded in the nature of this imperialist occupation. And every U.S. bombing of a wedding, every massacre of civilians, only fuels anti-U.S. sentiment -- no matter how hard the U.S. tries to "win hearts and minds" by building a few schools.
Last Friday, brought the good news of the possible replacement for US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. Laura Rozen (Politico) reports today that Hill will be going to Denver and be the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at Denver University. It's the perfect post for Hill, he's a mere figurehead and it allows him to continue the tradition Mad Maddie Albright's father started of infecting everyone with Blood Lust. It's a lust, it must be noted, that has taken over the US Congress. In the 2006 campaigning, they said, "Give us one house of Congress, we'll stop the Iraq War." They got both houses, control of both houses and the wars continue to drag on. Andrew Aylward (San Francsico Chronicle) reports the US House of Representatives just voted on YET ANOTHER SUPPLEMENTAL, this one pouring $33 billion more into the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. War Hawk and War Whore David Obey spread for $16.7 billion in domestic spending -- that's what his vote cost. Though we all know David Sirota we'll thump his sunken chest in defense of his mentor and whatever else they were to one another. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is no War Hawk and she's gearing up for more peace action:
Last week, when I was preparing to go to New Orleans for the Emergency Meeting for the disaster in the Gulf, my youngest daughter, and mother of my two precious grandbabies, said:
"Mom, why do you all keep doing this stuff when it doesn't work?"
All I had to do was look at my innocent and darling grandbabies -- as darling as this little Afghan baby -- to know why I keep "doing this stuff."
Life is so precious and tenuous and it seems like US foreign policy is becoming more demented as the Gulf of Mexico is being destroyed by greed, incompetence and criminal negligence. And, like the president said at a recent press conference in Toronto, Canada–I am "obsessed" with ending the wars, and I might even add that I have a compulsion to do everything I can to make that happen.
Now, I am getting ready to head back across the country for 16 days of protest in the capital of the Empire.
JUST ADDED: July 3th (Saturday): END THE FED! DC Federal Reserve Building


No more wars for oil and natural resources! No more polluting our sea, air and landfills! BOYCOTT BP!!!
July 4th (Sunday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm
– group to flyer, bullhorn in Lafayette Park and in front of the White House until dark
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet


For this week, Peace of the Action will primarily be targeting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle display (educating the public about the horrific toll UAVs take) and drone manufacturers and lobbyists. (The Free Gaza/Free Palestine action has been inserted into this week because of the recent announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House.)
July 5th (Monday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to protest at White House against coming pre-emptive American/Israeli attack on Iran
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet
July 6th (Tuesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to (TBA) location for FREE PALESTINE! protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet
July 7th (Wednesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to Congress and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet
July 8th (Thursday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to General Atomics and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet
Actually, we have room to squeeze in one more thing, Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and has written the book Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. She and others will be taking part in a peace celebration Sunday:

Public Reading of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,
the Declaration of Independence, and Yoko Ono Statement

by Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press '08)

There will always be Independence Day parades, picnics, and fireworks, but there is only one Reading of the Constitution, to be held in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, this coming July 4, starting at noon. For the fourth year in a row, famed civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, and his friends will read portions of the U.S. Constitution aloud, interspersed with comments from Siegel and other constitutional authorities on the status of certain amendments today. THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND!!

"The 4th of July is a special day for all Americans and New Yorkers. We look forward to reading out loud and discussing our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence to demonstrate that these unique principles and values should be remembered at this time," said Siegel.

Americans have seen many of our Constitutional rights trampled upon in recent years, and it is Siegel's hope that a review and analysis of the Bill of Rights and some of the important Constitution amendments will encourage people to fight to protect those rights guaranteed in the document which is the basis of our democracy.

Mr. Siegel will be accompanied, as in the three previous years of the Reading, by the granny contingent -- Grandmothers Against the War, the Raging Grannies, and the Granny Peace Brigade, which he defended in 2005 when they were on trial for attempting to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruiting center. It is no surprise that after a six-day trial in criminal court, they were all acquitted, helped by the expert defense of Mr. Siegel and his co-attorney, Earl Ward.

This unique commemoration began 42 years ago when Mr. Siegel started, alone, to read the Constitution to himself every July 4 wherever he was. In 2007, the grannies promoted the idea to him of making it an annual public event in the beautiful and tranquil oasis, Strawberry Fields, donated to New York City by Yoko Ono in memory of her husband, John Lennon.

Many people turned out for the event all three years, and thus began a beautiful and inspiring tradition, which, it is hoped, will continue on indefinitely as a regular Only in New York feature. It is thought that it may be not only a one-of-a-kind July 4 celebration in New York, but perhaps in the entire United States.

Yoko Ono has always been enthusiastic about the Reading and wrote a statement and poem to be read aloud each year in honor of the occasion. It will be read again this year.

DATE: July 4, 2010
TIME: 12 o'clock noon
PLACE: Strawberry Fields, Central Park -- enter park at W. 72nd St.., follow the sign down
a short path

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sharon Smith is such a s**t

I've talked about Sharon Smith here before. She's the insane lady at (US) Socialist Worker. She gets nuttier each year.

Dumb Sharon read "US (SR) Socialist Worker (Parody)" and "Excerpt: A People's History of Children's Stories" and it hurt her itty bitty feelings. Why! Why!

She was wailing that no one should make fun of Howard Zinn.

I didn't realize he was her Uncle Joe Stalin.

My bad.

I thought he was a human being.

(As noted many times here, I knew Howard Zinn.)

We must not have fun in Sharon's "ISO" world. (She's convinced the whole thing was based on Howard Zinn's support for "ISO" when the whole thing took place because it's, pay attention, a parody. Stupid ___ that is Sharon.)

It was parody and it's damn funny.

If she can't get into it that's her short coming.

But Jim forwarded me the nasty little note nasty little Sharon wrote (Ava, C.I. and I wrote the Howard Zinn piece) and I'm furious at that ___.

Sharon's nothing but a whore who sells out supposed beliefs.

Indeed, that was at the root of the parody.

That's why we did the parody. As documented here, at this site, for weeks and weeks, Socialist Worker is out of touch, ridiculous and a Barack Obama chamber. It's nonsense and they've had so many factual errors on top of everything else.

So Sharon didn't like it. There will be a response in full at Third on Sunday but my attitude right now is, "F**k you, prig."

You didn't have to like it. But you didn't have a right to accuse people of things you know nothing about -- things we've written repeatedly of at the site.

But check out Third on Sunday when we deconstruct the F**ked Up 'Mind' of Sharon Smith.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate may be ending, the Iraq Inquiry releases a number of previously classified documents, the US Congress hears about the ethically challenged Office of General Counsel for the VA, and more.

Iraq Inquiry continued today in London. Today's big news wasn't the witnesses offering testimony before the Inquiry chaired by John Chilcot, it was documents the Inquiry released. Sarah Gordon (Sky News) explains that the Inquiry released "classified documents" which included England's then-Attorney General Peter Goldsmith offering his legal advice with regards to a proposed war with Iraq including, "I remain of the view that the correct legal interpretation of resolution 1441 is that it does not authorise the use of military force without a further determination by the Security Council." Paul Waugh (London Evening Standard) adds, "The Cabinet Office published Lord Goldsmith's first draft of his legal advice and confirmed that he had serious doubts about the legality of the conflict without a fresh UN mandate." If it's getting complicated, the Inquiry wanted to release the document, it was classified and they needed approval from the Cabinet Office. Civil Service head Gus O'Donnell, in a June 25th letter to the Inquiry, explained why the papers could be released:

Nonetheless, the Iraq Inquiry was established with the purpose of learning lessons from how decidions were made and which actions were taken in the run-up to conflict, during the conflict and in its aftermath. The question of the legal base for military action and how the advice that led to the Government's view on this developed is consequently a central part of the Inquiry's work. In this light, I have noted the extent to which the form Attorney General covered these issues in detail during this evidence to the Inquiry on 27 January.

Peter Biles (BBC News) explains, "The 27 pages, each one with the words 'secret' or 'confidential' struck out, were distributed without ceremony." These are the previously classified documents which the Inquiry made public today:

30.07.02 Goldsmith advice to Prime Minister re: Iraq
18.10.02 AGO note of the Goldsmith/Straw telecom
18.10.02 FCO note of the Goldsmith/Straw telecom
11.11.02 AGO note of the Goldsmith/Powell telecom
19.12.02 AGO note of meeting at No.10
14.01.03 Attorney General's draft advice to Prime Minister
30.01.03 Goldsmith note to Prime Minister
12.02.03 Goldsmith draft advice
26 March 2003 - Minute from Goldsmith to the PM entitled "Iraq authorisation for an interim administration"

Appearing before the Inquiry
January 27th, Goldsmith agreed that in the days right before the invasion, he flipped his legal advice but he denied that he did so as a result of pressure from Blair and others. His denial may have been the weakest thing to be paraded before the Inquiry since it began. It was in that hearing that Chair John Chilcot publicly expressed "frustration" over the refusal of the government (then led by Gordon Brown) to allow the Inquiry to release documents which were classified. Now that the documents are released and Goldsmith's testimony appears even shakier when examining those documents, that "frustration" may have been a subtle warning to Goldsmith i.e., "Be careful what you say because we have the documents and are currently unable to release them but that may change." Change? Goldsmith based his objection on war without a second resolution on the law. When he flipped days before the invasion, he didn't look to the law. He declared that his decision was based upon a game starting and his need to choose whose side he wanted to be on. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) observes, "At first sight, the most significant document is a memo from Goldsmith to Blair dated 30 January 2003 making this point. The next day, it has been revealed, Blair told George Bush that Britain was committed to the war." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) works through the new documents and the old one and focuses mainly on Blair's January 31, 2003 trip to DC where he met with Bush and Bush informed him that there would be no second resolution. Blair raised no objections and did not even mention Goldsmith's legal opinion which was that without a second United Nations resolution, the war would be illegal. He instead, according to documents, "said he was solidly with the president." Rosa Prince (Telegraph of London) adds that "Lord Goldsmith was repeatedly told that his formal advice about the legality of an invasion was not welcome" and that " Lord Goldsmith repeatedly made clear that he had concerns about the legality of an invasion." Tony Blair was the Prime Minister of England when the illegal war began. Minutes to a December 2002 meeting were released (the Iraq War begins in March 2003 with the invasion) and they quote Blair's Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell. Gordon Brown, Mohammed Abbas and Michael Roddy (Reuters) quote Powell stating, "At the other extreme, the U.S. becomes(s) frustrated with the UN process and decide(s) to take military action regardless, i.e. without UN support. There would be no question of the UK supporting military action in the event of (this) scenario."

Today the Inquiry heard from
Michael Hastings Jay who was the Permanent Under Secretary, the UK's Mission to the UN legal counsellor Ian MacLeod and the Legal Counsellor, Legal Secretariat to the Law offices from 2002 to 2005 Cathy Adams (link goes to transcript and video options -- unless otherwise noted, all quotes come from the transcript).

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: You became Permanent Secretary in January 2002 and that was a moment with regard to Iraq where it was becoming clear that the approach of the United States Government to the issue was changing. At the end of January, President Bush gave his Axis of Evil speech, for example, and other indications were coming through different channels that the Americans were beginning to think very seriously about possible actions against Iraq. At this time, when you came in, say around February 2002, what was the impression that you and your colleagues had in the Foreign Office of American policy, the American approach to Iraq?

Michael Hastings Jay: We though that there was clearly serious concern about Iraq. There was clearly, in the United States, a growing sense that there was an opportunity to deal with Iraq and I think those of us in the Foreign Office thinking about these things were concerened that this was going to be a very difficult issues for us to handle. I don't think at that stage we were on the same line really, as the United States were.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: What do you recall as being the reactions of the then Prime Minister [Blair] and the then Foreign Secretary [Jack Straw] to these indications, that Washington was moving Iraq up to the top of the priority list and maybe really seeing Iraq as the target for action?

Michael Hastings Jay: I can speak more of the Foreign Secretary than I can for the Prime Minister. The Foreign Secretary's view as -- I think the Foreign Secretary's reaction to the Axis of Evil speech, which was criticised, as far as I remember, by President Bush, was that this was for domestic political reasons as much as for foreign policy reasons. I don't think at that stage the prospect of a conflict, as it later turned out, was very much at the top of our minds. I should say that, at the beginning of 2002, I was myself getting myself into the job. Iraq was one of a large number of issues I was dealing with. It was not at the top of my own agenda at the beginning of 2002. I was travelling a lot, I was meeting everybody, I was getting to know what the job involved, and Iraq at that stage was a difficult issue but no more difficult than many of the issues that we were dealing with.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: By the middle of that year, after you had been in the job for half a year, where would Iraq have stood on the Foreign Office's list of priority issues?

Michael Hastings Jay: I think it rose up during the first half of 2002. It rose up the agenda, but it would be wrong to think it was always at the top of the agenda.

Asked about Blair and Bush, Michael Hastings Jay declared, "I had the impression that he [Blair] had his own views on how he should deal with his relationship with President Bush. It was not how I would have dealt with President Bush, but I was not Prime Minister and there were things said and things done and maybe commitments half-given which I would not myself has given, but that was a part of his relationhip with President Bush. That was how he felt, as I understood it, he was best able to influence President Bush."

Committee Member Martin Gilbert brought up Jeremy Greenstock who told the Inquiry that he had talked to Michael Hastings Jay about the possibility that England might go to war without any UN resolution at all -- not even 1441 which the UN did pass (and it allowed weapons inspectors back into Iraq). MHJ stated he did not remember such a conversation and that the possibility wasn't being addressed. After the UN Security Council passed 1441, Greenstock told the Committee that there was strong debate as to whether a second resolution might weaken 1441 and whether or not a second resolution should be pursued. Michael Hatings Jay agreed there was debate over whether or not to seek a second resolution. He also stated that talk of a timetable -- particularly by the US -- influenced the decision to go to war.

Michael Hastings Jay: It created a deadline in the sense that we kept hearing that it would get too hot around March/Aprli and tanks wouldn't work and therefore, we had to have a decision on the diplomatic process, whether it would continue or not by then. I never fully understood that argument. It seemed to me that tanks operate in whatever condition in whatever part of the world and that they have done over the years, but it was clearly a view strongly felt and strongly put and did act, without any question at all, as a constraint on the negotiating process.

Shortly after that MHJ would declare that decisions were also made based on the belief or possibility that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons -- and he stopped, noted the look on Committee Member Lawrence Freedman's face, stated "I withdraw that" and corrected himself with "chemical biological weapons." Why the slip? There were no nuclear weapons. (Though Bully Boy Bush did love to refer to "a mushroom cloud.") Why the slip? Did his department sit around fantasizing? This was a key player in the leadup to the Iraq War and it's rather distressing that, had Freedman not had an expression of disbelief ("A little too far," he told MHJ) than MHJ might have continued down that fanciful -- if fact-free -- line.

Committee Member Usha Prashar pursued his statement that his department needed "a clear statement from the Attorney General on the legality of the war" and she wanted to know when that statement was conveyed. Michael Hastings Jay appeared to stumble for an answer and began falling back on meetings -- listing them -- informal that he had already gone over which really had nothing to do with when they got the legal verdict from the AG. His verbal gymanstics ended with, "I could not see how the staff we had in the region could be -- how they could be acting, if they were not doing so on the basis of a legal -- legal advice which said that what they were doing, the support they were giving the troops was in accordance with international law." In other words, though Michael Hastings Jay testified that he and his department needed a statement from the AG, in fact, no statement was conveyed as to the legality of the war and MHJ surmised it was legal by the fact that British staff remained in the region. Pressed on this topic of legality by Committee Member Lynne, MHJ insisted, "I'm not a lawyer. I didn't see it as my job to question the advice that lawyers were giving."

MHJ then went into Drama Queen mode as Committee Member Gilbert turned to the post-war. They wanted to influence, MHJ whined, but "there was a pretty incoherent state of mind in the United States administration at that point." If you dozed off in the midst of the Drama, he returned to the point, "But it was a rather incoherent state in Washington at that time, and it was not -- and we were, of course, in any way the junior partner." It's so rarely any British official's fault. This one today wanted to whine about the "incoherent state" -- seriously? Because if a government is in an incoherent state -- here's the obvious question -- why did you partner up with them for war?

There was nothing more, Michael Hastings Jay wanted the Committee to know, that he and others could have done. Through several rounds, he babbled about that apparently embracing victimhood status as if it were a full length mink, tugging it around his shoulders. Around the point that Committee Member Roderic Lyne was explaining to him that "we" would be the British government and he was replying back that "-- it was not, after all, the United Kingdom that was running the show. It was the Americans basically running it," that you knew he wasn't much for accountability. Like so many, he blamed Paul Bremer. Who knew Paul Bremer was so all powerful? Bremer screwed up -- on his own and on the orders of the White House. We don't defend Bremer here. Except when foreign governments want to act as if they had to take orders from him. The US and the UK were the lead partners in the illegal war. But to hear the UK officials tell it, they'd rather have been painting their nails but the boys drove by in the jalopy and said "Let's go get burgers!" and there wasn't anything else to do, so they just went along.
Andrew Sparrow is live blogged the Inquiry for the Guardian.

Yesterday's witnesses included former British Ambassador to France John Holmes.
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:Tony Blair repeatedly blamed Jacques Chirac, the then French president, for the failure to get a second security council resolution -- something most senior government lawyers, including at first the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, agreed was needed if the invasion was to be lawful. The claim was repeated in evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, notably by Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time of the invasion. Straw pointed to a television interview Chirac gave on 10 March 2003, less than two weeks before the invasion.Straw claimed Chirac had made it clear France would not back a fresh UN resolution "whatever the circumstances". Straw added: "I don't think there was any ambiguity." Asked what his view was of Chirac's intervention, Sir John Holmes, British ambassador to France at the time, replied: "The words are clearly ambiguous." Holmes and his refuting of previous claims and testimony is the big story for the British media from yesterday's public testimony; however, Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) observes, "Today's papers have quite limited coverage of yesterday's resumption of public hearings, which is no doubt an indicator that media interest has waned since the election." Chris' report on yesterday's hearing includes this:On the issue of why attorney general Lord Goldsmith could not, as he claimed, have asked the French directly about the history of negotiating UN resolution 1441, Holmes said: "I don't see why he couldn't have done." This direct answer exposes Goldsmith more clearly than ever to the charge that his trip to Washington in early 2003 was not an objective fact finding mission but a one-sided process of having his arm twisted in a particular direction. Holmes made very clear what has always been obvious, that the French were unwilling to sign up to a second UN resolution in early 2003 because it was clear that the US was going to go to war imminently come what may and that they and Britain were simply looking for legal cover. He made clear that if Britain had been able to offer a different timetable, the French could well have supported a new resolution, albeit one that did not authorise war without a further assessment of Iraq's compliance. The other news of yesterday's hearing includes a written statement the Inquiry was given. The Telegraph of London reports, "Paul Kernaghan, Association of Chief Police Officers lead on international affairs from 2000 to 2008, revealed today that he prohibited British police seconded to train their Iraqi counterparts from using the Land Rovers." Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video) reports on yesterday's other witness offering oral testimony before the Inquiry, "Douglas Brand, former deputy chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, criticised the lack of support he received, including the Foreign Office's failure to give him bodyguards for his first three weeks in Iraq. He also highlighted a missed opportunity to model Iraqi intelligence on British lines because the UK would not send out an experienced Special Branch manager."

Turning to Iraq,
Zahraa Alkhalisi, Caroline Alexander and Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) report that the State Of Law and Iraqi National Alliance are stating they have decided on a candidate for prime minister . . . they just aren't sharing with anyone who they've selected. Other things not shared are Iraq's history with students. Tim Arango (New York Times) reports the schools and the colleges don't teach about Saddam Hussein and they officially avoid the Iraq War but:When the war is mentioned in class, some teachers change the subject quickly. But others see a need to encourage discussion, even if it is beyond the bounds of what they are told to teach. "Sometimes we need to have a discussion about it," said Wasan Mahmod, a teacher at Al Ahrar, a secondary school for girls in Baghdad. "When I mention the American invasion, I say occupation, not liberation." Hutham Hussein, who teaches modern European history, said, "Where there is a discussion of colonization, I bring up the American invasion." "We speak about French colonization, British colonization," she said. "Why not talk about the American colonization?"

Violence always gets 'shared' (with those not living in the Green Zone).


Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two people injured, a Mosul car bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and injured another and a Mosul roadside bombing which injured a prisoner being transported by the police. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting Tha'ir al Zubaidi ("senior media officer at the Parliament") who was not wounded,


Reuters reports a Baghdad armed clash in which 2 police officers were killed and a third wounded. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed attack on a Falluja medical compound 1 police officer and his two brothers were killed while his wife was injured, one assailant was shot and -- once in the hospital -- he detonated a bomb and wounded four people.

Reuters reports 1 corpse (female, "signs of torture") discovered in Kirkuk. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sabri Abu Adnan's corpse was discovered in Basra (he was kidnapped Sunday).

Moving over to the United States.

Chair Harry Mitchell: You mentioned at the very beginning, all the great satisfaction reports you've received from your clients. Who are your clients? They're not veterans are they?

Will Gunn: Sir, we do not directly serve veterans, you're correct.

Chair Harry Mitchell: Who are your clients?

Will Gunn: Ultimately my client is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. And so as the department's top lawyer, my job is to make sure that the Secretary is well armed.

How every nice for Gunn. Chair Mitchell had to provide that walk through for clarity and it may have been necessary (my opinion is that it was necessary) because Gunn's opening remarks appeared to portray his work as "service" and "continued service" to veterans when, no, that is not who he serves. Along with confusing that aspect -- apparently deliberately -- Gunn wanted to declare that their "customers" had rated them 4.75 on a scale (with 5.0) being the highest in customer feedback. But those customers, as Chair Mitchell established, were not veterans.

Chair Mitchell was holding a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing to provide some sort of evaluation of the Office of General Counsel -- of which Gunn is a part. The hearing was made up of two panels. On the first panel was attorney Matthew B. Tully (
Tully Rinckey PPLC) who painted a disturbing picture. Disturbing but at least two Subcommittee members (not the Chair) grabbed onto the safety line of a 'few bad apples.'

Tully allowed that the problems did appear to be from a few bad apples but cautioned that these apples have been in the OGC for some time. Tully outlined how the law was broken (that's my judgment, not his, he was very cautious and calibrated in his testimony). For example, altering the date on an official government document. That is breaking the law -- altering an official government document is breaking the law and that's before you get into the intent which was to 'protect' the VA. Ranking Member David Roe pointed out that in a court case, altering a medical document would automatically get the case kicked out.Tully agreed and pointed out that there was no ethics check, that there was no place within the OGC for people to report problems. He painted a portrait of a legal arm with no oversight and no accountability.

From Tully's opening remarks:

For example, a fellow attorney had witnesses privately badgered by a VA lawyer prior to a hearing. A VA lawyer threatened disciplinary action against VA employee witnesses if their testimony did not conform to the agency's desires. In my firm's dealing with the VA's Office of General Counsel, VA lawyers had utilized numerous litigation tactics that would have been -- or would have made the lawyers for BP, AIG or Enron proud. In one case earlier this year, our client was demoted based on charges of misconduct and our firm appealed to the -- appealed the VA decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board The VA lawyer in this case failed to respond to our discovery request and even our motion to compel discovery. This unprofessional conduct translated into greater financial cost for our client due to the VA's tactics.

Gunn was wrong about who his client was. As Tully would explain on the first panel (possibly Gunn was snoozing or texting?), the OGC serves the tax payers, its responsibility is to fairness and to the tax payers. It's refusal to grasp that is why it gets into so much trouble (this is me not Tully) by taking sides in battles they shouldn't take sides in and changing official records which just cannot do.

Matthew Tully: The VA attorneys have an obligation not to the manager that is involved in the employment dispute but to the tax payers and to the government as a whole. I am a legal mercenary. I go to the highest bidder and I do my best to protect the people that retain me. The VA attorneys do very similar things but that's not their job. Their job is to protect the tax payers. Their job is to make sure justice is done. And routinely in these EEOC cases, in particular, they spend a great deal of time trying to protect the manager that allegedly -- and has often been proven -- to have engaged in unlawful conduct versus doing what was right for the person who was subjected to injustice.

Mitchell asked about financial penalities for this behavior and Tully explained that there was none but if this were a federal court manner -- not an OGC -- he could face fines and disbarment.

Tully was panel one. Panel two was the OGC's General Counsel Will Gunn. If the above didn't disturb you, this might. The discussions? Completely knew to Gunn who told Mitchell he found out about these problems just an hour before the hearing. Apparently, the OGC told him he'd be testifying but forgot to tell him what about? Is that the story he's gong for? If so it makes him look even more out of touch of an out of control agency. For someone who only learned of the problems an hour before the hearing, he must have spent at least 40 minutes writing that opening statement. Or, are we to believe, he just has 'customer feedback scores' and other data memorized? (Why did he need to look at the paper in front of him repeatedly if that is the case?) More importantly, you're not allowed to make an opening statement if you haven't submitted it ahead of time. You can't show up day of the hearing and say, "Here's my prepared remarks.'' You have to submit them to the committee or subcomittee ahead of time. Is no one supposed to notice that either?

We'll note this exchange.

Chair Harry Mitchell: You know there have been times in the past where the VA frequently declines to produce a witness either requested to testify at hearings or brief Subcommittees. And the OGC's guidance often gets cited as the reason for not producing witnesses at either hearings or briefings. Two questions. What role does OGC play in the VA deciding who either testifies or briefs the Subcommittee and does the OGC provide an opinion when the VA refuses to produce certain information as requested by Congress or through the public?

Will Gunn: Sir, with respect to the first issue in terms of, uh, whether or not OGC plays a role in who will testify, I will say "no." We do not see ourselves as having a role with respect to that. In terms of the second issue, we do play a role in terms of providing to requests for documents and our advice is focused on two things. What can we, uh, provide, what is permissable? And secondly, what are we required to provide?

So he opens as the big veteran and big veteran defender, citing military code and how he has to be his best and he's going to make those civilians under him be their best and blah blah blah but it really all comes down to "what are we required to provide?" Not the bluster he was shining on in his opening remarks.

The Republican side of the House Veterans Affairs Committee issued the following this month (it was e-mailed today to the public account, we would have noted it June 15th if we'd had it then):

For more information, contact: Brian Lawrence (202) 2225-3527
Washington, D.C. -- In recognition of his longstanding dedication and commitment to serving veterans, the
Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF) today presented its prestigious George 'Buck' Gillispie Congressional Award to Congressman Steve Buyer.
The Gillispie is awarded to Senators and Representatives who, in the opinion of the BAVF, have made significant contributions toward furthering the foundation's efforts on behalf of sensory disabled American veterans. Buyer, who serves as Ranking Member on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, received BAVF's award during the foundation's annual Flag Week celebration.
"I am deeply honored and humbled to receive recognition from this esteemed group of veterans who have sacrificed so much in the name of liberty," Buyer said. "It has been my privilege to serve the men and women who have defended our nation and freedom we cherish. For me, there is no higher calling."
In 2006, when he served as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Buyer secured support to direct funds to conduct a series of tests and evaluations on combat helmets to improve protections against blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) associated with IEDs are among the leading cause of impaired vision due to damage to the occipital area of the brain. More than half of all TBI patients treated at Walter Reed Army Hospital and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in Palo Alto, California have vision dysfunction.

Buyer, himself a veteran, is a 1980 distinguished military graduate of The Citadel and a career Army Reserve officer who continues to serve with the Judge Advocate General Corps as a colonel. He has received numerous military honors, including the Bronze Star.
Buyer also worked with Congressman John Boozman in the 110th Congress to help pass the Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act and to authorize $5 million to create military vision centers of excellence.
For more news from House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Republicans, please go to:

Closing with independent journalist
David Bacon whose latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST). "Dying for an iPad?" (Political Affairs) is a photo essay:

Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans in San Francisco protest the long hours and bad conditions at the Foxconn factory in southern China, where the Apple iPad is manufactured. They lined up in front of Apple's flagship store in San Francisco, holding signs with the names of workers at the factory who have committed suicide because of the conditions. Those conditions include 80 hours of overtime a month, according to the Chinese media. Chinese law limits overtime to 36 hours per month. No one is allowed to talk on the production line, and workers complain of constant high line speed and speedup. Most workers live in huge dormitories, where often 12 people share a room.

the telegraph of london
rosa prince
bbc newspeter biles
iraq inquiry
the guardianrichard norton-tayloriraq inquiry digestchris ames
sky news
andrew sparrow
david bacon
ruth barnett
bloomberg newscaroline alexander
zahraa alkhalisikadhim ajrash
the new york timestim arango

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gulf Disaster, Katty-van-van and more

Until the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the chief culprit for the Gulf dead zone was thought to consist of farmland runoff containing fertilizers and livestock waste. Each spring, waste products carrying nitrogen and phosphorus flow down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf, feeding what's been explosive growth in algae. After the algae die and decompose bottom-dwelling bacteria consume oxygen that otherwise would be available for bottom and near-bottom waters. Thus, the creation of the dead zone.

The presence of millions of gallons of oil has the potential to exacerbate the problem. As the oil breaks down, the chemical process consumes oxygen and also reduces the diffusion of oxygen from the air into the water. At the same time, the oil might also restrict the growth of hypoxia-fueling algae, helping to limit the size of the Gulf dead zone.

That is depressing as hell.

If you're wondering, it is supposed to be reversible. This is from Wikipedia:

Dead zones are reversible. The Black Sea dead zone, previously the largest dead zone in the world, largely disappeared between 1991 and 2001 after fertilizers became too costly to use following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise of centrally planned economies in Eastern and Central Europe. Fishing has again become a major economic activity in the region.[10]
While the Black Sea "cleanup" was largely unintentional and involved a drop in hard-to-control fertilizer usage, the U.N. has advocated other cleanups by reducing large industrial emissions.[10] From 1985 to 2000, the North Sea dead zone had nitrogen reduced by 37% when policy efforts by countries on the Rhine River reduced sewage and industrial emissions of nitrogen into the water. Other cleanups have taken place along the Hudson River[11] and San Francisco Bay.[1]
The chemical aluminium sulfate can be used to reduce phosphates in water.[12]

So the good news it can be reversed. How likely is that? I remember reading an article in Mother Jones probably three or more years ago on dead zones. They were focusing on the Mississippi, I believe. It was not encouraging. Hearing that the Gulf Disaster can now boast Dead Zones may qualify as the scariest news this week.

"On whores and karma (Ava and C.I.)" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
She's upset that the mainstream media is focusing (in her mind) on right wing women and she's whining that it's just like with the tea party. She's editor and publisher of The Nation. Does she want to explain why her publication obsessed over the Tea Party? Does she not understand that those weeks and weeks of five and six pieces at The Nation on the Tea Party didn't go unnoticed by the MSM? Does she not get that the frenzy and moaning and whining by her ilk built the Tea Party?

During all that time, The Nation wasn't covering Donna Edwards or any of the "peace and justice women" Katrina could be barely be bothered with actually naming when she was castigating the MSM for . . . not talking about these women.

"There are so many women who don't get attention," whined Katrina. "Where is the narrative about those women and what they've accomplished?"

Gee, Katrina, where is the attention? You know it's too bad that you don't run a weekly magazine where you could assign stories and bring attention to these women . . .

Oh, wait, she does. She is editor and publisher of The Nation. She bought her seat at the table. She's just not willing to bring any other women along -- other than token Melissa Harris-Lacewell who you sort of picture carrying Katrina's baggage out of the studio.

"Yes, Miss Katrina," Lie Face insists, "I got the chip on your shoulder. It's right here next to your wounded ego."

That is why no one can ever top Ava and C.I. They are just brilliant. They get the righteous indignation, they get the humor, they get it all in a stylish package that leaves you wishing they'd written even more.

They traded this article, by the way, in order to get the parody. That was part of the pitch. If everyone would support the parody article, they'd do their TV commentary "and a commentary on Katrina vanden Heuvel" -- that's how they sold it and people were mad to read this, they were wild for it.

I really love how they point out that Katty-van-van is whining about the lack of women and, at her own magazine, women are rendered invisible (2007 saw over 400 articles by men published and only 149 women by The Nation).

Should you ever doubt how wonderful a writer C.I. is, read "David Sirota seeks a journalism tutor (won't you help)." That went up this morning. We were on the phone. I was calling to confirm our arrival on Friday and make sure it wouldn't be a problem. She was already juggling phones and then she said, "S**t." I waited and she hung up on everyone except me and a friend (newspaper editor). David Sirota wrote her a threatening and rude e-mail, insisting he was sicking his lawyer on her and she was wrong.

"First, dick head," she said outloud, "you would be requesting a retraction, not a correction."

We laughed at that. Sirota's an idiot. But C.I. didn't back down and went over again how Sirota failed to disclose. That's on him. He obviously thought he was going to bully someone into saying, "I'm wrong! The Great Sirota is right!" Idiot. No one, I repeat no one, writes better than C.I. -- even when she's barely awake.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, June 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri and Allawi have a face-to-face or a face-off, the Iraq Inquiry resumes public hearings, the Defense Dept identifies one of the fallen, and more.

In London today, the
Iraq Inquiry resumed public hearings. Or as Alice Tarleton (Channel 4) put it, "And they're back. The Iraq inquiry resumed public hearings today for the first time since the general election." The Inquiry is headed by John Chilcot. Ruth Barnett (Sky News) notes today, "Sir John opened the latest round of hearings by inviting international lawyers to give evidence of the legality of the war." Sam Marsden (PA) adds, "Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and ex-MI5 director general Baroness Manningham-Buller are among the witnesses who will appear before the inquiry over the next month." Iraq Inquiry Digest's Chris Ames shares his thoughts of today's hearing at the Guardian, including, "Watching the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war is like watching a car crash in slow motion. Very, very slow motion." Today they heard from the British Ambassador to France (2001 to 2007) John Holmes and the Chief Police Avister to the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad (2003 to 2004) Douglas Brand (link goes to video and transcript options -- as with previous coverage of the Chilcot Inquiry, I'm working from the transcripts and friends in England -- reporters and attorneys -- following the Inquiry).

Under questioning from Committee Member Lawrence Freedman, Holmes stated French popular opinion turned on the US government when Bush gave his Axis of Evil speech, "Certainly after the Axis of Evil speech, there began to be a real French concern expressed in different ways by different people and reflected in the way that the French press were writing about it, that the Americans had decided that another response to 9/11 was to attack Iraq and was to produce regime change by attacking Iraq."

In terms of where the difference was between the French government and the UK government, Holmes declared that ". . . I think the major difference between us was always whether they thought that what the Iraqis had, whatever it might have been -- and, of course, that was the subject of debate -- was either sufficient or sufficiently alarming or sufficiently of an immediate threat to mean that you needed to go to war to stop it. That's where the differences started to arrive rather than exactly what the intelligence assessment [on WMD] was." Chair Chilcot summarized Holmes' response, "In other words, the threat assessment might have differed from the assessment of the stocks and programmes, intention rather than possession." And Holmes agreed with that summary. He further added that France, in 2002, had a different "policy conclusion" than the UK (or the US), "They wanted to do it through the inspectors, rather than through the invasion." Jaques Chirac was president of France when Holmes became Ambassador (Chirac was president from May 1995 through May 2007) and Holmes stated, "He essentially set policy. He saw foreign policy as his pre-eminent domain [. . .] he regarded himself as the elder statesman if you like, of the international community" and Holmes quickly returned to Bush's Axis of Evil speech.

Ambassador John Holmes: I think he [Chirac] was also very much influenced in all this, particularly, again, after the Axis of Evil speech, by the belief that the kind of foreign policy which was being represented and articulated by President Buh was a unilateralist vision of the world which he could not share, though was dangerous and based on a lack of knowledge of the world and that he [Chirac] was therefore returning to counter by setting out an alternative, multipolar vision of the world, which was very much the French vision at the time.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert asked him out UN Security Resolution 1441 which the UN adopted November 8, 2002 by a unanimous vote of the UN's Security Council. Although 15 nations make up the Security Council only five are permanent members and have the right of veto. Those five are the UK, France, China, Russia and the United States.

Ambassador John Holmes: I think the French objectives were, all throughout this, to get the inspectors back in, to make sure that there was going to be no automaticity -- that was the great catchphrase, "no automaticiy" -- from 1441 or, indeed any subsequen resolution, which had to be a subsequent decision by the Security Council, and there should be no hidden triggers in 1441, which would allow the Americans and the British to claim that somehow they had legitimised military action when they hadn't. So that was -- I think those are the essential points they were trying to defend in 1441, and that's why there was such a very long and complicated and tortuous negotiation about exactly what the language was.

With that background, we'll now jump ahead to Committee Member Roderic Lyne's questioning.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Now, in order to try to work out precisely what 1441 meant, the Attorney General, when he was in the process of finalising his advice to the Prime Minister, talked to Sir Jeremy Greenstock about the negotiating history, as he told us in his evidence, and then went to America and talked to lawyers and others in Washington, and in these conversations was exploring what the French, as the main negotiating counterparties on 1441, had really intended, what they had accepted, what they had signed up to in 1441. We asked him whether, apart from relying on the reporting of the United Kingdom and the American representatives at the UN on the French position, it might have been logical for him to go to Paris and ask the French directly what they had meant by it and he said: "You couldn't have had the British Attorney General being seen to go to France to ask them 'What do you think?'" Couldn't he have gone to Paris to actually talk to the French about this?

Ambassador John Holmes: I don't see why he couldn't have done or at least had somebody else ask the question on his behalf. But I think what is true is that the French were, again, very wary about ever saying what their own legal position was. They took a very strong legal position about no automaticity -- I was just describing the need for UN legitimisation of any action -- but they were very careful -- I don't remember them ever actually saying what their own legal position was. I don't remember whether we ever went and talk to the Quai legal advisers. It may be that Chirac took it seriously for a while at least or thought there was something to be gained from that, but it never really developed fully as time went on.

[. . . moving to March 2003 for the following questions]

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: The Foreign Secretary of the time, Jack Straw, told us in evidence that he couldn't for the life of him understand why the French and the Germans were not agreeing to a second resolution, because this was the way to resolve this peacefully. Was that interpretation of the second resolution, that it was still a possible way of getting a peaceful outcome, not one that President Chirac would have shared at this point at all?

Ambassador John Holmes: No, I think, as he was suggesting, the draft in the form it was at that stage, with the kind of timelines and tests which the French thought was impossible to pass, and deliberately impossible to pass for Saddam Hussein, was not a way of actually avoiding a war but was simply a way of legitimising it. That's really why they were so strongly opposed to it. Now the discussion about what the resolution could contain went on even after that statement by President Chirac, with the French continuing to suggest longer timelines, but by that stage, we were so much up against the military deadline, that it became increasingly desperate and irrelevant.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: If the second resolution had contained a longer deadline for Iraqi compliance, do you think that France would have considered supporting it?

Ambassador John Holmes: I think it is possible because that's what essentially they were suggesting. They were suggesting -- they didn't like the six tests or whatever they were called, but they said "If you give -- if you put in a period" -- I think 120 days was the period they wanted -- "for the inspectors to operate, so they can do their job properly without being put against impossible deadlines, then that's something we could contemplate", but of course, they were still wanting to say that-that a second resolution of that kind would also not have any automatic trigger in it. You would still need to come back at the end of that, the Security Council would need to come back at the end of that, and take a view on what the inspectors were saying to them. So you know, at that stage, you were into third resolution territory. So that is a reason why we weren't particularly attracted, perhaps, to that route, but in any case in those timescales it was simply not available.

To recap the main points in the testimony highlighted above, Jeremy Greenstock went to the US to talk about a second resolution, the French's attitude towards it and related topics but Greenstock told the Inquiry that he couldn't ask the French government whether they would get behind a second resolution or not and Jack Straw claimed to the Inquiry that the French position was puzzling. The British Ambassador to France told the Inquiry today that the French position was consistent and not surprising and that he was surprised by the attitude that the French government could not be asked by the British government whether they would veto a second resolution if offered.

Greenstock previously testified to the Inquiry on
November 27th and December 15th of last year. Straw testified January 21st and February 8th of this year. Holmes rejected their claims that (a) the French position was puzzling and (b) that no one could have asked the French government their position on a second resolution. Those are the big items coming out of the hearing today. Related, on January 27th, the Inquiry heard from Peter Goldsmith who'd served as the UK Attorney General.

Peter Goldsmith: The United States, as everyone has said -- Sir Michael said it, I have said throughout, it is apparent on 7 March -- didn't believe they needed an United Nations Resolution at all. They believed they were able themselves to make the determination that Iraq was in material breach, and, therefore, they didn't need -- they didn't need 1441. Mr. Blair had -- and I said, I think to his credit -- had got President Bush to the UN table.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: I think, with respect, that's a separate point. We have gone past that point already.

Peter Goldsmith: With respect, may I make the point? Because it is important, and it is one of the things that came across very clearly in the meetings I had in February with the UN. Because the United States didn't need 1441 -- we did because we took the view that there had to be a determination of material breach. The United States didn't need it. They could have walked away from 1441 and said, "Well, we have been to the United Nations, they haven't given us the resolution we want, we can now take force." The only red line I was told by the State Department, legal adviser, the only red line that the negotiators had was that they must not concede a further decision of the Security Council because they took the view they could move in any event.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Yes.

Peter Goldsmith: Therefore, if they had agreed to a decision which said the Security Council must decide, they would have then lost that freedom.

Self-quoting from January 28th, "Popular narrative: US didn't want a second resolution, wasn't going to fight for one. But what Goldsmith said takes it in another direction. The popular narrative allows the British government to do as they indicated they were doing: Pursue a second resolution. But Goldsmith testified Wednesday that it wasn't just that the US didn't want it. The US government based their legal approach (set aside whether it was legal or not) on the 'legal' opinion that UN Resolution 1441 (granting the power for inspectors to go back into Iraq) was all that was necessary for the start of war on Iraq. In addition, Goldsmith testified that the US didn't want a second resolution, couldn't accept one, because of their legal opinion. Going back to the UN for a second resolution risked hemming in the US legal opinion. If they went and got a resolution with conditions, that could hem the US in. If they went and were shot down (as most believed they would be), then the US government's assertion that a second resolution wasn't needed to start a war would have been exposed as the lie it was. The US didn't just not want a second resolution, they couldn't afford one. If there was one -- one passed or one rejected -- it revealed the legal opinion wasn't sound and opened up a whole set of issues that the Bush administration didn't want to deal with."

Today's testimony by Holmes backed up Goldsmith on that aspect. Holmes on what the French government ssaw, "I think their assumption was that -- and increasingly so as the autumn went on and so on -- and this is the view they had come to -- that the Americans were going to mount a military operation virtually come what may and, therefore, there could be a second mabye, but that could not be something which was going to actually stand in the way of that action." A second resolution could have tied the US government's hands. That's how the French saw it, it's how Goldsmith said the Americans saw it. Did Bush lie when claiming the US would seek resolutions?
According to witnesses at the Inquiry, Bush mispoke due to a teleprompter malfunction.

Jeremy Greenstock: There are two different sorts of second resolution and this my explain why President Bush used the plural when he was ad libbing, when his teleprompter gave him the penultimate American text and not the text he had agreed to, by a mistake of his staff. He ad libbed the words, "And we shall come to the UN for the necessary resolutions" from his memory. It wasn't that the telepromprter broke down, he saw that it was the wrong text on the teleprompter, as I understood the story. There was, as part of the lead-up to the negotiation of 1441, the idea that there should be a pair of resolutions, not a single one in 1441 that should have the inspectors' conditions in one part and in the second resolution the consequences for Iraq on what would happen if they didn't comply with the the first one. There was the possibility of passing those resolutions either together and simultaneously or sequentially in time. As it happened, in 1441 we built those two elements into a single text and it was successfully negotiated and passed unanimously on 8 November as a single text.

Opening the hearing today,
Chair Chilcot issued the following statement this morning:Good morning and welcome to the QEII Conference Centre for the first day of this phase of the Iraq Inquiry's public hearings. At the Inquiry's launch on 30 July last year, we took on the task of establishing a reliable account of the UK's involvement in Iraq between 2001 and 2009, and to identify lessons for British governments facing similar circumstances. In the last 11 months, we have covered a great deal of ground. One of our first priorities was to meet, and listen to, the families of British citizens and members of the armed forces who died in Iraq. 48 families came to talk to us. We learned much from them. Their sacrifice and concerns remain in our thoughts, and inform our approach. Between 24 November last year and 8 March, we heard from more than 80 witnesses in public sessions. We heard first hand from senior military personnel and officials involved in providing advice on the policy in Iraq or responsible for its implementation; and from senior Ministers, including the then Prime Minister, Mr Brown, and the former Prime Minister, Mr Blair. Our purpose was to establish a broad chronology of what had happened from 2001 to the withdrawal of combat forces in 2009. Those hearings gave us a complementary perspective to the papers which the Government has provided. We have received many thousands of documents and that process is continuing. A number of documents were declassified and published on our website to provide relevant context in the earlier hearings. We will continue to take that approach. Accordingly, further documents are being released to support this morning's hearing. As we made clear at the launch, the Inquiry is independent. We have made a deliberate choice to conduct our work in a way which seeks to remain outside Party politics. That is why we ended the first round of public hearings before the launch of the general election campaign. In May, the Inquiry held private discussions in France and the USA. Details of those visits can be found on our website. We have also held hearings in private with British officials, diplomats and military officers to take evidence on those issues, such as intelligence, which cannot be heard in public. Details about whom we have seen in those hearings will be published in the next week or so. We have also held meetings with less senior service personnel, civil servants and diplomats who have served in Iraq. They too have given us very helpful insights into both their achievements, and the challenges they faced, whilst serving in Iraq between 2003 and 2009. The Inquiry has issued an open invitation to international lawyers to comment on the grounds relied on by the British Government in undertaking military action in Iraq. The Inquiry also continues to receive, and welcomes, submissions from the public on all matters relevant to its terms of reference. These hearings which begin today will cover a range of issues. In some cases, they will be complementing evidence we have already heard. In others, we will be pursuing issues which have only been touched on in earlier evidence. This morning we will be hearing our first witness from the police. Other areas we will be covering in detail for the first time include military equipment and personnel issues. The Inquiry may hold a further round of public hearings in the Autumn. We will take a final decision on that later. As we have said before, we intend to complete our report around the turn of the year. We remain committed to a transparent, open, thorough and fair process and conducting the Inquiry in a cost effective way. We intend to deliver a reliable and authoritative report about the UK's decision to take military action in Iraq and the events that followed; and to identify lessons for the future.

And we move to Iraq. An
Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy reminds that tomorrow was "Sovereignty Day" in Iraq . . . last year. But this year, no one seems to know about it. The reporter calls numerous goverment offices to find out about Sovereignty Day plans for tomorrow. But there are none:

I put down the phone.
Indeed -- What sovereignty? And what government?
This occupation opened the door for powerful winds -- and they entered and are blowing, still.
Iraq has become a plain on which international and regional forces are struggling for supremacy. A tug of war between the Shiites in Iran and the Wahabis in Saudi -- between the Kurds, whether in Iraq, Turkey or Iran, and the Arabs -- between forces that want to keep the country together and forces that want to rip it apart.
And in the midst of all this -- I think the government has actually forgotten Sovereignty Day.
It is as if Sovereignty Day does not exist.

Iraq may not have sovereignty but it continues to have violence.
Timothy Williams (New York Times) looks at today's statistics and sees "a burst of violence across Iraq".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed Iraqi Brig Gen Ward Mohan's life and wounded Col Talbi Abdullah, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and left three more injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people, a Mosul mortar attack that damaged Bab Sinjar stadium and a Baiji car bombing which claimed 5 lives and left eighteen people injured. Alsumaria TV reports the 5 killed in the Baiji bombing were police officers. Press TV reports, "Militants also blew up the key oil pipeline in Rashidiyeh district northeast of the capital which links Baghdad and its Dora oil refinery and power station with Baiji." DPA notes an Abu Ghraib home bombing in which the police officer, his wife and their three children were injured.

Shootings and knives/beheadings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad home invasion in which a 28-year-old woman was beheaded, a Mosul drive-by which claimed the life of 1 man and left his brother wounded, a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman was killed and two more were injured and al Hasnat attack in which 3 adult men "and their 9 year-old sister" were shot dead. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports 1 oil truck driver shot dead in Beiji.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse (20-year-old male) was discovered in Mosul yesterday ("gun-shot wounds in the head"). Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports the corpse of 1 municipal official ("missing for two days") was discovered.
Today the
US Defense Dept announced: "Pfc. Bryant J. Hayned, 21 of Epps, La., died June 26 in Al Diwaniyah, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 199th Support Batttalion, Louisiana Army National Guard, Alexandria, La." This brings the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4409 since the start of the illegal war.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government.
Alsumaria TV reports today, "All attention is shifted on the meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and Al Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports, "Al-Maliki visited Allawi at his Baghdad office, and the two men shook hands warmly before sitting down to a closed-door meeting. Neither side commented immediately after the session." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) also notes that no statements were issued following the meet-up.

While the political stalemate continues, so does the lack of electricity.
Lourdes-Garcia-Navarro (NPR's Morning Edition) reported yesterday:

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Um Imam(ph) has five children and lives in a mud brick house with a corrugated metal roof. She keeps goats for the local butchers. The animals wander in and out of her home. Her complaints are familiar. We only have electricity from the national grid for a few hours in the morning, when it's still somewhat cool, she says. And the rest of the day it disappears and we have to keep the windows open all day. She's so poor that, this month, she had to borrow $14 to pay for access to the neighborhood generator. That generator gives a few hours of extra power but it's hardly enough.

Iraq's hardly the only country to treat its citizens poorly. As
Rebecca noted yesterday, the US government has decided to risk human lives. Drones used to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan are being flown by the Texas Air National Guard out of Ellington Airport -- a joint civil-military airport. Rebecca:

if drones are used the airport becomes a fair target in war. it is military. they've just made - GRASP THIS - civilians a target in their never ending war. this is, remember, what bush and others accused saddam hussein of doing. using civilians to hide legitimate targets. that was the accusation. under barack, civilians can now be targeted because he's turned the drone program over to a military AND civilian airport.

Meanwhile, if it has to do with the news, Danny Schechter's done it. Broadcast, print, radio, TV, net. He is also a maker of many documentary films. The News Dissector has put his blog on hold (temporarily, hopefully) to spend more time drawing attention to what he sees as one of the most important issues of our time. At Third "
DVD: Plunder (Ava and C.I.)" was a review of Danny Schechter's latest documentary Plunder. Along with the DVD release of the film, he's also got The Crimes Of Our Times, Danny's companion book to the documentary. He has a new website for the film -- this is about the economic collapse -- and you can click here. And here's Danny explaining the importance of the issue:

After years of a media narrative about Wall Street mistakes, miscalculations, and poor risk models, there is now a push to investigate and prosecute wrong doers largely because of deep public anger. Yet, the financial crisis is still being treated mostly as a business problem when it should also be investigated as a crime story. In 2006, as a well-known independent filmmaker and Emmy Award winning producer, I made the film In Debt We Trust warning of the crisis and exposing subprime lending. I was called an alarmist and doom and gloomer. Unfortunately, I was mostly right. Now I have written a book, The Crime of our Time and made another film, out on DVD, Plunder: The Crime of our Time ( Because of what I've found, and because of what this means to the public at large, I often feel like that hero of a children's story whose warning that the Emperor had no clothes was ignored. Don't you think that with unemployment as high as it is, foreclosures wrecking the lives of l4 million families, and Wall Street bonuses unchecked, this story --- this "crime narrative" --- should at least be explored?

the guardianchris amesiraq inquiry digest
the new york times
timothy williams
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
bloomberg newscaroline alexander
alsumaria tv
nprmorning editionlourdes garcia-navarro
sky newsruth barnettpress associationsam marsden
danny schechter